By Jenny Stauffer

Today’s blog comes from loyal reader Jenny Stauffer who has graciously offered to provide us recipe blogs each month. This month she is featuring soups and sandwiches – ideal meals for colder weather and a great way to get kids to eat their veggies! Here’s what she has to say..

If you are anything like me, it is a challenge to feed a family and keep the meals healthy, quick, and meet a picky child’s criteria!  Before my husband and I had children, I loved cooking fresh, fun meals.  Then, well,  I had kids!  I was so excited when my oldest could eat table foods!  That’s when I began cooking again.  Since my children are 16 months apart, every year becomes easier and easier.  These past two years, I began to LOVE cooking.  I love the challenge of creating new meals, I devour cooking magazines and cookbooks, and I also enjoy cooking like my own mother did, only healthier.  She was a great cook and I always strive to make a meal each night as she did.  I have great memories of the love and time she poured into our meals.

Onto the good stuff.  I am excited to share some of our favorite recipes with you all each month.  I will aim to include both kid-friendly foods and grown-up food, as well. ( My husband and I love to share a meal after the kids are in bed.  It’s our own little “date night”)  Oh, and if you do have a picky eater like I do, I’ll offer tips to accommodate your meal for someone who won’t eat much!

I hope you and yours enjoy these recipes!  Cheers and Happy Cooking!!!

Potato Soup

*Easy and surprisingly flavorful

2 cans diced potatoes, drained
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 pint whipping cream, or light cream
1 cup of milk, or more.  You will need to add more after the soup stands and thickens.
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a dutch oven or deep casserole.
Cover and cook on 350 for 3 hours.  Stir.
Serve with green onions, bacon and cheese.

White Chicken Chili

*This is very mild and the kids love it.

2 cans chicken broth
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or rotisserie chicken
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c chopped onions
1 (9oz) pkg frozen shoepeg corn, thawed
2 cans chopped green chiles, undrained
3 T lime juice (fresh)
2 cans cannelini beans, undrained
tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, cheese

In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Saute garlic and onion until transluscent.  Add chicken, chiles, broth and corn.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add beans.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add lime juice.  Serve with desired toppings.

Tortellini Soup

1 lb Italian sausage (I use turkey…mild for kids, spicy for grown-ups)
1 lg onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 14-oz cans beef broth
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 10-oz can tomato sauce
2-3 carrots, sliced
2 sm. Zucchini, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1 pkg cheese tortellini, frozen (could use fresh, adapting)
½ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
2 T Italian seasoning

Remove sausage casings.  Cook sausage, onion, garlic over med. Heat.  Drain.  In a large pot, combine beef broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, carrots, wine, Italian seasoning and zucchini.  Simmer for 30-45 min. until carrot is tender (I add zucchini half way through).  Add tortellini until heated through…on low.  Serve in soup bowl with Parmesan cheese grated over top.

Our Favorite Panini’s

*If you don’t have a panini maker, consider one!  They are so easy and make the best sandwiches.  If you don’t have one, you can use a George Foreman grill or just a pan.  Simply press the sandwich with a spatula.

The Grown-Up Version of a Ham Panini

1 loaf of good sliced Italian or French Bread
Ennamentalar cheese for grownups and guests, or Swiss packaged cheese for everyday
Prosciutto for us, ham for kids

Easiest sandwich ever!  Layer ingredients, spray with Pam or spread with butter.  Grill.

* The meat and cheese melt together so well.  This is actually a requested recipe on our annual New Year’s mountain trip.

*My picky eater asks all the time for the “striped sandwiches”  (ham and swiss).

*Costco sells proscuitto for a fraction of the cost, so when we have guests, I go there.  Proscioutto adds a great flavor over ham, but we do ham a lot of times.  My best friend insists on the ennamenatlar cheese and proscioutto. Leave out arugula for children.

Let us know if you try these recipes and what you think!