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

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quick Orange Beef and Broccoli

Ah, Asian food. My ultimate comfort food. I craved Asian food the entire time I was pregnant with my daughter. Now I'm on a budget and don't get to go out for dinner too often. Sooooo .... I've been making it myself! I love it when I can cook something just as good as any restaurant and I think this recipe fits just right into that criteria. I make this recipe just a little simpler and more economical by using petite sirloin steak that I had the butcher slice up into "fajita" strips. This just makes dinner-time go twice as fast. I had this entire dinner done in 15 minutes flat. That's a win in my book for sure! Especially when there is no sacrifice in flavor.

Quick Orange Beef and Broccoli
Juice of 1 orange
Zest from 1 orange
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup beef broth
⅓ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil
1 lb. petite sirloin steak, very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

Mix the first juice, zest, ginger, soy sauce, broth, marmalade and cornstarch, whisking until the cornstarch is dissolved. Boil the broccoli for just a few minutes, until tender crisp. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the steak and garlic and a bit of salt and pepper, draining off extra fat after a few minutes. Saute until evenly browned. Add the sauce to the pan and stir for 1 minute until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in broccoli and cook for a couple more minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with orange zest and/or scallions.

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Yup, I'm a breakfast fanatic. I make pancakes at least once a week. But I tend to get a little bored with plain old pancakes. I usually make banana pancakes because of the abundance of overly ripe bananas on my counter but this week I made my grandmas Banana Bread so I made these pancakes instead. They are super duper easy which is a must for busy mornings, but indulgent enough to serve on the weekend. Everyone at my house loves them!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup soy (or regular) milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tbsp vanilla

Maple Icing Syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cups butter – melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup milk 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients together. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. (If you don't have coconut oil, use melted butter.) Drop the batter by about 1/4 cup fulls onto the pre-heated/greased griddle and cook until the tiny bubbles start appearing on top, then flip over. (I like using 1/4 cup to make pancakes because it makes the pancakes the perfect size to freeze and toss in the toaster.) These only take a couple of minutes to cook. Serve warm with maple icing.

Here's a bonus tip: Use a pizza cutter to cut pancakes fast. I saw my sister do this a couple years ago for her 5 kids and thought "Holy smokes, that's brilliant!" I've been doing it ever since!

 Looking for more pancakes? Try these:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bars Fantastic

For any of you that live in Utah or have visited Temple Square know that the Lion House has great food! My first experience that I remember of the Lion House was at my grandparents wedding anniversary dinner. They held the dinner there and I remember all the food being incredible! The second time I went was with a church group and we just went for lunch. I was hooked. Now every time I am around Temple Square I have to stop in. They specialize in comfort food and their Chicken Pot Pie is to die for! Fortunately they are not greedy with their recipes and have numerous cookbooks, many of which I own. My newest cookbook of theirs is the Cookies & Sweets book. YUM-O! It's a dangerous book. I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from this book today.

The base of this bar is just like any chocolate chip cookie bar but instead of adding everything into the batter, you layer it all in the middle. Genius! You will love it! Make sure you wrap up half of the pan to take to a friend or you just might eat the entire pan in one sitting.

Bars Fantastic

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits (or caramels cut into 6 pieces each)
1 cup Skor bar bits
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy. With mixer running on low speed, add salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour (in that order). Mix until well incorporated.
Line a 9x13 pan with plastic wrap and spray the wrap. Spread half of dough evenly into pan, the easiest way to do this is by spraying your hands with cooking spray and using them to pat it down. Lift plastic wrap and dough carefully out of pan and set aside. Spray pan with more cooking spray. Spread the other half of dough evenly in pan, again I used my hands. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, caramel bits, and Skor bits. Carefully turn the other layer of dough onto the chips and bits. Press down gently. Sprinkle nuts on top of dough and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, cut and enjoy!

A plate for a friend :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Wow, I have been so busy busy busy lately. I had to kind of put the blog on the back burner. That doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm, just that I haven't been documenting any of it. Sorry. I am back ... for now anyway. August is going to be pretty busy too so we'll see how things go.

If you can't already tell, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It gets outshone most of the time but not in my house. I love healthy homemade breakfasts best and this one can't be beat. It's fast, tasty, and full of good-for-you ingredients that will keep you full till lunch. You certainly don't need to make this in the microwave, I routinely make it on the stove. But the benefit of microwave is I can toss it in a walk away. Always good on a busy morning. The kids love it too. Actually when I pull out the raisins my son kind of whines and says he doesn't want them but then he picks all the raisins out and eats them first. He's a goofy kid.

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 Apple
1 1/2 cups old fashion oats
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup skim milk (or almond milk or water)
1 tsp cinnamon
Sweetener of choice (sugar, splenda, brown sugar, honey, maples syrup: all work well)
1/4-1/2 raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped glazed walnuts (optional)

First, prepare your apple. You can grate it if you don't want big chunks, peel it if you don't want skin, or just do what I did and dice it with skin on. I prefer the chunks of apple. Combine the apple, oats, water, milk, and cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl with a lid. Microwave for 8 minutes. (Make sure your bowl is big, it grows and may overflow if your bowl is to small.) Add your sweetener, I use about 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Add raisins and stir. Top each serving with walnuts. Splash on some extra milk if you would like and enjoy! Double the batch and eat it all week! I do!

Looking for other breakfast ideas? Try:
These Make Ahead Breakfasts (burritos, breakfast hot pockets, smoothies, fritatas, and more)