Soup Season! Pleasing Potato Leek Soup Recipe

Lucky for me, it is soup season to nurture us during winter’s chilly temps.  And this is lucky for me since I have to eat soft foods as I recover from my gum surgery.  So I asked a few pals for their soup recipes.  I plan to share several here on my blog, starting with Sherry’s Soup:  Potato Leek Soup.  Thanks for the yummy recipe, Sherry.  Here is how you make it…

4 leeks, trimmed of tough tops, leave 3-4 inches of green on white of leek.
2 T. olive oil
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1/3 lb. bacon, sliced and cooked crisp (keep grease and set aside bacon for garnish)
1 T. tarragon, fresh, leaves stripped from stems and chopped slightly, for garnish
2 TBS chives, fresh, chopped, for garnish

Optional add-ins:

Corn as much as you would like to add to soup

Half & Half cream

Sour cream for dollop serving per soup bowl

What You Do:

1. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Place leeks in colander. Separate sliced leeks under cold running water and clean them. Drain well.

2. Heat medium soup pot over med high heat. I used my dutch oven because I am big fan of cooking homemade soup in it.  So good.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (or try Sherry’s trick and use the bacon grease from the bacon cooked instead of the olive oil to saute the leeks and potatoes), bay leaf and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Peel potatoes and thinly slice them, adding them to soup pot as you go. Season potatoes with a little salt, add chicken stock to soup pot. Cover soup and bring to boil. Uncover and simmer 12-15 minutes, until potatoes are very tender. Break up potatoes to slightly thicken soup Remove bay leaf.

3. Serve with bacon, tarragon and chive garnishes. 

4. Sherry adds about 1/2 cup of fresh corn before simmering and about 1/4 cup cream at the end for a richer tasty soup. Along with the garnishes mentioned, she also adds a dollop of sour cream before sprinkling on the rest.  I was out of sour cream, so I missed that in my pictures of the finished soup. Next time for sure!

Finished soup without adding cream if you want more of a broth base.  But I like cream, so I added cream for my daughter’s serving later when she came home from school….

Here it is with the cream and the full fixin’s.  A perfect homemade after school dish for my daughter before she went off to her rehearsal. Good grub for our busy days.

Thank you Sherry Kline for your perfect and lovely potato and leek soup recipe!  Give it a try folks and stay warm and well through the winter months.



Back To School Lunch Box Ideas & Foods For All Ages

Manic:  Back to school season.  The lazy carefree days of summer have come to a halt for the kids and they need good solid fuel at lunchtime to help them get refocused and back into it now and all year long.

Managed:  Did some brainstorming and reflected back on the years, since I now have a high school senior and an 8th grader.  Here are some cool lunchboxes that are fun and functional to know about and some food ideas to fill that lunch bag up with that both the kids and the parents can agree on.  Take a look…

Part 2 of segment….and don’t use the pointy toothpicks I showed…buy the cake pop sticks that don’t have pointy ends just to be extra safe!

And to see my entire column, check it on the KTVK “Your Life A to Z” show hotline page that you can find here.

Three Tasty Tamari Chinese New Year Recipes To Try

Manic:  Trying to really stick to our New Year’s resolution to cook more meals from scratch using whole foods.  One of the options that my very health conscious mother told me about is to use Tamari in place of soy sauce so I was anxious to give several recipes a try with the tasty Tamari.

Managed:  Working with San-J to share their Chinese New Year recipes for potstickers, a yummy stir fry and even good fortune cookies.  Why is Tamari so good and healthy?  San-J’s premium gluten free Tamari Soy Sauce is naturally brewed from 100% soybeans for up to six months using traditional Japanese methods. For over 200 years, San-J’s Tamari is brewed with no wheat for a richer, smoother, more refined taste than regular soy sauces (that can contain 40-60% wheat). San-J’s Tamari is also Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher and free from artificial preservatives or additives.Lamb-Potstickers1_2

Take a look and give these ideas a try….

Using San-J’s premium, gluten-free Tamari soy sauce, Gluten-Free Chef Carol Kicinski has crafted three authentic Chinese New Year dishes, with all the taste and none of the gluten for the holidays and beyond.

San-J Gluten-Free Chinese New Year Recipes:

  • Lamb Potstickers: Tasty lamb seasoned with Tamari and Sherry  wrapped in rice paper dipped in a tangy Tamari-based dipping sauce.  Get the recipe here.Lamb-Potstickers1_2
  • Prosperous New Year Stir Fry: Delicious vegetable and tofu stir fry tossed with Tamari, topped with a dollop of yogurt pomegranate seeds, pistachios and cilantro.  Try this Stir Fry recipe here.Prosperous-New-Year-Stir-Fry2_2
  • Good Fortune Cookies:  Rich chocolate and Tamari filled almond cookies decorated with half almonds. Make them yourself with the directions here.Good-Fortune-Cookies1_2

I love how easy it is to get my hands on the San-J line, too.  San-J’s Premium Gluten Free Tamari soy sauces, including Tamari Black Label (ARP $2.99), Gold Label Tamari (ARP $4.28) and Tamari Lite 50% Less Sodium (ARP $3.87), are available at natural food stores including select Whole Foods Markets and major grocery stores.  Check out the San-J website for more scrumptious recipes and products selection.


This tasty article was sponsored by San-J and my opinion about how much I love the Tamari and the recipes are 100% my own. 

Simple Super Bowl Party Food & Decor Ideas

Living in Phoenix is super fun this week with all of the Super Bowl fun around town.  So I got in the spirit and looked on social media to find (and shamelessly copy) some great appetizer ideas that are football themed. The best part is just how simple these recipes are to prepare and set out, plus they also work well if you need to bring something that is a festive and football themed dish.  I was sure to include an idea for the Seattle Seahawks fans and the Patriots peeps, too.  I wish both teams the best of luck on Sunday.  Check out these ideas….

Healthy & Creative Back-to-School Lunches

Manic:  This week!  Back to school has been exciting, crazy, fun and hard work all in one….for me and for my kids!  So I really want them to eat a good healthy lunch packed by yours truly and finding foods that my kids are I all agree on isn’t always easy!

Managed:  Put some foods to the test and came up with some different lunch ideas that my kids give a thumbs up to, so all of these ideas have been tested by my 5th grader and by my now high-schooler!  So check out my KTVK segment this week to see what we came up with…

My Yummy Quick Salad with Help from Trader Joe’s

Manic:  Trying to get a ton done before the kids start summer vacation, so I’m working hard at home and only have time for a quick homemade lunch.

Managed:  Trying the taste test area that Trader Joe’s always offers last week and leaving with several ingredients that helped me turn an ordinary salad into one comparable to a nice restaurant’s salad dish!  This was so easy and so yummy, that you’ve got to try it…

My Simple Salad Made Great!

What You Need:

*Lettuce – I used green leaf that I get fresh from Sunizona Family Farms on Fridays through their FarmBox

*Cucumber cut into slices

*Grape Tomatoes cut in half

*Onion sliced in thin strips

*Trader Joe’s Aceto Balsamico di Modena I.G.P. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

*Trader Joe’s Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil

*Trader Joe’s Ciliegine Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella in Lightly Salted Water

*Dash of sea salt

*Dash of pepper

What You Do:

1.  Assemble salad using the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and onion.

2.  Add mozzarella cheese balls….as many as you would like.

3.  Drizzle the balasmic vinegar across the top of salad and then drizzle the olive oil across the salad.

4.  Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on top and toss.

This salad is soo good and here is why….

The combination of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar mixed in with the yummy mozzarella cheese balls is the perfect mixture of toppings to satisfy your taste buds with a healthy salad to boot!

Trader Joe's had samples of this balsamic vinegar the day I shopped there. I highly recommend trying the daily samples they offer. I have assembled many good meals from the sample ideas that they share!

The Trader Joe's Olive Oil comes with the restaurant style top, too....I don't know why, but I think it tastes better when it drizzles out of the bottle so smoothly. Yum!

And the mozzarella cheese balls that come fresh in the lightly salted water from Trader Joe's make this salad taste like one from a good restaurant! Love it!

What is your favorite salad that you throw together quickly?  Share here in the comments section and eat well!


Finally Found A Salad with Homemade Dressing & My Kids Love It!

Manic:  Trying to get my kids to eat more veggies, period!

Managed:  Finally found a homemade salad dressing and salad that my kids…and their friends….love!  I attend a cooking class every Wednesday night, so this recipe is from my cooking instructor, Lyn McGuire.  I’ll be blogging about my cooking class soon, too!  Here is the salad recipe….

Lyn’s Lovely Salad that My Kids Love, Too! 

My salad is pictured with yellow tomatoes and they were quite flavorful!

What You Need:

*Lettuce of your choice…we like romaine or green leaf lettuce

*Cherry Tomatoes cut in half or tomatoes of your choice

*Red onion cut in thin slices


*Sea salt

*Fresh ground pepper

*Extra virgin olive oil

*White Balsamic Vinaigrette

What You Do:

1.  Prepare your salad using lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, tomatoes and cucumber.

2.  Pour equal parts of the olive oil and white balsamic vinaigrette over the salad.  Depending on how big your salad is, you will determine how much.  For my salad pictured above, I did 1/4 cup each.  

3.  Sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper and serve.  So delicious and nutritious!

***Lyn’s recipe did not call for cucumbers.  I added those.

What is your favorite homemade salad dressing?  Share here in the comments section!

Simple Sliders: Pulled Pork Style

Manic:  Need to make my family a home-cooked meal, but plan to be out all day.

Managed:  Crank up the crock pot and try this super easy and very delicious pulled pork slider recipe.

The last time my Dad visited he took one bite of the pulled pork sandwiches that I made and then he asked me two questions.  First, could he have the recipe and secondly, how had I pulled off pulled pork when we had been out all day?  So he took the easy recipe home.  He tells me that he has made it a lot and now you can print this recipe and make it a lot, too.

What You Need:

McCormick Slow Cookers BBQ Pulled Pork packet (this is the secret ingredient!)


Brown Sugar

Apple Cider Vinegar

3 lbs. Pork Shoulder (recipe calls for boneless, but bone-in comes out more tender every time)

Slider buns

What You Do:

1.  Place pulled pork in your crock pot.

2.  Simply follow directions on the back of the McCormick packet which tells you the measured amounts of brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and ketchup to mix with the packet contents.  Mix well. 

After all ingredients are mixed, this is what the sauce looks like.

3.  Pour sauce over pork, cover and cook in crock pot on low for 8 hours.  You can also set your slow cooker on high for four hours, but I think cooking the meat on low comes out much better.  8 hours later, shred pork and serve on slider buns.  I like to top mine with cole slaw and add a zesty dill pickle.   And I added my last second salad recipe ( for good health.  Yum!
Enjoy!  What is your favorite crock pot recipe?  Share in the comments section section.  Happy crock potting!

Easy Corn Chowder Recipe

Manic:  Thinking to myself that I get one last chance to make a good warm soup since our weather turned chilly again, but I don’t have a lot of time or a lot of ingredients on hand.

Managed:  Remembering that I have a really good easy corn chowder recipe that will warm my family right up! 

I love those tasty and fun Pampered Chef ( parties and I love some of the recipes that come with the cookware.  Here is one of my favorites.  The only change I make is to add a bread bowl.  Here is how to make this easy and yummy dish.

Stuff You Need:

2 medium unpeeled red potatoes

1 cup cubed cooked ham

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery

1 teaspoon butter or margarine

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1 can of 14 1/2 oz. chicken broth

1 can of 12 oz. fat-free evaporated milk

1 can of 15 oz. creamed corn

2 Tablespoons sliced chives

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cooked crumbled bacon (optional)

4 round French or Sourdough bread rounds (I get mine at Safeway) to make bowls for 4 soup servings

To make the bread bowl, I cut a circle in the center, remove it and now I have a bread lid, too.

What You Do:

1.  Cut potatoes and ham into cubes and set aside.

2.  Dice bell pepper and coarsely chop celery.  Here is where I love to use my Pampered Chef food chopper that I’ve had for years!

3.  Heat butter in saucepan on medium heat and then add the bell pepper and celery.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until veggies are crisp-tender.

4.  Stir in flour and heat until bubbly. 

5.  Gradually add broth, evaporated milk and corn, whisking until blended.

6.  Add potatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until tators are tender.

7.  Stir in ham and heat through.

8.  Remove from heat, stir chives into soup and then season with salt and pepper. 

9.  Serve in individual bread bowls like the ones shown in my picture.  Top with bacon, if desired. 

Bread bowl with edible lid that my kids love to eat 🙂

Enjoy!  What is your favorite warm-me-up soup?  Share in the comments section.

Last Second Salad Recipe

Manic:  Company is coming for dinner and you already have a lot to prepare, so you need a simple last second salad.

Managed:  Cheat!  Try this salad idea.  I’m almost embarrassed to post it because it is so easy.  However, I’ve had gal pals I’ve shared this trick with tell me that they think it is a good idea, so here it is.

Last Second Salad Recipe

Stuff You Need:

1 head of romaine lettuce

1/4 lb. of your grocer’s Greek salad fresh from the deli

Feta cheese to sprinkle on top – your desired amount (I forgot to do this in my pictured salad!)

What You Do:

1.  With all of the other courses you have to prepare when making dinner for guests, simply combining the deli Greek salad with the lettuce gives you an instant last second salad.  Plus the deli Greek salad has enough dressing already on it, so no additional dressing is needed, but taste it and then decide for yourself if you need to add extra dressing.

And remember to use romaine lettuce for good health.  Did you know that romaine has 6 times more Vitamin C and 8 times more beta-carotene than iceberg lettuce?   Good to know and healthy to eat.

Share your simple salad recipes here in the comments section.  And remember this last second salad idea the next time you need to cheat a little to get everything out on time.  That is the tricky part, getting all the courses out together, hot, fresh…and at the same time.  This salad makes that job a little easier.  Try it.