Crock Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I love broccoli. It’s not a sentiment shared by my husband and apparently Z. (Who has decided she likes broccoli only when it is uncooked)

As many of you know, MA was hit by a blizzard this week, particularly the south shore, where we reside. Our backyard, drifts excluded, got 30 inches of snow. Last night it was below 0 degrees and we are expecting more snow tonight and Monday. (YAY!)

I was freezing all day, and just wanted some soup. But there’s more. 1) I love that Panera broccoli cheddar soup, and I wanted to try to emulate it 2) my friend B has been sick for just about a week, and I worry for her as she’s pregnant, and super sick. I wanted to make something that she would like, be able to eat and it would stick in her stomach.

So I made broccoli cheddar soup. It was SO easy, I made it a little less fatty primarily because of what I had on hand, but also because I wanted it to be less creamy so B would be more inclined to eat it. If you like super cheesy, I’ll give those instructions too!

This is what you’ll need;

1 large head of broccoli

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thirds

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. steak seasoning (atlantic spice company)

5 tbsp. flour

3 cups milk

5 tbsp. butter

2 cups extra sharp cheddar (4 if you want cheesy)

3 cups vegetable stock

2 tbsp. cream cheese

1/2 tea smoked paprika

Add the broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, veggie stock, steak seasoning, cream cheese to the crock pot.

In a saute pan, make a rue using the milk, butter and flour. To do this add butter to medium heat and melt, then add flour and whisk in. Slowly add milk, 1 cup at a time and whisk until thickened, adding a further cup each time it thickens.

When rue is complete, add to crockpot. Turn crockpot on low and cook for 6 hours.

After 6 hours ladle soup into blender and blend until smooth. Return to the crock pot and add paprika and cheese. Stir, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve with fresh bread and a nice pale ale.

broccoli cheddar soup

broccoli cheddar soup

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Oleo Saccharum


I have been wanting to make a version of this for some time. My family recently has gotten really into homemade shrub for mixing cocktails. This recipe looks like the perfect gift for my family. So I wanted to share it with you.

I’m a regular avid reader of this blog and think just about everyone should subscribe to it. Enjoy!

Originally posted on LondonEats:

After my experiments with brewing ginger beer, I’m going to keep the drinks theme going here.

In my many hours of browsing food websites (I live in London – I spend a lot of time sitting in buses checking out blogs on my phone!), I recently came across a recipe for something called oleo saccharum. If you’re wondering what that means, then you share the exact same thought that popped into my head when I heard about it. It roughly means “sugary oil”. Sounds unappealing, but bear with me.

The idea is a way to extract an intensely flavoured syrup from citrus peel, and so it is perfect for mixing up drinks and cocktails. You simply take a bunch of citrus peel, trim off any bitter pith, then pop in a bag with some sugar. Seal the bag, rub the sugar into the peel to get things going, and…

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Garden Style Empanadas

The title of this post is actually kind of laughable considering the apocalyptic snow storm they’re predicting for our area to hit…any moment now. But as I was making these the other night, it’s what I was thinking of. Normally I put garlic, beans, onions and sometimes potatoes in my empanadas, but I had a whole bunch of delicious veggies in my fridge, and I just wanted to use some of them. So I decided to add them to my bean mixture, which goes into my empanadas (and anything that doesn’t becomes nachos, double yum!).

I find making empanadas super easy. I don’t know if that’s because Z and I make them almost monthly, but really, they aren’t that hard. In fact, the hardest part is when you need to fry them because it’s quick, so having little kids underfoot is a bit of a challenge (but not impossible).

I’ve blogged about empanadas before, and these are very similar, but, my garden variety (as this is what we do grow in our garden, in the summer).

Cross your fingers for us, the media seems to think our houses will be snowed under (I’m sure those in Minnesota are laughing their butts off at how we over-react on the east coast).

