Tag Archives: Cooking

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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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.  =)

An Award!

Nichole over at Born in the Wrong Century recently gave me the Liebster Award!

Nichole is my cousin who also loves good food, cooking, gardening, and canning, and we both started our blogs at the same time.  After she was tagged with the award, she chose three of her favorite smaller blogs to pass it on to.  I’m happy to be one of her favorites, and she said not just because I am her cousin. =)

Here are the rules to the Liebster Blog Award:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger that present said award to you.
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  4. Present this award to 3 to 5 blogs with under 200 followers that are beautiful, funny, good, and or sparkly.
  5. Let them know they have won by commenting on their blogs.

There are several blogs that I follow and enjoy reading, I have most of them listed on my Inspiration page.

Here are a few of my favorites that I wanted to pass on the blogging award to and share with you, as they fall under the categories of being fun and entertaining, inspiring, educational and informative, and/or my place for a good dose of eye candy:

  • Beauties and the Feast– This is a group of six girls that are friends and love good food, drinks, trying new recipes, gaining a lot of good cooking experiences, and have fun sharing it all on their blog.  There are always new ingredients/themes, recipes, and cooking stories between the six girls.  I went to high school with one of them, so its fun to re-connect several years later through blogging and good ol’ social networking.
  • Lindsey Jane Photography– This one might be pushing it for the award rule of being under 200 followers, she’s got over 900 fans on facebook, and just a lot of fans, friends, and clients from all over.  But this is one photography blog that I enjoy and go to regularly for a good dose of eye candy and inspiration.  Lindsey is a very talented and creative local photographer, and posts regularly on recent photo shoots that she does of engagements, weddings, maternity, babies, and families.  And she did a lovely engagement photo session with my hubby and I!
  • Knitted Bliss–  (Hmm, not sure if there’s less than 200 followers or not on her blog either).  I recently found this fiber arts/knitting blog and now it’s another one I go to for a regular dose of eye candy and inspiration.  Julie is a talented and creative knitter and designer and I love to see what she’s working on and swoon over her beautiful finished knits.

There you have it.  Three great blogs on three of my favorite things: cooking, photography, and knitting.  I hope you enjoy checking them out!  =)

Stocking up on Chicken Stock

Well the beauty and chill of Fall came and set in so quickly, and it feels like winter is just around the corner.  Even though it’s getting colder and darker every day, I have been thoroughly enjoying Fall this year.  The changing weather and colors are so inspiring to be knitting up something wooly and warm, and cooking up something warm and comforting in the evening.

I love making lots of soup this time of year, and always need so much stock for it.  I used to load up on chicken stock from Costco, when they had the Pacific Natural Foods organic chicken broth which came in a box of 6 quart-size cartons, and at a great price.  Costco just quit carrying that and switched to the Kirkland stock, which I don’t trust so much to be so natural and organic.  So I decided to start making my own.  In the last two weeks I’ve made two pots of Chicken Stock and am working on stocking up a lot of it.  =)

One of my favorite things is having homemade soups and stocks in the freezer all winter.  It’s so great to pull out on those cold nights when you don’t feel like cooking but just want something homemade and warm.

I buy whole local Hutterite chickens at the grocery store here, and usually get 2-3 at a time so I always have some on hand.  It’s less than $2/lb this way, and so nice to know where it comes from.



::Homemade Chicken Stock::

(Note: Use one whole chicken (neck and other giblets optional), or if you have a few carcasses and bones, roast them at 350 F. for 30-40 min., then use in stock.  Also can cut the whole chicken in pieces and then set in pot if you’d like to enhance the amount of nutrients and gelatin in the broth.  On thawing: I take the bird out of the freezer, set it in my sink full of cold water, it thaws quickly.  Rough chop all vegetables, and use with or without the peelings.)

1 (4-5 lb.) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
3-4 carrots
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme, and/or parsley
2 bay leaves
1-2 t. black peppercorns
1 T. kosher salt

Rinse the chicken and set in stockpot, whole or cut into pieces.  Toss in the remaining ingredients and cover with 7-8 quarts of cold water.  Bring to a boil on high heat, once it reaches a boil reduce to med.-low so you maintain a gentle simmer.  Skim off the foam/scum off the top often during the first hour and a half of cooking.  Simmer uncovered 4 hours, adding a little hot water as needed to keep everything submerged.

Halfway through the cook time, you can remove the chicken with a tongs from the pot onto a cutting board.  Let it cool enough to touch and peel off all the meat and use this later in soup, pizza, burritos, etc.  Return the carcass and bones back to the pot and finish cooking.

Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof bowl and discard all of the solids.  Cool immediately in an ice bath or fridge, store in fridge for up to 3 days, or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

So far I've got about ten containers like this stocked up =)

Here are a couple more good posts on chicken stock, from The Nourishing Cook and Nourished Kitchen.

At the restaurant I work at, the chef cuts all the whole Sage Creek chickens into the pieces he needs for one of his dinner entrees, then sets all the carcasses on a large baking sheet and roasts them for 40-ish minutes.  Then sets them in a large stockpot and makes stock with the roasted bones.  Whether you do it that way or with it whole, meat and all, it’s bound to be delicious, good for you, and so rewarding.  …And make the whole house smell wonderful!

Enjoy!!

