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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Despite the fact that it was 75 degrees and sunny last weekend, it is fall and I crave soup.  I had flagged this recipe on Prevention RD, originally from Food Network, and decided to give it a go.  It has such a delicious flavor, though it isn't too cheesy.  The sweet potato and russet potato gives the soup the thickness it needs without the need for too much cheese.  This was great paired with some homemade rolls, but it tasted better when I reheated it for lunch the next day!

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
3 Celery Stalks, finely chopped
2 cups Vegetable Broth
1 cup Half and Half (I omitted)
1 cup Skim Milk (I used 2 cups Almond Milk instead)
2 cups Water
1 pound Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper
6 cups Broccoli Florets, chopped
5 ounces (1 1/3 cups) Cheddar Cheese, shredded

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth, half and half, milk, both potatoes, bay leaf, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons of water and season with salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf front he soup and puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth.  Return the soup to a simmer over medium-low heat and stir in the broccoli, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.


Stir Fried Chicken Paprikash

When reading through my RSS feeds, I came across this recipe from Katie's Cucina, originally from Rachel Ray Magazine.  I flagged it and planned to make it for dinner last week but figured it would be vetoed by Joel before I could even make it because of the sour cream sauce.  He is not one for creamy sauces.  Somehow, however, much to my surprise, he let it slide by and I made it.  Both of us enjoyed this dish from the first bite.  The sauce was slightly tangy from the sour cream, but still light and flavorful with the parsley and vegetables.  We served this dish over rice, but it would be just as delicious eaten without it.

1 pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons Dry Sherry, divided
1 tablespoon Garlic, finely chopped
2-1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil, divided
3/4 cup Vegetable Broth
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, julienne sliced
1 tablespoon Sweet Paprika
1/3 cup Sour Cream
3 tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, 1 tablespoon sherry, garlic, 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1/2 salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Stir in 2 teaspoons of oil.  In a small bowl, combine the broth and remaining 1 tablespoon of sherry.  Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch until dissolved.  Heat a wok over high heat and swirl in 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add the chicken mixture in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute.  Using a spatula, stir fry the chicken until it begins to brown, about 1 minute; transfer to a plate.  Lower the heat to medium and swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion and bell pepper; season with salt and stir fry until softened, about 1 minute.  Add the paprika, return the chicken and any juices to the wok.  Increase the heat to high and stir fry until just combined.  Swirl in the broth mixture and stir fry until the chicken is just cooked through, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the sour cream and parsley until combined and serve.


Pumpkin Pancakes

Yesterday, while relaxing at the cabin after a long day walking around Fall Fest, my sister-in-law mentioned that she had made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast that day.  This morning, when we woke up, that was the first thing that came across my mind.  I had leftover pumpkin filling from the pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes that I had made, so what better way to use it up than pancakes?!  I searched for a recipe and came across this one from Pinch My Salt.  This recipe is a definite keeper!  The pancakes tasted like little bites of pumpkin pie.  The flavors were the perfect beginning of a beautiful fall day.  I was able to get about 9 pancakes out of the batter, which was great because we froze some for another day.

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Cake Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 cup Buttermilk (I used vanilla almond milk)
1 cup Pumpkin Puree (I used the leftover pumpkin mixture from my cheesecake)
2 Eggs
2 tablespoons Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, and brown sugar.  With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Drop by the ladle-ful onto a griddle over medium-high heat.  After about 1-2 minutes, when the sides begin to look dry and the top begins to bubble, flip and cook on the other side for another minute or 2.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

I LOVE fall and I love everything pumpkin.  So I was super excited when I found out that the recipe swap theme was apple/pumpkin this week!  I submitted a pumpkin quick bread recipe and received this pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Cookaholic Wife, who adapted an Annie's Eats recipe.  With my favorite Fall Fest event coming up, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to make these cupcakes and share them with friends and family rather than eating them all myself!  These cupcakes were absolutely delicious! Even Joel liked them, and he doesn't really have much of a sweet tooth.  This recipe makes enough for 24 cupcakes, but I ended up with quite a bit of pumpkin mixture leftover so stay tuned to see how I use it up.

For the Pumpkin Mixture:
1 (15 ounce) can Pumpkin Puree
2 tablespoons Sour Cream
1/3 cup Sugar

For the Filling:
2 bricks (8 ounces each) Cream Cheese
1 1/2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Salt

For the Crust:
1 package Graham Crackers + 2 Crackers
4 tablespoons Butter, melted
3 teaspoons Sugar

Using a food processor, grind up the graham crackers into crumbs.  Add the butter and sugar to the crumbs.  Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and add 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker crumb mixture to each liner.  Use a glass to press down.  Bake at 325 degrees for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the sugar and mix until smooth.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Then, add the eggs one at a time, making sure that they are fully combined before adding the next one.  Scoop approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into each of the cupcake liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, and sour cream.  Stir until well combined.  Scoop approximately 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into the center of the cheesecake mixture and swirl with a toothpick.  Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.  Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature on cooling racks, then transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours.


Drunken Noodles

Last week, I found myself craving Thai food, which is strange because it hasn't ever been one of my favorites!  When this Bon Apetit recipe showed up via Elly Says Opa, I added it to my weekly menu.  When we were starting to get things ready, I got myself kicked out of the kitchen when I sliced a pepper and my thumb right along with it!  Luckily, Joel finished everything up and we sat down to eat.  Elly said that the title of this spicy dish comes from how much water you need to drink to cool off after eating it.  Joel said that, having been to Thailand, the name comes from being a street food and eating it on the way home from the bars.  Perhaps he is right, but Elly is also certainly right...this dish is HOT!  Despite the heat, we really enjoyed this dish.  I swapped out the chicken for tofu, which was great.  My adaptation is below.

8-10 ounces Flat Rice Noodles
4 tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 container Firm Tofu, squeezed dry and cubed
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons Black Soy Sauce*
2 tablespoons Golden Mountain Sauce or Light Soy Sauce*
1-1 1/2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek/Chili Paste (we used 1 tablespoon and it was hot!)
1/2 tablespoon Sugar
1 Plum Tomato, cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup Thai Basil Leaves (we used regular)
1/4 cup Scallions, sliced

 *I did not look at the grocery store for these two ingredients, so I just used 4 tablespoons of regular soy sauce, and the dish still turned out fine.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.  We put them in a large bowl, poured boiling water over them (enough to cover), and let them sit for about 5-7 minutes, until they were tender.  In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.  Add the tofu cubes and allow them to cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy pot (wok) over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the bell pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the tofu to the wok.  In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, soy sauce(s), and Sambal Oelek.  In a large serving bowl (or right in the wok), combine the tofu mixture, noodles, tomatoes, scallions, and basil.  Pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat.