Sunday, May 22, 2016

Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup with Blue Cheese


I don't know how I ran across this recipe but I'm so glad I did!  I've said before that I'm really bad about thinking outside of the box.  Never in a million years would I have come up with the idea of adding blue cheese to this garden soup.

I started to follow the recipe found at Food.com, but changed a few things.  The main change was to omit the half-and-half.  Don't get me wrong, it would still be fabulous, but leave it out and you have an extra-healthy, low-fat, high-fiber soup.  It was so tasty that I just left the H&H out.  Also, the original recipe calls to blend the soup once the vegetables are tender.  I like it chunky, so I left out the step.  In both instances, your choice.  But taste it to the last direction I've posted and then  you decide if you want to add the dairy.

CREAMY BROCCOLI CAULIFLOWER SOUP with BLUE CHEESE (4 servings)

2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced medium
1/2 bunch broccoli, stems removed and broken into florets
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets
about 6 baby carrots or one medium carrot, sliced or chopped
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/4 shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half, optional

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter; add shallot and saute for 3 minutes.  Add flour and whisk briefly to form a roux.  Slowly whisk in broth.

Add potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and spices.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all veggies are tender.

Optional: Using an immersion blender/blender/food processor; puree to desired consistency.

Return to pot over medium-low heat and stir in cheese (and half-and-half, if using).  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve.

Recipe Adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/creamy-broccoli-cauliflower-soup-with-blue-cheese-156415

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Orange Beef and Veggie Stir Fry


I've mentioned before we're not big beef eaters here.  But a couple of times a year I just get a craving.  I usually want either the traditional Swiss steak or an Asian stir fry.  I was scrolling through one of my favorite food blogs the other day when I ran across this recipe and just happened to have everything on hand (except the beef), and it just so happened to coincide with my semiannual beef-craving-day.

I made the baked brown rice (also found on her website) to serve the stir fry over.  Perfect one-plate dinner.

ORANGE BEEF and VEGGIE STIR FRY (4 servings)

1 tsp freshly-grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp beef bouillon granules (or 1 cube beef bouillon, crushed)
12 oz skirt or flank steak (I used Round Top Round Steak because it was about $4/lb cheaper)
2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
4 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips or diced
1/4 cup water

In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest and juice, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, and beef bouillon.  Set aside.

Thinly slice the beef across the grain.  Lightly S&P the beef slices.  Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot.  Add the beef in a single layer.  Cook over medium-high heat until just cooked through, flipping and stirring occasionally.  Remove the beef to a plate or bowl.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan.  Add the green onions and garlic.  Cook for one minute, stirring constantly until fragrant.  Add the chopped broccoli, carrots, and red peppers.  Stir to combine.  Add the water, cover the skillet, and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2-4 minutes.  Stir in the cooked beef.

Whisk the sauce to recombine and stir it into the skillet.  Toss the meat and vegetables to coat in the sauce and cook the mixture at a simmer until hot and the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/orange-beef-and-veggie-stir-fry/

Friday, May 13, 2016

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies


A friend asked me a few weeks ago if I would make some peanut butter cookies for her.  It has been years since I've made PB cookies so I went to my go-to recipe source (AllRecipes) for a traditional recipe.

I haven't made them because it's one of the few cookies Jim just doesn't really care for.  But when I made them, I remembered it's one of the few that I do like.  If you are a peanut butter cookie fan, this is the recipe you'll remember from your mother and grandmother.

A note:  I would suggest going to the link below and reading some of the reviews for the recipe.  Many of the people suggested adding additional flour and peanut butter.  I did end up adding 1/4 cup each.  I'll post the recipe as published on the website.

CLASSIC PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES (makes 2-3 dozen cookies)

1 cup butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (1 1/4+ for me)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups AP flour (2 3/4 for me)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 baking soda

Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl; beat in eggs.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Refrigerate dough 1 hour or overnight.

Roll dough into 1" balls and put on baking sheets.  Flatten each ball with a fork, making a crisscross pattern.  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Recipe Source:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/10275/classic-peanut-butter-cookies/?internalSource=search%20result&referringContentType=search%20results

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Balsamic Guacamole


Again, I'm not good about thinking outside the box.  But when I see a different twist on a traditional twist, I'm gonna try it.  Case-in-point: Guacamole.  Instead of using lime as the acid, you use balsamic.  And a bit of kosher or sea salt.  Nothing else.  Who'd a thunk it?

This is the easiest guac ever.  You could still doll it up with a bit of minced onion, fresh garlic, some small diced tomato and/or cilantro.  But it's not necessary.  So if you're in a hurry for a quick appetizer and just happen to have a ripe avocado on hand, you're set.

BALSAMIC GUACAMOLE 

1 avocado
kosher or sea salt
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Peel avocado and remove seed.  Smash with a fork to desired consistency.  Add salt and vinegar to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

German Potato Salad



I do loves my taters!  And just about anyway....baked, scalloped, boiled, and potato-ed!  Reds are my favorites and here's a great place to use them.

