Wednesday, February 24, 2021

3 Keys to the Best Vegetable Soup

You CAN make a delicious soup once you understand the basics. 

Making vegetable soup is a great way to perfect your soup skills. This recipe shows you just how simple soup can be. 

Delicious Vegetable Soup

There are three keys to making a delicious vegetable soup.

1. Use fresh, flavorful ingredients
2. Taste as you go
3. Focus on the broth

When you are making a vegetable soup the veggies are the star.  That means you want to use delicious tasting vegetables.  A combination of multiple kinds of vegetables will give you a breadth of natural flavors that infuse the broth and meld together nicely. You also don't want to overcook your soup.  A flavorful soup does not need to cook for hours on your stove.  This is actually a quick soup to make.

As you layer the ingredients into your soup you will want to taste your progress after each step.  This will help you to know whether you need to enhance the flavor in any way. This recipe relies on salt, pepper, and some Italian seasoning to enhance the natural flavors of the vegetables. With good vegetables, you won't need anything else.

The broth is the foundation of your soup.  Through trial and error, work to find the best chicken stock available to you locally.  I like to use homemade chicken stock whenever I have it on hand but I do rely on store-bought stock.  Choose stock over broth.  It will have more flavor. A good tasting stock will be enhanced by vegetables, herbs, and spices you use in the soup.  If you think your broth lacks flavor, try adding Better Than Bouillon, a teaspoon at a time until it tastes good.

Watch this video for all my vegetable soup-making secrets.

Easy Vegetable Soup

  • You can make the best vegetable soup following three key steps.
    2 large carrots, chopped 
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced 
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 handful Italian seasoning 
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups mixed frozen vegetables 
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • Better than Bouillon Chicken flavor or vegetable flavor, optional (1 tsp. as needed) 
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, jalapeno, and garlic.  Sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook these aromatic vegetables until they are soft, about 5-8 minutes.

Add a handful of Italian seasoning and the chicken stock.   Bring the mixture to a boil.  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Add the frozen vegetables and broccoli.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Cook for about 8 minutes.  Taste again.

Add the macaroni and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.  Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.


Monday, February 22, 2021

How to Trap and Get Rid of Fruit Flies

What can you do to kill fruit flies?  We've all been there.  Fruit flies in the kitchen.  Fruit flies in the bathroom.  Fruit flies buzzing around everywhere in your home.  

It's a frustrating problem that happens to everyone at one time or another.  If you are a fresh fruit and produce lover you certainly know what I mean.

How to Kill Fruit Flies with Two Ingredients

You need just two ingredients to get rid of fruit flies today.

Those pesky little buggers can often be brought into your home on the vegetables and fruit you buy. There are many solutions offered for fruit fly traps to help you solve your problem. 

 A quick Amazon search found these products.

You can spend your money on one of these solutions or I can save you a whole lot of your hard-earned cash today.

My solution is the best.  Here's why:
  • You have the ingredients in your kitchen now.  You need apple cider vinegar and a mild dish liquid.
  • It's a healthy, family-friendly solution.
  • It works quickly.

Two-Ingredient No Pesticide Fruit Fly Trap

1.  Put one-half cup of apple cider vinegar and a light squirt of mild dish liquid (Dawn doesn't seem to work as well as Ajax brand) into a small glass or plastic container. Do NOT stir. You DO NOT need a lot of dish soap. Just a couple of drops is enough. 

2.  Place the container wherever you see the most fruit flies.  Walk away.  That's it.

Here's what my fruit fly trap looked like at my house after an hour.

Fruit fly trap after one hour
Fruit Fly Trap After One Hour
But wait!  It gets better.  The next morning my fruit fly trap looked like this.

The reason this works so well is that the apple cider attracts the fruit flies and the squirt of dish soap traps them so they can't fly away.

It's best not to use a highly scented dish detergent.  You want the fruit flies to seek out the apple cider. You don't want the scent of your soap to interfere with that.

Fruit fly trap after 24 hours
Fruit Fly Trap After Twelve Hours

Remember to refresh your trap each day until your fruit fly problem is completely resolved.

You may need to repeat the process because fruit flies have a life cycle that may be several weeks long. The females lay as many as one hundred eggs a day and up to two thousand eggs in their lifetime.

What if this method doesn't work?

1. Use less dish soap. Just a drop or two.

2. Use a less fragrant dish soap. The flies need to smell the cider vinegar.

3. Make sure you are using cider vinegar.

This simple, effective fruit fly killing method has been my go-to solution for many years.  

I mix up my vinegar and dish liquid concoction at the first sight of a fruit fly.  It eliminates my fruit fly problem so quickly I wouldn't think of trying anything else.

If this doesn't work for you or you don't want to do it yourself you can order some traps.

I also have a no pesticide method to control ants in your home.  You can read about killing ants here.

Your shares of this post on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are appreciated!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Mushroom & Onion Smothered Chicken Thighs

Are you looking for a recipe to break you out of your chicken rut? This sauced-up chicken thighs recipe will do that.  The mushroom-onion cream sauce elevates boneless chicken thighs to a lip-smacking level of yumminess your family will thank you for.

Chicken Thighs in Mushroom-Onion Cream Sauce

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  I receive compensation to help support publishing this blog when you shop with these links.
Sauced-Up Chicken Thighs
Smothered Chicken Thighs

Caramelized onions are one of the keys to the amazing flavor of this chicken dish. Yes, they take a little time and effort.  You may be tempted to rush this step in the preparation process, but taking the time to caramelize the onion will add a great depth of color and flavor to the end result. Please don't rush this step.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs

Beef short ribs make a perfect meal for a cold winter weekend.  Hearty and flavorful, it's a dish that you'll want to share with family and friends.  This isn't a hard recipe to make but it does take a little time to prepare.  That is time well spent, friends.

Hearty Beef Short Ribs

Hearty Beef Short Ribs with Wine

Beef short ribs can be pricey, so make sure you are getting good ones with plenty of meat on the bone.  You want fat for flavor, but you won't be eating the fat.

You'll want to make this meal when you have a full day because they take four to five hours to cook in your oven or slow cooker.  I prefer my slow cooker but the oven works just as well. 

Making the short ribs a day in advance is even better because you will have time to chill the sauce and separate the fat.  Then you can either serve it as an au jus or thicken to serve as a gravy.

Also, make sure you have a nice bottle of dry red wine on hand.  It makes a difference to the flavor so you won't want to leave it out.

You can watch my Beef Short Ribs video here.

Beef Short Ribs Recipe

Print Beef Short Ribs Recipe

Serves 4-6

You'll need:
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 4-8 meaty beef short ribs
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 10-12 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
If your slow cooker has a stovetop setting, begin there making this a one-pot meal. Heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown the short ribs on all sides. Drain the fat from the pan leaving about two tablespoons. 

Add the whole cloves of garlic and the chopped onions, celery, and carrots to the pan, cooking until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, stirring to combine with the vegetables.  Cook for about a minute.  

Add the mushrooms and the red wine. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Cook until the red wine reduces by about half.  

Add the short ribs back into the pan.  Add the beef broth.  Cover and set the slow cooker to 5 hours on high.  Check at 4 hours to see if the meat is tender and falling from the bone.  If yes, your ribs are done.

Remove the ribs from the pan.  Cover and set aside.  Pour the juice from the pan through a strainer into a fat separator or a four-cup glass measuring cup. You'll want to skim the fat from the juice before serving. Serve as an au jus or thicken as you would for a gravy.

Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite green vegetable.

Beef short ribs are a wonderful comfort food dinner.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Frosted Sicilian "S" Cookies

 I love a good cookie.  This Sicilian "S" cookie is a good cookie.

You'll love this cookie, too.  It is easy to make.  If you have kids or grandkids, they'd have fun helping. Everyone will love eating them.

Sicilian "S" Cookies

Make These Frosted Sicilian "S" Cookies Any Time of Year

I started baking these cookies as a Christmas cookie but have come to love them all year round.  They are a light sugar cookie with a sweet, sugary glaze.  I like them flavored with lemon zest or almond extract.

You'll love these cookies with a cup of coffee or tea.

Make these Frosted Sicilian S Cookies for a treat with your coffee or tea.

You'll find the preparation a little different from your average cookie because you start by mixing the dry ingredients with the butter until it forms a crumb. The addition of the wet ingredients pulls the batter together.  After a quick knead to make the dough smooth and thirty minutes in the refrigerator to chill you'll be ready to bake the cookies.  

Easy peasy lemon squeezy! You can watch me make these cookies in this Facebook video.

Sicilian "S" Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


  • Sicil.ian S Cookies ready to bake
    2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (use 1 tablespoon at a time to get the right consistency)

Directions (affiliate links below)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Measure the flour, sugar, and baking powder into the bowl of your electric mixer.  Stir to combine.

Cut the butter into pieces and add all at once to the flour mixture.  Stir to combine.  Mix until the butter and flour mixture combine to make crumbs.

Mix together the eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest in a small bowl.  Add all at once to the crumb mixture.  Stir until the cookie dough comes together.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on your counter until it is smooth.  This will take just a minute.

Return the cookie dough to the bowl and refrigerate for thirty-sixty minutes. You want your dough to be chilled.

Using a two-tablespoon cookie scoop, measure out the cookie dough.  Roll the dough into a log about 1/2 inch wide and 4-5 inches long.  Form and "S" shape and place on your cookie sheet.

Bake in your oven from 8-12 minutes, until the cookie firm to the touch but not browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  The length of time it takes to bake the cookies will depend on the size you make them.

To glaze the cookies, mix together the confectioner's sugar and the milk, one tablespoon at a time.  You want the glaze to make ribbons when it drips off the spoon.  Did the top of each cooled cookie in the glaze and set on a wire rack to dry.