Simple Soup

Simple Soup just may be the fastest and easiest meal you will ever make.  {Brittany's Pantry}Just a quick note to post this fantastic soup.  We have company this week and I made this for a light supper the other night when we were all still full from lunch, but wanted a little something.  A fresh, steaming batch of popovers and it was the perfect meal!  It takes less than 15 minutes to make, its satisfying, and the ingredients can always be on hand.  Its the perfect warm lunch on a chilly weekend or quick dinner during the week.  I got the idea when I saw Giada DeLaurentiis make something similar on the Food Network, but never looked up the recipe.  I have no idea how close this is to her original, but its what I have been making for the last several years.  Alter as you like and enjoy!

Simple Soup

2 boxes good quality chicken broth
1 small package cheese tortellini, refrigerated or frozen
1 tsp dried parsley
fresh ground black pepper

Bring all ingredients, except pasta, to a boil.  Add pasta and simmer for several minutes or until pasta floats and is cooked through.  Serves 4.
Note: Feel free to use any kind of refrigerated or frozen filled pasta.  Smaller seems to work better, but there are alot of different varieties of tortellini out there.  There are even whole wheat filled pastas which is awesome in this soup.

Roast Pork W/Mustard & Peach Glaze

Roast Pork W/Easy Mustard Peach GlazeCan  you really have too much of a good thing?

That is what I was asking myself as I tried to organize my recipes; an ongoing process that doesn’t ever seem to end.  Seriously, I could hire someone full time to keep them organized and they would never run out of work.  Admittedly, I don’t have the best system, but I can think of no other way.  Right now, I have a small recipe box that I keep in my baking cupboard that has the recipes that I don’t have memorized but that I use all the time.  Everything else, if it isn’t in a cookbook, is in a binder.  I have a stack of white, three ring binders that I use for all the recipes that I write down while watching a TV show, rip out of a magazine, print off the computer, copy from someone else and so on.  I have a binder for Appetizers/Drinks and Misc, Pasta, Main Dishes, Breads and Breakfast, Side Dishes, Cake, Desserts, Cookies Bars and Candies, Kid Food…and I think that’s it.  Each binder is then broken down into sub-categories.  All of the recipes are cut and pasted together old-school style, and then slipped into plastic sheet covers, something I have found to be handy when I am slinging food around the kitchen.  When I have a recipe I need, I just unclip that page from the binder and then return it when I am done.

The problem with this?  The sheer amount of time it takes me to sort, trim, and add the recipes when I have literally, thousands.  The only good thing about this is that I have quite a memory for recipes.  Especially if I have made it before, I can remember what the text looked like, the color the paper was that it was printed on, and where on the page it was taped.  Every once in awhile, I send Mike, my husband, through a binder looking for something specific.  He is rolling his eyes and I am telling him “It has big bold printing in all lowercase and the recipe is in the bottom left-hand corner of the page.”  However, if anyone has a faster and easier way to store misc recipes, I am all ears.  I do edit as I go, tossing recipes I see that I have no idea why I kept in the first place, or after a second look, eliminated because I would never realistically make that dish.  And so, because I have never stopped collecting recipes, my binders are in a constant state of disarray.  But hey!  What do you care!?  All my craziness weeds out the not so good foods and passes on the fantastic.  Only winners on this blog, please.  Of course, winning recipes are based soley on my judgement, but you will just have to trust me.  Me and my binders.

Speaking of winning recipes, this one we never get sick of.  I could make it once a week and still drool all over the dinner table.  Super quick, super easy, and sooo good.  Enjoy!Roast Pork W/Easy Mustard Peach Glaze Mustard and Peach Glaze

1/2 c peach or apricot jam (don’t waste your money on the nice expensive stuff for this-generic tastes just as good)
2 T dijon mustard
1 heaping tsp chopped garlic

Mix and slather on pork roast or boneless pork chops before roasting.  Outrageously good.

Tator-Tot Casserole is a true Minnesota tradition! {Brittany's Pantry}There are many things that define a region or state.  With Colorado, its the Rockies.  Maine makes me think of lobsters.  The west coast brings to mind visions of Hollywood.  Iowa?  Well…nothing comes to mind when I think of Iowa.  *smile*  And while people always ask me if Minnesota really IS the land of 10,000 lakes (as I assure them it is, more than 12,000 actually), I am glad that its Minnesota’s landscape-and our weather-that most people recognize.

But there is a little known culinary masterpiece that I have taken from my youth and added to my regular line-up of tried and true dishes.  A true Minnesota tradition that I have made for sailors in Hawaii and San Diego, college students in Wisconsin, and now, my own family in the corn fields of Illinois.  A favorite among the people, I am talking about Tator-Tot Hotdish.  Mmmm, the best use of canned soup and a pound of ground beef north of the Rio Grande.  I made it for dinner last night and the second I opened the oven door, I was a kid again.  I don’t think my Mom ever had a recipe for it, she just kinda, threw it together.  And I don’t know if she made it when she was little, as I am having a hard time picturing my Grandmother making this dish on the farm, but who knows!  Now to those of you who are reading this and nodding fondly, reminiscing about the tator-tor hotdish of your youth, let me be clear.  I do not wish to replace your recipe.  Only to offer mine to those who have not yet been enticed by its goodness.  Like most casseroles, this takes minimal skill and very little time.  I used to make it when I was in Jr. High after I got home from school.  So give it a try.  Enjoy.  And experience a bit of Minnesota tradition with every bite.

Tator-Tot Hotdish

1 lb of ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
Brown the ground beef and the onion.  Drain off fat.  Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Add:  1 can green beans, drained
1/2 small bag of frozen corn, about 1 1/2 c
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Half of a large bag of tator tots

Mix all ingredients together and pour into sprayed casserole dish.  Dump the second half of the bag of tator tots on top of the casserole and spread evenly.  Bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour, or until the center is bubbly and the top is brown.  Leftovers are awesome.

Note:  Add whatever veggies you like.  I use these because they don’t get mushy when they bake and they taste good with the potatoes.  If you like peas, add them.  Diced peppers are your favorite?  Go for it.  Its a casserole!  Just dump it all together and bake!