Saturday, June 01, 2013

Beer, Smoked Gouda, and Red Pepper Soup

For Kelly! This was the best I could do at re-creating my steps...

Okay, so I started with this pre-chopped mirepoix mix (celery, carrots, and onions) from Trader Joe's. I am lazy and have no knife skills to speak of. What can I say?

I did not measure anything, but I used roughly a third of the container. I sauteed this in a pan over medium/high heat tablespoons (?) of butter until the onions were starting to get translucent; then I added in about 5 cloves of chopped (by my husband, due to the aforementioned lack of knife skills) garlic and a bit more butter. Sautee until your entire house smells of awesomeness.

Once everything smelled awesome, added a small amount (maybe 1/4 cup?) of white wine to loosen everything up in the pan. Then I added in a few tablespoons of this business. This stuff is my jam. Turn the heat down on your pan and stir some of this stuff up in there.

...I wound up using most of this jar by the time I was done, but I started out with maybe half of it in the saute pan and added the rest to the crockpot as it cooked over the course of the next several hours. I suppose you could just put it all in there at this stage, but I'd recommend holding out--the beer I used was quite bitter and needed the sweetness of the pepper to chill it out; you might not feel the need for so much of it if your beer is less bitter (or if you like that really bitter flavor).

Anywho, back to the saute pan. I added about half of one of these bad boys in there as well, reduced it to a simmer, and then let it bubble for a maybe 10 minutes or so. You could use chicken broth, too, but I was feeding my soup to some vegetarians.

At this stage, I turned the heat off, let it cool down a little, and transferred everything to a blender. I pureed it until the chunks of celery, carrots, and onions from the mirepoix were but a memory. Then I poured it into my crock pot (high heat) and added this ginormous bottle of face-puckering IPA. This is one of those bottle-and-a-half size beers; you might be fine with a normal sized bottle. I think the bitterness of the IPA is great for the soup, but I also think I maybe had too much beer in mine (see needing the entire jar of red peppers to counteract the bitterness, above).

Stir a pint of heavy cream in there while you're at it. In case you were wondering, this soup is not healthy at all.

There you are, cheese! I bought two of these and only used one. I just noticed that this one says "reduced fat"; that was not on purpose and I don't *think* the one I used was reduced fat, but it may have been. Oh well. This is 0.68 lbs of cheese; I shredded an entire chunk and put that in the crock pot. I also shredded some cheddar/gruyere blend (~the same amount) and added that.

I let this all cook on high, stirring occasionally, for about an hour then turned it down to warm and cooked it for another 7 hours. Periodically I would stir and taste, adding things here and there to adjust the flavor. In addition to the rest of the jar of peppers, I added some of this...

...and also some pepper, salt, and garlic powder. This was all "to taste"; I honestly couldn't tell  you how much I put in there.

I thought the cheese would fully melt down, but it didn't--there were still some bits of cheese unmelted in there after several hours of simmering. I could have left well enough alone (I mean, it's not like lumps of melty cheese in your soup are a terrible thing), but instead I put about half the soup in the blender and then added it back in. If you do this, LET THE SOUP IN THE BLENDER COOL. I knew that I was supposed to do that, but I was all "I'll just hold the lid on, no probs." Wrong. Probs. Hot soup everywhere. But it still turned out delicious.

I cooked up some bacon and chopped that up in addition to some green onions as a garnish. I know this is a ridiculously not-precise recipe, but that's how I roll. If you give this soup a go (or some version thereof), let me know how it turns out!

Monday, August 20, 2012

So here’s the deal. I’m not going to apologize, I’m not going to make excuses, I’m just going to put it out there:
I love this dude.

I KNOW. Let’s be real: this is one seriously bad ass moose. Not to detract from the coolness of all of the other items in the WhiteFauxTaxidermy Etsy shop—this guy just caught my eye. I feel like my husband is generally kind of “whatevs” about my decorating choices, but this may be one instance where he would exercise his veto option. I don’t know, though…maybe if I just sneak him in and hang him and then don’t say anything…he might not notice? Right. Probably not. Might be worth a shot, though. I’ll keep you posted ;)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adventures in Healthfulness

Untitled by kristaleigh
Untitled, a photo by kristaleigh on Flickr.

I am a HUGE peanut butter fan. Seriously. Ask any runner, and they will tell you that peanut butter is sort of a superfood--wheat toast with peanut butter is many a a runner's breakfast of champions. BUT--as with all things, peanut butter is only good in moderation. While high in protein, it's also pretty darn high in fat. So I decided to try out this "Better'n Peanut Butter" that I found at Trader Joe's.

In terms of straight numbers, this stuff is, indeed, better than peanut butter. It has far less fat per comparable 2 tablespoon serving (2g vs ~18g), and less calories, too (100 vs ~190-200). But I have to tell you--while this is a peanut-based product, it does not taste like peanut butter. I might even venture to say that if you're going into this expecting peanut butter, you will probably not like it. It's sweeter than your standard PB, and just has an overall different flavor. However, it's not bad--and if you can treat this less has a peanut butter cover band and more as a peanut butter tribute band, I think you'll be pleased. Overall, I would buy this again--but it's definitely worth noting that (at least in Arizona), this stuff is not comparable to PB when it comes down to the dollahs (and really, doesn't it always?). My standard jar of generic Kroger PB runs around or under $2 depending on sales; the Better'n Peanut Butter was $4.99 at Trader Joe's (for reference, TJ's standard peanut butter offering runs ~$2.50).

What are your favorite healthy food substitutes?

Monday, February 27, 2012

If there were some sort of "sustained intermittent blogging" award, I think I would win it. Who half-ass commits to something for ten years? ME, that's who!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thank goodness for running buddies...I left the house just before 6 am (in the dark), didn't get home from work until almost 6:30 pm (in the dark), came home to a lovely assortment of dog poo artistically displayed across the kitchen floor, and did not feel like getting a run in AT ALL. But you can't bail on a running buddy, so I laced 'em up and felt worlds better a few miles later. Feeling pretty good about the upcoming half marathon; a little bummed that we're not doing the full (which we did last year), but we just didn't start training early enough. Oh well. Might do one later in the spring.

Christmas is coming on like a freight train this year, and is going to be gone just as fast. This will only be our second time as a couple staying in AZ for Christmas. We're having our annual Christmas bash this Saturday, then leave Sunday for a few days in Sedona. Not sure what our plans for the rest of the week will be. I'm on pins and needles right now waiting for Erika to have her baby--I'm going to be a (biological!) Aunt, and I am SO. EXCITED. to meet Ms. Madigan! She's due on Monday, so send good vibes! We'll head to CT to meet her just after Christmas.

For tonight: wine, Christmas movies on basic cable, and homemade sugar cookies. Cheers!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Things making me feel like it's all Christmas up in here:

Giving smarter gifts...

Seeing a Christmas classic live and in person...

Boozy hot chocolate...

A sweet remixed version of "Baby It's Cold Outside":

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Look, I'm not proud, but here it is: I am seriously fighting the urge to start playing Christmas music.


You can still get away with wearing shorts and a t-shirt this time of year in Arizona. It's only mid-November. We just wrangled all of our Halloween decorations into the garage, ferchissakes. But as I scroll through my iPod playlists, it takes serious effort to not stop on the one labeled "Christmas Songs". Oh, who am I kidding? I have, like, 5 different Christmas song playlists on my iPod. Whatever. I don't make fun of your Taylor Swift songs, so shut up already. Besides, I noticed this morning that my neighbor has poinsettias on her porch, so IT IS ON.