October 20, 2014

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup

It's fall y'all!! And as it has been raining and chilly around here for the last week or so, it's the perfect time for soup!  Oh, who am I kidding; I always think it's the perfect time for soup.  It drives Dustin crazy because he doesn't really like soup and I want it all the time.

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

So to make it up to him, I try to make really hearty, delicious soups that will fill him up.  Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup fit the bill;  the potatoes and leeks fill up the silky, creamy, cheesy soup base.  Then you top it all off with more bacon, more cheese, and whatever else fits your fancy.   

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup

The soup base (liquid? soupy parts? I don't know..) is made with chicken broth, and then cream cheese and monterey jack cheese are added and melted into it.  The result is a super creamy, silky soup that is full of delicious cheesy flavor.  It's not like eating a giant bowl of cheese--not that I would have a problem with that.  It's more like the most delicious bowl of creamy potato soup you've ever had!

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup

I make a really a soup with a similar cheesy base, and this soup came to me as we were driving to our hotel on our last night in California.  Maybe I was subconsciously dreading the cold and rainy we were coming home to?  This soup came together wonderfully, and I can't wait to make it again.  Thank you, long California drives, for coming up with this delicious soup!

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Soup with Bacon and Chives

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup
author: Abby at Happy Food Happy Home
makes 4 generous servings (easily doubled)

1 piece of bacon
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups diced leeks (1 medium leek)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cups diced waxy potatoes (I used Yukon golds)
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese (don't use pre-shredded!)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 block cream cheese (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Toppings
Crumbled Crispy Bacon
Sour Cream
Chives

  1. Cut your bacon into strips.  Add bacon to a cold dutch oven or soup pot.  Heat over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. 
  2. Remove the bacon from the pot leaving the bacon grease behind.  Set bacon pieces aside for topping later.  
  3. Slice leek in half length wise, then cut into thin strips. Place is colander and rinse the leeks thoroughly with cool water.  
  4. Add butter and leeks to the pot.  Stir everything together and cook until leeks have softened, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add black pepper and cayenne to leeks and stir. Toast for about 30 seconds. 
  6. Add potatoes and chicken broth.  The chicken broth should cover the potatoes--if not add water to cover.
  7. Place lid on pot and bring soup to a boil. Allow soup to boil for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.  
  8. Lower heat to a simmer. 
  9. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and add to the soup.  Stir occasionally and allow to melt. 
  10. Shred the monterey jack cheese and toss with the cornstarch.  
  11. Once the cream cheese has melted, add the monterey jack in two batches to the soup.  Stir thoroughly between each addition. 
  12. When the cheeses have melted and combined into the soup, add the parsley and stir to combine. 
  13. Remove the soup from the heat and serve.
  14. Top with bacon, chives, sour cream, and anything else you normally put on top of baked potatoes!
Notes:  This soup is easily doubled to make more servings!
To Make Vegetarian:  Replace the piece of bacon and butter in Step 1-4 with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 
Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  
Do not top with bacon :)

Cheesy Loaded Baked Potato and Leek Soup has definitely earned its spot on my soup list.  And Dustin really liked it too!  This would be a perfect soup to invite people over on a chilly evening and share; add some board games, and you've created my perfect evening.  

What's your favorite soup to make when it gets cold?  Chili is on the menu for this weekend!

July 23, 2014

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

How to Grill Corn

I'll admit the first time I grilled corn on the cob I was nervous.  Would it turn out?  Burn?  Taste really awful?  I was amazingly surprised when it came off the grill perfectly cooked, sweet and juicy.  Who knew it could be so easy to cook corn on the cob?  And doing it without steaming up your kitchen makes grilling it even better.

Grilled Corn Recipe

There's not really a trick to this method of grilling corn on the cob.  No soaking, no shucking and wrapping in tin foil, no voodoo magic.  Just three simple steps, and you're good to go.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Step one--get ride of any shucks or silks that might catch on fire.  Step two--place the corn on a medium hot grill.  Step three--turn three times every five minutes.  Then shuck the corn, the silks come off really easily, and coat in butter.  Yum yum yummy!

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

How to Grill Corn on the Cob

Supplies Needed:
Grill
Scissors

Corn on the cob (shucks on)

  1. Heat grill to medium heat (about 350 degrees). 
  2. Trim the corn shucks  and silks.  I trim off anything that might catch on fire.
  3. Place the corn on the grill.  Turn the corn a third of the way after 5 minutes.  After 5 more minutes rotate the corn again.  Cook for 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes.
  4. Wait for about 5 minutes; the corn will be hot.  Then shuck the corn.  The silks will come right off the corn (yay!) 
  5. Coat in butter, Mexican Corn toppings, or anything else you want.

Grill Corn

I've started grilling an extra ear of corn or two to cut off the cob and have in summer salads.  Grilling the corn really makes it easy to have perfectly cooked corn.  And it makes it easy for me to eat way to much corn--which was one of my summer goals.

How do you like to cook corn?  Have you ever tried grilling corn on the cob?

July 21, 2014

Grilled Mexican Flank Steak Tacos with Grilled Corn

Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Grilled Corn

I love tacos.  And now that grilling season is in full swing I couldn't resist making steak tacos with everything on the grill.  Grilled flank steak, grilled corn, tortillas heated on the grill.  It's the perfect dinner to make when you just don't want to turn on the stove or the oven.

