Bean and Bacon Soup – Hearty Home Cooking at it’s Best!

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Acorns and fall leaves

It’s amazing how fast the warm colors of Autumn are already starting to appear along our country lane. Granted, we did have a wonderful summer, but it always seems like fall comes so soon! It’s ok though, because besides the Christmas season, this is my favorite time of the year! And with the cooler temperatures, always comes the urge to prepare a large pot of hearty soup, a platter of oven warmed bread, and a few candles scented with pumpkin, clove, and orange, to add to the evening’s ambiance as our family gathers around the harvest table.

I thought you might like to share this wonderful Bean & Bacon Soup with your family this week!

Hearty Bean & Bacon Soup


6 slices lean bacon, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1/8 tsp. crushed hot red pepper
2 cups diced tomatoes
2-1/2 cups canned white beans, drained
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup small pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a heavy soup pot, saute the bacon until done. Leave the bacon drippings in the pan to saute the other vegetables. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and red pepper to the pot. Saute until the vegetables are soft, approx. 10 minutes on low heat. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 10 more minutes. Then, stir in the beans and broth. Break up the bacon into smaller pieces, and add to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then add the pasta and cook 15 minutes or so until the pasta is done. This soup is great topped off with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


Easy Apple Pie Rolls

Easy Apple Pie
I just love the smell of apple pie baking in the kitchen! But the one thing I like better than smelling it is eating it!

I like to think of the recipe as a mix between apple pie & biscuits. The cook book calls the dessert “Roly Poly Pudding”, although I might call it something more like “Easy Apple Pie Rolls” (I know – not nearly as exciting as Roly Poly Pudding 🙂

The recipe is basically a biscuit recipe (which might be familiar to you, if you already make biscuits in your kitchen), and a group of other ingredients that would be used in making an apple pie.

Biscuit Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup softened butter
3 cups cored, peeled, and finely chopped apples
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

First lets make the biscuit part of the recipe.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then “cut in” shortening with a pastry blender

To cut in = using pastry blender, large fork, or clean fingers 😉 to combine shortening with dry ingredients. You know you’ve properly “cut in”, when the mixture breaks apart into small bits that resemble a lumpy cake mix before you mix it 😉

Add the milk a little at a time while mixing gently. The batter does not have to be smooth, and is ready to work with as soon as it can be picked up & rolled out.

Then, on a surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out into a large rectangle (approx. 8X12). Spread 1 tablespoon of the softened butter over the dough.

Spread the apples over the dough, leaving about an inch on all sides. Then, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over apples.

Why don’t you go ahead & turn your oven up to 400 right now, that way it will be heated enough to put the rolls in when you’re ready.

Mix the granulated sugar, water, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a pot & cook until dissolved. Pour this mixture into a shallow baking dish.

Starting with the longest end, carefully start rolling up the pastry. When you’re done, you should have what looks like a 12 inch long tube – not a VERY fat stumpy 8 inch log 🙂 Slice the roll into 1 inch pieces, and place them in the baking dish with the sugar mixture – apple side up. Spread the remaining butter on top of the rolls, and then bake them for 30-35 minutes.

These would be great served with some heavy whipping cream or a spoon of vanilla ice cream!

Have a Marvelous day!

Quick Dinner Recipes – Easy to Cook and Delicious to Eat!

Country Farmhouse Kitchen

Don’t let the constant nagging question of “What’s for Dinner” get you down! For today… you shall conquer!
(sorry got a bit carried away 🙂

I wanted to share this quick dinner recipe that will give you that… cooking in the kitchen all day feeling – while only spending a few actual minutes of your time preparing your family’s evening meal 😉

This is a great “toss it & forget it” kind of comfort food, and it’s so easy & delicious! You could easily toss the ingredients together before leaving for work in the morning, and then you can think about other things besides running around the kitchen when you get home! It would also be a great choice for your Sunday dinner. Just toss everything in the crock pot before you leave for church, and when you get home, you’ll have a wonderful meal waiting for the family table.

Creamy Italian Chicken & Broccoli


1 packet of Italian Salad Dressing mix (usually comes in 1.7oz packets)
2 1/2 Cups of water
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bag frozen broccoli (or 2 cups of fresh steamed)
8oz cream cheese
1 can of cream of chicken soup

Place first 3 ingredients in a crock pot and cook all day on low – or 4 hours on high.

One hour before you’re ready to eat, remove the chicken and add the cream cheese & soup to the liquid in the crock pot. Whisk everything together, then add the broccoli and chicken (can shred the chicken if you’d like) and allow to simmer for the last hour.

Ideas for Serving

If you have quick dinner recipes that you’d like to share, send them in!

– Serve over rice or your favorite type of pasta – (you can prepare a larger batch at the beginning of the week, that way you’ll have enough for 2-3 meals)

– Great with a fresh green salad, or some sliced garden fresh tomatoes on the side

– This meal freezes very well after it’s cooked, so you could make a double batch and freeze half for a future meal! This will help you save both electric and time, as well as help you keep the heat out of the kitchen during the summer months!

