Beer, Cheese, and Veg Soup ….

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It was a chilly 65 degrees for two days down here in the Florida Keys last week, and I was a little happy. (curse me but thats actually chilly here!!) It meant I could make soup. I didn’t want your run of the mill “grandma chicken soup” or “beef and barely” …. no no, I wanted something that will make me say “mmmmm”…. at every single spoonful. Something that will stick to my ribs and keeps me warm. Something that tastes like cheese….. with beer in it. 🙂 I haven’t made this in years but when I did I was insanely happy I remembered it 🙂 European countries would not hesitate to feed this to the kiddies but if you want you can use a non- Alcoholic beer. I will let you be the judge of that …..

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 12oz bottle of beer. I use Rolling Rock but you can use any domestic. Do not use a light beer or any bitter beer like IPA’s or Lagers. Just a plain Corona, Coors, Miller, Bud, Rolloing Rock…..  yada yada You get the picture,
  • 2 cups chopped carrots – chop to your liking just remember not too big or it takes forever to cook them.
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 3 cups diced potatoes – make sure your potatoes are chopped just a tad bigger than your carrots because they will cook faster.
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • tabasco or your favorite hot sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne peper
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 cups sharp cheddar cheese (finely shredded if you can find it)
  • crispy cooked bacon to crumble on top of soup when serving
  • *optional* chopped green onion for topping

Directions:

  1. Add stick of butter to large sauce pan. Add garlic, onion, peppers, celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook on med stirring often until carrots and potatoes are starting to get soft. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large soup pot add half and half. Stir under med heat until warm. Take about 2 cups of warm half and half and whisk flour together with it in a separate bowl until blended well with no lumps. Then add back into the pot.
  3. Add chicken broth slowly to pot and stir well. Then turn heat to simmer and slowly add beer. It will foam for a minute. Stir in well.
  4. Add sauteed veg and butter to soup pot and stir in well.
  5. Add in mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt pepper and cayenne pepper.
  6. Turn heat back to medium and start adding in the shredded cheddar in small amounts while stirring it in so it doesn’t clump. When all 6 cups are added return heat back to simmer.
  7.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes and stir every few minutes so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. (this is a good time to cook up some bacon) 🙂
  8. If you like thick soup then you can always take out some soup whisk in a little more flour and get it up to your own consistency.
  9. After the 30 minutes of so turn off the heat and let the soup cool for at least 10 minutes .
  10. Ladle into bowl and throw some chopped up bacon on top … and voila cheese and beer heaven 🙂

 

Vegetable Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

 

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I’ve recently tried this and absolutely loved it. I like to have at least two nights a week where I don’t eat meat so this fits in perfect. It’s all vegetables and very healthy. It can be served with a side of pasta or just with a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large portabella mushrooms, washed, wiped and stem removed.
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 2 medium zucchini  diced (skins or no skins doesn’t matter)
  • 1 roasted red pepper diced ( you can roast one or used jarred)
  • 6 to 8 whole sun-dried tomatoes diced (or 1/2 to 3/4 cup or diced sun dried tomatoes)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large handful of fresh baby spinach (more if you really like spinach)
  • Teaspoon of oregano or Italian spices
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • cup of 2% Mozzarella Cheese
  • spaghetti sauce to coat your plate under the mushroom when serving *optional*

Directions:

  1. Line a sided baking sheet with parchment paper. Make sure mushrooms are clean and dry. Rub each mushroom with a bit of olive oil and set them on the sheet, stalk side up. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar in each mushroom cap. Let sit.
  2. In a  saute pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil then the onions and garlic. Saute for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the zucchini and continue to cook as the zucchini begins to soften. Next add the red pepper and tomatoes. Cook for another few minutes. When the onions have become translucent and soft. Cook for one minute and add the spinach.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Once the spinach wilts, remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, except the mozzarella . Stir to combine.
  5. Stuff each mushroom with a quarter of the mixture.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Now, top each with the mozzarella and continue baking for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is just beginning to get golden on top.

Then enjoy !!!!

Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Chicken and Cheese

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I’ve never been of fan of traditional stuffed green peppers but Poblano peppers I can eat all day. Here is my favorite way to make these little numbers that is healthy and low in calories.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Poblano Peppers
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 chopped  onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic chopped, or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon (dont be stingy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  •   1-1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups brown or wild rice ( you may use quinoa as well)
  • 2 cups low fat cheddar- mild or sharp
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • *taco or enchilada sauce optional*

Directions:

