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Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

Between Pinterest, the online magazines, and my friends, I don’t think there will ever be enough time to try all the recipes I want to. But, now that’s it’s getting cooler here in the PacNW and, being the weather wimp I am, I will be spending more time, inside, experimenting with those that do sound most interesting.

And, while Fred isn’t always thrilled with coming home to “guess what we’re eating?” and “it’s supposed to be that color…” he really is my biggest fan and I’ve not disappointed him yet…well…not often, anyway.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Flour
2 cups Half & Half
1 14.5 oz. can Vegetable Broth
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Carrots, chopped
2 cups Broccoli Florets, rough chopped
1/2 tsp. Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
pinch of Cinnamon
1/2 to 1 cup fresh grated Cheese (you can use whatever you’d like or a blend of more than one, such as sharp Cheddar and smoked Gouda, for example. I chose Tillamook Cheddar because it’s vegetarian).

Directions

1). In a large sauce pan, over medium to medium-low heat, melt the butter.
2). Whisk in the flour to incorporate and cook until it’s light brown.
3). Slowly but steadily add the Half & Half, whisking continuously. This will begin to thicken the longer it cooks.
4). Once the mixture (“roux”) has thickened, whisk in the vegetable broth.
5). Let this cook 5-10 minutes, stirring often.
6). Add in the chopped vegetables, salt, pepper, garlic, and cinnamon (you don’t want this to boil but you do want it to be hot enough to cook the veggies so adjust your heat, if necessary) and cook 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked/very soft.
7). Let this cool 15-20 minutes.
8). In a blender or food processor, puree the soup, in small batches, and return to the pan.
9). Turn the heat to medium-low and stir in the cheese.
10). Once the cheese has melted (you can no longer see “strings” when you stir and lift the spoon), it’s ready to serve.

This would be great in a bread bowl but, tonight, I’m serving it with buttermilk biscuits and adding some diced, cooked chicken to Fred’s bowl and bacon bits to mine (imitation, of course!).

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Vegetarian “Philly Cheesesteak” Sandwich

I know. That’s a confusing title.

When Fred and I were first married I happily “shared” all my favorite vegan and vegetarian recipes with him…until he very gingerly told me he really didn’t like most of them. I spent the next several years cooking 6 meals a day, 3 for him and 3 for me (we’ve already long established that neither of us is going to change our eating preferences and that I’m the only one who “knows how” to cook vegetarian foods. This is according to Fred, of course,*ahem* so I’m the designated chef in the family).

It took me a while but I finally wrapped my head around the idea of taking everyday “normal,” as Fred would say, recipes and make vegetarian versions of them – something that we would both eat and enjoy. With everything available at the market these days, it’s been a lot easier than I thought!

Here is the recipe for my latest experiment. I think it turned out pretty darn yummy, if I do say so, myself!

Vegetarian “Philly Cheesesteak” Sandwich
(Makes 2 large sandwiches)

Ingredients

2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 package Morningstar Farms Crumbles
1 small Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. Flour
1/4 cup Vegetable Broth
1 cup Sweet Peppers, diced (use any color)
2 slices Vegetarian American Cheese (more for topping — and you could also use the equivalent of Provolone or Cheese Whiz)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash of Thyme

Directions

1. In a medium pan, over medium-high heat, sautéed the onions in the olive oil until translucent.
2. Add the flour to the onions and cook just until the flour starts to brown.
3. Add the broth and stir until it forms a gravy (you may need a little more liquid if it’s too thick or pasty. Only add a little at a time).
4. Add the peppers, Morningstar Farms crumbles, salt, pepper, & Thyme, stirring well.
5. Tear the American cheese slices into pieces, add, and stir until it’s melted.
6. Serve on any type bread you want. I had French slices on hand though I think this would be delicious on buns or sour dough rolls.
7. Top with additional cheese, if desired.

I also read sautéed mushrooms are typical for this sandwich but didn’t have any on hand. Next time, I will…

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Creamy Sausage & Tortellini Stew

Ok, so this was supposed to be a soup. But, like almost all of the other soups I’ve made in the past, it came out more like a stew. Hey, if the flavor is right and Fred eats it, I can adapt. Besides, I’ll take a big spoonful of hearty flavors over chasing little noodles around a sea of broth any day.

