Tag Archives: Cheddar cheese

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup

30 Sep

Do y’all know how much I am loving soup? I never thought of soup as a main dish, except for chili. But after last winter’s CSA, I found myself really enjoying soups, not least because soups are an easy way of sneaking in more veggies into your diet. I’m not a fan of simple vegetables — I like lots of added flavor and spices. The BF is happy eating steamed veggies with salt and butter, but I prefer something a little more than that, so spiced soups are awesome. Plus, I love cooking up a soup and then having bowls and bowls of it leftover for meals throughout the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I eat weird things for breakfast, and soup is one of my favorites to have in the morning.

Squash Soup's On!

When I was researching recipes to use up the 4 dozen apples I had after the Apple Fest, I found this amazing recipe for Apple Cheddar Squash Soup. Even after ABC sandwiches and Honey Apple Cake, I still had apples from the festival. I also happened to get a butternut squash in my CSA that week too, so it seemed like fate. I finally got around to making this soup and have been enjoying it since.

This soup is super tasty with subtle flavors. I thought that the soup tasted better and better with each passing day — the flavors built over a few days in the fridge and were stronger by the time I finished the last bowl around day 5. It is a pureed soup — I love eating pureed soup but I don’t love preparing it. After transferring multiple batches of soup into my semi-functioning food processor, I am feeling the need to invest in an immersion blender soon. The lid on my food processor keeps getting stuck on, and I’m certain that if I keep wrestling with it, this will eventually mean a lot of soup spilled all over my kitchen, and I really don’t want to have to clean that up. How long is it until Christmas again?

Delicious Fall in a Bowl

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup adapted from Food Network

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apple juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Chives for garnish (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, apples, sweet potato, and squash. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the sage and flour. Add the apple juice and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Add the broth and milk. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the potato is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cheese to the soup and stir over medium-low heat until melted.

Puree in a food processor or blender in batches until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, transfer back to the pot and cook uncovered over low heat until soup reaches desired consistency.

Garnish with crumbled bacon, chives, and more cheese, if using. Serve with bread.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from I Should Be Mopping the FloorTwelve O EightRedhead Can Decorate, and Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

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Grilled Cheese & Guacamole

1 Jul

My aunt/godmother tells me this story of the first time I met her now-husband, my uncle John. I was 5, and we were out to dinner somewhere. I ordered a grilled cheese, which was always my favorite. He asked me if I liked it, and apparently I responded, with complete sincerity and gravity, “I love grilled cheese so much, if I didn’t have it at least once a week, I would die.”

Let me tell you, ain’t nobody better get between me and some cheese. I don’t play around. As a tween, the first thing I learned how to make on my own was Kraft macaroni and cheese, and the second was a perfect grilled cheese. I don’t think you can expand much on a perfect grilled cheese — Bunny bread, Kraft singles, and Country Crock — but you can have other perfect grilled cheeses.

See, to me, fancy grilled cheese — like the $10 ones you can get at locavore foodie restaurants — are really good, but they’re pretty much a different food altogether. I will very much enjoy a fancy grilled cheese, but if I’m craving a perfect classic grilled cheese, a fancy one just won’t fill that craving. I feel the same way about delivery pizza versus gourmet pizza. That’s why it’s perfectly acceptable to go out to Pizzeria Toro for gourmet pizza and to order from Papa John’s for delivery pizza all in the span of a couple days — they’re totally different meals.

I didn’t have much in the fridge last week, and I was super hungry for dinner. We had had this delicious Country loaf from Bread & Butter with butter and raspberry jam for breakfast:

Good morning!

Mmm… it was so delicious and still warm! So with the second half of the loaf, I decided to make a grilled cheese for dinner. And then I remembered that I had seen this on Pinterest. Seemed like a no-brainer.

The major difference between my Grilled Cheese & Guacamole and the one on Cooking Stoned is that mine is not as pretty. This is not surprising to me. The other thing I did was dice my tomatoes and mix them into my guacamole instead of having slices of tomato. I just don’t like raw tomatoes all that much. It would be good either way. An important part of the process that I learned from Cooking Stoned, is to broil or toast the bread with cheese first so that the cheese gets all melty.

Cheesy Melt!

(I don’t know why there’s only one piece of bread in that picture. I cooked both slices that way. Whatever.) Ooey gooey deliciousness:

Gooey deliciousness

Talk about a grown-up grilled cheese. OMG YOU SHOULD ADD BACON. I’m going to do that next time.

Here’s a recipe. I didn’t really use amounts because sandwiches are one of those things where you should just put however much you want to on the bread.

Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich adapted from Cooking Stoned

2 slices of bread
guacamole
handful of grape tomatoes or a few slices of a regular tomato
cheddar slices
butter
(onion and/or cilantro might be a good idea, but I didn’t use those)

Prepare the guacamole. (I use an avocado, lime juice, and Wildtree guacamole seasoning. You could also purchase prepared guac.) Dice the tomato and stir into the guacamole. Set aside.

Arrange slices of cheddar cheese on the surface of both slices of bread. Broil or toast until the cheese is melted and the bread is slightly crispy.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat. Transfer a slice of cheesy bread to the pan, spread on a whole bunch of guacamole, and then sandwich the other slice of cheesy bread on top. Flip the sandwich when the bread is golden brown, only a couple minutes on each side.

ENJOY IT.

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Link Party Thursday from Somewhat Simple

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

31 May

The final broccoli dish I prepared is this Broccoli Cheddar Soup, perfect timing since broccoli season in North Carolina technically ends today. (Procrastinate? Me? Only all of the times.) This recipe also requires the use of a food processor or a blender, but if you haven’t bought a food processor yet, go get one. They’re amazing. Also, advance apologies here: I could have sworn I took pictures of this process, and now I can’t find them anywhere. Who knows where in the black hole of the interwebs they ended up? I do have a picture of the final product though. Read on!

