Soda Pop Chops with Smashed Potatoes

This meal was kind of a splurge.  As of late we have been eating lighter and healthier, but I was in the mood for a really good old fashioned “Sunday Supper” type of dinner that went all out.  This was just perfect.  It has that stick-to-your-ribs quality about it.

It makes a lot of sauce (which is very tangy by the way), so I’m not sure yet how I’ll use it up this week.  If you have any idea, please let me know.

Soda Pop Chops with Smashed Potatoes

Source: Taste of Home Simple and Delicious, April/May 2011

Serves 4


For the Smashed Potatoes-

about 1.5 pounds (or about 8 ) small red potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size

4 Tbsp butter

milk – about 1/2 cup

s & p

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Ingredients for the chops –

1 cup root beer

1 cup ketchup

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp flour

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 pork chops

Directions for the chops:

In a small bowl combine the root beer, ketchup, sugar, chili and garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk and set aside.

In a large resealable plastic bag, add the flour and some s & p.  Add chops one at a time, shake to coat.

In a large skillet, brown the chops on both sides in oil.  Add the root beer sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until meat is tender and cooked through.  Remove chops and keep warm.  Bring sauce to a boil and reduce to desired thickness.

Meanwhile, drain potatoes; mash with the butter and milk.  Season with s & p to taste.

Serve chops smothered in sauce next to the smashed potatoes.

I also served this with Broccoli Salad made with crumbled bacon, dried cranberries, chopped red onion, and sliced almonds.

Pierogi Skillet

It is snowing like a mo’ fo’ out there!  Everyone be safe tonight and tomorrow!

This is hardly a recipe since it simply uses store bought ingredients, but it is quick to throw together on a weeknight using pierogies from the freezer.  I wish I could make pierogies from scratch, but I just don’t have that kind of time.  And can I just say that I have no idea if pierogi is spelled with an e on the end or not?  Hmmm?  I googled and it came up both ways.

Pierogi Skillet

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp butter

1 pound fully cooked/smoked kielbasa, sliced

1 package of frozen potato and cheddar pierogies

salt and pepper to taste

Boil water in a large pot and drop in the pierogies.  Allow them to parboil for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and melt the butter in the pan.  Add the sliced onion and kielbasa.  Cook until kielbasa is browned and onions are tender. Add salt and pepper.

Drain the pierogi and add them to the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes, just until lightly golden.

Then serve up this deliciousness!

Creamy Potato Soup

I knew this recipe sounded familiar when I read it on Amy’s blog but it wasn’t until after I made it and went to blog about it that I remembered the Potato Leek Soup that I made over a year ago.   Granted they are different, but it just shows that I know what I like – onions and potatoes together in a creamy soup!  Yum!  It certainly can’t hurt to have two similar soup recipes on the blog, can it?

I changed a few things along the way, mainly increasing the number of potatoes to yield more soup since we rely on leftovers to last for several lunches through a week.   I also added the clove of garlic because garlic can never hurt, right?  And lastly, I decided to brown the onions for a bit to add a little more depth of flavor.

Creamy Potato Soup
-adapted from Sing For Your Supper


8-10 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 chicken bouillon cube

one clove of garlic, peeled and smashed


black pepper to taste

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

milk – if necessary to thin

Drizzle some olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onions.  Cook until they begin to brown.  Add the potatoes, garlic, and bouillon cube and add enough water to cover.  Cook uncovered, over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat the low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.  Stir in pepper. Using a stick/immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth and free of lumps.  Stir in the sour cream and shredded cheese.  Check for seasoning and add more pepper and salt as needed.  Add some milk if its too thick {I used about 1 cup}.

Garnish with additional sour cream and cheese, bacon bits or green onion if desired.

Oven Fries

Oven fries and I have not always gotten along in the past.  They never turn out quite as crispy as I hope, a few always stick to the pan, and they take a long time to slice and bake.  And yet, I keep making them.  And when I do, I can never keep my hands off them.  These were particularly delicious though.  They got nice and golden brown and the seasoning was perfect!  And no matter what, they are always better than fried fast food french fries!

Oven Fries

{Source:  adapted from PW‘s tasty kitchen}

3-4 large potatoes

1 T. canola oil

1 T. or more seasoning {Cajun, Lawry’s, etc…}

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a large baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam.