This is what you need (makes 10 empanadas, with 4 servings bean mixture extra)

1 pkg Goya empanada discs

10 slices of Colby jack cheese

2 cans Goya black beans

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 large carrot, sliced thin

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium orange, zested

In a saucepan on medium-high heat add your olive oil and onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Onions should be transparent. Add garlic, celery and carrot. Cook for additional 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add black beans, water, zested orange and tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes. Water should be almost evaporated and beans should be nice and mushy. Turn heat down to low and season with salt and pepper (normally I would add some cayenne, but I leave it out since Z is eating this and doesn’t like the heat). Cook covered until carrots and celery are tender but not mushy.

Separate your empanada discs, leaving them on their individual film. In the middle of each disc put two teaspoons of bean mixture and one piece of cheese. Press closed and seal the edges using a fork (make sure you do this on both sides, creating a seal).

In 2 tbsp. of hot oil, fry empanadas on each side for 2 minutes. Place on paper towel to de-oil and serve hot.

I served with rice, extra beans, salad and of course, hot sauce.


Garden Style Empanadas

Garden Style Empanadas

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Weekly Round Up

This week following my menu was awful. I felt like I followed it, but I obviously didn’t because lots of my meals are still on here. I made a couple on the fly meals (such as shrimp and grits and ginger carrot soup). So forgive some of my repeats – it’s been one of those weeks (apparently).

On the plus side we’re about to have a massive winter storm (which I am psyched about- we moved to New England and I’m good for one big storm, and then winter can officially be over) I’m tired of it being cold with no snow.

I, of course, forgot about the storm when I went to the store to pick up a couple of things (snow pants being one of them) and instantly remembered when I had to park WAAAYYYY out in the nether regions of the parking lot. If it didn’t take me so long to get to the store, I would have turned around and gone home.

Anyway, I got everything on my list except lemons (who runs OUT of lemons?) and added fresh beets (because they looked amazing). So, we’re good for the storm.

Here’s what we’ll be (hopefully) eating;

Sunday-Goats Cheese and Sausage Pizza

Monday-Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday-Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Wednesday-Pasta Carbonara

Thursday-Chicken Parm

Friday-Daal with Shrimp

Saturday-French Onion Soup

Have a great week!

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Stuffed Mussels

Last night we went to a dinner with friends. All week I had it in my head that I was going to make stuffed mussels as an appetizer. I figured out how to make them (in my head) just so, they would be filling and easy as a finger food. What I forgot to factor in was two stir crazy kids in the mix while I was trying to prep for this. Yeah, I don’t know why I forgot about this either.

This IS a simple dish. And it’s really REALLY delicious. But it was not the easiest to do yesterday. I think a combination of me having a fairly short fuse (see Thursday’s post on sleep or lack there of), Z wanting to help with the mussels, but not wanting her hands to get messy (what!?) and B having his top 2 teeth breaking through so just screaming non-stop. Yay for me!

Anyway, cooking mussels is simple. In fact, it’s one of the most delicious simple meals I think you can make. On the east coast we are lucky, mussels are extremely cheap. I’m talking $2/lb at a fish market. I was feeling ambitious and got 3 lbs. (Hindsight has me laughing at myself) First I’ll tell you how to make mussels. Then how to stuff them. You can just take the first recipe, make a couple of sides and eat this as is, or go the extra step for a really wow appetizer.

Mussels In Beer.

My sister and brother in-law gave us homemade beer for Christmas, we had a couple the other day (they told us to wait a month before drinking) and both thought they would also be excellent with mussels. So yesterday, I broke out the beer.

Love Beer

Love Beer

When cooking mussels you need to remember that firstly, the mussels are alive, so some of them may open and close their shell before you start handling them. When you are cleaning them you are checking for mussels that are already open. They are dead and should be discarded.

