Cheesy Broccoli and Leek Soup

Before I was a mom I used to read all of these uplifting quotes on Facebook and scoff. You know the ones; You are good enough. You do enough. You are enough. And I always used to think they were so silly. Like, damn right I’m good enough! I don’t need some inspirational quote to tell me that?! Oh, how the tide has changed. Since becoming a mom I am constantly wondering if I am enough. Am I reading to her enough? Am I feeding her enough of the right foods? Am I snuggling her enough? Am I teaching her enough? Am I setting a good enough example for her? It’s literally a constant struggle in my mind whether I’m doing good enough, being good enough, and giving her enough.

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I spend so much time researching how much she should be sleeping, the milestones she should be hitting, what she should be eating. Literally my entire life revolves around her. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love every minute of. I feel like my life’s purpose was to raise children and I have never experienced as much love and happiness as I have while raising my daughter. Case in point, look at me now–I’ve got a little “me time” to blog and I’m still focused on her! 🙂

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So now when I mindlessly scroll through my Facebook feed and my eye catches an inspirational quote I think, ohhhhhh so this is who those were for. Moms like me. Who often wonder if they are enough. While I still don’t think an inspirational quote on FB is going to change my entire outlook, it is a nice reminder from time to time. So, let me remind you (and also myself) that you are enough. You are doing enough. You are good enough. Your kiddos are just as lucky to have you as you are to have them.

Thanks for listening to my rant. Oh, also this soup recipe is super easy! Like “come home from work and have your family eating in 45 minutes” easy. Enjoy!

Cheesy Broccoli and Leek Soup

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 + 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 14.5 oz. can chicken broth
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 6 cups chopped fresh broccoli

Directions

Heat 1.5 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Set aside.

Heat the same large pot over medium low heat melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add flour and stir to combine. Once smooth, cook mixture for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly stir in chicken broth, heavy cream and milk. Then stir in ground mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Next add the cheddar cheese and stir until almost completely melted. Then add Monterey jack and stir until both cheeses are completed melted. Stir in broccoli, cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

If the soup seems to be simmering too rapidly or almost boiling, turn the heat down a bit. You want a slow, soft simmer for 30 minutes.

The soup is finished when the broccoli is tender. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and a slice of crusty sourdough bread and enjoy!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (10)

Swiss Chard, Leek and Potato Tartlets

If you’ve been following me for a while you may, or may not have noticed that I took quite a long break from blogging and then did a little re-branding and created this new blog. My food blogging journey started years ago as a way for me to keep track of my favorite recipes and then it turned into a way for me to share my recipes with friends and family. Then it took on a life of it’s own and it became less of a hobby and more of a stressor and almost an addiction. I was constantly checking Instagram to see how many likes my pictures were getting. And legit feeling bad if I didn’t get X amount of likes in the first few hours. Some of you might read this and think I’m crazy, but I guarantee there’s a lot of other people out there who read this and can relate, or read this and thinks it’s normal! I found that my mood was being dictated by the response my posts were getting on social media and I was constantly stressing about posting more frequently and producing the best quality writing and photos.

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I was putting unnecessary stress on myself trying to create and blog a new recipe every day or at least 4-5 times a week. I was spending hours on recipe development and photo sessions and writing and critiquing. And I was starting to feel really drained. Things needed to change. So I took a step back and I took a break from social media. And man, did it feel good! I have been spending more time with our child, my husband, our family and friends. I’ve been trying to spend more time being present.

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For those who know me (probably my husband knows best of all) when I’m passionate about something I throw everything I have into it. I am one of those people who gets an idea and runs with it. Like runs a marathon with it. Not literally, but you get what I mean. When we started the adoption process, I had a one-track mind for 2 years. Find. Our. Baby. When I wanted a new job, I spent hours perfecting my resume and applying for jobs until I got my ideal job offer and accepted. When I was passionate about making jewelry, I made 2,000 pairs of earrings and went to every craft show within 50 miles of my hometown for two summers. However, for me, cooking has always been a constant. It has always been a creative outlet for me and I have always enjoyed it. So to hell with the posts and the likes and the followers! I’m getting back to the basics. Just enjoy cooking.

