Broccoli Cheddar Soup

How’s that extra hour treatin’ ya?! Flying back to the east coast as often as I do I normally am not that effected by a time change, but for some reason when the time switched on Sunday morning I woke up at 4:30 am! It might have something to do with the fact that I took a 3 hour nap the day before (don’t judge), but regardless it was crazy that I felt so awake that early in the morning! I had the most productive day ever, obviously since I started 5 hours earlier than a usual Sunday. I got up and got all my coffee drinking/Netflix binging/laziness out of the way, then I went for a run, and grocery shopped at two stores all before 11 AM! I also wanted a bottle of Cognac for cooking (er, sipping), so I showed up to the liquor store at 10:30 not thinking and had to wait outside for 30 minutes…awkwaaard. No biggie, just hanging out at the corner liquor store first thing on a Sunday morning 🙋🏼‍♀️

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I made two recipes over the weekend that i’m excited about!! I watched Julie & Julia Sunday morning (since I was up at the butt-crack of dawn) so felt compelled to cook something with a lot of butter & garlic, so I made coq au vin with creamy red mashed potatoes. You’re literally going to want to bathe yourself in the coq au vin sauce - not joking. The 2nd recipe I cooked up was broccoli cheddar soup - a fan favorite, everyone’s Panera go-to, and your best friend in the wintertime. I LOVE a good broccoli ched soup, and don’t get me wrong, heavy cream and cheese is my lovvaa, but a lot of times it doesn’t leaving me feeling the greatest. So I wanted to make something that was way healthier but felt just as indulgent. Best of both worlds! I adapted this recipe from Elizabeth but just tweaked it to make it slightlyyy more unhealthy by adding dairy 😄

And guys….this carrot potato cheese sauce will blow your mind. Thank god I was just feeding this soup to Thomas because I literally licked the spatula at least 10 times before dunking it back into the sauce…whoops.

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients


Cheese Sauce
1 ½ tups of diced golden Yukon potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 tarlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of vinegar (white wine or red wine vinegar works)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly black pepper
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese (omit if making vegan)

Broccoli mixture
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme sprigs
5 cups of chopped broccoli heads, plus more for garnish
1-2 tablespoon of miso paste
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of almond milk
½ cup of chopped green onions

In a large saucepan add golden Yukon potatoes and carrots. Fill pot with water until vegetables are just covered. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain carrots and potatoes and add to a blender or Vitamix. Add in garlic cloves, olive oil, white wine vinegar, grated cheddar cheese, kosher salt, and black pepper. Blend cheese base mixture for 30-60 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Reserve ½-1/2 cup for soup garnish and set aside the rest.

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil one medium heat for 30 seconds. Add in diced onion, celery stalks, garlic and thyme leaves. Sauté mixture for a few minutes or until the onions are translucent. To the same pot add the chopped broccoli and sauté for 5 minutes. Add in miso paste, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and stir together. Add vegetable broth and cover pot for 15 minutes. (For the garnish, I took a couple pieces of broccoli out of the pot after it had cooked for a couple minutes).

Transfer the entire mixture with a ladle into large blender or Vitamix and add in cheese sauce. You may need to do this in two batches. Blend soup for 30-60 seconds or until smoothness level is achieved (I like it a little chunky but mostly smooth). Transfer soup back to the pot and heat on low or serve right away. Top soup bowls with a few tablespoons of remaining cheese sauce, green onions and chopped broccoli. Enjoy!

How to Make Cozy Miso Ramen at Home

I am on a major ramen kick right now. Like I want to be slurping up noodles everyday kind of kick. Up until about a year ago, I had no idea ramen was anything more than plastic packages of dried noodles with a salty flavor packet. I had my first really good bowl of ramen at Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya in Portland and I have been hooked ever since! I never realized there was so many variations- I dream of the day Thomas and I can travel to Japan hopping from spot to spot, slurping up bowls around every corner. Have you guys watched Ramen Head?! It’s a documentary about Tomita, one of the top ramen chefs in Japan, and it’s fueled my ramen fire even more!

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I am definitely all for take-out and sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and let someone else do all the work. But I wanted to see if I could truly make an authentic bowl of ramen, so I did and it was SO worth it. You should definitely have some time on your hands if you’re going to embark on this endeavor, but in the end a cozy bowl of slurpy goodness will be waiting for you 🍜

Shopping at your local Asian grocery store will make this a lot easier since you can find great fresh ingredients like miso and fresh ramen noodles. I pretty much followed Lady and Pups recipe besides tweaking a few small things and it turned out incredible! Like she says, the ingredient list may look a little long but the preparation is super easy!

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Miso Ramen

Recipe & notes from Lady & Pups

It’s important that you use unsalted, or minimally salted stock for this recipe.  I always store homemade, unsalted chicken/pork stock in the freezer as it gives me total control of the seasoning in the final dishes.  Whether you are using homemade or store-bought, if your stock already has a prominent saltiness to it, you’ll have to reduce the amount of spicy miso paste to accommodate which will reduce the miso-flavour in your soup.  You’d be trading flavours with salt, see?

The type of soy milk may also make a difference.  I prefer Asian-style unsweetened soy milk which tends to carry a stronger “tofu/soy bean” taste, but if that’s unavailable, American brands soy milk will do, too.  Just make sure it isn’t sweetened, or flavoured with vanilla or etc.

-The only variation to this recipe I made, is that I used a pork hock to make my pork stock and then shredded the meat afterwards and garnished the bowls as opposed to using ground pork in the recipe, but either way is delicious!

Ingredients:

  • Spicy miso paste: (enough for at least 8 servings)

  • shoyu soft-boiled eggs:

    • 4 large free-range eggs

    • 3 tbsp of soy sauce

    • 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar

    • 1 tbsp of water

  • Garlic and togarashi oil:

All of the above can be made beforehand and kept in the fridge until needed.

To make the spicy miso paste:  Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smoothly pureed.  You may need to stop and scrape the blender a few times to get it going in the beginning.  Transfer the mixture into a pot and set over medium heat.  Bring to a low simmer and keep cooking/stirring for another 5 min.  Let it cool completely and store in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed.

To make the shoyu soft-boiled eggs:  Gently place the eggs in a small pot and fill it with water until the eggs are covered by 1″.  Add a generous pinch of salt (not listed in the ingredient-list because it’s more of a superstition for easy-peeling than anything…) and bring the water to a bare simmer on medium-high heat, then immediately lower the heat down to low (only enough heat to keep it at a bare simmer/or if you want to be anal, 212ºF/100ºC).  The second the water reached the right temperature, set the timer at 4:30 min.  Gently move the eggs around a few times during cooking.  Once the timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs into cold water and leave them to cool completely.

Combine soy sauce, dark brown sugar and water in a small sauce pot.  Warm up the mixture just enough to melt the sugar, then set aside.  Peel the eggs then submerge them in the soy sauce-mixture.  Turning them occasionally while marinating for 2~3 hours.

To make the garlic and togarashi oil:  Combine minced shallots, minced garlic, sesame seeds, salt and vegetable oil in a small pot and set over low heat.  Slowly cook/stir until the garlics are crispy and lightly browned, approx 5~6 min.  Turn off the heat and add the Japanese chili powder/togarashi.  Give the mixture a stir and let it sit for a few hours or overnight.

  • Spicy miso ramen: (for 2 servings)

    • 220 grams of fatty ground pork (or use a pork hock that you made pork stock with)

    • 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil

    • 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

    • 1 tbsp of dried shitake mushrooms

    • 2 cups (475 grams) of unsalted chicken or pork stock

    • 1 cup (227 grams) of unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk (Asian brands preferred but if unavailable, this will do, too)

    • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup of spicy miso paste

    • 2 servings of fresh ramen noodles

    • 4 tbsp of finely diced scallions

    • 1 sheet of nori/Japanese sushi seaweed, cut into rectangular sheets

To make the spicy miso ramen:  Rinse the dried shitake mushrooms to get rid of any sand/dirt.  Finely chop them and set aside (without soaking).

In a large soup pot, heat up 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil on high heat and start browning the fatty ground pork with ground black pepper.  Once the pork has broken up, browned, and released its fat, add 1/4 cup of the spicy miso paste and cook for another min until fragrant.  Add the chopped shitake, unsalted stock and unsweetened soy milk and bring to a simmer.  Place 1/2 cup spicy miso paste on top of a very fine sieve.  Lower the sieve half-way into the simmering soup and use a spoon to slowly dissolve the paste into the soup (it may seem very thick and troublesome in the beginning but be patient, it’ll dissolve eventually).  You’d be surprised at how much “solids” within the paste will remain on top of the sieve, which if dumped directly into the soup, will make the soup very thick and “sauce-like”.

Discard the “solids” in the sieve and let the soup simmer for another 5 min.  If the soup tastes quite salty at this point, that is correct.  It’s Japanese ramen…  It is salty.

Cook the fresh ramen noodles according to package instructions, and drain well.  Divide the noodles into two large bowl and ladle the soup on top (you may have a bit more than needed).  For each serving, place 1 shoyu egg (cut into half), 2 tbsp of finely diced scallions, 3 rectangular nori sheets, and 2 tsp of garlic and togarashi oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Slurp away.

