Broccoli Cheese Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup

With fall trying to make its way into Las Vegas, it’s time to pull out some old favorites!

This broccoli cheese soup rivals any I’ve tried in a restaurant, and only takes about half an hour to prepare. It’s not going to win any health awards, but trust me when I say it’s worth it! Mike and the girls love it, even the one that doesn’t like cheese (I still haven’t figured out how that’s possible).

We also like the broccoli to be a bit more substantial, so I’ve started using one bag of frozen chopped broccoli, and one bag of frozen whole florets.

Serve it with some buttered French bread.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
makes 8 generous servings

1/3 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (16 oz) packages frozen chopped broccoli
4 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
1 (1 lb) loaf Velveeta, cubed
2 cups milk, divided
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic in butter until softened. Add salt and pepper, and stir in broccoli. Add chicken broth and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in the Velveeta cubes until melted. Stir in one cup of milk.

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into remaining cup of milk until dissolved. Stir into soup and cook, stirring frequently, until thick. Add remaining cup of shredded cheese just before serving.


Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

tomato basil pasta salad

One of my favorite parts of summer eating is trying out and experimenting with new recipes, especially ones that don’t involve the oven. And my favorite type of summer meal is pasta salad. I love that it’s loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, and that the only thing I have to turn on is the stove (and even that’s only for a few minutes). And who doesn’t love pasta?

Though I have my time-tested, family-approved Easy Pasta Salad recipe, we decided a little while ago that it was time to try something new.

The original recipe called for rotini pasta, but I like using shells. For some reason, this grocery trip I got the small shells though I meant to get medium, which I think work best with this. Either way, it’s a hit — there are never any leftovers!

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

1 lb medium shell pasta
1 to 1-1/2 lbs cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1/3 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)

Mix together the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, and basil. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Mix pasta with the tomato mixture until well combined and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least four hours).

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan on top.


Zucchini Kielbasa Pasta

Zucchini Kielbasa Pasta

Zucchini Kielbasa Pasta is one of those recipes that I started out using years ago and which slowly morphed into something that fits my family a bit better. This happens pretty often and usually results in a family favorite.

And though this is a family favorite, I actually forgot about it for a while. A year or so ago I went through and tried to organize all of my recipes. Most of them are just full-sized sheets of printer paper, and I figured the easiest way to reign them in was to put them in all sheet protectors in a binder.

However, a few seemed to have been lost along the way and this was one of them, and I didn’t realize it until Mike was going through our external hard-drive this week and came across some pictures of it that I’d taken for some reason (I had to double check to see if I’ve already posted it and hadn’t, so I don’t know what the pictures were for). I have no idea what happened to the original print-out with all of my notes, but I’d made it often enough that even after so long I remembered the changes I’d made.

Anyway, this is a great dinner for summer. There is no oven involved, and if you end up with an abundance of zucchini it’s a great way to use them up. You can also easily make it vegetarian by leaving out the kielbasa.

Zucchini Kielbasa Pasta

3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 can (14 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb tube pasta (I used rigatoni, but penne, ziti, etc, works fine)

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini, onion and red bell pepper in the olive oil until zucchini is tender (I usually put a lid on it for a few minutes to let the steam help it cook).

Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Pour the zucchini kielbasa mixture on top and serve.

Makes 8 servings.