Soups

Recipe—Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Soup

It is FINALLY starting to feel like winter in California! We have been having 60–70 degree days in December and January. Not normal! Don’t get me wrong, I love nice weather but one of my favorite things about Cali is that we usually have 4 very distinct seasons. I love being bundled up with a cozy scarf and boots on a cold winter day with a big bowl of soup and it has just not been that kind of winter. Well we just got our first spell of rain in what feels like months! This led me to go into full on soup mode.

Broccoli cheddar soup has always been one of my all time favorite soups. It is so rich, creamy, and filling. (Exactly what you need after you made your new year’s resolutions right?) Well give yourself a cheat day and serve this up with an old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich for a real winter treat. A perfect warm up for a cold winter day!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c butter
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp thyme
3 tbsp flour
3 c milk
3 c chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
2 heads broccoli, chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c parmesan, grated
salt
white pepper

STEPS

  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic, onion, and thyme and cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add in the flour and mix until well combined and it starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, broth, and cream.
  • Stir in the chopped broccoli and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Add in the shredded cheeses and stir until smooth and melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Season to taste with the salt and white pepper.
  • Serve and top with additional shredded cheddar if desired.
  • Serve immediately.
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Appetizers

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Any recipe that has bacon, cheese, and jalapeños is a home run in my book. Wrap that up in a flaky delicate layer of puff pastry and it is a grand slam baby! These look like they would be heavy because they are good sized but the puff pastry is actually really light. These are the perfect appetizers for any occasion. The puff pastry takes what is an average appetizer and glamorizes them. Delicate enough for girl’s night in or macho enough for a guy’s night of watching sports. Either way, everyone will love them!

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

INGREDIENTS
9 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, deseeded, and deveined
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 c bacon, cooked and chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  • Stuff each pepper half with a heaping mound of the cheese filling and set aside.
  • Unfold the thawed puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 squares.
  • Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the pastry squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each popper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the poppers are golden brown on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Reclaiming Your Castle.

Soups

Recipe—Crock-Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It’s been a chilly couple of weeks where I live and I just can’t seem to warm up. One of the only things that really seem to take the bite off is a big bowl of hearty soup. Well this loaded baked potato soup truly is comfort in a bowl and hits the spot on these cold winter days. This is one of those recipes that people of all ages will love. It’s creamy and cheesy just the way baked potato soup should be. It is amazing the amount of flavor you get from a few simple ingredients. Since this does require a little prep before it goes in the crock-pot it may not be the best thing to try and do on a workday. However, it is the perfect crock-pot meal to whip up on the weekend. Perfect for a cozy Sunday lunch or dinner while watching some football. Hope you love this favorite soup of mine as much as I do!

Note: You can certainly use fresh potatoes for this soup. I just use a bag of the frozen ones to save a few extra minutes, after all, that’s the whole reason I use my crock-pot. If you want to use fresh potatoes I recommend using 5–6 cups of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces.

INGREDIENTS
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
4 c chicken broth, divided
32 oz bag of frozen diced potatoes (I use Ora Ida Hash Browns, not the shredded ones but the little cubes.)
3 c cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
2/3 c heavy cream
2/3 c sour cream
4 tbsp chives, minced

STEPS

  • In a large skillet cook the bacon over medium high heat until crispy.
  • Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate and place in the fridge until ready to serve the soup.
  • Pour out most of the bacon drippings leaving about 2 tbsp in the skillet.
  • Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until soft and lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic and thyme to the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for a minute stirring constantly.
  • Whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth.
  • Cook until the mixture starts to thicken and then pour into your crock-pot.
  • Add the remaining 3 cups of broth, potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the crock-pot.
  • Cover and cook for 5–6 hours on low heat.
  • Using a hand masher, mash the potatoes in the crock-pot leaving some chunks in there.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, and 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Cook soup for another 20–30 minutes.
  • Right before serving heat the plate of cooked bacon in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Ladle the soup into bowl and top with remaining cheddar, bacon pieces, and chives.