Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 1
It seems like people fall into two categories when it comes to soup, love it or hate it. My boys both moan and groan when they find out we’re having soup for dinner. It doesn’t matter what kind, they still complain. The grown one says it’s not filling enough. The little says it’s too hot (even when I ladle it out 15 minutes before everyone else’s).

Hannah and myself on the other hand love soup. But Hannah will eat anything so I guess that’s not too much of a feat. Seriously, anything. She was begging for a snitch when I was preparing this so I gave her a bit of raw onion to see what she would do. She ate it and opened her mouth for more. Do you guys know what “snitch” means when in the kitchen? It’s a little bite or sample of something while you’re cooking. I was talking to one of the babysitters where I work out and was telling her how if we ask Hannah if she wants a snitch she comes running to the kitchen with her mouth open. She’s really starting to understand what we’re telling her and reacting so I thought it was really funny that one of the first things she truly understands is related to eating. She just looked at me, confused. I thought this was a common thing but maybe it just was in my family. I don’t know, it should totally be a thing if it’s not.
Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 2
Broccoli cheese soup and potato soup are my two favorites and this recipe combines the two into perfection. Cheese, broccoli, potatoes, bacon, can’t get much better than that. This soup is loaded with veggies which makes it super filling but if your people are still complaining, give them a pretzel stick to carb load. They are pretty heavenly when dipped in this soup.

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup
recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Café

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots, diced small
3 cups potatoes, diced small
1/2 cup finely minced onion
4-5 cups broccoli crowns, diced small (about 2 heads of broccoli)
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk (I used half Vitamin D, half skim)
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard

1. In a dutch oven, combine the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are starting to soften. Add the broccoli and cook another 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan, melt the butter then sprinkle in the flour. Stir and cook for a minute then slowly add in the milk, whisking the whole time. Simmer until it thickens. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Season with salt, pepper and dried mustard.

3. Slowly stir and incorporate the cheese sauce into the broth/veggie mixture. Make sure it is combined well then stir in the bacon. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may stir in a bit more broth or milk until you reach the desired consistency.
Loaded Broccoli Cheese Soup 3

Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip

Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 5
I have a thing for dips. Chips and dip are my nemesis, my inner fat kid’s favorite snack. Seriously, I would eat them everyday if I could. We were playing a game recently called Truth Be Told and each round you have to answer a question about the reader of the card. Then they are read aloud and everyone tries to guess what the reader said. So, you come up with an answer that is fitting to the reader since you get points if they guess your answer. Does that make sense? Anyway, one of the questions was “what’s one food you wish was healthy?” CHIPS. Chips are always the answer. Chips for life. Sweets I can take or leave most of the time but savory snacks get me every time.
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 1
So when I started thinking about something yummy to share with you all for the Super Bowl, my brain naturally went to a dip that I could dunk chips into. Sorry I was a little self-centered but I figured you guys wouldn’t argue. I’ve been really digging bleu cheese lately and was enjoying it in a Cobb salad with some bacon and roasted corn a few days ago and thought it would make an amazing sweet, smoky and tangy combination for a hot dip. With tortilla chips of course. I guess if you want to be healthy you could use celery, but it’s the Super Bowl, why would you want to do that?
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 3
This dip is mixed and cooked in a crock pot for easy prep and clean up. I love a set it and forget it kind of appetizer especially for football games since I usually have a lot of snack-y type things to prepare. This could even be mixed up the night before and refrigerated. Just add another half hour or so to the cooking time to ensure it warms through and the cheeses melt.
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 6
The super sweet corn and strong, stinky bleu cheese create a nice contrast. And bacon makes everything better. I may have eaten half the batch for lunch yesterday. Maybe. This would be perfect for snacking on while waiting hours for the pizza to be delivered on Super Bowl night. Not that we would know from experience.
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 2
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip

3 1/3 cups frozen corn, thawed
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cubed
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled*
Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients into a crockpot and mix. Cook for 2 hours on low, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortillas chips or raw veggies for dipping.

