Tag Archives: soup

Book Review: Mexican Slow Cooker

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My newest cookbook is the Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider and it is one that should be on your counter, too.  For a bottom line up-front (BLUF) take on the book: I love it, but it is not a book for everyone.  I love the pictures, the obvious thought that went into creating authentic Mexican dishes and the flavors that this food delivers. This is definitely not a “dump and go” slow cooker book and I love that about it. I think there are plenty of those books out there and I’m not yearning for more of those kind of recipes. Having an authentic, inexpensive Mexican meal that I made myself with some prep in the morning and some prep right before dinner makes me feel like I am winning at dinner.

This book is a great option for the “weekend warrior” or home-intermittently-during-the-day type of person. This book has a few recipes that could be last all day in a slow cooker for people that are out of the house all day.  Most recipes are intended to be cooked in four to six hours on the low setting and most do require some prep (fifteen or more minutes). If you have a machine that switches to warm after that amount of time and are gone for several more hours this could be problematic. Although, I think this type of slow cooking is the best type of slow cooking. It allows me to sleep in on a weekend, drink some coffee while I slowly take in the recipe then char some chiles and get the cooker going and I haven’t missed that “golden window” of time where the recipe is a wash if I wait too long. For most of the recipes if you start them by lunch you’ll have an amazing dinner.

These girls love their lentils!

These girls love their lentils!

I love that this book has so many recipes that are freezer friendly.  We love leftovers because it makes a home-cooked meal easy and freezing does the same. I know I will continue to make these recipes and freeze some so that I can have an easy Mexican meal (or at least parts of it) ready quickly.

I wanted to try out a variety of the recipes that are different from things I’ve made at home before. We ended up having to substitute ingredients for several recipes because our grocery store options are limited, but we still loved the recipes. Here is our take on the recipes we tried:

Sopa de frijol (page 13). We shop at a pared down American grocery store so opted for pinto beans and regular oregano. I wanted to make this early in the week so we used store-bought beef broth instead of caldo de res.  This soup requires turning off the cooker and allowing it to settle for fifteen minutes to skim the fat from the top. The impatient part of me after a long day wanted to just eat already but doing this patient resting of the dish to allow easy removal of the fat made for a perfect dish.  This one was definitely spicy and smoky and really felt Mexican.

I love slow cooking overnight and then storing food quickly no safely in a 2" deep covered casserole dish. Makes dinner so easy!

I love slow cooking overnight and then storing food quickly and safely in a 2″ deep covered casserole dish. Makes dinner so easy!

Sopa de lentejas y longaniza (page 25). Our store sells the cured chorizo but not longaniza so we made a substitute.  We are a lentil-obsessed family so I figured this one would be a huge hit.  Four out of five of us loved this one. Hubby found this one underwhelming, but the rest of us loved the hearty, smoky flavor. This one was not spicy at all but had great flavor from the chiles.

Frijoles de olla (page 104).  I used less crushed red pepper than this one called for so that it would be kid-friendly and these are awesome. They came out just the right texture; tender but not mushy. These are great as-is but I can’t wait to try them in the frijoles refritos!

If you are looking for a book to give you authentic Mexican recipes this book definitely delivers. If you are looking for a slow cooker book that has quick prep time, easy to find ingredients and long cook times this book may not be right for you. We are really happy with this book and have already grabbed the ingredients to make costillos, torta de tamal with carne Colorado and burrito Ahogado.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Week in review: Thumbs down, thumbs up

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This past week we had some interesting meals.  Interesting.  Not always a good word, right?  When I dyed my hair back to red some people said it was “interesting”…not good, yet maybe not bad?  That was how our week started out.  It got better quickly, luckily!  I guess this is what happens with my obsession with always trying new recipes.  It is times like this when I am reminded it really is necessary to try recipes before making them for guests.  Here is our week in review:

Sunday: Peruvian-Style Pasta Bolognese and salad. This one sounded so good. The spices, the ginger, the tomatoes! Pasta! What could go wrong?! Well, a lot apparently. To be fair, this recipe was not bad, but it was just not what we expected. Kinda like when you order a mocha at the coffee shop and they make you a latte. The latte isn’t bad, just not what you had wrapped your mind around and prepared your palate for. We won’t be making this one again. On a positive note, making a weirdish pasta was a great way to get the kiddos to eat second helpings of salad!

