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Cauliflower Pepper Jack Cheese Soup

Growing up Christmas dinner was usually Cauliflower Cheese soup.  My mothers secret was pepper jack cheese which gave the soup the perfect amount of spice.  My sister came across Cauliflower-Cheese Soup Recipe – Allrecipes.com which is an exact recipe.  It adds carrot, celery, and potato which my mom never did.  I gave it a try but added a bit of the secret ingredient and blended it a bit like my mom did.

My two-year old ate two bowls and asked again for more the next day.  I loved the added carrot and celery.  The added potato allowed a bit less thickener.  The best part you don’t need must seasoning but salt and pepper.

Cauliflower Pepper Jack Cheese SoupCauliflower Pepper Jack Cheese Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 stalks celery,chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups milk or half and half
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

In a medium pot combine water with celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, and cauliflower.  Bring water to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes until vegetables start to become tender.

Cauliflower Pepper Jack Cheese Soup

In a large pot or dutch oven melt butter.  Add in flour and cook about 2 minutes  on medium heat.

Cauliflower Pepper Jack Cheese Soup

Stir in milk until smooth and mixture begins to thicken.

Add in the water and vegetables.  Continue to cook until all vegetables are tender, season with salt and pepper.

It you prefer a smoother soup, use an immersion blender at this time to blend to desired consistency.

Stir in cheese and taste again for any seasoning needed.

Enjoy piping hot with a good loaf of bread.

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Wheat Berry Salad with Feta

When flipping through  my new cookbook (new to me I picked it up from a garage sale)Family Circle Annual Recipes 2011.   I came across Wheat Berry Salad.  I knew it would be perfect as a lunch salad.  I love feta and it had crunchy bites of apple and celery, which paired perfectly with the sweet and tangy dried cranberries.  All of these ingredients are some of my favorites.

I just needed to buy some wheat berries.  I know my mom has prepared these but I can’t remember if I had or not.  The directions were clear and it turned out great.  Just prepare yourself by soaking the berries the night before.

Wheat Berry Salad with FetaWheat Berry Salad with Feta:

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1 gala apples, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or golden raisins
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey mustard
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbs olive oil

In a large bowl place wheat berries and cover with water so by at least 2 inches.  Allow to sit at room temperature overnight.

Drain wheat berries and transfer to a  medium sauce pan.  Add 3 1/2  cups water and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add a little more water as needed while cooking.

Drain and cool to room temperature, meanwhile combine apples, dried fruit, celery, green onions, and feta in a large bowl.

Whisk together in a small bowl vinegar, honey mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  While whisking add in oil in a thin stream.

Add wheat berries and dressing to the apple mixture and toss to coat the salad.


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Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Mr.Picky came home excited years ago about Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup he had tried at a close family friends.  I was absolutely shocked because Mr.Picky dislikes soup so much.  He carried in the recipe copied for us and asked me to make it.  We had no mushrooms at the time and I kind of forgot about it the recipe in the box.

With the seasons turning it is now time to go pick wild mushrooms.  Most people find this to be scary because they are worried they will be poisoned.  I trust Mr.Picky and his mushroom skills.  He came home with 3 gallons of chanterelle mushrooms and a few huge lobster mushrooms.

Funny thing is I am in no way picky mushrooms is one of two foods I do not care for.  Most of the time I do not want to inflict my tastes on the kids so I suck it up and eat them.  We dried what we didn’t eat fresh the first day or in the soup, so now we can enjoy them throughout the rest of the year.

Back to the soup.  Once I sat down and read the recipe I realized why Mr.Picky liked it. Bacon, burger, and mushrooms are some of his favorite foods.  I made the recipe according to the directions as it was my first time.  I will probably take out the mushroom soup and make it by scratch next time.  Although this was really good and with a thick and creamy texture.  I also didn’t have just wild rice but I used a wild rice and quinoa mixture that worked well.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup:

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

 

  • 1/2 lbs. bacon (browned drained and chopped)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef, browned drained and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup wild rice (can use brown)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery,chopped
  • 2/3 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 1 cup dried mushrooms or fresh, chopped
  • 3 (10 3/4 oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper

Rinse rice in cold water until clear. Boil rice in 2 cups of water and simmer 15 min.

Saute veggies until onions are clear.

In 4 quart pan put cans of broth and cream of mushroom soup mix and heat until combined. Add remaining ingredients and season to taste with Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.

Simmer 1 hour, serve hot with some great crusty bread to dip.

I ate half the bowl before I remembered to take a picture.

I ate half the bowl before I remembered to take a picture.

 

Chicken and Wild Rice Quinoa Soup

For the first rain and pure fall day at home this season, soup was on the menu.  Honestly it was purely a concoction of what was in the fridge.  After separating two rotisserie chickens the other day I had two chicken carcasses to be boiled.  After that it was simply what vegetables needed to be used.

The kids both had seconds and enjoyed every bit of vegetables.  Not to mention the smell of roasting chicken throughout the house was mouth-watering.  I decided to use a wild rice/quinoa mix inside the soup as opposed to noodles or dumplings.  It was just as tasty and much healthier.

Chicken and Wild Rice Quinoa Soup:Chicken and Wild Rice/Quinoa Soup

  • About 6 cups water
  • 1-2 chicken carcasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 cup dry wild rice/quinoa mix or just quinoa
  • 4-6 cups vegetables your choice (I used broccoli,carrots,mushrooms,onions, and celery)

 

If you do not have a chicken carcass just use chicken stock or broth.  Place chicken bones and water in a pot with a lid.  Simmer for about 1 hours.  Remove lid and allow to cool about 1 hour.

Using your hands pick off any pieces of chicken and remove all bones and fat from the pot.

Return your chicken stock and chicken pieces to the stove and turn to a medium heat.  Place all raw vegetables, rice, and seasonings to the pot.  Simmer for about 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Taste as you go for additional seasonings.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Serve steaming hot and enjoy the warmth on a cold day!

Everyday Snacking

Like most people we love to snack.  Being a stay at mom has its downfalls, the kids are always eating so you usually are also.  I try to prepare lots of vegetables and healthy snacks at the beginning of the week.  Having everything cut up and placed in a clear container in the fridge makes things very easy to grab and go.

I love to place a platter of healthy food on the table if we are home the whole day.  It may look like a ton but before the day is over the plate will be clear.  We just ate a whole plate of fruits and vegetables without even knowing it.  If we are headed out for the day to run errands I try to pack containers in a cooler to snack on.  I am sure I am not the only one who gets hungry when aways from home.  When hunger hits it helps to have a healthy snack before starvation hits and you become desperate enough to stop for some junk.

The platter below is just a sample of what we had on hand.  Pick vegetables that your family loves or maybe a few new ones to try.  Sliced apples or oranges are great.  If we have some hummus, award-winning cottage cheese dip, or even a smear of peanut butter it makes it even more fun.  Just watch how long the cottage cheese dip is out, ours doesn’t last long enough to spoil.  I never thought kids or I would like hard-boiled eggs on their own, salt and pepper does wonders.

Some ideas for your platter:

  • Hard Boiled Eggs, wedged
  • Jicama
  • Celery or Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet Peppers or Green Peppers
  • Apples or Oranges
  • Cubes of Cheese
  • Radish or Turnip

 

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