Monthly Archives: February 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It has been cold and dreary the past week or two here in Southeastern Virginia with a few days of sunshine mixed in.  Cold, and damp always lend themselves to soup in my mind.  Soup or stew.  So I polled the boys to see what kind of sop they wanted me to make.  What I heard was a resounding call for “Your awesome potato soup Mom.”  (Editor’s note, I threw in the awesome part, but they did ask for the potato soup).

I found this recipe years ago, and to be honest I can’t remember where I found it.  Over the years I have modified it a bit (you all know I NEVER) do that to make it more “mine”.  I have come across many recipes that call for the potatoes to be cooked in the microwave, but I feel to get that truly authentic “baked potato” taste you really have to bake the potatoes in the oven.  So you have to plan ahead s you can bake the potatoes for an hour before assembling the soup.  I usually bake the potatoes in the oven in the morning so the potatoes have time to cool and “re-solidify” if you will.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

1 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup onion, diced

5 large Russet potatoes

3 c. chicken stock

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 1/2 c. milk

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1/2 cup light sour cream

1. Poke holes in the potatoes and cook in a 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes until soft.  Put aside to cool.

2  In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.

3. Add chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 10 minutes.

4.  While the stock and onions are simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into bite sized cubes.  Add them to the stock and let them cook about 5 minutes to get nice and hot.  With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.

4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, 1/2 of the bacon and the sour cream to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and have the following garnishes available:  Shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon and chives.

Since I have three hungry teenaged boys, I always double this recipe so it lasts for two dinners.  (Sometimes it only lasts for one). Adjusting the amount of bacon, cheese, and sour cream can reduce the calories of this soup.

Cook bacon until crispy

Cook bacon until crispy

 

Cook onions in 1 tbsp of bacon grease until soft

Cook onions in 1 tbsp of bacon grease until soft

Add 3 cups of chicken stock (I use low sodium bouillon)

Add 3 cups of chicken stock (I use low sodium bouillon)

Peel and cut baked potatoes into cubes and add to pot

Peel and cut baked potatoes into cubes and add to pot

Melt butter

Melt butter

add flour to butter

add flour to butter

add milk and stir until thickened

add milk and stir until thickened

shredded cheese to be added back in

shredded cheese to be added back in

Spip after we have all had a bowl.  (I couldn't snap the picture before the vultures dug in)

Soup after we have all had a bowl. (I couldn’t snap the picture before the vultures dug in)

What it looks like in the bowl

What it looks like in the bowl  YUM!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Sequestration will negatively affect my family.

I tend to lean towards the left when I am discussing social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right when discussing fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.

I am not extremely politically savvy.  I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc.  I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there.  Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and says the Republicans suck.  Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck.   The list of partisan websites goes on and on.  However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL.  THAT is what I want.  Something that gives me just the facts.  So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.

We are in terrible debt.  Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money.  We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security.  Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms.  The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes.  Not because I am jealous, but because if I was in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less.  I can only assume that others share the same ideals I do.  I can’t be the only one.

I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans.  That is a revenue.  I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.

Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress.  I believe he was using it as a bluff.  I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen.  Quote from CBS News.com: “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”

So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE.  Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation.  Seriously???  WTF???

If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22 day furlough.  That is 22 days off without pay.  In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. Unfortunately for us Bluebell is a Civil Service Worker.  She will get 22 days off without pay.

This is a BIG deal.  I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.

That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!

We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family.  It means No eating out.  No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day.  It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill.  No more snacks, just basic necessities.  No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income.  It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills.  No extras this year.  This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00.  That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid.  We need water and electricity and heat.  There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.

I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them.  In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family.  That was a very proud mama moment for me.

Congress, and the President could learn a lesson from my boys.  My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work.  We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on.  These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten.  Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.

There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia.  If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected??  The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.

I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep.  Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all.  I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these.  I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough.  They are Federal employees also.  Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?

I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions.  They need to know the American people are not happy.  Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them.  If you are willing ti put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers.  If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses.  Here is a list of Senators.  And the White House.

I am starting my email campaign today.  Will you join me?

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Death Pudding Cake (diabetic friendly)

You know I just love me some Vegan Virtuoso.  Her baking rocks my world.  But since y’all may not know her then you don’t know that she is a tiny thing.  Slender, slender, slender and young.  So she can consume sugar filled items at will.

I on the other hand am in my mid (ha ha, I mean late) 40’s, and am trying very hard to lose 40 pounds.  I have lost 5 so far, and am doing Weight Watchers to get me the rest of the way.  I also love to bake.  However, I really can’t have all of the sugar.  So I take other people’s recipes and alter them to make them lower in calories, yet still tasty.  Most have been successful.  Such as the chocolate chip cookies, the fruit cobbler, the strawberry scones,  and my famous Diabetic Chocolate Swirl cheesecake.  Some have been flops such as the Diabetic Blueberry cake, the whole wheat flour chocolate cake, and others.

This recipe adaption was super YUMMY!!! So much so that Bluebell has eaten almost the entire cake in one day.  So I baked another last night and decided to share the recipe with y’all.

Diabetic Chocolate Death Pudding Cake

  • 1/4 + 2 tbsp Truvia baking blend
  • 1 cup all purpose flour  (I used white flour)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp light butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add melted butter,  milk, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly in the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend
  • 1/4 cup splenda brown sugar baking blend
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

Sprinkle evenly over top of batter. Don’t stir.

  • 1 1/4 cup hot water

Pour over batter and sugar mixture. Don’t stir. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes, until center is set.

NOTE: This cake doesn’t rise, but it does bubble. Make sure you bake it in a dish with at least a 2-inch depth.

Cut a piece of the cake, and place upside-down on your plate or in a bowl, and spoon some sauce from the bottom of the pan over it.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Mix flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder in a bowl:

Dry ingredients in bowl

Dry ingredients in bowl

Add butter, milk and vanilla:

liquidsin bowl

Spread in an 8×8 baking dish:

cake in pan before sprinkle

Sprinkle mixed up brown sugar blend, cocoa, and remaining truvia on top.

cake with crumb topping

Pour hot water on top.  DO NOT STIR!

cake after water

Bake at 350 oven for 30 minutes:

cake after baking(Sorry it is sideways)

Cut into 12 servings, put on a plate and enjoy:

cake on plate

 

According to the weight watchers website this cake is 4 WW points per serving. Also it only has 8 sugars per serving!!  YUM!

Other nutritional facts:

Calories 100.7
  Total Fat 3.1 g
  Saturated Fat 1.9 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
  Cholesterol 8.3 mg
  Sodium 5.2 mg
  Potassium 34.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 24.2 g
  Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
  Sugars 8.6 g
  Protein 1.5 g