It's already cold in the mitten state.
It has been cold for the last several weeks and it is shifting into the time where making soup and stew is a weekly ritual. I happen to like a lot of different soups, but had been craving something I hadn't had in at least seven or eight years. Broccoli cheese soup is my absolute favorite soup for a few reasons...
One, I love broccoli, and I love cheese.
Two, It fills me up for a while.
And three, it makes me warm when it's cold.
I never really used somebody else's recipe because I thought it would be easy... I was right, but still, I should have looked at a recipe or two for some idea of ingredients besides the broccoli and cheese. To add cream or not to add cream? What cheese works best? Do I have to blend it? So many questions that I had in my head.
I wish I had some kind of awesome story to tack on with this recipe, but I don't. This wasn't something from my childhood, just something I sampled from a certain bread restaurant that we all know, and I found it way too salty so I made my own. Simple as that. What else is there?
So instead of a story about soup, I am going off on another tangent for a minute because I feel like the ending can be compared.
Right now, life is rough. You already know that I miss my dad and that I cannot say enough about that, but other things are happening too. Being an adult can suck sometimes, and right now, that is how I feel. I mean, we all get hit with it from time to time, and sometimes even all at once. For me, it's that every time that Bruce and I have something fixed, another thing is broken. Every. Single. Time. For instance, I swallowed my pride to talk to my mom about my car. I didn't exactly ask for money because I don't feel right to, but I did gripe about it. She gave us the money, and we got all the big things fixed that needed fixing; the muffler, the suspension, and some other important things that make the car safe to drive. We get that fixed and it's running great! I mean, there is still a little work left on the muffler, but it's so much better and we can actually hear ourselves think when we're on the highway, and relax instead of having our hearts in our throats in the hopes of not being pulled over for noise violation and get slapped with a ticket. All of that is great, right? Hallelujah! (FOREVER GRATEFUL!!!)
But then, bad news comes. "Hey, my uncle is in a coma, we need to come to the hospital." -- That was the day before my birthday that we went. "Hey, let's take you out to eat." Can't enjoy my food, dad isn't around to call and wish me a happy birthday, Bruce's uncle is on HIS way out and reminding me of Daddy, and then all kinds of little things: the water pressure being out of whack, not getting a hot shower and only getting cold bird baths from the sink... Stuff clogging, stuff breaking... People asking for money you don't have and you feel like a terrible person for letting them down. You start to wonder why on earth it's all happening at once and just want to yell at the air for being polluted.
And then you get a reminder of little things that don't suck. Being hugged by your spouse and cuddling up while asleep because the weather is cold, wrapping up in an afghan your late grandmother knitted because it's like being hugged, and eating a bowl of soup because it is also like a hug.
That is why I wanted to make soup. So I did...
Life is not all peaches and cream, but you can still dream of the cobbler they can make.
This is not diet food... But it is healthier than it could be.
I want to preface this recipe with a few things... First, I wanted to make it gluten free and not use a roux as a thickening agent. Two, I wanted it to be a little easier... Three, I wanted it to still be creamy, but I didn't want to add heavy cream. Little changes!
Putting it together...
Okay, potatoes? Yogurt?
Yes... You read the text right!
First, the taters... The taters replaces the starch that the flour in the roux would have given you, which helps the cheese to bind into the soup. I tested this out because I would like to pass it on to those who are on a gluten free diet can enjoy it too. (See, I DO love you. :P)
The greek yogurt is because I put sour cream instead of heavy cream, and I wanted that tangy flavor. The creaminess of the yogurt makes it more decadent.
I loved it with the changes!
I can honestly tell you that it still filled me up, that it tasted great, and that I couldn't even tell there were potatoes in there. The only reason I cannot call it diet food is for the fact that cheese is pretty fatty. But you CAN cut down on some of the fat so you can feel LESS guilty, and still feel like you did nothing out of the ordinary to your soup.
I normally don't use turmeric in my broccoli cheese soup, and that also helps because it enhances the flavor of the broccoli in all the right ways.
Some updates and other Stuff!
And that's all she wrote.
Marie Barone isn't the only one...
I have been holding onto a secret for quite some time… or rather, secret recipe.
Did you ever watch the show, Everybody Loves Raymond? Marie Barone was one of my favorite characters. I mean, she could cook some beautiful foods, though she was very secretive of this. One recipe in particular got my gears moving and my curiosity on high alert. It was steak pizzaiola, a name that I memorized and thought about quite a bit.
