Winter Days + Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

 

With a new baby, we had lots of family visitors coming to see her in the month of December. My oldest sister made us a copycat of Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup – and James has already requested it a couple times since, so we have eaten it plenty lately. Turns out, the leftovers are great over a baked potato too!

I am more of a dump and pour cook, so I don’t exactly measure everything out exact each time. We also put the carrots and broccoli in the food processor to chop it up and make things quick and easy.

After a handful of requests for the recipe (after posting about it on Instagram) – Here you go!:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ½ medium chopped onion
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ lb fresh broccoli / about 1 cup – (I process some fine and leave some larger pieces chunkier)
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned (or throw it in the food processor and pulse chop it a couple times like I did)
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Cooking Directions…
  1. Saute the onion in 1 TB melted butter and set aside. In a large pot make a roux by whisking together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes (this is what will thicken your soup as it cooks).
  2. Whisk in slowly the half & half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the veggies! broccoli, carrots, and onions. Let them simmer on medium low for about 25 minutes until tender.
  4. Add nutmeg, salt & pepper, and sharp cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt and then serve with some warm crusty bread for dipping!

 

You can tweak it too – add cubed potatoes. Add more cheese or different varieties. Add more or less broccoli and carrot. Maybe top it with some crispy bacon crumbles when you serve it?? YUM. Though I guess these things make it less of a Panera Bread copycat recipe. Whatever.

 

Maybe with the new year I will FINALLY catch up on some blogging? Maybe. Maybe not. I have tons of pictures of this new sweet babe of ours that need to be posted!

Happy Winter

xoxo

 

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Fall is Here

fall thatgirlwhit

fall thatgirlwhit

Come October, the weather has been nice enough for boots and more time spent outside before evening. Jude, as always, loves helping with chores and going on long walks down by the river. I am always snapping pictures on my phone of our everyday moments, so this is a iphone pic post. I am trying to get better at doing things with all the photos I take.

Nights have been crisp, which is perfect for campfires. Perhaps we can fit in an evening camping before it gets too cold.

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Fall thatgirlwhit

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campfire thatgirlwhit

jude thatgirlwhit

pumpkin cookies

pumpkin chocolate chip

I always try new pumpkin recipes every year – and usually am disappointed. Maybe I can blame it on my oven, but whenever I try baking breads, they are dry or underdone in the middle. With pumpkin cookies – they are too cakey or doughy or with hardly enough flavor/sweetness for my liking. This time around, I realized that I prefer the cookies after they are fully cooled or even chilled in the fridge as opposed to hot out of the oven. And I would say the recipe was a winner; however, I have a couple more from friends that I want to try out.

Recipe I made – that does not use eggs – can be found HERE! 

farm boy thatgirlwhit

farm boy thatgirlwhit

farm boy thatgirlwhit

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cowboy jude

Jude has an obsession with this hat of my Grandpa’s. No matter where I put it, he finds it.

xoxo

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First Day of Spring 2014

Happy Afternoon!

Being the first day of spring, I thought it so appropriate that the sun finally came out & we have clear blue skies! This last week of frigid rain and wind has been the dumps. Our Georgia winter has been so unpredictable this year. I’m glad it’s over. *finger’s crossed*

Other than the weather, this last month brought a lot of unpredictable news. I received news that my dear uncle passed away in a car accident – an early AM drive home in the weavy-windy mountainous roads of Arizona took him from us.  It was shocking and emotional news to hear, but what a blessing to know my uncle’s heart and have so many wonderful memories! Apart from the burnt remains of the vehicle, only a little slip of paper was found close to the wreckage – written in my uncle’s script, Philippians 2:12 and “Have Christ in my thoughts and actions…today.” Some of my aunt’s family had it embroidered on a handkerchief for the immediate family.

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My Uncle Andre was my mom’s youngest brother – 58 years old. Born and raised in Mexico, he was a farm boy, hard worker & lover of life! The man had the ability to make friends with everyone he came across. It was heart-warming to see the hundreds of faces that showed up at the funeral proving that to be true. I still get emotional thinking about it today & how much he genuinely cared about everyone – especially as a niece of his. He would give the shirt off his back without a second thought.

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(^^Grandma and her brother, Gary^^)

He brought smiles and joy into every room – – and I can’t help but smiling when I think about the two things he loved most… babies and food! Andre’s business partner and workers insisted on grilling carne asada and a meal to go with it for everyone at the funeral. EVERYONE! They staked out in the parking lot for a few hours cooking it up. It was delicious and perfect… exactly what Dre would have wanted.

