Sunday, July 1

Our Pregnancy Announcement

After playing around with a few ideas, I've finally decided on an announcement to send to our family and friends!


Update: November 2013 ~ Our announcement has almost 400 pins on Pinterest! Woah.. Thank you all!

Sunday, June 10

Smoked Chicken Wings

Today is such a happy day here in my household! Today is my handsome husbands 23rd birthday! I told him he could have anything in the whole entire world for dinner tonight, and he chose Chicken Wings. For Christmas last year one of his big gifts was an electric smoker. So he and I decided to try out a recipe for smoked wings. For the most part, its uncommon to smoke wings, or for that matter, just about any area of the chicken. For some reason smoking is more commonly associated with beef and pork. We Googled, and really couldn't find any specific recipe for them. So, I threw together a few of my favorite spices for a dry rub, smoked them, and then charred them on the grill. They were by far the best wings we've ever had.


Ingredients: {Dry Rub}
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
Cayenne Pepper, to Taste
1 Tablespoon "Kickin' Chicken" Seasoning

Directions:
Before we get started, preheat the smoker to 300-315 degrees. To prep, we decided to cut the tip of the wings off, just under the joint, since it really doesn't yield any meat anyway. After rinsing the wings off, we rubbed each side of the wings, and let them sit at room temperature while the smoker preheated. For even cooking, you know? Once the smoker was nice and warm, we smoked them for about an hour. Then, slapped them on a hot grill to get that perfect charred skin. They grilled on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes per side. Then, the fun part begins. We chose to keep half of them naked, and tossed the other half with Hunts Honey Barbeque sauce. Personally, I enjoyed the naked wings much more than the barbequed ones. My husband was in wing heaven today.



Of course, we polished these bad boys off with some traditional summer sides. A box of Velveeta shells & cheese, as well as corn on the cob. It was a perfect 23rd birthday celebration, as well as the perfect start to the summer barbeque season. Remember, you can totally do this exact same thing on just your barbeque grill. The smokey flavor is just an added bonus to this recipe. I wouldn't be discouraged if you're craving barbeque wings but don't have a smoker. Plus, the dry rub is totally universal, and would work wonderfully with a wing sauce, rather than a barbeque sauce. I'm excited to try this new recipe 12,423 ways this summer. Enjoy the gorgeous weather everyone! And get creative out there on your grill!

Wednesday, June 6

Save Money on Groceries!

I am all about being cheap, frugal, and even "thrifty". But the one place I've always struggled was when it came to the weekly grocery bill. I am not a fan of coupons, that's for sure. Its too time consuming, and in all reality it just physically stresses me out. Now that I have become a full-time homemaker, I've devoted my days into finding ways to save money without having to clip coupons. I decided to share my methods with my friends and family, and hopefully I can save you a buck or two!



1. Make a weekly meal plan, and make your grocery list around it.
I can't explain enough how important it is to make a meal plan. Not only just plan out what you're having to eat, but make your grocery list at the same time. Doing this will help eliminate buying things you don't need, as well as ensuring that you have enough ingredients to make what you're planning to have. I personally meal plan not only dinners, which are the most costly and difficult, but I also meal plan my breakfast and lunch meals as well. This stops me from stopping at fast food, or going out to eat; knowing good and well that I have 5-6 different meals waiting for me at home.

2. Chose meals that have leftovers.
This is a big one. Not only does it save money, it saves time at the grocery store, and it saves time in the kitchen! Some examples of my favorite leftover meals are pot roast, ribs, and ham. Slow-cooker pot roasts are super easy to make, pretty inexpensive, and leave tons of meat behind. The first meal we usually eat as a roast, and the second day we pull it and have hot roast beef sandwiches. Ribs we usually only do for special occasions, since they're a little more pricey, but the eating is great for up to two days later. Worth it! My all time, absolute favorite is oven-baked honey ham. This doesn't just leave dinner leftovers, and it doesn't just leave leftovers for one day. If we have ham steaks for dinner on a Monday, we will still be eating ham sandwiches for lunch on Thursday. Not to mention having ham omelets for breakfast! The initial price may seem a little overwhelming at the store, but when you can get up to 5 meals out of it, it is for sure worth the price.

