Family Recipe: Potato Cheese Soup

When I was a kid there was a local restaurant called Piret’s. They served delicious, fresh French food that was unpretentious. One of my favorite dishes to order was their Potato Cheese Soup. They published a cookbook, which my mom bought, and while she cooked a lot of things from the cookbook, the one that was most often made was their Potato Cheese Soup. In fact, to this day when you place the book on the counter, it opens to that recipe.

Today I present my take on Potato Cheese Soup. It’s easy to make, it’s filling, and it tastes sooooo good. Like most soups, it’s better the next day. It freezes well.

You can make it vegetarian by using veggie broth/stock. I do not recommend making it with non-dairy cheese (sorry vegans). You can make it Gluten Free by using GF 1-for-1 flour.

Potato Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 cups chicken broth or stock (I recommend using stock-homemade is best, but I’m being extra)
  • 2 large yellow or sweet onions, peeled and diced
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, divided in half
  • 1/4 cup white wine (dry- don’t use sweet or cooking wine)
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons AP flour
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups cheese (I like medium cheddar, but you could use colby, or a sharper cheddar)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large stockpot, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter and saute onions until clear and slightly browned.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes until potatoes are slightly translucent.
  3. Deglaze the pan with white wine, make sure to scrape off all the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add all of the chicken broth/stock and bay leaves. Cover pot and cook on low for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through.
  5. In a smaller pot, melt remaining 2 T. of butter. Sprinkle melted butter with AP flour and stir until a paste forms over a low heat. The paste should brown slightly- DON’T BURN IT!
  6. Pour milk into the flour/butter paste and whisk briskly. You do not want lumps. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens. This may take a few minutes. As the mixture thickens and there are no lumps, add the cheese slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it is incorporated/melted into the sauce. Once the sauce with complete, remove from heat.
  7. Add the cheese sauce to the soup mixture slowly, stirring constantly. Once it is fully mixed, remove the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. This step is optional but recommended. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender (like this one) puree the soup. Put back on the heat, and allow to simmer without the lid for another 20-30 minutes. This will give the soup some time to thicken up.
  9. Serve Soup hot with crusty French bread. Resist the urge not to eat it all in one sitting.

Makes 6-8 Servings

Baking for the Holidays with Truly Grass Fed (Tryazon Party Opportunity)

Truly Grass Fed is back for the holidays with a new Tryazon Featured Party opportunity, featuring their distinctively creamy and uniquely delicious cheese and butter. No matter what kind of holiday baking you plan to do, Truly Grass Fed is the perfect addition. Because Truly Grass Fed doesn’t just pair with food, it #PairsWithYou.

They have 300 hosting spots open for this opportunity! Those chosen will receive a party pack with a variety of Truly Grass Fed products to showcase and sample with friends and family at an in-person or virtual party! Truly Grass Fed will be holding a competition for the best Holiday Baker too!  Learn more and apply here: https://www.tryazon.com/baking-for-the-holidays-with-truly-grass-fed-party/
If you haven’t heard of Tryazon, it’s a Word of Mouth Marketing company that partners with brands and individuals. I’ve hosted a few events with Tryazon before- it’s always a fun time!
I applied, and fingers crossed that I get this one! My family and friends love to cook and it would be a fun way to spend some time (even if we are socially distanced). Plus- Who doesn’t love cheese?

Recipe: Refreshing Cranberry Kale Salad

kalecutI know, KALE. It’s weird and has that super crunchy stem. It’s really good for you, but it gets a bad rap.

This salad recipe is dead simple and is so good that you will fight over the leftovers (if there are any).

I like making this in the morning and letting it sit in the fridge all day. That gives the ACV in the dressing time to mellow out and all the flavors to mingle.

I like starting with a bag of triple-washed chopped kale, since it’s usually the same price as whole kale, and it saves me time, but you do what works best for your family and budget.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package triple-washed chopped kale, or 6 cups of kale, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cide Vinegar, with the mother (I like Bragg’s)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite oil, we prefer avocado oil (like this one)
  • 1 t. honey or agave
  • dash kosher salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 T. fresh, chopped rosemary, or 2 t. dried rosemary (whichever you have)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled herbed feta or goat cheese (your choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (you could substitute sliced almonds or almond slivers if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. set aside.
  2. In a large salad/mixing bowl, add kale, cheese, almonds, and cranberries. Dizzle over oil/vinegar dressing and toss gently.
  3. Store in Fridge 4-6 hours minimum before serving.
  4. This is great as a side dish, or top with a grilled chicken breast or steak for a great main dish.
kalechips
Yum!  Kale!

Serves 6-8 as a side or 3-4 as a main dish.

If you are vegan, substitute honey for agave and use vegan cheese crumbles of your choice.

Today is National Cheese Day!

Pictures Untouched 006.jpgWhen I announced that today is National Cheese Day, my daughter said, “Really? Can we have cheese for dinner??” And who am I to say no? The kids will be having cheese slices with their dinner tonight, while the grown ups can top their Chicken Chili with shredded cheese, if they so desire.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate National Cheese Day, here are a few of our favorite cheesy recipes:

And if you need some Cheese related television, I recommend Wallace & Gromit. The Complete Collection is FREE to watch on Amazon Prime!