Carne Pizzaiola means “meat in pizza style,” and is mostly made with cheaper cuts of beef, but can be other meats such as chicken. Basically, it is a wide range of combinations that you can use. The best way to put it is that the meat is a replacement for pizza crust. I have no idea on where in Italy this dish was first made, or even when, but I thank the Italians for such lovely fare.
I decided to look a recipe up and you’re probably going to giggle at where I found it at… I hijacked Martha Stewart’s recipe for her easier version (she has both that and traditional). I made it the first time several years ago, but right away I decided to change what I saw because her recipe seemed so… well… herbless? She was using round steak, which is quite lacking of flavor to begin with, and there wasn’t much in the way of even Oregano. I don’t even remember if she used it or not.
I thought about how I like my pizza in general and went for it. My family gobbled it up, including my very picky dad who didn’t like flavor much (aka, he had a bland pallet, the poor man). Guess what? It’s actually very easy to make, and you don’t even have to tenderize the meat because it’s a slow cooked, one pot/pan meal!
Totally optional but worth it, refined method:
Serve with pasta or bread if desired!
Note: I omitted the paste because that is how I like the sauce, so it might look different on my plate than it will look on yours if you use the paste.
The best part of this recipe is that you can play with it, adding what you like on pizza. If you are so inclined to add mushrooms, or other meats, or what have you. I like to keep it simple, closer to traditional. If you use a different meat, your cooking time might change, Chicken breast is better added back into the pan close to the end of the sauce cooking so it doesn’t dry up, chicken thigh would probably work better.
Funny story about a different protein that I used once for this recipe… My dad absolutely loathed venison. He swore up and down that he would be able to tell if it was deer or not. My sister asked me to cook dinner for a Christmas gathering, perhaps a few years back, knowing that dad would throw a fit if he knew it was Bambi in the pan and not Heifer. Challenge accepted. I made one of my best batches of pizzaiola that evening, making sure I was there before everyone else so dad wouldn’t see the venison before it was cooked. It turned out so tender and delicious that dad ate seconds… I had fooled him into eating deer meat!
When I told him a year or so later that we fed him Bambi, he said, “I knew it all along,” in that tone of voice a kid gets when they find out they’ve been duped.
And I laughed and laughed. (I kid)
With that all being said, I bid you good day and:
As you may know from my previous blog post, I lost my father on March 21 of this year, so my inspiration has not been present very much as my family and I try to heal from this major loss. I decided to invite my mother over for Easter, which happened to be the Sunday after the funeral as well as April Fool's day. April Fool's Day is o high significance for me because of the practical joke war that my dad and I had going for years, at least until I surpassed everything he ever taught me and made him proud.
I spent the day trying to go at a relaxed pace. I chose to have a later dinner than we would normally do for a holiday (my family usually eats celebration suppers either at noon if we are at his step parents' house, or 3 pm if at my mother's house), but damned if things didn't go the way of a certain fellow's law that shall not be named; but we all know and loathe him.
I melted down over missing croutons. Yeah. That was me.
Even with all of the chaos going on in my head that day, as well as things throughout my house, I was able to pull dinner off and even got dessert going with time to spare. Despite the melt down, I was okay by dinner time and happy to have my mom at my table.
My mom does gluten free, so I had to figure out what to do for dessert, Lucky for me, she had her baking mix already handy and handed it over to me the day prior when my hubby and I spent time over at my sister's house. Since I already had frozen peaches, I used those and what mom handed me, and I threw together the cobbler.
The cobbler is super easy, really!
Gluten Free Peach Cobbler
Preheat Oven to 350
Sift baking Mix into a bowl, add melted butter and mix with fork until pea sized clumps form.
Add your milk, vanilla, and your sugar and cut into the mixture until you form a loose dough or paste.
Grease your cast iron skillet with butter for best result, oil or spray will do as well.
Toss the peaches with both wet and dry ingredients and spread over biscuit dough
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until peaches caramelize, top of biscuit will be pale but the bottom will be brown
Serve and enjoy!
Mom was happy to eat it right after it came out of the oven and had a chance to cool only slightly. She loved it. Unfortunately, I fell asleep before I could eat some, but it was fantastic when it was cold as well.
If you want to do this with regular ingredients, just add the three TBSP of sugar and the vanilla to this recipe when you add the milk to this recipe!
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you give it a try! It was delicious, I am telling you.
The Eccentric Foodie
Cooking bacon in the oven is the easiest way.
These are various recipes that either I created, or I found and adjusted to what I thought would be awesome or even healthier.