Tag Archives: creamy

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup

3 Dec
Turkey Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup

My life is a bit topsy-turvy these days, as I’ve taken on a seasonal job with the U.S. Postal Service as a Santa’s Elf to tide us over while my food cart is closed for the season. The problem is, these elves have to work the night shift in order to get Santa’s packages out and delivered during the day. So now I’m making dinner at 10 am or so in the morning, and doing odd things like decorating the Christmas tree at 3 in the morning on my nights off. (OK I’m kidding about the Santa’s Elf thing, but it sounds much more glamorous than Holiday Clerk Assistant, which is really no more than a mail sorter and package thrower…)

Most days my husband and I are like two ships passing in the night, but on one of our rare encounters recently we had a short discussion about fennel. He couldn’t find any when he needed some for a lasagna he made me for my birthday recently. Long story short, he bought some dried fennel, which made me think of a fresh fennel bulb, which I haven’t cooked with in ages. AND SO, I bought a fresh fennel bulb and decided to make this soup with some of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey. And my husband just LOVED this soup! (He had to reheat it since I made it so early in the day.) It has a very guest-worthy flavor with the addition of the fennel and sherry. I hope you enjoy it too!

Vegetable Soup Base

Vegetable Soup Base

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup
Adapted from SarasotaCook at Food.com

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups sliced and rough-chopped mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup thin-sliced baby carrots
3/4 cup thin-sliced rough-chopped fennel bulb
3/4 cup think sliced celery
2 cloves minced garlic
A few sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried chopped rosemary
1 bay leaf
5 cups turkey or chicken stock, homemade or good-quality
1 cup chopped turkey (can use more if you want)
3/4 cup wild rice mix, uncooked
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter and oil over medium and add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, fennel, and celery. Cook until the onions and celery are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in the last minute or so.

Stir the rice into the vegetable mixture, then add the broth and Worcestershire. Bring to a low boil, then cover and lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the rice is somewhat tender. Uncover, then add the turkey, sherry and cream or half and half, bring to a low boil again, reduce heat and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is cooked through. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. I meant to add some fresh parsley at the end, but totally forgot. Feel free to throw that in if you have it! Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and serve with hot crusty bread.

Turkey Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup

Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Creamy Soup

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One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two

21 May
Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two

Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two

Recently my meals have taken on a “keep-it-simple” theme, which includes finding and making new meals that only use one pot, pan, or skillet. One day I was surfing Pinterest, pondering what to make with some fresh spring asparagus I had bought and came across this delightful food blog that offered just the ticket for a quick and easy meal. I scaled it down for two people as my daughter wasn’t eating at home that night, and also added some Neufchâtel cream cheese to double the creaminess. The meal offered everything it claimed, including only one pot to clean after. And the bonus? It only took a half hour to make! Two thumbs up all the way around!

One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two
Adapted from The Nourished Peach, original recipe here

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Ground black pepper and Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
4 to 6 ounces asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup milk, any kind
6 to 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice (1 small lemon or 1/2 large)
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan chees
2 ounces Neufchâtel cheese or regular cream cheese
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Season the chicken on both sides with ground black pepper and Mrs. Dash or salt, to taste. Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Browning the Chicken

Browning the Chicken

Add the chicken and cook for about 7 minutes on one side, then turn chicken over and cook for another 7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Remove chicken to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes or so.

Browning the Asparagus

Browning the Asparagus

Meanwhile add the asparagus to the pot and cook for several minutes, stirring to evenly cook it. In the last minute or so, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with a couple teaspoons of the chicken broth and scrape up the yummy browned bits from the chicken.

Pasta and Cooking Liquids

Pasta and Cooking Liquids ~ I broke the spaghetti in half to fit the pot

Add the thyme, additional ground black pepper, chicken broth, milk, and pasta to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium and gently boil, stirring often with a fork to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.

Boiling the Pasta

Boiling the Pasta

Simmer for 8 to 15 minutes (we live at high altitude so pasta takes longer) until pasta is cooked to your liking.

