Friday, April 29, 2016

Vegetable Cheese Chowder

This past week has been rainy and cold, which has brought with it a random soup season in the end of April. Our family goes through soup seasons (we blame it mostly on mom). But when it is freezing and rainy, what's better than a hot bowl of delicious soup?!

SO, over the past couple rainy soup seasons, my family has become addicted to this soup! For example, we have made this soup twice in less than 36 hours, hah!  It is seriously so tasty and it's also full of tons of veggies (which is magical in my mind because it tastes so good). 

My mother found this recipe on Cooking Classy!  This soup is the perfect amount of creamy to healthy.  Trust me, you will not believe the amount of nutrients in this soup, it tastes like food from heaven. It is even in the the top three of favorite soups (only I would have a list of favorite soups, hah). We love to throw in any extra vegetables we have in the fridge. And we always add in one medium red or yellow pepper, diced. ENJOY!

Vegetable Cheese Chowder
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
Yield: About 6 servings

5 1/2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/3 cups chopped carrots (about 3)
1 medium bell pepper, diced (optional-this is what we add)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (2 large)
3 cups chopped broccoli florets (from about 2 heads)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large pot oven medium heat, melt 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the butter. Add carrots, bell pepper, celery and onion and saute 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Stir in chicken broth, potatoes, and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and cook 15 minutes. Stir in broccoli and cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 Tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, whisking constantly for one minute. While whisking vigorously, slowly pour in milk (whisk well until no lumps remain). Cook stirring constantly until mixture begins to gently boil and thicken, stir in heavy cream. Remove from heat and once all veggies are tender pour into soup and stir. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and Parmesan cheese until melted.  until melted. Serve warm.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lemon Bars

This past week, mom and dad left to ride the White Rim, a 100 mile bike ride in Southern Utah (I know they're crazy).  So I was left to run the kitchen for the day, yay! I turned up my tunes and threw an apron on over my running shorts and sweatshirt. As I was searching through my mind (and the fridge) on what I should create, I saw the lemons and instantly thought, "LEMON BARS. Oh goodness yes!" These beauties are amazing! 

Here's a step by step process ^^^

In my family, I'm known as the texture freak. I hate things that have bad texture! Like yogurt plain gags me so bad. So, because of this unfortunate quality I have, most of the lemon bars I've had trigger that gag reflex hah! Something about the pudding-like quality of the lemon filling or something. BUT these lemon bars are the BEST! They are so so sooooo good! The crust and the nut topping gets rid of any unwanted texture. And let me just tell you. THEY TASTE SOOO GOOD!

These lemon bars are known for being hidden in various places in the house boat on our family Lake Powell trips. Because you just can't help hording these things, hah! 

After I made these beauties, I ate an entire row out of the pan and (luckily) only went back snacking on them like every hour ;) SO when mom and dad crawled through the door late at night after riding all day, they feasted their eyes (and mouths) on these things and ate the rest of the pan. I'm sure they tasted even better after 100 miles of desert heat!

Without further ado, here is the very best Lemon Bar recipe in the entire world! Good luck staying away from these goodies!

Lemon Bars
1 cup butter (soft)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 large lemon
1/3 cup (6 Tablespoon) lemon juice
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

1) Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. For the crust, mix all ingredients (butter, flour, powdered sugar) until fluffy. Press into a greased 9 x 13 glass pan and bake for 15 minutes. Let lightly cool.
2) For the filling, blend eggs and sugar together. Stir in the zest of 2 lemons, lemon juice, flour, baking powder, and chopped nuts.
3) Pour prepared filling into baked crust and return to oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top for garnish (optional).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Braided Swiss Sunday Bread

Oh my goodness. GET INTO MY TUMMY! This bread is sooooo good! It's always a party in the house when mom decides to make this! What's better than hot bread, fresh out of the oven and smothered in butter? Uh nothing. Especially this Braided Swiss Sunday Bread (if I could insert the heart-eyes emoji I would)! 


This bread, like all of the best breads, needs to raise twice. BUT don't worry, they are both fairly short! First you let the dough raise in the bowl after you mix it. And then you braid the dough and let it raise before sliding it in the oven. Right after you braid it, you brush an egg white wash on top (shown below). But don't worry! It's all in the recipe below. Happy cookin'! 

Braided Swiss Sunday Bread
2 1/2 cups warm milk or water
2 teaspoons yeast 
1 Tablespoon sugar/honey
1/4 cup soft butter
1 egg, separated
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups flour

1. In a large mixing bowl (if mixing by hand) or in your electric mixer bowl (if mixing with machine), let warm milk, yeast, and sugar/honey proof for 5-10 minutes until bubbly. Then add butter and egg yolk and mix. Sift salt and flour together and add to milk mixture. Mix together by hand or in electric mixer with bread dough hook until very stiff and elastic-like.

2. Lift up the dough ball and oil all sides of the bowl. Then cover with a pizza stone or other baking sheet (do not cover with towel or plastic wrap-this either dries it out or keeps it too wet). Let raise for 1-12 hours.

