Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I have a confession. My resolution for 2016 was to get more comfortable with my body. I'm not so happy with how clothes are fitting and the amount of energy that I do not have. I did so well all of January, and then our first snow storm of the season hit dumping over 2 feet of snow on the ground. It seriously derailed all of my best laid plans. I went from meal planning every week to eating butter, chocolate, and carbs. SOMEONE HELP ME! 

This is mainly a public declaration to help me be more accountable, and as my invisible internet friends, you're all responsible for helping me stay on track. Ha! Just kidding. But seriously, the direction of this blog may take a turn as I attempt to keep myself on track by feeding myself real food and incorporating more exercise in my daily routine. Maybe I'll get my act together and start blogging about my weekly goals? Maybe I'll post more "real food" recipes? Maybe I'll do both? My main goal is to keep blogging, keep taking photos, and keep making this space my own. I hope you all stick around. 

I've made my meal plan for next week and I just ordered one of the new Fitbit Altas. I'm super excited that it has a feature that will remind me to move because I love to be all cozy on the couch with a book and nap after work, and that's probably not such a healthy habit. I'm also part of the Tone It Up community, and it's been a fantastic motivator for me. 

So, a few changes may show up in this space as I try to make some healthy changes in my own life, but today I have a cozy meal for you. Broccoli cheddar soup to be exact. It's what I made during the blizzard earlier this year where I was stuck in my house for an entire weekend. I hope you enjoy! 

This is honestly one of my favorite comfort meals, and I crave it once the weather turns colder. It's hearty, warms up nicely, and can be paired with little ham and cheese sliders brushed with savory herbed butter. Yes. Do that. 

This soup has everything you want in a comfort meal: cheese, butter, half and half, and more cheese. Oh, and it's easy, too. And really creamy. Are you sold yet? 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

recipe from Simply Scratch 

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 cup pre-cut matchstick carrots
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets 
8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (please grate your really makes this soup phenomenal) 
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium pot melt 2 tablespoons butter and add in onion and carrots. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are fragrant and tender. 

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in broccoli florets and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove broccoli and place in a large bowl of ice water. Let broccoli rest until adding to the soup. 

Next, add in the remaining 1/4 cup of butter and allow to melt. Sprinkle flour over butter and stir constantly until cooked. Slowly add in the broth and half and half. Stir until combined. 

Drain and add broccoli to the soup cooking uncovered on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until soup is thick and broccoli is tender. Do not let soup boil. Using an immersion blender, pulse broccoli florets until smooth, or until desired consistency is reached. 

Add in half of the cheese and stir until combined and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

pear & ginger crumble

It's been almost an entire year since I've written in this space, and almost as long since I've baked anything at all! So much has changed in my life and today was the perfect day to bake, and write a little bit.

So many new things in my life...all of them good...but today I feel a little unsettled. All the things that are different now were things that I'd been praying for a very long time, but they've required a stretching of my faith in a new way. When you pray for things for a long time without any sign of change, your faith is built almost in the way muscle is built. You keep exercising the faith, trudging through what seems to be lifetimes of waiting on an answer, and little-by-little, your faith muscles grow until one day you look back and realize the strength that was built. But, blessings and answered prayers build your faith, too. Blessings have a way of stretching you. Of enlarging your territory. It's easy to get overwhelmed with doubts of being able to sustain the new. Specifically for me, it's been hard to find my place in this new season of overflow because I became accustomed to the desert season. Please don't misunderstand me. I am grateful for the breakthroughs that have come. I am also grateful that I am now experiencing God's faithfulness in a new way. I am discovering new things about him. I am uncovering that even in a season of blessing faith and character can be stretched. I'm amazed at how God has fulfilled my heart's desires, but how he has also shown me things that need to change. I hope I never get tired of discovering new things about him.

What does this have to do with pear crumble? Not a single thing. This space has become a place to document food (because it's fun and I love it), but also a place of remembrance. A place I can write  about what's going on in my life and then come back to as a way to remember how far i've come, and how faithful God is to me. 

