Pork Chops with Stuffing to Celebrate the Day

All across America, on the 3rd Monday of February, banks are closed and stores are open with huge sales all in honor of Presidents Day. Presidents Day, a Federal Holiday, was established to acknowledge the birth of two great American Presidents born in February. Right? Nope, that would be wrong.

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Broccoli With An Onion-Cheese Sauce

My guys are constantly bugging me to make a cheese sauce when I cook broccoli. Making the sauce isn’t complicated, as you will see. However; I like to reserve a cheesy broccoli dish for rare occasions. While I love cheese, having your veggies swimming in sauce does lower the health benefits of eating steamed vegetables in the first place. Lord knows, cheese is a weakness for many of us.

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Broccoli-Cheese Soup in Sourdough Bowls

Are you keeping track? Today is day six of the forty-day Lenten Season. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a craving for a big, rich bowl of soup right about now. Just in case you are wondering about the chicken broth in a Lenten dish, according to Catholic Teachings the broth is a byproduct of an actual chicken, made from the bones and not the flesh, so it’s okay to eat. Wow, never realized how strange some culinary verbiage can sound – bones and flesh and what have you. Well at least we aren’t talking eye of newt or the hair of a wolf or some other strange sorcery concoction. At least not yet.

While Hubby will not eat a cheese soup, this is one of those exceptions. He likes the bread bowl, and loves broccoli swimming in a cheese sauce. This is a thinner, more flavorful spin on a Cheddar Cheese Sauce. I like mine with a nice glass of white wine.

Broccoli-Cheese Soup in Sourdough Bowls
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
4 7-inch sourdough bread bowls (round loaves)
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
1 1/2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup White Cheddar Cheese
Additional Cheese for Garnish

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell. Set aside until ready to fill

Break broccoli into small floret pieces. Set aside.

Dice carrot into small pieces, set aside.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.

Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Rice & Broccoli in a Cheese Sauce

Way back in 1977, I held my first ever dinner party.  Okay, so it wasn’t a huge party – there were only three of us dining that evening.  Sue, my best friend at the time, her then boyfriend Allen and me.  Still, I felt so “adult”, entertaining friends in my tiny walk-up apartment.  I will never forget that night for many reasons.  Although Sue and I met in Elementary School, we didn’t really forge our deep friendship until years later, when we were in our early twenties.  (And boy, have I dated myself or what!)

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