Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Soup and Bread, and not from Panera for once

**UPDATE** I've moved to
You can find this post and more here

With about 12 inches of snow in driveway, all I wanted to do with cuddle up in my fleece pajamas and eat some warm comfort food. I'm usually not much of a soup person, unless it is made by someone named Panera and comes in a bread bowl. However, I've made this recipe for Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup once before.
It was so good that I've had a taste for it ever since.

I changed it slightly for our family's taste...

1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups fat free chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup milk
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
5 cups (about 2 heads) broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces (about 2 heads fresh or 1 bag frozen)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices American cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

-Chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and set aside. I love my Chopper. It saves so much time!

-In a large soup pot, melt the butter.  Add the vegetables you just chopped and sauté on low heat until they're soft (5 minutes-ish). Meanwhile, I suggest getting the potatoes ready. Again, the chopper saves so much time. If I didn't have one, I would definitely be less inclined to cook. I'm that lazy.

-Add flour, salt and pepper to the pot and stir until smooth.

-Add chicken broth, milk and potatoes and cook on high heat until it comes to a boil, then cover and cook on low until the potatoes are soft (10 minutes-ish). Meanwhile, get your broccoli ready.

-Once the potatoes are soft, add the broccoli and parmesan cheese.

-Stir and then cook uncovered until the broccoli is cooked. I used frozen broccoli and I chopped it when it was partially thawed. If using fresh broccoli, this step will take closer to 5 minutes. If partially frozen, add a couple minutes. 

-Add the cheddar and American cheese. Stir well and remove from heat.

-The original instructions say to use an immersion blender. Instead, I used my handy dandy Baby Bullet (yes, there are still uses for it once you're done with the baby-food-making stage!!). Scoop a cup or 2 of the potatoes and broccoli into the blender/processor and blend it up a little bit. Then scoop it back into the soup and stir. This thickens up the soup. Don't skip this step because it really does help. 

That's it! It kind of seems like a lot of work but it's so good and even my 18 month old gobbled it up in between "mmm's".

As I was cooking up this soup, I kept thinking about Panera soup and their bread and how great would it be to have a thick delicious bread to dip in my soup. (We're dippers, here.)

So I made some! Honey Whole Wheat Bread - fairly simple and very delicious (especially to make avocado grilled cheese sandwiches with).
Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Friday, February 15, 2013

2 Ingredient, Guilt-Free Cookies

**UPDATE** I've moved to
You can find this post and more here

Ohmygosh!! I found this recipe for 2 ingredient cookies and had to try them. These cookies are so good and only need 2-5 ingredients. They remind me a lot of chocolate chip banana bread, so if you like that (or love it, like me), you will love love LOVE these cookies. (On the other hand, if you're a 'nana-hater like my mom, you absolutely will not like these.)

Required Ingredients:
2 large bananas
1 cup quick oats

Mix these two ingredients together. We used a fork to get the bananas really mashed up. This will take some elbow grease and a few minutes of really good mashing.

Mix in your choice of extras...but I highly recommend:
chocolate chips

Plop spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. I used my fingers to help the cookie dough form into blobs.
Very delicious blobs.

Cook at 350* for 10-15 minutes. Mine came out perfectly at 12 minutes.

These are best served warm.

But what is the absolute best part?? Even if you eat the entire batch, you only ate 2 bananas, a cup of oats, and a handful of whatever other ingredients you put in. Guilt free.

Valentine's Activities with a Toddler

**UPDATE** I've moved to
You can find this post and more here

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's the middle of February?

The last few weeks have really flown by. I must have been keeping busy because I. am. so. tired.

Amidst all of the cray-cray that has been my life lately, Cady and I have managed to do a few cute Valentine projects. Mostly, we made Valentines for grandparents.

Fortunately, we have heart shaped cookie cutters in various sizes, which made this project much easier for me (and much cuter for everyone else because my free-hand hearts would not have been so precise). Cady loved that she had the freedom of holding and using the glue stick all by herself! I just showed her where to glue and she went to town. And then when it was time to press the paper together, she used every muscle in her hand and arm (and made large groans to prove to me that she was pushing them together as hard as she could). What a good little worker bee.
Homemade Monkey Valentine

Homemade Valentines
We made a dog, lion, owl, elephant, penguin, bumble bee...and this morning, we made a monkey valentine for Cady's aunt in New York.

Heart Stencils

 On my lazier days, I use theme-based cookie cutters as stencils and let her color over them.

Heart Prints
 On slightly less lazy days, I let her dip the same cookie cutters in paint and make prints on paper. First, she explored independently with the cookie cutters, paint, and a paint brush. Then when she was about done, I helped her make a few heart prints on top of the rest of her painting.

Pipe Cleaner Heart Ring
It's Valentine's Day. Every girl needs a little jewelry on Valentine's Day, right? I made this out of a pipe cleaner. Check out that lopsided heart. That's why I use stencils whenever possible.

And don't forget the chocolate...Girls must have chocolate on Valentine's Day! :)