I started off sauteing half a chopped red onion in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, and then set that aside. Then I made a roux by whisking together 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup flour over medium heat for a few minutes. Then, as I whisked, I added 2 cups half-and-half and then 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup beef broth. (The original recipe called for 2 cups chicken broth, but I had some leftover beef broth from another recipe, so I just mixed that in. If you need a vegetarian soup, just use a strongly flavored vegetable broth.) Once all this was together, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Now for the veggies. I added in 3 cups chopped broccoli,  1 cup shredded carrots1 cup shredded red cabbage, and the cooked onions. I continued cooking everything over low heat for about 20 minutes. I added in a little bit of salt and pepper, and then 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

The soup was fairly thick by this point. I poured it in batches into the food processor (or you could use a blender), and after blending each batch, returned it to the pot over low heat. Once all the soup was back in the pot, I stirred in 3 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese – about half white cheddar and half regular cheddar, since that’s what I had in the fridge. And that was that! I had a bit for dinner, and then saved half for lunch the next day and half for the freezer for later.

Soup's on!

How Sue Sees It:

I think this would make a great side dish, but it wasn’t really good enough to satisfy me for a main dish. The original recipe claimed to be just like Panera Bread, which was just not true. I know I didn’t follow it exactly, but there’s no way that beef instead of chicken broth and a handful of cabbage made that much of a difference. It just wasn’t cheesy or creamy enough. I kind of figure that to get even more cheese flavor, this would have to be extremely unhealthy. And if it’s going to be that unhealthy, I shouldn’t eat it very often, so instead of trying to make it myself, I’ll probably just go to Panera when I need to satisfy my cheesy craving. So honestly, even though this soup was decent, I probably won’t be making it again.

If you do try to make it yourself, I recommend steaming the vegetables separately beforehand. I’m not sure the vegetables cooked well enough — the soup ended up with a slightly grainy texture.

Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole

8 May

My mom is affectionately known as Aunt Dee Dee or just Dee Dee to all of her nieces and nephews. She is the fun, crazy aunt who not only lets you throw a ball in the house, but is often the one to initiate and participate in said indoors throwing game. I was jealous of my cousins as a teenager because at that age, I thought my mom was a way cooler aunt than mom. But now I have a little more perspective (and a little less attitude), and I more remember all the fun and crazy projects my mom cooked up over the years, which now loom much larger than the fights and arguments we were having when I was in high school. For example, my Double Dare birthday party was the coolest party of the 4th grade, complete with pie-throwing contests, tricycle races, and a relay race that involved massive amounts of butter, popcorn, Jell-o, and a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

My mom is also a pretty amazing chef, and it’s humbling to think back over the years at how she taught herself new skills in the kitchen. When my siblings were very young (before I was around) and our family didn’t have a lot of money, they ate a lot of casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals. They were classic, homey meals that were cheap and easy to put together, perfect for a mom working crazy hours with 2 small kids. But by the time I came along, my parents were a little more settled. My mom left work to stay at home with us, and our meals became more complex, fresh, and nutritious. By the time my little sisters were in the picture, the family was eating ethnic foods like Indian and Japanese, and our meals had a lot more fresh produce and a lot less cream of mushroom soup.

I think this trend is very interesting from a sociological standpoint, but I also think that from a personal view, I became very used to learning about food and trying new things. Now my mom and I swap ideas for new foods, new recipes, and how to use the massive quantities of rosemary she gets from the rosemary bush in her backyard big enough to hide two toddlers in (speaking from experience). I regularly call her for advice (“Mom, 10 people are showing up for dinner in 20 minutes, and I ran out of ___. What should I do!?” or “Mom, this chicken I just cooked is, like, gray… If I eat it, will it kill me?”), and I give her tips I pick up from health food nuts and farmers’ markets in my more liberal small town. My goal one day is to be able to take a quick glance into a pantry or refrigerator and put together a dinner plan, just like I’ve seen her do a million times. I’m not that comfortable or familiar yet with food, ingredients, and recipes, but I think I’m getting there.

When I was staring at the broccoli – this month’s seasonal produce – and trying to figure out what to do with it, I could not stop thinking about broccoli casserole. This is a huge throwback dish, something my mom made relatively regularly when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I think I even requested it as part of my birthday dinner one year. But as I explained above, our family has trended over time toward more nutritious foods, so this is a dish that my mom no longer makes or eats. It’s very unhealthy, especially since I only want it if she agrees to my request for extra cheese. Every year at Thanksgiving she proposes leaving it out, and every year my siblings, cousins, and I demand that we have it. It’s a Thanksgiving staple that I generally only have once a year. So she agrees to its presence at our Thanksgiving table, but one of us has to make it ourselves. It’s a very simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes or less. So here it is… Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole.

Start with 1 bag frozen broccoli. Thaw it completely (on the counter or in the microwave) and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Spread it in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Broccoli and cheeseSpread a layer of cream of mushroom soup over top the cheese.

Cream of Mushroom SoupAnd now spread another layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center, and cook it in the microwave on high for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is cooked.

More CheeseI hadn’t made this in a long time, but I knew the cheese was the most important part, so I just kept adding some. I wasn’t sure how much was necessary. When I pulled it out of the microwave, it really just looked like a dish of cheese with a few broccoli bumps. I realized I went a little overboard, but obviously it was good because I tried to take a picture a few minutes later, but people were already digging in!

Broccoli Casserole

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!