*Before cooking, partially freeze bacon then slice very thinly. Cook in a skillet and it’s recipe ready.
Bacon and Bleu Hot Corn Dip 7

Cheeseburger Quesadillas

Cheeseburger Quesadillas 1
Besides cooking and photography, one of my big hobbies is crafting. I guess I have a love for creating and capturing. Recently I have been working on a quilt that I have grown to love; every time I pick it up to work on it, I adore it even more. I know quilting is an uncommon hobby for a 20-something but I am kind of addicted and I’m not afraid to say it. Call me granny if you wish but I’m creating awesomeness around here. The concept of this quilt started at Christmas when Joel’s mom was given 12 quilt squares made by her grandma and great grandma. She wasn’t planning on doing anything with them so she offered them to me to create something with them. After several months of brainstorming, I came up with a concept and created 18 of my own quilt blocks to go along with the vintage ones. Each and every square has a different fabric yet they look like they were made for each other. Along the border are names, places, dates and special family jokes quilted to evoke memories each time it’s used. It’s a quilt decades in the making and something I am so proud to have had a part of creating.
heritage quilt
Just like this quilt, I love dreaming up and creating in my kitchen. The quilt nourishes my soul and these cheeseburger quesadillas nourish our bellies. They come together in less than 30 minutes and will definitely be a crowd pleaser. Even my impossible 4 year old ate these without complaint and he almost never eats meat. I’m telling you, tortillas are magic makers in getting your kids to eat. The fact that they taste like a rich, meaty cheeseburger helps too.
Cheeseburger Quesadillas 3
Cheeseburger Quesadillas

8-12 whole wheat tortillas
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 Tbsp. worchestershire
S&P
1-1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar (1/4 cup per quesadilla)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until cooked through. Drain grease then stir in ketchup, mustard and worchestershire.

2. Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Lay a tortilla in the skillet then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese, desired amount of ground beef (we divided this to make 6 quesadillas but if you want yours a bit meatier, add 1/4 of the ground beef mixture), bacon and another 2 tablespoons of cheese then top with another tortilla. Cook until brown and crisp then flip and cook other side until golden. Remove from skillet and cut with a pizza wheel. Serve with pickles on the side.
Cheeseburger Quesadillas 4

Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza

Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 5
Have you had enough of all my talk about roasted garlic yet? If you have, so sorry but here’s one last recipe for awhile. I told you I was going to share this with you last week but life happened and this didn’t.

This pizza has some of my very favorite things in life, chicken, bacon, cheese and of course the garlic. Seriously, how could it not be good?
Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 3
The pizza feels lighter than most since there’s not really a sauce but I’m sure it’s not (calorie wise) due to all the deliciousness. Joel missed not having sauce so he drizzled it with ranch for a spin on a chicken bacon ranch pizza.
Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 1
Another thing I love is black pepper and I just happened to find a black peppercorn smoked gouda that was an amazing addition to this creation.
Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza 4

Most of the prep for this pizza can be done ahead of time (think pizza dough in the freezer, cook bacon and chicken the night before, shred cheese) so you can just throw it together when you are ready to eat. I love that with a little planning and prep work we can have fresh, homemade pizza on a busy weeknight. And fancy pizza at that. Especially seeing that my boys are “fantastic lovers of pizza.” Yep, the 3 year old came up with that. How could you not serve pizza?

Roasted Garlic Chicken Bacon and Gouda Pizza

1/2 whole wheat crust recipe (2 disks)
2 heads of roasted garlic, mashed very well
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large chicken breast, grilled and cut into small bite size pieces
6 strips of bacon, crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded smoked gouda

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Roll out pizza crust to desired thickness and place on a pizza stone.

