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Take It Easy Tortellini Soup

Take It Easy Creamy Tortellini Soup: Cozycakes Cottage
Before you say anything, let me say this:  Yes, I do know we’re smack dab in the middle of summer.  But I craved autumn yesterday so I made soup.  This takes hardly any time to make so I didn’t start it until 30 minutes before dinner–which means it was no longer 90° outside.  We opened the windows as we sat down to the table and a cool breeze danced around us as we enjoyed garlic bread and this creamy tortellini soup.  Just what I needed.
Take It Easy Creamy Tortellini Soup (2): Cozycakes Cottage

I usually add a little of this and a bunch of that to this filling soup without measuring.  So yesterday I eyeball-measured it for you.  No matter if you’re off by a bit.  Love when you can relax with a recipe, do what you wish without fear of messing it up–just taking it easy while you toss it all in the pot.  Use whatever you have on hand, but adding your own homemade spaghetti sauce gives it a great flavor.  Short on time or no homemade sauce in the freezer?  Take a shortcut and use your favorite jarred sauce.  Do what works for you, make it your own.  🙂

Take It Easy Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced very small
  • about 5 cups homemade spaghetti sauce (or a 24 0z. jar store-bought works, too)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 a large zucchini, shredded
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach (I used one plastic organic spinach container–but I often use a lot more)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (I prefer cremini, but use whatever you like)
  • 9 – 20 oz. fresh cheese-filled tortellini (I use 1 large package refrigerated Buitoni or 2 smaller packages depending on how much pasta I want)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan, optional

In a large stockpot, brown beef, garlic, and onion in olive oil.  Drain fat.  Add carrots to meat mixture and cook another 2 minutes.  Turn the heat to medium and stir in the spaghetti sauce.  Use a whisk to stir in the cream cheese until it is smooth.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat a bit to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, and tortellini.  Simmer for about 7-9 more minutes, just until tortellini is cooked/warmed and tender.  Grind a bit of pepper into soup and stir.  Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan.

*Cozycakes Suggestion:  I recommend Philadelphia brand cream cheese.  It’s the only brand I can vouch for in this.  Once I used a store brand that did weird things in the soup and didn’t smooth like the Philly does.  Maybe it was an off day for me, but have to put it out there.  Also, don’t worry about having a bit more or less spaghetti sauce.  It will only make your soup slightly more or less thick.  No big deal. 🙂

Enjoy! ♥

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Slow Cooker Back to Basics Beef Stew

The most comforting meals for me are often the simplest ones.  I’ve craved beef stew for over a week, but kept forgetting to pick up chuck roast and my craving was left unfulfilled.  So sad.

But I grabbed some chuck roast this week and beef stew was had last night.  Ah.  Simple and filling.  Just what I needed.  There are days when I don’t want anything foo-foo or layered with 50 flavors.  That’s how I’ve felt lately.  Maybe it’s the change in seasons that’s got me craving the comforts of good old-fashioned home cooking.  And my simple stew hit the spot last night.

This is our favorite basic stew–I even leave out garlic which I cook with daily. 🙂  If you’re looking for a comforting beef stew recipe, this might be the one for you.  I brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker because I like the extra flavor it gives the meat.  Happy Stewing!  🙂

Slow Cooker Back to Basics Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chuck roast, chopped in 1 to 1.5 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1.5 to 2 cups beef broth
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce (about a tablespoon)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced or cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Minute tapioca (If you don’t have the tapioca on hand, no worries–I use it to thicken it up to a nice stew consistency, but it’s still good without it!)

Dry the meat with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add all meat and brown.  You’re not aiming to cook the meat through, but to get the outside a nice color.  When the meat is browned, place it in the slow cooker.  If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the skillet and cook the onions on medium heat until translucent.  Add the Worcestershire, 1.5 cups broth, and tomato paste to the onions in the skillet.  Mix and cook until it just begins to boil or simmer.  Place the celery, carrots, potatoes, bay leaves, and thyme in the slow cooker.  Pour broth mixture over everything in the slow cooker.  Add Minute tapioca to the slow cooker and mix everything together.   At this point I add a few pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.   *At the 5 hour mark, I gently mix the stew and taste test, adding salt, pepper, and more broth as needed ( I usually add at least another half cup of broth at this point).  Continue to cook for one more hour.   Remove bay leaves and enjoy!

Mushroom Barley Soup

My best friend shared this recipe with me which I believe she found in Fitness magazine long ago.  I don’t have the original recipe and I made some small adjustments for my family–you can count on me adding extra garlic, Worcestershire, and onions when a recipe calls for those ingredients:)  This is one of my 3 year old’s favorite soups and she has been requesting it since she was 2:)  It is healthy, filling and I always have the ingredients on hand.  Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped & minced (less garlic if you don’t love garlic like I do)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16-20 ozs mushrooms, sliced (I use A LOT and I usually use cremini, but whatever you have works fine. I sometimes mix white button mushrooms with cremini.)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I use more)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup barley + couple Tablespoons extra (I use Quaker medium)
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked & diced

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil.  Add mushrooms and cook on medium for 10 minutes.  Add balsamic, Worcestershire sauce, and barley.  Cook a couple of minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20- 30 minutes making sure the barley has plumped up and softened.  Whisk together  1/4 cup flour and 1 cup milk.  Add to soup.  Add the diced chicken and simmer until chicken is warmed through.

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