Super Cheesy Cheeseburger Soup

I'll admit it. I'm a cheeseaholic. I'm also a cheese snob and if I'm going to eat cheese, I want premium quality. On the flip side, I'm also a sucker for Ragu Cheese Sauce (I know it's a contradiction!) because it lends a creaminess that I enjoy.

With that said, this Super Cheesy Cheeseburger Soup offers a bounty of flavor and is ideal for those nights when you want a filling meal, but don't have much time to cook. It pairs well with a fresh garden salad and dinner rolls. You could also add some bacon crumbles and grated cheese to the soup upon serving. 

SUPER CHEESY CHEESEBURGER SOUP
Servings: 4 bowls or 8 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound Grassfed Hamburger
1/2 White or Yellow Onion, chopped
2 medium Jalapenos, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Carrots, finely grated
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Large Elbow macaroni, uncooked
1/2 jar Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (One of my favorites is Tillamook
1 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large stockpot, cook hamburger over medium heat until browned. Chop with spatula to crumble into small pieces.
  2. Add onion and jalapenos. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add garlic and carrots and combine with meat mixture. 
  4. Add chicken broth and macaroni. Cook for 9-11 minutes, until macaroni is al dente (soft to the tooth).
  5. Add Cheddar Cheese Sauce and shredded cheeses and stir until well-combined. Cook for 5 minutes
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.

 

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Whenever I visit my daughter, we indulge in lunch at P.F. Chang's. While we have many favorites, their Chicken Lettuce Wraps are at the top of my list. Since there is no P.F. Chang's restaurant near my hometown and since I crave these things more than four times a year, it was crucial for me to find a copycat recipe so I can make these leaves of goodness at home. 

I tried a few recipes, but none truly mimicked the flavor. After much experimenting and tweaking, I think I finally found the secret to their addictive chicken lettuce wraps and I'm excited to share with you today!

These are super easy to make and are perfect for those nights when you don't want to spend much time in the kitchen. 

CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Chicken Breasts, diced
1/2 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Ginger, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon Smokey Chipotle Sauce or Sriracha
1 (8-oz) can Water Chestnuts, drained and diced
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
Pink Himalayan Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 head Butter Lettuce, washed, dried and divided into leaves (this lettuce is very fragile, so use caution when separating leaves to prevent tearing)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned; about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent; about 4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, ginger, and hot sauce. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add water chestnuts and green onion and stir to incorporate. Cook 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into center of one lettuce leaf. Fold bottom leaf up toward the center and pull sides together, similar to the shape of a taco.

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Clubs of America is Ideal for Holiday Gifts

If you're looking for a holiday gift that keeps on giving, check out Clubs of America. They offer a variety of Gift of the Month Clubs including: Beer, Wine, Flower, Fruit, Cigar, Coffee, Chocolate, Pizza, and Mix Your Clubs. 

I first discovered Clubs of America back in 2008, when I ordered the Beer of the Month Club subscription for my husband's 40th birthday. They really take great care in packaging to ensure the unique microbrews arrive intact. They also include an informative newsletter, "Beer Expeditions" that explain the origins of the brews you receive. 

Beer_of_the_month_club_cheapest

The monthly Wine Club is great too. This subscription includes unique wines from small wineries around the world. You can select from all red, all white, or mixed. Currently, you can save $25 when you purchase a 12-month subscription. You can also select what month you want the subscription to start and whether you would like monthly, every other month, or every third month shipping.  Last, but not least, you can pay monthly or in full, which is ideal for those who are on a budget.

Wine-of-the-month-club

This year, I'm adding the Cigar Club to my gift-giving list. I have a few cigar aficionados who I know would appreciate receiving the world's best handmade cigars every month. This is a great way for businesses to keep their name in front of high-profile clients.

Every time they light up one of the five cigars they receive each month, they will think of your brand. It's an affordable investment and a unique way to retain loyal clients. 

 

Cigar-of-the-month-club

 

Clubs of America has something for everyone on your holiday list. There's no need to fight the mall crowds or even find time to go shopping. Rather, you can order gifts online from the comfort of your home. Click here or via the graphic below to get started.

Wishing you a happy holiday season!

 

The Coffee Taster's Club

 

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Cilantro Cooks Interviews The Cheap Gourmet

Cilantro-cooks-logo-the-cheap-gourmetI recently had the honor of being included in the "Expert Interview Series" at CilantroCooks.com.

We discussed ways to prepare affordably-priced, yet delicious meals, along with kitchen tools and equipment, favorite desserts and evening meals. They also included one of my favorite appetizer recipes - Cheese and Honey Filo rounds. You can read the full interview here.

I was unfamiliar with Cilantro - The Cooks Shop until I was contacted about the interview, but it has quickly become my go-to place for cooking essentials and information. They offer a variety of cooking videos such as how to cook with a SousVide machine, along with product reviews.

The "How To's" and "Helpful Advice" sections include multiple Expert Interviews which offer countless cooking tips, suggestions, and hacks from culinary professionals. There's also a comprehensive recipe collection where you can find ideas for appetizers and snacks, salads, main dishes, vegetarian dishes and desserts. One thing I particularly like is the array of Meatless Monday recipes.

Cilantro Cooks offers a loyalty reward point program which allows customers to redeem points for products. Points can be earned in multiple ways including registering for an account and commenting on blog posts or creating new forum topics. Learn more about the reward program here

Last, but not least, Cilantro Cooks offers monthly prizes and giveaways and if you signup for their newsletter, you will receive a coupon code for 10% off your first order.

