Saturday, September 22, 2012

Broccoli Potato CrockPot Soup with bacon

Dear MGC readers,

It is that time of the year when I begin to switch our weekly menu over to more hearty and fall inspired meals! In this post, I am giving you a step-by-step instruction on how to make my easiest soup ever: Broccoli Potato with Bacon Soup!

Why is it so easy? It's a crockPot recipe I came up with one night, having the need to make good use of my leftover vegetables before heading out back to the grocery store... I now make this soup quite often, not only is it very easy to make, it keeps well, re-heats well and also freezes well!
So go ahead and make some freezer meals out of it, you will not be disappointed!

Broccoli Potato Soup with Bacon and Cheddar Cheese


3 large Broccoli Crowns
4 medium potatoes (any kind)
1 large onion
3 large carrots
1 can of Cream of Chicken Condensed Soup
3 to 4 slices of thick bacon
Cheddar cheese (for garnish)
Salt and Pepper to taste (though not needed since the bacon will flavor the soup)

Preparation time: under 15 minutes
Cooking Time: CrockPot set on high for 2H30MN.

Step One:

Cut and wash the broccoli crowns, running the florets under cold water.

Place the broccoli inside the crock pot.


Step Two:
Peel, wash and dice the potatoes, carrots and onions, add one by one to the crockpot, right over the broccoli.
Add potatoes

Add carrots

Add onions
Step Three:
Pour the content of one can of condensed cream of chicken soup right on top of the vegetables, spread a little bit with a knife, if needed.
Using the same can, add 7 cans of warm water directly to the crockpot, this will create enough broth. Without water it will cook as a broccoli casserole which is not bad, however the broccoli will turn yellow and will be very soft!
Lay the strips of bacon flat across the vegetables, they will cook last (heat comes from the bottom) but will flavor the entire dish nonetheless!
Add the condensed chicken soup, water and bacon
Step Four:
Set the CrockPot's timer to 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Set the CrockPot's temperature to HIGH.
Cover with aluminum foil and place your lid over the crock pot. That's it!
Step Five:
Using a hand mixer, puree the soup directly into the pot.
Option One: Leave the bacon inside the pot and mix it all together.
Option Two: Take the bacon strips out of the pot and set aside while you are mixing the soup (that was my option here, though I have used both and they are equally delicious).
Using the hand mixer
Serving recommendations:
This is how I serve my soup: I pour two ladles worth of soup into a large bowl. Using the cooked bacon I had previously set aside, I cut tiny pieces of bacon directly onto the soup and add some shredded cheddar to the top.
I serve my soup with freshly baked Pillsbury Biscuits...Yum!
Why I love this soup?
It is easy to prepare.
It tastes delicious.
It is a meal on its own.
It is kids approved!
Vegetarian options? Sure! Substitute the Cream of Chicken with Cream of Mushroom condensed soup, no bacon!



Vera Bradley - 50% off!!

If you love Vera Bradley and are thinking about the Holidays, guess what? All through this week end there is a sale 50% off these two designs...Lemon Parfait and Blue Lagoon...and more!

Click the link under each picture!

 Lemon Parfait...

A beautiful mix of gray and yellow paisley, very elegant with a pop of fun, prefect for the fall!

Valid September 22-23, 2012.
Blue Lagoon...

A more contemporary design, great for everyday shopping ...

Valid September 22-23, 2012.
Also, do not forget to check the outlet as they also offer 50% off selected items!

Online Outlet! Up to 50% off select items!
Valid September 22-23, 2012.  
Happy shopping!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Decoration on a budget

I do not usually decorate my home according to seasons (outside of Christmas of course). I know however that a lot of people do but for some reason that never really was something I was interested to do until we purchased our first home. Though years one did not showcase much, I have decided it was time to give this seasonal decor a try this fall 2012.

There are of course different styles and here are some I found on Pinterest or Google (I have added the links below each picture):

Country Kitchen

Dorwington Country Gifts

Pottery Barn Style - Monochromatic

Pottery Barn Fall 2012 Catalog

French Country - Simple Elegance

Culinary Antiques found on
 Mirroring History

Minimalist - Pure and Simple

Better Homes and Garden
Fall Decorating Gallery

Gatherings for the Home blog


Chic on a Shoestring Decorating blog

I had an idea of the kind of decor I wanted to add to my home but also was limited by budget. So, I decided to keep decoration to only one room, in this case my dining room's buffet and also to not spend more than $40 since I had to purchase everything from scratch, having never decorated my home for the fall before.
There is plenty to choose from when it comes to stores, I could have gone to Home Goods, one of my favorite spots for decorating treasures, however, with a $50 budget, even Home Goods would not yield much. Enters The Christmas Tree Shops! If you have one in your area, you know exactly what I am talking about! If you do not have one, check out their website and flyer for locations throughout the country, the Christmas Tree Shops are worth the ride!

The Christmas Tree Shops is the kind of store where when you see something, you'd better grab it on the spot for they will not restock the item and there is a reason for that, they are the overstock purveyor for Bed Bath & Beyond! This should tell you that they do carry some great finds and name brands as well! They also carry their own merchandise, of course it's all made in China, but it is current in style and very affordable too!

This is my dining room buffet before my project:


I picked what I call a Fusion Style, it is a mix between French, Pottery Barn and Primitive and for my decor I picked the following items:

I found this decorated candle stand (holds three pillar candles) with relatively realistic looking flowers in shades of yellow and orange (it could probably be used for a summer decoration as well). This one had a hefty price tag of $9.99 and is the most expensive item I brought back from the store!

These three pillar candles were $4.99 each...

These primitive metal tags cost just under $2 for a pack of three!

These decorated metal pots were $4.99 for the large and $3.99 for the small ones...(bought two of each)

I also found these faux silk and synthetic flowers at $2.99 each (bought 6)

Putting it all together:

First I placed a red table runner I had as a left over Christmas decoration on top of my buffet, centered the candle stand and rearranged the flowers and leaves where I wanted them. One of the great things about faux silk flowers is that they are usually wrapped around metal wires thus making them bendable and adjustable!
I also removed the plastic protective and decorated sheets around the pillar candles, opting for a "naked" and more natural look...

The tags came in with gingham ribbons which where not that easy to untie and retie, so instead I used embroidery thread I had lying around to loop and secure them under each pillar. I also repositioned some of the leaves and flowers in such a way that they would lay over or under the tags, giving the ensemble a fuller effect...

Here is the result...

I then added my pots on either side of the display - notice how I mixed the colors so that two red pots are not next to one another.


It was time to add my floral arrangements. I stuffed the bottom of the larger pots with newspaper and inserted the flowers. After trimming some of the excess plastic covered wires as well as some twigs and other pieces I felt were just too much or not natural looking, I started playing with the leaves, bending them this way or that way to give the ensemble the natural effect I was looking for.
Even when purchasing faux silk flowers you should not hesitate to trim
here and there those twigs, branches and sometimes blooms that are
just too much and unnatural looking!

Here is the final result:


And now for the verdict: I think it looks pretty good when considering these items came from a "bargain" store, however, I did not stay within my $50 budget, instead I went over by about $13 spending just under $63. When considering this display covers both Halloween and Thanksgiving, I can't say I over spent but I do recognize that it is a luxury!
What do you think?
Thanks for the time spent reading my blog,
Sophia, NJ.

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