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I am very blessed to have been able to make it to AZ for the funeral. Funerals are always beautiful family reunions! Only a few cousins couldn’t make it. We enjoyed family time, sharing memories, getting caught up, and of course…. good Mexican food all weekend!

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family

My heart is full of love, appreciation, and admiration for my Uncle Dre.

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When in AZ, I can never get enough of my sister’s little Conrad! Him and his Papa Tutt ….

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While I was in AZ, I also got to find out some exciting news! My dad’s brother is an OBGYN & was very excited about his new ultrasound equipment. He invited my sister and I to come in and take a peek at our babies! We found out that Tamaron’s little one is due only TWO days after my baby! – August 3rd for her. We also found out that she is having her second little boy : )

When it was my turn, I had to be sure to record all of the ultrasound videos on my phone so that James would be able to see. He does NOT like missing things like that! My uncle was the best to also take a peek at the gender, but not tell anyone. He wrote it down and put it in an envelope for James & I to open together. Having to wait to open that envelope until I got home was killing me! After picking me up from the airport, and laying together in bed that night around midnight – we opened it. Our unexpected news:

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I say unexpected because I was SO SURE we would have a girl. That first night I had trouble falling asleep (the time change didn’t help) because, as I told James, I wasn’t prepared for it to be a boy. Haha! I was excited and AM excited, but I needed time to change my thought process from baby girl to baby boy. I spent the next day at baby stores looking at all things little boy. We cannot wait for our little bundle of joy to come this summer!

Today, the first day of SPRING, I had James take a picture for me… at 21 weeks… Apart from the photo above, I haven’t taken any “belly pics” and I suppose I should have a couple, right?

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As of the last couple of weeks, I am officially a stay-at-home mom-to-be. It has been great to have time to keep the house in better order, actually stay on top of laundry, and get caught up on photo editing & projects. I had the opportunity to teach a photography class at a Women’s Conference for church this last Saturday. I’m glad I had the appropriate time to get that together. It was blast a to do and by the compliments I received, I’d say it went very well!

With spring approaching, I’ve been antsy to play with Mother Nature. Unfortunately with the cold weather lately, I’ve had to dabble in my own ways. I decided to start some herb, veggie, and flower seeds. I’ve been having to pull them in and out from the weather.

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Some daffodils have found their way up, and I’m LOVING my cheery snapdragons. Having color and plants is my latest obsession, so I’m hoping the weather cooperates!

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James is staying busy with work and school. I often find him here, doing his thing…

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Kitty also love the warmer weather. I find her playing around the windows and patches of sunlight all day long…

kittywindowNow that I have a little more time on my hands, I’ve been attempting meal planning and being more “domestic”. Ha! Last night I opted to use our overripe bananas in a new banana bread recipe. I chose to modify them into muffins and top them with a crunchy cinnamon streusel I saw the Pioneer Woman make on the Food Network this last week. I was proud of how well it all came together. They were the perfect breakfast today!

bananamuffins

Cinnamon Banana Streusel Muffins

Ingredients

    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (though I used salted & ended up over-melting mine in the microwave and it still turned out!)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 overripe bananas, mashed (I used 3!)
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Streusel Topping:
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted (my butter was salted because it’s all I had)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl of a mixer, beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Add in the milk and bananas.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray – or use paper liners. Recipe yields enough to make 12 full muffins.

For the topping: Combine the sugar, flour,  & cinnamon into the melted butter. Using a spoon, crumble the mixture over the batter in the pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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This week I attempted starting a baby registry at Buy Buy Baby. Can I just say that it is more overwhelming than fun? Yikes! The amount of baby products, paraphernalia  and brands is unbelievable. I feel like so much of it is unnecessary too. I’d prefer to not have a baby gadget for every little thing filling all the space in my home! So to you mom’s out there… what couldn’t you live without? What brands do you recommend? Or any thoughts for a first-timer would be appreciated! Thanks 🙂

love,
Whit

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it’s fall! – – – 20 pumpkin ideas…

i love fall!

i love pumpkin!

a few internet findings i’m thinking about for my “to-do” lists…

PUMPKIN DONUT HOLES!

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MINI POTS OF PUMPKIN CREAM PIE!!! – love this idea

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CINNAMON ROLL PUMPKIN SHEET CAKE!

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PUMPKIN POOP! hahaha

easy PUMPKIN PRETZELS!

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PUMPKIN MONKEY BREAD!

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PUMPKIN FROSTING and CUPCAKE

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love these vampire pumpkins…. made them last year off of Martha Stewart

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cute carved flowers for fall

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…i wish i could take the time to do this.

