I have to admit that Olive Garden isn’t actually a favourite restaurant of mine. I try to stay away from pasta as much as possible. However, if you’re like me the Olive Garden house salad and potato soup will leave a lasting impression! It took me many years, but I do believe that I have found great copy cats for both recipes. The next time you’re craving soup and salad, this combo is sure to impress. I love the added heat in both recipes….hope you enjoy them as much as my family does!
I found this recipe several years ago on Tuscan Recipes. I follow the recipe exactly as presented with the exception of using cartoned chicken broth in lieu of the water/bouillon combo. This is mostly because I can be lazy in the kitchen. Sometimes I have my own chicken bone broth on hand and will use it as an alternate as well. Otherwise, I follow it just as it is written. This soup is absolutely delicious and works every single time!
1 lb. of ground Italian Sausage
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (1 tsp may be enough for you)
1 large diced white onion
4 T. bacon pieces (or more…you can never have too much bacon)
2 tsp. garlic purée
10 cups of water and 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or 10 cups of broth)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 lb of sliced Russet potatoes (approximately 3 large potatoes)
1/4 of a bunch of chopped fresh kale (I I usually add about 2-3 cups)
Sauté the sausage and pepper flakes in a large soup pot. Drain the fat. Transfer to a bowl.
In the same pot, sauté the bacon, onions and garlic.
Add water/broth and heat to a boil.
Add potatoes and cook about half an hour on low heat.
Add the cream, sausage and kale. Stir and heat through.
I came across this recipe a few years back and make it regularly for my family to enjoy. The recipe was found on Family Fresh Meals and is absolutely delicious!
Famous House Salad Dressing:
1 packet Italian Dressing Mix 3/4 cup oil (vegetable/canola) 1/4 cup olive oil 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise 1/3 cup white vinegar 1/4 cup water 1/2 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Directions Mix all of the ingredients in a glass jar. Shake well…until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate flavours.
*It can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.
combination of romaine and iceberg lettuce (or greens of your choice)
pitted black olives
6 mild pepperoncici peppers (found near the pickles)
1-2 wedged roma tomatoes
1/2 cup croutons
freshly grated Romano and/or Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of your salad
thinly sliced red onion
Give this classic Olive Garden soup and salad combo a try and let me know what you think. These are two of my “go to” recipes for sure!
Our schedule, like so many other families, is crazy busy. I’m finding it harder and harder to stay on top of things and one of the areas I feel like I’m failing is in providing my family with good quality meals on a regular basis. I would say we eat well most of the time, but lately I’ve been feeling as though we are having more last-minute pulled together meals and I’m just not satisfied. Last weekend, I decided to find more slow cooker meals because I find it so much less stressful to come home at the end of the day and have our meal ready or at the very least close to it. In my search, I ended up on a great site called Who Needs a Cape (love the name). On the site, Katie shares how to make 40 slow cooker freezer meals in 4 hours. No way! I was intrigued and spent quite a bit of time exploring the site. What fascinated me the most was that I could pre-make the meals, freeze them and then just dump them in the slow cooker without having to spend time preparing the slow cooker meals in the morning before work. It almost seemed to good to be true.
In my reading, I discovered, that she also posted different options including how to make 7 meals in one hour. This seemed like a great place to start because some of the larger meal plans (30 and 40) involve doubling recipes and making enough for two separate meals. This makes great sense if your family likes the recipe, but if not, it could be a big waste of money. (I was also a bit concerned about the recipes tasting watered down because in my experience, freezing sometimes does that.) So, on my last day off, I spent the morning grocery shopping (using the shopping lists she provides on the site – so great!!) I got home at noon and by 12:10, I was making the first slow cooker freezer meal. I can’t say I was super organized. I was taking ingredients out as I needed them and labelling bags as I went. In the end it took me an hour and half to complete all 7 of her meals. However, I was “on a roll” and ended up making a few other recipes that I had found on-line. In the end, I made 13 meals in 3 1/2 hours. I was so excited (and exhausted), but the true test will be when the meals are served to my family. I must say I was pretty proud of my accomplishment and the fact that I tried 11 new recipes in one day seemed like one of the craziest things I’ve ever attempted in the kitchen.
Last week, we ate the first slow cooker freezer meal and it was a huge success! The whole family gave the Sausage & White Bean Slow Cooker Soupa thumbs up. I didn’t adapt the recipe at all, but in the future I’ll be sure to double it. The only complaint was that there wasn’t any left! I was even more excited about my 3 1/2 meal marathon after we’d tested the first one and it was hit. I can’t wait to try the next recipe and see how it scores with the family.
