Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

I am prefacing this post to apologize for my sucky pictures. 😉 I just couldn’t get a flattering one. If you want to see yummy looking pictures of this dish, then definitely click on the original blogger’s link!

Thai food is basically one of my favourite things in the entire world. I suppose I should really say that Phad Thai is one of my favourite things in the entire world. I love the other stuff too (showering rama, curry, anything smothered in peanut sauce, etc.), but Phad Thai is really where it’s at. That being said, I think I am testing out a new Thai restaurant on Sunday with a friend – can’t wait!

I had found a Thai chicken soup recipe awhile ago that I was excited to make, but also dreading, as it contained 50 bajillion ingredients, but when the time came that I planned to make it, apparently the site was marked as spam and disappeared. Such is life. In any case, I did find this close replica of Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup by Bev Cooks. This contains a lot (but not as many) ingredients, and can be done with the ease of a slow cooker. Win win!
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The downside of this recipe was that I was making it for my husband as well as a dear friend that adores Thai food like I do, but can’t have any corn products. I read the ingredient labels of everything super carefully and then dumped it all in the slow cooker. Right after doing so, I discovered that cornstarch was on the ingredient list for the chicken broth. After a minor freak out, I decided to still make the soup (obviously I wasn’t going to just dump a perfectly good meal), and then scrambled to make something else for dinner that evening.

The moral of the story is that my husband and I ended up with tons of leftovers of this yummy soup! I didn’t add in the rice noodles until the next day when we planned to actually eat it, because I didn’t want them to get soggy and gross. I also had about 3-4 days of leftovers for lunch. Speaking of rice noodles, mine NEVER, EVER turn out the way they do in Phad Thai dishes at restaurants, even though I follow the package instructions super closely. They don’t turn out badly (aka soggy and mushy), but they’re not as good as they are in restaurants. If anyone knows the secret of perfect rice noodles, pleaaaaaase let me know!

Some notes: I kept the red bell pepper chunks pretty large, so that my husband could pick them out. I also omitted the jalapenos, because my husband doesn’t like those either. The soup was so tasty and flavourful, and I think actually helped that we waited even longer than normal to eat it, to let the flavours come together more. Mine was much thinner and more brothy than the original blogger’s is (based on her pictures, it appears more creamy). I didn’t change any of the broth or coconut milk amounts, so I’m not sure what happened there. I also omitted the bean sprouts, but not on purpose. I went to two grocery stores that informed me that they do not sell bean sprouts (weird, I know), and so I bought canned bean sprouts. Well, I opened the can and then dumped them down the disposal because they looked and tasted nasty. They may have been fine, once added to the crockpot, but I didn’t want to risk turning the whole dish upside down because of it. Oh, and I added tons of sriracha to mine, of course. 😉image

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

serves 4+

Ingredients:
-3 frozen or thawed chicken breast halves
-3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
-2tbsp freshly minced ginger
-2 (13.5oz) cans coconut milk (I used one lite and one regular can)
-4cu chicken stock
-3tbsp soy sauce
-4oz thin rice noodles
-2 red bell peppers, diced (I only used one)
-2cu fresh beans sprouts (I omitted)
-2 jalapenos, finely sliced (I also omitted)
-2 limes
-cilantro for garnish
-coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
-In a slow cooker, add the coconut milk, broth, garlic, ginger, chicken, soy sauce, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours.
-Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred it with two forks; return to pot.
Add the rice noodles, bell pepper and sprouts, and cook for 30 more minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
-Serve each bowl garnished with sliced jalapeno, a good handful of cilantro and lime juice.

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Homemade Zuppa Toscana

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I really do love the Olive Garden. My husband and I usually only go there when we get a gift card, or if we are randomly craving soup, salad, and breadsticks. Speaking of the breadsticks, we have debated several times which is better, OG breadsticks or Red Lobster biscuits (which, we also only go to Red Lobster when we get a gift card, which seems to be often…). Mmm. Totally craving all of that right now.
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Also speaking of soup at the Olive Garden, while I love most of them, zuppa toscana is just my FAVOURITE. I mean, how could it not be? It is fully of amazingness – ground sausage, not too overly cooked kale, potato, cream…oh so heavenly. I also have been discovering several knockoff (aka homemade) zuppa toscana recipes, which I just love! This sausage, potato, and kale soup from The Pioneer Woman is no different – and who doesn’t adore the pioneer woman? 😉

Does it still count as a different recipe, if each version is basically the same, just tweaked very slightly to that particular chef or blogger’s taste? I think so. Yes. Because I would like to keep making it all the time! 😉
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I made a few minor changes, but basically to suit my own needs – I used regular ground pork sausage (it was leftover from my brother’s pig – mmmm homegrown pork) and russet potatoes (as they were given to me by my M-i-L and I needed to use them up). I also altered the milk, cream, and half’n’half ratio, as I didn’t have the appropriate amounts of them all (I think I mixed heavy cream with the half’n’half, and used nonfat milk). Also, I used only one head of kale, since I actually reduced the liquid ingredients a little (it calls for 12 servings). I will post the instructions as originally written, and feel free to alter to your own needs! =)