Oh, and one more thing! If you reside in or near Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, you can shop at the retail store at 936 Hwy 325 Blockhouse. Stop by the store or visit their website for great deals on all your cooking needs. And, click here to follow them on Facebook


July 4th Beach Barbeque Recipes

July-4th-beach-barbeque-recipesCelebrating July 4th at the beach with family and friends was something I dreamed about as a kid. As a Midwestern, the closest thing I experienced to a beach was our above ground swimming pool in the backyard.

In 2006, my immediate family relocated to Florida and I finally had the chance to celebrate July 4th at the beach. Since then, we've created a fun menu that is easy to prepare and transport to the beach. It has become our tradition and each year more people join in the fun.

Our beach barbeque menu consists of jerk chicken kabobs, pineapple BBQ shrimp kabobs, multi-colored peppers pasta salad, baked beans, fresh veggie platter with Beau Monde dip, and grilled banana boat S'mores.

 

JULY 4TH BEACH BARBEQUE MENU

Jerk-chicken-kabobs-the-cheap-gourmetJerk Chicken Kabobs
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 24 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup Jerk Sauce
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 Red Bell Peppers, cut each pepper into 12 wedges
1 medium Sweet Onion, cut into 12 wedges and separated into chunks

Directions:
1. In a resealable gallon-size plastic bag, add chicken and 1/4 cup jerk sauce. Gently toss to cover chicken then store in refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 chunks each of chicken, pineapple, peppers, and onion. Alternate ingredients and leave space between each piece. Lightly brush kabobs with remaining jerk sauce.
3. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every 2 to 3 minutes for about 15 minutes or until chicken juice runs clear and vegetables are tender.

Pineapple-bbq-shrimp-skewers-the-cheap-gourmetPineapple BBQ Shrimp Skewers
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 to 8 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Barbeque Sauce
3/4 cup fresh Pineapple Juice
1/4 cup fresh Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro, loosely chopped
24 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into 2-inch chunks

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine BBQ sauce, pineapple juice, lime juice, and cilantro. Using a wire whisk, combine ingredients until well incorporated.
2. Pour half of mixture into a resealable gallon size plastic bag. Reserve the remaining sauce for basting and dipping. Add shrimp, seal the bag, and shake well until shrimp is coated. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Using extra-long skewers, thread 4 shrimp and pineapple chunks; alternating pieces and leaving space between each. Lightly brush pineapple with BBQ sauce.
4. Cook kabobs over open-flame and rotate every minute or two for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp begins to curl and turn translucent pink.
6. Serve with remaining pineapple BBQ sauce.

Multi-colored-peppers-pasta-salad-the-cheap-gourmetMulti-Colored Peppers Pasta Salad
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 (16-oz.) box Rotini pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper
1 small Red Onion
2 medium Carrots
1 (7.5-oz.) can medium, pitted Black Olives
1/2 bottle spicy Italian salad dressing
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, slice peppers, onion, and carrots into thin strips. Drain juice from olives.
3. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. Transfer pasta, veggies, and olives to a large bowl.
5. Add salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper and mix until ingredients are well combined. 6. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour prior to serving.

Baked Beans

Crock-pot-baked-beans-the-cheap-gourmetI'm a little bit lazy when it comes to baked beans. I buy 2 cans of beans and add a few ingredients to boost the flavor. My favorite combination is 2 strips cooked bacon crumbled, 2 Tablespoons diced white onion, 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons ketchup. I cook these in the slow-cooker for 4 to 6 hours and transport to the bonfire in a covered foil pan.

Fresh Veggie Platter with Beau Monde Dip

Beau-monde-chip-vegetable-dip-the-cheap-gourmetMy sister's Beau Monde Chip and Veggie Dip recipe has been a family favorite for over 30 years. This dip is amazing with just about anything. It's perfect for veggies, chips, and pretzels.

Beau Monde dip is made with cream cheese, so must be kept on ice. I found a great serving bowl that can be placed in the freezer overnight and remains cold for 4 to 6 hours. If you often eat outdoors it's a product you might want to look for.

I serve a variety of veggies including Bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, radishes, zucchini and cucumber slices. The dip is somewhat thick so it's best to use durable veggies. I arrange on a sectioned vegetable platter and insert a bowl of dip in the middle. If you don't have a chill platter, set a bowl of ice in the center and place the bowl of dip on top. Don't leave out in the heat for more than 15 minutes without ice underneath, and no more than 30 minutes with ice.

Grilled Banana Boat S'mores

Grilled-banana-boat-smores-betty-crocker-the-cheap-gourmetI discovered the recipe for grilled banana boat S'mores at the Betty Crocker website. This is a great dessert for kids and grown-ups and is super easy to make.

The original recipe is prepared by grilling bananas wrapped in foil. However, you can cook the S'mores over an open flame by sticking an extra-long skewer half-way into the banana.

Banana boat S'mores ingredients consist of whole bananas, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and chopped pecans. We store the chocolate chips in a small plastic container placed in the ice cooler until ready for use.

Once you try these S'mores you'll be hooked. Grab the recipe for Grilled Banana Boat S'mores at BettyCrocker.com.

Even if you aren't able to make it to the beach for July 4th, you can create a beach-themed party and cook foods on the grill. Close the night out with sparklers and fire crackers, weather permitting.

 

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