Tag Archives: cheddar

Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Cheese Soup

Growing up in my home, my parents and I being from the mid-west, comfort food was key.  Warm soups, braises, steak and potatoes, you get the idea…Yes, even in the hot Arizona desert, I knew I was at the right address when the smell of meatloaf waft towards the drive as the street lights turned on.

Now, when we did have the occasional dinner out, we loved Marie Callendars.  Remember that place?  It has since closed so, so many of its doors that it makes me literally sad.  So many memories growing up eating their comforting dinners after cheer and football practices, dance recitals, a great report card…which was always followed by one of their fantastic slices of homemade pie!  *Sorry Marie, I love you but your frozen meals and pie do not hold a candle to your restaurant staples I enjoyed as a child.

That All being said, I was apparently craving my comfort food!  The warm, always delicious potato cheese soup I would just short of lap up from Marie’s salad bar was on my mind.  Now they didn’t garnish theirs as I do mine (I win here), but the flavor is so close that I no longer have to mourn my childhood chain restaurant…well, that is until I figure out their Frisco Burger and Lemon Cream Cheese Pie.

*I really recommend buying chicken STOCK vs chicken broth.  It’s just a bit more in cost but thousands more in flavor!

The Starting Lineup

  • 5-6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I love Velveeta’s new original shredded)
  • a HEFTY pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper

Garnish

  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (I love Velveeta’s new shredded Cheddar)

potatosoup

Spray your slow-cooker with a bit of non-stick spray.  Next place in the peeled chunks of potatoes, diced onions, sliced celery and minced garlic.  Pour the chicken stock directly over top and add in that salt and pepper!  (The stock will not fully cover the potatoes..and that’s perfect!)

potatosoup2

Cover and set to low for 8 hours!  ..here is where you head off to work, tend to the home and loved ones or take yourself a nap and relax!

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat you will remove the lid of the now tender potatoes and with a potato masher, mash away!  I like to leave a bit of chunks in mine however for texture.

To this, stir in the heavy cream along with the 2 cups of shredded cheese.  Replace the cover and allow to come back up to heat (20-30 minutes).

While it is heating, if desired, crisp up some bacon and slice the green onions and shred your cheddar (if not pre-shredded).

Ladle into large bowls (trust me…no need to get up for seconds when you have a big bowlful!) and top with your favorite garnishes!  Serve alongside warm crusty bread with softened butter and you will have you and your family quite the comfort meal!

potatosoup3

Advertisements

Buttery Soft Pretzels w/ Serrano Bacon Cheddar Sauce

Soft pretzels have to be one of my favorite snack foods ever. As a child, I would stand in line at the “snack bar” of my k-8 school every lunch with the 75cents I somehow managed to find that morning for one. Sorry mom, I wasn’t eating the lunch line’s green beans and hamburger steak..  

As an adult, it’s what I nosh on at every sporting event, fair or concert…and don’t even get me started on how many I quite frankly inhaled during the pregnancy of my second son. I’d load my first child up (who was about 8 months old) in the car and take him and my fat butt up to Target just to buy 1 or 2 warm, large pretzels at their snack bar. I’d then put my baby in a cart and walk around aimlessly stuffing my also fat face while contemplating on buying just one more. Yes, I may indeed have a soft pretzel problem.

Now some may argue it’s a bad idea that I can now make my own. I’d normally tell them to be quiet but..well….my mouth is so full of soft pretzel that I physically can’t ;).

*Hey, if you’re going to do it right, serve it alongside my homemade spicy cheese sauce and save the mustard for the baseball game!

The Starting Lineup

Pretzel Dough

  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 rounded Tbsp brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt 
  • 2 cups bread flour 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Baking Soda Bath

  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 2 cups warm water

Garnish

  • Kosher/rock salt
  • and/or cinnamon and sugar mix
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted 

Serrano Bacon Cheddar Sauce (optional)

  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and finely diced (I, of course, kept the heat in mine 😉
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled (reserve 1 Tbsp of the grease)
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Pinch each of salt, pepper & garlic powder  

To start your pretzel dough, combine 1 1/2 cups of warm water and the yeast into the bowl of your mixer. Gently mix together and allow to sit for about 5 minutes till it starts to foam up a bit.  

