I am not much of a soup person, and only recently have I started thinking of soup as a dinner option. I still don’t tend to think of it as a main course, but now that winter is really here, it has been more on my mind as a co-star of the dinner table.
I was feeling a little under the weather the day after Christmas this year, and was really craving some warm and hearty comfort food. We had some wonderful left over prime rib from Christmas dinner I wanted to use to make french dip sandwiches with, and when thinking about what to serve with it, Loaded Cheddar Potato soup came to mind. I recalled having made this one before, but that it turned out sub-par. I checked all my usual recipe sources to find a tried and well-reviewed recipe, but every one I came across had an ingredient I or my husband aren’t fans of, or were missing what I felt was a key component. Thus I decided to take the things I liked from several recipes and throw them together to see what came of it. Luckily, it was DELICIOUSNESS!
- 3 large Russet Potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
- 3 cups Vegetable Stock
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 16oz Velveeta Cheese, cubed
- 1 cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Pepper
- 2-4 pieces of Bacon, cooked and crumbled (for topping)
- 1 Green Onion, sliced (for topping)
- Additional Sharp Cheddar, shredded (for topping)
- Sour Cream (for topping)
- Bring a large pot of water with a generous pinch of kosher salt added to a boil. Once boiling, add potatoes and cook 12-15 minutes until soft, but not totally falling apart.
- Drain potatoes and leave in colander. Put pot back on stove.
- Add vegetable stock and heavy cream to pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
- As liquid heats up, add cubes of Velveeta, stirring often to help it melt.
- Once all the Velveeta is in and melted and liquid is starting to bubble, add 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar. Stir to help cheese melt and incorporate.
- Add cooked potatoes back into pot with the cheese liquid. Using a handheld potato masher, roughly mash potatoes in the soup, leaving a few chunks.
- Stir in salt and pepper. The measurements above are just my best guess, as I just added each to taste.
- Turn off heat and ladle into serving bowls.
- Top with generous pinches of the extra shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onion. Add a dollop of Sour Cream, if desired.
I made this for dinner last night. I didn’t care that it was just going to be myself and my 2.5 year our daughter having dinner, as The Man had to work night shift. I had been sifting through Pinterest recipes all afternoon, and I had a container of mushrooms that needed to be used ASAP since I kinda forgot about them in the bottom crisper drawer (that happens to you too, right?). This immediately caught my eye, not just for the mushrooms, but for the balsamic cream sauce. I am a HUGE fan of balsamic vinegar and use it in mass quantities.This recipe simply looked delicious to me and I had to try it right away. There just wasn’t any debate about it.
This recipe did not fail to deliver! It was AMAZING! The flavor is rich and subtle. The mushrooms turn out in that just-right consistency of cooked, but not over cooked. The caramelized onion added a rich undertone to the entire dish. This will be going into my regular dinner rotation, for certain. I served this with mashed red potatoes, but you could also easily dice the chicken and server this over pasta also. In fact, I will probably do that next go-round.
- 1½ lb. Bonesless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- ½ of a Large Onion – Thinly sliced
- 1 Package of Whole Mushrooms – sliced
- ½ Cup of Chicken Broth
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Tbs. Butter – Divided
- ½ Cup of Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- Saute onions over medium heat in 1 Tbs of butter until they are nice and caramelized – About 15 Minutes. When they are a nice golden brown, remove from the heat and set aside
- In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter over medium-high heat. Place the chicken breasts in the pan. Brown on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside (Note – they will not be all the way cooked at this stage)
- De-glaze the pan with the chicken stock. Make sure you get all the chicken bits and butter off the pan. This helps to flavor your sauce
- Add the heavy cream and the balsamic vinegar and stir.
- Add mushrooms and a little salt and pepper, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes
- Add the chicken back to the pan, turn heat back up to medium and saute until the chicken is cooked all the way through. About 10-15 minutes
- Remove chicken breasts from the pan and plate. Add the Parmesan and caramelized onions to the sauce and keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted in.
- Cover the chicken breasts with the sauce and serve.
