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Cooking and Baking My Way Through Pinterest

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If you are like me, you have about 1,000 pins on your Pinterest Food Board. Pinterest is one of the few apps that works on my old cracked iPhone, so when I need a little diversion, I just pin away beautiful recipe ideas to be baked in some future time and some future kitchen. Well, I’ve tried to look through that Food Board for a specific pin from ages ago only to discover I have so many pins I can’t find anything! I’ve decided it’s time to slowly go through my pinned recipes, make them, decide if the recipe warrants a place in my physical recipe book and then delete them from my pin board.

There are several criteria I have that determines whether or not the recipe makes it into my hallowed recipe book. The first thing I notice that can send an online recipe to the delete box almost instantaneously are pop up ads. I am driven absolutely crazy by pop up ads. They slow my computer down, they lock up my phone and they distract me. So, I don’t even give the recipe a chance when greeted with all those nasty ads, I simply push delete.

Obviously, obscure ingredients are a bit tricky for me. Even though I live in a town of around 20,000 (roughly), some ingredients are just not available. In fact, I couldn’t even buy cilantro yesterday! Ugh.

And, luckily for readers, there are so many recipes that feature stunning photography, great writing, and well written instructions. Those are the recipes I hope to find and try out in my modest little test kitchen.

The first recipe I tested out as I endeavor to cull my Food Board was Copy Cat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup. There are quite a few blogs with this recipe so I just had to choose one and go for it. The pinned recipe was from the blog Get Crocked which features slow cooker recipes. I always forget to use that lovely kitchen appliance! There are a lot of ads of the webpage, but nothing was popping up, creating havoc for my eyes. Anyway, I did make a few changes and would change a few further things to the recipe, but I must say, the soup was FANTASIC. I’d highly recommend making this in your house!!!

Here goes:

1.5 c. Diced Chicken Breasts, uncooked
4 T. Unsalted Butter
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 quart half & half
14 oz.Chicken Broth
3 Stalks of Celery, sliced
1/4 c. Flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. Shredded Carrots
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 c. Fresh, Chopped Spinach
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

The italicized ingredients were changed due to a variety of factors (time, laziness about driving to the grocery store etc). For instance, I substituted a can of Swanson Chicken Breasts (you know the kind, it comes in the can that looks like canned tuna). This was a perfectly fine substitution. I also had part of a ham left in the fridge so I tossed that in the crock pot as well. This turned out to be a very nice addition. In fact, ham in place of the chicken would be completely fine. As for the lazy part, I used the following ingredients to satisfy the 1 quart of half-and-half. I only had small amounts of the dairy pictured below, so I used them all. It was just fine.

olive_garden_soup_one

And here is where I forgot to read the recipe closely: I added the dairy so it was in the crock pot all day rather than at the end. I should’ve known better as I’ve made other cream based soups in the crock pot, but who knows what was going on that day or what I was thinking (or not thinking).

And here is the rest of the story:

In a stove top safe slow cooker, heat butter and oil over medium-high. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute. When the onion is translucent, sprinkle in the flour and whisk to form a roux.

Super simple ingredients:

olive_garden_two

Stir and cook a minute. Then stir in chicken broth and seasoning.

Add the carrots and chicken to the pot. Place the slow cooker insert into the slow cooker base.

Cover. Cook on low for 5 hours.

Stir in the spinach and half & half. Let cook on low for 15-30 minutes while you cook gnocchi in another pot.

Prepare the gnocchi according to the package directions.

Stir in the gnocchi right before serving the soup.

**I did not make my roux in the slow cooker as mine is not stove top safe. I simply used a saucepan. Also, when I make this again, I plan to reduce the amount of butter and oil. Maybe that is a bad idea, but all that fat freaked me out. It just didn’t seem necessary.

I purchased a container of gnocchi at the store. It tasted really fantastic but I’m sure homemade gnocchi would take this to another level entirely. Anyway, it was quite easy and amazingly good. Time to delete this recipe from my Pinterest board and add it to the cookbook!

As you can see, my cream separated (or something like that) which alters the look of it. So, learn from my mistakes- add the dairy right at the end not at the beginning like I did!

olive_garden_three

In other news, I’ve been busy working on a website for my sister, christinegunderson.com, doing a couch to 5K program (which isn’t working as I discovered I’ve gained 5 POUNDS this summer!!!), experienced an amazing coffee experience (more on that later), and have casually looked at out of town properties. Life in the suburbs is simply not for us. Anyway, it certainly feels good to write a blog post- it makes me feel like my old, happy, free self and not this caged animal, suburban self.

So, I hope you try this recipe out and enjoy it as much as we did. Have a great week and I hope to blog about some coffee later this week!