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

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