Pear & Ginger Crumble (with Browned Butter)

recipe from Shutterbean

For the Pears
4 pears (I used Bartlett & Red) peeled & chopped
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
1 inch knob ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Crumble
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 cup flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a baking dish, combine chopped pears, sugars, cinnamon, flour, ginger, vanilla, & salt. Set aside.

Place cubed butter a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Allow butter to melt, then foam, then finally take off the heat when brown specks begin to form on the bottom of the pan. More information about browning butter can be found here

While the butter cools slightly, combine flour, sugar, oats, and walnuts. Pour butter over dry ingredients and mix together forming the crumble. Spoon crumble mixture over the pears and spread evenly over the filling. 

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes until filling is bubbling through the golden brown topping mixture. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

So, I took my favorite brownie recipe and stuffed it full of pumpkin spice cheesecake, and I am here to share it with you! That's right, buttery, delicious, chocolatey brownies perfected with pumpkin spiced cheesecake. Hello Thanksgiving dessert! Not only is the cheesecake swirled on top of the brownie, but it also get sandwiched inside the brownie itself. Y.U.M!

I hope your  fall has been delightful and productive. Mine sure has. New job, new stuff, Jesus is good. Let's get right to the recipe ok?

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

recipe adapted from Baked Occasions 

makes 24 bars

For the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree 
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and very creamy. Add in all the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Refrigerate while you make the brownie batter!

For the Brownies

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark chocolate (I always use these)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in the center of your oven. Butter the bottom and sides of a 12 cup individual brownie pan** (what I used).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate and butter. Once melted and smooth, turn off the heat and add both sugars. Remove bowl from the pan (the chocolate mixture should be room temperature) and add two of the eggs. Whisk until combined. Add in the remaining egg and gently whisk in until combined.

Sprinkle flour over chocolate mixture and fold in just until combined. 

Fill each individual brownie cup 2/3 full, top with just under a tablespoon full of cheesecake, top with enough brownie batter to cover the cheesecake. Once all cups are full, take around a teaspoon full of cheesecake and dollop over each brownie. swirl a few times with a knife.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. 

Let cool and devour. 

These need to refrigerated to keep them fresh.

**If you don't have an individual brownie pan, you can use a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Pour 2/3 of the brownie batter into the pan and smooth the top. Top the batter with the cheesecake mixture and smooth the top. Drop the remaining batter over the cheesecake, and swirl. Bake for 30-40 minutes. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

apple cider caramel sauce

Today we're talking happy accidents of the food variety. Last week my fabulous and trusty GPS took me to Ohio. However, it took me on all the backroads (aka Route 50) instead of the main road and, good thing for google maps, I loved every second of that drive. I saw corn fields with fruity pebble mountains in the background, prop planes splashed against a perfectly crisp fall sky, and the best thing of all, a 24-hour family owned donut shop in a little town called Londonderry that has been in existence for nearly 100 years! Talk about a happy accident! Those donuts were perfect and cheap. I got two for 98 cents. Ninety. Eight. Cents. I thought the lady was kidding me. I'm glad she wasn't. I want to move into that place. 

This caramel sauce? Also a happy accident! I was attempting to make these apple cider caramel candies and for some reason could not get them to set. The flavors were too good just to throw the caramel out, so I just warmed it up and used it as a warm sauce. This sauce is apple cider, caramelized sugar, and butter goodness. Make it right now!

Warm Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

adapted from this recipe from Dessert for Two

2 cups apple cider
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons salt

In a small saucepan, boil cider until reduced to 1/4 cup. 

Once reduced, remove from heat and whisk in the butter, sugar, and heavy cream. Raise heat and bring mixture to 255 degrees.

Immediately stir in cinnamon and salt and pour mixture into a mason jar. Allow to cool before storing in the fridge. Serve on ice-cream, or these donuts

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

French Breakfast Puffs

Today's high temperature was 65 degrees, it's officially fall, and i'm sharing a cozy recipe that's filled with warm spices and comforting sugar. We're talking french breakfast puffs people. Let's get to it!