  1. Place oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Slit the chiles from stem to tip and set on the baking sheet. Carefully clean out seeds, rinse with water. Broil, turning every few minutes, until blackened all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, peel off the skins.  Return the poblanos to the baking sheet. (do not overcook as the pepper will tear very easily)
  2. Puree  the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the purée and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks thick and pulpy, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Stir in the chicken and rice, and then just 1 cup of the cheese, the cilantro, and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt. Divide the filling among the peppers, wrapping the sides of the peppers up and around the filling, some of which will still be exposed.
  4. Broil the peppers until the cheese is melting and the top is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese and broil until the cheese is completely melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven place on plate and drizzle a sauce if available. Enjoy ….. 🙂

Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Casserole

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If you enjoy comfort food on occasion and feel you deserve to indulge sometimes then this is for you. If you are on a diet or counting calories please do not keep reading because I am not responsible for the 2lbs you will surely gain by eating this cheesy carb sausage masterpiece. I make it in colder months because ….. well it warms my soul and fills my belly. Some use it for a side but I use it for the main course because it is truly filling ……

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of white potatoes of your choice, peeled, boiled, cooled and cut into cubes (approx. 1lb)
  • 1 lb of Smoked Sausage, skinless ( or for my Pennsylvania friends use Smoked Kielbasa )
  • 5 tablespoons of real butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon Paprika
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 lb of Velveeta Cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

  1. Take Sausage and make sure all the skin is off, cut into 1/2 inch circles and the half moon cut them all. Then cook in a frying pan for about 10 minutes on medium. Turning frequently until slightly browned.
  2. Then toss together  your ready potatoes and browned sausage in a bowl and then place in a 2 quart casserole dish.
  3. In a sauce pot on low to medium, mix butter, flour , milk, salt, pepper, and just the Velveeta Cheese until completely melted and smooth …. you must stir or whisk constantly as not to burn it to bottom of the pan.
  4. Pour the cheese mixture over the potatoes and sausage.
  5. Then sprinkle the Sharp cheese on top and then sprinkle the paprika on the very top.
  6. Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes or till top is golden brown.

Note: If you are making this for kids you can use hot dogs of course 🙂

Alfredo Sauce – Olive Garden style

I love to make my own Alfredo Sauce, it just doesn’t taste right out of a jar. You can toss it on top of fettuccine with chicken, shrimp, and steamed veggies. Not all Alfredo sauces are created equal, I want it thick and rich. If Im going to eat something a little on the fattening side you better damn well make sure it tastes good…. and I mean GOOD. So I love the Olive Garden’s Alfredo… to the point where Im using my fingers in a restaurant to clean off the bottom of the bowl. About a year ago I ran across a recipe for this creamy white heavenly sauce and it indeed tasted just like Olive Gardens. So if you have the same weakness for Alfredo as I, then here it is…… enjoy !!!

     Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan combine butter, heavy cream, and cream cheese.
  2. Simmer this until all is melted, and mixed well.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese and Garlic powder.
  4.  Simmer this for 15 to 20 minutes on low. You may wish to season with a little salt and pepper.

5 Cheese Manicotti

 

I have Italian at least once a week for dinner… and no that’s not including pizza. I make manicotti about once every two months. I’m a cheese freak and so is my other half. Now I will admit that I used to buy the box and just use the brands recipe, but it was kind of bland. So I decided one day to put a little “oomph” into it for some flavor. It is a real belly filler and tastes even better the second day so save some left overs 🙂

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz cottage cheese (curd size is your choice)
  • 15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup and 1/2 cup for topping later shredded  Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Provolone Cheese ( a mild white cheddar is ok too)
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil leaves – or 2 teaspoons of dry
  • 2 large chopped garlic cloves – or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of Olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3 cups of marinara sauce (I sometimes use more because Im addicted to it)
  • 10-12 medium manicotti shells

 

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the box – do not overcook the firmer the better – rinse with cold water and carefully lay out on wax paper on the counter.
  2. Preheat oven to 350*f
  3. Except the 1/2 cup of mozzarella you are saving for the topping – mix all the cheeses together in a large bowl
  4. Now mix in the beaten eggs
  5. In a small pan on medium heat add oil and garlic – stir up until garlic is just starting to brown
  6. Add hot garlic to cheese mix
  7. Then add all the spices
  8. Spread 1 or 2 cups of marinara sauce in the bottom of your pan/casserole dish (13in x 9in works the best)
  9. Stuff the pasta tubes with the filling – I use a teaspoon and my fingers – stuff just to the edge and line the manicotti in your pan
  10. Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the manicotti (I cover them completely so the pasta doesn’t dry out put yet not so much that they are swimming in sauce)
  11. Bakecovered with foil  for 20 minutes
  12. After 20 minutes remove the foil and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top and a little Parmesan if you like
  13. Put back in the oven for 15 minutes uncovered
  14. When finished let stand at least 5-10 minutes before serving so the cheese doesn’t run all over the place … enjoy !

Wow now Im hungry for Italian …. 🙂