Crumble breakfast sausage into pan and cook thoroughly, drain & let cool if freezing. Place all items into slow cooker, stir and cook on low 6 hours. If freezing, add all ingredients EXCEPT chicken broth into gallon-sized freezer bag. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before placing into slow cooker. Add chicken broth & cook on low 6 hours.
I can’t say how much the meals cost because I bought items far beyond what was needed for the meal preparation and had many of the required items on hand already. What I do know is that it will help reduce the stress of not knowing what to make for dinner, the frustration of having to run to the grocery store for items we don’t have in the house or even worse, the feelings of defeat when you accept the futility of being at a total loss and order-in or pick-up fast food as a last resort. Obviously, the few hours spent preparing seems like a miniscule sacrifice in comparison to the rewards of convenience, stress free meal times and the peace of mind knowing that your family is getting a well-balanced home cooked meal. I’m feeling blessed to have found Who Needs a Cape ~ this might just be life changing… can’t wait to taste the remaining meals!
PS We’ve tried two of the other new recipes that I found and used that day, but will far less success. Both were found on a different site and although super easy to prepare, the results were less weren’t very impressive. The Chicken Broccoli Alfredo and Hawaiian Chicken had mixed reviews, but no one thought they were great. I am still very optomistic and can’t wait to try the remaining 6 meals from Who Needs a Cape. I’ll keep you posted.
With Christmas around the corner, I know I need to get my “ducks in a row” to be able to avoid out growing my jeans over the holidays. I love Christmas baking and need to be able to off-set my sweet tooth with some healthy soup.
My three day cleanse soup from The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas is Carrot Ginger. The recipe doesn’t give exact amounts and I can honestly say I don’t really enjoy it that much. I decided that I would search for another Carrot Ginger Soup Recipe in hopes of finding something similar, but with better flavour. I found this absolutely delicious recipe on the Food Network. The recipe was submitted by Maxine Bonneau and received rave reviews. Obviously with a 5 star rating, the recipe didn’t require “tweaking”, but I did modify it to make it more similar to the one suggested in The Plan.
Cindy’s Carrot Ginger Soup
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 a zucchini, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Salt and white pepper
Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions, carrots, garlic, zucchini and ginger. Sauté the veggies for about 5 minutes to bring out the flavours.
Add the broth, cover with a lid and bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender). Purée until smooth. *Be careful if you use a blender as the pressure in the blender builds up with hot liquids and it can be very dangerous – see note below.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop sour cream and parsley sprigs.
*When blending hot liquids: Allow the hot liquid to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer it to a blender and fill it no more than halfway. Release one corner of the lid to prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse it a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
Comparing the soups: The differences between the soup recipe suggested on the cleanse and this one are the chicken broth, suggested spices and sour cream. You may want to omit the sour cream, but it really is delicious when stirred in. Maxine’s soup didn’t include garlic or zucchini and I omitted the 1 cup of whipping cream. Although I’m sure it is very good with the cream, in my opinion the sour cream adds enough of a creamy flavour without the extra calories. This marriage of the two recipes makes a healthier version of the delicious Carrot Ginger Soup recipe. I can’t say it has the same properties as the “cleanse” soup, but it is certainly a good alternative for me. I love the soup and seem to have good results using it in place of the recipe I don’t really care for.
If you are looking for a new never fail, always delicious soup recipe…..this is it. I originally found this soup recipe on the Kraft Canada website and then adapted it slightly. It is probably our very favourite soup and even a double batch is gobbled up within a couple of days. Super easy and quick to make and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Taco Soup Recipe
1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 – 540 ml (19 oz) can of black beans, rinsed (original recipe calls for two, but I find one is enough)
1 – 540 ml (19 oz) can of Alymer’s Spicy Red Pepper canned tomatoes*
1 – 398 ml (14 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 cup of frozen corn
1 package of taco seasoning mix (I use low sodium) *If you don’t have the spicy red pepper tomatoes and are substituting for regular, I’d use hot taco seasoning)
2 cups of water
1 cup of shredded cheddar or Tex Mex cheese
Brown the ground beef with the onions in a large pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. (If I have the time, I will often turn the temperature down to the lowest possible temperature and let the soup simmer for much longer.) Any leftover soup will taste great the next day as well. To serve, add a dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, crushed nachos and a squirt of fresh lime juice. (You can serve this however, you like, but the sour cream is the magic ingredient that really takes this soup to the next level. I like to stir it in to give the soup a bit of a creamy taste. Mmmm!) This soup is so yummy and turns out every single time.