I don't know why I don't make German Potato Salad more often, I guess I'm just kind of locked into only serving them in a German-styled meal.  Nuts! I say.  I need to make this more often.  Really....red potatoes, bacon, vinegar.  To me, this is a meal in itself.

GERMAN POTATO SALAD (4 servings)

3 cups diced, peeled, red potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain, and set aside to cool.

Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned.  Add the vinegar, water, sugar, S&P to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley.  Crumble in half of the bacon.  Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish.  Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/83097/authentic-german-potato-salad/?internalSource=search%20result&referringContentType=search%20results

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pasta with Roasted Spring Vegetables and Marinated Mozzarella


Ever since being inspired by Mel to roast vegetables, it's about the only way I prepare them anymore....so much more flavor.  And with my new air fryer, it only takes minutes (and doesn't heat up the kitchen, very important that we're stepping into summer temperatures).  

So when I across this recipe, I wanted to try it for because of all the roasted vegetables (which you can certainly change to what you like or what's in season.  But also because it calls for roasted radishes.  I had never heard of roasting radishes, but all of a sudden I'm seeing them posted in several places.  I love using ingredients in different ways and my friend and I ran across some beautiful radishes last weekend at the opening of our farmer's market.

And I had never noticed marinated mozzarella balls but had just spotted a tub of them at Wal-Mart.  The marinade is really good, but you can certainly just use cubed fresh mozzarella or the mozzarella pearls with some extra-virgin olive oil and some of the herbed olive oil.

A NOTE:  This recipe makes a lot.  I halved it but could have easily quartered it for just 1 or 2 servings.  Again, use the recipe as a guideline, but use vegetables that you prefer or are in season.  Also, click on the recipe source link below for much more information and step-by-step instructions and photos.

PASTA with ROASTED SPRING VEGETABLES and MARINATED MOZZARELLA (serves 6-8)

4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 heads)
1 red onion, chopped into 1" cubes
1 bunch radishes, trimmed then cut into wedges (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed then cut into 2" lengths (about 2 cups)
EVOO
garlic salt and pepper
12 oz medium-cut pasta, like rotini
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (more for me)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (more for me)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 oz marinated mini mozzarella cheese balls, sliced in half + 1/4 cup of the marinating oil (see note)


Preheat oven to 425F then line two large baking sheets with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Divide broccoli, red onion, and radishes between baking sheets then drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic salt and pepper, then toss with hands to coat.  Roast for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, add the snap peas and asparagus and to a bowl and then toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.  Divide the asparagus and snap peas between the baking sheets then stir with a spatula and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until all vegetables are crisp tender (do not overcook!)

Once vegetables go back into the oven the second time, add pasta to boiling water then cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add mozzarella cheese marinating oil, Parmesan, the roasted vegetables, fresh basil, and fresh chives then stir to combine.  Add mozzarella cheese then stir to combine.  Taste then add more salt, pepper, and/or reserved pasta cooking water until desired taste and consistency is reached, and then serve.

NOTES:
*  Use whatever vegetables you like in this dish, just make sure they total 10-12 cups of chopped vegetables.
*  This recipe feeds a crowd but can be easily halved or quartered.
*  If you only find regular mini mozzarella cheese balls, that fine!  Just use regular or herbed EVOO to dress the cooked pasta.
*  This does keep well for a couple of days, so you'll have a nice snack or ready-to-take lunch.  It's also a great Meatless Monday (or any day) meal.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/04/20/pasta-roasted-spring-vegetables-marinated-mozzarella/

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Doubletree Hotel Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies


I ran across this recipe a week or two ago and tucked it aside.  I have a friend who likes chocolate chip cookies and I thought this might be a tiny bit different than the traditional Tollhouse cookies.  And they are.  From adding ground oatmeal to the batter to using mini chocolate chips in lieu of the regular sized chips, it really does make a difference.

See the recipe source link below for lots more info and photos.

DOUBLETREE HOTEL COPYCAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Her recipe makes 3 dozen....I didn't have a #40 cookie scoop so I weighed mine at 26 grams which made 4 1/2 dozen cookies)

1/2 cup (1.75 oz) old-fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 salt
1/4 ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temp
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
12 oz mini chocolate chips
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans, optional

In a food processor or blender, pulse oats until finely blended.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and pulse a few times until well blended.

In a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until creamy and light in color, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until it starts to come together but there are still a lot of dry spots.  Add the chocolate chips (and pecans, if using) and mix until just combined and no dry streaks remain.

Portion the dough into 1 1/2 Tbsp (or so) size mounds (she used a #40 cookie scoop) lining them up on a parchment paper-lined and baking sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days.  

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place the dough a few inches apart on the baking sheets.    Bake for 11-12 minutes (mine took about 14-15 minutes), until the edges are set but the cookies are still soft in the center.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source:  http://www.melskitchencafe.com/doubletree-hotel-copycat-chocolate-chip-cookies/