Jan 17 2011

Trying this out…

Trying out self-hosting… lots of construction going on here.

Jan 17 2011

Cozy Comforts of Home

When the semester is in full-swing, you’ll often find me at Panera Bread, sprawled across an armchair in front of the gas fireplace. I can concentrate on my assignments without my children interrupting me and soak up some of that warmth; a pseudo-hominess in the most unlikely place.

broccoli cheddar soup

Most of the time, I try to stick with coffee or tea–something refillable so I don’t feel too bad about the amount of time that I’ve spent with my butt glued to that chair. But as time passes, a meal becomes required; a fair trade for the productive afternoon. One of my faves is the broccoli cheddar soup. Mmmm… I almost never have soup at home, but there’s just something about it, paired perfectly with a piece of baguette. Absolutely wonderful on a cold winter’s day!

My last shopping trip to BJ’s found me in possession of a ridiculously enormous bag of fresh broccoli florets, just destined for greatness. A repeat trip today for chicken broth (6 boxes!) and cheddar cheese and I was ready to attempt a Panera copycat in my very own kitchen.

I found the recipe on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and it seemed a reasonable place to begin, but I will need to tweak it a bit more the next time I try this. It’s not that it’s bad–but it wasn’t quite the same. Maybe it was the low-sodium organic chicken broth I chose for my base? Regardless, it’s a great start and wouldn’t take much to reach perfection.

broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

adapted from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

makes 6-8 servings

5 cups broccoli florets

6 cups low sodium organic chicken broth

1 1/2 cups milk (best if you use full-fat or go for half-and-half for creaminess)

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp +/- sea salt (to taste)

Steam the broccoli for 5-6 minutes until tender. (Very easy to do in the microwave!) Set aside.

In a 4 quart or bigger pan, combine chicken broth and milk and slowly whisk in the flour. Cook on medium-high heat until thickened, then add the broccoli. Cook for 5 more minutes, then add the cheese and salt. Once the cheese is melted, remove from heat and serve.

Jan 16 2011

Game Day, Shmame Day

It probably comes as no surprise that I have no interest in football. Zero. Zilch. Nada. My parents are big fans which means I spent a lot of time in my bedroom during football season wondering why they were shouting at the TV. Sports fans–I don’t get it.

There is one good thing that comes out of living room football fanaticism–the food. It’s not a weekly part of the ritual, mostly saved for playoffs and the biggie, the Super Bowl itself, but it should be. If you’re going to get all worked up about how your quarterback screwed up or how they left the end zone open, you should at least have something tasty to enjoy in the process. Tailgaters do, and so should you!

So, in honor of couch coaches everywhere, I decided to make a few game day snacks…without watching the games. What can I say? I’m unconventional. They taste good with or without the pigskin.

Easy Nachos

1 bag tortilla chips

4-5 campari tomatoes, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a non-stick cookie sheet with your favorite brand of tortilla chips. Sprinkle the top with chopped tomatoes and green onions. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella (or your favorite cheese blend) on top. Bake for 10 minutes. Devour.

Layered Dip

Maybe you want your chips a different way? Well here you go:

1/2 small jar salsa

4-5 oz cream cheese

1 cup +/- shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

1 bag tortilla chips or Fritos

Take a pie plate and smear cream cheese all over the bottom of it. Top with salsa or canned chili. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. Dig in with your favorite tortilla chips or Fritos.

If you’re in a hurry or only need a single serving, you can also toss the ingredients in a cereal bowl, microwave for 45 seconds or so, and stir. I actually prefer it all mixed together but I also eat this for lunch more often than I should admit.

Pepperoni Bread

5-Minute Artisan Bread dough

1/4-1/2 pkg pepperoni or turkey pepperoni

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 Tbsp butter, melted

cornmeal for dusting

Remember that 5-Minute Artisan Bread? If you have that fermenting in your fridge already, this is really easy. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out a hunk of your dough (1/3 or so) and rotate it in your hands for the standard 30-60 seconds, working the dough into a smooth ball. Then lightly flour your work surface, flour the dough ball, and roll it out into a rectangle about 12″x8″. Lay out a single layer of pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni this time) and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. Roll the rectangle along the longer edge, jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam and the ends and place it on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Melt about 1 Tbsp of butter and spread it on the top. Pop it into the oven immediately for 30 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, then slice and serve.

Jan 15 2011

Coconut Haters, Turn Back Now!

Coconut…let me count the ways I love you. Your creamy tenderness, your crispy crunch, your tropical dreams and wondrous ways… oh, how I love thee.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I found a good deal on Amazon to restock on coconut oil. I discovered coconut oil a few years ago when dabbling in the traditional foods diet (i.e. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats). I spent a lot of time on Mothering.com and with a bunch of local crunchies trying to find the proper way to feed my daughter and myself. It was a lot of work and not much fun. You should go thank your grandmothers and great-grandmothers right now for all the sacrifices they made–they spent far more time in the kitchen than you ever will. I’ll wait…

I took what worked for us from the experience and left the rest behind. No regrets–I’m glad I tried cooking and eating traditionally, even if I couldn’t do it more than for one month–but it wasn’t something I could maintain. I just don’t have the dedication to it. Plus I like baking and that’s a huge no-no in a traditional foods diet. Boo!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

In any case, rather than be a Gollum and covet my precioussss fresh supply of coconut oil,  hidden in the cabinet above the sink, I decided to make use of it right away. I pulled out my trusty Toll House recipe and got to work, tweaking it to my liking to accommodate the coconut-y dreams in my head. There is a fantastic fragrance from this dough and the flavor is a great complement to the chocolate chips and pecans without overpowering them. Adding shredded coconut didn’t affect the texture too much, though I’m sure coconut-haters would complain. It’s almost like a candy bar cookie. I’ll be working on adapting this to a cookie dough that can be (safely) eaten raw next… it’s delicious!

4 C's (Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 48
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup coconut oil, room temp
  • ¾ cup organic sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Beat butter and coconut oil until creamy.
  3. Add sugars and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
  5. Add baking soda and salt and gradually mix in the flour.
  6. Remove from mixer and stir in chocolate morsels, pecans, and coconut.
  7. Using a small cookie scoop, portion out dough onto baking sheets.
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

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