Courgette Favorites :: Stuffed Squash Blossoms


Carrying on with the zucchini theme in the kitchen, I must share one of my absolute favorite things to do with the garden goods, specifically the blossoms from the squash plants.  They’re not the healthiest little treats to make with your garden produce, but a treat indeed, and a good use for the blossoms.

I pluck my squash blossoms and when I have at least a dozen good ones, I fill them with a ricotta-mozzerella cheesy goodness, roll them in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, and pan fry them.  If you have zucchini blossoms in your garden and never end up eating them, and stumble upon this blog post, you’ve got to try it!  They’re even better with a little marinara to dip them in, but I usually am so eager to eat them I don’t bother with heating up the sauce.  =)



::Stuffed Squash Blossoms::

1/2 c. cream cheese, softened
1 c. ricotta cheese
3/4 – 1 c. mozzarella, grated
1/4 c. parmesan, grated (optional)
1 egg yolk, (optional)
1 T. fresh basil, chopped
pinch of s+p

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, ricotta, egg yolk, basil, s+p, and stir in the mozzarella and parmesan.  Use a pastry bag or a quart size ziplock bag, folding the top of the bag over your fingers and spoon in the cheese filling.  Cut the point off the ziplock to squeeze the filling into the blossoms.  (The cheese filling can be any combination of cheeses you like, even using just ricotta and mozzarella works well).

Carefully hold the blossom and pry it open on one end, squeeze the cheese into the blossom.  Have three bowls ready, one with flour, one with 1-2 eggs lightly beaten eggs, and the other with bread crumbs.  (Can always add in a handful of grated parm in w/ the bread crumbs).

Toss the stuffed blossoms lightly in the flour, then the egg, then bread crumbs, one at a time.  When they’re all coated, set in a hot pan evenly coated with olive oil/canola oil.  Let sizzle and get golden brown on all sides, turning carefully every two-ish minutes.  Remove from pan when golden and crisped on all sides.

Enjoy!  And let me know if you have made these before, or if you’re going to give it a try.  =)

Courgette Favorites :: Zucchini Angel Hair Pancake

I’ve been in a zucchini mood lately, which works out well since I’m getting a bit of it from the garden and farmer’s market.  We enjoyed this dish last night for dinner, and though it’s a bit of work, it’s well worth it.  It’s a fun, delicious, Italian dish. I’ve made Zucchini Potato Pancakes before, and those are great as a side in your dinner but this big pancake with angel hair pasta serves well as a main course, and makes really good leftovers.  This recipe was in a Cooking Light magazine I was flipping through while getting my hair done last week.  So I went home, looked it up online and whipped up one big pancake.  =)

The only things I switched up in the recipe was the 1/3 c. flour that is called for, I replaced with 1/4 c. bread crumbs and 1/4 c. flour, and only did a little pinch of baking powder, and did more parmesan.  I also should have used my nonstick skillet but used the stainless saute pan, and rather than flipping it I cooked it til brown and crisp on the bottom then finished it in the oven at 450 for 20-25 min.
Well the food photography was done indoors and at night, so the pics don’t make it look as appetizing and delicious as it was, but this with a little green salad really is perfect!  YUM!  =)

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

I made this soup the other night with our potatoes from the garden, so I can freeze it and have it to pull out for dinner on those chilly winter nights to come.  I’m not so sure any of it is going to make it to the freezer.  Can’t. Stop. Eating. It.  Even with the weather so warm right now, and usually I don’t care for hot soup in the summer, I’ve been enjoying it for lunch and dinner.

So comforting, soothing, heartwarming, creamy, and flavorful.  I basically did Ina Garten’s recipe from my cookbook, Back to Basics, and changed it up a little.



The roasted potatoes and leeks, sauteed shallot and garlic, white wine, chicken broth, parmesan, whole milk, parmesan, and a sprinkling of thyme and parsley all make for the best flavor!  Really, if you plan on making potato soup sometime soon, you’ve got to cook this one up!

::Roasted Potato Leek Soup::

3-4 lbs potatoes, cut in 3/4″ cubes (ideally yukon golds, but I used russets and reds from our garden)
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1/3 c. olive oil
Spread the potatoes and leeks out in a single layer on 3 baking sheets, drizzle well with olive oil and s+p and toss.  Roast at 400 F for 35-40 min.

3-4 T olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c. dry white wine
2 qts. chicken broth
4-6 c. whole milk
4 T. parmesan, grated

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil, add in shallots, then garlic and saute til a few min., then toss in two sheet pans of the roasted veg, setting aside the third pan for later.  Saute only a couple min., pour in white wine and let cook a few min.  Add about 1 qt of broth (enough to make it thin enough to puree).  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture in the pot (or puree batches of it in a food processor).  After it’s all pureed in the pot, heat back up, add in 4-6 c. whole milk (or cream), parmesan, and sprinkle in 1 T. fresh or dried thyme, fresh parsley, and s+p to taste.  Do not let it get to a full boil, but a gentle simmer.  Add in the last baking sheet of roasted potatoes and leeks to the pureed soup, stir up and enjoy! 

We have now pulled out all of our potatoes from the garden, I think I will make another pot of this to have more to freeze.  It is so nice to have homemade soup in the freezer on those winter evenings where soup just sounds perfect, or those weeknights that you just don’t feel like cooking.  =)