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Monday, March 24, 2014

Cheeseburger Soup (The Hard Way)

I'm one of those people that like blog posts that have step by step pictures and go on and on in elaborate detail about how to make (what should be) the easiest recipe. It's so nice to see their nice clean kitchen and stylish glass bowl measuring cups perfectly filled with their perfectly diced ingredients. After reading a recipe I had pinned a while back for "cheeseburger soup", (classy, right?) I decided to try it out. 

Let me set the stage for you. I started this recipe at 12:45 after running to the grocery store and a craft store where I was purchasing much needed supplies to change my front door wreaths from snowflakes to dogwood petals- hopefully before I need to make the things into fall leaves. Lillie-Mae was eating "chichin" from Chick-fil-A (am I the only mom that gets fast food every time we just spend money on food to make at home?). Mindy was taking a nice peaceful nap. The house was clean and I had two hours before I had to go pick up Dallas from school. I should have time to cook, shower, and do laundry then sit down with some cookies and a book!

I got out the crock pot and started calculating how long and what temperature to set it on to be ready by 5:30. The original recipe was made on the stove, (P.S. Prep time should only take 15 minutes) but I only cook things on the stove when I am home alone and even then it's just scrambled eggs. I then started to get out the ingredients: ground beef, carrots, celery, onion, basil, parsley, chicken broth (wait! that's downstairs, let me go down quietly into the basement so as to not wake up Mindy). I start to defrost the meat, but first had to figure out how to separate 1/2 a lb. from a 2.5 lb. block of frozen meat inside a ziploc bag. I decided to throw the whole bag in the microwave until it was defrosted enough to break apart. Do not judge! As I was deciding which skillet most resembled the fancy stainless steel skillet the blogger had used, Mindy let out a blood curdling cry. I thought for sure she was being attacked by a large animal. Alas, she only was upset that a random object- her own hand- had pulled the paci from her mouth. Back to sleep she goes just in time for Lillie-Mae to realize that she wants to go night night with a bottle. Problem is, she hasn't realized that she doesn't get a bottle anymore... I lay her down all the while she is nodding her head and saying "I eat... Bottle... I eat bottle... Mae's bottle..." The cry she let out when I shut her door without meeting her precious demand was enough to wake the neighbors, but most importantly awaken Mindy. I quickly put Mindy in a play seat, but she is not happy that the batteries are out. I brown the meat while singing "Jesus loves me" one hundred times. I got to dicing and using my handheld food processor from Pampered Chef. This is my most favorite kitchen tool besides the microwave. I neatly pack the diced veggies into their own glass measuring bowl. After throwing the half stick of butter in the skillet to melt, I realize that I only need 1 tablespoon. Burning my hand while attempting to grab a half melted half a stick of butter almost made me question if Jesus really loved me. Veggies and spices are simmering and for a moment I imagine I am a chef at Earth Fare demonstrating how to make a fancy dinner for two. Mindy interrupts my thoughts to let me know she is hungry. Now. I feed her and then lay her down on an unmade bed. This reminds me that I need to switch the laundry over. I head to that task and meet the Griffin cat who is quick to tell me that he needs some fresh water. His 8 am refill has became stale. I head back upstairs to start peeling and  dicing potatoes. At this point I just want to throw them in the crock pot and mash them up. However, I am big on presentation, and I want the cheeseburger soup to match the bloggers finished product. Oh yeah, the recipe includes all purpose flour. I cringe at my once healthy reasoning for buying whole wheat, unbleached flour, and hope that my first time using it won't ruin this soup. I melt butter, add flour, and cook until bubbly without catastrophe. Feeling satisfied with my progress, I double check the recipe. At the bottom, as an afterthought that seemed unimportant to the author, is a footnote saying "use 1 lb. ground beef instead of 1/2 lb."... Um... Pretty sure the meat I partially defrosted then returned to the freezer is already refrozen. I'm not going through that process again. If anyone asks, we are slowly becoming vegetarian- subtracting meat from our meals 1/2 a pound at a time. One more check over the recipe reveals I need to add a toxic waste product to my soup... Velveeta. Don't ask me where my hate for Velveeta started, because I don't know. I've never cooked with it. I'm sure it tastes fine- actually I know it does because my friends that (don't) love me serve it in the form of an amazing chip dip at almost every get together we have. But something that turns into a hard rock if left unheated cannot be good to digest. It's fake. As fake as that plastic stuff people call margarine. Ok, long story short, don't use Velveeta. Instead, use sharp cheddar cheese. 



Something else was left off the recipe. In between prep time and cook time should be "clean-up time". I naively think this will be a quick torture, but the dishwasher is full and dirty. Hand washing the tools I first thought necessary is now time consuming enough to knock off my cookie time from the to do list. Flashback: we started this task after twelve and it is now 2:00. How does 15 minutes prep time turn into almost 2 hours?! Now I started the 30 minute process of waking up the girls, feeding, changing diapers, and buckling them in the car so they can say the whole way to pick up Dallas, "Bubba... Buuuuubaaaaaa.... BUBBA!" 

We made a chiropractor visit where I was asked by the doctor after completely failing a strength test, "what have you been doing today..." "Oh, just making soup for two hours." We couldn't leave Ringgold without seeing my grandparents and having a Frosty. After a lovely visit, I had almost forgotten the craziness that happened around noon. The rich smells filled my house making their way to welcome me home in the garage, yet reminding me that I still needed to add milk, cheese, and sour cream. All the way up the two flights of stairs, I was hoping it would somehow go smoothly- Dallas wouldn't see me putting sour cream in, I would measure correctly, everything would melt and blend nicely. Surprisingly... The finale was magical compared to the beginning of the journey. 



And here is Bubba. He proclaimed that this was his third favorite food ever! "First is steak, of course. Second, spaghetti. And third is this hamburger soup that doesn't even taste like a hamburger." 

Cheeseburger Soup: 

Ingredients: 
• 1/2 lb lean ground beef (but really 1lb) 
•3/4 cup celery
•3/4 cup onion 
•3/4 cup carrot
•1 teaspoon basil
•1 teaspoon parsley flakes 
•1 tablespoon butter 
•3 cups chicken broth 
•1/4 cup all purpose flour 
•3 tablespoons butter 
•3/4 teaspoon salt 
•1/2 teaspoon pepper 
•4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
• 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese 
•1 1/2 cups milk 
•1/4 cup sour cream 

Prep Time: Your guess is as good as mine. 
Cook Time: however long or short you need it to be. 

Brown and drain meat. Add meat with broth to crock pot. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Sauté onion, carrots, celery, basil, and parsley until tender. Add to crock pot with salt and pepper. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet then add flour and mix for 3 minutes until bubbly. Add to pot and mix well. Add potatoes. Cook on high for approximately 4 hours. Turn to warm. Add milk, cheese, and sour cream 30 minutes before serving.