Italian Garden Soup

Italian Garden Soup

I have had a few people ask me for this recipe and I am happy to share it with you.  It is actually a recipe taken from a cookbook, a friend and my own touches.

This soup is easy to make and very filling.  I usually serve it with homemade biscuits.

I hope you enjoy it during the cold winter months.

1 pound sausage (ground or sweet cut up-we prefer the ground sausage), or ground beef (I am going to try meatballs next time)
 extra-virgin olive oil
app 1 cup chopped or frozen onion
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, un-drained
1 can (15 1/2 ounces cannelloni beans, un-drained (you can also use navy or kidney beans if you prefer)
1 can zucchini in tomato sauce (or 1 med zucchini-chopped)
1 cup frozen cut green beans, thawed
1/2 to a 1 pkg of frozen spinach, thawed (basically use as much or as little as you like)
2 cans (14 ounces of chicken broth), I have used beef when I did not have chicken on hand and it turned out just as good)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 TBL fresh chopped fresh basil
1 pkg (9 ounces) refrigerated sausage or cheese filled tortellini pasta OR gnocchi (we have used both and both are delicious)
Grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese or a combination of the two.
 
1. Cook and drain onion and the ground meat.
2. Add meat, tomatoes with juice, beans with juice, zucchini – with sauce, green beans, spinach, broth, dash or two of olive oil and garlic powder to 5 qt crock pot.  Cover; cook on LOW for 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 1/2 hours.
3. Turn crock pot to HIGH.  Add tortellini or gnocchi and cook 20-25 minutes longer or until pasta is tender.  Stir in basil.  Garnish each serving with cheese.
 
NOTE: you do not have to add meat, that was one of my additions, my husband likes meat in his soups. I have had it without the meat and it is just as delicious.  Also you can substitute vegetables if you do not prefer to use what I do, or add more – whatever your taste.
 
ENJOY! ENJOY!
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Mutti’s Potato Salad

Summer is under way and so are the picnics and vacations.  We all share wonderful memories of our childhood and the summers spent playing baseball, hide and go seek, kickball and dreaming under the clouds.

This time of year I always think of my mother and the summer meals she would prepare.  Most meals would include cold dishes if not a cold meal.  This was when air conditioning was a luxury and we could not afford that luxury.

She made three bean salad, a dish that included cold beets, a tomato and cucumber salad, she even served baked beans cold.  But the dish I most remember her by is her Potato Salad. I can’t remember ever calling it German Potato Salad till I was well in my teens.

I never heard of potato salad with mayonnaise until I was around 8 yrs old.  Mom was German and dad was stationed in Germany when I was between 4 – 7 yrs old.  So all I ever knew was Germany and German food. 

Living stateside and in New Jersey was a different lifestyle and the neighborhood we lived in had a bit of every nationality, so I was able to sample some of the best foods that an inner city neighborhood had to offer.  It was my mother who probably introduced German potato salad to the neighborhood.

Later in life I was surprised to learn that German Potato Salad was to be served warm, because mom always served it cold.  After trying it both ways I must admit serving it cold tastes better to me.

Here is mom’s recipe for Potato Salad.   I hope I have it right because no one in my house likes it so I have not made it years and it is all from memory.

This is a picture I found of German Potato Salad the way it should look!

Mutti’s German Potato Salad (Mutti’s Deutscher Kartoffelsalat)

  • 3 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 6 slices bacon
  • Green onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I think mom used regular vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Mix with the cooled potatoes the vinegar, oil, diced green onions, salt and pepper and add a little of the bacon grease to taste. (I am sorry I cannot say how much I just add a dash or two from the pan and add more if I need more flavoring)

*Note: This is how I prepare it to  serve it cold.  If you want to serve it hot

Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned.  Add the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley.  After adding in the bacon, heat through and transfer to a serving dish.
 

 Crumble in half of the bacon – mix well.

Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, with the parsley and serve chilled.  It is good to fix the day before or first thing in the morning and keep cold till ready to serve.  The longer the potato salad chills it becomes more flavorful.  If making it the night before wait to add the bacon and garnish till ready to serve.