3. Make a list, and stick to it.
I did a little test for myself a few weeks ago and meal planned, because you couldn't even force me not to meal plan; and purchased my groceries without a list. The next week I meal planned the exact same meals, but on different days, and made a list. I literally saved $48 by only buying what I needed. That's a big savings, but it can be hard not to impulse buy. What I've trained myself to do, and that has been extremely helpful, is to write a list on the back of my grocery list of all of the items I wanted to buy, as well as their price. This way, when I get home I can see, on paper, how much money I saved by using a list. Plus, then the next week as I'm making my grocery list and meal planning, I can try to incorporate what I didn't impulse buy into my budget. The one exception is if my impulse buy is on sale. If I'm craving lemon cookies, and my lemon cookies are on sale, you better believe I'm going to buy them.

4. Clip coupons, if it's your thing.
I'm not a coupon clipper, as I said before. But, if you are up to the challenge, do it. My little tip as a non-couponer is this: Do not buy your groceries around the coupons. Make a grocery list first, and then clip the coupons that you already need. When I tried coupon clipping, I found that grocery shopping around coupons made me spend whole dollars to save cents on items I didn't need. The way coupon clipping helps me is I chose to buy the items on sale, regardless of brand. I'm lucky in the fact that the same items usually have coupons hanging next to them. So I don't usually have to experiment too much, but if what I need is on sale in another brand, I'll save the 20 cents to try a new product.

5. Shop at the dollar store for as many products as you can.
I cannot believe how much money I've wasted on non-perishable items at the big box stores vs. shopping at my local Dollar Tree. The idea is simple. But let me break down how much money you can save. Window cleaner. The popular brand of window cleaner is almost $3. Glass Plus, which is my personal favorite brand of window cleaner is $1 at Dollar Tree. You now have an extra $2 in your pocket. Disinfecting wipes. The big brand can cost up to $4 a container. At Dollar Tree, 1 single dollar. We are already up to $5 in savings. The list goes on and on. Foil, sponges, plastic baggies, candles, pens, paper, etc! Just wait until you see how much money you can save. My recommendation is to write down how much money you spend on these types of products every week, and then budget only $1 per item, see how much money you could save.

6. Purchase the off-brand products, rather than the big name products.
This is the big money saver. The big deal if you will. If you chose not to do any other item on my list, I urge you to do this one. I did another little experiment just yesterday. I was tough and purchased the off-brand for every single item on my list. I budget $150 a week on groceries, and sometimes that's not even enough. By purchasing only off-brand products, my final bill was $93 including the $5 gratuity to the baggers. I saved over $50 by purchasing off-brand. To be honest, 97% of the time, our family prefers off-brand products to the big names. The best example is Malt-O-Meal cereal. Its to die for. No matter which type of cereal, this brand beats them all. On average, a bag of cereal is half of the price of a box, and you get double the amount. That is 1/4 of the price. Not to mention it tastes so much better. Laundry detergent is another one. I used to buy Cheer. Sorry to name bash you, but the price is physically sickening. I paid up to $8 for 50 loads. I now buy either Sun or Xtra laundry detergent. $3 for 96 loads. I'm not joking here. I could go on for hours about this, but the bottom line is, I literally saved over $50 just yesterday by doing this. Give it a try, you won't be sorry!

I'm really happy to have poked and pryed around enough to be able to save myself some money on groceries. Its a bill that is coming whether we like it or not, we might as well enjoy shopping, and not leave with an empty wallet! Please, share your money saving tips in the comment section. I'd love to hear more about how to save money!

