Thursday, December 09, 2010

Recipes to simplify the season


Yesterday I mentioned how I like to let supper "cook itself" to free up a little time in this busy season, and promised to post some crockpot soup recipes and more bread recipes. Well, I decided to simplify things for myself today and just copy and paste some recipes from my personal cookbook (on my computer in a word processing program) so there is just one bread recipe here. It's a delicious one, though. Perhaps tomorrow I can post some links for more bread recipes. I think this assortment of soup recipes will be plenty, though. Something here for everyone's taste!

OLD-FASHIONED OATMEAL BREAD (for the bread machine)
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tblsp. butter or margarine, softened
4 cups bread flour
2/3 cup oats (either type - I use old-fashioned)
2 Tblsp. dry milk
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast

1. Measure and add liquid ingredients to bread pan.
2. Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to bread pan.
3. Use your finger to make a well in the dry ingredients where you will put the yeast. Yeast must NEVER come into contact with liquids when adding ingredients. Measure the yeast and pour it into the well.
4. Snap pan into the bread maker and close lid.
5. Press "Select" button to choose the Sweet setting.
6. Press the "Crust Color" button. I prefer the Light crust for this
bread.
7. Press the Start button.

This is one of our favorite bread recipes to bake in the bread machine. The recipe is from the book which came with our machine.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP (for the crock pot)

6 cups chicken broth
12 to 15 1/2-ounce frozen meatballs (or 6 to 8 1-oz. ones)
1 small boneless skinless chicken breast (may be frozen)
Sliced celery to taste (I usually use a cup or two)
Cut-up carrots to taste (I usually use baby carrots and quarter them -- again, about a cup or two)
Spinach to taste, stems removed (can use up to a bunch of spinach -- I have also used part of a bag of baby spinach leaves or of frozen cut leaf spinach)
Garlic powder to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
1/4 cup tiny pasta, like alphabets or orzo (add during last hour of
cooking)
Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Put the meatballs on a microwave safe plate and defrost them for a
minute or two, so you can quarter them. If using the larger (1 oz.)
meatballs, cut them in eighths.

Put in crock pot along with broth, chicken, vegetables and seasonings.
Cook all day on low or 3 hours on high.

Add pasta during the last hour of cooking. (In the case of alphabets, I have added them just before serving and they cook just fine.)

Before serving, remove the chicken breast and cut it or shred it in small pieces. Return chicken to the soup.

Serve with Parmesan or Romano cheese for people to add to taste.
Probably makes about 6 servings.

This is one of my crock pot standbys!

Here is another favorite:

TORTILLA ENCHILADA SOUP

4 cups chicken broth
2 cans chicken with rice soup
1 small boneless skinless chicken breast (frozen is fine)
1 cup salsa or picante sauce
1 can red enchilada sauce
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar cheese OR cubes of velveeta-type cheese

In crock pot combine the broth, soup, chicken breast, salsa, and
enchilada sauce. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Remove chicken breast from soup; shred it or cut in small pieces. Return to soup.

When ready to eat, cut flour tortillas into strips (scissors work best
for this).

Put tortilla strips in each bowl and ladle the hot soup on top. Top with shredded cheddar or cubed velveeta.

About 6 servings.

This is just delicious and soooo easy. Great with cornbread!

As you'll see, the following one can be done either in the crockpot, or at the last minute on the stovetop. Naturally, at this time of year I prefer the crockpot option.

TACO SOUP

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or use less -- even as little as 1/2 lb.)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (28 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz.) kidney beans, not drained
1 can (17 oz.) whole kernel corn, not drained
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning
1 to 2 cups water
Shredded cheddar cheese
Crushed tortilla chips

Brown beef in large heavy kettle or Dutch oven; drain off any fat and add onions. Cook until onions are tender.

Add remaining ingredients except cheese and chips; simmer for 15 minutes.

Ladle into bowls; top with shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips, to taste.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

This simple recipe has been a lifesaver for me so many times. Very often, after browning the beef and onions, I combine all the ingredients in a crock pot and cook the soup on low for several hours.

The following recipe can either be cooked in a low oven or in the crockpot. The crockpot option seems slightly easier to me.