Slice potatoes into fries. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil over the fries and toss with fingers to coat evenly. Sprinkle fries with seasoning of choice. I used cajun seasoning.  Place in the oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour or until golden and crispy.  Shake/flip the fries 3 or 4 times during the cooking process.

Sausage and Potato Skillet

This is a quick dish that I know I can turn to after a hectic day because it takes very little thought and hits the table in a jiffy.  It is also made with pantry staples, so its great for times when I haven’t been able to menu plan or prep for the week.

Sausage and Potato Skillet

4 small red potatoes, cubed

3 tablespoons water

1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into slices

1 small onion, coarsly chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped or sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

5 or 6 strips of bacon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp ground dried thyme

lots of cracked black pepper

Place the cubed potatoes and water in a dish.  Cover tightly and microwave about 5 minutes on high or until tender.  Check and stir halfway thru.  Drain off water once they are done.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove to a paper towel and then crumble.  Drain the fat from the skillet.

Add to the skillet the kielbasa, onion, pepper, and garlic.  Saute until onion is tender, then add the potatoes and saute another 3 minutes or until potatoes are slightly browned.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, thyme, and pepper. Then add it to the skillet.  Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered 3-5 minutes or until heated thru.  Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Tater Tot Casserole

Well, the Duggar’s definitely put this dish on the map with their TLC show about 18 kids and counting, but I think there were already many versions of it out there….most of them found at picnics, church suppers, and other potlucks.  So, if you haven’t eaten this, you have probably at least heard of it.

I really only make this dish because Tim loves it.  He actually loves anything that resembles Hamburger Helper.  Since Tim was 27 when we started dating, he had been on his own cooking for himself for several years and he pretty much survived on Hamburger Helper and frozen pizza.  But, that’s not to say that he didn’t make anything else to eat.  He is actually a pretty good cook.  He’s just slow and messy.  🙂

This meal, while not pretty, is very comforting.  It also is a nice casserole to take to someone who is sick, or in need of help with meals for any reason.


Tater Tot Casserole

{serves 6}


1 pound lean ground beef

1 small onion, peeled and chopped – optional

cracked black pepper

1 can green beans, well drained

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 can milk

frozen tater tots

1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degree.  Spray a large casserole dish {9×13} with non-stick cooking spray.

In a skillet, crumble and brown the ground been with the onion until cooked. Remove from heat and drain fat.  Season with black pepper to taste.  Add the green beans to the meat.

In a medium bowl, stir together the the can of cream of mushroom soup and 1/2 can milk.  Add it to the beef and beans.  Gently stir to combine everything.  Pour it into the prepared casserole dish and spread it out evenly.  Then add a single layer of tater tots placed very close together.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and add the shredded cheese to the top.  Return to the oven and bake 10 more minutes.


Potato Leek Soup

So, this recipe was my first experience with leeks and I’m really happy I went for it!  Ever since reading the book and seeing the movie Julie & Julia a few months ago, I have wanted to make a potato leek soup.  I can’t remember if it is at the beginning of the book or movie, or both – that Julie makes a simple potato & leek soup and her husband thought it was the most delicious thing ever.   Anyway, my memory of that scene is foggy.  But the soup has been on my mind since then!

It was really easy to prepare too.  I had fears that the leeks would be difficult to clean, but they weren’t at all – just a quick rinse did the trick.  Now, there is a lot of chopping involved, but I don’t mind chopping at all.  I’m pretty quick with a knife and I find chopping to be a stress reliever. 🙂  I’ll definitely be looking for more recipes that call for leeks now that I’m comfortable with them.

Overall, we thought this soup was fantastic.  However, Tim did ask if that’s all we were having for dinner.  😦  So, next time I’ll definitely pair it with a side dish, maybe even just crusty bread would have been good.  Also, he is not a huge fan of meatless meals, so I may add some chopped ham next time.  Or, I’ll just use the recipe as it is for a starter course.

soup is hard to photograph!

soup is hard to photograph!

Potato Leek Soup {loosely adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking I didn’t slow cook it.} yields 4 small servings


1 or 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 large leeks {white parts only}, rinsed and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces

4 cups low sodium chicken broth {veggie broth would work too}

dash of dried ground thyme

salt and pepper

1/2 cup milk – optional


Wash and chop all veggies.  Discard the dark green parts of the leeks.  the light green parts are fine.

