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  1. Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Broccoli Cheese Soup

    I will share the following delectable soup recipe with you under one condition: You are not allowed to think about the amount of fat present in the soup when you eat it. It is worth every last calorie. That said…I wouldn’t recommend eating this soup every day. Neither would a cardiologist. But, oh my goodness, you’re going to like it.

    broccoli cheese soup 2 web

    Without further ado…the best broccoli cheese soup recipe around! Oh wait, a bit more “ado”…it’s easy to make with a short list of ingredients and quite fast. However, there is a lot of standing at the stove and whisking involved. Make sure you have some tunes or an episode of This American Life playing when you start cooking. I even do leg exercises while I whisk away…just a little preemptive strike on the butter, cream and cheese.

    Broccoli Cheese Soup
    Creamy, cheesy, and delicious! From my friend Elizabeth Paul
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    • ½ C butter
    • ½ C flour
    • 1 Quart Half & Half
    • 3 C cheddar cheese, grated
    • 3 C broth (chicken or vegetable)
    • 1 pkg frozen broccoli (or 2 small heads fresh broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces)
    • 1 tsp salt
    1. Combine broccoli, broth and salt – bring to a boil, simmer until broccoli is cooked.
    2. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour gradually, whisking. Simmer and whisk for a few minutes. Add half & half four times, whisking constantly (make sure it gets thick before each addition of half & half).
    3. Add cheese.
    4. Add broccoli/broth/salt mixture and stir.


  2. Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Butternut Squash Soup

    It is pouring rain today, which means two things. First, I am in heaven. Second, it’s time for a cozy bowl of soup.

    butternut squash soup web

    I know several of you are chomping at the bit for my Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe. The recipe is coming this week, I promise. I just need to take a picture. Until then, I hope my most favorite soup recipe EVER will suffice.

    Butternut Squash Soup
    A cozy delicious soup! From my friend Sarah Covert, with my commentary in italics
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    • Soup:
    • 1 large butternut squash, about 3.5 lbs.
    • 1 large leek
    • 2 T unsalted butter
    • 4 tsp. grated fresh ginger (you can use ground ginger – I think about 1 tsp should do it)
    • 5-6 cups chicken stock
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground pepper (this last time I used fresh ground black pepper and 2 shakes of cayenne)
    • Peanuts:
    • (optional garnish that I never make b/c I don’t like peanuts”¦but those who do love these spiced peanuts on top)
    • 1 1/12 C roasted peanuts (not dry-roasted)
    • 2 T peanut oil
    • 1½ t. ground ginger
    • 1 T finely chopped garlic
    • 2 t. finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • ½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder (in bulk at Henry’s)
    • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
    1. I roast the squash, cut in pieces & wrapped in foil, in my oven at 375 for 40-60 mins. That said, here’s what the recipe tells you to do. With a large heavy knife, cut the squash in half through the stem and discard the seeds. Brush the cut sides with olive oil. Grill, cut sides down, indirectly over medium heat until the skin can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the grill and cool”¦ with a large spoon, scoop the flesh from the squash and discard the skin.
    2. Cut off most of the tough green top from the leek. Cut the leek lengthwise and wash under cold running water to remove any dirt trapped. Cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces.
    3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add leek and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the looks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and carefully add the squash. Recude the heat to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup, in batches in a blender. Return soup to saucepan. If it seems thick, use remain stock as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, garnished with peanuts if desired.
    4. For the peanuts: In a small bowl, combine the peanuts, peanut oil, ground ginger, garlic, cilantro, five-spice powder and cayenne. Toss well to coat the peanuts evenly, then transfer to large sheet of aluminum foil. pull the corners of the foil together and close the pouch. place the pouch over indirect medium heat for 5 minutes. Carefully remove pouch and allow to cool.


  3. Dillon Rogers Giveaway Winner!

    The Dillon Rogers giveaway is now over…and we have a winner…

    dillonrogers2 web

    Today’s lucky winner is Linsey, who said, “Gorgeous!” Linsey will now officially be as cool as Paris Hilton and ME! 😉

    Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t despair…I have more giveaways up my sleeve, so stay tuned.  Big thanks to Dillon Rogers for a fantastic giveaway!

  4. Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Week 142 Menu

    I LOVE FALL. I know you all know that by now, but seriously, it’s the best season, hands down. We went to Arata’s Pumpkin Farm on Friday and had a blast. We did the giant hay bale maze, which was loads of fun for kids and the parents alike. Sad to say that Michelle (my friend) and I could not figure it out. We gave up and went in through the exit and, believe it or not, it was STILL hard. But seriously, that maze was HUGE, so can you blame us?

    row of pumpkins web

    I love our little collection of little pumpkins and gourds. Aren’t those stems wonderful?

    Okay, my menu has several duplicates from last week’s plan. Nate was gone most of the week, so the girls and I were able to last on leftovers longer. Oh, and we ate out a few times. When Dad’s gone, it’s party time! Now it’s back to being responsible. Phooey.

