Crockpot recipe: Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana

I love Olive Garden. Their Zuppa Toscana soup is my absolute favorite. To be honest, I’m not even sure why I order a meal because I always end up eating a minimum of two bowls of soup and take all of my actual food home. Know what I’m saying?

Not to worry! I have solved all our problems! I have found a crockpot recipe for Zuppa Toscana! I have also tested the recipe…twice. You’re welcome.

Okay so enough chit chat, let’s get to the recipe. I have cooked it both on low and on high and did not have any issues. I also used Kale both times not Swiss Chard.

Zuppa Toscana

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 pound Italian Sausage

3 russet potatoes, slices into wedges then halved

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large white onion, finely chopped

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups Kale or Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped

1 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Brown Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about five minutes. Drain and discard fat.
  2. Combine all ingredients except cream and kale in slow cooker. Cook on low 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.
  3. Add cream and kale to slow cooker, stir and cook until leaves are wilted and warmed through, 20-30 minutes.
  4. Ladle into bowls, serve immediately and enjoy!

That’s it! It’s as simple as that. If I can do it, you definitely can. I hope you like it. Feel free to comment with questions or anything you did to the recipe to make it even better.  Think of all the money you’ll save! Also there are still no updates on my housing situation. Cross your fingers for me!

Microadventures and Me

Wisconsin. Lakes are always just a quick drive away. Hiking, biking, cross country skiing, fishing and canoeing- you name it, we’ve got it.  Plus we have the Packers, good food, great beer and even better people. You can tell I’m a Wisconsinite through and through. I’ve been exploring and “Travel[ing] Wisconsin,” as our state tourism slogan boasts, for all of my 23 years.

I grew up camping with my family who decided a cabin was never quite the right fit because that would be too much commitment to one place.  There are too many lakes to swim, rivers to fish, and trees to climb. Our cabin was a mobile rig that included a boat, a few tents and some air mattresses in the back of a truck. Sometimes we would get a little luxurious and take bikes and a kayak with too.  This idea has fundamentally shaped how I view the world- so many places, so little time. We’ve made our way around exploring not only Wisconsin but national parks and outdoor havens across the U.S. and Canada.

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Me –  majestically looking off into the distance at sunset. Peyto Lake, Banff National Park. Photo cred: my mom.

I studied abroad in college, taking trips every weekend and exploring as much as I could of Liverpool and the surrounding countryside. Once I hopped back across the pond, life seemed a little less exciting. Transitioning from having everything be new and exciting to returning back to the same college town was a little rough. I felt like a piece of me was missing. I wanted the excitement of discovering the best hot chocolate in town or hiking a hill to find an expansive view of a lake far below while the rolling Welsh hills surrounded me. (Pictured above- Connwy, Wales)

In order to fulfill this missing piece, I intentionally started taking microadventures. Microadventures are short adventures that are cheap and close to home yet still fun. I strive to check out new places often. Whether a it’s new restaurant that I’ve lived around the corner from for a solid six months, a new trail during one of my frequent visits to Lapham Peak State Forest, or an adventure across the country, I make an effort to keep exploring and pushing myself to never be comfortable. Some people strive for comfort, I strive for change.

So that’s what I’ve decided to write about in this blog. I will catalogue my microadventures and tell you all about the best beer I’ve had in Milwaukee or an adventure that happened while I backpacked in Ecuador. Or it might be a simple change of perspective on a normal day. I hope to inspire you to take a quick microadventure.  Microadventures are not just for weekends and days off, but it’s about taking on a perspective that allows you to be constantly surprised and never complacent. You may never know what adventure is waiting.

Living that Pet Friendly Life

I want a dog. I have wanted one for as long as I can remember. It might finally happen. Man, I hope it does. I absolutely cannot wait. However, it’s proving to be a much more daunting task than I imagined.

Rent

Unfortunately I have not struck gold since I moved to Baraboo so the first thing that I look for in a new property is the price tag. I am well aware that there are generally pet fees at properties that allow dogs. I also understand duplexes and houses often require yard work and, typically, less utilities are included in the rent. I was willing to make these sacrifices to finally adopt the dog I had been dreaming about since I was three years old.

