Friday, April 20, 2012

Wisconsin Cauliflower Cheese Soup


I am in love with Cafe Zupas Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup.  I wanted so very badly to find a copy cat recipe so I could make it at home and a friend at work sent me this one.  It has a velvety smooth texture and a wonderful rich flavor that my taste buds just adore.  You would NEVER guess that there is cauliflower in it!  Just tell your family it is cheese soup and they will be slurping it up like nobody's business.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 can (13-15 ounces) chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 head (about 2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and salt.  Slowly whisk in the milk, chicken broth, and water.  Add the cauliflower and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10-15 minutes. In small batches, blend the soup in a blender until smooth.  (Make sure to remember to remove the center part of the lid to stop the blender from exploding.)  Return soup to the saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot.  Remove from heat and add mustard and 1 1/2 cups cheese.  Stir until until melted and smooth. Garnish soup with remaining cheese.

The pepper jack gave the soup a little extra zip that my family loved.  If you don't want that kick, substitute another cup of the sharp, or a cup of colby jack.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken...


This is one of our new favorite things to eat for dinner!  We have had it once a week for the past month and are totally addicted.  I don't know if you have ever eaten from Sarku in the mall, but this tastes a LOT like that. 

There were lots of recipes for Teriyaki chicken on the web, so I played around with measurements and ingredients and methods until I came up with what I think is just the PERFECT combination of deliciousness.  I prefer using boneless chicken thighs for this recipe because they are not as dry as chicken breasts, they seem to retain more moisture and flavor and they sear so much better.

Ingredients:

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper  (I prefer fresh ground)
10-12 boneless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp cornstarch

Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken and cornstarch in a 6 qt non-stick stock pot.  Add in the chicken thighs, (make sure they are thawed if you use frozen), and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  (At this point I usually put some rice in the steamer.)  Turn the burner on to high and bring the marinade and chicken to a boil, then reduce heat to med-high. Once the chicken has cooked most of the way through, start pulling out a thigh at a time with a fork and slice it in to bite size chunks, returning it to the pot to continue cooking while slicing the other thighs. 

Heat a frying pan sprayed generously with cooking spray over a high burner.  When the chicken is cooked all the way, using a slotted spoon, remove two or three spoonfuls of chicken from the boiling marinade and sear it in the hot frying pan.  Once the batch is browned to your liking, (we like it dark and almost crispy on the outside), remove it from the frying pan and place in a serving dish, covering it with foil.  Repeat with the remaining chicken in the marinade till all the chicken is in the serving dish.

Mix 3 heaped Tbsp of cornstarch with a little water to make a paste and whisk it in to the boiling marinade till it thickens in to a sauce. (You can add more cornstarch if you want it thicker, less if you want it thinner.) 

Plate some fried or steamed rice, place a spoonful or two of chicken over it and spoon as much or as little of the sauce over the top as you like.  You will not be disappointed, you will just wish you had made more! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pinteresting...

I have found a few really cool tips on Pinterest that I have put to use in my home and thought I should share.  First, is my new shower cleaner.  Put 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Put the vinegar in a large spray bottle, and add an equal amount of dawn liquid dish detergent.  Shake till blended (over the sink), then go and spray your shower all over.  Leave for 30 minutes, then go back and use a mop or a cloth to wipe it down and rinse.  I CANNOT believe how clean my shower came out after using this.  It looked brand new.  I even used it on the glass doors and fixtures.  It sparkled.  I would not have believed it if I hadn't tried it.  GO DO IT NOW!

The next tip was one of my favorite.  I do pulled pork/chicken all the time, but it always takes me 20 minutes to shred it up with two forks.  Enter the kitchen aid with paddle attachment.  I cooked the pork in the crock pot all day, then when it was tender enough to pull, I threw it in the kitchen aid, (with no liquid), and turned it on.  In less than 30 seconds, I had this. 



Third, I saw a tip about adding 3-4 drops of saline solution to mascara when it starts to dry out.  I added the drops and stirred it in with the wand and it doubled my mascara life!  I hate spending money on make up, so I was happy to have mine last SOOOOOOOO much longer.

Finally, this is a tip we have been using for years, but I wanted to tell you IT WORKS!!!!  When we lived in our apartment back east Mike Sr was an apartment engineer, and they used this all the time when tenants moved out so they didn't have to replace the carpet.  Fill an empty spray bottle with 1 part ammonia to 1 part hot water.  Spray this all over your stain and lay a cheap, clean WHITE towel or face cloth over the top of it.  Use your hot iron to iron over the white towel.  Within a few seconds you will be amazed to see the stain lift right out of the carpet.  Keep using a clean piece of the towel till the stain is completely gone.  We have used this on kool-aid and other tough stains and it has worked brilliantly.

Have you learned anything new from Pinterest?  Share! :)