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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creamy Tomato Soup

We originally posted this soup over at landeelu.com.  Be sure to click over and check out her awesome blog (and super-cute etsy store if you're in need of some Christmas gift ideas!).  

There is snow dusting the tops of the mountains here and it is starting to get C-O-L-D.  It seems we are getting our first taste of winter this week.  I'm not generally a fan of cold weather since I don't really snow ski or enjoy freezing my butt off.  BUT, if it means I can eat soup everyday then I will welcome this weather!  Honestly though, who am I kidding--I eat soup in July.  I just love the stuff and never seem to tire of it.    

Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe Fall Soup

This soup is one that I have been making for a couple of years, but I finally got the recipe just the way we like it.  When I served it last week for dinner, my 3 year old declared that this was his favorite soup and he wanted to eat it everyday.  For the most part he is a pretty good eater, but declarations like that don't come often at our house.  It may have helped that I let him drink his through a straw, but a dinner win is a dinner win and I'll take it no matter the reasons.  

I have a long list of favorite soups and there is no way I could choose just one.  This one is definitely up there in the rankings though.  The tanginess of the cream cheese perfectly cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and creates a luscious creamy texture without the guilt of adding lots of heavy whipping cream. It's kid-friendly and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Oh, and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand.  I usually serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches or even over some small variety of hot cooked noodles.  It's quick and easy and blows the canned variety right out of the water.  

Creamy Tomato Soup Recipe Fall Soup

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 cloves garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans tomatoes, whole or diced
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
1 ½ cubes chicken bouillon or 1 ½ teaspoons chicken base
3-4 ounces low fat cream cheese, softened in 1 inch cubes


Directions:

Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, their juices, sugar, bouillon, and milk. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Stir frequently to ensure milk doesn’t burn.
Use an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.  Or, working in batches, transfer tomato mixture to a blender, food processor, or food mill. Puree tomato mixture (if using a blender, cover the lid with a kitchen towel while machine is running).
Drop softened cream cheese in soup.  Allow to melt for 1 or 2 minutes.  Whisk until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


Notes:

I like to make sure the cream cheese is really soft so you don’t get lumps in the dip.  I do this by placing it on a plate and microwaving it at 20% power for 30 second intervals until it’s super melty.  


Recipe Source:

Adapted from Martha Stewart 
Originally posted by me on landeelu.com

Friday, November 7, 2014

Homemade Creamy Macaroni & Cheese {One-Pot Meal}


We have been enjoying this homemade mac and cheese for a few years now, thanks to one of my favorite food bloggers, Mel!  It comes together in about 15-20 minutes and is waaaaaay tastier than the boxed variety.  I generally always have the ingredients on hand too, so it's something I can make for lunch for me and the kids, or something I can thow together for dinner quickly too.  I like these kind of recipes.  I always need a few like this on hand to turn to when I'm in a pinch. 

You can make this with your favorite variety of cheeses.  I prefer to grate the cheese myself instead of buy the pre-grated cheese, I think it melts better that way.  My favorite combo is half sharp cheddar and half colby or monterey jack. We have also like it will all cheddar or colby.  Use whatever you have on hand.  Although, I will mention if you really want a really cheddary taste, makes sure to use at least half sharp cheddar.  

I made this for lunch earlier this week and my daughter said, "I want to eat macaroni and cheese all day!" I've never heard such a comment about any other food from her mouth!  Although, she really couldn't eat anything all day, I think this was her simple way of saying, "I love this, Mom!"

Enjoy soon, and then tell me about it. 

-Lu


Homemade Creamy Macaroni & Cheese {One-Pot Meal} | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box

Creamy Mac and Cheese


Ingredients:

3 ½ cups water
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
3 cups elbow noodles
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon dry mustard
12 ounces cheese (3 cups) we use half sharp cheddar and half colby or monterey jack
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring the 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk (reserving the other half cup in a small bowl), elbow noodles, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan (or large nonstick skillet) over high heat. Cook at a light boil, stirring often, until the noodles are tender and the liquid has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cornstarch and  mustard to the reserved ½ cup of evaporated milk and whisk til smooth and add to the pot and stir in to combine. Let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Once removed from the heat stir in the cheese one handful at a time, adding any additional water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I have never needed to do this). Stir in the butter until melted and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Notes:

Reheats best on the stove with a little extra water or milk added (1-2 tablespoons).  Also works well to do the same in the microwave.  

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

I can't believe we are on to November already.  Hopefully pumpkin is a fall thing and not just an October thing, because I am not quite over it yet.  When I found this recipe last year from The Girl Who Ate Everything I immediately knew I had to make them.  And I did just that.  Many times over.  They were cakey, delicious, and super moist.  Plus these are so much easier than spooning out and baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I adapted the recipe slightly to use oil instead of butter and subbed half of the butter for applesauce.  That way I can eat them for breakfast and not feel too bad about it.  

pumpkin bars, pumpkin, chocolate, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, fall baking

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (see notes at bottom for substitution)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 - 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Lightly spray grease the foil.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.


In a large bowl, mix the oil, applesauce, sugar, and pumpkin puree on medium-high speed until smooth with a mixer; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.


Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.


Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.


Notes:


I usually use half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat with great results.  


I like these best served chilled, so I usually refrigerate them after they are fully cooled.  

*For the pumpkin pie spice, triple this: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves.


Recipe Source:

Slightly modified from The Girl Who Ate Everything (subbed oil and applesauce for the butter)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cheesy Denver Breakfast Skillet

We love Brinner (breakfast for dinner, that is) at our house.  It usually happens weekly.  It's also usually my favorite night of the week for 2 reasons.  First, breakfast usually comes together pretty quickly and doesn't involve a lot of planning or prep work. Second,  we can eat breakfast foods that w typically don't have time for on rushed mornings.  I love breakfast foods and I guess I just can't get my fill in the mornings.  This was a perfect dinner for me.  My kids also gobbled it right up after dipping it in ketchup.  I might have told them it was french fries.  Either way, we had full happy tummies at our house.

The potato part of the recipe is really flexible.  When I made them I used frozen hashbrowns.  Lu made them with grated fresh potatoes that she microwaved briefly.  I also think they would be super delicious with these skillet potatoes that I have been loving lately.  I'm a big fan of working with whatever you've got on hand.  Just do what works for you.    
    
breakfast, hashbrowns, skillet, eggs, potatoes, ham

Cheesy Denver Breakfast Skillet


Ingredients:


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped green and/or red bell pepper
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup refrigerated hash browns*
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked ham
½ cup shredded colby jack cheese

Directions:


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet until sizzling; add onion and bell peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add eggs. Cook, lifting and stirring slightly with spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath, 2-3 minutes or until eggs are set.

Remove from skillet. Cover; keep warm. Melt remaining butter in same skillet until sizzling; add hash browns. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add ham; continue cooking until ham is heated through.

Spoon scrambled eggs over hash browns in skillet; top with cheese. Cover; cook until cheese is just melted.

Notes:


*Use whatever kind of hash browns/ potatoes you have or like.  It works great with diced or shredded potatoes or frozen hash browns as well.  

Recipe Source:


Slightly adapted from Land O Lakes


 So yummy even chubby little baby fingers can't resist!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Swiss Bacon Salad

If I had to pick a favorite green salad, this one would probably be the winner.  The sweet and tangy dressing, the mushrooms, the salty bacon--it's all just too much.  I love it.  Even my hubby, Jeff, loves it.  And he's not a salad guy.  So that is definitely saying something. If you ask him, he will tell you the only 3 food groups that matter are bread, meat, and cheese.  But if I *make* him choose a salad, he always chooses this one.  It's a crowd-pleaser and comes together really quickly.  Make it.  Love it.  Then come back and tell me about it.     

swiss bacon salad, spinach salad, poppy seed dressing, mushrooms

Swiss Bacon Salad

Ingredients:


8- 10 cups salad greens, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
½ pound bacon, cooked and crumbled--or about ½ cup bacon bits
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
¼-½ pound shredded swiss cheese
¼ cup finely sliced red onion, optional

For the Dressing:
1 T poppyseeds
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:


Combine all dressing ingredients.  Toss greens and toppings with dressing.  (You may not need all of the dressing.)  Serve immediately.  
Notes:


Feel free to use your favorite greens.  I usually use all spinach or a spring mix, but it would be delicious with a leaf lettuce or romaine or a mixture, too.

If you have a hard time finding swiss cheese in block form, you can cut pre-sliced swiss into small strips or use another type of cheese.  Pictured here is colby jack.  

Recipe Source:


My mom, Diana King, has made this as long as I can remember!



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box

I follow this blog, and saw these brownies a few months ago.  You all know me - I couldn't think about anything else until I had a taste. As soon as I saw the recipe I decided they sounded divine, just like Melissa said, and I immediately wrote all the ingredients on my shopping list.  

A few weeks later my cousin came to visit (Hi, Christina!), and we HAD to make these.  I mean, what else do you do with your cousin/friend, etc than making yummy dark chocolate goodness?!?  

We all thought we'd died and gone to Brownie Heaven!  These are so yummy! Fudgy, dark chocolate goodness with a swirl of creamy peanut butter on the top! What is not to love?!?!  We of course had to enjoy them with a cup of cold milk to wash them down.  And we kept coming back for more.  The pan full was gone in no time!  

My husband was looking through my gallery of food pictures the other night and he said, "oh boy, those were good, we need to make them again soon!" 

These will be a favorite go-to brownie from here on out! 

Enjoy!  Please comment and let me know how you like them!  I love to hear from you!

-Lu
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Printable Version {Click Here}

Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate bar, chopped coarse (I used Baker’s)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa)
½ cup butter
1¼ cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
⅓ cup creamy peanut butter

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 or 9 inch square glass baking pan with foil, let the foil hang over the edges a few inches for easy removal. Spray grease the foil.

In a microwave safe bowl,add chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and butter. Microwave in 30 second to 1 minute intervals, stirring often, for 1 to 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Let the mixture cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture until combined and smooth. Mix in the flour until it’s incorporated, don’t over mix. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth.

Drop small dollops of peanut butter with a spoon on top of the brownie batter, trying to spread them evenly. Use a knife or thin spatula to cut through the peanut butter and pull it through the brownie layer a bit to make it swirl. Bake  for 35-40 minutes or until you insert a tooth-pick into the middle of the brownies and it comes out with just crumbs.  If it’s still doughy bake a few more minutes. You will see a bit of chocolate residue from all the melted chocolate.  

When they are done baking remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack until they are completely cool (if you can possibly wait). Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil that’s over hanging to lift them out. Place on a cutting board and cut into squares.  Enjoy! And try not to eat them all at once. ;)

Recipe Source:

From Melissa at Bless this Mess Please Blog - Thanks for sharing, Melissa! These are so good!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

{Our Favorite} Taco Meat

Good old tacos.  In one form or another they make an appearance at our house at least monthly.  They probably aren't really something you need a recipe for, but Linds and I both thought this idea was worth sharing.  I've been making them with the addition of beans and tomatoes for about a year now, and I won't go back.  The beans make the meat go a bit further so you can put a hearty scoop of meat on your taco without eating 1/2 of a pound of beef.  

We really like these with ground turkey and black beans, but make them with your favorite combination of meat and beans.  On busy nights, I make this in advance and throw it in the crock pot on warm until we are ready to eat.  It is perfect for taco salad and I often send any leftover filling along with some tortilla chips for the hubby's lunch.  I also put it in my kids' quesadillas to make "taco-dillas" and they gobble them right up.  It's pretty versatile and darn right delicious!

{Our Favorite} Taco Meat | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box


{Our Favorite} Taco Meat



Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (optional)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (use your favorite kind--they are pictured here with kidney beans)
1 can diced tomatoes and their juices
Taco Seasoning--use a packet or Lu’s recipe
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook meat and onion in skillet over med-high heat until meat is fully cooked.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add beans, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning.  Cook 5 min more.  Serve immediately or keep in crockpot on WARM until ready to serve.  


{Our Favorite} Taco Meat | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box

{Our Favorite} Taco Meat | Leesh & Lu's Recipe Box


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