So, what is a french breakfast puff? They are perfectly spiced little muffins that have a sturdy yet tender texture and the most perfect cinnamon-sugar crunch to balance out the crumb!

These little gems are probably one of the best baked goods I've made in a while. They are just SO FALL, and they are easy business!

In my weekend daydream, I'm eating these in my sunlit breakfast nook alongside a hot apple cider. Let's make that happen! Ok?

French Breakfast Puffs

makes about 10 little muffins
recipe slightly adapted from The Kitchy Kitchen Cookbook by Claire Thomas

5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin by spraying with non-stick spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1/2 cup of sugar and butter until light in color and fluffy. Add egg, and mix until fully incorporated. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar alternately with the milk. Add in vanilla, and mix to fully incorporate.

Fill muffin tin cups 2/3 cup full. Bake 25 minutes, or until barely golden brown.

Remove from oven and immediately remove puffs from the muffin tin. While still warm, dip puffs in the melted butter then roll in a mixture of the remaining sugar and cinnamon. 

Eat. Share. Have one with a hot apple cider it's the perfect fall breakfast!

Thanks for reading, you sweet people!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tortilla Soup

So, so, SO much to share since my last post. There's so much to say, but I will start with a "THANK YOU"! It's been a year since I began this blog and it's been a much needed creative outlet, but it's also brought some much needed successes. Thank you for reading, subscribing, sharing, and commenting. You are appreciated!

The next bit if news is, I'm starting a new job in October! If you know me in real life you'll know what a journey that situation has been. I've been desperate for a change for about 4 years and there has been A LOT of disappointment, feelings of rejection, tears, sleepless nights, and frustration. That's a story for another time, but I did want to write publicly about this blessing, and send encouragement your way if you're feeling stuck in a situation that you feel you have no control over. God is in control of your life. Just rest in His plan (even if it's difficult), and I promise that one day you'll look back and see that He had a perfect ending planned for you!

Now for the apology, I looked back and I haven't posted anything in 3 weeks?? Yikes! I'm truly sorry! It's been a bit crazy around here and I ended up having a cold/flu/weird, terrible sickness that lasted for two weeks. It was a real butt-kicker. And that, ladies and gentlemen is how this soup was created! 

This is tortilla soup, and it saved my throat and probably cured my head cold/flu/weird, terrible sickness. Maybe I should call this "Miracle Soup"?

This soup is incredibly easy, filling, and comforting....just what you need when you're feeling under the weather or chilled from the cooler temps. Chicken broth, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, cumin, and the unexpected addition of tortillas make a creamy soup that you'll be craving this fall!

Tortilla Soup

makes 2 quarts soup

1/4 cup olive oil
3 corn tortillas, chopped
2 cups yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart reduced-sodium chicken broth
28 ounce can diced tomatoes

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped tortillas and fry until crispy. 

Add onion, cumin, chile powder, jalapeño, and garlic. Cook until onions are tender and translucent.

Add broth and tomatoes and cooke over medium heat for 45 minutes. 

Puree soup in a blender and enjoy. You can eat this alone, or add whatever you like! I added grated cheese, cubed avocado, grilled chicken, and fried tortilla strips. 

recipe slightly adapted from The Kitchy Kitchen Cookbook by Claire Thomas

This soup and Vick's vaporub. Saved my life. :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Triple Layer Funfetti Cake

Boy do I have a doozy of a creation for you today! Three layers of funfetti flavor stacked together and frosted with a sweetened whipped cream. Buckle your seat belts because here we go!

OK, so this cake has three layers. The first layer is a funfetti cheesecake, the second layer is a moist funfetti yellow cake, and the top layer is an airy funfetti mousse. That's right...cheesecake, regular cake, mousse, and it all gets finished off with sweetened whipped cream. It's impressive and delicious. So delicious in fact that we cut into this delight and I forgot to take photos of the inside. Just use your imagination. :)

This cake was a birthday treat made for my sister, Elyse, who is the funfetti-est person I know. She sent me a picture of a journal entry from middle school where she confessed that the hardest decision in her life was deciding what kind of birthday cake she wanted. Luckily this year, she didn't have to decide because I saw this creation and new it was perfect for her!

