MY FAVORITE BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP

I tried to make broccoli cheese soup a while back, and it did not go well. I used only pre-grated cheddar cheese, and it tasted good when we had it the first time, but it kind of “curdled” when I tried to reheat the leftovers.

I know if I wasn’t so lazy and would grate my own cheese, it probably would have worked…oh, well. With the cooler weather that we’ve been having, I’ve been craving broccoli cheese soup. It’s not really practical to go out and buy a cup every time I want one, so I decided to give making it myself another go. This version was a definite win. It will be my go-to recipe from now on.

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP

We all really liked it. The flavor and texture were perfect. It’s rich and creamy without being overbearing. We had  ”boonies” with it…I will share the recipe and the story behind these tomorrow. Quick, easy, and delish. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture to go with this post. We were hungry and the soup got gobbled up before I could snap a picture. I will definitely be making this again, so I will try to get a picture then and update this post. Try this soup and let me know what you think!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1/3 c. butter
1 c. diced yellow onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
3 c. whole milk
2 c. chicken broth (1 can)
1/2 c. heavy cream
3 c. finely chopped, fresh broccoli pieces
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used the pre-grated, bagged kind and it worked fine)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of each, but this will vary depending on the brand of cheeses and your salt/pepper preference

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add in onions and cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 3 minutes. Whisk in garlic and flour, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. While whisking, slowly pour in milk, chicken broth then cream.

Cook, stirring frequently, just until mixture begins to gently bubble, then reduce heat to medium-low, add in broccoli pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Turn heat off, add in cheese and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste and more milk to thin, if needed. Serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Classy

SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

I am on a quest to make biscuits that taste better than what I can buy in a can. These are pretty darn close and they turned out pretty good for a novice biscuit maker like myself. I’m sure with practice, I will learn how not to overwork the dough and how to make my biscuits  even lighter and fluffier. These are fairly foolproof, though. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

The kids asked for them later in the day for a snack and gobbled up the leftovers the next morning. If you fold the dough over on itself a few times before flattening it out, more air will be incorporated into the dough and will give you a taller, lighter biscuit. Just be careful not to overwork the dough.

If you mess with it too much, you will end up with a tough biscuit. A food processor can be used to make the dough and makes it a little bit easier to avoid overmixing. If you want to make these in advance, you can freeze the cut biscuits for up to a month. Just pull as many biscuits as you want from the freezer and bake them from frozen at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together and cut in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until butter is incorporated and mixture is crumbly. Pour in buttermilk and stir the dough, just until incorporated. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and lightly flatten the dough and then gently fold it over itself a few times. Gently flatten it out again with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick – do not use a rolling pin. Cut biscuits out with a biscuit cutter and place in a cake pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet very close together (this will help biscuits to rise higher when baking and will result in soft edges). Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the tops again with melted butter and serve warm.

*You can use a food processor to make the dough. Just be sure to pulse only a few times until the butter is cut into the dry ingredients, and then only a few times more until the buttermilk is incorporated.

Source: Adapted from Recipezaar

SLOPPY JOE, SLOPPY, SLOPPY JOE!

I wonder how much money we could all save if we made a lot of those things that we buy in a packet, jar or can from scratch? I’ve tried lately to make a few of those things that I buy pre-made from scratch. Sometimes it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s not, but it’s amazing how much better things taste when they are made at home. It doesn’t take that much more work; measure, mix and done. It might take a couple more minutes than tearing open a bag or opening a can, but the final outcome is worth it. These sloppy joes are a great example of a little extra time for a huge payout. These are fantastic! I don’t know if I’ll ever use the canned stuff again.

Again, for those of you who like to cook once a month, or make double batches so you can put one in the freezer for another time, this is a great freezer meal. Put it in a large freezer bag and freeze, and when you’re ready to serve, thaw and reheat. Also, a great tip is to buy hamburger meat on sale in large quantities and then come home and brown it all. Separate it into approximately one pound portions and freeze each in a freezer bag or tupperware container. You can either put the meat in the fridge the night before to thaw, or thaw it enough in the microwave to where you can break it up and then finish thawing and reheating it on the stove. Having the already cooked meat in your freezer saves so much time. If you meal plan, you’ll know to thaw it beforehand and then half the job will already be done when you get ready to cook dinner.

To make these sloppy joes in the crock pot, either brown your meat or use your already thawed pre-cooked meat and add the other ingredients together with it in a crock pot. Cook it on low for at least four hours or all day. I think cooking it slow in the crock pot will allow the flavors to blend even more, and might even make for a tastier sloppy joe!

Sloppy Joes

2 ½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained

½ large onion, diced

1 or 2 bell peppers (any color), diced

5 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 T. worcestershire sauce

2 T. tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Brown and drain ground beef. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. Stir together ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, tomato paste and worcestershire until smooth. Add this along with the water to ground meat and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve on warmed or toasted hamburger buns.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman