Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cheddar-Broccoli Soup

A couple days ago, I was talking to my sister on the phone and she mentioned she was looking for a recipe for Cheddar-Broccoli soup.  After thinking about her comment for a little while, I came up with today's recipe.  I wanted a recipe that was easy to put together and could be written in small words.  So this one is for you, Jill.  Enjoy!!!

While I used frozen broccoli, this would be really good with broccoli fresh from the garden or farmer's market.  This recipe could easily be doubled or tripled in order to feed a lot of people.  As it is, it will feed four people rather easily, especially if paired with a sandwich or loaded baked potato.

Cheddar-Broccoli Soup

1 1/2 cups sliced onion (about 1 large)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 cups chicken broth
16 ounces fresh or frozen broccoli
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 slice Velveeta

Figure 1.
In a large saucepan or stock pot, saute onion, garlic, salt and red pepper over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until onions are very soft but not browned. 

Figure 2.
Add chicken broth and broccoli to pan.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender but still bright green (fresh will take 4-5 minutes, frozen 6-7 minutes).  Remove from heat and puree using a slick blender to desired consistency; or puree in batches in a blender (just make sure to do small batches and hold the lid down with a towel, or else you will be cleaning broccoli off your ceiling and everthing else in the kitchen).

Figure 3.
Once soup is pureed, return to low heat and stir in milk.  Add cheeses all at once and stir until cheeses are melted and incorporated into soup.  Serve with oyster crackers or croutons.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops

After a long day at work, I walked out to my car and found it covered by almost an inch of snow.  And of course, it was still snowing.  As soon as I got into the car and turned the radio on, I heard the weather forecast for the weekend.  That's right, more snow for the Omaha area on Saturday, followed by rain on Sunday.  So much for firing up the grill this weekend. 

On the way home, I stopped by the grocery store.  I had no clue what I was going to fix, but I knew I wanted something hearty.  As I was browsing the meat counter, I saw boneless butterflied pork chops on sale and I was sold.  Pork chops, potatoes, and a vegetable.  Nice warm comfort food for a cold winter night.

I decided to go with my Herb-Stuffed Pork Chops, Twice-Baked Potatoes with Cheddar, and some oven roasted asparagus (which happens to be one of my wife's favorites and was also well priced).  The pork chops are a versatile dish and the flavors can be changed by using different herbs each time.  The recipe calls for two tablespoons of fresh herbs, and you can use any combination you like.  Tonight, I decided to go with rosemary (one of my favorite herbs) and marjoram.  You could also use parsley, sage, thyme, basil, or oregano.  If you do not have access to fresh herbs, you can also use dried, just cut back to a total of two teaspoons instead. 

One additional note, I start this dish on top of the stove and then finish it in the oven.  I use a stainless steel skillet with no plastic parts, so it can go straight fom the stovetop to the oven.  You can also use a Dutch oven; or start the dish in a skillet and then transfer it a baking pan to finish it.  If you use two seperate pans, you will want to add the wine to the skillet to heat it, then transfer it along with the pork chops to the baking dish.  So here is my Herb-Stuffed Pork Chop Recipe.....

3 tablespoon olive oil, divided, plus additional for stuffing as needed
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 lbs boneless butterflied pork chops, trimmed
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups white wine or sherry
Juice of half a lemon

Figure 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute about 8 minutes or until golden brown.  Add garlic and cook for 45 seconds.  Add butter and herbs and stir until butter is melted.  Stir in bread crumbs and remove from heat.  If stuffing mix looks a little dry, add additional olive oil, a little at a time, until moistened.  Stuffing should look like figure 1. 

Figure 2
Open pork chops and spread about one tablespoon of stuffing mix onto one side of each chop.  Fold each chop over and dredge in flour.  Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet or oven-proof pan over medium high heat.  Add chops and cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned (see figure 2).  Be careful flipping them over, they are fairly fragile at this point.  Add wine or sherry and bring to a boil.  Cover pan with foil and place in oven (if using two pans, transfer to second pan and cover).  Bake for one hour or until tender.  Remove from oven, uncover.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Serve.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I just wanted to take a moment and welcome everyone to my new blog.  As a lot of my friends know, I enjoy trying new recipes and attempting to improve on recipes I have used in the past.  In the future, I will be using this blog to post recipes and other topics having to do with food.  I hope to update at least once a week (more often if I have more to share).
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