Sunday, June 3

My New Wedding Ring

Oh what an incredible day, let me tell you. I don't want to get too personal here on my craft blog, but I'll say that getting married at a young age, in my case 18, isn't always the best idea. We were just kids, and completely immature. Our marriage was a little rocky for the first 2 years to say the least. Being married as a kid is rough. I don't recommend anyone get married that young, honestly. But, he and I pushed and pulled and fought to prevail, and we have never been happier. It took the first 2 years of immaturity to mature us into the picture perfect couple we are today. It took an 8 month long deployment to Iraq for he and I to both wise up into what marriage is really about. After he returned home from that dreadful deployment, everything changed. Like a rope snap. Deployments are hard on relationships, but not in our case. His deployment may have even saved our marriage. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

Everyone knows that a wedding ring is a physical symbol of love. But what happens when the wedding ring symbolizes the past? Well, in my case, my husband took my old ring full of negative memories, and upgraded it into the most gorgeous peice of heaven I've ever seen. He used the center stone of my old engagement ring, and just replaced the mount and setting. It symbolizes that we will always have a piece of who we were at the ripe, young, immature age of 18, but that our "new" marriage is to be filled with positive outlooks, and to forget the stupid kids we used to be. Here, take a look. Its amazing.



The ring itself is a 3/4 carat center stone, surrounded by a halo of diamonds, wrapped in diamonds around both the engagement ring and the wedding band. It is the perfect symbol of our love, and how it has changed in the last 4 years of our marriage. It just means so much in my heart to have the center stone. He proposed with that gorgeous rock when we were only 17. We had nothing. We were still in high school! He is an incredible man, let me tell you. I am beyond blessed to be married to him.

Not only was this a romantic thing to do on his part by upgrading my old ring, but he did it with such class! He and I went for a walk to our Ellsworth Air Force Base park, visted the pond, fed the fish off of the dock, and then walked across the pond bridge. At the top of the bridge he actually got down on one knee and asked if I would "stay married to him" for the rest of our lives. How sweet is that? He actually took me to our local Downtown area to a large fountain, but got too shy around all the people to get down on a knee in public. So really I got two romantic dates that day, but only one of them left me with a beautiful new wedding ring on my hand. I couldn't be more thankful, and I couldn't be happier to be married to this amazing person. My very best friend. I only wish that he and I knew 4 years ago what we know today. Marriage is a hard everyday living. But totally worth fighting for when you're fighting for your true love.

Sunday, May 20

Cheap DIY Wreath

For those of you who don't know, I am a full time stay at home Military Wife. My entire life is making our home look pretty. This particular DIY was not inspired from just one single Pinterest pin, but from many. My idea is completely un-original, un-unique, and un-exciting. What is extremely exciting, is how cheap I was able to make my version of this wreath. Lets just say, under $5 cheap. Wow, right?



My version of this popular wreath may not be as elaborate as some that you may have seen floating about. But, I really enjoy the simplicity of my wreath. I could have added numbers, letters, colored flowers, etc. But I like to keep it simple. Especially on my front door. Whats is just as exciting about this as the price, is how simple it is to throw together. I personally did not read any of my inspiration pins on how to do it. I just bought a wreath, bought some flowers, and stuck it together. This is how I did it. I'm sure I did something wrong, but if it stays together I'll be satisfied.

First off lets talk about where I got my materials. The wreath I purchased pre-made from Hobby Lobby. The price tag was $3.99, but if you're a Hobby Lobby shopper, you know that there is always a 40% off printable coupon. This made the wreath $2.53. Instead of purchasing expensive faux flowers, I chose to shop at Dollar Tree, and spend $2.06 on 2 bunches of flowers. Total price $4.65!

To put it all together, I just cut each of the flowers off of the stem at the very bottom. This left at least 4 inches on the stem. I just stuck the stems down into the wreath, and arranged the flowers where I wanted them to be placed at. Once all of the flowers were in, and all of these stems are sticking out the bottom, I simply twisted 2 stems together (they are soft wire, so twisted together easily.) and then tucked the ends into the wreath. This wouldn't be able to be done with any other type of wreath, which is why I chose the wooden one. Here is a photo of how it looks on my front door.



I am extremely happy with the way it looks, and even more happy with the price of it. I hope everyone can take an inspiration, and get their creative juices flowing on how to create that item for less!