*Alymer’s Spicy Red Pepper canned tomatoes is a staple in our pantry. We use it in chili and spaghetti sauce as well as this recipe. It seems to really enhance the flavour of almost any tomato based recipe you are making.
This has been a family favourite of our for a long time. This soup is bursting with flavour and very filling. I couldn’t find the original source, but I have modified it over the years, so will just share our version.
Tortellini Soup Recipe:
1/4 lb Hot Italian Sausage with the casings removed
1 chopped green pepper (cut in 1/2″ squares)
1/2 cup dried onion flakes (when I don’t have any, I just use chopped onions.)
1 clove of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 900 ml carton of chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 cans of water (28 oz)
1 28oz tin of diced tomatoes (you can use Italian if you wish, but regular is fine too)
1 19 oz tin of Aylmer’s Spicy Red Pepper Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley
1 thinly sliced zucchini
1 package of frozen meat tortellini
salt and pepper
Fry up the sausage, green pepper, onion, garlic, oregano and zucchini until done. Be sure to break up the sausage into smaller pieces with a fork, as the mixture cooks. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This soup is quite chunky, if it is not liquidy enough for you add additional chicken broth and/or water, but be careful not to water down the flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated parmesan cheese on top. This is great served with garlic bread and Caesar Salad. Delicious!!
My hubby is on holidays right now and was looking for a healthy new soup to try. He found this recipe in our P90X Cookbook. This is only the second recipe we have ever made from the book, but the Island Pork Tenderloin is one of our favourites and this soup proved to be very tastey as well. I think we need to take a serious look at this book because both of the recipes we’ve tried have been both delicious and healthy.
P90X Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Although this recipe came from our P90X recipe book, I found this link for it on food.com. My husband had the soup ready when I got home from work today. He sure knows how to make my day – love that!!
2 cups white wine (added about 1/2 cup extra)
1 onion, finely chopped
5 red peppers, roasted
2 cups celery
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Optional: Garnish with Parmesan Cheese, Sour Cream and/or chopped Green Onions
Place peppers on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Give them a half turn and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Pull and discard the stems. (Don’t worry about removing the seeds.)
While peppers are baking, chopped the vegetables for the soup.
Heat wine in large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, red peppers, and celery. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook 2 more minutes, adding more wine if necessary.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
Puree soup in a food processor. Return to pan, add seasonings, and heat through.
A while back I shared my all time favourite homemade grilled cheese sandwich recipe. Recently, I decided to try something completely different and it was very yummy as well.
Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese:
Balderson’s aged white cheddar cheese (from Costco)
about 1/6 of an apple very thinly sliced
sliced red onion
hot peppers (I always have a jar of Bick’s Banana Pepper Rings in my fridge.)
Place the ingredients inside the sandwich and grill as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich with the outsides buttered. (I find that the cheese melts more effectively, if you cover it.) Once the bread has browned on the outside, and the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich from the pan and enjoy!
I grew-up on a very limited menu. My mom was a good cook and a great baker, but we always seemed to have the same things. Some of you 70’s kids might have had a similar menu:
Lunches often consisted of:
soup from a can or box ~ the choices included chicken noodle, mushroom or tomato soup with crackers
sandwiches ~ one slice of processed meat and butter, peanut butter and honey or jam, cheese whiz or egg salad
grilled cheese sandwiches ~ with processed cheese slices, of course
“black” buns ~ this was actually one of my favourites…open faced buns with Cheese Whiz smeared on top and then broiled until they turned all black and bubbly on top
Alphaghetti (and toast)
I won’t go into our dinner menu, but I am sure many of you also ate things such as liver and onions, fried bologna and pork chops that were cooked in such a manner that you had to use a chain saw to cut through the suckers!
Although I don’t consume a ton of grains, I do still like the odd burger or sandwich. I stick with whole wheat bread as it seems to agree with my body the best. Generally speaking, I stick to one or two slices of bread per day. Over the past year, I have been doing lots of experimenting with food. I discovered many of my “friendly” foods by following a book called The Plan. However, in doing so, I eventually found that I became bored with some of the foods I was eating on a regular basis and was looking for alternative ways to consume them. One day, I decided to combine a few of my very favourite foods to make my own version of a grilled cheese sandwich.
