Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Slow Cooker Ham and Potato Soup

My wife decided to make a recipe for ‘Slow Cooker Ham and Potato Soup’ she found on ‘Dinner Then Dessert’ dot com, and we enjoyed it so much she’s already made it twice! 🙂 Sabrina’s recipe is straightforward and easy enough to follow, and the only changes to our version of this delicious soup was the addition of garlic and a bay leaf, along with extra portions of the listed ingredients.

I’ve added a gallery of our photos below for your viewing pleasure ~ and as always, I made short work of the dishes afterwards.  You can’t go wrong with this wonderful recipe for Slow Cooker Ham and Potato Soup, as hot soup is always welcome on a cold winter day ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Grilled Egg & Provolone Cheese Sandwich

One of my favorite sandwiches at home when I was growing up, was a fried egg sandwich topped with mayonnaise and lettuce, so the other day I decided to upgrade my grilled provolone cheese sandwich with a fried egg.  We were making our sandwiches on homemade buttermilk bread, so it was an easy step to fry an egg alongside the sandwich and remind myself of why I loved a fried egg sandwich so much growing up.

You’ll want to break the yolk of the egg when frying, as it allows for a flattened egg when flipped over and makes for a better sandwich.  My sandwich tasted wonderful, and although I didn’t add mayonnaise or a leaf of lettuce, I’ll add both in the future ~ along with a slice of ham to make it into a true breakfast sandwich ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Grilled Provolone Cheese Sandwiches & Tomato Bisque

For lunch today, I made Grilled Provolone Cheese Sandwiches on our homemade Whole Wheat, Brown Sugar & Oats Bread made this morning.  We then served our sandwiches with Campbell’s Organic Sun-Ripened Tomato & Basil Bisque, which I very much enjoyed ~ sold in box form in your grocery store.  My wife topped the bisque with whipped unsweetened heavy cream and chopped parsley, harvested from our herb garden this morning.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup have been longtime favorites of ours, and both hit the spot for me at lunchtime!  Here’s today’s photo gallery of the process I use to grill cheese sandwiches ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Grilled Swiss Cheese Sandwiches

One of our favorite meals for lunch is a childhood favorite ~ grilled cheese sandwiches! 🙂  So I stepped up to the stovetop today to cook Grilled Swiss Cheese Sandwiches on homemade buttermilk bread (see my post under the Baking Category) for lunch, as it had been some time since we’d enjoyed them.  My favorite cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches is either Swiss or Provolone, but any quality cheese you enjoy works fine as well.

In a flat pan over medium heat, I melt a pat of butter and prepare the first sandwich by spreading both slices with butter, and letting the cheese slices warm to room temperature from the refrigerator.  Once the pan’s warm and the butter’s melted, add the bread slices ‘butter side down’ and arrange the cheese slices so they cover the entire bread surfaces once joined together.

Check the bread slices using a spatula until slightly browned and the cheese is melted, and then flip one slice onto the other ~ it’s easy to miss like I did and not get the alignment right, but your taste buds won’t mind.  Turn the sandwich over in the pan a few times until you’re happy with a nicely browned surface on both sides, and serve on a plate.

It’s easiest to cut the sandwich using the edge of the spatula, as it makes a nice straight crease.  Today I used a knife, and the spatula technique is easier, faster, and makes a better cut ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

My wife made ‘Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup’ yesterday, a recipe she found on ‘Cooking Classy’ dot com ~ with a tagline of ‘with a sprinkle of fancy’ by Jaclyn.  This was a first time for making chicken noodle soup in the slow cooker, as we’d previously always made it on the stove top.  The slow cooker is a great way to go, as my wife prepared the ingredients the day before, started the slow cooker first thing in the morning, and it was ready to enjoy for lunch!

This soup turned out beautifully, and we’ll tweak the recipe a little the next time to suit our own personal tastes, by using less Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garlic.  We’ll also go easy on the onion, and first saute it slightly to soften it.  Our wide egg noodles are always prepared separately in the microwave for each meal, to keep them from softening too much over time for future servings.

We like that slow cooker meals make a large enough quantity to enjoy another day.  It’s a simple enough process to portion out the remaining soup to store in the refrigerator and freezer.  As usual, I’m always in the ‘clean-up batter’ position in the line-up rotation, as Sous Chef and Chief Dish and Bottle Washer.  I find satisfaction in cleaning up a well-cooked-in kitchen, and returning it to its pristine glory! 🙂

This recipe with our slight alterations is a keeper to make another day, and enjoy all fall and winter long! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Buttermilk Pancakes

This morning I made buttermilk pancakes, which I mentioned earlier as the recipe I found on ‘Bon Appetit’ dot com, as ‘BA’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes’ ~ now my go-to recipe for making pancakes from scratch.  There’s something truly authentic about making pancakes from scratch for breakfast, possibly a deeper connection that hearkens back to our pioneer spirit!