Monday, May 14

Homemade Garden Scrub

Y'all may have seen many "recipes", or I suppose "tutorials" would be a better word for what I'm describing here; for home made sugar scrubs. I have a little quarrel with most of these sugar scrub recipes that I've seen lately. I believe (and I could totally be wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong here!) that these sugar scrubs are more or less for exfoliation, and to moisturize the hands, rather than literally getting them clean. I personally have really soft skin. I don't know what, why, when or how? But my skin is soft. I generally don't go into Bath & Body Works to buy an exfoliating scrub just to soften my skin. If I'm using an abrasive sugar or salt scrub, its to get massive amounts of dirt off of my hands. Most of the common recipes these days are calling for jojoba or olive oil, lotion, and sugar/salt. To me, it seems redundant to have to wash your hands with soap first to get them germ free, and then have to use the sugar scrub to get them soft and silky. I came up with a do-it-all scrub that will solve the issue of exfoliation, moisture, anti-bacterial, AND dirt, grease and grime.



I'm calling it my Garden Scrub. I decided to call it a "garden" scrub, because it REALLY comes in handy for all of you gardeners that love to get your hands muddy. This scrub is so easy to make, its almost silly that I haven't stumbled upon a recipe for it yet, although I'm sure someone else has thought of this as well! Instead of using oils or lotions, I chose to go with Dawn Dish Detergent with Olay Hand Renewal. This Dawn is not only anti-bacterial, it is also infused with Olay lotion, and leaves your hands feeling like a million bucks. Add a little sugar with it to make it an exfoliant and your hands will be in heaven. I chose to package them in mason jars because they're air tight and will last a little longer than in other types of containers. I tried putting it in a soap pump to keep it in my main bathroom, but it just wouldn't come out. Assuming it was from the grain in the salt, but I could have used a defective soap pump. The world will never know!

You Will Need:
Equal parts White Sugar
Equal parts Dawn with Olay Hand Renewal
Small Mason Jar

I chose to clean out and dry each of my Mason jars, only because we're going for cleanliness, and its a little silly to put a clean product in a dirty dish! Then, I poured in half white sugar, and half Dawn. Stirred it all together until it was a light pink, and grainy consistency, and screwed on the lid. Its literally that easy. Not only is this scrub easy, it is OUTRAGEOUSLY cheap. Let me break it down.

Pack of 4 oz Mason Jars (12) = $7
Box of White Sugar = $2
Dawn with Olay = $4

Total = $13 Divided between 12 jars = About $1.08 each.

I gave these to every woman I know for Mothers Day, and the reaction I got from it was pretty incredible. I got very great reviews on how even after playing in the mud with the kids, the dirt came right off, and left their hands feeling silky and smooth, instead of dry and cracking from having to scrub the nast off. You can dry your hands out by washing them over and over, and then try to replenish the moisture with a sugar scrub, or you can do it all in one step!

Sunday, May 13

DIY Cell Phone Charging Station



I think of all of the fun crafts I've done in my life, this has got to be one of my favorite. Not only because its adorable, it solves a problem, {in my mind!} and is REALLY easy to make; but this particular craft I made with my amazing husband! We decided to make these DIY Cell Phone Charging Stations for our mothers for Mothers Day this year. He and I have never crafted together, and let me tell you. Of all the things that are enjoyable to do with the person that you love, sharing a moment together doing your favorite hobby is indescribable. Now I know how he feels when I go shooting, and to Cabelas with him!

Now, I might be a pretty darn crafty person, but I am NOT crafty enough to have thought of this idea on my own. I got the idea from Pinterest {of course!} from Make It & Love It. Her instructions were very well detailed, and I had no trouble at all doing this. The only thing that I did differently from her is that I covered the front part as well, where she left hers white.

Since I really wasn't confident about this craft turning out exactly the way I wanted to, I didn't take any photos as I went along. Oops! Heres a text tutorial of the way I made this cell phone holder!

Instructions:
This holder is made out of a lotion bottle! I found that the brand of lotion that fit my iPhone the best was St. Ives, because it is square in shape instead of rounded.

Start out by using those muscles to squeeze out all of the lotion that you can. Then using hot water, rinse out all of the excess. Place it on a towel upside down to allow it to dry. I let mine dry overnight. This is very important, since the Modge Podge will not stick to a wet surface.

Hold your phone up to the lotion bottle, and using a pen/pencil, draw a line across it where it would comfortably fit inside, yet still sticking out just a bit.

The hard part is cutting it out. I used a knife and stabbed in the center of the bottle, carefully!, and then poked my scissors down in to continue cutting. Cut just along the front to make the front pocket, and then cut around the outside edge, just below the opening of the lotion.