Spicy Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
2 slices of bread, buttered on the outside for grilling
hot peppers (from a jar ~ I always have a jar of Bick’s Banana Pepper Rings in my fridge.)
cheese of your choice
1/2 an avocado, mashed with a fork
Yummy avocado grilled cheese.
Melted cheese and peppers, opened up and ready for the avocado.
Place the cheese and peppers inside the sandwich and grill as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich. (I find that the cheese melts more effectively, if you cover it.) Once the bread has browned on the outside, and the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich from the pan. Open the sandwich and add the mashed avocado. Close the sandwich back-up. You can either eat it right away or return it to the pan on low heat to heat the avocado slightly. Either way, it is super delicious. This is hands-down one of my absolute favourite sandwiches. Although I rarely have the time or energy to cook up bacon to go with this sandwich, I have tried it and it is a fabulous addition.
If you have a chance to give this a try, please let me know if you like it as much as my husband and I do. (My children have never tried it as they will only eat “Fake Grilled Cheese Sandwiches” and yes that is exactly how they request them….”Fake cheese, please!” (They aren’t fans of avocado either…..at least not yet!)
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My mom was not Ukrainian, but when she married my dad, she learned how to make many of the traditional Ukrainian dishes. Over the years, she perfected her borscht and her borscht recipe is not only delicious, but brings back great memories of when she was still with us.
My Mom’s Borscht Recipe:
ham soup bone (pork or beef bone will work as well)
1/2 head of cabbage (You can use drained sauerkraut in lieu of cabbage, but I never do)
2-3 cups chopped onion
2 large grated carrots
1 diced potato
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (largest size)
1 can of white beans (or soaked dry beans)
3-5 cups of diced beets (I probably use close to 5 cups in mine)
2-3 bay leaves
fresh parsley (dry is fine)
2 cloves minced garlic
fresh dill (I don’t measure, but I am guessing a few tablespoons at least)
pepper and salt
1 cup of sour cream (plus extra for serving)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Make a very simple homemade stock by filling a large pot with water and the soup bones. You can add bay leaves and salt and pepper to the stock if you wish, but I generally just boil the bones and add the extra flavours to the borscht. Bring to a boil and continue to simmer or cook on low so that the stock is just at the boiling point. I usually leave mine on the stove for several hours and usually do this the day before. Remove the bones and reserve the broth for the soup.
Sauté onion, grated carrot, cabbage and garlic in a large pot with a bit of butter or olive oil. Add potato and bay leaves. Fill the pot to about 2/3 with your homemade stock. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste). Simmer 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place whole beets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil for approximately 45 minutes or until a fork can be stuck into the beet easily (like testing a potato). Remove the beets from heat and transfer the pot to the sink. Run cold water over the beets and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, rub the skin off of the outside. The outer layer will remove very easily and there is no need to peel them, but it can get a bit messy. I don’t usually wear latex gloves, but you could. Just be careful because the beet juice can stain your clothes and hands. Once you’ve “peeled” the beets with your hands, you will need to dice them. I used to do this by hand, but now I use a little manual food processor/chopper. Whatever works for you.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, beans and dill to the soup.
Mix one cup of sour cream and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda together in a measuring cup – stir the ingredients together. Now this is the hard part, add the prepared beets and sour cream mixture to the soup 10 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING. This means, that you don’t get much opportunity to taste test the finished soup, as the last ingredients are added right at the end. Resist the temptation to throw everything in at the same time, you really want to wait until the end before adding the beets.
Serve the borscht with a dollop of sour cream on top.
Warning: Once the soup has been made, you don’t ever want to bring it to a crazy hot boil again as it will totally take the colour out of your soup and look disgusting. When re-heating, do so carefully.
This seems like a lot of work, but not if you have a food processor to do the chopping for you. I always use to do everything by hand and found it to be quite a bit of work, but now it is pretty simple to make as it is the cutting that seems to take so long. This recipe makes a large batch of soup and freezes well, so I often freeze half the borscht and we enjoy it twice! I hope you love this borscht as much as we have. I am so glad that I not only got my mom’s recipe, but that she “walked” me through the steps of making it before she passed away. What a special gift ~ enjoy!
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You all know how much I love Lyn Genet-Recitas and her book The Plan. I have posted about it often and have been feeling the need to need to give my body a break and what better way than with carrot soup. I had stopped taking my Omega 3 supplements months ago because I have been so “reactive” to fish. I thought I would give it another whirl for two weeks to see if it made a difference or not. Now I must admit my body has not been in a purely “friendly” state for testing the supplements, but I can say that the scale has steadily climbed and they might just be the culprits. I quit taking them again today and will wait and see what happens over the next few days….interesting??