GONE-ALL-DAY STEW

1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 cup water
1/4 cup flour
2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes, trimmed of fat
3 medium carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped (or use a handful of frozen baby onions)
4 medium potatoes, cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup celery, cut in 1-inch slices
12 whole large fresh mushrooms (optional but good)
2 beef bouillon cubes ( or 2 tsp. beef bouillon granules)
1 Tblsp. Italian herb seasoning mix
1 bay leaf
3 grinds fresh pepper

In a large casserole dish (at least 3-quart) mix the soup with the water and flour until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover the casserole and bake at 275ยบ for 4 to 5 hours.

(The stew may also be cooked in a slow cooker on Low for the same amount of time.)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

This delicious stew was a staple for us during the years our kids were at boarding school. It was the perfect meal for Sunday lunch before the trip back to school. I can’t even count the number of times I have given out this recipe over the years.

The following recipe uses frozen meatballs which really simplifies preparation:

MEATBALL STEW

3 medium potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg. (16 oz.) fresh baby carrots, quartered
1 large onion, chopped (or equivalent amount of frozen chopped onions)
3 celery ribs, sliced
12 to 16 ounces frozen meatballs, defrosted slightly in microwave and cut in halves or quarters
1 can tomato soup
1 can beef gravy
1 cup water
1 envelope onion soup mix (I used 5 Tblsp. of my own homemade mix)
2 tsp. beef bouillon granules

Place the potatoes, vegetables and meatballs in a 5-quart slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour this over the meatball mixture.

Cover and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours. Yield: 6 servings.

This is so good that it's worth keeping a can of beef gravy in my pantry at all times! (I already keep tomato soup on hand, as well as a jar of my homemade onion soup mix. And I keep a bag of meatballs in the freezer to use in Italian wedding soup, so the basic ingredients for this stew are always around.)

The following recipe is a little different with its Italian sausage and seasonings.

HEARTY PASTA TOMATO SOUP (with sausage)

6 cups beef broth
28 ounces stewed tomatoes
15-16 ounces tomato sauce
2 cups sliced zucchini (I use the frozen zucchini-squash blend if fresh zucchini is not available)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots (I use baby carrots)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 lb. Italian link sausage, sliced about 1/2 inch thick with scissors
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 garlic clove, minced
Pasta of your choice, OR 2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Place all ingredients except the last two in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours until the vegetables are tender and the sausage slices are cooked and tender.

At this point, add pasta to your taste and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is cooked. I used orzo, so only had to wait about 15 minutes. Rotini or elbows would probably take 20 minutes or so. If you choose to use the tortellini, you need to cook it first, then stir into the soup and cook for about 30 minutes or so.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Again, frozen chopped onions and frozen diced green peppers can really simplify matters when preparing a crockpot recipe. I highly recommend keeping them on hand.

This next one has a nice beefy flavor from the beef gravy and mushroom soup. A nice change from tomato flavors.

GROUND BEEF STEW
1 pound ground beef
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
16 ounces baby carrots
3 cups water
2 Tbslp. dry onion soup mix
1/2 tsp. minced garlic (or 1 garlic clove, minced)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted (or equivalent)
1 can beef gravy (or equivalent)

In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a slow cooker, combine the next nine ingredients; stir in the beef. Cover and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours. Stir in soup and gravy; cover and cook 1 hour more or until heated through.

Yield: 12 servings.

This last recipe is not a crockpot one, but it is incredibly simple to put together at the last minute.

ZESTY CHICKEN CHEESE SOUP

1 can whole kernel corn (don’t drain)
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (don’t drain)
1 small can diced green chilies (optional)
1 can premium chunk white chicken, flaked
8 ounces velveeta-type cheese, cubed

In heavy saucepan or dutch oven, combine everything except the cheese and begin heating these ingredients while you cube the cheese. Add the cheese to the saucepan and continue to heat, stirring until cheese is melted and soup is piping hot.

This recipe came from an early Quick Cooking magazine and is the fastest soup you will ever make -- just a matter of opening cans, heating and stirring -- and is also delicious!

I hope these recipes make your Christmas season a little less stressful -- so you will have more time to truly enjoy the holiday and celebrate the reason for the season!

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