Once you have the basic shape cut out, then cut a small hole (I made my square shaped since Apple chargers are square in shape as well) in the center of the back panel for the charger. Again, I stabbed it carefully with a knife and then poked my scissors down in.

Once your general shape is fully cut out, if your edges are extremely rough, you can take a peice of sandpaper and hand sand it down to smooth it out. Now the fun part begins!

I used a cheap, leftover peice of fabric scrap that I had laying around the house. As long as the fabric can wrap around the bottle, you're good to go.

Slap on a little bit of Modge Podge to the bottle, and wrap the fabric around the bottle, covering it. Once the fabric is in place, apply another layer of Modge Podge on top. Let dry completely, which took about an hour or so, and apply another layer of Modge Podge.

Now, let dry overnight to ensure that it is 100% dried. Your fabric will be rock hard, and easy to cut. Cut around the shape of the bottle to even everything up. At this point I added just one last layer of Modge Podge, just to ensure the edges of the fabric wouldn't fray later.

All done! I really wish I would have taken photos of my craft as I was going, but it was my very first time using Modge Podge, and I was so unsure about how it would turn out. I hope everyone else who has a problem with phone charging cords all over counters, dressers and tables will try this super easy DIY. I absolutely love mine, and our mothers were shocked that such an adorable gift was made at home.

Wednesday, May 2

Banana & Nutella Ice Cream

You know how you find a recipe {whether online or in a cookbook} that you literally just cannot physically stand to wait to try? Today, I found that recipe. I found this recipe on Pinterest {HERE}. This recipe is a simple "healthy" recipe for homemade ice cream. No ice cream maker needed!

Now, if you click the link above, you'll see that her instructions are a little vague. Because of this, I vaguely just threw some ingredients into my Ninja blender. I really don't have a specific recipe either. I followed her instructions at first. She says 6 bananas to 1 cup Nutella. I cut the Yield down to 2 bananas & 1/3 cup Nutella. I found that this portion was extremely banana-y (I don't like bananas more than Nutella!) and was very, very runny. Being runny may be a requirement for it to set up correctly.. I'll know in about 22 hours once it is fully frozen.. She also threw in there that you could add cinnamon and cocoa powder. Of course I chose to do this! Now really, I just kind of eye-balled the measurements, but here is a general idea of what I threw in my Ninja.

Ingredients
2 Bananas
1 Cup Nutella
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Instructions
Literally the only "steps" to doing this, is to throw it all in and blend until smooth. Then stick it in your freezer overnight, or until completely set up. How much easier could it possibly be?!

What I decided to do was make this the night before, and serve it the next morning for breakfast! Sadly, my husband and I ate the entire bowl before I was able to snap a photo of it. Oops! Lets just say that this recipe was fantastic enough that I didn't even have time to photograph the end result before it was completely gone. I WILL be making this recipe again, and hopefully I'll remember take 2 seconds to snap a picture before I devour the entire bowl. Great job to the Rumkihn website for this super easy and awesome recipe. My next adventure in frozen banana "ice cream" recipes is going to be to trying to freeze the bananas first, (I believe it will make it easier to blend) then blend to smooth in the Ninja, and try other exciting flavors like fresh strawberries. Wee!

For a printable version of this recipe; {Click HERE!}

Thursday, February 16

Garlic Roasted Asparugus

Okay, back the truck up for a second. Who in their right mind just walks into a grocery store and says "I genuinely want to try asparagus."? I must be nuts. I've never even tried this funky looking veggie before, but yesterday my brain said "Snatch that asparagus up, and lets do something spectacular." Insane, trust me, I know. But let me tell you, that strange inkling I had to try asparagus, was one of the best inklings I've ever inklinged. That's not a word. Moving on.

Like I said, I have never tried asparagus before. A little bunch was just waiting inside the front doors of the Commissary, and I decided to give it a go. Since I have no idea what to do with this vegetable, I decided to try roasting it, simply with salt and pepper. I had no idea how well it would turn out, so I didn't take pictures during the process. Hopefully I can talk y'all through it. Seems easy enough.