    – Broccoli Cheese soup

    – Homemade pizza

    – Pork chops”¦and this time I’m going to NOT massacre them like last time, so disappointing when you screw up!
    – Veggie
    – Brown and/or wild rice

    – Leftovers

    – Pumpkin pancakes

    – Eat out

    Beef stew

    Alrighty, folks…bring on the menus! Big and tall, or really small…we love ’em all! (I should be a poet, no?)

    I couldn’t decide which pumpkin picture to use, so I’m posting both. Hope you don’t mind me indulging my obsession with fall.

    three little pumpkins web

  5. Friday, October 9, 2009

    Cooking with Evaporated Milk

    I have two yummy recipes to share with you today! One involves chocolate, the other cheese. Hey, I never said they were healthy recipes. Yummy, people, yummy. Carnation recently sent me a $50 gift card for groceries and some free Evaporated Milk to try in a few recipes. The “mission” was to use evaporated milk in one of my own recipes that calls for milk, and to try out a recipe of theirs. I accepted the mission and proceeded to choose the least healthiest recipes possible…and enjoyed every second of it. (Ironic since one of Carnation’s selling points is that there is more nutritional value per ounce in evaporated milk versus regular milk. So much for that!)

    fudge1 web

    First, I tried Carnation’s recipe for Fudge (recipe below). I’ve gotta say, it’s good. And it was EASY. I followed the recipe verbatim…but next time I make it, I’m going to use a higher quality chocolate. Regardless, it was a nice, simple recipe and tasted good.

    twice baked potato web

    For my own recipe, I used evaporated milk in Twice Baked Potatoes (recipe below). The mashed potato filling was mighty fine…Cate couldn’t keep her fingers out of the bowl. And I know that cheese has nothing to do with evaporated milk…but that part was pretty darn good too.

    So, there you have it! Mission complete. In case you are wondering what evaporated milk is, it is fresh milk that has been carefully cooked to remove half the water content, upping the protein and calcium content per serving, and creating a creamier texture. Click here if you want to read more about it.

    And now, the recipes!

    Carnation Famous Fudge
    Cuisine: Dessert
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ⅔ cup (5-oz can) evaporated milk
    • 2 T butter
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups mini marshmallows (I had big ones, so I broke them up then measured and it came out)
    • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts (I nixed the nuts)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
    2. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full roiling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
    3. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours until firm (I just left it on the counter and it got plenty firm). Lift from pan, remove foil and cut.

    Twice Baked Potatoes
    From Jane Maynard
    • 4 baking potatoes
    • ¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
    • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • 4 tablespoons evaporated milk (or more if needed)
    • shredded cheddar cheese, optional
    • chopped green onion, optional
    1. Wash potatoes, poke holes with fork. Bake on rack, unwrapped at 425 degrees 40-60 minutes, or until soft all the way through. Cut lengthwise and scoop out potato (I have to hold the potato with an oven mit while I scoop). Mix potato with all the other ingredients, except the cheese, and mash with a potato masher or pastry blender. Spoon potato back into the potato skins, place in casserole dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 or so minutes, or until lightly browned. Top with shredded cheese and bake a few minutes more.


  6. Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Call for Recipes: APPLES!

    Every fall I get homesick for the Northeast in a big way. I can’t even hear the word foliage without getting a little sad…and really jealous. And I miss apple picking. Throwing on a cozy sweater and then walking through an orchard, the sun shining and the air cool. Eating apples right off the tree. Collecting the cheaper apples from the ground to make sauce and cobbler. The whole experience just makes me happy. I’m not even a huge apple person, but I’ll eat as many as you want me to if I get to go pick them. I’m a sucker for fall, what can I say?

    apple recipes web

    My sister Anne called last night to inform me that she is drowning in apples. She requested that we do a call for apple recipes, and I thought that was a great idea. After all, if you DO live where there are orchards galore, you need apple recipes right about now.

    Please share your best apple recipes! Cobbler, sauce, juice…whatever you’ve got, we want it! I’ll start us off with one of my all time favorites.

    Apple Barvarian Torte
    From The Pampered Chef
    – 1/2 C butter
    – 1/4 t. vanilla
    – 1/3 C sugar
    – 1 C flour

    Cheese mixture:
    – 1 pkg 8 0z. cream cheese
    – 1/4 C. sugar
    – 1 Egg
    – 1/2 t. vanilla

    Apple mixture:
    – 3 medium apples (sliced thin and peeled) – I used granny smith
    – 1/3 C. sugar
    – 1/4 t. cinnamon
    – 1/4 C. slivered almonds

    Preheat oven to 450. cream together crust ingredients. Press into flat bottom of a springform pan. Set aside. In medium bowl, blend cheese and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over crust. toss apples in cin/sug mix and layer over top. Bake for 10 min. Reduce heat to 400 and bake 25 min more. Sprinkle with almonds and continue baking until lightly browned. Cool before removing from pan.

