Monday, September 26, 2011

What to do with a leftover veggie tray?

Over the weekend we celebrated Garrison's 2nd birthday with family and friends. It was so much fun. The birthday boy got spoiled rotten and managed through the evening with minimal 2 year old tantrums! The weather was perfect and the flies were horrible! We ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed some extra special cupcakes for dessert. Of course, I over estimated the amount of food we needed and had mounds of leftover's to use up. Tonight I set my sight on making a soup from all the leftover vegetables from the veggie tray. I had several cups of fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots.  I channeled some inspiration from a Broccoli Cheese Soup that was hiding in the back of my memory from last fall and mixed that with some pantry (and refrigerator) staples. Voila! Rich & Creamy Vegetable Soup!

Creamy Mixed Vegetable Soup

2 c. each Broccoli & Cauliflower
1 1/2 c. carrots (or baby carrots)
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic
4 c. chicken broth (or 4 c. water with 4 tsp. granulated chicken bouillon)
1/2 c. fat free (or regular) half & half
1 c. milk
1 c. grated Colby Jack (or cheddar) cheese
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. grated black pepper
1/2 c. grated Colby Jack (optional, for garnish)
Fresh Croutons (optional, for garnish)

Add broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots to a large pot. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. With a slotted spoon remove about 3/4 of the vegetables and place in a blender and puree with half & half. Set aside.

In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent. Stir in flour to make a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and cheese, stiring well to combine. Mixture will be thick.

 Mix roux into the large pot of remaining vegetables and broth. Stir in the vegetable puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh croutons and additional cheese if desired.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Did you run to Starbucks as soon as the Pumpkin Spiced Latte became available a couple of weeks ago?  Are you remortgaging your house so that you can afford said "lattes." The hubby and I tested out this recipe tonight and I give it an A+ for being as close to Starbucks as possible. I was so glad to find canned pumpkin, albeit a small can, for less than $2.00 today at Walmart. I've had this recipe in my hands for over a week and I just couldn't find it in me to shell out 3 almost 4 dollars for a can of pumpkin at other stores. Before I share the recipe a few notes: Use 1% or 2% milk and real sugar. After you've tasted this the right way then you can try and lighten it up. Also, you may find the pumpkin puree to be a bit mealy. If it bothers you Torani does make a Pumpkin Spice Syrup. You can replace the puree with the syrup. Without further or do, here is a recipe for a copycat pumpkin spiced latte.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup 1 % milk
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger brewed espresso or double strength coffee  (I had no idea what a jigger was...but apparently it's the equivalent of a shot glass.)
Whipped cream, whipped topping, or whatever floats your boat :).

Brew your espresso and set aside.
 In a small saucepan over medium heat whisk pumpkin, vanilla, sugar, spice, and milk. Whisk continuously until hot. Do not bring to a boil or your milk will burn.
Place milk in a blender and whir a few minutes or until frothy. Pour into a mug and top with your jigger of espresso. Stir to combine and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

At this rate you may still have money left over for Christmas shopping by the time fall is over.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes Oooh la la

Another successful cupcake idea for Garrison's upcoming 2nd birthday! Today I set out to make a test batch of Cookies & Cream Frosting to pair with some chocolate cupcakes. Cupcakes which I didn't plan on making with this recipe since it was just a small test batch. But then the frosting looked so delicious and I couldn't let it go to waste. Besides, my kitchen was already a mess and my husband, who was going to work in about 2 hours could easily take these off my hands and share with some of the guys at the office. When I first dreamt up these cupcakes I had planned to make the chocolate cake from a box (disgraceful right?). I didn't have any cake mix in my pantry, so I found a quick chocolate cupcake recipe and had them baked and cooling just 20 minutes later. I popped them in the freezer and iced them after another 15 minutes, after which came time for the taste test. Honestly, I don't think I ever want to make chocolate cake from a box again! The cake was moist and delicious and the frosting was rich and sweet! My husband thought they were so good that he wanted to eat them for lunch...but I convinced him to save these for dessert :).