Monday, February 27, 2017

Dinner Party Green Beans

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to take my usual side dish of green beans up a notch - a little more dinner party worthy, if you will. There's nothing wrong with "regular" green beans, but the addition of sweet and spicy almonds and a sprinkling of blue cheese makes these really special. Not too special for a weeknight dinner, but certainly special enough for guests or a fancy party. (If you don't have many fancy parties, don't let that stop you from making these! Make them for a Thursday. Thursdays can be fancy!)

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Dinner Party Green Beans

16 oz. package frozen green beans
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a small skillet over low heat, combine the sugar and cayenne pepper and almonds. Cook and stir constantly until the almonds are coated with melted sugar and are toasted. Remove to a plate and let cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and the green beans (frozen). Stir until all the green beans are coated with the melted butter. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Transfer beans to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese. Break up the almonds if they are stuck together and sprinkle on the beans. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I like broccoli cheese soup. But I don't like it if it's TOO cheesy. I also don't love it when you can hardly tell there's any broccoli in it, or when the broccoli has been pulverized and it's all just green flakes in yellow soup.

SO, all that to say, that for me, this is the PERFECT broccoli cheese soup. First, it's not YELLOW! The mix of cheddar and Swiss cheeses not only makes for the perfect cheese taste, but it's lovely to look at. And the broccoli is not pureed, it's in big chunks, and is steamed to perfection BEFORE getting added to the soup, not cooked into oblivion in the soup.

All of this adds up to a wonderful, beautiful, delicious soup, chock full of good for you broccoli! Try it today - I hope you love it as much as we do!

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups chopped broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.

Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, place chopped broccoli in a medium glass bowl and cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes to steam the broccoli.

Add warmed chicken broth to the soup base and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in steamed broccoli. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, February 13, 2017

Almond Crunch Cookies

Oh, these cookies. Brimming with crunch from cereal and sliced almonds, and deliciously sweet from almond bark topping, I can guarantee they won't last long at your house.

While these aren't Valetines-y to say the least (I suppose you could tint the almond bark pink!), any cookie, made with love, is perfect for the holiday. Or any day.

Let's not limit love through cookies to just one day.

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Almond Crunch Cookies

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Chex or corn flakes, lightly crushed (or Rice Krispies, uncrushed)
4 oz almond bark
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Using an electric mixer, beat shortening until creamy; gradually add white sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs and almond extract; beat well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir until blended. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture mixing until just blended. Slightly crush cereal, only to the point there aren't large pieces. Carefully stir in oats and cereal.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough on a cookie sheet 2" apart. Bake at 325 for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place almond bark in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave using 50% power, in 45 second intervals. Drizzle melted bark on cooled cookies. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Allow cookies to set up on wire racks, or place in the refrigerator for a quicker set up.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Call me PMC

Monday, February 6, 2017

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

You know you've hit a recipe home run when someone eating it says, "this could be served in a restaurant!" That's exactly what my husband said the first time I made this delicious soup. I had to agree. We've made it several times since, and we haven't changed our minds. It is SO good. And what better way to get all those good nutrients from butternut squash than to make a wonderful curry with coconut milk and shrimp!?!

The hardest part about this recipe is cutting up the squash - those buggers are TOUGH! But once that's done, this comes together quickly and easily. And you can rest your weary squash-cutting hands for the 20 minutes that the soup simmers... (Butternut squash is also available already diced, usually frozen. Feel free to take advantage of that option and then this dinner is a BREEZE!)

This can be served over rice noodles or rice, and we loved it either way. There's still plenty of winter left, and this soup is the perfect thing to make when you need a warm up. Or, if you just need to eat. Either way.

Get other great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Busy Monday, Inspire Me, TGIM, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy, Pin Me, Weekend Potluck, Sugar and Spice.

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

2 tsp. canola or coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tsp. red curry paste
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 4-5 cups
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
12 ounces large cooked shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6-8 ounces rice noodles, or rice

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, sugar and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Add in the squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Once squash is tender, use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, if you like. You can also leave in chunks - your preference totally!

Stir in the shrimp and cilantro and add additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve immediately over cooked rice noodles or rice.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
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