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

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

Listen!!! I was brunchin’ Sunday- Quarantine style! I don’t even like sausage but this casserole was so delicious and sooo filling!!! You could have this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And you can use any combination of veggies as well. Let’s get cooking, shall we?

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of breakfast sausage ( I also added some leftovers Italian sausage I had in my freezer)
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms chopped
  • 1 bag of frozen tater tots (no need to thaw)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1/2 bag real bacon bits or cooked bacon (optional)
  • Seasonings of choice – I used onion and garlic powder, seasoned salt, ranch and Italian and roasted garlic seasonings
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese of choice

Directions: Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray and layer the tater tots on the bottom. In a separate pan brown sausage, add onions, garlic, mushrooms. If you have peppers or spinach this would be good to add as well. Drain fat and add meat mixture on top of tater tots. I also added some leftover bacon bits but this is optional. Mix eggs with half and half and seasonings. Pour over tater tots and meat mixture. Let eggs soak into tater tots and meat mixture for at least 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step. You can actually make this the night before and bake in the morning. Top with cheese and back on 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let set for 15 minutes, cut into squares and serve.

I topped mine with salsa. Sour cream and avocados would work as well or plain ole ketchup!

If you try this recipe as always tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama. You can also see how I made this in my highlights.

Also check out my Grocery Store Vlog and Haul in my YouTube channel!!!

Hope you enjoy!

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

Marry Me Chicken with Lemon Spinach Pasta

I ain’t get no engagement ring BUT…this chicken dish was worth one!!! Lol! We really enjoyed this meal! It was reminiscent of the Lemon Garlic Basil Chicken recipe in my cookbook found here but it didn’t have a lemon taste. However the sun dried tomatoes added a nice twang! If you don’t like them tho you can certainly leave out or replace with fresh grape tomatoes. Also I included the side I made which was the perfect compliment in my opinion. I searched my local stores for orzo which I couldn’t find so I replaced with this melon seed shaped pasta which can be found in the Hispanic section of the store. Or you can use any small shaped pasta. Let’s get cooking my version of this great meal!

Ingredients for Marry Me Chicken:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts butterflied (cut in half to make thin)
  • 1/2 cup or water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (or you can use 1/2 a cup of chicken broth)
  • 1 cup of half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tsps of Italian Seasoning
  • Fresh or dried basil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes (they are kind of big so I chopped mine up)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
  • Seasoning for the chicken (I used a light shake of ranch, garlic & onion powder and garlic salt and more Italian seasoning)

Ingredients for Lemon Spinach Pasta:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup of pasta
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2-2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 tbs of olive oil.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.

Directions for chicken:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in oven safe skillet on medium high. Butterfly chicken breasts and season with seasonings of choice. Sear chicken on both sides about 3-5 minutes each. Remove from pan. Turn heat to medium low add butter and garlic. Sauté for about 30-45 seconds (garlic burns fast!) then add Italian seasoning and water. Add chicken bouillon cube and let simmer for a few minutes. Add half and half or heavy whipping cream slowly whisking in. Add sun dried tomatoes and let come to high simmer (slightly boiling). Turn on low and let sauce thickens. Add chicken back in. You can add some Parmesan and fresh basil at this point. Cover with pan or foil and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese if desired and fresh basil.

Directions for pasta: While Chicken is baking add olive oil to pasta pot and then garlic. Sauté for 20 seconds and then add pasta. Sauté for about 1 minute and then add water and chicken bouillon cube. Bring to boil, stir and then cover and let steam until pasta is tender about 10-15 minutes or most liquid is cooked off. It can still be a little liquid in the pan. Then add garlic salt, butter, Parmesan cheese and spinach. Stir until combined and then add juice from lemon.

The chicken and sauce over the pasta is divine y’all!!! As always I hope you try this and if so make sure to tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama! Enjoy!