Mexican Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

The flank steak is soaked in a chili powder, lime, and spice infused marinade that sinks through the steak making it flavorful, delicious, and tender.  All of the spices--cumin, oregano, paprika, cinnamon--are the perfect seasoning for flavorful tacos.  I think the next time I make ground beef tacos I'm going to use the same spice mixture!

Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Grilled Corn

Summer vegetables are making me so happy right now.  I'm not sure if I could possibly eat more corn--is every day too often?  I love grilling corn because it's super fast, and I can normally just throw it on as I grill whatever else I'm grilling.  It's also really nice because I don't shuck it before hand;  after it's cooked I peel it all off, shucks, silk, and all.  I'm going to do a post just about grilling corn--check for it later this week.

Grilled Flank Steak Tacos

Grilled Mexican flank steak, grilled corn, pico de gallo, creama, and shredded cheese--everything combined together makes these tacos the perfect bite of summer.  Fresh veggies, grilled steak, and tortillas warmed on the grill.  Summer food just might be the best food.

Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon

Grilled Mexican Flank Steak Tacos with Grilled Corn
author:  Happy Food Happy Home
serves 4 (can be adjusted to serve as necessary)

2 pound flank steak
Marinade
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 dashes cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
½ teaspoon lime zest (about ½ a lime)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 corn tortillas
Toppings
pico de gallo
sour cream or Mexican Creama
shredded cheese or cojito
cilantro for topping
  1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a glass measuring cup.
  2. In a large Ziploc bag combine the flank steak and the marinade.  Securely close the bag and use your hands to rub the steak in the marinade. 
  3. Place the sealed bag in the fridge for 8-24 hours.  Rotate and rub the bag every few hours (whenever you think about it).
  4. Heat grill to medium high heat. 
  5. Trim off any dangling shucks and silks from the corn, but keep most of the shucks on.  Place on the grill and cook for 15 minutes.  Rotate the corn every 5 minutes.  Remove from grill and let cool before shucking.
  6. Using tongs remove the steak from the ziplock bag.  Place on the grill and cook for approximately 7 minutes per side--until a thermometer reads 130-135 (for medium rare). 
  7. Remove steak from grill and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. 
  8. Turn grill off and throw tortillas onto the grill.  Allow to warm on the grill--flipping over after about 1 minute. Remove when warm.
  9. Shuck the corn and use a sharp knife to slice the kernels from the cob. 
  10. Slice the flank steak in thin slices making sure to go against the grain of the meat--your slices should be short meat fibers through the slices, not long meat fibers with the slices. 
  11. Gather together the tortillas, steak, corn, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.  Assemble the tacos with whatever makes you happy.  


Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Grilled Corn

I love tacos--especially ones filled with summer flavors. The grilled corn and flank steak really make these tacos.  What are your favorite summer flavors?  Grilling anything amazing lately?

July 14, 2014

Spring Berry Brownie Sundaes

Spring Berry Brownie Sundae

Summer camp has been kicking my butt.  We're three weeks in, and I still feel like I'm running everywhere in order to make sure everyone is having a great time.  Luckily that's mostly what I have to worry about-- everyone having fun.  Not a bad job to have.

Spring Berry Brownie Sundae

When I get home in the afternoon I'm normally hungry and tired.  So I love having an afternoon snack.  It's a bit of an indulgence in the middle of my day--a little treat between lunch and dinner.  Most days I convince myself that some fruit or cheese would be a good snack.  But some days I just need somethings chocolate.

Spring Berry Brownie Sundae with Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries

I love brownies, especially ones with a crispy top and a gooey middle.  They're just the perfect little chocolaty bite that I crave.  These brownies are delicious, and I dare I say easy.  Chocolate, a touch of espresso powder, and vanilla make a rich complex brownie that doesn't seem too far away from a traditional brownie.  Brownies don't really need to be messed with, do they?

Brownie Sundae with Spring Berry Syrup

And to make everything even more indulgent and delicious (who can so no to that?)  I topped the brownies with ice cream and my Spring Berry Syrup.  It's like the ultimate brownie sundae served in a jar! It's cute--dare I say twee--and the spring berry brownie sundae is the perfect ending to a hot day at camp.

Spring Berry Brownie Sundaes
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 8-10 brownie sundaes

Brownies
3 ounces  70 percent dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon table salt)
2/3 cup all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter an 8x8 baking pan.
  3. Set a large glass mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water. 
  4. Add the chocolate and the butter to the bowl and stir until almost melted.
  5. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Whisk in the sugar.
  7. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
  8. Whisk in the vanilla and the espresso powder. 
  9. Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined.
  10. Pour the brownies into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake the brownies for 25-35 minutes until the top is crisp, the edges are set, and the middle is slightly gooey. 
  12. Allow brownies to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting and assembling the sundaes.

To Assemble Sundaes:
Vanilla Ice Cream
Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries for topping
  1. I cut the brownies into about 1 inch squares to fit in the pint size mason jar. 
  2. Start with 1 layer of brownies, then top with a spoonful of syrup.
  3. Add more brownies, ice cream, and a big spoon of spring berry syrup on top. 
  4. Top with berries if desired.
  5. Devour promptly. 
Notes:  Brownies adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The End of the Spring Berry Brownie Sundae!

I love these spring berry brownie sundaes.  I might have eaten them for about a week in a row.  They would also be perfect for a cookout--everyone can make their own!  Do you have a favorite afternoon snack?  Is it practical or more indulgent?