Home Cook: Work At Home Mom

Note: Recipe for Heather’s Buffalo Chicken Soup at the end of this post!

Heather Toczek, artist, and mother of two young children, grew up in New York during the canned and processed food era, so for much of her life she thought she hated cooking. Largely, this disdain came from her perception that cooking was simply heating up prepared or processed foods.

I’m telling you, I was queen of reheating processed foods. But I can say after I was living on my own I started trying a lot of new things, and a passion for cooking was born.”

Now Heather loves to cook. So much so that she considers herself an advanced home cook and she actively focuses on trying new recipes (this in direct contrast to her TV Dinner roots). She loves taking the opportunity to make cooking a learning experience for her kids, but aside from that she’s a self-proclaimed “control freak in <her> really small kitchen, so <she’ll> kick most people out.” And Mr. Toczek, she’s looking at you! So, it is fairly clear that Heather is the primary cook in her home, and she’s cool with that.

Hosting on the holidays gives Heather an opportunity to make her slow-cooker green beans on Thanksgiving and slow-cooker ham on Christmas. A pattern emerges, and as she puts it, “What can I say, I like my slow-cooker.”

For a weeknight go-to that leaves her plenty of flexibility when it comes to raising two kids and getting dinner on for her family, she’s got no issues, “Honestly, pasta with jarred sauce. I’m too exhausted most nights to go into anything fancy unless I break out the slow cooker.” I’m pretty sure we can all relate to that solution. Sometimes the taste of no-fuss beats any other flavor around.

 

Above: Silas and Oliver picking apples for Apple Butter Pie, and enjoying some of Heather’s specialties. These two keep her busy in the kitchen!

One of my favorite questions to ask my featured home cooks is in regards to Sunday dinners. As a person who married later in life, I am a big fan of planning and making Sunday dinner (which, in fact, I still did when living solo). To me, Sunday dinner is for going big and cooking for an invisible army, or just having time to try new things.

Heather’s answer to the Sunday dinner question echos my flexible concept around it, “Oh there is a bunch and it depends on my mood and what time of year it is.” Sunday dinner is all about comfort, mood, season and, well, whatever else seems right. She likes to make anything from Pad Thai on the stove, to baked mac and cheese in the oven, to soup in the slow cooker. I’m pretty sure I’d be happy with anything this woman has simmering on a Sunday.

With the diverse skills and tastes Heather discussed with me, I was curious to find out what her favorite food would be. Gold star answer: “I really don’t have a favorite, oh wait, is dessert a food?” Indeed, my dear! Dessert is a food, a passion, a category of might! So…I’m (not so secretly) hoping that in addition to her recipe for Buffalo Chicken Soup (below), she’ll comment on this post with a recipe for her fave dessert. Pictured below: Apple Butter Pie and Cream Puffs. Yum!

 

Heather, with her love of the slow cooker, generously offered up her original recipe for Buffalo Chicken Soup to M Delish Boutique readers. This recipe took shape over many years in her kitchen and soup pot. Please do share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of blue cheese dressing
  • 1/4 cup of wing/hot sauce
  • 2-3 cans of cream of chicken or celery (I will use one of each or 2 celery)
  • I chopped up about 2 cups carrots, 2 cups celery, and 3 potatoes (I eye this)
  • About 2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I find it best to use the leftovers from the night before rotisserie chicken)

Instructions
Place all ingredients into slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 on high.


*UPDATE 2/17/17 – I made this soup with a few modifications as follows, and it was ah-mazing:

16797031_1024419077703143_3327863837115010419_oI used two cans of cream of celery soup. I also didn’t have sour cream on-hand so I ommitted it. I will make it again with sour cream and report on which way we like it best. I also replaced three cups of the milk with two cups of chicken stock. Last week I bought a rotisserie chicken for this soup. I pulled all of the meat off of the bones and used the bones to make stock. I froze the meat and stock and pulled both out before checking this recipe. When I discovered there was no chicken stock in Heather’s recipe, I decided to try it with some stock anyway. It was delicious.

Again, I’ll try it Heather’s way next time and update with our preferred version. The takeaway, however, is that this recipe has some flexibility. One thing I would NOT change: rotisserie chicken is a big plus in this recipe. Great flavor and just the right texture. We used the meat from one whole chicken so this soup was very hearty. I also used larger cut potatoes, and I used 5 smaller russets. If you’re shorter on time, cut the potatoes smaller.


Many thanks to Heather Toczek for sharing her home kitchen with M Delish Boutique readers. If you would like to share your home cooking and kitchen thoughts, please CLICK HERE. Fill out the simple form, leaving blank anything that doesn’t apply to your cooking interests. I will contact you with follow up questions, and I do not publish any home cook profiles without your approval!

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