Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

So, Publix had 8 ounces packages of Kraft shredded cheeses on sale for $1.40 this past sales cycle. That’s the lowest price I have ever seen for them. I may have gone a little crazy and bought more shredded cheese than I needed. My cheese drawer is stuffed. I’m pretty sure my family thinks I have a problem.

This morning my plan was to come home after I dropped the kidlet off at school and work on an online class I need to finish before heading to work. Instead I made this Quick Broccoli & Cheddar Soup for breakfast. I used some of the cheese! Priorities.

Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth is fine too)
1 10 – 12 ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli (cuts & florets are fine too)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus a little more for garnishing (I like mild cheddar)
1 cup half & half or milk
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for a minute. Whisk in the broth, a little at a time, until smooth. Add the frozen broccoli. If I am using frozen broccoli cuts or florets, I will run a knife through them to make the pieces smaller before adding them to the soup. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, stirring often. Whisk in the cheese and then add the half & half. Warm through and then turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional shredded cheddar cheese for garnish.

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Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie is great for a light lunch or dinner. Since it is very quiche-like, it is also perfect for breakfast. No matter what meal you eat it for, it is sure to become a favorite. Jazz it up with the addition of herbs. Basil, cilantro, or oregano are all delicious additions to this pie.

Slice of Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

1 prepared pie crust (I just use store-bought)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium-sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheese (I like a combo of cheddar and mozzarella, but feel free to use your favorite cheese)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, stirring often. Add the sliced zucchini and continue to sauté until tender. Add the shredded carrot and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Combine the beaten eggs, cheese, and a little more salt and pepper together. Add the egg and cheese mixture to the zucchini mixture. Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean.


Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.

Shown here:  Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.


Summer Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

This is an easy tart to utilize all those summer vegetables. If you have a small eggplant, that would be a nice addition in the roasted vegetable mixture. A balsamic reduction would be excellent drizzled over the finished tart.

Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips (or rings)
1 large zucchini, ends removed and sliced
8 ounce package mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), cleaned and sliced
olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers
handful fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sliced onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle (try not to get it too thin). Place the puff pastry on the lined baking sheet.

Place the roasted vegetables on the puff pastry, leaving a border. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese, capers, and torn basil over the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Summer Vegetable Tart (before baking)

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve warm.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Vegetable Jambalaya with Black Eyed Peas

vegetable-jambalaya-with-black-eyed-peas

Happy New Year!!

I’m not feeling too hopeful as 2017 starts. I am trying to counteract my bleak outlook with a New Year’s tradition for good luck, eating black eyed peas. This Vegetable Jambalaya is a delicious delivery system for black eyed peas. This recipe makes a big batch so there will be plenty to share with family and friends or to have for leftovers. I don’t recommend freezing leftovers, though. Upon reheating, the rice gets really mushy.

Serve the Vegetable Jambalaya with Blacked Eyed Peas with crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Vegetable Jambalaya with Black Eyed Peas

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 14.5 ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
1 15.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
3 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 bay leaf
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring, 1 minute longer.

Add the bell peppers, black-eyed peas, tomatoes with juices, vegetable broth, dried thyme, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Add the zucchini, turn heat back up to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil again. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid or stir the jambalaya. After 20 minutes, check to make sure all of the liquid has cooked out. If some liquid remains, replace lid and cook a few more minutes or until all the liquid is gone. Be careful not to burn the bottom of the jambalaya. Remove bay leaf, fluff jambalaya with a fork, and mix in the chopped parsley, if using. 


Southwestern Split Pea Soup

spicy-split-pea-soup

I haven’t blogged in so long. Life has been really busy. I’m not getting into the kitchen much. Plus, it’s been so hot this summer, I don’t even want to cook to avoid heating up the house. To make things worse, the hard drive on my computer died and I lost so many pictures, including food pics for future posts. I thought I had backed up my computer this past spring, but that appears to not be the case. I lost a year and a half worth of pictures and documents. Stop what you are doing and back up your hard drive right now. I’ve been spending my extra time trying to compile my pictures from various sources and organize them. I’m not sure if I will ever finish this daunting task.

It is finally starting to cool down here in South Carolina. It was only in the low 80’s today. My hubby is out of town and my youngest son didn’t have a soccer game today so I got to spend some time cooking. I baked some brownies and then started working on this soup.

Southwestern Split Pea Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel)
7 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup green split peas
1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and jalapeno. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, Rotel (including the juices), dried split peas, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potato, corn, and zucchini. Cook until the split peas and potato are tender, about another 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.