Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana and Homemade Breadsticks

Yesterday I decided to try my hand at making a soup I’ve made a few times before, Zuppa Toscana in the Instant Pot and it turned out delicious and super easy. I am sharing that recipe below as well as homemade breadsticks made by scratch but took no time to whip up with a stand mixer. I would suggest if you can make your breadsticks an hour before you start the soup as they need time for two rises. Let’s cook!!!

Ingredients for Breadsticks:

  • 2 cups of warm water (not hot)
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 packet of fast acting yeast (this equals 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 4-5 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 stick of butter melted
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of garlic salt
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions for Breadsticks:

Add water and sugar to mixing bowl of stand mixer and stir. Add yeast and stir and let stand 5-10 minutes until yeast is foamy. Add butter, salt and 3 cups of flour. Mix with paddle until dough starts forming. Change out for dough hook and then add more flour a cup at a time as needed. You want dough to not be sticky but you don’t want it to be dry. It should not stick to your hands when touching. Take dough and form in the shape of a ball, spray or oil your bowl and then add ball and cover with towel. So my dough rises nicely. I place my bowl on my stove and turn my oven on to 170 degrees and the heat is just enough to help it rise nicely. Once doubled in size punch down with fist. Remove from bowl and shape in a rectangle. With a sharp nice cut into strips vertically. Place strips on well oiled cookie sheet. Turn stove up to 350 degrees and set cookie sheet on stove covered while you make your soup. After a 30 minute rise remove towel and place the breadsticks in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Combine melted butter, minced garlic and garlic salt and pour over breadsticks after they come out of the oven. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Ingredients for soup:

  • Ground sausage (I use breakfast sausage)
  • 3 peeled potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 4-6 cups of water ( or you can use 3 cups of chicken broth)
  • 1-2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 bag of spinach or you can use the traditional kale
  • Seasonings – I used Italian, ranch, seasoned salt, garlic and onion powder and basil

Directions for soup:

Turn on sauté function on Instant Pot. Add olive oil, onions and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add ground sausage and cook til browned. Once browned you can drain any excess oil. Add water and chicken bouillon cubes or chicken broth if using. Add potatoes and seasonings. Place lid on and set o high pressure for 10 minutes. When finished let natural release for 5 minutes then switch to quick release to release rest of pressure. Add heavy whipping cream and stir. Add spinach and kale and let sit on warm for 5 minutes while spinach wilts. Taste for seasoning and add if necessary. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil if desired. Serve it up with the breadsticks and salad for a complete meal.

The soup can easily be made on the stovetop just let lightly boil on stove for 15 minutes so potatoes can get tender before adding heavy whipping cream and spinach.

I hope you make and enjoy both recipes and as always if you make it tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama

Love Ricki

Broccoli Cheese & Rice Casserole with Chicken

Sorry this recipe is sooo late but it is definitely worth sharing! This is an old school casserole with leftover chicken added in to make it a complete meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 cups of freshly cooked rice (you want it warm to melt the cheese)
  • 1 cup or more if desired chopped and cooked chicken (make sure your chicken is seasoned because we won’t be adding any additional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked or steamed until tender broccoli. Can be frozen or fresh and you can chop or leave whole.
  • 1/2 a block of Processed cheese (Velveeta) chopped into cubes
  • 1 can of each soup – cream of mushroom, cream of chicken and cream of celery (DONT leave out the cream of celery, it doesn’t overpower and it makes the dish!)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese of choice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all 3 soups in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Combine rice and broccoli and chicken in a separate bowl. Add soup mixture. Add processed cheese and mix well. Spread in a greased casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let casserole sit for 15-20 so it can set. Serve. You have proteins, carbs and veggies already in it so add a bread if desire and dinner is done! This makes great leftovers so make a big batch and eat for lunch as well!

I hope you try this! If so tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama

Love Ricki

How to stretch food and get full

We are all at home whether by ourselves or with our family and the number one thing you will probably think about is what are we(I) gonna eat. And if you have kids, you will hear I’m hungry ALL DAY LONG! To combat being a short order cook, you need to make meals that will STRETCH! We want our family to be full while stretchier our budgets. So I’m here to help. With that dreaded C virus going around we may not be able to find ingredients (like meat) readily available so we have to be able to cook filling meals with little protein. Here’s a list of recipes or meal ideas that can keep you & yours full and content at least for a few days.

Pasta – Pasta is cheap and easy to make and very filling. You can add less protein or none at all and just pack it full of veggies (frozen or canned if you can’t find fresh).

Recipes with pasta:

Marry Me Chicken – Use less chicken and cut it up into cubes. Make the spinach lemon pasta and make it with penne or bow tie instead of orzo and add the chicken and sauce. Add mushrooms and spinach to “beef” it up.

Taco Pasta- Use Rotini pasta, ground beef (or not), cheese and beans & corn and a can of rotel or take the Mexican stuffed shells recipe and instead of stuffing individual shells take the filling and enchilada sauce and add to small shells. Top with cheese and serve.

Spaghetti- A big pot of spaghetti always works. Use ground beef or Italian sausage or even breakfast pork sausage (cheap and good) and sauce and pasta and you’re done. Also try spaghetti mac using macaroni pasta and Velveeta cheese and baked in the oven.

