Monthly Archives: February 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Pretzel Bread

A little while ago I had mentioned that I made some Broccoli Cheddar Soup and some Pretzel Bread, and wanted to share with you since they turned out so yummy.  The Pretzel Bread was found when I was perusing around this cute blog that I recently stumbled upon, The Apron Archives (isn’t that the cutest name?).  I made sure to pin it so I wouldn’t forget about it.  Turns out I couldn’t stop thinking about it and needed to try making some soon.  So I made it to go with a Broccoli Cheddar Soup the other weekend, and the two made for many heart-warming meals.

The bread is a great one for dipping into soups and making sandwiches with.  I think what I like most about it is that it’s a pretty quick and easy homemade bread to make.  Where most homemade breads are nearly an all day process, the process for Pretzel Bread takes only a few hours.  (Your active working time with it is only a fraction of that three hours).  It was fun to make too, as there’s a little excitement when you get to drop your dough into the pot of boiling water.  Now I want to try making pretzels soon. =)

I won’t write out the Pretzel Bread recipe, as you can find it over here and here.  I highly recommend it, especially if you like making bread but don’t like spending a lot of time on it.

::Broccoli Cheddar Soup::

1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 leeks, quarter lengthwise, rinse, then chop
4 garlic cloves, minced
6-ish potatoes, preferably yukon golds, diced
2 large heads broccoli, chopped
1 qt. chicken stock
6-ish c. whole milk
1-2 T fresh parsley and thyme, chopped
grated cheddar cheese

In a hot pot over med-high heat, sauté onions until translucent, about 4-5 min. Add in leeks and garlic and saute another 4-5 min.  Add in the potatoes and broccoli, a pinch of s+p, and let cook and steam until they’re a little tender, about 7 min., stirring frequently.  Sprinkle in the flour, stir and cook for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor.  Pour in chicken stock and let cook until hot, then stir in whole milk.  Let simmer until the potatoes and broccoli are tender enough to eat and the soup has thickened a little.  Ladle about a third of the soup into a blender and puree.  Pour back into pot.  If you prefer a completely creamy and smooth soup, use an immersion blender, take the pot off the heat and puree the soup until smooth.  (For this soup, my hubby and I prefer the chunks of veggies to bite into, so I puree just some of the soup to make it a little more creamy).  Sprinkle in the fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper to taste.  To serve, garnish with a big pinch of cheddar cheese and enjoy.

I love adding the cheese to the soup as it’s dished up and let it melt in the bowl, as I think the cheese flavor just sort of disappears when added into the big hot soup pot.  This is my kind of dinner (and lunch) for all the cold winter days we’re having.  Enjoy!

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Photos of the Week {7} : My Valentines Surprise

I have been laying off the internet ‘play time’ this last week, i.e. facebook, pinterest, and blogging, as a little break from it every now and then is nice. The week was taken up with my husband being sick with a cold, and me being busy making desserts at the restaurant for Valentines Day.  After I got all of the desserts done at work I caught his cold, so we both have been laying low.

I did some nice desserts at the restaurant, which I am so wishing I would have brought my camera in to get some pictures of.  I made a lot of the usuals, Tiramisu, Cannoli, and the (almost flourless, gluten-free) Chocolate Hazelnut Torte.  And for all the sweethearts being treated to a special dining experience, I made some Goats Cheese-Buttermilk Panna Cotta (I loved them, they turned out so nice) that went with a Red Wine Apricot – Black Mission Fig Compote and a Citrus Lace Tuille.  The other special was a chocolate lover’s tart: Chocolate Soufflé Tart in a Chocolate Almond Shortbread Crust with a Godiva Sabayon and Raspberries.  They were also garnished with some pretty little edible flowers.

I would love to get some of these desserts on my blog, but I never bring in my camera to work and I just can’t talk about them and post a recipe without some pictures!  =)  I’ll share some of them on here soon.

Anyway, despite my hubby being sick this last week, he still took me out for a lovely dinner, surprised me with a vase of pretty flowers, and… a very nice and unexpected surprise…

First I must tell you that last Fall we did a road trip down to Yellowstone N.P., Grand Teton N.P., and Jackson Hole, WY.  In Jackson I made a point to stop in to a very fine chocolate shop called Coco Love.  (There’s a blog post here on the shop if you’d like to see more pictures).

In this sleek little modern shop are some fine pastries, coffee, gelato, and fine chocolate truffles of world renowned Pastry Chef and Chocolate Master, Oscar Ortega.

I didn’t leave there without indulging in some amazing chocolates, my favorite was the Goats Milk Caramel Truffle- amazing!

Anyway, this last week my husband surprised me with some special Atelier Ortega chocolates for Valentines…

And a surprise it was!  We have been enjoying the divine flavors and amazing velvety textures of these fine chocolates over the week.

They’re so pretty, they make for a great photo subject too.

Well, there’s three left which I must go take care of right now.  =)

Great job to my husband, and many hugs and kisses!

 

Photos of the Week {6}

Jackson and Ava, our furry buddies who are brother and sister but think that they are boyfriend and girlfriend, once again had a wonderful weekend full of running and playing their hearts out.  We are doggy sitting Ava again, so the two have ran and played like you wouldn’t believe.  Day one included them playing and wrestling in the back yard for at least eight hours, non-stop.  Today they finally tired out and I managed to get these sweet pics of them, very carefully, as although it looks like there was a sweet cuddly nap here for a while, it only lasted about two minutes.  I had to use some creativity here to get the camera in time and get a shot of them looking so sweet and innocent right before they looked at me and moved.  They are little busy bodies, but so cute and sweet.