Ingredients:
Bunch of Asparagus
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Oil (I prefer Vegetable over Olive)
2 Garlic Cloves

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the ends off of each asparagus stick. Rinse and pat dry.

Roll in the oil of your choice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. (I probably used 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.)

Transfer to a baking sheet, and grate 2 garlic cloves over the vegetable. (I used a vegetable grater for the very first time, thanks to a tip from Rachael Ray, and I will never use a knife on a clove of garlic again.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. No need to turn.

Here is my finished result. They look kind of wrinkly, but the doneness (I thought) was perfect. Please let me know if I am wrong, since I don't have the slightest clue of what they are supposed to be.



I ate just one little stick and fell in love with roasted asaparagus. So much so, that I felt it nessesary to photograph my plate of them. The photo of the ugly foil lined pan was not sufficient for how incredible this little vegetable turned out.



I am what you'd call "A Happy Camper". I can't believe that I've forced myself for all these years (all is italisized because I really and truely don't have many years under my belt, if you didn't know) to not try this vegetable, when it was truely amazing. This just goes to show you that you honestly SHOULD try anything once. You might just end up loving it.

Should I be proud or embarrassed that my husband and I devoured that entire plate in one sitting, in under 10 minutes?

For a printable version of this recipe; {Click HERE!}

Monday, February 6

DIY Pinterest Keepsake Book

This DIY "idea" actually came from a good friend of mine, Amanda Baker. Her idea was to scrapbook all of her Pinterest pins, but I am just not into scrapbooking. I still loved her idea to save my pins forever! I have gotten THE BEST ideas, recipes and DIY's from Pinterest. And sadly, just like the infmaous MySpace, it will eventually be gone. This project cost under $10 to make, and I believe is truely worth the work.

The only supplies you will need to buy are a photo album that holds 4x6 photos, and 4x6 index cards. I used Sharpie colored markers to decorate it, and a black pen to write.



I drew the Pinterest logo for my cover photo for the mean time. Until I get a super amazing DIY photo to stick in there! My drawing sure isn't great, but I was pretty proud of it :)



I used the first photo slot to write a Catagory card (The back of each index card is solid white) to organize the different catagories. This can totally be done with recipes too, and organize savory vs. sweet, fruits, veggies, etc. But that is another DIY for another day ;)



I literally just wrote down each DIY (this catagory was homemade product recipes) on each index card, and organized them by cleaners, beauty products, etc.



Here is a close-up of how I decided to write the template for each DIY. I made sure to write them all in the same manner to prevent from confusing myself!



This DIY was LESS than $10! The photo album holds 208 "photos", and was $7 at walmart. The 4x6 photo cards come with 100 cards each (obviously needed 2 of them to start), and are only .85 cents! The project will take some time, but I am so thankful for Amandas idea, and my laziness for not feeling like actually scrapbooking all this to figure out that you can actually get index cards in 4x6! I also had many more homemade product recipes than I thought! Now its time to start cookin up cleaners!

Saturday, January 21

Baked Kale Chips

Trolling around on Pinterest, I found {THIS} amazing recipe. It is a very simple recipe for baked Kale chips, using only 3 ingredients. Most of us are on Pinterest to try new recipes, and all types of new things. If there is any recipe that you are looking to try, you have got to try this one. It really was amazing. It seems really weird, I know. I felt the same way. But I do not regret trying this one.

Ingredients
3 Cups Kale
1 Teaspoon Oil
Desired Seasonings (Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt, etc.)

Start by washing your greens, and removing the stem from each one.



The easiest way to remove the stem is to fold the leaf in half..



And then score along the edge to cut the stem out.



This is what a stemless green looks like!



Now slice the greens into strips, and then again into chip sized chunks.



Place your greens into a bowl..



And toss with 1 teaspoon of oil.



Lay your greens out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle desired seasonings. I used only Garlic Sea Salt.



Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.



They still look like soft greens, but were surprisingly crispy!



This honestly turned out amazing. I feel like you MUST try this recipe, if you're going to try any of these recipes. (Plus, if you make homemade Zuppa, you'll have leftover Kale! What an excellent way to use up that extra!)



These chips turned out so fantastic, that my husband and I sat down and ate the entire bowl in less than 15 minutes. If I were to eat a whole bowl of potato chips in 15 minutes, I'd be miserable.



I feel absolutely amazing that I ate that whole bowl of "chips". I was really skeptical about how these would turn out. Because I'll tell you right now, the greens stink. They do not smell pleasant at all. But the taste.. I can't even explain it. It's kind of like a salty potato chip, but crispier. If only I could substitute all unhealthy snacks with fresh vegetables, I'd be set for life! I really do hope all of you will try this one. Please, let me know what you think too! Did you end up hating it, or did you absolutely love it?

For a printable version of this recipe; {Click HERE!}

Sunday, January 15

Copycat Zuppa Touscana Recipe

My husband and I decided to make a copycat version of Olive Garden's Zuppa Touscana soup. We looked online and found THIS recipe from food.com. We found that the instructions were a little vague, so we will go a little more into detail to explain what he and I did. It turned out pretty darn amazing!

Zuppa Ingredients

Ingredients
1 Pound Italian Sausage (Sliced if you chose to use whole)
2-3 Large Russet Baking Potatoes (Sliced into 1/4 inch slices)
1 Large Onion (Roughly Chopped)
1/4 Cup Bacon Bits
2 Garlic Cloves (Finely minced)
2 Cups Kale (Chopped)
16oz Chicken Broth
4 Cups Water
1 Cup Heavy Cream

DirectionsPrep your vegetables before starting the cooking process. Roughly chop the onion.

Roughly Chop Onion

After washing the potatoes, slice them in half lengthwise.

Slice Potatoes

Then, cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch wide slices.

Slice Potatoes

Peel your 2 garlic cloves.

Peel Garlic

Finely mince your 2 garlic cloves.

Mince Garlic

*These 3 ingredients will go into the pot at the same time, so I put them into a large bowl and set them aside together. Next, wash your greens, and cut the large stem out of the center.

Cut Kale

Now, I've never cut any type of green before, so after cutting the stem out, I rolled them together and sliced them lengthwise.

Sliced Kale

Then chop into rough squares.

Chopped Kale

You will only need 2 Cups of Kale, and we ended up with about 5 Cups chopped.

2 Cup Kale

Because we used fresh bacon instead of store bought bits, we started the bacon.

Bacon

While the bacon crisps, brown the sausage (ground or sliced) in your soup pot.

Sausage

The bacon was done right around the same time as the sausage!

Finished Bacon

Place the bacon on sheets of paper towel to drain, and set aside until dry.

Dry Bacon

With the bacon aside, add the 4 cups of water, and 16oz of broth to the sausage inside the soup pot and stir to combine.

Add Water/Broth

Once stirred together, add the bowl of potatoes, onion and garlic.

Potatoes/Onion/Garlic

Turn the heat to MEDIUM and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked.

Medium Heat

On medium heat, it took 25 minutes to completely cook the potatoes.*With 25 minutes to spare as the soup cooks, if you chose to use fresh bacon, this is the time to mince it into bacon bits!

Bacon

Chop the bacon into bits, using 1/4 Cup of bits.

1/4 Cup Bacon

After the potatoes are done cooking, between 20-40 minutes, add the bacon, and salt and pepper to taste if you wish. (We used about a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper in ours.)

Add Bacon

Let the bacon, salt and pepper simmer for 10 more minutes; Then add the greens and 1 Cup of the cream.

Add Cream

Turn the heat all the way to LOW and warm until cooked through. (About 10 more minutes)

Finished Zuppa

Stir, serve and enjoy! *Maybe let it cool for a few minutes or so before enjoying.. I took a bite right from this photo and burnt my little tounge. Ouchy!

Zuppa Touscana

This Olive Garden Zuppa Touscana (Copycat) was absolutely phenominal. Thank you so much to food.com for this recipe, and I hope my overly detailed explainations can help someone else out in the future! My ONLY complaint about this recipe is it is quite concentrated. I felt like there was too many ingredients vs. the amount of liquid soup. I think WHEN I make this delicious soup again, I may add a little bit more of the liquid ingredients to even out the proportion. Enjoy! :)

For a printable version of this recipe; {Click HERE!}