I am sorry to inform you that I do not like beer. Yes, I know. Go ahead and give me the funny looks and try to stifle your gasps. Really, I wish it wasn’t this way. For one thing, it would be a much cheaper night out if I could just swill a couple of beers to get a buzz. Also I wouldn’t feel so excluded from the cool kids club if I could knock back a few at a party. Kegs stands look fun, but I just could never do it knowing beer would be what was being shot into me.
I promise it’s not for lack of trying. I feel like I have tried and gagged on just about every brew out there. I’ve tried it from cans, bottles, kegs, even a beer funnel…no dice. It just tastes horrible to me. Bitter, sour, rotten water with a fizz. The one exception to this is lambic beers, but for those not familiar, these are dessert beers with sweet and fruity flavors that tend to be very heavy and filling. I think most mainstream beer drinkers would only call a lambic a beer by technical definition and only if someone was twisting their arm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge my friends their enjoyment of the hops and barley beverages. I am envious to be honest. Whenever I host a party, I always think to get some beer to please the majority of those guests who like to imbibe. I just keep my bottle of Canadian whiskey discretely off to the side. Or if I am partying at their abode, bring the travel flask with my favorite brand of social lubricant.
Now, to the crux of this issue. I hosted a few gathering over to winter season and have some lingering liquid leftovers taking up space in my fridge. Since I have no inclination to drink these and my great-depression-era-survivor-instincts instilled in me by my family cringe at the thought of just pouring the innocent and still good beverages down the drain, I have been trying to figure out how to use these up in a non-offensive, and hopefully yummy way.
Here’s a list of a few recipes I’ve found, some of which I’ve tried, which all use beer as an ingredient. If you have any recipes using beer, please share. I really would like the space in my fridge back!
- Taco Pasta Toss – This is a great twist on an all-time favorite in our house. This is substitutes one carb for another, replacing the taco shells with pasta. The flavor of the beer really enhanced the spice combination, raising it up to a new level. You wont want to use that packet taco seasoning ever again.
- Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak – Another delicious favorite in our house. Great for the grill on a hot summer night. The citrus flavors combine in a delightful way with the tang of the beer.
- Irish Car Bomb Bread Pudding – Made by our friends over at Foodwhirl, I don’t think this decadent dessert would last long in any household…Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, whichever.
- Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops – I’ve tried a very similar recipe to this one, but with coffee instead of beer. I think these beer chops look absolutely mouth-watering. I will be testing these on our grill very soon!
- Fish and Chips – The classic beer batter on a fresh piece of fish with some perfectly cooked potatoes, it’s no mystery why this recipe has endured for hundreds of years. Bite into this and you can almost hear the gulls cry at the wharf’s edge.
- Beef Carbonnade – Beef and noodles is a staple in our house. Everyone loves this combination. Rather then just grab a box with that creepy glove puppet and add a little cheap ground round, why not try and whip up a batch from scratch. Plus, this version has BACON!
- Red Cabbage, Apples and Sausage Recipe – I found this recipe last fall during Applepalooza. It combines so many of my favorite things, how could it go wrong?
It’s been a while since I have shared a recipe with y’all. This is an original recipe I wrote myself a few summers ago as a talk-off of family classic that I wanted to make a little more light and give a fresher flavor to. This is great hot or cold and can be tweaked to suite anyone’s palate.
- 1 box Penne Pasta
- 1.5 lbs Chicken
- 1 package of Grape/Cherry Tomatoes
- Fresh Basil
- Grated Parmesan
- Dried Italian Herbs (I use this)
- Start a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Add a generous pinch of salt to water.
- While water is heating, dice chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Once water is at a rolling boil, add pasta. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of EVOO over med-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, add chicken and a generous tablespoon (or 2) of pesto. Saute chicken, stirring frequently.
- While chicken and pasta are cooking, halve tomatoes and set aside.
- De-stem basil, cut and set aside. (for an easily brused herb like this, chiffonade is the best method I have found to cut)
- Once chicken is cooked and juices are flowing clear, add tomatoes and basil to skillet. Mix thoroughly.
- Your pasta should also be about done. Remove from heat, drain and pour it into a large serving bowl.
- Drizzle pasta with 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix.
- Remove chicken mixture from heat and pour into serving bowl with pasta.
- Toss chicken with pasta, add Parmesan and additional dried Italian spices to taste.