PSA: Please be nice to college students, we are in the midst of midterms and life is a lot to deal with right now!!!!!!!
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been a giant ball of college-related anxiety which has led me to staying up into the early hours of the morning working on business plans and marketing research studies while living off of scrambled eggs with toast. I’ve also been fighting the early stages of a cold by popping obscene amounts of Vitamin C and drinking Immune Boosting Tea. The cabin fever is getting to a Jack Nicholson-level that makes me dream of hiking and Tahoe beaches and weekend roadtrips to San Fran.
In times like these, I find the only cure is to take a couple of hours to indulge comfort food, a sleeve of Milanos, and a lighthearted tween movie, normally of the Disney variety, although that is not required. My choice of the moment is Princess Diaries. But I digress. What I’m really here to talk about is the comfort food component.
Today, we have chicken pot pie that has been deconstructed, because there’s less time between preparation and consumption, and also puff pastry is the jam. I developed the recipe randomly one weekend with ingredients I had sitting around in my fridge, and I will never look back. As far as I’m concerned, chicken pot pie is the best food to cure sadness, and also it’s the best way to say goodbye to the winter season. While this is not necessarily a “traditional” pot pie, it has all of the components: chicken, veggies, thyme, crust, warmth, happiness, and you’re probably eating it snuggled up in a blanket while watching a movie. I *highly suggest* making this one last time before BBQ season officially hits.
On another note, if you know anyone interested in funding a coffee shop/bakery or a weekend vacation, or you have some secret knowledge that I’m a princess and therefore deserve to be in the far away land of Genovia wearing pretty ballgowns and living in a castle instead of studying my brains out in college, you know where to find me.
*Song of the Day: Maps by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
IT’S HERE. THE SNOW. IT’S HERE.
Also, I’m so cold right now that I’m having extreme difficulties typing, but the snow stuck today!
While I would have loved for Fall to stick around a little longer (because wearing dresses with tights is kinda my thing), I’m pretty excited for a real winter. Living in a city surrounded by mountains is pretty much the best thing ever when it snows, because hills of green trees + white snow = the prettiest thing ever, I swear.
In case I haven’t mentioned how oscillating Reno’s weather can be, about few days ago, it was 78* outside, and today, it was in the 30s, cloudy, rainy, snowy, stormy, etc. In other words, it was a bad day to wear shorts with tights to class. But I digress. Winter lovers unite!
In celebration of the snow and almost freezing to death on my walk to class today, I decided to make one of my favorite winter meals: chili! I love this chili, because
1. It’s easy, savory, and goes nicely with corn bread or tortillas.
2. It’s my mom’s recipe which always makes me feel at home.
3. One recipe feeds me for like, 2 weeks (if you highly disapprove of eating food that is older than a week, I apologize, just ignore this section of the list).
Bonus: It’s healthy! I normally use ground turkey to make it a little healthier, although I like it better with ground beef. Considering about 94% of my winter seasons are spent trying my hardest to avoid eating Christmas cookies and gravy for every meal, I love having a healthy comfort meal recipe. (Although I am a strong advocate for eating cookies and gravy every once in a while).
Another bonus of having chili around is that if Reno decides to heat up to the 80s again (not unheard of), I can easily throw this into an omelet or serve it with some avocado and chips. But for now, I’m going to snuggle up in a blanket with a big bowl of chili and hope for a long, cold winter.
*Song of the Day: Baby–Devendra Banhart
I have been surprisingly social all weekend. I went to a football game on Friday (we won!) (Go Wolfpack!) and then my roommates and I spent the rest of the night with Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen and Cards Against Humanity. If you have never played Cards Against Humanity, let’s just introduce you to their slogan : A party game for horrible people.
And that it is.
I also spent my Saturday night bar hopping with one of my best friends/pseudo cousin. Except that I had to drive home so my bar hopping experience was mostly just me getting leaned on by a bunch of drunk people.
Good times right?
