Oven-Baked Potato Soup

easy-oven-baked-potato-soupI have a little confession to make – I can’t really take credit for this soup. This recipe is one that my wife has talked about for two years! She finally found it again and insisted that she make it for me. I read the ingredients and I gave her the “you’ve GOT to be kidding me” look. She just smiled and walked into the kitchen – then patiently began to craft this soup and prove me wrong! (Yep, I admitted it – I was wrong. But just this once! And you better not tell her either!)

This soup is creamy and rich – but not too rich! It has FAR more flavor than you would anticipate and it’s literally one of THE easiest potato soup recipes you will ever come across. The idea for this soup comes from a local restaurant where my wife grew up in VA. They have made this type of potato soup for years and the locals just can’t get enough of it – so naturally Heather had to take me by there to grab a bowl. It really was delicious! I’m glad she found this recipe again, and I’m even glad she proved me wrong! (See, I even admitted it a second time!)

Do yourself a favor and make this soup tonight! I promise your tongue, your stomach and your family will thank you!

OVEN-BAKED POTATO SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans Cream of Potato Soup (10.5 oz.)
  • 2 cans Sliced or Diced New Potatoes
  • 2 c. Half and Half (I use fat-free)
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Mix your cream of potato soup with your milk in a mixing bowl, then add your half and half. Make sure it’s combined well.
  • Sprinkle in your salt and pepper – mix well.
  • Add your canned potatoes (drained) and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and place in a 375ºF oven for 35-45 minutes, until it’s bubbling and just starts to brown a little.
  • Remove from the oven and divide into bowls. Top with as much chopped bacon, cheese and chives/green onions as you can handle!
  • If soup is all you’re having, this will feed two quite comfortably.

TIPS:

  • Go ahead and splurge for the name brand soup with this one. I feel that there’s a pretty big taste difference with the cream of potato soups – but maybe that’s just me.
  • The canned potatoes don’t matter – they all taste the same. We actually like one can of diced and one of sliced to mix things up a little.
  • If you’re having guests over, I’d easily double the recipe! This stuff is SERIOUSLY good! (Just make sure to increase your cooking time. Make sure it’s heated through very well – maybe even give it a stir half-way through)
  • Play with the recipe – add some garlic or diced onion to jazz it up
  • I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the flavor that a can of cream of potato soup will bring to the dish – I know I sure was!

To see more of my photography, check out my website: http://www.jordantickle.com

 

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Tip: Better Than Bouillon

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Everyone knows that broths can come in handy for recipes. It’s got way more flavor than water and can help build flavor while you’re cooking your dish. I always used to keep a few cans or a carton of the stuff on hand to make sure that I never ran out – that was until I found this stuff. Better Than Bouillon changed my life! I’ve yet to buy canned or boxed broths since I ran across this liquid gold.

These bases can be purchased at just about any store that sells groceries. It’s cheaper than broth and takes up a lot less space in your kitchen. Oh – and the main reason I use it – it has TONS more flavor than any broth you can buy! Just use one tablespoon per cup of hot water. Mix to dissolve and use just like you would regular broth.

(Oh – and when you’re almost done with the jar, pour hot water in and seal with the lid. Shake and swirl to dissolve the remaining base and add to whatever you’re making! “Waste not – want not,” right?)

Better Than Bouillon comes in over 10 delicious flavors, including Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, Mushroom, Chili, etc. There’s a base for just about anything you need to make! I’m telling you, it’s amazing stuff – you need a few jars in your kitchen!

Stop spending extra  money on canned broths, and switch to Better Than Bouillon’s flavor bases – your tastebuds with thank you!

Spinach Bacon Quiche

bacon_spinach_quiche_jordan_tickle_photography-7

Quiche (“keesh”) is nothing more than a fancy word for an egg pie. Well, sort of. It’s actually a French custard, thickened with egg, and filled with all sorts of savory treats. There’s as many variations for a quiche as there is chocolate chip cookies – so finding one that is just right for you isn’t a hard task.

I’ve not always been the biggest fan of them, but I came across a recipe the other day (On “This Gal Cooks”) and I just couldn’t help myself. From the looks of it, it simply had to be good – regardless of what I thought I did or didn’t like about quiche.

