Ho Ho Hello!

Original Santa Watercolor Painting by Jodi McKinney 11×14

Ho Ho Hello!

Popping in with a Ho Ho Hello
and this plump and jolly ole’ elf
Santa watercolor painting.

Hope you all are doing well.

I’ve been busy at work
and busy having fun with my grandie girls and family.

I’ve also been splashing about a bit in my art room
and decided to paint this chubby guy for the holidays!

Because you know…..
Nobody likes a skinny Santa!”

Cheers & Hugs,


Comfort Food & Best Friends: Homemade Potato Soup & Crusty Bread

My BFF was coming for dinner one night this week, and I wanted to make one of her favorites.  Jill loves creamy potato soup, especially on these cold winter evenings, so I was excited to make it for her to enjoy for dinner with Marty and I since her hubby is out of town.  How lucky for me to get to have extra time with her!!!

HoI found a recipe for Crockpot Potato Soup and thought that would be perfect – I could prep it in the morning, let it cook while I work, then finish it up after work and enjoy the evening with Jill.

So I started peeling and dicing the potatoes.  The recipe called for 3 to 3 1/2 lbs, but I decided to double it to assure there would be plenty leftover for Jill to have for the rest of the week to take for lunch or have for dinner at home.

potato soup 1

And as a side note:  Marty would be so proud that I actually used the vegetable peeler tool to peel all 7 lbs. of potatoes!  What a hassle!  I usually just use a paring knife to be quicker, but I do waste an awful lot that way…   I had a bag of red potatoes and several loose russet and Yukon Golds.  I used every single one of them.

potato soup 2

Then I chopped two wonderfully large sweet Vidalia onions.   I’m not the best chopper/dicer.  I just don’t have the patience to “finely” chop or dice.  Marty and Jake are so much more precise.  I like to refer to my style of chopping as “rustic.”  Doesn’t that sound so much more artistic and purposeful than “too lazy to bother?”  🙂

Next the recipe called for chicken broth.  I didn’t have any canned or boxed, but I did have chicken base, which makes a wonderful and much less expensive broth.

potato soup 3

Since I was doubling the recipe, I needed 10 cups of chicken broth.

potato soup 4

Well – I have a pretty large crockpot, but wasn’t thinking straight (Disclaimer:  it was like 7:30 am, and I was only on my first cup of coffee), so 7 lbs. of diced potatoes and 10 cups of chicken broth…. well – not happening in the crock pot…. And there was more to add….

The recipe didn’t call for garlic, but c’mon – what savory dish doesn’t taste better with some freshly minced garlic in it?  Again – note the “rustic” mincing job I do with my garlic…

potato soup 7

And just because I had it – – and because it is yummy – – – I wanted to throw in some fresh “rustically” chopped rosemary and sage.  Oh the wonderful aroma!!!!

potato soup 8

So before I had a huge mess, I dumped it all in a LARGE pot – way too large – but whatever – it fit – and too big is better than too small (for soup pots)!

potato soup 6

Next – the recipe called for a cup of evaporated milk.   I had one can.  I needed 2 cups (doubling – remember?)  One can does NOT equal two cups….

potato soup 5

… so I just filled the remaining half cup with Half and Half.  I dumped poured it in the pot, then added a dash of salt and pepper.

According to the crockpot recipe, this is all to simmer on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours…. I put a lid on the pot, set the burner to simmer, and it only took about an hour of simmering for the potatoes to be fully cooked and soft.  So it just sat there (and the flavors melded) for the day once done.

After work, when I was ready to finish the soup, I melted 2/3 cup butter in a medium saucepan.  Once melted, I whisked in 2/3 cup flour and cooked for a couple minutes.  I then whisked in 4 cups of the potato soup broth.

potato soup 9This was then added to the big pot and cooked for about 10 minutes.  While that was cooking, I fried up a pound of sliced bacon, chopped a handlful of green onions, and grated some cheddar cheese.

potato soup 10I stirred half the bacon, onion and cheese into the pot, along with a cup of sour cream…

potato soup 11I reserved the rest of the bacon, green onions and cheese for garnishing on top of the soup.

potato soup 13

And because nothing goes better with warm, creamy soup than rustic crusty homemade bread, I made a loaf for dunkin’.  (You can find the recipe for this super-easy, no-knead, three ingredient crusty bread here from a previous post.)

potato soup 12We filled and warmed our bellies, and then……  the best part….. my favorite holiday show was on!  RUDOLPH the Red-Nosed Reindeer!  And I got to watch it with my bestie!