Adding the Chicken

Adding the Chicken

Meanwhile slice the chicken into strips then cut into bite-sized pieces. When pasta is done, add the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, Neufchâtel or cream cheese, and chicken. Stir to completely combine then top with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Serve in bowls along with a side salad. So delicious!

Note: This recipe can easily be double or tripled, use size of pot accordingly.

Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two

One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta for Two

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Marcos Pollo Tacos

3 Apr
Marcos Pollo Tacos

Marcos Pollo Tacos

We have a local restaurant that serves an amazing Mexican chicken dish called Marcos Pollo. It’s a creamy/spicy dish filled with chicken and mushrooms and served with rice and beans and tortillas. I decided to recreate this as best I could, and my husband thought it was spot on! Aside from telling me it was delicious, he wants me to add more mushrooms, increase the sauce, and make the chicken cubes smaller next time. Ever the critic, isn’t he? 😀 But I did agree with him except the chicken chunk size. I like a nice mouthful of chicken with each bite!

Marcos Pollo Tacos

3/4 to 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons minced chipotle in adobo sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock, reduced to 1/4 cup
1/2 sweet onion, cut and sliced in quarters
4 to 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced thick
1/2 cup heavy cream, Mexican crema, or Half and Half
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water
Cilantro, for garnish

Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes, then mix with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the paprikas and minced chipotle in adobo in a non-reactive bowl or zip-top baggie. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, then lightly boil until the stock has been reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and set aside. This took about 20 minutes.

Chicken and Onions Browning

Chicken and Onions Browning

Meanwhile, slice the onions and mushrooms. After chicken stock has reduced, add the chicken and onions to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a clean bowl and set aside.

Deglazing Mushrooms

Deglazing Mushrooms ~ I haven’t quite mastered an in-focus pouring shot…

Add the other tablespoon of oil to the skillet then cook the mushrooms until golden brown, about another 5 to 7 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the reduced stock.

Add the chicken and onions back to the skillet, then stir in the cream and sour cream until combined. Next add the corn starch/water slurry, then simmer and stir until the sauce has thickened.

Creamy Spicy Chicken and Mushrooms

Creamy Spicy Chicken and Mushrooms

Remove from heat and serve over cooked rice, black beans in warmed corn tortillas. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Marco Pollo Tacos

Marcos Pollo Tacos

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Southwest Taco Salad with Creamy Guacamole Dressing

7 Sep
Southwest Taco Salad with Guacamole Dressing

Southwest Taco Salad with Creamy Guacamole Dressing

Ahhh, where oh where did the summer go? School starts this week in my neck of the woods and temperatures have gone from sizzling hot to almost frosty. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying this zesty and crunchy salad filled with summer bounty topped with a smooth avocado dressing.

We’ve just returned this weekend from nine glorious days camping and fishing at the beautiful Oregon coast. What a wonderful way to end the summer!

Southwest Taco Salad with Creamy Guacamole Dressing
Adapted from Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing at Carlsbad Cravings

Creamy Guacamole Dressing

1 small avocado, peeled and roughly diced
1 small jalapeño, seeded, deveined, and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 salsa, homemade or store-bought (I used my Hatch chile salsa)
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Southwest Taco Salad

Grilled chicken breast, sliced (or deli rotisserie)
Corn kernels from 1 ear of sweet white corn
Chopped/shredded lettuce of choice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup roasted pepitas
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
Creamy Guacamole Dressing
Tortilla chips, for serving

Creamy Guacamole Dressing

Creamy Guacamole Dressing

Add all of the Creamy Guacamole Dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. You will have to scrape down the sides a few times. Add additional milk, if needed, to thin to desired consistency. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Next, grill the chicken breast, if it isn’t already cooked.

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Remove the kernels from the ear of corn, using a Bundt-pan to catch the kernels, if you have one. (That’s a pretty cool tip I picked up from Pinterest.)

Cutting the Corn off the Cob

Cutting the Corn off the Cob

Add all the salad ingredients except dressing and chips to a large bowl. Toss to combine.

Southwest Taco Salad Ingredients

Southwest Taco Salad Ingredients

Add tossed salad to individual bowls, then top with guacamole dressing and serve with tortilla chips.