   Next, add in the brown sugar and the salt to the yeast mix. Stir together until it’s dissolved. Now add in both types of flour (all 4 cups), and using the paddle attachment mix on low for about 15 seconds to combine. Switch the attachment to the dough hook and mix in high for 5-6 minutes to knead the dough. 

     Lightly oil a large bowl and place the kneaded ball of dough into it. Cover and let sit in a warm spot for 1 hour to rise. 

 Immediately after setting your dough to rise, make the baking soda bath. This part is easy, simply combine 2 cups of warm water with 2 Tbsp of baking soda. Stir often throughout the next hour. 

 After the dough has risen, cut off about 1 cup of dough at a time and roll into a 1/2″ thick rod shape. (*do not flour the counter here, damp hands work best). 

   Now here you can either cut that long strip of dough into 1-2″ pieces OR shape into your traditional pretzel shape. Once to your liking, carefully give each a quick dunk into the baking soda bath and set onto a greased baking sheet. Repeat till dough is gone. 

 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and let the pretzels rise again for about 15 minutes (while the oven gets to temp). Bake for 10-12 minutes. While these are baking you can melt the 4 tbsp of butter. Remove from the oven and brush the pretzels/pretzel bites with the melted butter and either sprinkle with kosher or rock salt OR toss in a large ziplock bag with a cinnamon-sugar mix. 

   Serve immediately with a dipping sauce and enjoy!! 

 

Serrano Bacon Cheddar Sauce (optional)

In a sauté pan fry up the bacon, remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Drain all but 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease…that stuff’s good as gold! 

 Add 1 tbsp of butter to the reserved bacon grease and melt. Once melted stir in the flour to form a rue and then quickly whisk in the milk. Whisk Whisk Whisk till smooth! Now slowly whisk in the two cups cheese till creamy and then fold in the cooked, crumbled bacon and the finely diced Serrano peppers. Pour into individual ramekins and serve alongside some warm, soft pretzels!  

           

Chorizo & Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

Just about everyone loves scalloped potatoes, but often times they can be a bit bland.  They could be lacking salt or just using a less flavored cheese, but this is sure to get you on all levels!

After watching one of my favorite shows recently (The Chew), they had a very similar recipe on and I just had to try and tweak it for myself.  Boy am I glad I did!  This hit all the right notes and it wasn’t too spicy AT All..just great, great flavor!  

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced (I use a mandolin..be careful)
  • 12oz chorizo, removed from casing and cooked
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided, 1:1
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided 3:1
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tsp Louisiana style hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • Pinch each of salt, pepper & nutmeg      

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 Tbsp of the butter (bottom & sides). *You may not need an entire Tbsp, but better to have easier cleanup than slaving away…

In a skillet, cook the chorizo over medium heat until browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the meat to a paper towel lined bowl or plate to drain. 

   Next, in a different saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbsp butter.  Once melted, whisk in the 3 Tbsp of flour, followed by slowly whisking in the half & half until it is no longer lumpy, but smooth. 

 Next add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg & hot sauce while reducing the heat to low.  Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and the Tbsp of sour cream.  Once combined remove from heat. 

     With the buttered casserole dish ready to go, place 2-3 layers of potato slices down (overlapping just slightly).  Next add 1/2 off the cooked and drained chorizo along with a 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese and one-half of the cheese sauce overtop.  Repeat these layers once more, while reserving about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. 

     We’ll now place this casserole into the oven (uncovered) for about 45 minutes.  Once time is done, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese overtop and bake for another 10-15 minutes till bubbly.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. 

 I like to serve ours as a side to a whole roasted chicken or ham alongside fresh grilled veggies!  Enjoy!!

Chicken Broccoli Parmesan Bake

Here is an easy comforting dish for these cool months that are approaching fast!  The creaminess, that crunch…oh my!  I do not know one person that does not like the combination of chicken, cheese and broccoli together..and if you stumble upon such a creature..run away!!

This meal can be on your family’s table in less than an hour and it WILL fill everyones belly.  Assured!  