And Jill got to take a big container home to enjoy for the rest of the week.  It was a pretty great Tuesday! 🙂

Here is the recipe (the SINGLE recipe that FITS in the crockpot!) as posted by www.CookingClassy.com.

Make it however you like, add whatever spices you like, substitute whatever you need…. That’s the beauty and fun of cooking!

Yield: About 6 servings


  • 3 to 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 medium potatoes, 8 – 9 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 9 oz bacon, cooked and diced or crumbled
  • 4 green onions, diced


  • To a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, onion, chicken broth, evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or LOW heat for 8 hours (poke potatoes with a fork to check make sure they’re soft).
  • Ladle out 2 cups liquid from soup mixture in crock pot into a liquid measuring cup, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour 2 cups liquid in measuring cup into butter mixture (it will thicken quickly). Pour butter mixture into slow cooker and stir to blend. If desired, mash potatoes with a potato masher to break down into smaller pieces or use an emulsion blender to puree. Cover and cook on HIGH heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn heat off (or to warm), stir in sour cream. Serve warm topped with cheddar, bacon and green onions (you can just mix in those three remaining ingredients into slow cooker or top individual servings).


Cheers & Warm Hugs,


I am submitting this post as part of my #Writing201 Assignment: A How-To How-To – We all have something we can teach others. This week, dig into your bucket of expertise to pen an instructional post.

She said I’m Cuuuuute!

#Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

As I contemplated today’s writing assignment, the first thing that came to mind was Christmas Eve and Holy Supper at Grandma’s House.  It really IS one of my favorite childhood tradition memories.

But I think I will save that for another time.

Then I got a little punchy and thought about writing about when we had Corn on the Cob for dinner when I was growing up.
When we had Corn on the Cob for dinner – that was dinner…
Corn on the Cob…
That’s it…
Just lots and lots of Corn on the Cob…
I liked it…   Thought nothing of it…
Until I got a bit older and found out that people typically serve Corn on the Cob as a vegetable to accompany dinner – not as THE dinner.

But then what kept coming to mind was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Yep.  That’s it!

Waaaayyy back when I was a child (a hundred thousand and fifty some years ago), “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was aired on television ONE TIME each year.

It was usually around the first of December.  (Because way back then, we didn’t start thinking about (promoting/pushing/shoving in your face) Christmas until AFTER Halloween and Thanksgiving.)

So the airing of “Rudolph” marked the beginning of the Holiday season to me as a child.

It ranked up there with the arrival of the J. C. Penney Christmas Catalog in the mail.

But I digress.

We are supposed to be talking about a favorite childhood meal here…  one that was a treat – that marked a celebration.

Well – the airing of “Rudolph” meant a great celebratory “meal.”

It meant Mom would pop a fresh batch of Jiffy Pop Popcorn.  A VERY special treat!


I was mesmerized watching her shake the flat foil-covered pan over the stop top burner until the foil rose, forming a steam-filled crown of buttery puffed corn kernels that smelled like heaven on earth.  It was a rare treat – saved for special occasions such as this.

Salty popcorn

My brother and I would get in our warm footie pajamas after a playful Mr. Bubble bath.  With our hair still wet and our rosey cheeks squeaky clean, we would find our place on the floor in front of the black and white TV with rabbit ear antennae anticipating the excitement of Rudolph’s escapades with the Abominable Snowman, to the Island of Misfit Toys, and back to save the day for Santa!


Along with the heaping bowl of artificial buttered puffed kernels of heavenly goodness, the piece de resistance was the HOMEMADE Hot Cocoa Mom would make with…….. wait for it….. the BEST part of all……. Marshmallow CREME!!!!!!!!


The Marshmallow Creme would cover the entire steamy cup of cocoa so that it would take almost the entire hour of the program for us to be able to drink since it sealed in the steam, but also created the stickiest, most delicious cream mustaches on our upper lips that mingled with the salty delight of the popped corn.


To this day, I still watch “Rudolph’s” first airing on CBS – usually at 8pm followed by “Frosty the Snowman” (which I needn’t watch anymore).

I still make popcorn, and I sing EVERY single song out loud with a huge smile on my face.

I still feel so sad for “Rudolph” when the others make fun of him.

I still feel giddy when Clarice tells him he is cute.

I still feel sad when Mrs. Claus tells Santa to “Eat Papa – Eat – No one likes a skinny Santa!”

I’m no longer afraid of the Abominable Snowman – FINALLY!!!!  (But still freaked out by the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz – SCARIEST movie EVER!)

And I still CLAP with joy when Rudolph saves the day – and the misfit toys.

I can recite just about every line.

I sing every song out loud and proud.

I am strange – aren’t I?

Can anyone relate?

Cheers & Hugs,