 

Talk Back: How are you celebrating National Cheese Day??

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

10/14/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I won a $25 Grocery Outlet Gift card on Friday, so I used it to pick up some snacks and goodies for school lunches this week. Thanks to my frugal buddy Brooke from Crying Out Loud, we’ll be eating a lot of eggs this week (3 dozen eggs- woo hoo!). We hit up the Harvest Festival over the weekend, and we picked up some seasoning kits from Whatcha’ Got Cookin’ that we’ll be using this week.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a lot of prep for the coming week over the weekend. I cut up the produce, bagged it for meals, made up some smoothie kits, and cut up cantaloupe to have this week. Thanks to some frugal shopping over the weekend, I’ve only spent half the grocery budget for the week. I will probably use it all.

  • Monday: Happy Meals on the way home from weekly group autism therapy for the kids. Grilled Cheese and Chicken and Rice Soup for the grown-ups. Soup is in the freezer from a previous batch.
  • Tuesday:  Fritatta with so many eggs (and veggies too)
  • Wednesday: Welcome Home Chicken in the crock pot (with seasoning kit from Whatcha got Cookin)
  • Thursday:  We’ve got respite, so it’ll be something early and light, probably what I like to call a “meal of snacks”- it’s all kind of different things on a cafeteria tray.  Previous Meal of Snacks include: Chicken Nuggets, goldfish crackers, cut up fruit, hardboiled eggs, glasses of milk, and cookies.
  • Friday:   Date Night!
  • Saturday:  Pizza Night
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

10/7/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I bought a few things yesterday to sort of “round out” what we’ve got on hand, and I think I’ll hit up Sprouts on Wednesday for Double Ad Day to get produce, but other than, we’ll be eating a lot of the stuff in the freezer I recently meal prepped this week. I don’t feel really great (Big kid brought home the new germ du jour from school and it’s felled us all).

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. I did a lot of prep for the coming week over the weekend. I cut up the produce, bagged it for meals, made up some smoothie kits, and cut up cantaloupe to have this week. Thanks to some frugal shopping over the weekend, I’ve only spent half the grocery budget for the week. I will probably use it all.

  • Monday: Flautas, Beans, Rice, and Mexican Caesar Salad
  • Tuesday:  Veggie Stir Fry with brown rice
  • Wednesday: Chicken Meatball skillet (new recipe coming up this week)
  • Thursday: Pizza Night – The past few weeks we’ve been doing individual personally topped pizzas- It’s super fun and everyone gets what they want.
  • Friday:  Breakfast for Dinner- Waffles, Poached Eggs, sausage, and fruit salad
  • Saturday: Dinner out! My cousin, his wife, and kiddo are coming from AZ with my Uncle and Aunt. We are having a big family dinner out. At Soupantation!
  • Sunday:   Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

9/30/19 Weekly Meal Plan

stemarie_1650skitchen

I bought a few things yesterday to sort of “round out” what we’ve got on hand, and I think I’ll hit up Sprouts on Wednesday for Double Ad Day to get produce, but other than, we’ll be eating a lot of the stuff in the freezer I recently meal prepped this week. I don’t feel really great (Big kid brought home the new germ du jour from school and it’s felled us all).

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Soup, Grilled Cheese sandwiches, green grapes
  • Tuesday: Aunt Linda’s Mess (It’s a skillet casserole)
  • Wednesday: Baked potatoes with vegetarian chili (from the big batch of vegetarian chili I made last week), green salad.
  • Thursday: Pizza Night
  • Friday:  Date Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover night
  • Sunday:  Taco Salad (recipe will be posted later this week)

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

9/23/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I’m trying to use up a lot of what we have on-hand before I do any shopping for the week. We are running low on milk and veggies, so I’ll hit up Grocery Outlet (I have a $5/$20+ coupon), and Sprouts today after the gym.

I’ve got two melons (watermelon and cantaloupe), so we’ll be having melon a lot this week.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Chicken and rice soup (from scratch), grilled cheese sandwiches, melon slices
  • Tuesday: homemade breakfast sandwiches ( Bagels with sunny side up eggs, cheese, and sausage patties), Melon slices
  • Wednesday: Vegetarian Chili, melon slices
  • Thursday: Pizza Night
  • Friday: Homemade Pasta sauce, zucchini “noodles” (We didn’t end up having it last week
  • Saturday: Leftover night
  • Sunday:  Pasta Free Lasagna, and you guessed it- Melon (if there is any left)

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

9/16/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

stemarie_1650skitchen

I just finished shopping for the week, and Boy do I have some awesome meals planned!

This week I’ll be making another big batch of fruit salad! It was a very popular addition to our meals last week. 

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: homemade breakfast sandwiches ( Bagels with sunny side up eggs, cheese, and sausage patties), fruit salad
  • Tuesday:  Cheese and tomato tortellini with pesto sauce, steamed broccoli,  cheese toast
  • Wednesday: Sea Salt & Olive Oil Seasoned Chicken Breasts, cheesy herb cauli-rice
  • Thursday: Homemade Pasta sauce, zucchini “noodles”
  • Friday:  Grilled Cheese sandwiches and soup
  • Saturday: Pizza Night
  • Sunday: Leftover night

 

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?