Tag Archives: food

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.  =)

Homemade Beef Stock

The day before I made the big pot of Beef and Bean Chili, I cooked up a pot of Beef Stock for the first time.  It turned out good, and to my surprise was very easy and very much worth the effort.  Homemade beef bone stock is inexpensive to make, and when made right and with good quality ingredients, it is nourishing and has health benefits as it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, gelatin which is good for your hair, nails, and joints, and glucosamine and chondroitin which is also beneficial for your joints.  There is a good article here at Nourished Kitchen on the benefits and advantages to making your own bone stock.

When I asked the Chef that I work for now for some suggestions on making beef stock, he said roast the bones first, and that he wouldn’t use much for fresh herbs in it, especially if you’re making a lot of it and freezing it for later.  Then if you go to use it later on it would be good to use for just about anything, from a Stir Fry to a big ol’ pot of Chili or Beef Stew, or some gravies and sauces.  He also suggested simmering it down for a long time to a very concentrated stock would be helpful if you are making a ton and your freezer space is limited.  Then when you go to use it, just add water to reconstitute it.

(There’s a little foam on there, you’re supposed to skim off the foam as it simmers, especially in the beginning.  It’s kind of difficult to get an appealing photo of simmering beef stock indoors and at night!)  =)

Well I kind of cheated and made up a quicker version.  I didn’t roast the bones first, I didn’t add in vinegar (which helps the nutrients and minerals to leach out of the bones into the broth), and I didn’t let it simmer for 48 hours.  I just threw my beef soup bones into my stock pot along with chopped yellow onion, garlic cloves, carrots, celery, peppercorns, and filled the pot with cold filtered water.  I brought it to a boil in the evening, reduced it to a light simmer and let it go overnight.  After it simmered for about 14 hours, I strained it the next day, set it in the fridge to cool completely, then took it out to remove the top layer of fat.  Voila, a beautiful and flavorful soup stock!

It was really nice having a stock simmering overnight in the house too, made it feel really home-y.  I woke up a couple times in the night to check on it and it felt kinda like there was really something special waiting for me in the morning, and the house smelled that way too!

I did get some soup bones with all the meat from the yearling we got in the freezer, but for this stock I just stopped in to the local meat processing shop and asked the butcher for some beef soup bones.  The bones have the marrow in them, and the more knuckles the better since those will give you a very gelatinous stock.  It’s so easy to use those soup bones from the butcher since there’s no preparation with them and they are very inexpensive!

It turned out great and made the Chili very yummy.  Next time I’m going to try roasting the bones first, use a little vinegar in it, and let it go for about 24 hours.  =)

…Our furry friend Jackson really appreciates that I grab a bag of the marrow bones to keep in the freezer for him too!

Half of a Beef In the Freezer!

Well our half of a Beef made it to our freezer this weekend.  My husband has a buddy that is a rancher down in SW Montana, and this year he had a few Angus yearlings that he wanted to unload so he asked us if we’d like one.  Of course we would!  My parents split it with us and got the other half.  He gave us a great deal, butchered it, and brought it to the meat processing shop for us.  I’m pretty excited about having over 200 lbs of local Montana-raised, grass-fed Angus Beef!  Our freezer is looking pretty happy.  =)  There will be a lot of fun dinners to make with all of this, so you’ll be seeing some yummy recipes and dishes on here for a while.

Earlier this weekend I sorted out the upright freezer and made room for all the meat.  I stuffed all of my frozen summer vegetables, berries, and fruit on the top, and my containers of homemade chicken stock and some soup in the door.  A couple shelves are stuffed with a lot of elk meat, and the rest is the beef!

And Will has a fun DIY project keeping him busy this weekend, here’s just a preview…


A house for Jackson!  I’m loving it, he started it yesterday and today is almost done with it.  I’m pretty sure it will be the coziest, cutest dog house on the block, complete with a window, trim, and a shingled roof that will never get leaky.  =)

Mission Accomplished: Crabapple Jelly

Mid-season, little fruit

I finally finished making and canning my Crabapple Jelly and I am so excited it is done.  I really have a love-hate relationship with canning and sometimes I feel like I have to move mountains within myself to just do it already.  It is so rewarding when it’s done, but sometimes seems like so much work.

We picked the tart little apples off our tree (btw first time in my life using fruit from our own apple tree!) last weekend and got 15 pounds.

I find it so tedious to clean all of these little guys and get all the juice extracted, but when the job is done it’s so rewarding.  I’m happy I now have 9 jars of jelly for the pantry, which has just run out of jam and jelly since I haven’t canned any this year.  And the jelly has the most beautiful, brilliant pinkish-red color.

::Crabapple Jelly::

7 c. juice from crabapples
9 c. sugar
1 package Sure Jell pectin

I followed the instructions from the Sure Jell packet for Crabapple Jelly, thus boiling the mixture for 1-2 minutes.  Mine ended up a little thin and didn’t set up enough, so I would add on another 1-2 min.  Follow canning instructions on the packet.  I filled jars to 1/8″ and boiled in water bath for 7 minutes.

My cousin helped me realize that I can just open one jar at a time and boil it for a couple minutes then return it to the jar and set in the fridge so it will set up more, rather than pour all of the jars into the pot and re-can all of them.  Easy enough!

Anyway, it’s very good and the perfect combination of tart and sweet.  The color is so brilliant and pretty.

Happy canning!

Courgette Favorites :: Fried Zucchini

Can I think of any more not-so-nourishing ways to eat this vegetable??  Well probably, but we won’t go there for now.  My mom always made fried zucchini when I was growing up and I love it.  I don’t deep fry it, and neither did she, but we do a bread crumb coating and pan fry it.  They’re so good as a part of dinner or a little appetizer.  I made a lot of them last night and they’re pretty darn good the next day as a leftover snack too.

::Fried Zucchini::
1 c. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. bread crumbs
1 or 2 large zucchini, 1/2″ thick slices
optional:
1/4 c. grated parmesan

With three bowls set out, fill one with the flour, one with two eggs, and one with bread crumbs (and parm if using).  Season the flour or the bread crumbs with s + p.

Roll each slice in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs, and set on a baking sheet or plate.  Heat a large saute pan (non-stick, cast iron, or stainless) over medium heat, coating the pan with about 1/4″ of olive oil/vegetable oil.  When oil is hot and a pinch of bread crumbs gives a good sizzle, set the coated zucchini in the pan.  Don’t over crowd the pan, cook them in two batches if you have a lot.  Let sizzle and brown, about 5-ish min. on each side.  Only turn over once.  Line the same baking sheet or plate with paper towels and set fried zucchini on it to cool.  Each slice is done when it’s golden brown on each side, and if you press on the center a little and it’ll give.

Tips:
–Use one hand for rolling the slices in the dry ingredients and the other for the wet egg layer, to minimize fingertip clumpage.
–1/2″ thick slices work best, firm on the outside and tender in the middle.
–When removing from pan and setting on paper towels, set the recently-cooked-side down, rather than turning over, so that the oil doesn’t soak back into the zucchini, but runs down into the paper towel.

These are served best with a little marinara or some aioli, but also just right without any dressing.  Cheers!

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!  =)