I *will* start to get more interesting and exciting pictures to share for my photog project!! =)

Pretty Off Piste

My creamy cabled Off Piste hat is done.  It is very soft, comfy, and cute, what more could you want in a hat?  Aimee, owner of Knit N’ Needle Yarn Shoppe, really did an awesome job designing this.  The pattern is super fun and pretty easy.  I made this with Malabrigo Twist in Natural and just love that yarn.

So I had to settle for the self portrait thing for now.  I might add on a better picture later, but couldn’t wait to share…

Lately I have really developed a love for cream + cables.  I love them together, so soft and winter-y and the natural color makes the cables really stand out.

My thing for white/cream combined with cables started earlier this winter when I was watching the movie The Holiday.  There is a beautiful cabled cardigan (cashmere of course) that Cameron Diaz wears when she’s in the little (oh so perfect) English cottage and meets Jude Law’s character.  I instantly fell in love with it and googled it for a pattern to make one just like it.  I was surprised and so happy to find the Fireside Sweater that mimics Cameron’s cardigan.  There’s a beautiful Fireside Sweater on Posh Knits.  Mine will look just like that.  =)  Isn’t it the perfect winter cardigan?  Maybe I’ll be super ambitious and tackle that for my March project.  Heck, I better start on that now if I want to finish by the end of March.

Even though I finished this in February, I’m still calling it my January knit for my Knit 12 in 2012 project, along with the cowls.  I have three weeks for a February project, and I’m still stuck on hats!  I almost want to make another Off Piste but somehow make it a little chunkier.  So I have a fetish for hats.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve made up my mind on what to make this month, I’ll be back soon to show you the work in progress. =)

::Ravelry:: project page here.

Whiskey Barbecue Sliders

There have been quite a few recipes I’ve seen on some good blogs and websites lately that just got stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away.  So I gave in and cooked them up to enjoy over the weekend and for the Superbowl.  I ended up making a pot of Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Pretzel Bread, some cookies (of course), and these Whiskey BBQ Sliders.  I want to post the soup and Pretzel Bread later but for now, it’s all about the whiskey and the barbecue.

I first came across the Sliders over at Taco Tuesday and they totally caught my eye and made my mouth water, so I checked ’em out over at Pioneer Woman too.  With the jalapeños, whiskey, and a whole lot of barbecue sauce I was sure that my hubby would be excited for this dinner.  Ended up that he was, so much that he got in the kitchen to cook with me. =)

He loved how the entire house smelled while they were cooking too, “The house smells awesome right now, if there was a cologne that smelled just like this, I’d want it… I want to grab all my clothes and hang them up out here so they’ll smell as good as the house does right now.”  So funny, I’m not sure he loves that I blog about his comments, but I get a kick out of them.

We made them more like small-ish burgers, but I like to call ’em sliders anyway, it just sounds more exciting.  I love that they’re so saucy, and the sautéed onions add flavor and more texture in the sauce, the jalepenos and whiskey add a little kick.  Next time though I’ll use the ‘hot’ jalepenos rather than the ‘tame’ ones, maybe just chop them up to add into the sauce.  Sweet potato fries dipped in blue cheese dressing go great with these too.

I think this will be a sort of regular dinner around here.  Its fun to have a new way to cook up some of the beef in the freezer, and one that’s really quick and easy too.  I know you want the recipe now, it’s right here and here.  Oh and don’t forget, you’ll need heaps of napkins for this.  =)

Photos of the Week {5}

I’ve come to realize that my Photo of the Week project is a good indicator of how much I got out during that week.  And if I did get out a little, I didn’t have my camera.  I guess it’s just a sign of a little case of hibernating and some mid-winter blues, and too many gray winter days.

The sun did finally come out last week though, and I always enjoy a pretty winter tree and seeing how they take on different looks through the seasons.  I love blue skies, sunshine, and pretty ice and frost crystals covering the branches.  Sometimes you have to just stop and appreciate the small things.

Oh, and we can’t forget the ‘photo puppy’, as my husband likes to call him.  He is well-photographed. =)  And it turns out that bright sunlight, white snow, and a black dog that is always moving all provide for some good practice in getting the exposure just right with the camera in manual mode.

Our best buddy Jackson, happy as a clam laying in the snow with his raw hide…

This guy is awesome.  He is our kid, the best buddy, a great hunter, and just so darned cute, smart, loyal, obedient, fun, funny, energetic, and so full of personality and character.  I feel like we have had him for so much longer than we have.  He has totally found his way into our hearts.

Oh and while I’m sitting here, he weasels his way to sit under the desk, right by my legs, sets his face on my lap and cuts his eyes up at me.  As to say, “Aren’t I cute?  Come on, can’t we go out to walk and play yet?”.  I best be on my way, and get out while it’s nice and sunny.  =)

My Three Cowls

At the beginning of the new year, I made a goal to knit (at least) one item each month for myself.  For my January project, I chose the Off Piste hat, since most of the knitting I did for the month was finishing a couple Christmas gifts.  Oh, and after I finished up the gift knitting I just got the sudden urge to make a few cowls for myself.

The sudden urge, or need, to make these came to me after several days of taking Jackson for walks in cold, windy weather where I about got my cheeks frozen off.  They make a pretty cute accessory, can now serve me well for all practical reasons of staying warm, and they used up some leftover yarn in my stash. =)

And now my Off Piste hat is close to being finished…

I really did want to have it done by the end of January, as I still have to hurry and decide on my February project and get that started.  There are so many things I want to make, it’s kind of hard to decide which to do next!  I might pop back in here over the weekend and show you the few I have in mind, and you can take a vote to help me decide. =)