Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup!

My family and I love soups!   I make some type of soup just about every week!   Also, if you have followed my blog long, you know I love the soups at Olive Garden!   I spent some time coming up with my own copycat versions for their Zuppa Toscana and their Pasta Fagioli,   which I think are very similar.   

I have had several people ask me for a recipe for the Chicken Gnocchi Soup and for some reason it has taken me this long to get around to it!   I was really pleased with this once I did it!   To be honest, it's a little different than theirs, but I actually like it better.   I sort of geared it to my families tastes.  This is so rich and creamy!!!  

This is a soup you can have on the table in less than an hour easily, which is always nice.  If you add bread stick and a salad, you have a complete meal!  

Here is what you will need:

6 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks or grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup flour
32 oz. chicken broth
3 cups half and half cream
3 cups chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 (16 oz.) pkg. potato gnocchi (I prefer frozen)
8 oz. baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup heavy cream

In a heavy soup pot or Dutch Oven, melt the butter and along with olive oil over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and celery and cook until it starts to soften.  Add the carrots and garlic.  Saute for until the garlic is soft, but don't let it burn.   

Add in all of the seasonings and the flour.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly so the flour doesn't stick.   Add in the chicken broth and whisk.   Bring to a low boil, whisking any lumps out. 

 When it starts to thicken, turn the heat down and add the half and half.  Whisk until incorporated.  Add the cooked chicken.  You can use a rotisserie chicken, leftover chicken breasts or just bake about 2 or three chicken breasts to use. 

Add the potato gnocchi.  I like to use frozen gnocchi, because I think it holds up better and I like the texture.  This is one I really like.  Stir it in the baby spinach leaves and then put the top on your soup pot and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the gnocchi is done. 

Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese and then drizzle the top with the heavy cream!!!  The cream and the Parmesan really take this over the top!!!  

Serve this delicious  soup with the additional Parmesan on top to each person's taste! 

Pina Colada Ambrosia!

Remember ambrosia, the creamy fruit salad mixture with the mini marshmallows usually served at Thanksgiving or Christmas, sometimes at church potlucks or picnics?  Nothing wrong with a good ambrosia fruit salad.  My husband can eat it by the bucket full. 

This is a twist on that ambrosia. This is decidedly more tropical in nature and to me is more of a springtime, summer sort of ambrosia, but would be good anytime actually. 

Here is what you will need:

3 bananas
1 can pineapple tidbits with juice (you can use fresh pineapple but will need to add 1/2 cup pineapple juice)
2 (15 oz.)  cans tropical fruit salad drained
1 (15 oz.) can mandarin oranges drained
1 (10 oz.) small jar maraschino cherries
1 3 oz instant vanilla pudding mix
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup cream of coconut
8 oz. whipped topping
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans for topping (optional)

Slice bananas into mixing bowl and pour the juice of 1 lemon over them.

Drain all of the fruit except the pineapple and add to the bananas.  Add the pineapple tidbits with the juice to it.

Juice 2-3 oranges to make 1/2 cup orange juice and mix with 1 cup cream of coconut.  You can use 1/2 cup of refrigerated orange juice, but the fresh orange juice is so much better.  Pour this mixture over the fruit and mix gently.
Add pudding mix to the fruit and mix together.

Add all of the cherries but a few for garnishing the top!  Fold in whipped cream and marshmallows.  Chill for several hours so it thickens.

Toast the coconut in a 450 degree oven.  This usually takes about 10 minutes, but watch it carefully, because it will burn quickly.  Mix 1 cup into the fruit salad and sprinkle the other cup on top right before serving.  I also like to top it with chopped walnuts or pecans and a few whole maraschino cherries for garnish!

Pina Colada Ambrosia!

Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs!

As we have discussed before, "Deviled Eggs" are a southern staple for holidays, parties, potlucks, cookouts....anytime people gather to eat!!!  Some people get hung up on the name with the 'devil' being in it.

The term ''Deviled' is just a food term for anything cooked with hot spices or spiced up some way.  We actually also called them 'dressed eggs' in our part of the country.

Whatever you call them, they are dang good and always a crowd pleaser and with all ages!

You know I like to change things up a bit sometimes and since I love anything with 'ranch seasoning' and 'bacon', why not put them in the deviled eggs!!!

 I played around with it and I must say it's delicious.   I actually liked these better than the original eggs and they are so easy!!!  

Here is what you will need:

10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
12 eggs, hard boiled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs. sour cream
1 Tbs. dry ranch dressing mix
1 tsp. mustard, yellow or Dijon
1 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
dash of salt and black pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
paprika or Cajun seasoning for garnish

Place eggs in enough water to cover them.  Add a tsp. of vinegar and a dash of salt and they will peel much easier.  Also, if you can, don't use really fresh eggs that you just bought.  They are much harder to peel than eggs you have had in the fridge for a few days.  

Bring to a boil and boil for just a minute with cover on pan.  Turn heat off and let sit for about 12 to 15 minutes in the hot water.  Run under a couple changes of cold water and peel.  They will peel much easier.

With a sharp knife cut down the center lengthwise.  Remove the yolks and place in a bowl.  Mash with a fork.  Add half of the bacon  crumbles and all of the other ingredients and stir together until smooth.  

You can fill them with a spoon or put the filling in a piping bag and pipe it in for a very pretty presentation.  Sprinkle with just a little paprika or I like to sprinkle with just a bit of Cajun seasoning which gives them a little more spiciness. 

Finally top them off with the other half of the bacon crumbles!!!  

These are so yummy and they will disappear fast!!!  Enjoy!!!