The best part of making so much amazing soup? LEFTOVERS!!!
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Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup (aka Homemade Zuppa Toscana)

serves a lot

Ingredients:
-2 bunches kale, cut into bite-size pieces
-12 small red potatoes, sliced thin
-1 onion, chopped
-1.5lbs Italian sausage
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes
-2cu low sodium chicken broth
-2cu whole milk
-4cu half-and-half
-splash of heavy cream
-fresh or dried oregano
-black pepper, to taste

Directions:
-Rise and chop the kale, then set aside.
-In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender, then drain and set aside.
-In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage, drain the fat, stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.
-Taste the soup and adjust the flavouring as needed. Then add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness, and stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, then serve.

Baked Potato Soup

It is definitely that wintery, blustery season of hot cocoa, fuzzy socks or slippers, steaming mugs of soup, and…well, I could just go on and on! It is also the season of decorated trees! As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I got our tree over the weekend and it’s mostly all decorated (“mostly” because my husband hasn’t added his tinsel yet, though he insisted we have it). I love coming home to the smell of a fresh (albeit dead) tree in my living room. I love it even more when I come home after my husband, cuz then the lights are already on. =)

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But let’s go back to the topic of steaming mugs of soup. I love soup. Soup is amazing. I found this loaded baked potato soup from How Sweet It Is, and it is AMAZING. I used to make a lot of recipes from this blogger, however her recipes (especially the more recent ones), can be pretty complex, with tons of ingredients, and, well, I just don’t have time for that. But this…was heavenly. Seriously. I can’t remember what kind of potatoes I used – I think it was my reds that I had to get used up, and what better way to do that, than with potato soup?

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I’ve made potato soup before (or at least soup including potatoes), but I think this was the first time I baked the potatoes first. So yummy! Also, I severely increased the amount of liquid ingredients – as the original blogger stated that it served 6, but according to her amounts, it would barely serve 3 or 4! I basically doubled most of the liquid ingredients and it was MUCH better (we like leftovers in this house!).

The only thing I was worried about was flavour! The original ingredients don’t include much in the way of flavouring. However, I baked the potatoes with a dash of garlic salt, which I think helped A LOT. Also, I have been using the chicken bouillon cubes (instead of traditional broth) lately, which I think packs more flavour than the regular broth. Because of those additions/changes, it was so good!! One more thing is that I did not use smoked cheddar. I didn’t want to trouble myself with that, so I just got regular sharp cheddar. Yum.image

Baked Potato Soup

serves 5-6

Ingredients:
-6-8 yukon gold potatoes, baked with skin on and chopped (you can use any kind of potato – and I recommend using a dash of garlic salt or another spice while baking)
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp flour
-1-2cu heavy cream
-2cu (or more) skim milk
-1/2-1cu chicken broth
-1cu grated smoked cheddar cheese
-2+ green onions, chopped
-4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Directions:
-Heat a large pot on medium heat.
-Once hot, add butter and flour, and whisk into a roux. Then add heavy cream, potatoes and skim milk, continuously stirring until thickened.
-Stir in cheese, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
-Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
-Depending on desired consistency, add chicken stock, then stir in 2 slices of crumbled bacon and green onions. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
-Serve and garnish with remaining bacon

Beef and Bean Chili

A few months ago (aka…summer…) some friends of ours had their 3rd baby, and I signed up to make them a meal and deliver it to their house, so they didn’t have to cook. A bunch of people signed up, I believe 3 nights a week for several weeks, to give mama a break while caring for an infant plus two older kids, while dad is at work. It was fun to meet her baby and treat her to a nice and hot dinner. They had requested low calorie and low carb, which is hard to find in easily-transported dinners (soups, stews, spaghetti, casseroles, etc.), but then I found this beef and bean chili from Weight Watchers that I had been meaning to try and it seemed perfect! I made a double batch so that I could have dinner for my husband and I, as well.

For their batch, I used the canned tomatoes as-is, but I blended the tomatoes for my husband and I’s batch (I HATTTTTE tomato chunks, which I’m sure everyone is well aware).  It was so good! And you can’t even tell that it’s “healthy.” I have found that some WW recipes are touch and go – some are just bland and flavourless, and then some are really spectacular.

Oh, and we STILL have cooked beans left over in the freezer from this…a bag of dried beans makes a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT.

I did not get a chance to snap a picture of my own creation, therefore the photo used below is not my own, it is owned by Weight Watchers was obtained from their website.