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Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

17 Apr
Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole

Strange ingredients? Please hear me out. This is NOT weird at all and received multiple thumbs up from the family. Gosh, even the leftovers were awesome. There is something about the down-home creamy corn base from the polenta and slightly sweet taste from the squashes and then the spinach and chicken that just made this an incredibly surprising meal! My eyes gone wide, you know what I mean? WOW! (This actually doesn’t even need the chicken and could be vegetarian, but the meat was already defrosted.)

I had the defrosted chicken breast and a fresh bag of spinach, and set my sights on something new for the combination. I have made my Balsamic Chicken and Spinach more times than I can count the past few years. Somehow I came across some vegetarian polenta and spinach casserole recipes, and tasked myself with coming up with a recipe my family would actually eat.

I found a great recipe with fresh spinach and mushrooms but it used pre-made polenta cakes. Another recipe I found had a creamy homemade polenta base with zucchini, squash and tomatoes. Well, the daughter doesn’t “do” mushrooms, I only had fresh spinach and dried polenta grain on hand, so decided to mix up the two recipes and came up with my own original. You will NOT be disappointed. (Aside note: I was following the vegetarian version recipes and totally spaced on browning the chicken until assembly. Yikes! So please, follow my instructions below instead of doing what I did. Or, omit chicken altogether. It all worked out, we only ate 10 minutes later than the original plan.)

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
Ground black pepper, and salt or Mrs. Dash, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup dried polenta (course cornmeal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped onion
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow squash, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic and basil (if yours are plain diced, add dried or fresh herbs to taste)
1 8 to 10-ounce bag fresh spinach
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded fresh Mozarrella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season to taste with ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash. Heat a skillet with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and brown the chicken about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Set aside.

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Cooking the Creamy Polenta

Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium sauce pot to boil. Stir together the milk and polenta to make a slurry, then add to the boiling water. Bring up to a simmer then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. (If you want you could brown the chicken now in this step. I just didn’t want you to forget!)

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

Creamy Polenta Poured into Pan

When the polenta is done, pour it into an oil-sprayed 13 x 9 or so sized casserole dish and set aside.

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Chopped Onion, Zucchini, and Squash

Meanwhile, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini, and squash and sauté until the onions are softened.

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Vegetable Mixture Simmering

Add the tomatoes (and spices if tomatoes aren’t pre-seasoned). Bring up to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the browned chicken and mix to combine. Now, by handfuls, tear up the spinach and add to the mixture and stir in until all is added and wilted.

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables

Spinach Wilting into Vegetables ~ WAIT ~ You don’t see that forgotten chicken in the background you had to cook first, right??

Meanwhile (again), preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the vegetable mixture is done, spread it evenly on top of the polenta in the casserole dish. Top with a combination of shredded Mozarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Creamy Squash Spinach and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Creamy Squash, Spinach, and Chicken Polenta Casserole Ready to Bake

Bake for about 25 minutes until it is heated through and bubbly and the cheese has melted. Turn the heat up to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on plates or in bowls. Nothing else is needed, as this is an entire meal! If this weren’t so fugly coming out of the casserole dish, I’d call it guest-worthy (taste-wise)!

p.s. (My sister arrived today from Texas for 10 days, so I might not get a post out for awhile. Enjoy browsing my archives if you want if you are a newcomer!)

Casserole Half-Eaten

Casserole Half-Eaten~ YEP! Three of us pretty much wiped out half of a lasagna pan of this in one sitting!

 

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Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup is a Community Pick!

2 Feb
Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

I was so excited when I checked on the status of a recipe I submitted to a contest late last night on the Food52 website, and was pleasantly surprised to see my recipe was selected for the testing phase of “Your Best Recipe with Potatoes 2.0”!

Even though I don’t have a new recipe for you (we had been busy getting ready to host our first Super Bowl party in the new house), you can find a slew of great recipes on that website, including all the great potato recipes that made it through the first round of the contest!