This cake is a bit labor intensive so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make it. Also, you will need a springform pan. You can try to make this in a regular round cake pan, but I don't recommend it. :)

Triple Layer Funfetti Cake

For the Cheesecake

24 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
3-4 tbsp sprinkles
1 1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 tsp butter extract

For the Funfetti Yellow Cake

2 cups Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup water

For the Mousse

1 tsp + 1/8 tsp powdered gelatin
1 1/2  tablespoon water
9 ounces white chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp butter extract
4 tbsp sprinkles

For the Whipped Cream Frosting

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


To make the Funfetti Cheesecake:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, sugar and flour. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter.
3. Add the sour cream and 2 eggs. Beat until just combined.
4. Add other 2 eggs, sprinkles and almond and butter extracts. Beat until combined.
5. Pour the filling into the pan. Drop onto the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
6. Wrap bottom of pan in aluminum foil and prepare it for a water bath.
7. Place foil wrapped pan in a another pan large enough for a water bath. Fill water pan with warm water about half way up the sides of the springform pan.
8. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
9. Turn off heat and leave in oven with door closed for 20 minutes or until set. Center of cheesecake will not look fully cooked, but will continue to cook in the oven.
10. Open oven door halfway and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cheesecake will be very tall, almost over the edge of the pan, but will begin to fall as it cools.
11. Refrigerate until firm 5-6 hours.
12. Remove cheesecake from springform pan to use later.

To make the Funfetti Cake:
1. Line the bottom of the same sized 9 inch springform pan used for the cheesecake with parchment paper and grease the sides.
2. Mix cake mix, oil and eggs together until well combined.
3. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.
4. Allow cake to cool for 5-8 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
5. When cool, remove cake dome from top of cake.

To make the Funfetti Mousse:
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, let stand for about 5 minutes. Place mixer bowl and whisk attachment into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
2. Place the white chocolate chips in a medium bowl
3. Microwave 3/4 cup of heavy cream until it begins to boil.
4. Add gelatin mixture to the heavy cream and whisk until dissolved.
5. Pour cream over the white chocolate chips and let sit for about a minute.
6. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside, cooling for about 5-8 minutes.
7. Take bowl out and whisk out of freezer and whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream at high speed until it begins to thicken.
8. Add almond and butter extracts and continue whisking on high until soft peaks form.
9. Add about a third of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and mix well.
10. Add remaining whipped cream and sprinkles and mix until well combined. Set aside and move on to next steps.

To begin putting the cake together:
1. Prepare the same springform pan you used to make the cheesecake and cake. Put parchment paper on the bottom and around the edges, sticking up above the top edge of the pan.
2. Place the funfetti cake into the cake pan.
3. Pour the funfetti mousse on top of the funfetti cake and spread evenly.
4. Refrigerate until set, about 2 1/2 hours.

Once the mousse has set, make the Whipped Vanilla Icing:
1. Put mixing bowl and whisk attachment in freezer for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove bowl and whisk from freezer and whip cream on high until it begins to thicken.
3. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar and whip on high until thick and creamy.

To finish off the cake:
1. Get funfetti cheesecake out of refrigerator, as well as the funfetti cake and mousse that are already layered together.
2. Place funfetti cheesecake on a cake board, or the plate you will service it on.
3. Remove funfetti cake and mousse layers from springform pan.
4. Spread a thin layer of icing on top of the cheesecake.
5. Place the funfetti cake and mousse layers on top of the cheesecake, using the cake to lift it. The cake should end up as the middle layer, with the cheesecake on bottom and the mousse on top.
6. Ice the cake with the remaining whipped icing. Decorate with additional sprinkles, if desired.
7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.