Sausage and Potato Soup

Nothing is better on a cold winter night than a hot bowl of soup! Soup isn’t usually the main course unless it’s eaten for lunch, but a hearty stew-like soup can be filling on it’s own.
I like recipes that are easy to follow and use ingredients that can be found in most kitchens. It’s disappointing to see a delicious looking dish but be unable to try it because you don’t have all the specialty ingredients on hand. In general, I will only post recipes that are easy and require basic/common ingredients so that you can try it right away. I also think it’s great when you find a recipe that isn’t too strict and allows you to easily play around with measurements and other ingredients. I love crock pot recipes but sometimes I can’t decide on a recipe until it’s almost dinner time. This is a stovetop recipe and should only take about 45 minutes from start to finish. If you’re like me, you’ll love my recipe for sausage and potato soup!

What you’ll need:

-1 lb of ground sausage (this can be breakfast sausage or Italian. You can even use links and peel them open to get the ground sausage out, or slice them into small pieces. I have even used frozen boxed breakfast sausage links- not quite as good, but it totally works!)
-5 or 6 potatoes (more or less depending on size- you’ll want it to be about the same amount as the sausage)
-about 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth or bouillon (I haven’t tried it but you could probably use beef too)
-about 2 cups of water
-kosher salt (amount depends on preference and you could substitute regular salt)
-black pepper (as peppery as you like)
-a pinch of onion powder
-a pinch of garlic powder
-a pinch of seasoned salt
-a pinch of parsley (optional)
-large stock pot
-frying pan

Step One:
Pour the stock into the stock pot and add the water. Bring to a boil.

Step Two:
Fry the sausage.

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Step Three:
While the sausage is frying, peel the potatoes. Dice them up into approximately 1/4″ chunks.

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Step Four:
Add potatoes to stock pot. Allow them to boil for 5-10 minutes until they are reasonably soft. Reduce temperature to medium low.

Step Five:
Add sausage, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, seasoned salt and parsley to the stock pot. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. If soup becomes too thick, add more broth/water.

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If you want some vegetables in your meal, add diced carrots or celery.
Feel free to play around with the amounts! Only have a 1/2 lb of sausage? Just make sure to chop it up small with your spatula to spread it through the soup better. It’s delicious even with just potato as the main ingredient!
This soup pairs well with a thick slice of hearty grain bread or a grilled cheese- although it will probably fill you up on it’s own!

Easy Wall Decor Project

Winter is my indoor season. I just hate the cold so much! Unless you ski or snowboard (which I don’t), there’s not a ton of fun outdoor activities. Which means I spend a lot of time hanging around the house. And the more time I spend in here, the more I realize my decorating is rather blah. So I’ve decided to make my least favorite season a productive one and do some pre-spring cleaning/organizing/redecorating. I know as soon as the weather turns warm and sunny I’m not going to want to be stuck inside getting this stuff done. Plus, if I’m going to be stuck in here for a couple more months, at least I can be stuck in a well-decorated, clean, and organized house.
Of course I should have started by getting the house perfectly clean, but it’s close enough and I got too excited about a new decorating project. I don’t know what to call it, but we can go with scrapbook paper wall decor for now.

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This can also be a great project for the kids to decorate their rooms, and it’s quick and easy enough that they won’t get bored halfway through.
I ran out to the craft store early yesterday afternoon and got all my supplies. I spent $11 but that included a lot of extras for future projects, plus some clearance items that were too cute to pass up.

Here’s a list of what you will need:

-3 sheets of scrapbook paper of a similar color but different patterns (I got these on sale for 36 cents each)
-3 picture frames of the same size and style (I got these for $1 each at the Dollar Tree)
-paint for the frame if you couldn’t find the exact ones you wanted
-newspaper (to protect your workspace)
-scissors
-spray adhesive or glue stick (you can skip this if you can’t find any around the house)

Step One:
Take the backing and glass out of the frames.