This is what you’ll need;

1 bottle of light ale or other beer of your choice

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup brother (I used beef)

3 lbs mussels, beards removed and scrubbed well

In a large lidded pot, add liquid and butter. Scrub and de-beard your mussels and add to pot. Cover with a lid and turn on to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes. Most, if not all of your mussels should be open. If any of them are still closed they should be discarded. At this point, you can eat these mussels. They would be fantastic with some frites or sautéed spinach. But I had other plans for these guys.

Since we were going to a dinner party, I wanted to make sure these were something that could be eaten easily, and be filling. So I made an easy stuffing, and stuffed the cooked mussels.

For the stuffing, this is what you need;

3 hot dog buns (weird, I know, but it’s what I had on hand)

1/2 medium onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup beef brother

6 marinated artichoke hearts, diced

1/4 cub cubed asiago cheese

1/8 tea pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Tear up the buns into little pieces, add to a medium bowl. Add all other ingredients except the cheese. Stir well. The liquid should be soaked up by the bread and form a bready ball (sort of).  Add the cheese, stir. Set aside.

Next open all the mussels, remove the meat from the shell and place onto the “clean” shell, set aside. Once all mussels have been de-meated (is there a term for this? I have no idea), take each mussel and a bit of the stuffing. Pat the stuffing around the mussel and place back into the shell.

stuffed mussels

stuffed mussels

Back in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

photo 4 (2)

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Pickled Garlic


Oh my god I may have just died and gone to heaven. Pickled Garlic? Amazing!

Originally posted on thefolksylife:

So, I just did this.


I had a few spare heads of garlic, because we get these food deliveries called Hello Fresh, and they give you a whole head every week.You can use it just like fresh garlic, but I remember eating pickled garlic straight out of a jar on a regular basis. It was just supermarket shelf stuff, so surely home made has to be better right?!

Now, as you know, I’m not one to be particular about  following recipes, so I read a few and got a general idea.

This jar has
1.5 heads of garlic (such a pain to peel, hence only a small jar to start with)
1 piece of lemon rind
A few twigs of thyme
A few mustard seeds
A few peppercorns
A generous few twists of Himalayan salt
Topped up with white vinegar

I sterilized the jar, and I’ll leave it for…

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The Bro-wich

I’m fairly certain I got this idea from Pinterest, in fact, I’m positive it’s something I pinned in a board for my husband’s birthday. Mainly because this is a majorly over-indulgent looking sandwich, and really not something I would put together myself. But today was a little different. Today I was very short on patience, attention span, really, anything that required more than 4-8 hours of sleep over the last 4 days. Because I haven’t had it. It’s obviously catching up to me. So while trying to crawl-proof my house (because B started really crawling yesterday), dealing with Z, running errands, 2 split lips later, I really didn’t want an over complicated lunch, but we had no leftovers. Z and I both voted on warm sandwiches, not on bread (I know, we make things harder on us) so our choices were bagels…or were they? In the very back of the freezer, I found a box of frozen pretzels. Z was THRILLED. Sandwiches on pretzels?

Seriously. What a great idea. She ate every last bite. I even added double veggies to her plate. Score.

Because it’s a sandwich there are no rules. You can obviously make whatever you want. If I made pretzels from scratch this would have been even better. But I didn’t.

So here goes, we had Turkey, provolone, mustard and dill pickle sandwiches. On a pretzel. Or I should say, sandwiched between two pretzels.

That my friend, is a bro-wich. (It sort of looks like a face…)


Hot Pretzel Sandwich-The Ultimate Bro-wich

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Holy Crap These Are the Best Blueberry Muffins I Have Ever Made

How’s that for a blog title?

It’s true. I’m sitting here,  typing one handed as I rock B to sleep without nursing him (harder than it sounds my friends) as he’s grabbing my hair AND touching my face. All I can do is think about these muffins sitting on my counter not getting eaten by me. It’s a crime.

Last week the grocery store had buy 1 get 1 on blueberries and I was a little ambitious with my pickling dreams. I didn’t have time to pickle them while they were still super firm so now I’m left with delicious, but no longer pert fruit.

