Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup

Rich, comforting, decadent…just some words to describe this cheesy soup. To take this soup from starter to entree, I sometimes serve it with a bacon grilled cheese…can there ever be too much cheese?

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half (or light cream)
  • 2 1/2 cups white Vermont cheddar cheese, grated (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash Tabasco
  • 1/4 cup parsley

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, celery and garlic and sauté 5 minutes.
  3. Mix in flour, paprika, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  4. Gradually stir in broth, bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. 
  5. Using a stick blender or standard blender, purée the soup until completely smooth.
  6. Add half and half to soup and bring to a simmer over medium heat. 
  7. Add cheese 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until cheese melts after each additions. 
  8. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and parsley. 
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yields 6 Servings.

Grilled Peach Mascarpone Bruschetta

Grilled Peach Mascarpone Bruschetta

In celebration of National Peach Month in August, Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, shared this easy and tasty recipe for grilled peach bruschetta.

Makes 12 bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread, cut into 12 slices about 3/4-inch thick 
  • 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3 peaches, thinly-sliced and grilled
  • 3 tsp Maldon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 cup honey 
  • 1/4 cup of chiffonaded basil
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation and Cooking Instructions

  • Place the bread slices on a hot grill for 1 – 2 minutes per side until toasted with some char but not burnt. 
  • Spread the mascarpone cheese on each piece of bread.
  • Place grilled peach slices on top of the mascarpone with Maldon sea salt.
  • Drizzle honey on top of peaches.
  • Garnish with the basil and almonds.
Easy 3 Ingredient Cheesecake Berry Salad

Easy 3 Ingredient Cheesecake Berry Salad

My mom shared this super easy-yet-delicious recipe with me last week and, I agree, it’s a winner. It uses three ingredients, takes mere moments to make and is a great way to use fresh berries when in season. Alternatively, I’ve also tried making this recipe with thawed frozen whole berries and it was great. If using thawed, frozen berries, just be sure to rinse them and dry them using paper towels.

Ingredients:

8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

½ cup vanilla coffee creamer, I opted for Califia Farms Almond Milk Vanilla Creamer

2 cups berries, any combination works

Directions:

  1. Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the creamer and beat for another minute until fully incorporated.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently incorporate the berries to the cream cheese mixture. Place in glass serving cups. I like to use small mason jars.

Makes six servings.

Berries & Ricotta by Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas

Berries & Ricotta by Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas

July is National Blueberry Month and Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas will feature specialty cocktails and dishes starring the little blue beauties as their juicy flavor come into full seasonal swing.

This summery dish will be served at the popular restaurant throughout the summer.

Berries & Ricotta

Makes 6

Ingredients:

Whipped Ricotta:

  • 16 oz of Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 8 oz of Whipped Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Confectionary Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp of Honey
  • 1 Tbsp of Simple Syrup
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp of Orange Zest

To Plate:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Honey
  • Mint (for garnish)

Preparation:
Blend ricotta, cream cheese and remaining ingredients in food processor until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Cover bowl and refrigerate until set, about 2 – 3 Hours. Divide whipped ricotta mixture among six wine glasses or coupe glasses.  Top with fruit and drizzle with honey.  Garnish with mint. 

Enjoy!

Veronique

Grilled Turkey Wrap – Not Really a Recipe

Grilled Turkey Wrap – Not Really a Recipe

This is the third post in my new series called “Not Really a Recipe”. These will be non-recipe posts that just give ideas on how to fix meals that are tasty and require very little work.

I make wraps for lunch all the time. I fill them with tasty things like avocado, artichoke hearts, heirloom tomatoes and more…the options are endless. I do get to a point where I’m sick of the same old wraps so when that happens, I grill them in my Panini press!

Today I used spicy humus as my ‘glue’ instead of fatty mayo and topped it with sliced turkey, sliced provolone cheese, dried cranberries and pickles. All the ingredients were tucked inside a sundried tomato wrap. Little veg oil on each side, 2 minutes in the hot Panini press and voila – a crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside hot wrap!

Hope this helps break up your monotone lunches a bit!

Cheers,

Veronique

Easy Cheesy White Grits

Easy Cheesy White Grits

Easy Cheesy Grits

I make creamy polenta all the time, but for some reason, I don’t make southern-style cheesy grits that often. Some would say that polenta and white corn grits are the same thing, but for me, polenta is made using fine to medium ground yellow or white corn and southern-style grits are simply coarsely ground bits of white corn. In my polenta, I like to add Parmesan cheese. In my grits, I use sharp Cheddar.

This recipe yields four side dishes or two entrée portions of grits. You can eat them on their own of top them with sautéed shrimps and hot sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white corn grits 
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 tsp. softened butter, optional

Grits Cooking

Directions:

  • In a deep saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the grits in a slow, steady stream. Whisk to break up any lumps then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching, then cover the pan and allow the grits to rest with the heat off for 5 more minutes.
  • Add the 4 tablespoons of butter and the cheese to the grits and stir until fully incorporated and creamy.
  • Top each of four servings with a teaspoon of soften butter, or each of two servings with 2 teaspoons, if using.

Cheers,

Veronique

Creamy Soft Polenta

Creamy Soft Polenta

Polenta is comfort in a bowl and ultra-easy to make. It’s a perfect complement for hearty toppings like short ribs, boeuf Bourguignon or sautéed mixed mushrooms. It’s also delicious served on its own with an extra grating of Parmesan.

This week, I served my polenta with rich, delectable boeuf Bourguignon (beef in Burgundy sauce) and it was fabulous. Since it was just two of us, I simply halved the below recipe. The polenta will congeal into the shape of the dish it’s stored in so I often make the recipe below and store the leftovers in a square container in the fridge then ‘unmold’, cut into squares and pan fry slabs of cheesy deliciousness to serve with grilled Portobello mushrooms.

I use a combination of medium and finely-ground corn meal for smoothness with just a bit of texture but you can use a cup of either one instead. No need to buy two kinds of corn meal if you don’t want to.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup medium stone ground corn meal
  • ½ cup fine stone ground corn meal   
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 1 Tbsp. for garnish
  • 1 cup white cheddar (optional but best)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Polenta on Beef Burgundy

Directions:

  1. Over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and reduce heat to medium. While whisking, add the corn meal in a slow, steady stream. Whisk vigorously for a minute, until thickened a bit. Lower heat to medium-low and cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring every minute or so in order to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the butter and stir until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the Parmesan and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the cheddar (if using) and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Serve immediately with a dusting of pepper and the reserved Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Easy Creamy Polenta
Print
Ingredients
  1. • 4 cups water
  2. • 1 tsp. salt
  3. • ½ cup medium stone ground corn meal
  4. • ½ cup fine stone ground corn meal
  5. • 4 Tbsp. butter
  6. • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 1 Tbsp. for garnish
  7. • 1 cup white cheddar (optional but best)
  8. • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. Over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and reduce heat to medium. While whisking, add the corn meal in a slow, steady stream. Whisk vigorously for a minute, until thickened a bit. Lower heat to medium-low and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so in order to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  2. 2. Add the butter and stir until fully incorporated.
  3. 3. Add the Parmesan and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. 4. Add the cheddar (if using) and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. 5. Serve immediately with a dusting of pepper.
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Spinach Dip Mozzarella Sticks

Spinach Dip Mozzarella Sticks

Photo by Etienne

My brother-in-law, Etienne, enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and trying new dishes when at restaurants. I really love that about him! This past week, he decided to try one of those Buzzfeed’s Tasty video recipes for Spinach Dip Mozzarella Sticks. How great does that sound!!? It’s like two of my favorite appetizers in one!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup cooked spinach, drained
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Marinara sauce for dipping, homemade or store-bought

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, spinach, mozzarella, salt, black pepper and garlic powder, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread it. Freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the frozen spinach mixture onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment paper. Slice the block into 1-inch wide strips, then slice the strips in half into sticks.
  3. Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls. Dip the spinach dip sticks into the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, then back into the eggs, and finally back into the breadcrumbs. Set the breaded sticks aside on a plate.
  4. Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the breaded sticks for about 30 seconds to a minute, until golden brown.
  5. Cool and serve with marinara sauce.

Serves 15–20

 

Recipe by Tasty.

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

I’m still on my mission to try to stick to vegetarian dishes on #MeatlessMonday and since I’d make a double batch of my Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili a month ago and it was calling my name from the freezer, I decided to use that delicious concoction in a stuffed pepper dish.

Since I defrosted about 3 cups of chili, I used the remaining two cups for a southwestern lasagna and I’ll share that with you next week.

These stuffed peppers are fab as a take to work lunch as they’re really simple to microwave from the office kitchen. They’re also great paired with a salad dressed with some tasty, zesty dressing (perhaps my Easy Greek Vinaigrette) for a light dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper (if green or yellow peppers are cheaper, go for them)
  • 1 cup brown or white rice, cooked
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, plus 2 reserved tablespoons
  • 1 cup vegetarian chili (could be store-bought_

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the pepper stem and cut the pepper in half lengthwise. Remove any seeds and extra membrane from the inside of each half.
  3. Place each pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes so the pepper is cool enough to handle.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, the cup of cheese and the chili.
  5. Spoon the chili mixture inside each bell pepper half and return to the baking dish. Top each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with a side salad. Yields 2 servings.

 

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
Print
Ingredients
  1. • 1 large red bell pepper (if green or yellow peppers are cheaper, go for them)
  2. • 1 cup brown or white rice, cooked
  3. • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, plus 2 reserved tablespoons
  4. • 1 cup vegetarian chili (could be store-bought)
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Remove the pepper stem and cut the pepper in half lengthwise. Remove any seeds and extra membrane from the inside of each half.
  3. 3. Place each pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes so the pepper is cool enough to handle.
  4. 4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, the cup of cheese and the chili.
  5. 5. Spoon the chili mixture inside each bell pepper half and return to the baking dish. Top each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Serves 2.
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Cheers,

Veronique

Baked Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Baked Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Baked Pepperoni Pizza DipWe were just going to order pizza while watching the “big game” since it was just the two of us, but then I decided to make the next best thing – pepperoni pizza dip!!

The dip would be great with potato chips but I served it with toasted baguette slices. You’ll want a sturdy vessel to run through all the layers of gooey yumminess (see what I mean by gooey and perfect).  

Ingredients:

  • 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, or Italian blend cheeses
  • 20 slices pepperoni
  • Toasted baguette slices.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, oregano and black pepper. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of 9″ round pie plate or other baking dish.
  3. Top cheese mixture with the pizza sauce.
  4. Top the sauce layer with the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Top the Mozzarella cheese with the pepperoni slices.
  6. Bake the dip for 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the dip is bubbly.
  7. Serve warm with toasted baguette slices.

Yields 8 appetizer portions.

 

 

Adapted from this recipe.