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Step Two:
Paint the frames. While waiting for them to dry proceed to Step Three.

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Step Three:
Use the backing from the frame to trace out the scrapbook paper. Cut the paper along the lines you traced.
Step Four:
Decide which direction you want the paper to set at. Be mindful if the print can only go one way.
Step Five:
Rub glue stick or spray the adhesive on the picture frame backing. Line up your paper and stick it on. Make sure you smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles.

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Step Six:
When your frames are dry, put the glass back in the frame (or skip it like I did- it’s not necessary and I hate the glare when the lights are on), and put the backing back in.

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Step Seven:
Hang and enjoy your creation!

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I would love to hear about your experience if you tried this project! I had a lot of fun making mine and I really like how it adds to the house.

Snow Day Dinner

It’s snowing like crazy here! Unless you’re a polar bear, you probably like to stay inside on snowy days. I know my only outdoor adventure today will be clearing off my car- reluctantly.
Days like this are perfect for relaxing inside, guilt free! Perhaps just pull out a blanket, plop yourself on the couch and catch up on your favorite tv show!
If that sounds a bit too unproductive for you, how about dusting off the crock pot and making a comforting, bone-warming dinner?!
I’m always looking for new recipes to try in my crock pot, but too often I find myself unable to cook them up because I’m missing ingredients. Oh the disappointment! It’s much worse if you live far from the grocery store, or it happens on a day like today, when it’s too cold and snowy to drive anywhere.
My goal is to find delicious, easy recipes with super basic ingredients found in every kitchen, and share them with you!
A basic hearty crock pot dish is the classic beef stew. My biggest challenge with this used to be that I didn’t always have a seasoning mix packet in the pantry. Thankfully, I found a solution- make your own! Here’s a recipe I found online to make your own seasoning. You can save a few dollars, and never again have to make a trip to the store for this one thing, or skip the dish altogether.

http://www.thesefour.com/2013/02/beef-stew-seasoning-recipe.html?m=1

I’ve tried the recipe and I think it makes a great stew- exactly what you’d expect! Now I have a big ziplock bag of this stuff in the pantry, ready for many, many more delicious meals!
Another reason why beef stew is a favorite of mine is that you only need 4 or 5 basic ingredients (besides the seasoning mix). You can use pretty much any piece of beef you have on hand. I’ve used London broil, thin sliced steaks, and many others that I can’t remember. Just make sure you cut them to the appropriate size. The rest of the ingredients are potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. If you don’t have one of the veggies, it’s not that big of a deal, but don’t forget to check your freezer in case you have a bag of one of the veggies frozen in there.

If beef stew isn’t for you, I have a boneless pork chop recipe for the crock pot. I think I invented it myself but I’m sure there’s similar recipes out there. You’ll need:

1 boneless chop per person (you can cut the bone off regular chops if that’s all you have)
1 potato per person, peeled and chopped into .5″ x .5″ x .25″ pieces
1-2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced
A teaspoon of minced garlic
Your favorite BBQ sauce
A few drops of liquid smoke- optional
Salt
Pepper
A few drops of your favorite spicy sauce (I use Lawry’s Baja chipotle marinade)
Some water

To save some time I fry the pork chops in a pan with some olive olive for a couple minutes per side (make sure it’s mostly cooked through). Place the chops in the bottom of the crock pot, and lay the sliced onions on top, then the potatoes. Mix the other ingredients together, adding just enough water to make it liquidy, not saucy. Pour the mixture in, making sure to fully cover over the potatoes, but do not fill any higher. If it does not cover, add a bit more BBQ sauce and water.
I turn my crockpot on high and cook for about 1.5-2 hours. *It will cook faster if you are making a small portion and could burn if your sauce is to thick.* To see if it’s ready, poke a chop with a fork- if it falls apart, they’re done. Also poke a potato and make sure they’re soft. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli, carrots or whatever you like.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get slow cooking! I would love to hear about your favorite “basic ingredients” crock pot meal. I always need new recipes!