Availability

I wish that being aware of all these things would be enough. Sadly that is not the case. Properties that are reasonably prices, not surprisingly, get snatched up pretty quickly. Those that don’t seem to be either available too soon or not soon enough. It’s a tough decision when a place is available too soon. Is it worth it to pay that much extra rent when you know rent is about to go up? How nice is the place? Can I afford that before I get my security deposit back?

Size Restrictions

I have always wanted a Golden Doodle. However, some apartments and buildings don’t have enough space and/or yard for me to justify getting a dog that size. No, Doodles are not huge but I also don’t want to force one to live in a smaller space than it would be comfortable with. On the plan B, to Pomsky.

Breed Restrictions

Okay so I find a place that’s affordable, is available at a convenient time and has enough space for a Pomsky, but there are breed restrictions. To be perfectly honest, I would be happy with virtually any dog. I want one that badly. But I had my heart set on a Pomsky and Huskys or anything mixed with a Husky are on the restricted breeds list. I cannot win.

I have not yet made a decision regarding where I will be living. The fact that I haven’t made a decision has me stressed out beyond belief. Should I cave and resign my current lease? What if I don’t and someone else looks at it, likes it and decides to live there and I haven’t found a new place yet? What if I do sign it and then find the perfect pet friendly place?

I have until the end of next week to decide and I’m so sick of looking for places, filling out applications and worrying I could puke. There are a few more options for me to view over the next few days and then it’s decision time.

Cross your fingers for me. I need all the help I can get.

Nine Reminders Every Twentysomething needs to hear

No one is perfect. As a twentysomething looking at other, more experienced adults I sometimes feel like I’m doing it wrong. Well, I’m not. No one is and sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.

In fact, as we try to figure things out there are a few things we all needed to be reminded of.

1. You don’t need to be working your dream job right now.
There is no “right way” to navigate the career world. Yes, that girl you graduated with may seem like she’s kicking ass and taking names, but do you know she loves her job? That guy you heard still doesn’t have a job in his field…he loves his job. Now, that’s not to say people that have jobs in their fields don’t enjoy them. We’re just all at a different place. Some of us are still in school, some are in Americorps, some found out college wasn’t for them and some need a little motivation. Still others are working internships, conquering perfect fit entry level positions or discovering they may need to switch fields. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

2. It’s okay to feel lost sometimes.
You don’t always have to have the answer. That’s what friends and family are for. The answers will come.

3. Your body isn’t 16 anymore, be nice to it.

Maybe don’t order a large fry, a medium will do just fine. Better yet, consider cutting down on the amount of food you eat out and alcohol you consume. You’re body will thank you. Yes, you can still splurge and have fun. I’m not a nazi.

4. It’s okay to say no.
It’s great to be eager and helpful especially as you start your career, but always remember you can say no. Someone else can work those hours. The project will get done. The same rule applies to all areas of your life. If your friends are going out for the night and you just don’t feel like it, say no. It really is okay.

5. Don’t compare yourself.
This is important. You do you. Don’t worry about what Sally or Henry are doing. They aren’t you. Their situation is different. You may not be in a place to buy a house, get engaged or find a new job. Maybe they are. That’s okay. Again, that’s okay!

6. It’s okay to make mistakes and you don’t need to be embarrassed about them.
Adulting is hard. We’re all learning. One of the fastest ways to learn is to make mistakes. When you do, don’t be embarrassed. Learn from it. Ask for help if you need to. We’ll figure it out together.

7. There is no cookie cutter for love.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a hard and fast rule we could all follow to help us find the person we are meant to be with? A girl can dream. In the mean time try to remember what works for you is not what works for someone else.

8. Make sure you communicate.
Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. Speak up when you want something, when you have a question or when someone hurts your feelings. Never assume someone knows something you haven’t told them.

9. You have your whole life to figure things out.
You have time. You’ll figure things out. Take a deep breath and just live a little.

Feel better? I know I do.