Much to my mother’s horror, I added to it.  I have always enjoyed creating colorful dishes that are pleasing to the eye as well as our tummies.  Mom came around and did enjoy my version of German Potato salad or as she called “Americanized German Potato Salad”!

I added shredded carrots, diced red radishes and diced pickles.  I then decorated the top of the salad with sliced carrots, pickles, quartered deviled eggs and radishes cut up like roses. 

Today when I make potato salad I follow these directions and instead of vinegar and oil I  mix it with mayonnaise, a dash of dijonnaise, a dash or two of Ranch dressing. 

 

Meatloaf

This week I bring you one of our families favorite recipes for meatloaf.  Before I begin I would like to share what I found on the history of meatloaf.
 
The meatloaf has European origins as early as the 5th century.  It is a traditional German and Belgian dish.  The American meatloaf has it origins in scrapple, a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal served by German Americans in Pennsylvania since colonial times. 
 
The meatloaf as we know it did not appear in cookbooks until the late 19th century.
 
In 2007, meatloaf was voted the seventh-favorite dish in the United States according to Good Housekeeping.
 
During the Great Depression, cooking meatloaf was a way to stretch the food budget, using an inexpensive type of meat and other ingredients as leftovers; along with spices, and adding cereal grains to the meatloaf to stretch the meat.
 
Patty’s Meatloaf
1-1 1/2 pound of meatloaf mix (I use veal, pork and beef)
1 pound lean ground beef
A generous 1/2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs ( I normally use Italian bread crumbs, but as you can see I did not have any when I made it this weekend, so I added Parmesan cheese and Italian seasonings)
1/2 cup of rolled oats
2 eggs-beaten with just a little of water)
Garlic and Onion powder to taste
Dash or two of nutmeg
BBQ sauce
Beef Broth
 
Blend meat together, add egg mixture, and 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce.
 
Blend with hands – the bread crumbs, oats, seasonings (you can add any seasoning that you prefer)
 
Shape into a loaf and put in a slow cooker, add beef broth to cover the bottom of cooker.  Cook on high 4-5 hours. 
 
Take out of the slow cooker and put in a baking dish, brush on more BBQ sauce and bake in a 325 degree oven till browned and then top with Cheese (American or Velveeta works best because it melts perfectly) Turn off oven and place meatloaf back in oven to melt cheese.
 
This normally feeds my family of 4 with plenty for leftovers.  The best thing about meatloaf is you can make it anyway you like it.  At times I had substituted the BBQ sauce for A1 sauce, one time I even added shredded carrots, and I have stuffed it with ham and cheese.  I have yet to try the Scottish way of baking it with a hard boiled – egg in the middle.
 
As I searched for the history of meatloaf I found an idea about adding mashed potatoes on top when it is done and continue baking till the potatoes are browned, sort of like a shepherd’s pie.
 
What are your favorite ingredients for meatloaf?

Easy Baked Beans

With summer coming upon us and with it the cook out season, I thought a good easy Baked Bean recipe would be a good way to start my recipe page.
 
It is very easy to make and also easy to change to your personal taste. 
 
A pastor’s wife gave me this recipe years ago after I commented on her baked beans.  With three small children, working outside the home and assuming the duties of a pastor’s wife I wondered how she had the time to cook such great homemade baked beans.  She told me her secret…this is how it all began ~
 
2 large cans of Campbells Baked Beans
sprinkle brown sugar over them
add app 1/4 cup of light corn syrup (more depending on how thick you like them)
add crumbled cooked bacon
mix together and bake in 350 degree oven for an hour or two till thickened.
 
Over the years I changed it a little bit….
 
1 large can of Bush’s regular Home-style Baked Beans
1 small can of Bush’s Onion Baked Beans
1 small can of Bush’s Maple Cured Bacon
a dollop or two ( app 1 or 2 TBL) of BBQ sauce
crumbled cooked bacon
app 1/4 cup of light corn syrup (more depending on how thick you like them)
sprinkle light brown sugar
Mix together and bake in 350 degree oven for an hour or two till thickened
 
For a meal I mix in a little bit of cooked rice and ground beef. 
 
It has been my husband’s favorite for over 15 years – that was the last I made my homemade baked beans from scratch.
 
I hope you all enjoy it –
What is your favorite picnic or cookout dish?  Let us know.