So, this brings me to today’s recipe. I have made the Carrot Ginger Soup from The Plan many times, in fact I’ve had it so much that I am a little tired of it. Although it is good, I never really loved it. I think the problem is that the recipe doesn’t give much direction in the form of how much of each spice to add. I am not great at figuring things like this out and don’t write down how much I added as I am often trying to add a bit more of this or that to tweak the flavour. The result is that I ended up with a different flavour every time I make it and even when it is really good, I can’t seem to match it the next time. So, I decided to go in search of a recipe that was similar, but perhaps more thorough or with a splash of something different. I had to be careful because I need this to remain a “friendly” food that can be a great alternative for the recipe I had.
This is a picture of Lily’s soup from Big Bang Studio.
Roasted Carrot Soup with Apple:
I found this awesome sounding recipe at Big Bang Studio and decided to see if it would serve both of my purposes – provide the same nutritional value and be outrageously delicious, as claimed in the post. I have to start by saying that this soup was “souper” easy to make and it is my absolute new favourite ~ unfortunately I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if the rest of my body likes it as much as my taste buds….it is in fact outrageously delicious as claimed!! I followed the recipe quite closely, but made a few minor changes. Here’s Lily’s recipe with the few changes I made.
salt and pepper
Jumbo bag of baby carrots (I used just under two pounds of regular sized organic carrots and chopped them in about 3″ chunks and halved the shaft if it seemed too big) 1/2 zucchini cut into thick chunks (I added this because my recipe from The Plan had zucchini in it and I wanted to keep it as close as possible).
1 MacIntosh apple
1 good-sized sweet onion, diced (Maui, Vidalia, or Walla Walla)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 32 oz. cartons of good chicken stock
few sprigs of thyme
orange juice (optional)
In roasting dish: Mix a little olive oil and salt and pepper over the carrots, apple and zucchini. Roast on the middle rack for 1 hour at 400 degrees, tossing once if you remember. You seriously could stop here. The roasted carrot, zucchini and apple was unbelievable. I will be making my next roasted veggie dish exactly this way.
In large stock pot, sauté the onion, garlic and fresh ginger. Place the onion mixture and the roasted veggies in a food processor or blender. Don’t over process into mush. (I actually used my little manual processor so mine ended up being very finely chopped, but not puréed) .
Add the chicken stock to the large stock pot you used for the onions and turn the temperature to medium. Throw a few sprigs of thyme in and a dash of good curry powder. (I couldn’t find fresh Thyme, so I used some ground Thyme that I had at home). Stir occasionally, letting soup thicken and the flavours ripen. Add a splash of orange juice if your carrots aren’t sweet enough. Just before serving, add a cup or two of cream if you like. I didn’t want to add the cream to the base and it was very good without, although I am guessing it would be over the top with the cream. However, I absolutely couldn’t resist giving my freshly made Crème Fraîche a try. I added a blob to my bowl of soup an stirred it in . They must serve this soup in heaven. I am sure of it!
Serve hot. For an A+ presentation: in each bowl add a wee swirl of cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt or Crème Fraîche with a crack of black pepper, and a leaf or sprig of whatever live herb you have on hand. Crusty rustic bread is a must. Enjoy!
Comparing the Two Soups:
The Plan recipe calls for carrots, zucchini, onion, garlic, raw ginger, cinnamon, cumin, onion powder, pepper and water.
This recipe also contains carrots, zucchini, onion, garlic, pepper and raw ginger. However, it also has an apple, chicken stock and a few different spices. The other possible issue in terms of being “cleanse worthy” is that the veggies are roasted. Although The Plan recommends roasted vegetables for other meals, I am not sure if it alters the “state” of the soup and thus may impact its effectiveness.
So here is my summary – Who cares? This soup is to die for, I absolutely loved it. Having said that, it would be so sweet if I were able to get similar results to that of Lyn’s recipe from The Plan. Here’s to being hopeful that I pass the scale test tomorrow a.m.! Be careful with the cream as that is where the danger is. It really is very good without it, so you may want to omit the cream from your shopping list on purpose, so you won’t be tempted. I ‘m doomed. I have a full jar of Crème Fraîche in my fridge and I already made the mistake of testing it in the soup. Most likely a big mistake ~ it was so good! Let me know what you think of the soup. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I have. (I made it for dinner, but have already had 3 small bowls – I hope it last until dinner time!)
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