Easy Fruit Cocktail Cake Recipe – and a new friend in the cottage garden

Orange Salamander on Pink Flowers

My granny used to make this wonderful recipe for us. This is a very simple cake using a can of fruit cocktail and a few other ingredients – and it is unbelievably moist & delicious!

2 c. unsifted flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 scant tsp. soda
Pinch of salt
2 beaten eggs
1 (1 lb.) can fruit cocktail
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flour, sugar, soda, and salt. Add remaining ingredients. Beat well. Bake in greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan at 300 degrees for 50 minutes. While cake is hot, pour icing over it. This cake freezes well. If cake batter looks thin, add a little more flour. Some fruit cocktail has more juice than others. Ice with Fruit Cocktail Cake Icing.

1 stick butter
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 c. coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Cook together the ingredients. Pour over cake as soon as you take it out of oven.

*Pictured above – a new little friend in our cottage garden! I was coming out of my front door, and there he was… this beautiful little orange salamander having a peek around the garden! We couldn’t resist this little photo opp before sending him on his merry way 🙂

Delicious Summer Pasta – and new visitors to the cottage garden

Salad Mix

This is a quick, easy, cheap, come back for seconds family dish!

Pasta salad is the perfect side dish for any summer meal! You can also change the recipe very easily by tossing in any of your favorite ingredients right from the cottage garden!

Cook your favorite kind of pasta while you’re making the sauce to save time! (we like using small pasta such as angel hair or bow-ties)

* Feel free to double the recipe – or add your own favorite ingredients 😉

While your pasta is cooking, mix together the following ingredients & let sit until pasta is done.

4 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2-3 cloves pressed garlic
1 can sliced olives (I prefer mushrooms)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
Add salt & pepper to taste

Top your pasta with this delicious sauce & be prepared for seconds 😉

Some ideas for extra favorite things to add:

– Cheese bits (or freshly grated parmesan cheese)
– Diced green, yellow, red, or hot peppers
– Broccoli
– Beans
– Sugar snap peas
– Celery
– Onions
– Chicken
– Pepperoni
– Bacon

I know your family will enjoy this one!

I also wanted to share some of the newest guests to our bird feeder with you!


I call this little guy Fred 😉
I thought he had a piece of string tied to his tail! It took several days of seeing him at the feeder to realize that his little leg was broken. He gets around very nicely – even though he is “disabled” 🙂

My Friend Fred - At the bird feeder

My bird feeder gets lots of traffic! This wild turkey is our latest guest 🙂 Don’t forget… although we have several acres of land surrounding our cottage in the woods, we do live in a little Victorian village! Nice to see such a variety of “guests” come out even in the village 🙂

Wild turkey at the bird feeder

Easy Noodle Casserole – A Warm Dish for These Cold Winter Days

As you can see by the picture, we had another 4 inches of snow fall last night. Although we (well – my hubby) have to work to clear a path for walking – as well as our driveway (750 ft long), it is so beautiful to look at! We love looking out the windows to see the trees dressed with piles of freshly fallen snow. I feel like we’re in our very own winter wonderland!

Because we are “very” used to having snow this time of year, the kids hardly ever have a snow day (last year I don’t think we even had one!). So… things continue on as normal.

I wanted to share a little recipe with you that we had for dinner this week. It’s a warm hearty meal – great to have on Winter days like these.

Noodle Casserole (Some people call it lazy pierogi)

As in every recipe that I make, things can be added or removed to taste. This is a recipe that might not have exact measurements – you kind of “feel as you go” 🙂

– One container (2 handfuls) of fresh mushrooms
– One large onion
– 1/2 stick of butter
– 1 27 oz can of sauerkraut
– 2 lbs Polish kielbasa
– 1 lb noodles (I used fettuccine)
– 1 26 oz can of cream of mushroom soup

While preparing the other parts of this dish, cook kielbasa by broiling it in the oven, or BBQ on the grill (which is what we decided to do, because we love that flavor!) Once it’s finished, slice into chunks & put into large mixing bowl.

At the same time the kielbasa is cooking, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain & run under cold water to stop cooking process, then add to mixing bowl.

Clean & slice mushrooms, add to a large skillet to which the butter has been added. Cook over low heat until browned. Remove from heat leaving butter in pan, then add to the mixing bowl.

Add onions to the pan & cook until just tender, then pour in sauerkraut (and juice). Let simmer until juice starts to reduce (this helps the flavors all mingle together). Add all contents of the pan to the mixing bowl.

Warm the can of mushroom soup & an equal amount of milk on the stove or in the microwave – then add to the rest of the ingredients.

Mix all ingredients well, and pour into a large baking pan. You can sprinkle bread crumbs or grated cheese on the top if you wish.

Bake at 375 degrees until brown & bubbly.

This dish is wonderful the first day & even better the next day for lunch!