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Why am I telling you this? Who knows! This blog is kind of like therapy for me and sometimes it just feels good to vent. Does this have anything to do with these adorable tartlets? Nope. Not a thing. But my favorite food blogs are the ones where the bloggers open up about who they are and what makes them tick. Also, like I said, writing is cathartic for me. Just like cooking is. So there’s a piece of my heart and here’s the damn recipe!

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Just kidding, one more thing. Where did all of my old posts go?? Yeah, good question. I’m sure they are out there somewhere in the interwebs but I sure as hell can’t find ’em. After some well intentioned blog migrations, I somehow lost all of my old posts. How did this happen?! Um, pretty much because I cannot wrap my brain around the inner workings of technology and I have no idea what I’m doing. So I’m in the process of trying to recreate some of my old recipes. Give me a shout if there’s one you’re itching for and I’ll see what I can do. I’ve already had multiple requests for my Whiskey Bourbon Meatball recipe — I’m working on it as we speak.

Swiss Chard, Leek and Potato Tartlets

  • Servings: 36 tartlets
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 small leeks, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard leaves
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 10 oz. fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/8″ thick pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 oz. herb and garlic goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add leeks and Swiss chard. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then set aside.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry along the seams creating 6 long rectangles. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll each rectangle out slightly larger until it’s about 3 x 12 inches. You’re mostly just making the rectangles longer, not much wider. Cut each rectangle into 4 equal size pieces. Score each tartlet about a half inch from the edge creating the crust. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer pastry squares to the baking sheet, spacing them apart about an inch.

In a medium bowl combine potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder, fresh thyme and large pinch of salt and pepper. In another medium bowl combine goat cheese and heavy cream. Divide goat cheese mixture evenly between the puff pastry squares, spreading it within the scored crust. Then layer potatoes on top of the goat cheese, dividing them evenly between the tarts. I used about 6 slices of potato per tart. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the crust of each tartlet with the egg wash, then bake for 12 minutes.

Remove tartlets from the oven, divide the leek and Swiss chard evenly between the tarts, placing it on top of the potatoes, and then bake for another 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and serve warm!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (11)

 

 

Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

How’s your week going? Mine’s been a bit long for my liking to be honest. I know, I know. It’s already hump day. But I’m ready to be over this hump and hitting the gym on Friday afternoon before I welcome the weekend! I recently got a membership to the fitness center at my place of employment and have gotten totally hooked on working out after work. It’s such a stress reliever. Not that my job is all that stressful, but it sure feels good to sweat it out on the elliptical after sitting in an office all day. I usually try to get outside during the day for a quick walk around the block (weather allowing). But nothing replaces that feeling of getting super sweaty and out of breath while you watch Fixer Upper on HGTV. We don’t have cable at home so I genuinely look forward to my little mid-day indulgence with Chip and Joanna. Or Property Brothers. Or Flip or Flop. I’m not picky. Give me a show about rustic modern home renovation and I’m a happy camper.

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I am also currently loving those tiny home shows. It’s kind of a dream of mine to someday live in one. Maybe in some trendy Oregon neighborhood or somewhere on a coastal city in sunny California. I think it would be nearly impossible (or maybe just not my cup of tea) to live in a tiny home with kids so I often picture myself as a retired gray haired lady with my equally retired and gray haired husband. And probably some cute little graying dog…

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Spending the day sitting on a tiny porch reading a murder mystery, taking a break to make an extravagant vegan lunch with fresh picked veggies that we picked that morning from our garden up from the farmers market that morning. Maybe taking a mid-afternoon hike around the property before enjoying a glass of wine as we make dinner. Snuggling into our loft bed early like old retired people do and waking up with the sun for a relaxing yoga session.

