Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Sarah’s Notes: This is one of Rachel’s favorites. Does not taste light at all.

From Cooking Light

Processed cheese melts beautifully, giving this soup a smooth texture and mild flavor.

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)

Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

CALORIES 203(28% from fat); FAT 6.3g (sat 4g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 15.6g; CHOLESTEROL 24mg; CALCIUM 385mg; SODIUM 897mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21.7g

Parmesan Risotto

Recipe adapted from “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker’’ by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann, Harvard Common Press, 2005.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium-sized minced shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
3 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. In a small skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Cook the shallots until softened, 3 to 4 minutes; do not brown. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Add the rice and cook, stirring until it turns from translucent to opaque (do not brown), about 2 minutes. Scrape with a heat-proof rubber spatula into the slow cooker. Add the broth and salt. Cover and cook on HIGH until all the liquid is absorbed, but the rice is still moist, 2 to 21/2 hours. The risotto should be only a bit liquidy, and the rice should be al dente, tender with just a touch of firmness.

2. Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese and pass the remainder for sprinkling. Serve immediately, spooned into bowls. Risotto will keep on the KEEP WARM setting for an hour or so.

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth
2 (8-ounce) packages frozen cauliflower
1 medium stalk celery—cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium carrot—cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion—cut into eighths
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper—to taste
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese—shredded

Throw all ingredients except milk and cheese into a crockpot and cook
on low until vegetables are very tender, about 4-6 hours.

Carefully pour mixture into work bowl of food processor fitting with
steel blade or into blender container. Cover and process until
smooth. OR, if you like it a little lumpy and bumpy like I do, use a
potato masher and have at it in the crockpot itself–mash to your
heart’s delight.

Place your cauliflower mixture into a saucepan; stir in milk and
cheese. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is
melted and mixture is hot.

Per serving: 235 Calories; 16g Total Fat; (59% calories from fat);
15g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 46mg Cholesterol;
701mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0
Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: A big green salad and some whole grain rolls
make for a nice supper.

Baked Eggs and Mushrooms In Ham Crisps

Sarah’s Notes: Adapted from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, these are showy and tasty. I make a batch of mushroom duxelles in the slow cooker and freeze it it muffin-tin sized portions to make the mushroom step as easy as thawing stuff in the microwave. I also scramble the eggs rather than bake them whole, usually.

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr

3/4 lb mushrooms, finely choppedHam Crisps served with coffee and muffins
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons cream cheese
12 slices Black Forest or Virginia ham (without holes; 10 oz.)
12 large eggs
Garnish: fresh tarragon leaves
Accompaniment: buttered brioche or challah toast
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cupsPreheat oven to 400°F.

Prepare mushrooms:
Cook mushrooms and shallot in butter with salt and pepper in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid they give off is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in tarragon.

Assemble and bake:
Fit 1 slice of ham into each of 12 lightly oiled muffin cups (ends will stick up and hang over edges of cups). Divide mushrooms and cream cheese among cups and crack 1 egg into each. Bake in middle of oven until whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper and remove (with ham) from muffin cups carefully, using 2 spoons or small spatulas.

The eggs in this recipe are not fully cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.

Makes 6 servings.

CI Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pasta

Sarah: Great way to make a meal out of an abundance of summer tomatoes

If handmade buffalo- or cow’s-milk mozzarella is available (it’s commonly found in gourmet and cheese shops packed in water), we highly recommend using it, but skip the step of freezing and add it to the tomatoes while marinating.

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use the good stuff – Columela Extra-Virgin is a good one).
2-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or more to taste, depending on tomatoes)
1 small garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 small shallot , minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes , cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note above)
1 pound penne pasta or other short tubular or curly pasta such as fusilli or campanelle
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon sugar (to taste, depending on tomatoes)

1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate tomatoes for longer than 45 minutes.

2. While tomatoes are marinating, place mozzarella on plate and freeze until slightly firm, about 10 minutes (IMPORTANT – don’t skip this step unless using handmade cheese). Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.

3. Add pasta and mozzarella to tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.