Almost Homemade Potato and Kielbasa Soup

The forecast called for up to five inches of snow in metro Atlanta this weekend, but all we got were temps in the teens.



This is an easy soup for snow and no-snow days. It starts with a store-bought soup mix.






Potato Soup Mix soup1

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced green, red, or yellow pepper

1 pound turkey or beef kielbasa sausage, sliced

large carton chicken stock (3 cups)

5 cups of water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Saute sausage, then add diced peppers and onion and brown in the drippings. soup2Remove from pan. Prepare soup according to package, but use three cups of chicken stock and five cups of water. soup-3Over medium heat, whisk the soup until smooth. Pour in the sausage and vegetables.

Cook the entire soup for 15-20 minutes.  You can use 8 cups of water if you don’t have chicken stock. Top with a dollop of sour cream, chives, or grated cheese.




Best Christmas Cake Ever

No, it’s not fruit cake. It’s coconut.

coconut cake

It even looks like Christmas. All that snow. I still have the Snow song from White Christmas stuck in my head. Capture


This recipe from Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC is posted on Epicurious

It has a classic cream cheese and butter frosting that tastes so good I make 1/3 more than the recipe calls for and frost three layers instead of the suggested two.




Merry Christmas!


Easy Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert

If you need a dessert for the Labor Day weekend, this is the easiest one ever and it makes a lot. ice cream


12 ice cream sandwiches

1 large container Cool Whip

1 jar hot fudge or caramel topping, warmed in microwave for easy pouring

3 candy bars, chopped or 15 cookies, crushed

Use a narrow, but deep container so you can make two layers.

Place 6 ice cream sandwiches in the container. Cut them to fit if you have to. Spread 1/2 Cool Whip on top. Place the remaining sandwiches next. Pour the fudge or caramel (or use both, one on each layer) on top. Finish with the remaining Cool Whip. Sprinkle chopped candy cars or crushed cookies on top. Freeze at least an hour to set. (Note. I used FatBoy ice cream sandwiches so I had only one layer since they’re super thick. No, there’s nothing wrong with eating an ice cream sandwich named FatBoy. And yes, my oven is still broken.)

Lessons Learned, Parenting Pearl

Morning Glories

imageThere’s something about morning glories.

In the evening they look like weeds, snaking around my porch. It’s almost impossible to crank the garden hose in, the vine has it so tightly gripped.

But in the morning? It’s a different story. Blue flowers peer through huge green leaves, giving a completely different perspective.

Mornings do that–offer a new way to see things.

Nights can be dark and lonely, perfect places for worry and fear to hide out. Grip us tightly. Make us  feel as though there are no answers

But the morning brings new hope, changed thoughts, and fresh ideas.

We remember things are possible.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23


Who needs an oven?

My oven is broken and not getting replaced anytime soon, and I kinda like it. The heat index has reached 103 this summer, and the last thing I need is a sweaty kitchen.

I may change my tune next month when the brownie withdrawals set in. But in the meantime, here are a few recipes if you find yourself in the same position.

Taco Saladtaco salad


chopped lettuce  (I like Romaine best.)

1 diced tomato

1 can of light red kidney beans, drained

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

½ cup diced red onion

1 lb. ground beef, cooked, drained, and seasoned with packet of Taco seasoning according to directions on packet

½ bag of Fritos

Mix the first 5 ingredients for the salad and the Fritos together.  Place in individual bowls. Spoon taco meat on top of each.


Salsa – pour a heaping helping of salsa on top.

Thousand Island dressing – pour a heaping helping of the salad dressing on top.

Catalina dressing – pour a heaping helping of Catalina dressing on top.

Guacamole – I think you know where I’m going with this.

Chicken Bacon Quesadillas


2 cups rotisserie chicken, diced in small piecesquesadilla

½ red onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup grated Monterey jack cheese

8 strips of bacon, cooked and diced

Brown bacon then set aside to drain on a paper towel. Use some of the bacon grease and sauté the diced red onion and red pepper.

Spray top and bottom of the quesadilla/grill. Place one flour tortilla on it. photo (4)Sprinkle cheeses, chicken, bacon, onion and red pepper on the tortilla. Top with another flour tortilla and press until lightly browned. Cut into 6-8 triangles and serve with sour cream, tomatoes and lettuce, and black beans*.

*Sauté some garlic, red onion, and red pepper in the leftover bacon grease and add to canned black beans. Salt and pepper to taste. So good!

Note: If you don’t have a quesadilla maker, you can use a Panini press/grill. You can also use a non-stick pan on the stove, but remember to flip it to brown both sides.

I usually save the crock pot for soups and stews in the colder months, but desperate times call for new crock pot recipes.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortillas


2 large chicken breasts

1 package of frozen Italian mix veggies (this is in the freezer case at Publix)

1 small can of diced green chilis

1 packet of fajita seasoning

Place the above ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Put a heaping helping in a warmed flour tortilla and top with lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, and cheese.

Crock Pot Barbecue


2 lbs pork

1 bottle of good barbecue sauce

1/2 onion, diced

Cook the ingredients together on low for 6-7 hours. Use 1/2 of the barbecue sauce at the beginning, and add as needed. Shred the meat with two forks and serve on toasted buns.


Best Christmas Cake Ever

No, it’s not fruit cake. It’s coconut.

coconut cake

It even looks like Christmas. All that snow. I still have the Snow song from White Christmas stuck in my head. Capture


This recipe from Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC is posted on Epicurious

It has a classic cream cheese and butter frosting that tastes so good I make 1/3 more than the recipe calls for and frost three layers instead of the suggested two.




Merry Christmas!


Happy October!

FullSizeRender (2)Sweet & Salty Fall Mix


  • candy corn

  • salted roasted peanuts

  • mini marshmallows

Pour liberally and mix together. Keep snack in an airtight container unless you prefer stale marshmallows.

Great for a baseball team snack or teacher treats for Halloween.

Variations: add M& Ms, almonds, mini pretzels, Cherrios

Next up: Buddy’s Four Basic Food Groups Mix: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.


Ranch Bacon Pasta Salad

SUMMER’s here! Yay!

Time for pool parties, barbecues, and other gatherings where showing up empty-handed is frowned upon.

This pasta salad is awesome as a side. Add grilled chicken and it’s a meal. You can vary the ingredients, but I wouldn’t omit the bacon. Unless you’re a vegetarian. Or you’re satisfied with things at half-flavor. In other words, ditch the broccoli. Keep the bacon.

Ranch Bacon Pasta Salad IMG_0977


Tri-color pasta noodles, cooked according to the box directions, drained well

2 cups fresh broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/3 cup red pepper, diced

4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped


1 package of ranch dressing (dry package)

3/4 to 1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon milk

salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl. Pour the dressing mixture over the pasta and stir. Chill for a couple of hours or overnight.

Lessons Learned, Recipes

I’m Just a Wannabe

I posted this last Easter. I’m still just a wannabe, but this Easter I made easy peasy Banana Pudding. Happy Easter!

I’m a Cake Baker Wannabe. My problem is I lack two qualities necessary to bake a beautiful and delicious cake—infinite patience and laser focus.

I saw this beautiful Strawberry Mousse Cake in Southern Living and decided to give it a try. It was a bit complicated with three separate lists of ingredients and directions for: 1) cake, 2) mousse filling, and 3) frosting. Usually this is the sort of thing that sends me running back to something simple like triple chocolate cupcakes, but for some reason I was up for a challenge.

And to look at it, you’d think it was a huge success.

But looks can be deceiving.

Oddly, you can learn a thing or two while baking.

And not just that when faced with the choice to: a) follow the directions and chill the mousse for at least 30 minutes before spreading it on each cake layer and b) putting the mousse in the freezer for only 10 minutes, you should choose a.

Because underneath this pretty cake, was this

What a mess!

It’s amazing what a little (make that a lot) of frosting can do. It can cover a multitude of mistakes.

And so I am reminded this Easter that my Savior looks at me with all of my cracks, lack of patience, and poor focus and HE loves me anyway.

Happy Easter!

And another lesson I learned was it really only matters how it tastes, and that was great! Three sticks of butter and heavy whipping cream have a way of doing that!


Mmm Mmm Gouda!

Merchants Restaurant in Nashville serves an awesome Smoked Gouda sandwich.

And it’s super simple to copy make your own.

gouda 2


smoked Gouda, sliced (find this in the Deli or special cheese section)

bacon strips, cooked

sourdough or focaccia bread slices


non-stick spray

tomato soup (optional for dipping)

Spray griddle or pan with non-stick spray. Butter both sides of the bread and lightly grill one side. Flip the bread slices and top one slice with 4-5 slices of cheese and 2-3 strips of bacon. Cover with the other slice of bread and press. Flip and press the other side.

OMGouda, this is tasty! And souper easy! 🙂