IF you have any leftovers (it does make a bit afterall), just cover and store in the refridgerator.  The next meal, pop this back in the oven (now covered) for 25 minutes and then uncover for the last 5-10 to regain that great crunchy top!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs (4 breasts) chicken, cooked
  • 16oz bag frozen broccoli, slightly defrosted
  • 2 cans cream of chicken (‘with herbs’ if possible *Campbells)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio/sauvagnon blanc)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened/melted
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded & divided (1/2 cup-1/2 cup)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste

Garnish

  • I like to serve ours either alone or overtop rice or rotini pasta.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Assuming your chicken is cooked and shredded or cubed (I prefer either a roasted chicken or Ill just quickly poach the breasts myself, which I did above) and that your broccoli is slightly thawed (I’ll pour it into a microwave safe covered dish, hit defrost for a few minutes and then drain any excess water through a collander) you can now begin assembling. 

 In a buttered 9×13 casserole dish, layer the broccoli down first, followed by the cooked and shredded chicken. 

 In a seperate bowl, combine the 2 cans of soup, sour cream, mayo, dijon mustard, cheddar cheese, white wine and salt & pepper to taste.  Give this creamy mixture a good stir. 

   Now you will simply pour this directly over your chicken and broccoli..use a rubber spatula to create an even layer and then sprinkle about 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese over top. 

   In a second bowl you will combine the Panko breadcrumbs, butter, remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and a pinch of cayenne.  Mix this together until the panko is coated in butter, cheese and spice and then evenly sprinkle over the top of your casserole. 

     Now that is ready to go, pop in your oven (uncovered) for about 30-45 minutes, until that top coating gets a beautiful crunchy, brown! 

 Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes and then serve, enjoy! 

 

Gringo Crockpot Chilé Colorado

Hey, I don’t always make everything from scratch…Yes, I am guilty of making my own red & green sauces more often than not,  but sometimes I actually have a life too.  At least for that day.

I order Chilé Colorado almost every time I go to a certain Mexican restaurant when I visit home.  It’s just delicious between the beef (my fave) and the spicy aspect (my other fave), I cannot get enough.

So without breaking my back or bank, I stretched this into a real filling meal by making smothered burritos with the Chilé.  I imagine that they’d also stretch a bit further if I didn’t get into them at midnight, and breakfast, and lunch, and snack time….ok, we just may not have any for leftovers tonight.  Oops! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat
  • 1 can of red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup (8oz) of beef stock
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 1 Jalapeño, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp each salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp+ cumin

To make them Smothered Burritos

  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • Burrito size flour tortillas
  • Sour cream/Guac/Green onions (garnish) 

We’ll start off by spraying your crockpot with a bit of nonstick spray and then add in the quartered onions, garlic and jalapeño.  *If you don’t want it too spicy, please remove the seeds and pith of the jalapeño or just omit completely.  ..we just like it hot!!

Next, add in all of the cubed beef and your 3 seasonings.  Follow that with the beef stock (stock gives a richer flavor than broth) and 1 can of red enchilada sauce (*again with the spice, use a can with a heat level you prefer.  We use a medium or hot, but you may like it mild…and that’s just fine!)

  

Now just cover your crockpot and set to low.  Walk away, go to work, lounge by the pool, what have you…in 8 hours it will be fork tender.🍴

Once it has finished and your home smells too good to stand, you can eat this as you please.  Whether that’s out of a bowl with a tortilla to dip or make tacos with it.

Another easy option is to make Smothered Burritos with the filling.  If you chose that route, here we go..

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 9×13 dish with nonstick spray.  Fill each burrito size tortilla up with a good size spoonful of this meat.  Make sure to let some of the juices in there too and roll them into perfect burrito form.

Place one by one into your casserole dish, I typically can fit about 6 per dish.


Next, pour another can of red enchilada sauce overtop the burritos.  You can also mix a bit of the leftover Chilé Colorado broth in with the canned enchilada sauce, just don’t make it too thin.  (I could slurp that broth with a straw..and I may have done just that..) 

Sprinkle your shredded cheese ALL over these bad boys.  This is definitely the ‘smothered’ part of the name!

  
Pop these into the oven for about 20 minutes until that cheese is perfectly melted and gooey overtop.  Serve each with a dallop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions.  👌
 

%d bloggers like this: