Homemade Alfredo Sauce Mix

Alfredo sauce is mostly cream and butter with a touch of garlic and maybe some white wine.  This recipe is a lot lighter than that, but still gives the creamy texture and mouthful of flavor that you’re hoping for.  The original mix I created has pasta already in it for a fast skillet in 1 dish, but you can leave it out to just make the sauce for pizza or something like that.  If you want it to be REALLY rich and creamy, when preparing the final dish replace a cup of milk with a can of evaporated milk.

homemade light alfredo sauce mix

8 oz Fettucini, broken into pieces (whole grain pasta works fine)

2 T flour (or 1 Tbs Cornstarch for gluten free)

2 T powdered instant skim milk

1/2 t basil

1 t lemon pepper

1/2 t garlic powder

1 t salt

1/2 C parmesean cheese

Mix all in a quart bag. To prepare. Pour mix into a skillet with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk. Stir well until all the powders are blended and noodles are well moistened. Bring just to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cools. If you like, stir in sauteed vegtables, cooked chicken cubes, turkey sausage, or shrimp.

You can also make the mix without the pasta and just make sauce.  To prepare stir the mix with 1 cup of milk and cook and stir until thickened.  It makes a nice sauce for Alfredo pizza :).

Homemade Pizza Crust Mix & Pizza Sauce Mix Too!

Homemade pizza crust mix

This pizza crust recipe started as the commercial recipe for the pizza shop in Lamoni, Iowa that fed the college students at Graceland. It was a local favorite and I was elated when the recipe made it’s way into my hands. It has been reduced in size to make 2 large pizzas (13-15 inches each) and then formulated into a mix.  We use fresh ground hard white whole wheat flour at our house, but white all-purpose flour yields results more like what you would expect from a restaurant. Half and half is a nice compromise :).

See my notes at the end for Gluten Free

Pizza Crust Mix

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs dry active yeast

2 Tbs sugar

In a quart  or gallon size baggie, combine the flour, salt, yeast and sugar.  To use pour the mix into a large bowl and add 1 2/3 cups warm water and 1 Tbs olive oil.  (If you use a gallon size baggie you can pour the water and oil right in and knead everything through the plastic. Knead until the dough comes together (I use a kitchen aid with a dough hook.)  Lightly oil the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes (up to an hour) to allow the gluten relax so you can roll it out.  You can add 1/2 tsp of basil, 1/4 tsp oregano and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder to the mix for an herbed dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Top the crust with pizza sauce (or marinara sauce), cheese, and then desired toppings.  before baking brush or mist the edges with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesean cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden.

To make this gluten free, replace the flour cup for cup with gluten free all purpose flour that has xanthan gum in it.  Add 1 tsp of baking powder and when preparing the crust add an extra Tbs of olive oil. The crust will have a different texture and type of rise than gluten crust does, but it is good :).

Pizza Sauce Mix

1 ½ t garlic salt

2 t basil

1 tsp parsley

1/4 tsp oregano

dash black pepper

dash cayenne powder

To use combine mix with 1-6 oz can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup water.

Freezer Bag Cooking: Lunch and Dinner

Freezer Bag Recipes lunch and dinner

Yesterday I shared with you some really simple Freezer Bag Breakfast Recipes perfect for camping or just to make ahead for busy moments.  Today I’m going to give you my best Freezer Bag Lunch and Dinner recipes.  When meals are packed frozen in a cooler, you need less ice and they gradually thaw to be ready when needed. (My FAVORITE part of this series is how often I can use the word smoosh <3.)

 Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven Pizza

Crust: 1 2/3 cup water; 1 Tbs yeast; 1 Tbs olive oil; 2 Tbs Honey; 1 tsp salt; 4 cups flour.  Mix together, kneading right in the bag, then press out the air and freeze.

Sauce: 6 oz tomato paste; 1/4 cup water; 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp garlic powder; 1 tsp onion powder; 2 tsp parsley flakes; 1 tsp basil; 1/4 tsp oregano; a few dashes of oregano.  Mix in a smaller baggie and freeze.  Snip the corner to easily spread onto the pizza crust.

Additional ingredients:  Shredded mozzarella cheese; browned ground beef, pepperoni;

This is enough for 2 pizzas. Spread the thawed crust in the bottom and up the sides a bit of your well seasoned dutch oven.  Top with sauce, cheese and desired toppings.  Top with a lid. Bake for 20-3o minutes with 7 briquettes under the oven and 21 on the lid.
Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joes

2 lb Ground meat (I use a combination of turkey and beef.)

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced bell pepper

2 cans, 8 oz tomato sauce

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic salt

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Brown the ground beef, peppers and onions together, drain.  Place the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic salt and worcestershire in a freezer baggie.  Smoosh it around.  Add remaining ingredients and smoosh to mix evenly. Seal well and lay flat to freeze.  To prepare, squeeze thawed contents into a dutch oven or saucepan and heat through. Serve on buns or stuffed into pitas with slices of cheese.

 

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l lb macaroni noodles (dry)

8 cups tomato juice

4 tsp sugar, xylitol or similar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

8 American cheeses slices

Brown ground beef with onion and bell pepper, drain.  Combine all but the cheese slices in a baggie (pasta should still be dry.)  Seal, and smoosh flat to freeze.   To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a casserole dish or dutch oven.  Top with cheese slices.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (For a Dutch oven: 7 hot coals on the bottom 21 coals on the lid) or until heated through and pasta is soft.

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Spaghetti

8 oz broken spaghetti noodles

4 cups tomato sauce

3 cups water

1 tsp basil flakes

2 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp salt

dash of cayenne pepper (opt)

1 lb ground beef

1 cup onion

Brown and drain ground beef with onion.  Add all ingredients to a freezer bag (use the noodles dry.)  Smoosh flat and freeze.  To prepare, pour thawed contents of the bag into a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender and dish is thickened.

Fajitas

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips.

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red onion

1 white onion

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 1/2 Tbs Seasoned Salt (like Lowry’s)

1 1/2 Tbs oregano flakes

1 1/2 Tbs ground cumin

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs paprika

1 tsp salt

In a large baggie combine the oil, lime juice and herbs and spices.  Smoosh all around.  Add the chicken and sliced vegetables.  Press flat and freeze.  To prepare, thaw the bag. Use tongs to lift the meat and vegetables out of the bag into a hot skillet, discard remaining marinate. Stir fry until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.  Serve with tortillas and salsa.  (Other toppings as desired: lettuce, cheese, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole….)

Fiesta Chicken Bowls

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lb corn kernels
1 tsp garlic powder
1 chopped red onion
1 can, 15 oz  black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Combine everything into a freezer bag and smoosh flat to freeze. To prepare, thaw bag.  Pour entire contents into a hot skillet and sauté until meat is cooked through.  Layer bowls with crushed tortilla chips and chopped lettuce.  Top with chicken mixture and serve with salsa, cheese, and ranch dressing.

Teriyaki chicken over Rice

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

1 lb sugar snap peas

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice (I drain it from canned pineapple)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients into a freezer bag and smoosh to freeze.  Freeze 4-6 cups cooked brown rice in a separate bag.  To prepare, pour contents of the bag into a skillet and saute until chicken is cooked through. Heat rice, by simmering the bag in hot water for 2-3 minutes.  Serve Teriyaki chicken over rice.

Taco Soup

2 lb ground beef or turkey

1 cup chopped onion

1 lb corn kernels

2 cans, 15 oz each black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can rotel tomatoes, undrained

4 Tbs taco seasoning

Brown ground beef with onion, drain.  Combine everything in a freezer bag.  Smoosh flat to freeze.  To serve, pour contents of the bag into a stock pot or dutch oven. Add 1 cup of water. Heat through.  Serve with Frito style corn chips and cheese or sour cream.

Ham and Cheese Pockets

Ham and Cheese Pockets

There’s something wonderful about having a basic recipe memorized.  It gives freedom in cooking and opens up creativity.  It allows a woman to go into another home, discover a need, and whip up a delicious supper without running to the internet or a cook book.