So, I made it… And it was wonderful! It’s great fresh out of the oven, at room temperature or even reheated. This quiche recipe a pretty fancy treat to whip out for a brunch – all of your friends will be impressed with your skills! (and a little jealous too. ha ha)

Printable Recipe PDF here: spinach_bacon_quiche_pdf

SPINACH BACON QUICHE

INGREDIENTS:

For the Crust…

  • 1c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 Tbsp. Crisco Shortening
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Ice-cold Water

For the Filling…

  • 4 slices bacon (cooked and chopped)
  • 1/3c. Cooked fresh/frozen spinach (well-drained)
  • 4 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Onion
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1c. Half and Half (Fat-free works fine too)
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 1/2 c. Swiss Cheese – shredded
  • 1/2 c. Cheddar Cheese – shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. (heaped) Seasoned Salt
  • Fresh tomato, sliced and halved

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust…

  • Mix the flour and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Add shortening and “cut” it into the flour using a fork or your hands. The shortening needs to be incorporated until it’s in pea-sized pieces.
  • Begin to add the water, sprinkling around the bowl. Start with 3tbsp, then add more as you go. Bring the dough together with the fork or your hands until it just beings to come together. (Try not to over work the dough or your crust will be tough)
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and bring together in a disc shape. Begin to roll out (keep it moving and well-floured) with a rolling pin until about 12.5 inches wide. Transfer to the 9″ cake pan or spring-form pan. (Roll the dough up around the rolling pin to make it easier to carry over to the pan)
  • Once in the pan, make sure to fit it into the corners and up the sides of the pan by at least 1.5-2″. Trim any excess dough off with a knife and press the dough to the sides of the pan. Dock the surface with a fork to prevent air bubbles.
  • Place dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while the oven heats. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes – until it just begins to brown slightly.

For the Filling…

  • While the crust is baking, beat your eggs then add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  • When the crust comes out of the oven, pour the filling into it. Smooth the top and make sure everything is scattered evenly in the crust. Top with sliced tomatoes and return to the oven.
  • Bake at 350°F for 55-65 minutes – or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. (Your filling should barely even brown in any areas and should appear to be fully set)
  • Remove from oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before eating – this helps the custard set.

TIPS:

  • Using a spring-form pan makes it easy to remove for a beautiful presentation and easy cutting.
  • It’s fantastic at room temperate, but even better warm. Make it the night before and reheat slices in the microwave the next morning for breakfast. You’ll thank yourself!

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Check out more of my photography: www.jordantickle.com

 

Robust Cold-Brew Coffee

coffee_icedI’ve met very few people in life that don’t like coffee. Some (like myself) are a little crazy about the stuff and enjoy spending way too much money on a good cup of caffeine. I’ve been there, and I’ve spent more than I’d like to admit on quality coffee drinks. I’m a big fan of Starbucks because they sell THE best cup of coffee you can get – end of story. I’m serious, it’s quality brew. And I’m ok with splurging for good quality from time to time.

There are two issues I’ve come up against in my coffee vs. wallet struggle. The first isn’t necessarily the cost of the drinks (although it’s a pretty weighty one), it’s my location. I’m sort of located in the middle of no-where. The closest Starbucks is about 20 minutes from me and it’s not on my way to any of the places I frequent more than once a week. I could probably talk myself into a few cups of coffee a week, but I don’t know that I can convince myself it’s worth the drive, the gas money AND the cost of the caffeine.

Don’t despair – there’s an answer to both problems: The Pioneer Woman‘s recipe for iced coffee! I know that it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. The secret is a “cold brew” method – which is actually becoming quite popular. You mix cold water and loose coffee together, let it sit for about 8 hours and then strain it. It’s strong, but not bitter – that’s thanks to the cold water. Hot water has a tendency to bring out the bitter flavors in coffee, which we can avoid with this method. I promise you it’s one of the easiest things you’ll ever do, and you will ADORE it.

Oh – wanna know how good this coffee is? For our wedding in June we used this exact recipe for our full-service iced coffee bar at the reception! We had three custom flavors: Toffee Nut Tickle, Decedant Raspberry Truffle and Salted Caramel Sensation – all served with milk and topped with whipped cream. Everyone loved it!

So make a batch, I dare ya!

Printable Recipe PDF here:robust_cold_brew_coffee_pdf

ROBUST COLD-BREW COFFEE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1c. Ground Coffee (Cafe Bustelo)
  • 6c. Cold Water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Mix your cold water and ground coffee in a large container with a lid. Make sure all the coffee grounds are saturated with water. Let sit overnight – or at least 8 hours.
  • Using a fine mesh strainer lined with a tea towel (or a few layers of cheesecloth) strain the coffee and water. Discard the grounds. (or throw them into your garden for nutrients)
  • Chill and serve cold, over ice, with whatever cream and sweetener you like best! Toffee Nut syrup plus fat-free half and half is my favorite.
  • Store in the refridgerator for 3-4 weeks. (If it lasts that long!)