Caramelized Beef Ramen with Roasted Miso Squash

How was your Halloween?!

I hope you got into as much face-painted, monster-mashing, candy corn-eating, jello-shooting debauchery as we did. 

Our Halloween festivities started on Saturday night with a get-together at a friend's house where we drank jello shots out of huge syringes, boogied down with Napoleon dynamite and a slutty nun, ate my annual spinach "throw-up" dip out coming out of a pumpkin's mouth, and clowned around until the wee hours...solid party as you can tell. 

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On Sunday when all we were craving was comfort food, we cooked up a huge batch of this homemade ramen complete with melt-in-your-mouth caramelized beef and miso/curry crusted, acorn squash roasted to perfection. I mean Come-onnnn. Could there be a more perfect Sunday meal? I don't think so. 

I seriously dream of one day meandering my way through ramen shops in Japan and slurping my way through the country - but until then making it at home can be just as delicious and satisfying.  This is definitely not a weeknight meal - You want the meat to cook long and slow, so you don't want to rush it! However leftovers for the rest of the week? I'm down with that! 

Last night, for actual Halloween, we heated up bowls of this leftover ramen, popped open a bottle of wine, and watched Young Frankenstein. It was the most perfect mellow Halloween night. You really know you're an adult when a bowl of ramen is more delicious then a bowl of Halloween candy 😜

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Caramelized Beef Ramen with Roasted Miso Squash
 

Ingredients
SOUP
- 2-3 pound beef chuck roast
- 6 cups beef broth, plus more if needed (we use Better Than Bouillon) 
- 1/2 cup + 2-4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce <--Use low sodium
- 1/4 cup + 2-4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek chili paste, or to taste
- The juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice (you can buy this or make your own at home!)
- Black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cups wild mushrooms left whole/sliced depending on size - or any other mushroom sliced
- 4 packs Ramen noodles seasoning packets discarded
- 4 soft boiled or fried eggs for serving
- sliced jalapenos, cilantro + green onions, for serving

MISO/CURRY ROASTED ACORN SQUASH
- 1 medium squash seeded + diced, acorn, butternut, or kuri squash are our faves
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Pepper to taste

What to do

  1. Add the beef to a crockpot. Pour the beef broth, 1/2 cup soy sauce (adjust depending on your taste), 1/4 cup rice vinegar and fish sauce over the beef. Add the red curry paste, ginger, sambal oelek, juice of 1 lime, Chinese five spice powder, black pepper and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours (I recommend going low and slow).
  2. About 40 minutes before you are ready to eat, roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  3. In a small bowl mix together the melted coconut oil, curry powder, cayenne powder, miso, brown sugar and a good pinch of pepper. Add the cubed squash to a baking sheet and pour the curry/miso mixture over the squash. Toss well. Bake for 30 minutes or so, tossing a couple of times during cooking. You want the squash to be lightly browned and crisp.

  4. Meanwhile, remove the beef from the crockpot and add the mushrooms. Cover the crockpot and crank the heat up to high. Lightly shred the beef with two forks or your hands.

  5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil. Once hot, add enough beef to cover the surface of your skillet, do not over crowd. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the beef, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, toss. Allow the beef to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir and continue caramelizing, about 3-5 minutes total. Remove the beef from the skillet, repeat with the remaining beef. 

  6. Add the Ramen noodles to the crockpot and allow them to cook 5 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, stir in only half of the beef. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with extra caramelized beef, miso roasted squash and an egg. Season the egg with salt and pepper, Add the jalapeños, green onions and cilantro if desired. 

Happy slurping!

Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

Hey, hi, hello. Happy Friday! 

Do you realize that we are already almost done with the month of October?! WHAT IS THAT??!!
There's so much left on my fall bucket list that I haven't checked off this year. Apple picking, pumpkin patching, lounging in my Pj's all day and having a Halloween marathon. I'm definitely going to be doing some of that this weekend. We have a party we're going to on Saturday night so on Sunday I am anticipating an all-day pajama fest. We're doing clown makeup so fingers crossed that it turns out! I'm going to practice on Thomas first... poor guy. Are you guys dressing up this weekend? If so please tell! You have to know by now that halloween weekend is one of my favorites of the year, so I want to know everyone's costumes!

To stick with my crazy Fall/Halloween lady vibe, I should tell you that I'm totally squash obsessed lately...I know I know, that is probably a weird thing to say and probably  even weirded that I would be obsessed with squash but it's the truth. In all of it's colorful, creamy, belly-filling glory it has been a component to most of our meals as of late.

We roast it, mash it, purée it, slurp it, put it in our smoothies...kidding. But maybe that's a good idea! This moroccan butternut squash soup is EVERYTHANG you want for a satisfying meal. It's such a healthy soup yet feels like you're splurging! It tastes like it has so much cream but it's just the silky butteriness of the squash mixed with the coconut milk. I made this one that was similar last year, but I love how this recipe is jazzed up with pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, and cilantro. I adapted this recipe from Half Baked Harvest! So, so good. 

I hope you guys have an amazing halloween weekend! I'll be around these parts sharing my favorite spooky treats from around the web - I'm also brewing up a witchy cocktail to share with you guys on Halloween day! 

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Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup


Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 cups butternut squash peeled + cubed
- 1 teaspoon spicy curry powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
- 2 cups veggie broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ounces goat cheese softened + more for topping
- roughly chopped cilantro for topping
- pomegranate seeds for topping

What to do

  1. Add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat. Once hot, add the red pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the minced garlic, cubed butternut squash, spicy curry powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes then pour in the coconut milk and veggie broth. Bring the soup to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.

  2. Once the butternut squash is tender, add the crumbled goat cheese to the soup. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup back to the stove and heat through.

  3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowl. Drizzle cream over the soup and swirl with a spoon. Garnish with chopped cilantro and crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Note: I mixed sour cream with a little almond milk to make a thinned cream to garnish the soup. You could do this with coconut cream as well!

Enjoy!

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How to Make French Onion Soup // Appreciating what you have in the moment

One day I'll take a picture of our little kitchen in Portland and share it with you all. I haven't done so yet because it usually looks like a tornado has just whizzed through. You wouldn't be able to tell from the photos but our kitchen is basically a small walk-in closet. Add-in a fridge, a stove, minimal counter space, a few cute plants, and creaky wooden cabinets built in the 60's, and that's it folks. We fuss all the time about having to wash dishes by hand because we don't have a dishwasher, or how much we can't wait for the day when we have a humongous kitchen with all the room you could ever need. 
But you know what? 
Time goes by way too fast. Before we know it, 10 years will fly by and we'll have a mortgage, kids running around, and a million things going on at once. We always want the next best thing. Instead of just reveling in the moment that we're in and soaking in every experience. I'm flawed in this way as well - of always wanting more. But I know Thomas and I will look back when we're turning grey and think of our life in Portland and say "we really had it made". Being young and in love, struggling to save money but still feeling like we're on top of the world, dancing to oldies in our little kitchen, making dinner at any-time of night because we can, crumb-y kisses after devouring a fresh batch of cookies -those are experiences that I want to soak in as much as possible and not take for granted. 

Something else I'll always appreciate no matter how old we are, is how Thomas will forever be the onion cutter of the family. Maybe I'm just a baby, but I swear I cry more than anyone else when I slice into an onion. But you know what's totally worth the misery  and tears? THIS FRENCH ONION SOUP.
It's a glorious mix of buttery, golden, caramelized onions; slow-simmered, rich, broth; and crisp baguette topped with melted swiss and parmesan that creates the most epic cheese pull of all time. This is a super easy recipe and as an added bonus I tossed in half of a porter that I had in the fridge. So wipe your onion tears, drink the other half of your porter, and dive into this perfect bowl of soup.

Oh yeah... and most importantly enjoy the moment.


French Onion Soup
 

Ingredients
-3 tablespoons of butter
-5 cups of thinly sliced onions
-1 tablespoon of sugar
-1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tablespoon, chopped fresh thyme leaves
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 cup of porter, stout, or any dark beer that you have
-6 cups of chicken stock
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 baguette, sliced
-equal parts of grated parmesan and Swiss cheese. I would even pile it higher than I did in the picture above! You want plenty of cheese so it melts over the side and gets extra crispy. 

What to do
1) In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. 
2) Add the onions and cook them for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until golden in color. If they start sticking to the pot, you can add a little water a scrape with a wooden spoon. 
3)Add in the sugar, vinegar, garlic, and thyme, stir and let cook a minute until fragrant
4) Add the flour in, stirring and scraping the pot with a wooden spoon
5) Mix in your beer of choice and let simmer for a few minutes before adding in the chicken stock. Once the stock is in, let it simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper at the end if necessary. 
6) Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls, cover with sliced baguette, and sprinkle generously with parmesan and Swiss. 
7) Broil in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden, bubbly, and delicious. 

-Recipe was adapted from Marilou & Alexandre Champagne's cookbook, 3 times a day.

Enjoy!