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Beef and Bean Chili

serves about 6-8

Ingredients:
-1lb lean ground beef
-2tsp olive oil
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 ribs celery, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (I omitted this, since I was cooking it for two kids as well)
-2tbsp chili powder
-2tsp ground cumin
-1tsp dried oregano
-2 bay leaves
-1/2tsp table salt
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
-28oz canned crushed tomatoes
-1cu reduced sodium beef broth
-8oz tomato sauce
-30oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2cu shallots, chopped

Directions:
-Coat a large stockpot with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Remove beef from pot and set aside.
-Add oil to the pot and set over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion, celery, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
-Add reserved beef, chili powder, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt and red pepper flakes, and stir to coat vegetables and beef with spices. Add tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce and beans, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.
-To serve, discard bay leaves, and ladle chili into bowls and top with chopped shallots (I omitted the shallots).

Note: According to the WW website, 1 heaping cup is 5 points. Sweet!!

Slow Cooker Apple Cider Beef Stew

Happy December 1st!  It has been so cold all weekend and today is no different – a whopping 25 degrees outside!  I know some of you on the east coast or in the midwest may be laughing at me right now…I remember living in and travelling through the “Tri-Ota” region (MN, ND, and SD), this would be a heat wave.  In any case, cold is cold, amiright?
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Because of this, it is the PERFECT time to make beef stew!  What is better than coming home to a delicious-smelling house and then pouring a bowl of delicious-tasting stew?  This slow cooker apple cider beef stew recipe from Baked By Rachel packs quite a punch.  I actually made it a little while ago, on Halloween, for dinner for my husband, my mom, and my in-laws.  Everyone loved it, it served the 5 of us, plus about 2 containers of leftovers!
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Now, this recipe definitely has a “holiday twist” to it, and it’s not the apple cider.  In fact, I couldn’t even taste the apple cider, to be honest.  But the cinnamon was verrrrry prevalent, which was fine for all of us, except my mother (who tends to make “comments” on most dishes I make, haha).  My mother taste-tested the stew before we ate, and she informed me that she does not like cinnamon, unless it’s on things like oatmeal, but should not be in a stew.  Thanks mom. 😉  Because of that, I upped some of the other ingredients and added a bit more salt and pepper, and then let the flavour blend in the crock for another 20 or so minutes.  By the time we sat down to eat, the cinnamon flavour died down quite a bit.

If you’re among picky eaters, this may not be the recipe for you (or just use less cinnamon), but if you love traditional favourites, food adventures, and cinnamon, then I highly recommend you make this dish ASAP!  Especially while the weather is chilly!
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Slow Cooker Apple Cider Beef Stew

serves 6-8

Ingredients:
-2lbs beef stew meat, cut into small pieces
-1cu yellow onion, chopped
-1cu carrots, chopped
-3/4cu celery, chopped
-3cu russet potatoes (I used red potatoes), cubed
-1tsp ground black pepper
-1/2tsp dried thyme
-1/2tsp cinnamon
-1/2tsp cumin
-3cu beef broth
-3/4cu apple cider
-1/4cu flour

Directions:
-Add vegetables and then the meat to the slow cooker.
-Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, cinnamon, and cumin.
-Add the beef broth and apple cider and gently stir, making sure that all of the potatoes are covered by liquid (I think I had to add a bit more liquid at this point)
-Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
-In the last few minutes, remove 1cu of liquid, whisk flour (a spoonful at a time up to 1/4cu), then return it to the crock and stir to combine (this will help to thicken the stew). –Let it continue to cook for a few more minutes before serving.

If you enjoy more traditional beef stews, then you should definitely check out these recipes!:

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew

Bistro Beef Stew (best stew ever)

Quinoa Chili

I’m going to preface this by saying I don’t know how to read.  Ok ok, obviously I *do* know how, but I have found I will miss entire steps or ingredients when I am looking at recipes on my phone.  It is hard to continue scrolling up and down on my phone screen – bring back the cookbooks! 😉  That’s how you end up using 2 cups of quinoa instead of 1 cup…and any of you that have cooked with quinoa, know that is a HUUUUUUUGE difference.  It just added to the protein and filling-ness of it, though.
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In any case, this delicious and VEGETARIAN quinoa chili comes from Damn Delicious.  Damn Delicious is quickly becoming one of my favourite food blogs to follow.  The recipes are often quite simple and, as stated, pretty delicious.  It is nice to have a go-to veg dinner option, that doesn’t feel vegetarian.  And my husband loved it too!

