Broccoli & Cheese Soup

A good recipe for a soup that doesn’t take all day to make is a real lifesaver. Especially one as hearty and filling as this broccoli & cheese version. It takes only a few short minutes to throw together, and the flavors are just out of this world.

It’s rich and hearty, but still doesn’t weigh you down the way many dairy-based soups do. The addition of fresh broccoli really adds a freshness to the flavor, and you can never go wrong adding plenty of cheddar cheese to anything in my book.

My girlfriend came over for lunch about a month ago or so, and I made this served with some crusty bread and a salad. We both loved it, and I’ve been thinking about making it again ever since. It reheats great as well, which is always a plus. Would also be great for a last minute, easy dinner!

Source: slightly adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

In my quest to make more and more things homemade in my kitchen, I was shocked to realize I hadn’t tried and shared a great recipe for a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I’d been relying on the packet style mix – which is still better tasting than the stuff from the bottle, and more economical. It’s also full of weird stuff I can’t pronounce in the ingredient list, which is just no good!

Not the case with this version. Basic ingredients found in your refrigerator, a mix of herbs (dried and fresh) and a touch of fresh garlic from the pantry, and you’ve got yourself a delicious homemade salad dressing that comes together in just a few moments. It keeps for a couple of weeks too, which is also convenient. We love to dip fresh veggies into it for an after-school snack or while waiting for dinner to finish up. Or, it’s also pretty amazing to dip pizza crusts into as well.

I’m always happy to find yet another item that I can kick the store-bought variety to the curb for, and I’m stoked to add this one to my repertoire. 

Source: adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook via Confections of a Foodie Bride

Greek Salad

The week before last I shared my new favorite salad dressing recipe, so I thought it was only prudent to share my favorite salad that goes with it. Greek salads are so basic, but definitely more special than your run-of-the-mill tossed green salad. There’s something about the zesty flavors of the kalamata olives and feta cheese that have always made this salad a superstar in my book.

I’ve mentioned before that one thing we have around here in our rural area is plenty of good Greek food, as several Greek families, whom are all related – relocated to our area ages ago and opened up restaurants. They take pride in always having the best ingredients when it comes to olives, olive oils, and cheeses. So, my first taste of a Greek salad was at a small place called Ocean Deli – and it’s pretty tough to beat.

Andy puts roasted green peppers on his Greek salads, and I think it really sets it apart from all the others I’ve tried over the years. So, I always add that to the ones I make here at home. I always try to stock up on good feta cheese while I’m in the big city too. You know, the variety that’s packed in brine and usually made with sheep’s milk…or at least a combination of cow and sheep’s milk. I find it’s always creamier than the other stuff. But, in a pinch – a standard supermarket feta suffices just fine.

I have been packing this salad for Jon to take to lunch at least 2 days a week for 2 years now, and he’s never gotten tired of it. I often make it for side salads as well, or even topped with some grilled chicken – it makes a delicious light meal in the warmer months. I’m pretty sure if you make it once, you’ll find yourself making it often too! A kitchen standard for sure!

Sugared Cranberries

I’ve been wanting to make these pretty little gems since I first started seeing them pop up on the internet a couple of years ago. They couldn’t be more easy, or festive – and they bring a nice little pop of color and sweetness to your holiday table.

Fresh cranberries are steeped for a few hours in a simple syrup, then set out to dry for a bit before getting a dusting of sugar to make them glisten. They’re sweet and tart, with a bit of crunch left. The perfect finger food, a gorgeous addition to a wheel of baked brie, or simply as a garnish for that special dessert or cocktail you’re having at your Christmas parties.

And, it’s the perfect thing to let your little ones help out with in the kitchen. They loved rolling around the cranberries in the sugar, and then munching on them afterwards. This is one we’ll look forward to making again and again during the Holiday season!