Sunday, March 27, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup with Carrots

The last time I tried to make broccoli cheese soup, it was a disaster.  The cheese separated into a grainy, curdled mess.  I learned my lesson about adding the cheese a little at a time over low to medium heat.  It turned out SOOO much better this time!  I cut out a lot of the butter to make the soup lighter and the hubs and I both liked it a lot.

Based on Allrecipes


2 cups chopped broccoli florets (about 1 large head of broccoli)
3/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (buy the block and shred it yourself)
Dash red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Combine broccoli, carrots, and chicken broth in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2.  Melt butter over medium heat in a medium pot.  Add onion and cook until translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook one minute.  Add flour and stir to combine with onion mixture.  Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

3.  Pour broccoli, carrots, and reserved cooking liquid into pot with onion mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add milk and heat until piping hot but not boiling.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add shredded cheese a little at a time, stirring after each addition.  Remove from heat once all cheese has melted.  Serve with crusty bread or crackers.
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Cake Batter Chocolate Bark

I know what you're thinking:  Anything with five bars of Lindt chocolate can't be bad.  Guess what?

You're right!

I made cake batter chocolate bark for my coworkers to celebrate (mourn?) the end of spring break.  They were a big hit.  Rich, creamy, and indulgent.

From How Sweet It Is


6 ounces high quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 50%)
12 ounces high quality white chocolate (I used Lindt)
1 tablespoon yellow cake mix
Sprinkles of your choice


1.  Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour chocolate on. Smooth to desired thickness with a spatula. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden.

2.  Melt white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix slowly, stirring well until no lumps remain. Let it set for 3 full minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens). Remove baking sheet with chocolate from the freezer and immediately pour white chocolate on top.  Decorate with sprinkles.   Place in freezer for 20 minutes.

3.  Once bark is set, break into chunks. Keep refrigerated.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Asiago Roasted Potatoes

 The asiago cheese in this recipe dresses up roasted potatoes and turns them into something special.  This dish goes well with a saucy entree.

Om nom nom!

Adapted from
Serves 4
7 medium-sized potatoes (I used white potatoes; red would be good too)
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
Pinch herbes de provence
1.  Preheat oven to 450.  Cut potatoes into one-inch cubes and place in a medium-sized pot.  Add water to cover potatoes.  Add salt to taste and bring to a boil.  Cook for four minutes.

2.  Remove potatoes from heat.  Drain and pat dry.

3.  Pour olive oil, salt, and pepper in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.  Add potatoes, seal bag, and shake to coat.  Pour mixture onto a nonstick cookie sheet.  

4.  Roast potatoes 30-45 minutes until tender and brown, stirring every 15 minutes.

5.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Add asiago cheese and herbes de provence.  Toss to combine.
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Chicken with Pan Sauce

I just got back from vacation with some unwanted baggage- about 5 extra pounds!  I made this lightened-up chicken dish and served it with the roasted potatoes above.  It was very good- the picture doesn't do it justice.  The substitution of milk for cream made the sauce thinner than it would otherwise be, but I didn't mind.

This dish would also go well with mashed potatoes or wild rice.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
3 Tbs butter, divided
2/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 finely chopped shallots
10 finely chopped mushrooms, stems removed
Crushed red pepper to taste
Dried Italian herbs to taste
2 Tbs milk

1. Pound chicken to 1/4 inch thickness. Dry off with paper towels and sprinkle with seasoned salt, pepper, and onion powder.

2. Melt 1 Tbs butter in a stainless skillet over med high. Reduce to med and cook chicken 6-8 minutes until almost done, turning once. Wrap in foil to complete cooking/stay warm.

3. Add wine, broth, shallots, mushrooms, red pepper, and Italian herbs to skillet. Stir, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup. Reduce heat to low.

4. Stir in milk. Add remaining 2 Tbs butter and stir until butter is melted. Spoon sauce over chicken to serve.
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quick Chicken with Asparagus and Provolone

Allrecipes pulls through again! This was a fast, tasty dish. The chicken came out incredibly moist. I'm not a wine fan and the wine came out a little strong, so I'd like to use less next time. I'm interested to use this preparation method with other pan sauces.

And another success- I found a brand of boxed bread crumbs that don't taste like cardboard! Vigo brand actually tastes like real toast crumbs.

From Allrecipes


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform thickness

1 egg, beaten

Italian bread crumbs to coat

Olive oil to coat pan

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus

2 slices provolone cheese


1. Dip chicken in egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Pour olive oil to coat a medium nonstick skillet. Heat over medium until shimmering. Add chicken and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes each.

2. Add broth and wine. Place asparagus on top of chicken. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

3. Top with provolone before serving.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Black Bean Soup

My college roommate and I used to make taco salad ALL the time.  We once went on a quest to find the very best supermarket salsa to use in the dressing.  After working our way through half the salsa aisle, we brought home Texas Texas Perfect Hot.  Game over- we had found our winner.  It tastes homemade, with big chunks of tomato and jalapeños.  I'm pretty sure I've kept Texas-Texas in business in the years since, as I ALWAYS have a jar in the fridge.  I use it every chance I get, which brings me to this black bean soup...

This dish is SO easy to throw together after a long day of work- if you can set aside 15 minutes to pour and stir, you're golden.  It satisfies my Tex-mex craving without the guilt of lard and cheese.  I've taken several liberties with the original recipe and am pleased with the final result.

Based on Allrecipes


1 tbsp oil
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
Splash of lime juice
Sour cream and sliced green onions for garnish


Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add ground beef, garlic, and onion and sauté until onion is tender and meat is done.

In a separate bowl, lightly mash beans with a fork or potato masher. Stir broth, salsa, and spices into mashed beans and mix. Pour into saucepan with ground beef mixture and cook until heated thoroughly. Add lime juice.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream and green onions.
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