Shrimp Scampi- Use chicken instead if you don’t have shrimp and use spaghetti or fettuccine noodles to bulk it up. Add a can of peas or spinach or even zucchini.

Skillet pasta- make some bow tie pasta. Sauté some sausage, zucchini, tomatoes and whatever else and some half and half and Parmesan cheese, add pasta and mix.

Ramen- Yup that cheap stuff can be billed up by adding a bunch of stir fry veggies, less protein and a dash of soy sauce and seasonings.

Another staple that can stretch a meal and a budget is rice. The recipes below can be bulked up by adding more rice and less protein.

Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet– Cut the amount of chicken in half and add another can of beans, you can even use pinto instead of black beans.

Goulash– I usually serve this over rice so why not double the okra and sauce and cut back on the shrimp/chicken or just add sausage. Combine with rice and serve.

Fried Rice– add more veggies and leave out the meat. Make a huge batch and some crab wontons or egg rolls on the side.

Broccoli, rice and cheese casserole- I plan on sharing a recipe for my version soon. But you can easily add bacon bits or few chunks of chicken and go overboard on the broccoli and rice and have a full meal.

I love soups or chili anytime of the year & if your kids are hungry enough they will too.

Cream cheese chicken chili – cut the chicken in half and add more beans.

Baked potatoe soup– to lighten this up serve it in a cup with a huge salad of choice.

Taco soup- as you guessed cut the meat down by adding beans or omit the meat all together. Make a huge batch and serve over nachos and as the filling for burritos and chimichangas on two additional nights.

Chicken soup- cut the chicken add more veggies and noodles and bake some bread of biscuits or even cornbread. You can also add some grilled cheese sandwiches.

Another way to get someone full is add bread. Or make bread the main part of the meal.

This maybe more kid friendly because my body can’t take all those carbs but this will fill up your family. These are also great lunch options.

Taco or Cheeseburger ring-serve with your favorite taco or cheeseburger fixins’

Stuffed breads- I’ll be sharing a recipe soon for Bread stuffed pizza and we can use plain marinara sauce for a dip and serve with a salad.

Top your favorite casserole/dish with a bread- like a pot pie. You can make a chili and add a layer of cornbread on top and bake in the oven.

Or make a chicken soup filled with veggies and add biscuits (from the can is absolutely fine) in top.

These are just some ideas and hoped they get your creative juices flowing and have you thinking of your everyday meals in a different way. We may have to use our imagination to create meals but sometimes that leads to the favorites! I will be sharing a post later this week on snack ideas for our little snackers.

Let me know in the comments some other meals you can think of that are filling and make great leftovers!

Love Ricki

Fancy Beans

Sometimes we need a different side and these are it! This recipe is adapted from the blog Scissors and Spatulas. These beans are sweet and tangy and so good. They are perfect for the upcoming weather change to spring and summer with your favorite grilled meat and a side of BBQ sauce! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 slices of bacon chopped
  • 1/2 small onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 can of pork and beans
  • 1 can of green beans
  • 1 can of light kidney beans
  • 1 can of butter beans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of brown sugar (adjust your how sweet you want it)
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce (optional)

Directions:

Cook chopped bacon pieces in non stick pot or spray pot with oil spray. Add onions and garlic and cook til translucent. Pour out excess fat leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add brown sugar, vinegar and mustard. Drain all cans of beans ECXEPT pork and beans. Add beans to liquid mixture. I also add garlic and onion powder and a little salt and pepper but it’s optional. Taste and add brown sugar or vinegar depending on how sweet and/or tangy you like them. Let beans simmer in liquid for 10-15 min. Add Bbq sauce if desired.

Hope you try this and tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama if you do!

Love Ricki

Chicken Parmesan my way!

Winner, winner chicken dinner!!! And this meal was definitely a winner! We enjoyed this take on Chicken Parmesan and I actually made it low carb by not using breadcrumbs and using grated Parmesan cheese instead. If you use a low carb marinara sauce and serve over zoodles you have a keto friendly version. Let’s get to cooking!

Ingredients:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts- butterflied (split in half) and pounded thin
  • Jar of marinara sauce
  • 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 eggs beat in a shallow dish
  • Seasonings – I used season salt (Tony’s), garlic and onion powder, Italian seasoning and Italian dressing seasoning mix. I add seasoning to my raw chicken and the beaten eggs.
  • 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

Butterfly (cut in half lengthwise) and pound out 3 chicken breasts fairly thin (you should end up with 6 thin breasts total. Season chicken and set aside. You will now set up your breading station. Beat 2-3 eggs in a shallow dish with seasoning. In another dish add 1-1/2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese. Take the seasoned chicken and put in egg mixture and then cheese immediately following. Add to pan with olive oil on medium heat. Pan fry chicken on both sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes)and then add to baking dish. Chicken will finish cooking in the oven. Top chicken with marinara sauce, then cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake in oven on 350 for 20-25 minutes. Top over pasta and serve with salad or veggie.

This meal was delicious. I did add mine to the broiler for about 2 minutes because I like my cheese a little brown lol. This will be an alternative to spaghetti or spaghetti Mac for my family. If you try it make sure to tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama! It really makes me so happy when y’all do!

Love Ricki