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

Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet

Hey y’all! Yesterday I was challenging myself to come up with a meal using what I already had on hand. And I have plenty of chicken!!! In particular boneless skinless chicken breasts. I think I need to share a week’s worth of budget friendly chicken recipes lol. Anyways after checking my pantry and surfing the internet I came up with this recipe that can be made in one pan and in about 30 minutes! The kids enjoyed it and it’s something that can easily be added to a tortilla or on top of nachos.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you can use boneless skinless thighs) cut in about 1 inch chunks
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (can also use rotel for a little spice)
  • 2 cups of water (or chicken broth)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (not needed if using chicken broth)
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 package of taco seasoning and 1/2 pack of ranch seasoning
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

Directions:

Add oil of choice to pan or skillet and heat on medium high. Add chicken breasts and seasoning and cook til brown about 5-7 minutes. The chicken does not have to be cooked all the way thru as we will be cooking later. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Set heat on medium and add rice. Sauté for about a minute and make sure not to burn. Add beans, diced tomatoes, water and bouillon cube or broth if using. Stir to combine and turn heat back to medium high until it begins boiling. Add chicken back in, set heat to low or simmer and cover. Let steam about 10-15 minutes until rice is cooked thru. Top with cheese and serve with your regular taco toppings.

As always tag me @severalpeoplesmama if you make this!

A lot more recipes to come because my teenagers had decided to change his diet and is no longer eating red meat or pork. I’m kinda proud BUT that means I need to get creative so follow along to see what I come up with by subscribing by email and making sure you’re following me on all my social media!

Love Ricki

Quick Crab Wontons

Last night I decided to share a video on how I made some quick crab wontons to go with our dinner. We had teriyaki chicken & fried rice and even though I could have made egg rolls this was a faster and easier alternative! Check out the video on my IGTV @severalpeoplesmama. Here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • One 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese
  • One package of flake stye imitation crab meat
  • One stalk of green onions chopped
  • Seasoning: I used garlic salt, onion powder and a dash of ranch
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (you will find this near the salad section in your grocery store)
  • Vegetable or canola oil

Directions:

Heat oil on medium heat (about 350 if using an electric fryer). Mix cream cheese, crab meat, green onions, and seasonings with a fork breaking up the crab meat. Then spoon a quarter size in to the wonton wrapper. Dab water on your finger and run along each side of the wrapper. Fold wrapper in half til it forms a triangle. Pinch sides in (it will kind of look like a diaper lol). After making several drop in hot oil and cook til golden brown, this will not take long so don’t go anywhere! Repeat til finished and drain on paper towel.

These are delicious on their own or dipped in soy, duck or sweet and sour sauce. Lil Diva enjoyed helping make them because she said it was like origami!

As always tag me on IG if you make them!

Love Ricki

Easy Weeknight Dinner Part 2 – Pesto Ranch Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Need another easy weeknight dinner? I got you!!! This is also a remix of a main dish featured in my Cook Yo Meals Dinner Inspiration Cookbook that I usually make in the crockpot or Instapot. But I have to honestly say I enjoy just as much this way to! So let’s get cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breast butterflied in half (check my highlights on Instagram to see what I mean)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 dry ranch seasoning packet
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 package of petite gold or red potatoes
  • 2 – 3 cups of broccoli and cauliflower
  • Seasoning (I used garlic salt and powder, onion powder, lemon pepper and black pepper
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Bacon bits (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Start by rinsing and drying your veggies and potatoes. Make sure you dry them! Especially the potatoes or they won’t crisp up in the oven. Add veggies to a bowl and add 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil, your seasonings and 1/3 of the ranch seasoning. You can also add some pesto but I just added bacon bits instead. Add a dash of the chopped onions and garlic. Mix together thoroughly and make sure the veggies are coated in the oil and seasoning and then spread on 1/3 of the sheet pan or a 9 x 13 glass dish. Repeat steps with potatoes in same bowl. I added pesto to the potatoes and left out the bacon bits this time. Add to the pan. Finally in same bowl add chicken and repeat steps to season. Add to sheet pan and place in oven for 25 minutes. Turn meat, potatoes and veggies so it can cook on all sides. Bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes until chicken is tender and clear juices come out when pierced with a fork. You can turn on the broiler for about 5 minutes to give everything a crispier texture but I found everything was cooked perfectly and the potatoes were almost perfect!

I love this dish because I only dirtied a bowl and a sheet pan. And the veggies! Y’all if you never roasted your veggies in the oven you’re playing yourself! Even Lil Diva likes them and she’s my resident veggie hater.

If you try this please tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama and also highlights of both this recipe and the Goulash recipe are posted on my page to guide you in making a delicious dinner for you and/or your family!!!

Love Ricki