Sunday, February 1, 2015

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

Who doesn't enjoy a nice hot bowl of creamy soup on a cold and snowy winter night?  This soup is delicious served with a piece of crusty bread.

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
3 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup light cream (or 3/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup milk)
2 TBS flour
3/4 cup packed shredded light sharp cheddar cheese (3 oz)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp black pepper
Hot pepper sauce (optional) and salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onions, celery and garlic.  Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add thyme, tarragon and celery seed.  Cook 30 more seconds.  Add broth and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli and simmer 5-7 more minutes, until broccoli and potatoes are tender.

Carefully transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender).  Pulse on and off until soup is coarsely pureed (still slightly chunky).  Return pureed soup to the pot over low heat.  Whisk together cream and flour until smooth.  Add to soup.  Increase heat to medium and cook until mixture is bubbly and has thickened, stirring constantly.  Add both cheeses and pepper.  Heat until cheeses are melted.  Add a few shakes of hot pepper sauce (if desired) and a pinch of salt, if necessary.

Makes 6 servings

Source:  The Looneyspoons Collection - Janet & Greta Podleski


Granola Bars

These granola bars are nice and soft with good-for-you ingredients.  It's nice to have these on hand when you need a quick breakfast or snack.  

2 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds, pecans, pistachios or walnuts  **See Note**
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or dried cherries  **See Note**
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper overhang on two opposite sides so you can easily remove the bars from the pan.

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, honey, butter and vanilla.  Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are completely coated with the pumpkin mixture.

Pour the wet granola mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly to the edges.  Using your fingers, press down firmly on the granola so that it's tightly packed in the pan.

Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes, until the top turns a light golden brown and feels dry to the touch.  Remove pan from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.  Lift bars from pan using the parchment paper and transfer to a cutting board.  Using a large knife, cut the granola bars into 16 bars about 1 1/2 x 4 inches each.  

Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

**Note:  The smaller you chop the nuts and cranberries (or cherries) the better the bars will hold together.**

Makes 16 bars

Source:  The Looneyspoons Collection- Janet &Greta Podleski