Potato, Broccoli, & Cheddar Soup with Cheese Toasts

My husband likes soups that have a thicker consistency. As he loves our gold standard Cauliflower Cheese Soup, I knew that he would love this one too; I just used more potatoes to give it a heartier consistency. It was perfect. It would also be difficult to argue about eating a soup that is garnished with garlic-cheese toasts! The roasted broccoli floret topping was another bonus. 🙂

This soup is quick enough to prepare and serve on a weeknight, but is even more wonderful if made in advance. The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used some chicken stock for water and increased the amount of garlic, potatoes (unpeeled!), and lemon juice. I also used a sourdough baguette to make the cheese toasts instead of Italian bread. Great.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds broccoli, stems peeled and chopped, florets cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups florets, divided)
  • 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 packed cups grated sharp white cheddar (from an 8-ounce block), divided
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon, plus grated zest for serving, or to taste
  • 8 slices (each 1/2 inch thick) sourdough baguette, sliced on a diagonal or 4 slices (each 1/2 inch thick) rustic Italian bread
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add shallots, 4 cloves of garlic, broccoli stems, potatoes, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add stock with 3 cups water; season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add 3 cups broccoli florets; cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender with 1 cup cheese; puree until smooth. (I used an immersion blender instead.)
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  6. Stir together remaining cheese and garlic. Place bread on one side of a rimmed baking sheet, and remaining broccoli florets on other. Drizzle both with oil; season with salt and pepper. Top bread with cheese mixture.
  7. Roast broccoli and cheese toasts for 15 minutes, tossing florets halfway through.
  8. Serve soup topped with toasts, florets, and zest, as desired.

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Black Bean Empanadas

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I was originally going to combine my two vegetarian empanada posts… but that would be such a disservice to their fabulously different flavors!

My husband had to work on Super Bowl Sunday this year. 😦 We don’t usually go to a party, but my husband, kids, and I really enjoy celebrating the big game with a festive menu. I decided that I wanted to be a superstar spouse and deliver a special meal to him at work- just so that he wouldn’t miss everything

My daughter’s special pig “Honey Pie” – another football fan in our house!

If you read my last post, you know how obsessed I am with empanadas- and so you know what a super-special Super Bowl meal this really was!! These black bean empanadas were the second vegetarian empanada version we had for the big game. This filling had a really creamy texture and a spicy bite that held up well to the dough. Great.

Like my “green” empanadas, these empanadas also star Carla Hall’s famous (famous to me, at least!) Cream Cheese Dough. When Carla was on Top Chef, she seemed to be always cranking out both savory and sweet fillings with this wonderful, tender dough. I am SO happy to have my hands on the recipe!! 🙂 I modified her perfect recipe to incorporate whole wheat flour- pretty daring, I know- but it really worked out. 🙂

I cut the dough into 5-inch circles, and we ate the empanadas as a main course with refried beans and brown Basmati rice. (We had chips and guacamole first, of course!!) If the dough is cut into 3-inch rounds, they would be the perfect size for an appetizer. This recipe was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko. I also adapted the baking time to use a convection oven.

I am bringing these tasty morsels to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #54 over at The Novice Gardener. I am co-hosting this week with my friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. So exciting!! Join the fun- it is a great way to meet other bloggers and increase the exposure of your own blog! Click here for the guidelines to join the party.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice

For the Black Bean Picadillo Filling:

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground Mexican chiles, such as ancho
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro

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  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low-speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, cover the raisins with the hot water. Let soak.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the ground chiles and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in the beans, corn, and raisins with their soaking liquid.
  9. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  10. When cool, stir in the cheese and cilantro.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
  13. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. (Alternatively, start at one end, pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim.)
  14. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.

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Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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When I saw this recipe from Nancy of Feasting with Friends, I forwarded a link to my husband at work to see if he would like to have it as part of our Thanksgiving feast. The response: “Are you joking? Of course!”

This casserole was insanely HUGE! My son ate potato casserole with a side of potato casserole for his Thanksgiving feast. 🙂 My husband ate his fair share as well- they were both absolutely thrilled- especially with the cheesy bacon topping. 🙂 This tasty recipe was adapted from Feasting with Friends. I used fat-free Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream. (No one noticed….)

Yield: Serves 15+

  • 18 medium russet potatoes
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of whole milk (may use less depending on consistency of potatoes)
  • 8 slices of bacon, fried until crispy and crumbled
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (convection). Scrub potatoes and pierce each several times with a fork or sharp knife.
  2. Bake the potatoes (directly on the oven rack) for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Fully cooked potatoes will give slightly when squeezed (use an oven mitt – they’ll be hot).
  3. If baking completed dish immediately after prep, reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  4. Cool potatoes slightly, until able to handle. Spritz a baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  5. Cut each potato in half. Scoop out the insides and place in a large mixing bowl. Set the skins aside.
  6. In two batches, using a stand mixer, stir on low until potatoes are broken down a bit, incorporating about 1/2 cup of milk in each batch. Add half of the cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Repeat with the second batch.
  7. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Add additional milk (a tablespoon or so at a time) if potato mixture is too thick.
  8. Roughly chop about 1/2 of the potato skins and place in the prepared baking dish. Using a large spoon, place the potato mixture on top of the skins. Smooth and level the potatoes. Cover with foil.
  9. At this point, the potatoes can be baked immediately, or stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If refrigerating, allow dish to stand at room temperature about 1 to 2 hours prior to baking and start in a cold oven, set to 325°F. Add about 10 minutes to the bake time below.
  10. Bake about 35 to 45 minutes, remove foil and bake about 10 more minutes until the potatoes are completely heated through. Immediately after removing from the oven, top the potatoes with the shredded cheese and crumpled bacon. Return to oven briefly to melt the cheese.
  11. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Fewer guests? For every 3 potatoes, use approximately: 1 ounce cream cheese, 2 Tablespoons sour cream, 1 Tablespoon butter, 1/2 clove minced garlic, 2 Tablespoons milk, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar and 1 slice crumbled, cooked bacon.

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Stove-Top Pasta and Cheese

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I had so many excuses to make this rich & cheesy weeknight dinner… it was 16 degrees colder than average, raining, I was tired…. I also needed something great for Fiesta Friday #14 at the Novice Gardener! It was a tasty, quick cooking, one-pot meal. A crowd pleaser. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. …and, yes, amazing Garlic Bread was served on the side. We did eat it with huge green salads as well for veggies and color. 🙂

  • 2 to 3 slices rustic bread, such as ciabatta, trimmed of crusts and cut into 1-inch pieces (I used 2 slices of Tuscan Pane)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 ounce white extra-sharp cheddar, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  1. Toast the cut and trimmed bread in a 400 degree oven util lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pulse bread in a food processor (I used a mini) until coarsely ground (you should have 1 cup). Add melted butter, pulsing to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse to mix.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, both cheeses, cream, and mustard in a bowl.
  5. Return pasta to pot and add egg mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring, until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until pasta is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with breadcrumbs.

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