The whole drinking and Cards Against Humanity thing ties together because:
1. Most of the time, if you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you are simultaneously drinking.
And 2. When I told my roommate, “The only two games I know how to play are beer pong and Cards Against Humanity. What does that say about me?”, his response was, “You’re an evil alcoholic.”
So there’s that.
And now about Zuppa Toscana. It is that delicious soup at Olive Garden with sausage, potatoes, and kale. The broth is lightly creamy and a little spicy.
It is also 220 calories for a bowl of it at Olive Garden. That doesn’t seem tooooo bad, until you consider that it has 15 g of fat and 990 mg of sodium in it. And when you consider that you’re going to have another bowl of it. And a glass (or two) of wine. And probably some type of pasta. And that salad, which also doesn’t seem too bad until you see that there are 150 calories, 10 g of fat, and 760 mg of sodium in it. Also, don’t forget that you’re going to eat like, 4 of those bread sticks (140 calories, 2.5 g fat, 460 mg sodium)
Holy shit, what is in this stuff?
Anyways, I definitely recreated the recipe and lightened it up quite a bit. I calculated it all up and it was about 350 calories per serving. The recipe serves 4, so you get quite a big serving of soup for less than 400 calories. Also, you just throw it in a crockpot. So easy guys.
*The recipe was originally from Fix it and Forget it, but has been changed dramatically*
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. whole milk or half and half
2 carrots, grated
3 russet potatoes, sliced
4 cups kale, chopped slightly
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage
Dash salt and pepper
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Sprinkle onion powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Grate 2 carrots into your crockpot.
Pour in chicken broth.
And the whole milk/half and half.
Slice up your potatoes.
Add them to your broth.
Brown the sausage.
Add it to your broth.
Sprinkle your spices!
Cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring every once in a while.
1 hour, I REPEAT, 1 HOUR before serving, stir in kale. If you do it any earlier, it will be grossly soggy. Do you want soggy kale? Do you?!
No. You really don’t.
Serve with a light homemade salad and some whole wheat rolls. Sprinkle it with a little parm.
Yum yum yum. This is definitely going to be my fall favorite.
Bonus: It’s gluten free naturally!
It doesn’t taste exactly like the Olive Garden version, but it’s pretty damn close for a light version. Sometime (when you feel really naughty) go ahead and use regular chicken broth, cream, and pork Italian sausage. Or just go to Olive Garden and really go all out. I’m normally not a fan of chains, but I still love Olive Garden every once in a while.
But just make this, okay?
I know that it’s June. I know that it’s in the 90s and even reaches the 100s. But I can’t get over soup.
However, it was 75 degrees in Reno all day today, which is totally acceptable soup weather if you ask me.
Especially if you’re making baked potato soup. Baked potato soup is special. Believe me. I made it for a group of friends. One claimed it was “the best she’s ever had”. Now that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.
On another note, do you fellow food bloggers ever notice random things in your photos? Like a reflection of you taking a picture in the spoon? Ha.
Before I give you this recipe, please note that I do not normally use “cream of anything” soups. I really prefer to make most of my food from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to have a semi-homemade meal. If you also do not like using cream soups, just give it a chance, you’ll thank me 😉 (Also, this soup definitely should only be eaten on occasion, for the sake of your waistline!)
1-30 oz. package frozen hashbrowns (the cubed kind)
28 oz. chicken broth (may want more for thinner soup)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions
In a crockpot, combine hashbrowns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, cheddar cheese soup, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for about 8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, add cream cheese and stir until melted.
Top bowls of soup with bacon bits, cheese, sour cream, and green onions, or whatever you feel like 🙂
Serves about 6-8.
I personally like to add lots of bacon and cheese. Weird right? Also, I served these with pretzel rolls from my local bakery. Ah-may-zing.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a soup for those on a diet. But it’s so easy, and so good for a crowd that you should make it for family dinner or movie night sometime. And then let me know how you like it (or love it?).
*Bonus: If made with gluten free cream soups, this recipe is perfectly gluten free! Remove the bacon and it’s vegetarian!*