It smelled amazing and looked great but this Peruvian Bolognese just didn't quite work.

It smelled amazing and looked great but this Peruvian Bolognese just didn’t quite work.

Monday: Red Beans and Rice.  This is an oldie and a goody. We love “RBR”!  I am still trying to find the source for the original recipe so I can share it with you. Yum!

Red Beans and Rice never, ever lets me down.

Red Beans and Rice never, ever lets me down.

Tuesday: Authentic Bangladeshi Beef Curry, Asian Cucumber Salad, Basmati rice.  This meal was the antithesis of the Peruvian bolognese. I wanted something different, something out of our ordinary. This was even better than I hoped. We were supposed to save some for leftovers but we ate every last morsel. We left out the cayenne so it would be a little more kid-friendly. The sauce was still a tad spicy, but we tried to just fish the beef out for the kids and hoarded the sauce for ourselves. If you love beef stew and are looking for a more exotic version this is it. This is a must-try. 

This beef curry was my redemption after the Bolognese. This one is a keeper! I have since had dreams of this curry. It is that good.

This beef curry was my redemption after the Bolognese. This one is a keeper! I have since had dreams of this curry. It is that good.

Wednesday: Turkey Sausage-Gnocchi Soup.  We always have the ingredients on-hand to make this. A few freezer and pantry staples, no chopping, dinner in twenty minutes. Perfect option for the end of a long day. 

Thursday: Leftovers.  Easiest day of the week. I had the rest of the Peruvian pasta. It was still perplexing. Hubby bubby had the RBR. That gives me wife bonus points, right?

Friday:  Latin baked chicken, Rice, Roasted Broccoli.  We love this recipe and hadn’t had it in forever. There are five ingredients. Super easy and really flavorful. We set aside some of the sauce to use on the chicken for the kiddos before adding the chipotles. This chicken would be great sliced and served in tacos, too. 

What was the best thing you ate this week?  I’d love to know in the comment section below.  I hope you like the links to the recipes.  Thanks for reading!  I hope you come back soon!

Saturday we headed to Strasbourg, France for some yummy Alsacian food!

Saturday we headed to Strasbourg, France for some yummy Alsatian food!

 

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Thanksgiving Dry Run

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I have a confession.  I think about Thanksgiving all year long.  I start planning the menu at the first sign of weather turning chilly.  Usually I start making ice cream several weeks before Thanksgiving.  I had an almost panicked moment, “I’m so far behind!” We have no ice cream in our freezer, gasp!  A few deep breaths later I realized that most normal people are still planning their Thanksgiving meals, too.  Our menu this week is our dry run for roasting a turkey in our brand new oven.  Fingers crossed that it goes well!

Sunday: Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale and salad.  Since this is the week before Thanksgiving (aka crunch time) I decided to add a few things to the menu that we’ve had before. Even though I’ll still have to make them it will be nice to have my cooking brain on auto-pilot for a few meals.  This fettuccine was super easy and we all loved it.  I think I even spotted Ryan eating some of the kale!

We love pasta. I usually save some of the pasta boiling water in case our sauce needs a little more pizza.

We love pasta. I usually save some of the pasta boiling water in case our sauce needs a little more pizza.

Monday: Ribollita. If you have never had ribollita you must try this recipe. It is such a hearty soup that hubby bubby not only doesn’t mind that there is soup on the menu but he LOVES this recipe!  There are so many veggies and beans and just a little smidge of pancetta (we are using bacon this time) so it is not only hearty but healthy to boot. 

Tuesday: Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy, Apple and Pistachio Brussels Sprout Salad and some kind of potatoes. This is our Thanksgiving dry run. When we were at the grocery store hubby bubby caught me trying to add three turkeys to our cart.  They are frozen, what is a girl to do?  I need to get them all early enough so that I can thaw them safely.  He reminded me that we don’t have that much fridge space so I reluctantly put one back.  So, I ended up getting a ten pounder for today and a fourteen pounder to test thawing times.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday: Leftover Makeover with Turkey Tortas.  Usually we just have boring leftovers that I don’t try to fancy up at all. I think that might be a New Year’s Resolution in the works…do a better job with leftovers.  Anywho, this week we get one of the best leftover items evahhhhh.  I made this last year the day after Thanksgiving and it was amazing.  It is worth roasting a turkey just to have this torta.  For reals.

I know kale is "so last year" but who couldn't love these beauties?

I know kale is “so last year” but who couldn’t love these beauties?

Thursday: Spicy Pumpkin Chili.  This is one we haven’t tried before but it sounds so amazing and we have a gazillion cans of pumpkin so I just had to put it on the menu.  Hannah has dance in the afternoon so I am planning to get it finished before we leave for dance and then just keep it in our slow cooker on low until we get home.  What is better than chili on a cold Fall day?

Friday: Parents’ Night Out! Woohoo! We will give the kiddos some leftovers before we drop them off and then hubby bubby and I will go out for a hot date.  I’m not sure where we’ll go yet.  Guess I should start figuring that out!

We sure do love these kiddos, but what parents don't need a night out every now and then, right?!

We sure do love these kiddos, but what parents don’t need a night out every now and then, right?!

Saturday: Buffalo Chicken Buffalitos.  The chicken recipe is a slow cooker fave (I leave out the margarine) and I use it to make our version of the Buffalitos they have on the menu at Buffalo Wild Wings. I just shred some lettuce and pick up some pico de gallo and tortillas and they are divine.  Perfect for some college football watching.

This week I added links to all of the recipes we’ll be having. Hopefully you like them!  Let me know in the comments below.  Have a delicious week!

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One-Pot Vegetable Chicken Miso Soup

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From the back of the car I could hear this squeaky voice and I knew Hannah still had a scratchy throat. My poor, sweet girl!  Don’t you just hate it when someone you love is not feelin’ good?  Just tears at my heartstrings! So, naturally I told her we could have whatever she wanted for dinner. She replied, “Soup. With vegetables. Miso soup but with vegetables. And chicken.”  Uh. Oops. Maybe I should have given her options. Then I thought about what we had on hand and figured I could just wing something.

Hahnchen (chicken) for our new fave chicken soup.

Hahnchen (chicken) for our new fave chicken soup.

Next thing I know this cold circled through our entire house over the course of a few weeks ending with our sweet Ry-guy. He definitely has it the worst, so sad!  I swear if he asked Daddy for a convertible today he’d probably get it with his sad little voice. I made the same move today asking Ryan what he wanted for dinner and saying it could be whatever he wanted. He promptly grabbed a bag of parcooked rice from the pantry but then said, “I want the miso soup you made for Hannah.”  With the veggies, chicken and noodles, bud? Yep!

I figure if he wanted it, too, it is probably worth sharing. Make this for someone you love, especially when they are under the weather.

One-Pot Vegetable Chicken Miso Soup

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias (pale and dark green parts)
5 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a bias
4 carrots, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 quart (32 ounces) fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth (such as Swanson’s)
1 quart water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 cup white miso*
2 cups thin egg noodles
2 limes, zested and juiced

Directions
1.  Heat oil in a ditch oven (I use my 5ish quart round Le Creuset) over medium heat.  Add the green onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until almost tender.

2.  Add chicken broth, water, chicken and ginger and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

3.  Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Stir in miso and noodles and simmer until noodles are al dente (just under what the package directions suggest). While noodles cook dice or shred chicken, whichever you prefer.

4.  When noodles are cooked remove from heat and stir in chicken, lime zest and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

*White miso is more yellow than white. Ask for help finding it at your friendly local Asian grocer. You can find more recipes that use white miso on my Pinterest page.

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Meals from the pantry (fridge and freezer, too!)