Click here to view the Community Pick page —–> Your Best Recipe with Potatoes 2.0

You can click on the link to the recipe in the list. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Creamy Navy Bean and Ham Soup

22 Nov
Crock Pot Creamy Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Navy Bean and Ham Soup

We are in the stages of meltdown after a long, cold, and snowy week. Nothing on the scale of the Great Lake Effect snowstorm in New York, but we had enough snow, ice, and snow, thank you very much. What better way to soothe your cold bones than a nice, big bowl of creamy navy bean soup?

I’ve made huge batches of this soup before using a large ham bone, but this version is scaled down. To lend to the creamy factor, I roughly chopped all the veggies in my Ninja food processor. If you have good memory, I used to have a gray one. I now own a red one because the “dishwasher safe” base on my gray one warped from being washed on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, apparently too close to the heating element. I now hand wash my Ninja. I recommend the same if you own one.

I used homemade ham broth for this recipe, as my husband cooked up a large batch of it before our transition to our temporary home. If you don’t have any ham broth, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth will work just as well, although you may have to taste for the addition of salt.

Crock Pot Creamy Navy Bean and Ham Soup

1 pound dried navy beans
1/2 medium onion
6-8 baby carrots
2 stalks celery
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt to taste, if needed
4 to 5 cups ham broth
1 to 2 cups diced cooked ham
About 1 cup diced tomatoes

Rinse and sort the dried navy beans, then soak overnight in a pot covered an inch over with water.  The next day, reserve 4 cups of the soaked navy beans, and freeze the rest of the beans in a resealable freezer bag for future use. Add the beans to a 3-quart crock pot.

Soaked Beans with the Holy Trinity2

Soaked Beans with the Holy Trinity2

Add the onion, carrots and celery to a food processor, and pulse several times until roughly chopped. (I had to do this in batches.) Scrape the veggies into the crock pot, then add the garlic, seasonings, ham broth, and ham. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours.

Assembled Soup Ready to Cook

Assembled Soup Ready to Cook

About an hour before serving, remove about two cups of the beans and vegetables and puree until smooth in a food processor or blender, then return to the crock pot.

Pureed Soup in my RED Ninja

Pureed Soup in my RED Ninja!

Now add the diced tomatoes and cook for the last hour until ready to serve. (I almost forgot this step and took my final photo before adding the tomatoes! I thawed, peeled and chopped some of my tomatoes from the freezer.) Mmmm, mmm, good!

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One Pot Creamy Sausage and Pasta with Vegetables

25 Oct
One Pot Creamy Sausage and Pasta with Vegetables

One Pot Creamy Sausage and Pasta with Vegetables

I’ve been eyeing a bunch of “one pot” meals lately, which are very much needed in this small temporary kitchen. And what is also great about them is that they are very versatile! You can use pretty much any vegetables you have in your fridge (such as the yellow pepper that needed to be used STAT) and any kind of pasta sitting in your pantry.

And fortunately for me this time, I didn’t have to make a run to our freezer that is stored and plugged in at the garage of our new house, as on my last “house run” I grabbed two bags of frozen chicken broth instead of just one! Even if you don’t have chicken broth on hand, you could always just use water instead.

Last, my FAVORITE thing about this meal, is that you can get it prepped and on the table in about a half hour! Which was also a lifesaver this weekend with a busy schedule running my daughter all over town and helping to decorate for her dance team’s annual Spook House.

And the flavor? DEE-LICOUS! Don’t skimp on the spicy seasoning, it is not that spicy at all but adds just enough heat to round out the creamy, cheesy flavors. I can see this one in my rotation for sure, and I hope you will too!

One Pot Creamy Sausage and Pasta with Vegetables

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound smoked turkey sausage (1/2 horseshoe link), sliced
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, homemade if you have some!
1/2 cup heavy cream (half and half or milk will work too)
8 ounces dry pasta (any pasta will work, I used Penne)
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning (or sub with 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish

Browning the Meat and Veggies

Browning the Sausage and Veggies

Add olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven pan over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, and sausage. Cook until lightly browned and mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and seasonings and cook until fragrant, about a minute more.

Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes with liquid, cream and pasta. Bring the mixture up to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Pasta Ready to Simmer in the Creamy Sauce

Pasta Ready to Simmer in the Creamy Sauce

Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with chopped green onions and serve.