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Cafe Bustelo is Pioneer Woman’s coffee of choice for this application, and it’s mine too. I’m sure that any good quality, strong, coffee would work great for this, but Cafe Bustelo is readily available and pretty darn cheap too! It’s excellent.
  • THE best thing you could possibly flavor coffee with is one of Starbucks’ syrups – they’re truly wonderful. Next time you’re in one of their locations, ask them to sell you a bottle of whatever flavor you like best. (Toffee Nut is my flavor of choice and it’s incredible. It’s actually what they put in hazelnut flavored drinks because it tastes more like hazelnut than their hazelnut syrup. Don’t ask me why – I don’t understand that one either.) They run about $13 a bottle and you can usually get a pump with them. It’s well worth it!
  • This is an easy recipe to make a large batch of and store for on-the-go. The breakdown is 2 cups of water per 1 ounce of ground coffee – so if you get an 8oz. bag of coffee just pour the whole thing in with 16c. of water. It’s a pretty easy conversion.

cold_brew_coffee_jordan_tickle_photography-1 cold_brew_coffee_jordan_tickle_photography-2 cold_brew_coffee_jordan_tickle_photography-3 cold_brew_coffee_jordan_tickle_photography-4 cold_brew_coffee_jordan_tickle_photography-5Check out more of my photography: www.jordantickle.com

 

Fried Cornbread

cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-7Some of the best things in life are the simplest – am I right? Fried cornbread is something that brings a very specific memory to my mind. It takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen instantly. I can hear “Mamaw’s” voice, I can see her cast iron frying pan, I remember the crazy 60’s vinyl floor she had and I remember the place I always set at her kitchen table. It’s pretty amazing that something so simple can bring such vivid memories back. The ONLY person I ever knew to make cornbread like this was Mamaw – so that’s who I called when I wanted to know how to make it. She shared it with me and now I want to share it with you!

FRIED CORNBREAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1c. Cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. Milk

DIRECTIONS:

  • Place a pan over medium to med-high heat with about 1/8 inch of oil in it. Let heat for 2-3 minutes. (Cornbread should sizzle heavily when put in the oil.)
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Should be a little thicker than pancake batter. Let it sit for 2 minutes to thicken slightly.
  • Spoon patties into the pan with a heaped tablespoon. I usually fit 3 to a 10″ skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes before flipping – just don’t let them burn.
  • Make sure to brown both sides well, but not burn. Might take 2-3 patties to get the hang of it.
  • Remove from oil when finished and let drain on paper towels to absorb extra oil.
  • This recipe makes 8-10 3.5″ cornbread patties.

Enjoy! I hope this recipe will make memories for you and those you love.

cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-1 cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-2 cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-3 cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-4 cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-5 cornbread_web_jordan_tickle-6Check out more of my photography: www.jordantickle.com

 

Chicken Caprese Orzo with Mushrooms & Spinach

Chicken Caprese Orzo with Mushrooms & Spinach

The last few months I’ve been on a hunt – a hunt for delicious, new recipes that I can add to my collection. Recipes that are unique, somewhat simple and a little more healthy than what I’ve been used to “throwing together” in a pinch. My search has kept me on the ever-wonderful Pinterest for countless hours. I’ve pinned more things than I can think of, and I’ve began to make them. I mean, what’s the purpose of pinning recipes if you don’t try them out – right? This is one we tried this past weekend when a friend came in town for a few days and we LOVE it!

I’ll be the first to tell you that this recipe isn’t originally my idea, but I adapted it from the original one I found to make it something I know we’ll make again! It’s really not that difficult to create, and it sounds quite fancy when you tell people what you had for dinner!

Printable Recipe PDF here: Chicken_Caprese_Orzo_Recipe

CHICKEN CAPRESE ORZO WITH MUSHROOMS & SPINACH

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1c. Orzo Pasta
  • 3c. Chicken Broth for cooking the Orzo
  • 1.5lbs. Chicken Breast
  • 8oz. Fresh Mushrooms
  • 3 Tb. Basil Pesto
  • 1/2c. Tomato Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Dash Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Dashes Garlic – powder/minced/fresh – whatever you have
  • 2 Tbsp. Sun-dried Tomatoes packed in Oil
  • 1/4c. Heavy Cream
  • 2-3 Handfulls Fresh Spinach
  • Parmesan Cheese for Garnishing

DIRECTIONS:

  • FOR THE MEAT: I had previously boiled some bone-in Chicken breasts for a few meals (and made stock from the bones and fat), but you can pan fry breasts in a little oil for this recipe. Make sure to season them before cooking, then shred or chunk your meat. You’ll add the cooked chicken toward the end of the recipe.
  • Prepare 1 cup of Orzo per package directions. Use chicken broth to cook the pasta – it will add flavor. I use Better Than Bouillon and just add a spoon to the boiling water before the pasta. This stuff is ALWAYS in my fridge – it’s gold!
  • While the orzo cooks, add mushrooms (cut them in quarters or thick slice) to a deep saucepan and sauté over medium heat with a little olive oil – about 10-12 minutes.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve the cooking water. Set the orzo to the side.
  • To the pan with the mushrooms, add 1/2c. of the pasta cooking liquid, and all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the spinach, heavy cream and parmesan. Add your chicken to the sauce at this time, then bring the mixture back to a simmer. Taste for flavor and add more of whatever you think it needs. You want your sauce to have a pretty strong flavor because adding the orzo will dilute the flavor slightly.
  • Once your sauce tastes good to you, add the heavy cream and mix well – then add the orzo to the sauce and make sure it’s fully coated with sauce. If it seems to be a little too dry add more of the pasta cooking liquid (assuming that you DID use chicken broth to boil the pasta). Your pasta should have enough of a sauce left to dip bread in if you wish.
  • Use your personal taste and discernment at this stage. If it looks dry, add more chicken broth or heavy cream. If it needs more flavor add salt, pesto, more sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, etc. Always taste things as you’re cooking them. Your tongue is your BEST tool in the kitchen.
  • Next add your fresh spinach and put a lid on the pan to wilt the leaves. (2-3 minutes)
  • After the spinach is wilted, stir everything together and serve. Top with quality grated/shaved parmesan cheese.
  • This is delicious served with fresh-baked Artisan bread or french baguettes!
  • Serves 6

Enjoy this dish! Share your results and photos with me below in the comments!

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

quinoa_enchilada_casserole_jordan_tickleI ran across the initial recipe for this on Pinterest several months ago and finally tried it – we were pleased with it. I then decided to tweak it specifically to our liking and adapt it to use full cans of things so that I didn’t have half cans sitting around in the fridge for a few days waiting to be used in something else. (I despise having to throw things out and not use them!)

The beauty of this dish is that it’s pretty simple and quite healthy. The only “bad” thing in the whole dish is the shredded cheese – which you could easily substitute out for reduced fat cheese. (Heck, you could even eliminate cheese all together and it would still be great – but we all know that everything is better with some cheese!)

Printable Recipe PDF here: quinoa_enchilada_casserole_recipe_pdf

QUINOA ENCHILADA CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1c. Quinoa (I use half white and half red)
  • 2 c. Cooked and shredded meat (Approx. 1lb.)(Chicken, Pork or Beef)
  • 2c. Shredded Mexican Cheese (divided)
  • 4oz. Can Green Chilies (juice included)
  • 15oz. Can Black Beans (rinsed)
  • 11oz. Canned Southwest Corn with Peppers (drained)
  • 10oz. Mild (Red) Enchilada Sauce
  • 4oz. Salsa or Rotel
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • Dash Red Pepper Flakes
  • Dash Garlic Powder or Mined Garlic
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the meat: I’ve used chicken and pork for this recipe that I had left over from a previous recipe (roasted chicken, pork loin roast, etc) but you can use just about anything you like. When you cook your meat, do remember to season it with a little something to build the flavor in each layer of your dish. Taco seasoned ground beef or turkey would be a great idea for this one too!
  • Preheat oven to 375°F and grease/spray an 8x8x3″ casserole baking dish.
  • Cook Quinoa per package instructions. (2c. Water to 1c. Quinoa. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Cook covered for about 15 minutes until tender.) Add a little garlic, salt and red pepper flakes to the water to help flavor the quinoa while it cooks.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine everything, except the cheese and egg, making sure your spices are mixed thoroughly. Taste the mixture to make sure it has a flavor that you like and add more of whatever seasoning you think it might need. (Keep in mind that the quinoa will dilute the flavor slightly after added.)
  • Once the mixture tastes to your liking, add the meat, egg and all but 1/2 c. of the cheese. Mix well.
  • Add the quinoa when finished cooking (drain off any water that may still remain in the pot). Mix until combined.
  • Pour mixture into a greased 8×8″ pan that is around 3″ deep. (I use a Pyrex pan and it fills it completely)
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375°F for about 35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, uncover and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Reduce heat to 350°F and cook uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  • Topped with sour cream, green onions, olives and tomatoes would be a great way to dress this dish up! Serves 6.

Enjoy! Comment below and let me know how this recipe turned out for you:)