Creamy Sausage & Tortellini Stew

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Ingredients

1/2 lb. Gimme Lean Vegetarian Sausage*
1-14.5 oz can Vegetarian Broth*
1-14.5 oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1-9 oz package Fresh Cheese Tortellini
4 oz Cream Cheese
2 cups Baby Spinach

*Or substitute with equal amounts of other vegetarian or non-vegetarian alternatives.

Directions

1. In a medium-large saucepan, brown the sausage (you may need to either spray the pan or use oil).
2. Add the broth and tomatoes (liquid, too).
3. Bring this to a low boil.
4. Add in the cream cheese and stir until it’s melted (cutting it into chunks before adding helps it melt faster).
5. Add in the tortellini and cook, stirring frequently but gently until it’s done (5-8 minutes).
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach.

Serve hot & add a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan, if you want (believe me, you’ll want…really).

Enjoy!

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Let’s hear it for stress eating!

I’ve noticed that when I’m really stressed out, I get cravings for particular foods. It’s not always for “junk food” but, today, it just wasn’t for a nice, big, healthy salad (Yeah. I lied. It’s never for a nice, big, healthy salad…). What I wanted was blue cheese & garlic fries. The more I thought about them, the more determined I was to have them. So, when I was out doing my errands today, I also stopped at the grocery store to get the necessary supplies. I felt like I was on a mission. Or, at least, like I was shopping like my parents were gone for the weekend…

photo-70Blue Cheese & Garlic Fries

  • 1 pkg. Frozen French Fries (I like the Ore Ida “Simply.” They’re still french fries but they make me feel better about gorging on them because they’re “natural”). Of course you could make your own, if you’re into all the peeling and cutting. My craving couldn’t wait that long.
  • Garlic Sauce (see below)
  • 1-2 Tbs. Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • 1-2 Tbs. Bacon Bits (real or imitation, your choice).

      Garlic Sauce:

  • 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Minced Garlic (more or less to taste – just make sure everyone eats the fries if you use a lot…)
  • 8 oz. Whipping Cream
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the garlic & sauté until lightly browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the whipping cream.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently (this can burn if left alone too long), until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Assembly:

  1. Cook the bag of french fries according to the package directions (I use the oven-method).
  2. When they’re done, put 1/2 of them, in a single layer on a dinner-sized plate (Of course this is for more than one serving! Y’know, unless no one is there to witness help you eat it. Then it could be just one…)
  3. Pour 1/2 of the garlic sauce over the fries, distributing evenly; add 1/2 of the garlic crumbles; sprinkle on 1/2 of the bacon bits.
  4. Repeat the same steps with the remaining ingredients. (I topped this with a dash of parsley to make it look prettier but, I think, chives would’ve added another layer of flavor. I will do that next time).
  5. Eat (forks are optional, but recommended, if there are other people around besides those who know you really well – and still like you, anyway).
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Not Pizza Casserole

I found this (rather intriguing) recipe while looking for “gluten-free” alternatives. It was originally called “pizza” but, in my opinion, it’s not pizza unless it has a yummy gluten-filled crust made with lots and lots of unhealthy white flour…plus, if I tried to pass this off as pizza to Fred, it just wouldn’t fly. Therefore, if it’s in a casserole dish, I have to call it a casserole, which is something Fred will eat (work with me on this, people…). So, here’s the “intriguing” part; the crust is made from cauliflower. I know, I know. I thought the same thing until I tried it. In fact, we’ve had it twice this week — and not just because I’m being lazy about cooking. It’s really that good. not pizza casserole

Not Pizza Casserole Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked, riced Cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • Pizza Sauce (any brand or homemade)
  • Additional Mozzarella Cheese (or a mix of Pizza Cheeses)
  • Toppings; I used a mix of on-hand veggies (broccoli, onions, sweet red peppers, black olives, mushrooms) but you can use whatever you like — and add meats, if desired.

Directions: (There are a few steps but, once you do it once, you’ll see how easy it really is!).

To “Rice” the Cauliflower: 1 large head will give you about 3 cups* (use only the florets).

  1. Using a cheese grater, grate the cauliflower florets (you can use a food processor but, if over processed, it could get mushy).
  2. Put the riced cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave, on high, for 4-5 minutes. Take it out and give it a good stir.
  3. Cook it another 3 minutes or so (watch it – it will burn!), just until it’s done. It’ll still be firm but cooked through. No extra water is needed, there’s enough in the cauliflower.

