Sunday, September 15, 2013

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

Rain, rain, and rain. We have had so much rain lately! I love the rain, except that it forces my kids to play inside all day which makes a much bigger mess. Mess = memories so it's all good, right? That's what I'll tell myself anyways. The good thing about this weather is the soup! And bread! And desserts! I am always in the mood for these things when the weather turns colder.

I'm an Idaho girl so I absolutely love potato soups. But I'm also trying to eat a little healthier to make room for all those breads and desserts so I thought I would try this soup out. I had the rough draft of the recipe in my head for the last couple of weeks so when I got two heads of cauliflower from Bountiful Baskets, I knew the time was right. And fortunately I had a huge group of gals to try it out on from my neighborhood. They loved it! Awww, success. I love when my recipes get the thumbs up.

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1-2 heads cauliflower (I used 1 1/2 large heads)
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp chives
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation Instructions

Start by chopping bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sauté bacon until crispy. Spoon bacon onto a paper towel covered plate and pour out most of the bacon fat into a bowl to discard. Save about two tablespoons of fat in pot.
While bacon is rendering, chop onions, carrots, and celery finely. After removing bacon and excess fat from pot, add onion and saute for a couple minutes until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Chop cauliflower pretty small. Don't  worry about making nice florets, just a good rough chop, discarding the green leaves and the core. Add cauliflower and stir to combine.
Cover and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in milk and cook until thickened. Add shredded cheese and mix until smooth.
Remove from heat. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add heavy cream (optional), chives, bacon, and sour cream. Check seasoning and add salt or pepper.

Looking for more comforting soups? Look no further, here they are:
Leeky Potato and Chicken Soup
Tuscan Chicken Soup with Fall Veggies
Fiesta Lentil Soup
Potatoes and Leek Soup

Or try this Italian Oven Roasted Cauliflower.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Herb Crusted Chicken and Pasta in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

It's been a rainy and stormy weekend in Utah. When that happens I always feel like making soup. I decided to make some Baked Potato Soup. That was before I realized I didn't have any bacon. Or cheddar. Or sour cream. I really needed to make a run to the grocery store but it was pouring buckets outside so I turned to a different kind of comfort food. Pasta.

I absolutely adore this dish. It's warm and flavorful and comforting. Everything that's needed on a stormy evening, or a warm evening, or any evening. It's absolutely delicious!

Herb Crusted Chicken and Pasta
in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken breast (sliced in half for thin cutlets)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dried bread crumbs (I used a mix of regular and panko)
3 tsp Italian herb seasoning, divided
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 tomato, diced
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese (1/3 fat kind works well), cubed
1 cup 5 cheese Italian blend
2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp fresh chives or 2 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta (any kind works, I like penne)

Cook pasta according to package directions. If the pasta gets done before the rest of the meal, toss it with a little oil or butter to keep from sticking.
Place bread crumbs and two tsp Italian herb seasoning in a dish (loaf pan works well) and mix.
Place milk and egg in a separate shallow bowl and mix well.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat.
Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.
Cook chicken in skillet until browned and cooked through flipping halfway through (about ten minutes). Remove and keep warm (I put it on a plate and in the microwave but don't turn it on.) Do the chicken in two batches adding more butter and oil to the pan if necessary. Resist eating a chicken breast straight out of the pan like I did. They are seriously yummy even without the decadent sauce.
In the same skillet, add garlic and saute for approximately 1 minute. 
Add chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to loosen browned parts from the pan.
Stir in cream and cream cheese and bring to a boil and stir for one minute making sure to stir out any lumps of cream cheese.
Reduce heat to low; add Italian cheese, basil, chives, 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning and a dash of salt and pepper, stir sauce and cook until heated through and thickened. (about 5 minutes)
Serve by placing a chicken cutlet over the pasta and then drizzle with the sauce.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homemade Graham Crackers

Road trips. I can't seem to decide if I love or hate them. We just went on one with my two kiddos and my parents a couple of weeks ago. I still can't decide if I love them or not. I do love to travel and spend time with the family though.

In preparation for this road trip I made lots of travel snacks. I loaded up on homemade fruit leather, dried fruit, oatmeal raisin cookies, granola bars, roasted chickpeas, and these graham crackers. When I procrastinate cleaning or packing or anything really, I bake. So we had lots of snacks. I had lots more that I wanted to make but the house wasn't going to clean itself.

These were the favorite by far of all the snacks. My mom even asked for the recipe after we got home and that's a big deal. You'll love them too, I know it. They are far more flavorful than store bought graham crackers and better for you. The taste is pretty close to gingersnaps, without the ginger. Does that make any sense? It did to me.

Homemade Graham Crackers

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, chilled & cubed
1/4 cup honey or molasses
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor combine flours, wheat bran, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add cubed and chilled butter to the mix and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Add honey/molasses and water and continue to mix until it all combines. Place dough in the fridge for two hours.(Clean house during this time.) Flour work surface and rolling pin or spray with cooking spray. Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies on a baking mat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool and serve.

To Freeze: After cutting cookies, place the cut out cookie shapes on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Remove, place in a Ziploc bag, label and freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, add 1-2 minutes cooking time. You can also freeze the cookies after you have baked them.

Adapted from Weelicious