I did omit the can of chilis, because my husband doesn’t like them, but I also omitted the cilantro and avocado – although I LOVE both ingredients, I forgot to buy an avocado, and I didn’t have anything else to use cilantro for, so buying an entire bunch of it seemed wasteful.  This was a very tasty dish, and I am sure those ingredients would have just made it moreso!  As you can see in the pictures though, I did serve it with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese.
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PS – I made this shortly after my husband got his new cell phone.  LOOK AT THE QUALITY.  Seriously.  I’m kind of obsessed.  You can literally see all the morsels of quinoa.  Amazing.
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Quinoa Chili

serves 6

Ingredients:
-1cu quinoa (as noted, I used 2 by mistake – if you want the extra protein, you can add more, but you may need a larger pot)
-1tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 onion, diced
-2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
-1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
-1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles (I omitted this, cuz my husband is not a fan)
-1.5tbsp chili powder, or more, to taste
-2tsp cumin
-1.5tsp paprika
-1.5tsp sugar
-1/2tsp cayenne pepper
-1/2tsp ground coriander
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1.5cu corn kernels
-3tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
-Juice of 1 lime, optional
-1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced

Directions:
-Cook quinoa according to package direction, then set aside.
-Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
-Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, cayenne pepper, coriander and 1-2 cups water, making sure to cover most of the ingredients; season with salt and pepper, to taste (I ended up having to add more liquid, due to the extra quinoa)
-Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until thickened, which is about 30 minutes. Stir in the beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
-Serve immediately with avocado, if desired.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

So I know many people have been all about Instagram for quite some time (months? years? I have no idea how long it’s been around…) but I just jumped on the bandwagon a few weeks ago because, well, I wanted to look at nail pictures.  My amazing friend Kim is a consultant for Jamberry Nails (click on her name to go to the link!), which is a company that sells nail wraps/decals.  They are AMAZING!  Therefore, my latest obsession has been staying up late, searching for pictures on Instagram of the wraps on people’s nails.  Yes, this is my life.  In any case, last night, not only did I make a delicious dinner, but I also did my first full “Jamicure”!  I find myself staring constantly at my nails (which reminds me of when I first got engaged, and my eyes were glued to my left hand).  Don’t judge me. 😉
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Like I just mentioned above, I also made an amazing and yummy and incredible and delicious and slightly spicy dinner.  This Buffalo Chicken Soup recipe was posted Running to the Kitchen’s blog by the girl that runs Bake Your Day.  I want to make sure both bloggers get props, because it was soooooo delicious.

I made a few slight changes, but not much.  First, I omitted the cilantro.  Don’t get me wrong – I *love* cilantro.  But it didn’t seem worth it to buy it, just to use a few tablespoons, and I don’t have anything else on the meal plan involving it.  I used to grow it, but it’s gone now.  Sigh.  Second, I used about one cup of wing sauce instead of 2/3 cup, because that’s how much was left in my bottle, and I didn’t want to just leave a few drops in the bottom.
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The soup was actually pretty thin, which was surprising.  I mean, it does call for quite a bit of chicken broth (I use the buillion cubes that I get for SUPER CHEAP from Costco), but for some reason I thought the wing sauce and simmering would let it thicken up a bit.  It didn’t.  Even today, the next day, it is still very thin.  My husband was a bit surprised at dinnertime, because he thought it would have been a thicker soup.  I’m sure it’d be ok to add milk or cream, but some adjusting would need to take place to make sure it still has the same feel.

I could have eaten (slurped?) the whole pot.  No joke.
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Buffalo Chicken Soup

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-1/2cu uncooked orzo pasta
-2tsp olive oil
-1/4cu yellow onion, chopped (I used 1/2cu)
-1 large clove garlic, minced
-2 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into half moons
-2 teaspoons ranch dressing seasoning mix (on the original blog, there was supposed to be a link to a recipe, but there wasn’t, so I just “winged” it, and used garlic powder, onion powder, and some chives, which was a loose adaptation of Gimme Some Oven’s ranch seasoning mix)
-3tbsp cilantro, divided
-32oz chicken broth
-2/3 or 1cu Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce (mine was store brand, haha, it’s cheaper!)
-4oz cheddar cheese, grated
-4oz parmesan cheese, grated
-2cu cooked chicken, cubed or shredded (I just baked 2 chicken breasts at 375 for 30ish minutes, until cooked through – any method works, though)
-1/4cu green onions, chopped and divided
-1/4cu blue cheese crumbles

Directions:
-Cook orzo according to package directions until about half way done. Drain and set aside.
-Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Sauté yellow onion, garlic and half of the green onions in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes until the onions are opaque and fragrant.
-Add carrots, ranch mix and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Stir to combine and sauté until the carrots begin to soften (side note, I added my carrots after this, because I like them more on the “crisp-tender” side).
-Add chicken broth, buffalo sauce, cheddar, parmesan and shredded chicken. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or longer.
-Bring the soup to a boil, add the underdone orzo and stir frequently until orzo is done.
-Serve with sliced green onions, additional cilantro and blue cheese crumbles.