2. Mix together roasted garlic and olive oil then spread evenly over the crust. Top crust with chicken, bacon and cheeses.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole

I absolutely love magazines but rarely buy them but when I saw this one last week I just couldn’t resist.
Bacon!
Yikes…not good for the whole diet thing. Seriously, 108 bacon recipes! That’s just crazy talk.
Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole
This guac recipe is not from the magazine but can you tell I had bacon on my mind? I whipped up a Mexican feast for the in-laws this past weekend and needed a yummy little appetizer to start things off. Joel is kind of addicted to guacamole so I knew it would be the perfect starter.
Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole
I have a standard go-to guacamole but I wanted to spice things up and try one of the many fun, creative varieties that I have been seeing so much of lately. And really, what’s better than roasted garlic and bacon? Not much in my opinion.
Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole
My father-in-law Ken doesn’t even like guacamole but he really enjoyed this recipe. I think that says a lot!

The roasted garlic brings a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and the bacon brings its signature smoky, saltiness. The perfect way to start off a little fiesta!

Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole
recipe slightly adapted from Fabtastic Eats

1 head of garlic
Olive Oil
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 avocados, pit removed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Juice of 1 Lime
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped*
Kosher salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Meanwhile, slice a bit of the top off of the garlic (just enough to cut open each clove) then place it on a square of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Seal it up tightly and bake for about 45 minutes.

2. Place avocados in a bowl and mash to desired consistency. Squeeze roasted garlic into the mashed avocado and mix along with the bacon, cayenne, lime juice and cilantro. Add kosher salt to taste. Enjoy with chips and carrot sticks.

*I left out the cilantro because Joel isn’t a big fan but I think it would be an amazing addition and am totally adding it next time.

Roasted Garlic and Bacon Guacamole

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad 2
Now that the summer heat has set in, I have been craving cool, crisp salad all the time. The only problem here is one of those boys I live with (the big one) doesn’t think salad is a meal.
Cobb Salad 3
In comes the Cobb Salad to prove him wrong because if you know me, you know I like to be right. I even have a magnet given to me by my mom’s best friend that states: “The Happy Couple: Mr. Right and Mrs. Always Right.” It’s a problem I have. But not really…life is just easier if things are done my way.
Cobb Salad 1
How could a salad covered in grilled corn, hard boiled eggs, bacon, chicken, avocado, cucumbers and cheese then drizzled with roasted garlic vinaigrette not be deemed a meal? Well, people…it was. I knew I would convince him (if he knew what was good for him). And there were no complaints from the dinner table. I call that a success!

Cobb Salad

1 romaine heart, chopped
1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
2 ears grilled corn
2 hard boiled eggs
1 avocado, sliced
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbles
1 grilled chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 english cucumber, sliced into half moons
1/4 cup bleu cheese, feta or gorgonzola
croutons 
Roasted garlic vinaigrette

Mix together the romaine and butter lettuce. Place chicken down the middle. In a line layer the avocado on one side and the cucumber on the other. Continue with the remaining items (except dressing). Serve individual portions being sure to get all the toppings. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Loaded Baked Potato Salad 3
I am a huge fan of baked potatoes but now that spring has finally arrived (or so it seems) they just aren’t something I cook. I hate heating up the oven and the house once the warm weather hits and I avoid it at all cost. So what do I do when the craving strikes? Make up this loaded baked potato salad! It provides all the delicious taste of a loaded baked potato without having to heat up the oven. Plus, it’s chilled and refreshing which helps beat the heat.
Loaded Baked Potato Salad 4
There really isn’t anything not to like about this potato salad. Cheese, bacon and ranch are always a winning combination! This would be a great side dish to bring to a summer bbq or just to whip up on a weeknight with a yummy grilled steak.

Loaded Baked Potato Salad
recipe slightly adapted from Key Ingredient

4 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup light mayo
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. dry ranch seasoning
8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

1. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo and sour cream. After thoroughly combined, stir in cheese, ranch seasoning, salt and pepper.

2. Chop potatoes into bite size chunks (you can peel them if you want, I was lazy and didn’t). Boil potatoes for 10-20 minutes, until tender but not falling apart. Drain potatoes and allow to cool a bit.

3. Mix potatoes and 3/4 of the bacon into sour cream mixture. Top with remaining bacon and chill until ready to serve.
Loaded Baked Potato Salad 2