*This recipe only requires 1 cup of riced cauliflower. You can either do the whole head all at once, using what you need for the recipe and store/freeze the rest (in the fridge it should be good for up to a week), or rice/cook only what you need (about 1-1/2 cups raw) BUT only cook 1/2 the time as stated above — as I said, it will burn (I’m speaking from very, very stinky experience on this).

Make the Base (Crust):

  1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees.
  2. Grease a small casserole or 9″ pie pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir.
  4. Pat it into the bottom of the casserole with a flat spoon or your hands.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Assemble the Casserole:

  1. Remove from oven.
  2. Add sauce, toppings, and cheese.
  3. Broil until the cheese has melted and is slightly browned.

I’ve gotten pretty savvy when it comes to testing new recipes on Fred. He’s no longer allowed to ask “what is it?” or “what’s in it?” He is, however, allowed to say “yes, I like it” or “no, I don’t.” This recipe, both times we’ve had it, has gotten a big “thumbs up,” so now it’s too late in case he finds out what it is…

 

(A big “thank you” to Eat.Drink.Smile for providing me with a lovely and delicious recipe to play with!)

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Single Serve Hot Buttered Rum

Well, it’s day 8 of my annual Christmas cold and it’s getting a bit tiresome. The zinc and C has helped but I’m thinking I need something more serious. Before I break out the (incredibly *gakky*)  Nyquil, I’m going to try something a bit more palatable. A Hot Buttered Rum should do the trick. Warm, creamy, soothing goodness.

Since I’m a light-weight, when it comes to drinking, I’m thinking one should do it for tonight. So here’s a recipe for a single serve. You can certainly adjust it to your taste…

hot buttered rumSingle Serve Hot Buttered Rum

  • 1 tsp. soft Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar
  • 1 oz. Spiced Rum
  • 2 Tbs. Caramel Swirl Ice-Cream (or use other flavors)
  • 1/2 cup boiling (or really hot) Water

Directions

  1. Mix the butter, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar in a large mug.
  2. Add the rum, then ice-cream, then boiling water.
  3. Stir until the butter and ice-cream have melted.
  4. Serve warm.

Pretty simple, eh? Nighty-night all.

(Oh, and when you’re feeling better and have friends over or just want to do something special for yourself, try serving this in a brandy snifter or wine glass. Very elegant).

 

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Individual Mexican Hushpuppy Casseroles

*Whew* That’s a mouthful. Originally, this started as a casserole. Then I added the green chili sauce and Pepper Jack cheese to give it a Mexican flare. And, when I decided to bring these to a potluck, I made them into individual servings for convenience. Well, you can see where the lengthy title comes from…

Individual Mexican Hushpuppy Casseroles

corn casseroleIngredients:

  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 can (or 8 oz.) Creamed Corn
  • 8 oz. Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Butter, melted
  • 1-15.25 oz. can Whole Kernel Corn
  • 1-1/2 cups Cheese (my favorite mix is Cheddar and Pepper Jack)
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 (8.5 oz.) packages dry Corn Muffin Mix (I use the Jiffy Mixes)
  • 1/2 can (about 4 oz.) Green Chili Salsa

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease the muffin cups (this batch will make about 18-20 “muffins”).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, creamed corn, sour cream, melted butter, whole corn, 1/2 of the cheese, and onion. 
  4. Stir in the muffin mix just until it’s moistened.
  5. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  6.  Bake 30-40 minutes then take out of the oven (or until a knife, inserted in the center, comes out clean)  and evenly pour the green chili sauce over the tops of the muffins and sprinkle each one with the other 1/2 of the cheese evenly over that.
  7. Bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

*If you make this as a casserole, use a 2-quart dish and bake 60-70 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean).

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Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

Slow cooker + potatoes = easy and yummy. My kind of cooking!

I know there are a bunch of potato soup recipes out there but this one really caught my eye. Not just because I can toss everything into the crock pot and be done with dinner (well, almost for this one), but because the ingredients looked so interesting. This is made with cream cheese, one of my favorite 4 food groups (yes, cream cheese gets its own food group in this house…along with the other three; pizza, roasted broccoli, and ice-cream).