  7. Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Free Giveaway! Dillon Rogers Jewelry Gift Certificate

    This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

    I have a really FUN free, random giveaway today…it has nothing to do with food, but it’s so good I hope you don’t mind!

    dillonrogers2 web

    For SocialLuxe Lounge, Dillon Rogers provided personalized jewelry for our VIP guests (including me!). I received two super cute leather bracelets, so now I’m as cool as Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry. But my favorite gift from Dillon Rogers was the silver disc necklace. I have worn it every day since I received it. I love the chain, and the lovely hand stamped, hand polished discs are current yet classic. I get compliments on my necklace all the time.

    When Dillon Rogers offered to provide a giveaway, of course I took them up on it! And it’s a GOOD one…a $125 gift certificate to Dillon Rogers! Simply add a comment to this post by Midnight, next Monday October 12. The winner will be announced next Tuesday, October 13 (lucky #13!).  Good luck!

  8. Monday, October 5, 2009

    Chicken & Butternut Squash Risotto

    Have you met Katie from goodLife {eats}? I have, and she’s lovely. And she has a delicious food blog. Thanks to her I have a new favorite recipe…Butternut Squash Risotto! It was so good Cate told me to make it every day. Coming from a 4-year-old, that says a lot. And in this case, the 4-year-old actually knows what she is talking about.

    butternut squash risotto2 web

    Chicken & Butternut Squash Risotto
    Adapted from Katie Goodman at goodLife {eats}, who in turn adapted it from Rachael Ray
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Rice, Poultry
    • 1½ cups roasted butternut squash (if you can find a 12 oz can of squash, go ahead and use that!)
    • 1 chicken breast, seasoned with salt & pepper, cooked (I sauteed in olive oil) then cut or shredded into bitesized pieces
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced (Jane note: I used my garlic press)
    • 2 cups arborio rice
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • Dash nutmeg
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
    • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
    • Heaping teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
    • ½ C water (may not need)
    1. Cut up a butternut squash into 8 pieces. Wrap in foil and roast in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until very soft. Scoop flesh out of the skins. One squash will yield more than 1½ C, so save the rest for another recipe or freeze for later. Have the squash and cooked chicken breast ready to go before proceeding with the next steps.
    2. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth and 1 cup water to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat to low.
    3. In a large skillet, heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. When the oil is rippling, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 minutes. Add the rice and toast (and stir occasionally) for 3 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. Add 2 ladles of the warm chicken broth to the rice and stir until the liquid evaporates. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take about 20 minutes. (I ended up having to add an additional ½ C water at the end to get the rice soft enough. If you need to add much more than ½ C, I would use broth as opposed to water to maintain flavor.)
    5. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, stir in the squash; season with nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. During the last minute of cooking, stir in the cheese and butter then add the cooked chicken.
    6. You can leave the chicken out to make a vegetarian dish”¦it still tastes great!


  9. Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Week 141 Menu

    Yeah, yeah. This week’s picture isn’t of food. But you can’t tell me you’re not eating up those perfectly adorable pigtails.


    Orange Chicken and rice
    – Veggie

    – Some kind of vegetable-based soup, creamy and warm

    – Baked loaded potatoes
    – Salad

    – Leftovers

    – Homemade pizza

    – Eat out

    – Pork chops…and this time I’m going to NOT massacre them like last time, so disappointing when you screw up!
    – Veggie
    – Brown and/or wild rice

    Your turn! Please share your menu for the week! Organized, unorganized. Fancy, simple. I don’t care what kind of menu it is, I just want to know what you’re eating!

  10. Saturday, October 3, 2009

    BlogHer Food: The Conference!

    Okay, this is my last BlogHer Food post – promise! And get ready for lots of fabulous links in this post that will be sure to keep you busy!

    sfmoma cafe

    The actual conference was a lot of fun. I went to a few sessions on photography as well as one about seeking opportunities from your blog. Lots of great info and stories. The best part of the conference, however, was meeting so many other bloggers…many of which I have relationships with online, but haven’t had the chance to meet in person or don’t see very often. Lunch was one of my favorite parts of the day…I skipped out on the conference lunch (rebellious, I know) with Kristen Doyle from Dine & Dish, Katie Goodman from goodLife {eats} and Amy Johnson from She Wears Many Hats (pictured below in that order). We walked next door to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Cafe…the food was fresh and tasty (pictured above – it looks good right?)…definitely a nice lunch spot in the city.


    The closing keynote was my favorite session of the day. Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer, moderated a panel with Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), David Lebovitz and Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes). I didn’t take notes so I don’t have any helpful information to share…but it was an informative and entertaining hour, and all three speakers were fantastic! And I immediately went to the lobby to buy David’s new book, The Sweet Life in Paris, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

    closing keynote

    One last thing…BIG thanks to CHEFS Catalog for the sweetest swag bag ever at the after party. Goodness, so many fun kitchen gadgets and tools. I was most excited about the dishwasher-safe basting brush and the mini spatula. I know, I’m a geek. Oh, I also discovered the KitchenAid with a GLASS bowl at the after party. I am officially in covet mode.