3. Punch down and cut dough into two halves. With one half, make two long pieces and braid/crisscross the two dough pieces. Place on a baking stone and brush with the remaining egg white mixed with 1/4 cup of water. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Let raise for about 20 minutes.

4. Place in hot oven for 40-45 minutes and bake until crust is a golden brown. Enjoy!

Grandma Joe's Easy Buttermilk Waffles



This recipe reminds me of my childhood. Every Mother’s Day we (we being my dad and siblings) would “secretly” wake up a little earlier to make mom breakfast in bed. But, I’m sure she knew because of the excessive clanking in the kitchen, and she was probably dreading the mess being made. But, after a few burnt waffles and soggy fried eggs, we would tromp into her bedroom and reveal our delicious meal to her.


Then things always get weird. I have a question for you. Why is breakfast in bed a thing? Picture this: there’s mom in bed, sipping her orange juice and trying to make conversation as we all stare at her. So, at least in our case, in mere minutes we would return to dad in that lovely pink apron (so awkward) and eat our own breakfast on the kitchen table. Soon enough mom would walk into the kitchen holding her tray trying not to spill the flower vase full of dandelions. We would all get upset and tell her she had to eat her breakfast in bed! But she would always tell us that she would rather eat with us (and not get crumbs in her bed).  We would roll our eyes and agree. But now that I think about it, it is a little weird... Like lets banish mom to eat in her bed and have a party without her in the kitchen where dad in is control (sounds dangerous).


Someday I hope to be that lady in bed.  I’m going to tell all my children (and my husband who is making the breakfast feast) that I would rather eat with them. And we will run around the house finding magnet boards and emptied drawers and we will ALL have breakfast in bed. Sure I’ll sacrifice my clean bed for one day, it’ll be well worth the memories. So to all you making breakfast in bed with mom.  Although I don’t recommend springing this idea on her in the moment, don’t be mad when she doesn’t want to eat alone, she’s only a mom because of you and she just wants to be with you on her special day.


Okay so why in the world am I tell you this… Oh yes this wonderful waffle recipe! Let me tell ya, these waffles are the perfect quick and easy morning breakfast food. They are delicious and nutritious (especially if you choose to add in some whole wheat flour).  I love to top them with fresh whipped cream, fruit, and nuts.  AND this recipe is totally user friendly. I mean all you really have to do it stir it all together and pour it in the machine (ya got that men?) So go for it! You can do it, I believe in you!


Grandma Joe's Easy Buttermilk Waffles
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups flour (whole wheat if desired)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk (or more if too thick)

Whipped Cream Topping (optional)
1 cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For waffles: Preheat waffle irons. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, and vinegar.  Sift together dry ingredients and add into egg mixture. Add in buttermilk until incorporated (do not over mix). Pour batter into waffle irons and bake until golden brown (about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the waffle iron).

For whipped cream topping: Pour cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a small mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form when beaters are pulled out.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Silver Palate's: Glazed Lemon Cake

This Silver Palate cookbook is the only thing I want to get when my mom dies. HAHA okay just kidding (I hope my siblings don't take me up on that ;)). But I really really REALLY want to inherit this cookbook. It's amazing! My mom has used this cookbook ever since I can remember. And you can tell because it is practically totally falling apart. Most of the cookbook's on our shelf are used for one or two recipes, but we can always trust Silver Palate to have a good recipe for anything. 

My mom got this cookbook wayyyy back in 1985 when she worked in Colorado for a summer after graduation. Some couple (with really good handwriting) named Fonda and Curtis gave it to her, I think she stayed with them, but that's just my best guess. They wrote the cutest, nicest note to my mom (in the picture above). I'm sure they never would've guessed how much we love and use this book. I don't know where these lovely people are, but I'm thankful for them and their kindness!

Dear Fonda and Curtis,
Hello! I'm Gretta Warner. I'm Serena's daughter! I am 19 years old and I'm a spitting image of my mother. I just wanted to say thanks for the Silver Palate cookbook. You'd never believe how much we love it. Especially the Glazed Lemon Cake, it's to die for!
Lots of love,
P.S. Your handwriting is amazing.

Well let me just tell you about this cake. IT'S AMAZING (wait did I already say that?). This cake is the perfect amount of sweet and tang for a lemon cake.  (It's also not neon yellow, which is comforting to my cake box fear for all nasty bright yellow lemon cakes). So just trust me here, I know my cakes, and this lemon cake is super duper moist and the frosting is a creamy, lemony wonderfulness (is that even a word? Cause it should be just to describe this cake). Topped with fresh grated lemon zest, you can't get anything better. Don't believe me? Go ahead and try it yourself!

Silver Palate's Glazed Lemon Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tightly packed Tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon Icing (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Grease a 10-inch tube pan (or bundt pan).
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, blending well after.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add lemon zest and juice.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool cake in pan, set on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and ice with Lemon Icing (below) while cake is still warm.

Lemon Icing
1 pound powdered sugar (3 or 4 cups)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Cream sugar and butter thoroughly. Mix in lemon zest and juice; spread on cake.