Soup’s On (and on again, I predict)

Today I learned something that will SAVE time! Yep, and it will also help to purge your post-Thanksgiving refrigerator clutter. Well, the bird clutter anyway. You can make creamy, Panera-style wild rice soup with leftover turkey…wait for it….IN THE CROCK POT!

On Pinterest, I found about a gazillion recipes for leftover turkey: casseroles, sandwiches, stir fry, and even quesadillas and turnovers. They all sounded good, but what I really wanted was some of Panera’s Chicken Wild Rice soup. Sounds good, doesn’t it?  There were a few “turkey wild rice soup” recipes on Pinterest, but none that looked to my own liking so I pulled from 6-7 different recipes for both turkey wild rice soup and creamy chicken wild rice soup and slow cooker creamy chicken rice soup and the results were DELICIOSO!

Take a gander at this (pardon the turkey pun,  I love puns!):


Jen’s Slow Cooker Leftover Turkey Wild Rice Soup

Oh.My.Goodness, was it ever good!

Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup ala Slow Cooker

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boxes (4.2 oz) Rice-a-Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (I bought pre-shredded!)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 chopped green onions (both white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled bacon (oh, yeah!)
  • 2 cups roasted, chopped turkey (use leftovers!)
  • 2 cups half & half (could also use heavy cream for even creamier soup)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary

Directions: Combine chicken stock, water, rice (with seasoning packets), carrots, celery, onions, and bacon in crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours, give or take. About 35 minutes before serving, melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in flower to make a roux.  (Isn’t ROUX a cool, Cajun-ey word? A roux is a butter-flour sauteed mixture that will thicken up your soup and make it CAH-REAMY!) Mix the roux (I just love saying that) into the crock pot along with the turkey and half & half and turn up the heat to high. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the soup is thickened.  Serve with new little sprigs of fresh rosemary (just so it looks pretty), and–this is a must–some crusty French baguette.

This will make a lot of soup. Our family of five (including 3 guys over the age of 13) ate about half of the recipe, which filled my jumbo slow cooker up to the top.  I was able to completely fill up a 7-cup storage container nearly to the brim, so I am thinking the recipe would probably serve 8-10 people all told.


Leftover soup for the freezer

I am going to pop my leftover soup in the freezer and pull it out on a cold, dreary day. You can either thaw it completely and then heat it on the stove or in the microwave, or, if you can free the frozen hunk of soup from the container, you could also just heat it from frozen and add a little water to prevent the cream from burning.

Everyone at my house loved this soup. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and it’s so easy (and freezer-friendly), not to mention cheap if you’re using leftover turkey or chicken, that I think it’s going to get added to my regular starting lineup.



Butter IS better!

Happy pre-Halloween weekend, everyone! It is a yearly tradition at our house to roast the pumpkin seeds we are able to rescue from the slimy guts of our carved jack-o-lanterns. Every year I make 2 or 3 different flavors, depending upon how many seeds we can harvest. Usually we make one batch of plain (olive oil and kosher salt), one batch of pumpkin pie flavor (vegetable oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice), and one batch of pizza flavor (spicy pizza-flavored seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil). I am always tweaking the seed recipes and each year they’re pretty good. But not quite perfect. I have never been able to figure out what’s keeping those little beauties from being all that they can be….UNTIL NOW!!!

This year, on a whim, I decided to substitute good ‘ole BUTTAH in for the oils I usually use. In my mind, roasting requires oil. Not sure why. In any case, I my mind was sooooo wrong: today I learned that using butter in place of olive or vegetable oil when roasting pumpkin seeds makes the seeds taste better and come out more crisp and flavorful!

Here are the glorious results of my experimentation:


This year’s batch of flavored roasted pumpkin seeds


Here’s a close-up of each flavor, along with the ingredients I used. They were all delicioso!

Kettle Corn Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe



  • 1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions: Bake at 300F  for 40-50 minutes.




Garlic Herb Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe



  • 1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions: Bake at 300F for 40-50 minutes.




Plain (Butter & Salt) Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe



  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp (or more) salt

Directions: Bake at 300F for 40-50 minutes.





I have to say that of all of these flavors, I liked the kettle corn flavor the best. The garlic-herb flavor was good, but I think I might have liked it better if I had sprinkled in some Parmesan cheese before baking. The plain is always good – hard to beat.

If you are roasting pumpkin seeds for the first time, keep in mind it’s best if you rinse them off in cold water, pat them dry a bit with paper towels, spread them out on cookie sheets lined with waxed paper, and let them dry for at least 6-8 hours. When I do this, it seems to make them more crisp. Don’t worry about getting every single string and glob of goo off of the seeds, though. I find that a few bits and pieces of pumpkin guts give the seeds a little more flavor. You don’t want too much goo, though, or the seeds will be hard to mix up with the flavors and roast.

Do any of you have favorite pumpkin seed recipes? I’m always looking for new flavors to try. From now on, though, I’ll be trying all of my new flavors mixed with BUTTER! Yum.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake Mix Cookies (a.k.a., Whatever’s Left in the Pantry Cookies)

I wanted to make some cookies for the boys today, but I noticed that I was out of flour and a few other things I’d need. Amazingly enough, I did have a box of chocolate fudge cake mix left in the cupboard. I’ve made chocolate chip vanilla cake mix cookies before (LOVE them – so sweet, rich, and soft every time!) so I just used the same amounts of eggs and oil as always and tossed in a few new items.

They turned out really delicious! The recipe’s below and you should seriously try them sometime. Yum!


Chocolate Oatmeal Cake Mix Cookies


  • 1 pkg (18.25 oz) chocolate (fudge or devil’s food is extra yummy!) cake mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oats (I used old fashioned because I love the texture, but you can also use quick-cooking oats)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

*Feel free to toss in anything else you have in the pantry, such as 3/4 cup of nuts (maybe walnuts or pecans? or macadamia nuts?) or 1/2 cup of raisins or craisins — OR WAIT RIGHT THERE……1/2 cup of dried cherries might be really good with the chocolate cake mix and white chocolate chips. Definitely trying that next time!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine eggs and oil and beat. Add cake mix and oats and mix until combined and moistened. Fold in whatever else you’re adding (I added white chocolate chips this time). Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets (or lightly greased ones) for 10-12 minutes. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets and then transfer to a different surface to cool. Recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on their size.



Mmmmmm, so soft and chewy!