Football is over…I think

During my most recent trip to Devine, I decided that Mother Nature is having problems. Officially, we still have six weeks until March 20, which is when spring officially begins with a full Worm Moon; however, in the various waysides of my trip, there are already patches of wild phlox blooming, as well as red verbenas, and my daughter says that in the yard of one of her son’s neighbors his bluebonnets are blooming. The peach trees are blooming in several places, and in my own yard, the elm trees are putting on leaves. Of course, the elm trees are always the first to put on leaves, and then lose the first crop and start over; and then they lose their leaves before any other trees in my yard. This year, my Anaqua trees haven’t even lost all of their leaves, in spite of the winds we’ve been having and going from a lack of rain, to rain showers every few days for the past two or three weeks.
Luckily, my trip both ways was pretty normal, without too much traffic to fight and only a drizzle of rain while I was enroute. While I was there, we stayed busy and had a wonderful time, as I always get to see my bunco ladies and enjoy their company. Also, we went out to eat with my “adopted” friend/daughter that I hadn’t gotten to see the last couple of trips as she was either studying for tests or had gone to visit her parents, who live out of state and aren’t in very good health. We are so very proud of her as she has just graduated from college with an RN degree, after four years of extremely hard work on her part! After a wonderful lunch with her and my daughter, at Alsatian Inn in Castroville, she and I went shopping at Taste Elevated and a couple of other stores and then went to my grandsons home and sat and visited the rest of the afternoon. Thursday, I got several errands tended to, including a stop by the paper to visit, and eventually got to have lunch with my son. This trip, we went to Heavy’s in Hondo, that man surely does know how to make barbecue! It is always so totally delicious. There are a couple of places here that have barbecue, but it isn’t anywhere near as good as his. If you haven’t tried his ribs, it is time to try them!
By the time you are reading this article, Super Bowl Sunday LIII will be a memory. A nice one, if the team you were rooting for won and a not so nice one if your team lost! Since I am writing this on Saturday morning, I have no idea how the game is going to turn out. At the present time, I am not even sure where I’ll be watching it!
Now that we’re having “stay in the house and eat soup” weather, here are a couple of recipes. One of the ladies in my pokeno club was talking about cheese soup the other day, and when we were having the Loaded Baked Potato luncheon benefiting the library, we were all talking about making potato soup.
Neither recipe is particularly difficult and the taste is wonderful. Also, recently, at our monthly church breakfast, one of the ladies had made a really tasty breakfast casserole. It cooks overnight in a crock-pot and is actually super easy. To me, it is much better than the casseroles you have to leave in the fridge over night and then cook the next morning!
Overnight Crockpot Breakfast Casserole
2 lbs. breakfast sausage (the store brand works great for this)
1 bag frozen shredded hash browns (Plain or O’Brien style)
(I made this using a 2 lb bag of O’Brien style and personally felt it was too much potato. When it was served at our breakfast at church, the lady used the shredded hash browns, which I have since discovered, come in a 20-oz package and it seemed to work better.)*
18 medium eggs (I used large and it worked fine)
4 cups shredded cheese (we used cheddar)
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
Cook sausage until done and drain well, set aside Spray crockpot with non-stick spray or use a liner (this works best); pour the hash browns into the crockpot; top with the sausage and cheese and mix together. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until well mixed; add the milk, salt and pepper and whisk again; pour this mixture into the crockpot and stir together.
Cook on low 7-8 hours and then serve. *This is 12-ounces less potatoes and that seems just right to me.
Potato Soup
3 or 4 large Russet potatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup diced celery
1 to 2 cups milk or half and half
Salt and pepper to your taste
1 cup shredded or diced cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to your taste
Parsley (optional)
Peel potatoes and cut into small chunks, place in pot and barely cover with water. Cover and cook until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, sauté onions and celery until onions are transparent. Set aside. When potatoes are tender, use your potato masher and lightly mash them leaving some un-mashed. Stir in onions and celery, add milk, and bring just to simmering. Add cheese if used. Heat gently until cheese melts, stir in parsley if used. (A friend had potato soup at a local restaurant, and it had either diced link sausage or ham in it and I have tried this and it is truly delicious).
Cheese Soup
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup finely chopped carrot (I like to use the shredded you can purchase and chop it finer, this works really well)
½ cup finely chopped or diced celery
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup flour
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups milk
1 pound shredded cheese (I like to use a mixture of cheddar, American and Velveeta)
Salt and pepper to taste if desired
1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat the butter or margarine and sauté the vegetables, until nearly done and the onion is transparent. Stir in the flour and cornstarch and cook, stirring until bubbly, gradually whisking in the broth and milk (they can be mixed together for easier handling). Cook and stir until smooth. Add the cheese, continue cooking until thick, add salt and pepper if necessary (do not boil). Spoon into bowls and garnish with parsley.
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large purple onion, diced (about 1 to 1½ cups)
1 large red bell pepper, diced (about 1 to 1½ cups)
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can (10-oz) red enchilada sauce
1 can (14 to 15-oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can black beans (15-16-oz), drained and rinsed*
1 can (4-oz) diced green chilies
3 green onions, sliced (save some for topping)
3 Tbs. chopped cilantro, (divided use)
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (use rotisserie chicken, or can use canned chicken, I used 3 cans and it worked well).
1 package (8-oz) cream cheese, cut into cubes*
1½ cups shredded Mexican cheese, (divided use)
Salt and pepper to taste**
Heat oil in large pot/Dutch oven over medium heat; stir in diced onions and peppers and cook until the onion is translucent and the peppers are tender. Pour in the 4 cups of chicken broth, the ground cumin and the enchilada sauce; stir to combine and bring to a boil. When the mixture boils, add the diced tomatoes, the black beans, green chilies, 2 Tbs. chopped green onion, 2 Tbs. chopped cilantro and cooked chicken; stir well and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the cubed cream cheese, (*I did not drain the chicken and next time I make this, I will drain it and use the liquid to melt the cream cheese, as it took a very long time to melt completely when added with the shredded cheese), and Mexican cheese; continue to stir as the cheese melts and incorporates.
**Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. (If you used canned chicken you may not need salt). * (This might taste good with the addition of either frozen or canned corn). Garnish with reserved green onions, cilantro and ½ cup shredded cheese. Serves 6 to 8.