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Even with lots of forward planning we often have snafus that will change our meal plans: the meat was supposed to be “used by” yesterday, I forgot to pull the roast from the freezer to the fridge to thaw and it’ll take “too long” to thaw a big hunk of meat, the day was long or I’m just not feelin’ what we were supposed to have for dinner that day.  These are the days that I go for one of our pantry meals.  Most of our pantry meals do use some of our fridge and freezer staples, too.  We’ll have fruit (whatever we have laying around or frozen) and frozen vegetables or salad as a side and dinner comes together in about twenty minutes.  Here are our favorites:

Seafood Veracruz with beans and par-cooked rice.  We use whatever white fish or shrimp we have in the freezer and start by heating the sauce (we find it in a package in the organic section of the store) on medium-low and then just add the frozen seafood right in without thawing.  While this cooks I open a can of beans (usually black beans) and add some seasoning then microwave these and voila!

This little guy loves to eat his beans so he can be strong like Spidey.

This little guy loves to eat his beans so he can be strong like Spidey.

Southwestern chicken soup.  This is a quick Cooking Light recipe (see my Pinterest “Favorite Healthy Recipes” page for the recipe).  I sometimes use a rotisserie chicken but usually just cook some budget-friendly split chicken breasts in the slow cooker and shred these.  I try to keep some of this slow cooker chicken in one to two pound freezer bags in the freezer and just toss this in frozen.

Red beans and rice.  This is an easy one that hubby bubby makes from memory.  We just saute some slices of smoked sausage with a red onion and then add some diced tomatoes and seasoning (usually garlic powder, onion powder and oregano) and let that simmer while the rice cooks.  When the rice is almost done we toss two cans of rinsed and drained kidney beans into the sausage mixture to heat through and then serve with the rice.

Indian shrimp or bean curry with rice. I heat one of our Indian simmer sauces over low heat and then decide if we want to have shrimp or beans.  If it is shrimp I throw in the raw, frozen peeled and deveined shrimp and let them heat gently in the sauce.  If using beans I usually add chickpeas or kidney beans.  I always add a package of frozen chopped spinach (I just toss it in frozen and let it break apart in the sauce).  If we have some other veggies on hand I might use those, too, usually cauliflower or frozen peas and serve this with par-cooked rice.

My little sous chef always love to help out in the kitchen.

My little sous chef always love to help out in the kitchen.

Tacos.  We usually use the Frontera sauce and whatever meat (or shrimp) will be easiest to thaw.  We always have salsa and tortillas in the pantry and some sour cream and cheese in the fridge to go with it.  And, of course, beans on the side. 🙂

Tortellini and bean stew.  This is one of my favorites.  I just heat up a can of diced tomatoes with a can of low-sodium broth and bring this to a boil then toss in the frozen tortellini.  When the tortellini are almost cooked I add in some white beans.  Sometimes we’ll add some meat, usually frozen chicken or turkey meatballs or shredded chicken we have in the freezer and then season to taste.  Super easy!

Spaghetti. When hubby bubby isn’t home for dinner we have good old spaghetti and meat sauce!  I use our whole grain spaghetti, a jar of marinara  and some chicken or turkey sausage (I throw it in the pan frozen and let the stove thaw it for me).  We usually pair this with some frozen veggies or salad if we actually have salad ingredients on hand.

What are some of your go to meals?  What do you always keep stocked in your fridge, freezer and pantry?  

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Mardi Gras and a Real Fat Tuesday

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Smoked sausage dirty rice was a big hit with the whole fam!  Find the recipe pinned on my "Favorite Sinful Recipes" page on Pinterest.

Smoked sausage dirty rice was a big hit with the whole fam! Find the recipe pinned on my “Favorite Sinful Recipes” page on Pinterest.

This week we had take-out twice.  Eek!  A little bit of an off week for us.  I blame being very pregnant (and not feeling up to cooking) and having cravings for our inability to stick with the plan this week.  (Excuses, excuses).  I have planned accordingly for next week so hopefully it will be easier to stick to the plan.

Sunday: Crawfish etouffee.  This was the perfect way to kick off our Mardi Gras menu.  There was so much flavor (is it Cajun or Creole?!) and the crawfish tails taste like teeny tiny little lobster tails.  I suppose that maybe they are quite similar to that.  We actually found the crawfish in the frozen fish section at our grocery store.  I was shocked and very happy!  Hubby bubby made this and we all chowed down.  Ryan was a little unsure at first, but then decided that it was “bubble gum” (his word for delicious). 

Monday: New Orleans’ style barbecue shrimp with smoked sausage dirty rice.  Hubby bubby made these and a salad with a cajuny dressing.  He is a saint!  The kids just ate the dirty rice and salad since the barbecue shrimp were spicy.  Hannah did try one of the shrimp and liked it, but she was good with just one.  The kiddos both love sausage, rice and salad so ate lots of these. 

Fat Tuesday: King cake, lemon-garlic shrimp and grits and a creole tomato saladWith only a few days left of this pregnancy (12 as of this day, but who’s counting?!) I was just not feeling very good and decided to capitalize on my last few days of cashing in preggy lady cravings.  Oh yes, I ate a LOT of Chinese food.  I had some Crab Rangoon, an egg roll, some hot and sour soup and some Hunan shrimp.  It was glorious…and I swear it made those contractions simmer down a bit.  The baby started doing some flip turns in my belly so I think she appreciated it, too. 🙂

Ash Wednesday: Leftovers.  Thank goodness since I was not feeling like cooking!

Chicken gyro sandwich with baba ganoush and shish fries...heaven on a plate!

Chicken gyro sandwich with baba ganoush and shish fries…heaven on a plate!

Thursday: Bayou chicken pasta with saladHannah came to me when I was getting ready this morning and said we should have Shish Wraps for dinner.  Twist my arm!

Friday:  Blackened Tilapia Po’ Boys with salad.  The po’ boy was just okay.  It was definitely not as good as the pan-seared shrimp po’ boys we have had before.  You can find that recipe pinned on my Pinterest “Favorite Healthy Recipes” page.

Saturday: Mr. B’s Gumbo Ya-ya (chicken and Andouille gumbo).  Turkey Sausage and Gnocchi soup with salad.  If you have been following along with recent weeks you will know that I sometimes (okay, often) forget to pull the meat out of the freezer (to the fridge) when I should so it will be thawed when I need it.  This happened again so instead of the gumbo we had turkey sausage gnocchi soup but subbed cheese tortellini for the gnocchi.  This was one we have had before and we all like it.  It was super quick and easy and perfect for a wintery day.

Blackened tilapia po' boy with salad.

Blackened tilapia po’ boy with salad.

Did you celebrate Mardi Gras this year?  Have you ever had (or had to fulfill for someone you love) any pregnancy food cravings?  I hope you had a great week!  Thanks for reading!

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National Soup Month Recap and Guest Blog

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Remember back a few weeks ago when we ate a LOT of soup to celebrate National Soup Month(worth another look here and here)?  We weren’t the only ones with soup on our minds and in our bellies!  Jules over at PersonalCreations.com shared some cool info on soups with us at Radishes Are Pink so I am passing along to all of you.  Thanks, Jules!

From Jules at PersonalCreations.com:

Soups are very popular in just about every culture there is. And why shouldn’t they be? Foods don’t rise to fame like that if they don’t taste good. Since they’re full of flavor you can get away with sneaking in vegetables to provide wholesome meals to happy bellies in the home. Soups are a great way to get the family to eat healthy if they’re on board.

 

Such cool stuff about soup!

Such cool stuff about soup!

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Back to normal

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Hubby bubby’s back!  This should be a pretty low-key week for us (as long as baby #3 stays put).  We are planning a normal kind of menu.  This usually means something more Italian on Mondays, something new and different on Tuesdays, leftovers Wednesday, something Mexican-style or slow cooker on Thursday and something Asian inspired on Friday.  Saturdays and Sundays we usually have something that takes a little longer to cook or requires marinating.  This is what we have planned for this week:

Sunday: South Carolina pulled pork and baked beans.  Two of my favorite things!  I bought slider buns to help keep our portions in check.