My wife organized the dry ingredients last night which always helps save prep time in the morning, and she took photos of the process while I did the cooking.  It’s legend that the first batch of pancakes never turn out perfectly, as the heat never seems to be at quite the right temperature to begin with ~ so I always enjoy the trial round myself as the cook.

Melt a pat of butter in a flat pan over medium heat to start with, being careful to turn the temperature down as the pan warms up during the cooking process, otherwise the later batches of pancakes darken too quickly.  We serve pancakes with real butter and maple syrup ~ because it’s the very best ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Slow Cooker Leek & Potato Soup (Update)

This is an updated post about how my wife now makes her Slow Cooker Leek & Potato Soup.  The original recipe she used was found on ‘SkinnyMs’ dot com.  She chooses to not use white pepper in her soup based on our taste preferences, and substituted six Yukon Gold potatoes for the Russet potatoes ~ along with using 4 or 5 sliced leeks ~ in a 6 quart slow cooker.

A good technique is to dice the potatoes into cubes less than 1/2 inch on a side, as they’ll cook faster.  She started the slow cooker on high heat to get the soup started for the first 2 to 3 hours, and then reduced the heat to low for the rest of the cooking time.  Once the potato cubes are tender, you can remove a portion of them from the slow cooker and puree the rest, which thickens up the soup.  We used chicken stock in our Leek & Potato Soup, but you can substitute vegetable stock easily enough if you want a vegetarian option.

All in all, a slow cooker is very forgiving of what or how much you add into the mix.  My wife added fresh thyme in our soup along with a bay leaf, and both were removed from the slow cooker for pureeing.  A nice touch is to add chopped parsley and chives when served, and we like to add bacon bits/pieces for flavoring as well.

The gallery photos show you each step along the way ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Slow Cooker Rice Pudding

My wife made a delicious recipe today called ‘Slower Cooker Rice Pudding’ by Lisa Lavery, found online at ‘Chowhound’ dot com.  Rice Pudding has always been a favorite treat of ours, and this recipe made it so easy to make in the slow cooker!

We’re fans of slow cooker recipes, because once you prep the ingredients and get the slow cooker started, the slow cooker does all the work…except for the dishes, which is my specialty.  I grew up learning to cook and wash dishes at home, as my mom insisted that all four of us kids help out with dinner, either by cooking or doing the dishes, and I often did both.

My first official job at 16 was serving ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor, and less than a year later as a dishwasher and Chef’s Assistant at Atlas Valley Country Club in Grand Blanc, MI, for a few months.

Sammy was our wonderful and very funny African-American Chef, and not only did I learn the ropes of dish washing ~ and washing out the giant pots used to prepare meals for hundreds of guests ~ but also the ins-and-outs of being a Chef’s Assistant, helping out wherever I was needed.  I also loved working around all the waitresses, but that’s another story! 🙂

My wife soaked the long-grain white rice overnight in cold water in the refrigerator, to make sure the rice would be softened during the cooking process.  She also added a little more cinnamon during the slow-cooking, as we love the flavor of cinnamon.  The raisins we used were California Golden Raisins, which add a very nice flavor to this wonderful treat ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

We enjoyed ‘Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup’ for lunch today, and will do so for a number of meals to come.  The potato soup was absolutely delicious, and it helped that we prepped the ingredients yesterday for today’s scrumptious meal.  My wife found the recipe on ‘Happiness Is Homemade’ dot net, and nothing beats a slow cooker doing the work while filling the house with the wonderful aroma of potato soup cooking all morning! 🙂

My role as ‘Sous Chef’ was frying a pan full of bacon yesterday for this meal (and to be frozen for future meals to come), peeling and dicing the potatoes, taste appreciation, food blogging, and of course, head dishwasher.  My wife made all the magic happen in the slow cooker ~ enjoy! 🙂

Our Adventures in Cooking ~ Potato Pancakes or Potato Latkes with Applesauce

A favorite hearty meal of ours is enjoying a meal of Potato Pancakes with applesauce ~ also known as Potato Latkes.  You can find many recipes online for Potato Pancakes, but this traditional version involves shredding or grating potatoes into fine slivers, squeezing the moisture out of them in a cheesecloth, and a batter that can contain flour, an egg, a shredded or diced onion, salt, pepper and green parsley.

The shredded potatoes and batter are combined together, fried in the olive or vegetable oil of your choice, rested on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil, and then kept warm in a bowl in the oven until they have all been fried.  We serve these delicious and filling treats warm for lunch or dinner with applesauce on the side for a satisfying meal ~ enjoy! ☼ 🙂

Potato Pancakes with Applesauce

Potato Pancakes with Applesauce