Recipe Showcase: Panera-Style Tomato Soup

Love Panera’s tomato soup? Per request, I’m sharing my semi-homemade (or as I prefer, “doctored up”) version of tomato soup. After you read this, you’ll never go back to plain old Campbell’s again!


Can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup (I don’t mind off brands, but this is one thing that I usually buy brand name)
Dried Basil -or- Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped
Shredded Parmesan Cheese (don’t use grated – it really makes a difference!)

Add can of soup to saucepan. Fill empty can 3/4 to all the way with milk and add to saucepan. Sprinkle in enough basil to “freckle” the soup throughout; whisk together. Heat on medium until warm, and sprinkle in a decent amount of shredded Parmesan cheese and continue to heat until cheese starts to melt and soup is hot. Add a nice heap of shredded Parmesan on the top of the soup (and croutons if they are your thing!). It sounds silly, but these few changes make your soup taste homemade!


Recipe Showcase: A Twist to Chicken Salad Dip

Sorry there aren’t any pictures with this post. My Nikon pooped out so I no longer have a DSLR 😦 I guess it’s time to buy a cheap point and shoot and start saving for a D90!

If you are on Pinterest, you’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of a delicious looking stuffed baguette. I decided I was going to make one for my lunch tomorrow, but stuff it with chicken salad dip. In the process, however, I changed the dip and made it even yummier than before! My husband emphatically agrees, haha.

The original chicken salad dip recipe is this:

One can chunk chicken, drained

One package cream cheese

A whole small onion, diced finely

A fair dash of lemon juice and worchestershire sauce to taste

Mix it all together and serve on crackers (my favorite are the Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Gluten Free crackers that you can find in Kroger’s Deli or in bulk at Sam’s – they have an amazing crunch, even if you don’t need something gluten free!).

So how did I change the recipe?

First, I finely diced some sun-dried tomatoes and added those plus the onion in a small skillet to sauté. Because the tomatoes are packed in olive oil, I didn’t need to add anything to the pan. Once the onions were good and translucent, I added the chicken and broke it up with my wooden spoon, then the lemon juice and worchestershire sauce. Finally, I add the cream cheese and the mixture to a mixing bowl and combined everything. Pop it in the fridge to gel, and you’ve got a tasty little dip.

Now, stuffing it into the baguette takes it to a whole new level because you can just slice it all up and go. Mmm, mmm – are you jealous of my lunch tomorrow?

Recipe Showcase: Banana Bread

If you have been a reader for awhile, you’ll remember my disastrous attempt to make homemade bread. I haven’t attempted any type of bread since (partially due to fear and partially due to 1st trimester nausea at every.single.smell) but I figured a dessert bread would be safe. I had half a bunch of bananas that were too ripe for my liking and my students recommended that I make banana bread out of it. Thank you, students!

I used this recipe from – just a note, 2 1/3 cups of mashed bananas is around 4.5 medium-sized bananas. I have to say, it turned out really well. It was tasty and didn’t look too bad, either 😉 So now that I’ve got my mojo back, maybe I’ll start making some other breads. Anyone have a good whole-wheat flour bread recipe?

Recipe Showcase: Cubed Steak & Gravy

*** This is a very southern, fattening recipe. If you don’t like butter, stay away! ***

Want to know what I cook up for dinner on a regular basis? This is one of our staple meals (thanks to my dad growing up) and one of my husband’s favorites. Please keep in mind that I’m not the exact measurement type, so you may need to tweak this to your tastes.


  • 1 pack cubed steaks (4 in a pack, usually around $3.00/lb)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 package noodles (we prefer spirals or bowties because they soak up more gravy!)
  • 3 cans Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (this is one thing I won’t buy generic) or 1 large can
  • milk (around 1-2 cups)

Put the noodles on to boil while you are working on the meat. Melt the butter (a half stick works if you want to make it a little more healthy) and fry the cubed steaks until brown. By the way, we switched back to butter last year because even though it’s more fatty, it has a lot less preservatives (which I am convinced are a lot of the cause behind our rampant cancer problem – all those artificial ingredients can’t be good for our cell reproduction!). We’ve noticed absolutely no difference in our weight or fat-to-muscle ratio. Now that my tangent is done, remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Leave all the yumminess in the pan, though.

Next, turn down the heat on the skillet and add the mushroom soup. Quickly whisk in some milk with the soup-drippings mixture (I use a plastic whisk because we can’t stand the sound of metal on metal) until it has the consistency of a gravy. Taste it to see if you think it’s too thick or (hopefully not) too thin. We don’t add any salt or pepper, but you may add these if you wish, although I think it has enough salt as it is.

Then, plate your meal with noodles and cubed steak covered in a generous helping of gravy (hint: use a small measuring cup to scoop it out). Very fattening, but of course, very good!

Bon appetit!

Recipe Showcase: Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I think of comfort foods, I think of warm chocolate chip cookies and milk. So when I was searching through recipes in my 1950 Betty Crocker Picture cookbook, this was naturally one of my first choices for making dessert.

Isn’t she a beauty? Sure, she’s got some cosmetic flaws, but for almost 60 years old, I don’t think she’s half bad! In the inside, the pages are still pristine, complete with substitutions and detailed explanations of some of the more complicated cooking techniques.

This is a fifth printing of the first edition! Talk about a piece of history 🙂

The set up of this cook book has basic recipes at the top of each page and substitutions/changes/advanced techniques below. Apparently, the original Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe comes from a base recipe called Sugar Jumbles.

Here’s some of the dough after I had spooned and placed a few batches in the oven. It was really har

Mmmm, look at those wonderful cookies! They didn’t spread out as much as I wanted (I couldn’t find the baking soda so that is why) but they were good. I also made the mistake of using dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar, which made them taste different, but they were still great! I actually liked the taste better. Needless to say, they didn’t last long.