Then, heat a stock pot with the oil or butter and add the leeks, onions and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes or until tender.  Add the ground thyme, salt and pepper.

Then dump in the potatoes and pour in the broth.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender.

Turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender to make creamy {or use a blender or food processor}.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, add 1/2 to 1 cup of milk or cream. {I added 1/2 cup skim milk.  Additional broth would work too}.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, and chopped chives or parsley {which I didn’t have}.

Sheperd’s Pie


I made this such a looong time ago!  I can’t even remember when exactly, but I just stumbled across the picture and decided to post it.  And, it fits with the one pot meal kick that I have been on {mentioned previously in this post}.  Warm, easy, and comforting.  Perfect for a fall night!

And, is it just me or is everything I cook covered in cheese? haha!

Sheperd Pie {serves 6}


1 pound ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables {cut green beans, corn, carrots, peas, etc}, about 4 cups, thawed

1-1/2 cups tomato sauce

salt and pepper

approx. 3 cups prepared mashed potatoes, hot and fluffy

1/2 cups shredded cheese for topping – optional {but why would you say no to cheese?}


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a deep 3 quart baking dish.

In a large skillet, brown ground turkey with onion and garlic until fully cooked and no longer pink.  Then stir in the frozen mixed veggies and tomato sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour evenly into the bottom of the deep casserole dish.

Take the prepared mashed potatoes and spread over the meat mixture.  Top with shredded cheese.

Bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden and center is hot.


Stuffed Baked Potatoes

For an easy lunch the other day, I threw together these stuffed baked potatoes using up several leftover ingredients.  This is another recipe that would be easily adapted to whatever leftovers you may have…broccoli, turkey or chicken breasts, swiss cheese, etc.,  the list is endless…

Also, you may be thinking that potatoes alone usually aren’t a meal.  But these are!  They were huge!  And of course they have meat and veggies inside them too.



2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dry

4 oz. {half of a block} cream cheese, softened

2 or 3 tablespoons ranch dressing

1/2 cup shredded cheddar, divided

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup thick deli ham, chopped

1/4 cup chopped green or red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped red or white onion

salt and pepper to taste


Bake (or microwave) the potatoes until tender.  In the microwave this takes about 8-10 minutes.  Allow the potatoes to cool down so they are easy to handle.  Don’t get in a hurry here because they will fall apart if you handle them too soon.

Meanwhile, saute the ham, onion, bell pepper, and celery in the oil until veggies are tender and ham is lightly browned.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375*

Once you are able to handle the potatoes, make a thin slice across the top (longways) of each potato removing some of the skin to expose the flesh.  Scoop out the “meat” leaving a shell or boat.  Place the flesh that you scoop out into a large bowl.  {Sidebar:  It is driving me nuts that I keep calling it meat and flesh.  Sorry!}  Once you have two empty boats, mash the potato meat in the bowl with the cream cheese, salt and pepper, and ranch.  Then add the ham, veggies and most of the shredded cheddar.  Stir to combine.  If it is too thick, add a few tablespoons of milk.

Place the boats on a baking sheet and load with the filling.  They will be  overflowing.  Top with a little more shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes.


Foil-Pack Taco Chicken

I’ve had this recipe from an old issue of Kraft’s Food & Family magazine sitting in my “to make soon” pile for about a year!  I finally got around to it a few nights ago when I had several of the ingredients on hand and needing to be used.  Almost perfectly I had an open jar of salsa, 3 chicken breasts, and 2 small potatoes.  It was meant to be.

It is a very easy and tasty recipe that you can adjust to serve 2 or more.  I made several adaptations that are noted in italics.


4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (one breast per person, I used 3 and Tim took the third to work the next day)
4 tsp.  taco seasoning mix
1/2 lb. red potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) (I used about 1 cup or two small potatoes)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup Mexican blend or cheddar shredded cheese
1/2 cup  salsa
1/4 cup  sour cream – optional

HEAT oven to 400°F.  Spray sheets of foil with non-stick spray.

SPRINKLE chicken with seasoning mix and set aside.  Place 1/2 cup potatoes on center of each sheet of heavy-duty foil; sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper, top with onions, chicken, cheese and salsa.

BRING up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place on large baking sheet.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until chicken is done (165°F). Cool 5 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening. Top with sour cream.


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