Damn. That sounds nice. So back to reality. I’m not feeling particularly motivated to make dinner tonight. And if I try to enjoy a glass of wine while I make it, I will almost certainly just want to take a nap. So I’ll settle for this super easy dinner and snuggle on the couch with my baby girl while we watch Moana for the 5th time.

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Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut into large wedges
  • 2 white onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 16 oz. your favorite pasta (I love rigatoni), cooked al dente
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place tomato and onion in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with Italian seasoning and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss to coat veggies evenly. Slice head of garlic in half width wise and place cut side up onto a small piece of foil. Drizzle with remaining teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Fold corners of foil up towards the center, making a little pouch and sealing the garlic inside. Put tomato, onion and garlic into the oven and roast for 1 hour. Remove garlic after 45 minutes and allow to cool while the rest of the veggies continue to roast.

Remove from the oven and allow tomato and onion to cool for a few minutes. Then transfer to a high speed blender. Make sure you get all the juices too! Squeeze garlic from the peel and into the blender. Add chicken broth and blend on high for 3 minutes or until it’s smooth and well pureed.

Add cream and blend for just a few seconds until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss with your favorite al dente pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil and enjoy!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets

Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

This sheet pan eggplant Parmesan is divine. The prep/cook time is minimal (most of the time is spent letting the salted eggplant rest and then bake) and it comes out crispy, cheesy and best of all, super tasty!  I’m not sure if there are many things in the world better than fresh mozzarella. The delicate taste and ooey gooey texture make me swoon every single time. One of my favorite meals ever is a simple, classic margherita pizza. And this eggplant Parmesan basically combines all of those elements while highlighting the delicious purple produce we all know and love. It’s also a great meal prep recipe because you bake the eggplant separate from the sauce. Eliminating any sort of potential sogginess… Don’t even get me started on soggy foods!

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Well I’m already started, so here I go . I have a very strong aversion to any sort of sogginess when it comes to food. If it is soggy, I will not eat it. I simply cannot. This creates a bit of a pickle for me as I am obsessed with sauce; all of the sauces. My husband jokes that my three main food groups are bread, sauce and cheese. This is not far from the truth. Although, I would add wine as my fourth main food group… I hate soggy food, yet am obsessed with dousing everything in sauce. It’s a catch 22 if I’ve ever heard one. So, this recipe is perfect for me! The eggplant is baked up nice and crisp and the sauce is added afterwards, thus eliminating a potentially soggy situation.

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Anytime I can eliminate a potentially soggy situation in my life, I’m a happy camper. I’m all about being inclusive, but the separating of the eggplant from the sauce also promotes it’s meal prep possibilities. You can reheat your eggplant each day, allowing it to crisp up again in the oven for 8-10 minutes. This will also give that fresh mozzarella a chance to get all ooey gooey again. Then warm up your sauce and get down to business.

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I’m just here to give you recipes that don’t get soggy. You’re welcome!

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Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 2 small eggplant
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 24 oz. spaghetti sauce
  • 8 oz. log fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

Directions

Start by slicing your eggplant into 1/2″ thick slices. I ended up with 18 slices that were about 2-3″ wide. Line a half sheet pan (a pan that’s about 13×18″ with a  1″ high edge) with a double layer of paper towel and place eggplant in a single layer across the pan. Sprinkle each round with a generous pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Then use another double layer of paper towels to pat the eggplant dry, removing excess water.

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line a half sheet pan with tin foil. Place a cooling rack the size of the pan on top of the foil. In a small bowl, whisk eggs. In a medium, shallow bowl use your hands to combine breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, Italian seasoning, olive oil, garlic powder and a large pinch of salt and pepper.

