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.


Baked Meatballs

baked meatballs

I know, it’s been a few months. But I’m back! And I’ve got a bunch of new recipes that I’ve tried and loved. This one has been sitting here for a little bit but I’ve had to fight the urge to become a puddle on the floor, which is all I feel like doing in the summer.

Anyway, I know it goes against everything I complain about in the summer, but this recipe for Baked Meatballs is worth turning on the oven. It’s easy and delicious, and the cooked meatballs freeze beautifully. I make a double batch and use half of it for spaghetti, and the other half for meatball sandwiches.

The original recipe came from Alton Brown, but I’ve adapted it to fit what I like to work with — and also because I’m too cheap to buy lamb and ground pork. This works really well with all-beef, or half beef and half ground turkey.

baked meatballsThe first couple of times I made this, I patted the mixture down onto a cutting board and cut the meatballs out with a knife to make sure they were all the right size. I then realized my 1 tablespoon scoop would do a much better and less messy job, and I haven’t looked back.

Don’t skip the bread crumbs on the outside — it adds crunch and a little extra flavor.

Baked Meatballs
adapted from Alton Brown

2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Mix all ingredients until well incorporated.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Scoop meatballs using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop. Roll each ball in the remaining bread crumbs and place the meatballs on a parchment lined baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Try not to eat them all before they make it into the spaghetti.

baked meatballs

I dump everything but the meat into a bowl first, it makes for easier mixing and makes sure everything is distributed evenly.

baked meatballs

baked meatballs

Roll each meatball in bread crumbs — it gives it really great texture.

baked meatballs

I still love my pan-lining parchment/foil stuff!