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My Basic pizza dough is a recipe like that. It makes fabulous pizza, but can also be loaf bread, bread sticks, cinnamon rolls, bagels, English muffins, Stromboli.  Anything really.DSC_2993

And like I tell my daughters, Men like food.  Want to find a good man?  Learn to make good food.

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I remember the first time Darren took me to visit his grandfather in the rest home.  His grandma introduced me.  She said, your grandson J.D. found him a Jewell (his wife’s name) and Darren found an Angel.
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I was stunned.  I’d been admiring Darren from afar for awhile, but he had never been very clear with me about his feelings.  Was I claimed?  Was he really serious about our future or was Grandma dreaming? I was thinking such deep thoughts and floating on her words, when Grandpa spoke up.  “Can she cook?”

Um, what?

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On the resume I was building to be a good wife….cooking wasn’t the top thing in my mind.  I loved the Lord, could sing, play piano, clarinet and guitar.  Teach children, sew, garden, and had the stamina of a workhorse. Surely those things are more important than cooking…but, NO. Grandpa only wanted to know if I could cook, lol.
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If he were still with us, I’d bring him one of these yummy ham pockets. :) He’d want gravy too.

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Ham and Cheese Pockets

Ham and Cheese Pockets

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups fresh ground Hard White Wheat Flour
  • 5 cups, diced ham (sliced ham works too)
  • 10 slices of cheese (or shredded...whatever.)

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, combine the first 5 ingredients and mix up into a firm dough.
  2. Oil dough and cover with a cloth while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. After about 30 minutes, divide the dough into 10 balls.
  4. Roll each ball into a circle then top with ham and cheese.
  5. Wrap dough around the filling and place on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Brush with melted butter while they are still warm. (Sprinkle with garlic salt too if you want to.)
  8. They are delicious warm or cold and pack well for lunches.
http://www.groceryshrink.com/2014/04/ham-and-cheese-pockets.html

If you like this recipe, you’d love my menu subscription service.

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It’s about a $1 a week for 27 breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes, a shopping list, and tons of extras.  With help for those who are gluten free, dairy free, or on a fitness plan like Trim Healthy Mama and Fit Yummy Mummy. We now give 2 menus a week, one with everything and one with dinners only.

P.S. There’s just a few hours left to grab your homemaking bundle if you haven’t already.  I’ve loved looking through mine and super excited about some of them in particular.  It was stuff I really wanted to know, but didn’t know how to find out! Sale ends at midnight!

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Turkey and Bean Lunch Taquitos

 

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Every week I share 5 packable lunch recipes with my subscribers at Grocery Shrink Plus. This is just one of them, and one of our favorites!
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I was trying to photograph these for the blog, and look who couldn’t wait!

Homemade Taco Seasoning Here.

Turkey and Bean Lunch Taquitos

Turkey and Bean Lunch Taquitos

Ingredients

  • 20 6" tortillas
  • 8 oz shredded cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz) refried beans
  • 1 pkg (20 oz) 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2 Tbs taco seasoning (I used homemade)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brown ground turkey with taco seasoning until cooked through. Stir in refried beans.
  3. Place a small amount of bean mixture on the edge of each tortilla. Top with cheese. Roll up tightly and place seam side down on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.
http://www.groceryshrink.com/2014/04/turkey-and-bean-lunch-taquitos.html

Homemade Pizza Rolls

We got the privilege of babysitting our cousins the other night.  We used to trade every week but with remodeling/rearranging in both households it’s been awhile. To be honest both families have oldest daughters now who are old enough to babysit their own families.  Trading babysitting really isn’t necessary, but we don’t say that out loud.  The kids LOVE getting together and I like knowing they will have good memories of growing up with their extended family.

I promised the kids I would make pizza and then promptly forgot.  Instead I boiled up two chicken carcasses in the crock pot and made homemade chicken noodle soup.  Except I didn’t watch the time and the noodles got waaaay too soft.  So not only was there no pizza, but the soup was gross.  (I’ll take their word for it–I couldn’t even bring myself to taste it.)
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I had Darren’s favorite junk food frozen pizza rolls in the freezer.  He said we could use them.  But I looked at the number of kids (10) and the number of rolls and knew there would never be enough.  My first thought was to run to the store and grab more, but my budget couldn’t take that.  Whatever I did was going to have to be from what I already had on hand.