Slow Cooker Baked Potato Soup

potato soupIngredients:

  • 2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled and medium diced
  • 1 medium Onion, small dice
  • 1 Tbs. minced Garlic
  • 2-14.5 oz. cans Vegetable Broth (or chicken, if you prefer)
  • 1/8 tsp. Black Pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. dried Parsley
  • Dash of Hot Sauce or Tabasco (optional)
  • 4 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)
  • 1 block (8 oz) of Cream Cheese
  • Optional Toppings: sour cream, grated cheese, green onion, crumbled bacon, or anything else you’d normally put on a baked potato (not sure chili would work, but I’d give it a shot…).

Directions:

  1. To the slow cooker add; peeled and diced potatoes, onion, garlic, black pepper, parsley, Tabasco, Liquid Smoke, and veggie broth.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours or until the potatoes are tender/done.
  3. Take out half this mixture and blend it with the cream cheese (either a blender or food processor — you want this to be fairly smooth).
  4. Add it back to the slow cooker and mix well.
  5. Season the soup with additional pepper and, if needed, salt.
  6. Serve hot with desired toppings (shown here is sour cream, cheddar, bacon bits, & green onions…oh, yum).

* Recipe adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker (thank you!).

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Darn Good, Gluten-Free Cheesy Crackers!

There’s nothing better with a piping hot bowl of homemade soup than a handful of crackers. However, being on my “gluten-free” quest, I’ve not really found any store-bought crackers that I’m really crazy about. So, poking around the internet, I did a search and found this recipe on MyFieldsofGreen blogspot (link below). The only change I made was the cornstarch (I didn’t have any) and swapped it out with a half & half of potato and tapioca starches.

crackeraIngredients:

  • 8 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 4 Tbs. cold, cubed Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt (plus more to sprinkle on the top)
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Rice Flour (not to be confused with regular rice flour)
  • 1/8 cup Potato Starch
  • 1/8 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1/2 tsp. Xantham Gum*
  • 2 Tbs. cold Water

*The original recipe says you can leave this out – but I wouldn’t. If you’re already baking GF, you probably have some on hand. If this is new to you, this is what replaces the gluten that holds “regular” flours, like wheat, together. It can be found in many grocery and health-food stores.

Directions:

  1. Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and mix until they’re all combined.
  2. Drizzle the water in until it comes together into a dough
  3. Chill the dough (10 minutes in the freezer or 30 in the refrigerator).
  4. Roll out the dough as thin as possible (I do it in “batches”).
  5. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into squares.
  6. Place the squares, about 1/2″ apart, on a non-stick cookie sheet or flat pan.
  7. Prick the top of each one with a fork (this will help them cook flat).
  8. Sprinkle with Salt.
  9. Bake at 350F for 7 minutes, then turn the pan around, and cook another 7 minutes (this helps with any oven variances) — or until golden brown on the edges.
  10. Cool on a wire cookie rack.

 (While I really don’t think these taste like Cheez-Its, they really are a darn good (gluten-free) cheesy cracker!)

Here’s the link to MyFieldsofGreen in case you’d like to check out any of her other recipes! http://myfieldsofgreen.blogspot.com/2011/10/homemade-gluten-free-cheez-it-crackers.html

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Crispy Roasted Broccoli

I admit it. I teeter on the edge of becoming a true “veggie snob.” Even though, as a kid, I ate (and liked) the canned brown slime my grandmother called “spinach,” I’ve now developed taste buds that cry out for vegetables that are fresh and prepared well. Cooked in a way that, at very least, brings out their flavor — and, ideally, enhances it.   

This has to be one of the easiest and tastiest ways I’ve fixed broccoli, to date. Not only do the little florets get crispy and brown, the broccoli stalks get tender, yet stay firm — making this a great textural contrast, as well!

roasted broccoliCrispy Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1 head fresh Broccoli (if you need to rinse this, do so a few hours or day before as the oil won’t stick to moisture)
  • 1 tsp. minced Garlic (I used roasted), more to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs. Olive Oil (enough to coat without being “drippy”)
  • Salt, Pepper, and/or other seasonings to taste (I think curry or cumin would be delish)
  • Fresh Lemon juice (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Chop the broccoli into small, bite-sized florets (you don’t have to use the stems but I like them).
  2. Put everything into a bowl or bag and toss/shake to coat.
  3. Roast at 375F (to 400F, depending on your oven) for about 30 minutes.
  4. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
  5. Check the seasoning again (I had to add a bit more salt at the end).
  6. Serve warm while it’s still crunchy.

Needless to say, this doesn’t keep well if there are leftovers. Fortunately, that’s never been a problem in this house. 

 

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