Monday: Mini meatball and broken spaghetti tomato soup.  After last week’s plethora of soups I wasn’t sure if another soup so soon would be a good idea…hopefully they’ll like it, who wouldn’t like spaghetti and meatballs?!

Tuesday: Chicken with orange and olives.  Guess these are the flavors I’m craving lately!  This is an Italian recipe that is very similar to the fricassee de pollo we had last week.  It seems like it will be similar to chicken piccata which is a family favorite so I hope this goes over well.

Wednesday: Leftovers.  Not very exciting, but always planning to have leftovers on Wednesdays gives me more endurance to cook the other days.  It really makes the whole week seem more manageable.  The best weeks are the weeks when I prep for Monday and Tuesday on Sunday and then don’t have to worry about cooking again until Thursday!

Thursday: Slow cooker Caribbean chicken.  Love when the dinner has fruit right in the entrée!  This one has pineapple, some Caribbean sauce, chicken and veggies.  Yum!

Friday: Thai shrimp cakes and Thai-style celery salad.  We have had the shrimp cakes before and the kids loved them.  Hope they do again!  The celery salad is one of my favorites.  It uses things we usually have on-hand and really dolls up some plain old celery.

Saturday: Either crispy chicken with shallots or sloppy tacos.  I’m gonna have hubby bubby choose since I can’t decide.  He will likely choose something totally different 🙂 (my guess is pressure cooker carnitas since he has been talking about these lately).

What do you think of leftovers?  Do you try to make just enough to prevent leftovers or do you like having lots of extra food around?  What are you going to be eating this week?  Thanks for reading!

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Soups Galore

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Beef noodle soup in the slow cooker.

Beef noodle soup in the slow cooker.

Sunday: Fricasse de pollo (a Cuban-style stewed chicken (no berry turnovers yet).  We all really liked this.  Hannah wasn’t a huge fan of the olives.  Both kids thought the chicken and potatoes were the best part.  Hubby bubby and I loved the combination of flavors in the sauce, very savory with some brightness from the citrus and olives.

Monday: Goulash soup.  This was our first day without hubby bubby.  The kids and I really liked this one.  Hannah loved that the meat tasted like sausage and both kids liked that it had sour cream on top.

Tuesday: Hearty chicken and vegetable soup.  This is one of my new favorite chicken soup recipes (definitely in the top two!).  I loved that it had so many veggies and the whole grain noodles and chicken made it feel hearty.  The kiddos loved it.  Ryan didn’t eat too many veggies, but Hannah sure did!  The parmesan rind, aromatics and lemon really propelled this one into “favorite recipe of all time” category for me.

The slow cooker almost overflowed with the cabbage!

The slow cooker almost overflowed with the cabbage!

Wednesday: Leftovers.

Thursday: Cabbage Patch soup in the slow cooker.  This was super easy to prep and had lots of veggies and good flavor.  It tasted like a cabbage roll in a soup with some beans thrown in.  Ryan picked out the beans and the meat and only ate those (and a few tomatoes and pieces of celery).  Hannah had several bowls and so did I (thank goodness I’m pregnant!).

Friday: Slow cooker Asian Beef Noodle Soup.  This was pretty good.  It tasted kind of like pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) but with not quite the same depth of flavor.  I didn’t add all of the broth it called for so that it would be thicker.  Ryan picked out the cabbage, but Hannah ate two bowls!  Hubby bubby came back today.  He and I both thought it was okay.  Probably won’t be one we’ll make again, but good enough that I’ll eat the leftovers without cringing.

Saturday:  Hubby and I are heading to a retirement party so the kiddos will have leftovers.  We are definitely having the pulled pork next week!  I am a die-hard Dinosaur Bar-b-que fan after growing up in upstate New York, but after having some Carolina-style pulled pork while visiting Papa Z and Mimi a few months ago I am newly obsessed with Carolina-style barbecue.  Should be yummy!

Cabbage Patch soup from the slow cooker.

Cabbage Patch soup from the slow cooker.

What is your favorite kind of soup?  Do you prefer brothy soups, creamy soups or stews?  Hope you had a delicious week!  Thanks for reading!

 

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