Dip each eggplant round into the egg, allowing excess to drip off, and then into the breading mixture until it is well coated. Place on the cooling rack on top of the pan. Repeat with remaining eggplant, placing them about a 1/2″ apart on the cooling rack. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and divide the remaining Parmesan cheese evenly between all the eggplant, placing a little mound right in the center of each round. Then spoon 1 tablespoon of spaghetti sauce into the center of each eggplant round. Then divide the fresh mozzarella evenly between all the eggplant, place it right in the center of each round. Put eggplant back in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until the mozzarella is nicely melted. Heat remaining spaghetti sauce on the stove

To assemble, spoon spaghetti sauce onto the plate, then top with desired number of eggplant Parmesan rounds and garnish with fresh basil.

For my grated Parmesan, I like to buy shredded Parmesan and then use the food processor to chop it up finely. Or buy a block of Parmesan and grate it finely myself. I find this way the Parmesan has much more flavor than the already grated stuff you buy at the store.

Keeping the sauce separate from the eggplant Parmesan makes this a great recipe for meal prep. The eggplant Parmesan can be stored easily in a Tupperware container and will not get soggy. When you’re ready to eat, just add the sauce and pop in the microwave or heat it in the oven.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (1)

Creamy Curried Corn and Coconut Chowder

Talk about a mouthful! Speaking of mouthfuls…get a mouthful a this chowda’ ASAP. This corn chowder is the perfect kick-off to the sweater weather and colorful scenery that are just around the corner. As Fall closes in you’ll be seeing lots of soup recipes here on Midwest Foodie. Over the years, Fall has slowly become my favorite season; usually because the summer is so dang hot that Fall is a welcomed relief! This year’s summer wasn’t even that oppressively hot though. We don’t have central air; just good ‘ol window air conditioners and I think we only turned them on a handful of times. Which was quite a different story from last summer! However last summer we had a newborn baby, so I think we just felt everything a little bit more because we were so sleep deprived. Boy am I glad those days are over. This momma needs at least 7 hours to function (although I prefer a sold 9 hours).

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We practice co-sleeping in our house so I usually get about 8 hours of moderately interrupted sleep peppered with several little toddler kicks to my ribs and every once in a while a little hand reaching out to find me. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I heard somewhere, It’s the best worst sleep you’ve ever had, and I couldn’t agree more! We’ve co-slept since our baby girl was about 4 months, and she has slept through the night ever since! I love waking up to her cheerful “HI!” and hearing the little giggles she lets out in her sleep. I feel like it’s such an important bonding experience for her and for us.

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People often ask if we are worried she will never sleep in her own bed? Honestly, no. As she gets older she will want her autonomy. She will want to do everything herself and eventually I expect that will include sleeping in their own bed. I am in no hurry to kick her out of ours; as I said before I think it’s a really special time for us and I am going to soak up every second of snuggles and kicks to the ribs I can before she grows up and starts rolling her eyes at me and telling me how lame I am! 🙂

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I’ve spoken with other parents who have co-slept and they tell me the kids always find their way to their own bed in time. I find that those who have the most apprehension about co-sleeping are those who have never done it! I’m not saying co-sleeping is for everyone. It’s certainly something that should be researched (ie: safe co-sleeping habits, your sleeping habits, age of the child, etc.) and discussed thoroughly before the decision is made. But for us, it works. And if you have a fitful baby who’s not sleeping through the night, it might be a good option for you to consider too! So as they say, let’s eat soup!

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Creamy Curried Corn and Coconut Chowder

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7-8 ears of corn (about 8 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk + more for garnish

Directions

Start by shucking the corn. Carefully cut corn from the cob and discard cobs. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add corn, onion, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Then add curry powder, chili powder, paprika and cayenne and stir to coat veggies evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes still on medium heat.

Add cannellini beans, chicken broth and white wine vinegar. Turn heat to medium high, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then transfer to a high speed blender and blend on high until mostly smooth, with just a bit of texture. Transfer back to the large pot and stir in coconut milk. Dish it up and garnish each bowl with a quick pour of coconut milk and fresh chopped herb of your choice.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (3)