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Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

19 Oct
Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

I love it when I come across a recipe that inspires me to buy the ingredients on my next shopping trip and make it for lunch or dinner. This was such a recipe, and a big shout out to Seana at Cottage Grove House, who makes beautiful, easy-to-make homemade fresh dishes and shares them for people like me! Please go check out her site, if you would, here.

Although it’s been the warmest fall I can remember in the 20 years I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, October means it is soup-making time. Who cares if I’m still wearing capris and t-shirts?

A 3-quart pot is the largest pot available in this tiny temporary kitchen, so I had to make some quantity adjustments to the original recipe. In addition, the store I went to did not have creme fraiche, so I had to use a homemade substitute for that.

This was a perfect, light supper for another beautiful sunny, fall day. And as luck should have it, my husband fried up some extra bacon when he made a BLT sandwich for lunch today, so I added some extra flavor to the soup by subbing one tablespoon of olive oil for bacon grease, then garnishing the soup with some of the bacon bits. The bacon part is totally optional, so this would be a great meatless meal for any day!

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Adapted from Luscious Cauliflower Soup by Cottage Grove House

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 head cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade or low sodium
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream whisked with 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded)
Snipped chives or green onion, for garnish
Chopped cooked bacon, for garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped Onion, Cauliflower, and Potatoes

Chopped Onion, Cauliflower, and Potatoes

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or 1 tablespoon bacon grease and 1 tablespoon olive oil) in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 more minutes. Remove from heat

Simmering Cauliflower and Potatoes in Broth

Simmering Cauliflower and Potatoes in Broth

In batches, blend about half the soup until desired consistency. Stir in the cheese, half & half and sour cream mixture. Garnish with snipped chives and bacon bits (optional). Pass with salt and pepper and adjust seasoning accordingly, depending on garnishes used. Serve with warm crusty, buttered bread.

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Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

18 Dec
Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

I’m doing a bit of experimenting with my cooking to help decide what I plan on making for the second round of the Diced! competition. Thank you so much to all who voted for me, as I made it to the second round at the top of the leaderboard. I couldn’t have done it without you!

This particular recipe uses two of the four required ingredients. You can probably figure out what one of them is. I won’t be posting my final recipe until it’s up for voting next round, but in the meantime I can share my experiments with you.

Riced Cauliflower

Riced Cauliflower

My husband made a ham for Sunday dinner, and asked if I could make one of the sides. Little did he know I had already planned on making this cheesy cauliflower dish, so it worked out perfectly. My original recipe for this includes mushrooms and doesn’t have a bread topping, but we didn’t have any mushrooms anyways so I just omitted them. (Which is just as well since my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms. She’s not a big fan of cauliflower either, but she’ll still eat it.)

When all was said and done, I think my experiment worked. That can be considered both good and bad, because now I have to decide whether I want to use this technique for the contest dish. So many decisions! But, in the meantime, here is a new side dish with an unusual but great topping:

Cheesy Cauliflower with Cauliflower Panko Topping

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Ground white pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. “Rice” a couple of the cauliflower florets, using a grater, until you have about 1/4 cup of riced cauliflower. Add it to a small bowl or measuring cup, then add the 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs. Melt one tablespoon of the butter with the paprika, then mix well into the cauliflower/Panko mixture. Set aside.

Riced Cauliflower and Panko

Riced Cauliflower and Panko

Cook the cauliflower to al dente, either by steaming, microwave, or pressure cooker. I’m a fan of the pressure cooker, as it takes hardly any time! When it’s done cooking, place it in a casserole dish and cover.

Meanwhile, add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the flour, and stir until a paste is formed. Quickly pour in the milk, whisking until all the lumps are out and the sauce has thickened. Add the mustard, then stir in the cheddar cheese until it melts and the sauce starts to bubble. Add ground white pepper to taste.

Stirring in the Cheese to the Sauce

Stirring in the Cheese to the Sauce

Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower, then top evenly with the cauliflower/Panko mixture. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes until the topping has browned lightly. Remove and serve immediately.

Cheesy Cauliflower Ready to Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Ready to Bake

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