Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Now I don't want to write something silly, along the lines of: "I made this soup and I didn't particularly like it but I think you should make it", but I am. I forgot how little I like soups that have a thin broth and then chunks of things floating in them. If you like that, than this is totally a great soup.
There's broccoli, potatoes, onions, and garlic involved.
And cheddar, lots of cheddar.
 It's a nice, cheesy, garlicky soup for the winter. And the broccoli is just so gosh-darn pretty. I didn't want to say it too often because I didn't want it to blush. Because who wants red broccoli, let me ask you?
 You have to eat this soup with a spoon and a fork. Hows that for crazy? You know, you want to spice things up at dinner. No more boring soup! This one needs a spoon and a fork!
(I'm making a joke.)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
serves 4
adapted from Fresh365

1 medium head broccoli, cut into small florets
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk (I used skim)
2 cups coarsely grated sharp Cheddar cheese
6-7oz firm tofu (apx 1/2 block), cut into chunks

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until just tender, 2-3 minutes. 
Drain, reserving 3 cups water. Rinse broccoli with cold water to stop cooking, and set aside.

In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add potato, onion, and garlic. 
Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add cumin, salt, pepper, mustard and flour, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. 
Add reserved 3 cups broccoli water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer (partially covered), until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. 
Add soy milk and Cheddar, stirring to melt.

Transfer 3 c soup to a blender, and add tofu (this may need to be done in 2 batches). Puree, until smooth. Return to pot. 
Add florets and cook over medium heat, until heated, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


Muesli Scones

 These are so good I could die. Seriously. As in I may not even be joking. Maybe not even a little. And they're pretty good for you, as baked goods go.
Muesli is kind of like unbaked granola. It's made with rolled out, dried fruits, and nuts. Then you put it in a bowl and eat it. You can mix it with yogurt or milk, but I personally prefer orange juice. You let it sit for a couple minutes and it gets soft and citrusy... So good. I've even poured cold tea over muesli. That was pretty good too. But these scones don't actually have muesli in them. They just kind of taste like it, what with all the dried fruit and nuts and seeds. And you can switch that up. Put whatever fillings you want in, as long as you get about 1/2 cup of dried fruit, and 1/2 cup nuts and seeds. 
How come I didn't take enough pictures to have one separate this block of text? I may have to remedy that. My kitchen may need another batch of these, soon.

Muesli Scones
makes 15-20 squares. 
adapted from Elana's Pantry

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried california apricots, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
2 tbsps agave syrup
2 tbsps milk

Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, salt and baking soda.
Stir in dried fruit, seeds and nuts.
In a small bowl combine egg and agave, then stir wet ingredients into dry. If, at this point, the dough is not sticking together enough to form a ball with your hands, add 1 tablespoons of milk, or more as needed.
Use hands to shape dough into a square that is about 1" thick, and cut the dough into squares.
Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden on top. 

Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas

 Ok, these are addictive. Possibly because they're super easy, cheap, and fast. And they're truly only chickpeas, so you tell yourself, how bad could they be for you?
 I won't answer that question. I've decided I like this better than popcorn. Yes, popcorn from the movies that is bright yellow and tastes like fake butter sauce is a must have on certain occasions, but I've decided that when I'm curling up on my bed to watch a movie at home (read: When Harry Met Sally) this is what my hand is going to be sticky with.
Really, you just open a can of chickpeas and roast them, and then toss them in oil and sugar and salt and cinnamon. If you want savory, you can do that too. I have this really great chile lime seasoning I threw on them. Eat it for snacks, dessert, at dinner--whatever. It's yum.

Sweet and Salty Roasted Chickpeas
adapted from the Cupcake Project

1 can/14 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon or your spice(s) of choice
1 1/2 tsps brown sugar
dash of sea salt

Place chickpeas on a baking sheet and bake at 450 F for 30 minutes. (The oil and spices come after.)
Transfer chickpeas to a small bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Enjoy hot, or bring to room temperature and store in an air-tight container.


Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf

I made this cake at night, so the images are a mite grainy.
 And by the morning, with sunny light, I had eated it. Eated. It.
 I love blood oranges, don't you? So, red. Like blood.
 Ooh, and I like olive oil cakes too. Moist and not too sweet. This one was mighty good. Slice after slice, I eated it. All gone.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf
makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup yogurt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Grate zest from 2 oranges and rub with your fingers in a bowl with sugar to make blood orange sugar. Set aside.

Supreme an orange: Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Cut each segment in half.

Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. Add yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with the blood orange sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil.

In a measuring cup, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Serve warm with a spot of yogurt and honey, or continue to eat from the pan all day until it is all eated up.


Peanut Oat Energy Balls

 Yes, I did just name this recipe energy balls. Tell me you're not thinking about some cool video game pulsating orb. Swallow and level up. Oh, you're not thinking about that? What, you're fixating more on the scrotum-esque portrayal of the wording balls? Tsk, tsk, that's not what I'm thinking at all.
When I made these, I first thought "Super cool! No bake and yummydelicious!" Well, it was no bake, but in my opinion not entirely yummy delicious. Too many seeds and raisins. I guess I would swap the raisins with cranberries, and add blanched almonds maybe. And, well, it couldn't hurt to dip it in dark chocolate? Come on, could it hurt? Please, tell me to my face.

But the recipe went over very well with my family. They're best chilled for a bit in the fridge,a nd then you can pop one in your mouth and chew for a while. And then bounce of walls like sonic the hedgehog, little blue sparks flying from your tail. No? Ok, maybe not.

Peanut Oat Energy Balls
makes 12 small balls.
adapted from fresh and foodie

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/8 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
1/8 cup raisins
1/8 cup chocolate chips
pinch salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/2 tablespoon honey

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure everything is very well combined.
Scoop out a portion with a spoon and gently roll into a ball with your hands.
If it’s not sticking, add more peanut butter or honey. Likewise, if it’s too wet, add more oats.
Store the bites in the fridge in an airtight container.