My workspace this day was the top of our giant deep freezer. The freezer has it’s own little closet but it had to move out while we tiled the floor. The extra workspace in the kitchen was a blessing.  (The water bottle looks like misplaced junk right here, but it was functioning as my rolling pin.)

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Normally I make this crust with fresh ground whole wheat flour, but I’m not sure where I packed my wheat grinder.  For now, we just used white.  (The kids tolerate my whole wheat stuff but every one of them prefers white, sigh.)

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DSC_2363I tried to deep fat fry these babies, but that was a disaster.  They unrolled themselves in the hot oil and all the cheese sank to the bottom and melted.  So we slapped them on the griddle instead.  (Baking them in the oven would have been a lot better way to go.  If I had an oven, I would have baked the logs and cut them into bites afterwards to keep all the goodies inside.)

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They didn’t last long.  Every child called these a win (and when they were the course after soggy noodle soup–how could they lose?)

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups flour (unbleached or 100% whole hard white wheat)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 oz pepperoni, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a bread machine or electric mixer, combine the first 6 ingredients, making sure the salt doesn't come in direct contact with the yeast (use a little flour as a buffer.) Let rise for 1 hour (skip it if you are in a hurry, but the dough will roll out better if you let it relax for an hour.)
  2. Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll each ball into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 strips. Stop with marinara, pepperoni and cheese (leaving a border on the edge of the dough plain so you can pinch it closed.) Roll up and pinch closed.
  3. Placed on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then cut into bite sized pieces.
  4. Or cook on a 350 degree griddle for 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown. (Be careful not to burn them.)
http://www.groceryshrink.com/2014/01/homemade-pizza-rolls.html

 

 

 

Coconut Blueberry Muffin in A Mug

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It’s about time for a recipe around here.  And there’s nothing like a contest with a $2000 prize to motivate a little cooking :).  We sure could use the money on our kitchen project, but the lack of a kitchen makes testing recipes more of a challenge.  Ah, who doesn’t like a challenge?

I was hungry for a healthy snack this week while working on the menus.  As part of my job, I look at hundreds of pictures of food.  And it makes me hungry.  Even if I’m stuffed, 5 minutes of looking at gorgeous yummy pictures will convince me that I’m starving.

This little muffin filled me up and let me focus on working and had a nice healthy nutritional profile as a bonus.

With blueberries as the main ingredient, it’s full of antioxidants. It’s also dairy free, gluten free, sugar free and low carb. Has a good amount of protein.  And is ready in just 2 minutes. Are you in love yet?

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Coconut Blueberry Muffin in A Mug

Coconut Blueberry Muffin in A Mug

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs Coconut Flour
  • 2 Tbs Almond Flour
  • 1 Tbs Coconut flakes (opt.)
  • Dash of pure stevia extract (like nunaturals) or 2 packets of truvia
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (up to 1 Tbs)
  • 2-3 Tbs milk or water
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions

  1. Combine everything in a large greased coffee mug, stirring in the blueberries last.
  2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or just until the center is set. Do not over cook.
  3. Serve with a dollop of coconut whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.
http://www.groceryshrink.com/2013/11/coconut-blueberry-muffin-in-a-mug.html

P.S.  Today is the last day to use your 50% off coupon for Freezer Week and Mix Week

 

 

Bulk Cooking: Slow Cooked Ground Beef

As the weeks drag on without a kitchen, I’m starting to loose it a little.  Our project was delayed in an unforeseen scheduling conflict with one of our professionals and our finish date is two months in the future…..sigh.  But when it’s all said and done it will be worth it.

Part of holding it together, is making sure my family still eats while sticking to our tiny food budget, which DH lovingly raised to $500 a month (for the 8 of us) at least while our kitchen project drags on.  This allows me to buy a few more convenience items to make meal prep in our alternative kitchen space a little easier.

“If only I had a bunch of cooked up ground beef in the freezer!” I thought to myself last week.  That would make life so much better.  So I did a search on all the ways to cook large batches of ground beef–only I don’t have a stove, so it can’t use a wok, lol.

Finally I decided to try it in the slow cooker.  And it worked, beautifully–though until the very end I was sure I had wasted 6 lbs of meat.  Here’s how it played out.

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I unwrapped three 2 lb logs of frozen ground beef and stuck them into the slow cooker.  Then I added 6 cups of water, because I wanted beef broth.  To make the broth and hamburger taste good, I added 2 finely chopped onions; 1 Tbs of salt; 1 tsp of garlic salt; and 1/2 tsp black pepper.

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The lid wouldn’t close.  No worries.  I covered it as well as I could and cooked in on low overnight.  After about an hour, I could push the lid down.  That made me feel better.

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In the morning I had 3 logs of cooked hamburger–oh no!  I was hoping for it to form crumbles automatically while I slept. But the broth looked delicious.

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I chopped up the meat into huge chunks and then used a colander and bowl system to drain out the broth.

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It had great color and smelled amazing.  I was surprised what little fat hardened on the top after it cooled.  This was grass fed beef direct from the farmer.  I could see the quality when cooked this way.

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I was pretty sure at this point that it was all a waste.  But I decided to try the two fork shred method that I use on my pulled pork. I ended up mashing it with the back of a huge fork.  It worked beautifully–and fast. Perfect fine crumbles of ground beef!

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I divided up the meat into 5 freezer bags.  Each one weighed about 1.4 lbs. And pressed them flat.  Once they were cool, I put them in the freezer.  

I got about 2 quarts of broth also.  It smells and looks so yummy.  I’m definitely doing this again.  No more thawing meat, no more standing over a hot stove.  Win win win.

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Push Pop Review

Last Fall we bought these:

And finally got around to trying them.  They are sturdy silicone and flexible.  The lids go on and off easily.  We filled ours with Great Value brand strawberry yogurt, the kind that comes in a 32 oz container at Walmart.  We laid them on their side in the freezer and since it was thick stuff, nothing leaked. If I were using juice, I’d prop them up in a glass or vase just to be safe.
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The lids came off easily.  My 5 year old could do it without help.

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The pops were hard to push up until the heat from our hands softened the outside a little.DSC_0555 DSC_0554

Yummy.  Mess free.  And I know what’s in them.DSC_0562

“Do I get one too, Mommy?”

 

Cosmos ® 10-Piece Pink/Light Blue/Violet/Green/Orange Food Safe Silicone Ice Pop Maker Molds Set with Cosmos Fastening Strap

Kid Friendly Food: Cheeseburger Soup

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If you are on my menu subscription plan, you might have noticed in the cooler months  plan a delicious, innovative soup twice a week.  Why?  Soups are the most cost effective meals out there.  They are slow cooker friendly and all in one meals that busy moms can appreciate.  And the warm liquid fills up a hungry family quickly.

Here’s one your kids will love!

Cheeseburger Soup:

1 can or 2 cups of beef broth

8 oz of tomato sauce

1 can tomato soup

3 cups water

2 tsp stevia or sugar

2 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder (or 1 cup chopped onion)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp yellow mustard

1/4 tsp celery seed (or 1 cup diced celery)

2 lb hamburger or ground turkey, browned and drained

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

(Depending on your families likes chopped onions and mushrooms are yummy in this too.)

2 cups Shredded cheddar jack cheese

1 cup chopped dill pickles

8 slices of whole wheat bread or hamburger buns

1.  Combine all except cheese, pickles and bread into a stock pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are tender. turn off heat and stir in cheese.

2.  Cut bread into cubes.  Spritz with canola oil or olive oil spray and sprinkle lightly with garlic salt.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown and toasted.

3.  Dish soup into bowls and allow to cool to eating temperature.

4.  Put out bowls of extra shredded cheese, bread cubes, pickles, and shredded lettuce as toppings and let everyone top their own.