Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crock Pot Hearty Tortellini Soup

I made this wonderfully, delicious soup this past weekend and served it with crusty french bread.  It was a definite hit in my house.  It makes a pretty good amount, so make sure you have guests, are really hungry or want to take it with you for lunch everyday for a week like Chris and I have been doing!  Although it's so tasty that we don't mind.  I pair it with a salad and fruit and it's a wonderful lunch.  

1 lb. Bulk Italian Sausage (I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 hot)
6 cups beef broth
1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes (I used Italian flavored)
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker; add the next 13 ingredients.
Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or until the vegetables are tender.
Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain.  Stir into slow cooker and cover and cook 30 minutes longer.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 hot Italian sausage as my hubby likes the spicy food.  It was actually fairly mild and I will probably try all hot sausage next time.  I also used the Italian stewed tomatoes for the extra seasoning and flavor.

This recipe came from a blog that I follow:
"Always Tie Your Apron Strings"


Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Sunday (on Monday!)

 I tried to post this yesterday, but for some reason, Blogger was acting
Happy Sunday on Monday!

Woke up to sunshine today and no rain.  Yes my fellow Northern Californians - that is the SUN!  Yay!  It looks like it's going to be a dry week! 

Went to Church and Karate yesterday, Chris gave both lawns a much needed haircut, pulled a few more weeds that have sprouted (thank you rain), I got some pots ready to plant some flowers and we swept and straightened the back deck of winter dirt and debris. Things in our yard are starting to bloom and grown...

Whether you have rain, sun or snow today, may God's blessings shine upon you!  Here's to a great week ahead...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring - Wherefore Art Thou?

"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~ Henry VanDyke"

Okay - we all know officially March 20th was the 1st day of spring, but in my neck of the woods in the Bay Area of Northern California, it's absolutely pouring today!  I know we need the rain but sheesh.......! 
I think Puxatawny Phil was wrong this year!

I know that spring is just around the corner and then the dreaded heat of summer.  What are the first signs of spring for me?  Hockey season is almost over and baseball season is starting (although I haven't watched much hockey this year).  The days get longer and the stack of wood for the fireplace gets shorter.  My hydrangeas have beautiful, new green leaves and the gladiolas are starting to sprout.  Chris and I start thinking about the 1st ripe tomato of the season and fresh, sweet, white corn and juicy, yummy-licious nectarines are at the store.

My fingers itch to plant pretty annuals and shrubs in the ground.  We start getting our trailer ready for the camping season and it's finally time to ride our bikes without wearing all the winter gear.

My furry "girls" love to roll around on the lawn and play in the water. No more sweaters and boots, but sandals and sparkly toes....and it's time to start shaving my legs again on a regular basis.....

I LOVE Spring!  It's my favorite season of the year.  Everything is green and fresh and beautiful!  The flowers bloom, the butterflies and birds are abundant and it's not so hot that we have to use the air conditioner and can keep the windows and doors open.

But for a few more days I'm sure, it will be flannel jammies when I get home from work, a roaring fire in the fireplace, soups and stews and cuddling on the couch with the love of my life.  LIFE IS GOOD!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Holy Smoke!

My husband, Chris, loves to cook.  And I don't mean just dabble a bit in the kitchen, I mean he does the majority of the cooking in our home (yay for me!) and always has.  It's wonderful.  Don't get me wrong, I like to cook and I'm pretty good at it too, he just likes it better and so I let him.  I mean really, why in the world would I deprive him of cooking for me?!  Chris is adventurous when it comes to food and will taste any food that's put in front of him (us) and that includes any type of fish (cooked or raw - preferably raw - which I also like), any type of organ meat ( I did try beef heart and pig stomach when we were in Okinawa), any type of veggie, pasta, meat, game, ethnicity etc., you name it - he's either tried it or is willing to try it at least once.  And most of the time HE LIKES IT!  The man is strange...

He is also adventurous when it comes to food preparation and will cook, grill, poach, saute, stir-fry, BBQ etc. anything.  Which usually means we need the equipment that will help him cook, grill, poach, saute, stir-fry, BBQ anything.  We have awesome knives and cookware, Dutch ovens, grill pans, saute pans, two BBQ's, several kinds of salts and peppers and spices.  He wanted to make Chicken Cacciatore not long ago and the recipe required a potato ricer, which we didn't have.  I was assured that the only PROPER way to remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes was to use the potato ricer.  And yes...we now own one.  You name it - we have it.  Thank goodness for those 20% off coupons at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

So...a couple of weeks ago we were invited for BBQ burgers at Regena and Pat's house.  While Pat was grilling the burgers he and Chris started talking about smoking meats and comparing notes.  Chris has a small smoker that we bought last year.  It's cute and red and looks like R2D2 from Star Wars.  He's used it a number of times and the meat turns out wonderful.  Well....Pat has a BIGGER smoker and Chris started checking it out and looking at it every which way, in every nook and cranny.  And then he got busy and made one...from one week...along with an accompanying cookbook of ideas and recipes for smoking meat, poultry and fish.  It's a 55-gallon drum and one of the ends is removable, with two removable racks inside to hold the meat and of course the area for the wood that is used for the smoking.  It's awesome!  This past Saturday we purchased two beef briskets and he used Pappy's Seasoning as the rub (Pat's recommendation) and placed them in the smoker about 10pm on Saturday night.
A Man and His Meat - it's a good thing!

Prepped & Ready!
  They cooked through the night and all day Sunday and at about 3pm he took them out.  They looked and smelled so good!  We had an awesome dinner of smoked brisket, three kinds of salad (potato, mac and 3 bean), baked beans and bread.  Yummo times Ten!
Before closing the smoker

All Done - YUMMO!
We have three carnivores for sons so I know that Chris will be using this latest piece of cooking equipment quite often this summer.  He wants to try a turkey and a salmon, and I'm sure there will be ribs thrown in the mix at one point.  Do I complain when he buys something new for cooking?  Most of the time.  Do I complain when he uses the "something new" to cook me a meal?  Never!  I'm spoiled rotten and he treats me like a Queen!  He's such a Stud.... :o)