Creamy Potato Soup

Fall is upon us here in Chicago. I love fall for some many reason, but mostly for the food! I love a nice comfort dish, like a delicious bowl of soup, or a stew or chili. Anything I can put in a cute little bowl and enjoy on a crisp fall day.

Potato soup is one of my favorites. It’s usually the first kind I think about when I am craving soup. This potato soup is nothing short of delicious. I use half and half vs. heavy cream to keep it a little lighter. This is finished off with some sour cream which really takes this soup to the next level. You can easily adjust the flavors. Keep in mind all recipes of mine have my taste buds in mind. However, the spices can easily be adjusted.

I need to talk about these adorable soup/chili bowls I got from Amazon. I ordered them and couldn’t wait for them to arrive and couldn’t wait to use them. They are absolutely perfect for soup, chili, pasta, stew, or anything that need to go in a bowl. Check out my Amazon favorites https://www.amazon.com/shop/garlic_and_oliveoil_veins for the bowls. They are fairly inexpensive and they are oven, microwave and dishwasher save! I can’t wait to use them over and over!!

So, check out this delicious recipe!

Creamy Potato Soup

Ingredients:
4 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups celery, diced (about 4 stalks)
2 cups onion, diced (2 medium onions)
4 cups russet potatoes, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 -32 oz chicken stock
1 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup light sour cream
8 oz shredded cheese ( I used cheddar jack)
2 T grated Romano cheese
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
3 T flour
2 t thyme
2 t rosemary
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
2 t salt
2 t pepper

Toppings:
cheese
chopped bacon
green onions

Directions: Heat a large stockpot/ soup pot on high heat. Add in the olive oil and let heat 2 minutes. Add in the celery, onions and garlic, cook till tender and fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in the butter and let melt. Sprinkle the onion mixture with the flour and mix well. Let the flour cook about 3 minutes.

Next add in the chicken broth and mix well. Add in the potatoes and half of the thyme and rosemary. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. After the 30 minutes make sure the potatoes are fork tender.

Remove pot from the stove and use an immersion blender to break up the potatoes. If you want to keep the soup a little heartier you can keep some of the potato pieces whole. I prefer a smoother finish so I make sure all the potatoes are pulsed.

Next add in the shredded cheese and half and half and mix well. Make sure that the cheese is fully melted. Season the soup with the garlic and onion powder, the rest of the thyme and rosemary, the crushed red pepper and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add in the chopped bacon. Let simmer on low for 10 minutes mixing a few times .

To finish the soup, add in the sour cream and Romano cheese and mix till it’s fully melted. To serve using a ladle add into a soup bowl and top with shredded cheese, chopped bacon and green onions. Enjoy!

Notes: You can adjust this to make it vegetarian. Use veggie broth and remove the bacon! It will still be delicious. I use low sodium chicken broth in this as well. Keep in mind with doing that you will need to make sure the soup is seasoned enough with salt. I prefer to add my own salt vs getting all the salt from the broth, therefore I can control the salt level.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

This chicken recipe is a super healthy take on a gyro. It’s made with marinated chicken with Greek yogurt and herbs. The good thing about this is you can put anything else you’d like in the pita. Below I gave a few options. This particular one I made I put feta cheese, onion, tomato and kalamata olives. Yum! This comes out really delicious. It’s super simple to make and great for left overs. This chicken is great even on a salad. The marinade really makes it!

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken:
6 chicken breasts, diced
2 T olive oil
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon juice and zest
3 garlic cloves, grated
2 t salt
2 t pepper
1 t dill
2 t oregano
1 t parsley

Directions: In a medium mixing bowl add the above ingredients except the chicken. Mix well to incorporate. Next add in the diced chicken and mix to make sure all the chicken is coated. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Tzatziki Sauce
1 1/2 cups cucumbers, grated
1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 T extra virgin Olive Oil
1 T dried dill, (2 T fresh)
1 T lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 t salt

Directions: Once cucumbers are grated wrap in a towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Do this until most of the excess moisture seems to be removed. Add to a bowl. Add in all the above ingredients. Mix well. Place in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Save for later.

Gyro Extras:
Pita bread
Onions
Tomato
Kalamata Olives
Feta Cheese
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Peppers

Directions: Heat a large non stick skillet on medium high heat. Once heated, add in the chicken. Make sure the chicken is completely flat and not overlapping. Turn the pan up to high. Let the chicken cook 3-4 minutes and then mix and let cook another 3-4 minutes. In order to get the nice coloring of the chicken you may need to drain any excess liquid. Sometimes the marinade produces to much liquid. If that happens, just drain out the liquid and that will help the chicken brown and get crispy.

To assemble the gyro warm the pita slightly. You can either warm in the oven in foil or the microwave wrapped in paper towel. Add the tzatziki sauce to the pita and top with a few spoonful of chicken. Next top with your favorite toppings. I personally like onion, you can use white or red, tomatoes and some kalamata olives, add some crumbled feta and enjoy!