My tried and true blueberry  muffin recipe which I cannot for the life of me commit to memory has recently lost a battle with a permanent marker and is a picture of an “evil monster” (thanks Zara). I wanted blueberry muffins so I remembered as much as I could, and…wow, this is my new go to (Yes, I’m tooting my own horn).

This is what you’ll need; (Makes 36 muffins)

2 cups blueberries, washed

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tea baking soda

1/2 tea salt

1 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups milk

1 large lemon, zested

2 large eggs

1 stick butter, melted

1 tea vanilla extract

1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt). Set aside.

Melt butter (I do it in the microwave for 45 seconds)

In a large bowl add eggs, sour cream, butter (once it’s cooled), vanilla, zest, milk and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry mixture to the wet in thirds. Stirring well each time. When batter is smooth, fold in blueberries (quick tip-to get your blueberries to NOT sink to the bottom, toss them in 1 tbsp. of flour).

Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups and fill 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. I topped half of my muffins with sliced almonds and the other half left plain.

Let cool and then eat. Or not cool and eat. It’s your prerogative.

blueberry muffins

easy blueberry muffins

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Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes. The best healthy food (that just doesn’t taste healthy) ever. It’s hearty, it goes with almost anything, it’s found in a whole host of cuisines and it’s pretty inexpensive.

We always have sweet potatoes in our house. They live in a cabinet next to the regular potatoes and onions, but they never seem to stay that long. I add them to curries, chop them up to include in empanadas, shred them to add to chutney, add to rice salads…oh, and they’re pretty good roasted and baked.

When I first met my husband (I won’t tell you how long ago) he was a meat and potatoes guy. He had a long list of dislikes, but not a whole lot of great reasons as to why he didn’t like these items. In my family, that’s a challenge, admittedly a very hard one for him at times (I’m looking at you broccoli and brussel sprouts) but one that he has, for the most part overcome (he eats sushi, vegan carrot soup and any Indian curry I put in front of him…). Yet sometimes he is nostalgic, and who doesn’t like to indulge nostalgia?

He has a memory of his grandmother Janet, who was a fantastic spitfire of a woman, making twice baked potatoes. There’s obviously more to the memory, but this is the only part that discusses food so…there you have it folks…instead of making regular potatoes I decided to use sweet potatoes because…because we love them.

I like to use simple ingredients when I can, the less the better and this recipe is no different.

This is what you need; (serves 4)

2 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp. sour cream

2 tbsp. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

1/8 tea salt

1/8 tea pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Bake your potatoes or zap them in the microwave. I usually zap them. I know, I know, it’s not the best for you, but it’s easy, and I don’t have to think about them while I’m prepping the rest of the meal.

When your potatoes are done, slice in half and scoop out most of the insides, making a potato skin boat.

In a small bowl add sweet potato “meat”, sour cream and cheese. Whip up (I use a fork). When fairly creamy, add mixture to each of the boats. Top with salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet covered in tin foil or in a pie dish (which is what I used) place potatoes and bake for 15-20 minutes. The potatoes should be slightly crispy and the cheese should be melted.

Twice baked sweet potato

Twice baked sweet potato

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Week Round Up

Another week, another menu. Last week I wasn’t as good at sticking to “the menu”. Primarily because we had some meals with friends and family. So, a very good reason to not stick with it.

That means we have some items in the fridge/pantry that are ‘left over’ from last week, which will make this week a bit easier. Anyway, here goes (PS-I thought today was Sunday, which explains the lack of yesterday’s post. My mind gave me two Sundays…yay holiday weekends!)

Monday-Seared Scallops with Twice Baked Sweet Potato

Tuesday-Gnocchi with Homemade Pasta Sauce

Wednesday-Chicken Parm

Thursday-French Onion Soup

Friday-Roasted Mussels and Frites with Salad

Saturday-Sausage and Goats Cheese Pizza

Sunday-Black Bean Empanadas

What are YOU having for dinner this week?

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