Note: This chicken is great frozen. You can freeze any extra for another meal. Use any toppings you like to make the gyro delicious to you.

Chili Cheese Baked Hot Dogs

Sometimes you just need a meal that’s more indulgent and a little fun! That’s where these baked chili cheese hot dogs come in. They are best eaten with a fork! They are fun to make, can be made super quickly and you only need a few ingredients! They are prefect for when you have friends over, after a night out drinking or just a fun meal for kids!

Chili Cheese Baked Hot Dogs

Ingredients:
1 package all beef hot dogs
1 can no bean chili
1 package hot dog buns
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup cheese sauce/dip, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. In an oven save dish add the hot dog buns with the hot dogs. Spoon on an even amount of chili over each hot dog. Sprinkle with onion and then cheese sauce (if using) finally sprinkle with shredded cheese. Put in the oven for 15 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve immediately! You’re need a fork!!


Fancy BLT with Arugula & Fresh Mozzarella (Minus the L)

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know how much I love BACON!  I literally love it!  I can eat it all by itself or I can make a sandwich with it.  BLTs are classic sandwiches. I feel like when someone hears you made a BLT for dinner, the immediate response is “Oh that sounds so good!”  It’s just the truth!!  I made this fancy verison of a BLT.  I kicked it up a few notches with the one! Feel free to add more or less of an ingredient. I love arugula so I add a lot and I love bacon so I add a few slices! More bacon the better!

You will want to give it a try. The flavors in the sandwich will be an explosion!

Fancy BLT with Arugula & Fresh Mozzarella (Minus the L)

Ingredients:
Yeilds 2 Sandwiches

4 slices sour dough bread
8 slices, bacon cooked, crispy
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh arugula
4-6 slices fresh mozzarella
1.5 T extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 t Italian Seasonings
1 t salt

Directions: Preheat oven 400.  In a small bowl mix together 1 T extra virgin olive oil and Italian seasoning.  Set aside.  Take the garlic cloves and cut off the top exposing the flesh of the garlic.  Rub the garlic on the sourdough bread, both sides.  Next brush the olive oil mixture on the bread to fully coat on both sides.  Place in the oven for 4-6 minutes until it gets crisp. Then add 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella to 2 of the pieces of bread.  Heat another 2-3 minutes (optional, this is just to lightly melt the cheese)

In another bowl add the arugula, (more or less if you prefer)  drizzle with remaining half table spoon of olive oil and season with salt. Set aside.

Once the bread is done, remove from the oven and assemble the sandwich.  Add half the arugula mixture to both pieces of bread on top of the fresh mozzarella, next add 2 slices of the tomato and 3-4 slices of bacon.  Top with other slices of bread and cut in half and enjoy!  It’s a beautiful looking sandwich and it taste even better then in looks!

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Classic Tomato Bruschetta

I’m happy the weather is finally starting to feel like spring. As the weather gets warmer I do like to try and eat a little lighter.  Light snacks, or light meals.  Lots of salads and fresh fruits and vegetables.

This classic bruschetta is a perfect example of a light and bright snack or lunch.  You can mix it up with other ingredients but this one is just a classic tomato bruschetta!

Classic Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:
4 medium tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (finely shopped)
3 T shaved parmesan
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t salt
1 t salt

Crostini:
1 baguette (about 10 oz) sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 T olive oil
2 t salt
2 t pepper

Directions: In a medium bowl add in diced tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil and mix well. Season with salt and pepper (more or less to taste)  Put in the refrigerator and let chill for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange slices of bread on a large baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown about 15-20 minutes. Once done, let cool.

Remove the tomato mixture and mix in the shaved parmesan cheese.  Next add a spoonful of the tomato mixture to the top of the crostini.  Serve immediately.

Note: You can add the cheese on top of the tomato mixture.  I chose to mix in so then it doesn’t fall off.  You can also add a splash of balsamic vinegar for an extra kick in flavor.

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Artichoke & Olive Salad

My family makes this artichoke salad as one of the sides we have for the Feast of Seven Fishes, for Christmas Eve, however I make it often as it’s just a great little simple cold salad.

I love this salad because it last for days and is great for a meal prep and healthy too! I love artichokes in every form.  I always have a few cans in my cabinet to make this salad. It’s so delicious and easy! Give it a try!

Artichoke & Olive Salad

Ingredients:

2 cans quartered artichokes, in water
2 garlic cloves, minced or very thinly sliced
1 can black olive, crushed
3 T olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t salt
2 t pepper
2 t dried oregano

Directions:  In a medium bowl, add in all the above ingredients and mix well. For the black olives, I just crush with my fingers so they care in pieces. Put in the refrigerator and let 2 hours minimum so the flavors can marry.   It’s best to take out at least 15 minutes prior to serving and mix well. The ingredients above can be changed up to your personal preference.  If you want to reduce the garlic you can, add more salt, that’s fine too! Whatever you like.

 

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