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12 THINGS TO DO WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS

CHEVRON! – so in right now..ha

and cutsie DIY PUMPKIN GARLANDS:

(how to link)

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PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE

and

PUMPKIN NOG

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and OF COURSE the PUMPKIN + CHOCOLATE CHIP combo!!!….

BREAD

BARS

and

COOKIES.

here’s to pumpkin everything!!!

love, whit

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food obsessed

what a great resolve…

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so i’m a little obsessed with this easy peasy “Crusty Bread” and keep baking it…

(horrible phone pic….but always consumed in a day or two via my roommates and i…)

no kneading, no fuss, i like to make mine with cheese…

my friend’s mom (who has the BEST cooking blog) made some while i was staying at their house. i was in love. she put pepper-jack in the particular loaf i ate…

anyway…check out the recipe. it’s a quick and DELISH hit!

http://simplysogood.blogspot.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html

i don’t have a fancy pot like she uses….so i take the inside part out of the crock pot and use that. works just as well!

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i came upon another LEGIT mexican food joint….with some killer tacos and a salsa bar!

not to mention a slice of mexican chocolate cake to DIE FOR (mexican chocolate = moist with cinnamon included)

Tarahumara Cantina

i kind of got way excited when i saw the name of this place. i often saw Tarahumara Indians in Mexico when we’d visit my grandparents in the summer down where my mom grew up. they wear the most colorful clothing and big skirts and dresses…and weave beautiful bracelets (because i bought a few off of one once). anyway…it made me happy!

great food!

and like 25 fresh homemade salsa options!

about 20 minutes up Provo Canyon and in a town called Midway.

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so, i’m officially back in school and the term is almost over already! goodness…only about a week and a half left of classes. finals coming up. ooooh boy…

love, whit

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How I became an Italian chef in a day: Florence Food & Wine Academy

Italy is known for it’s food. Art, yes. History, yes. Fashion, yes. {now i’m only being reminded of how AMAZING Italy is}.. But the FOOD, oh the food! Cooking and food is a lifestyle and passion that forever lives on all over the country. Unlike the states, I saw very few “grocery stores.” In fact, I didn’t see any until we made it to our third city – Florence. Instead, you have fresh markets or little shops and stands specializing in a specific item (ie: bakeries, butcher shop, produce stand, etc). I even wondered if Italians ever ate frozen food like we Americans love so much (ick, why WOULD you with the alternative available??). My question was answered when we wandered into a tiny grocery store down the alley from our  bed and breakfast…in the very back was one freezer with some frozen vegetables and cool whip. Ha!

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Point in case: In Italy, food is about QUALITY, fresh, and in-season ingredients. Eating isn’t done on-the-go…maybe if you’re a student, in which case you would grab some “fast food”. Let me clarify that “fast food” for them is still a freshly put together panini, pizza, or salad that ranks better than Panera or Atlanta Bread Company. This is probably why overweight Italians are hard to come by. They eat well, and they get out and walk around town. …My kind of lifestyle!

I found an opportunity for us to take a private cooking class while in Florence and jumped on it! It was the best decision, and by far the most enjoyable day of our whole trip. Mom agrees.

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Our 5 hour class began as we followed our local chef to the fresh market in Florence to buy our ingredients. There we were also educated on olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette…VERY fascinating and taste testing included!

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Once we had everything we needed, our small group walked to the “ristorante” to learn how to be an Italiano in the kitchen!

That’s Andrea, our chef, turning on some background music to set the real Italian mood…

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we put on our aprons and were ready to COOK!

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we started off preparing our dessert – Tiramisu – all whipped and mixed by hand…

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i was so PROUD of my accomplishment. after chilling in the refrigerator all afternoon, it tasted like heaven…

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my pictures are a little out-of-order : Here Andrea was drizzling the bruschetta (pronounced Broo-Sket-Uh…he always corrected my calling it “broo-shet-uh”) we prepared with extra virgin olive oil.

Note: toast the bread and then rub it with a fresh whole garlic clove and always only use ONE herb for seasoning. More than one confuses the flavors. We chose fresh oregano (with a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper). My favorite bruschettas that I had were topped with zucchini and mozzarella, and the other with grilled porcini mushrooms.  Tomatoes suit me though just as well. YUMMM!

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Before making our homemade pasta, we prepared a Bolognese Sauce (with soft fresh sausage…none of that harder crap) and a Vegetarian Sauce…both with simple ingredients but more flavor than I can describe!

Andrea is a funny man, he liked to give me a hard time. Though he showed me the trick to chopping fast like the pros and not worrying about my fingers! I still need to practice.

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While the sauces were a-simmering, we made the pasta! Eggs, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and “00” Flour is required…such a pain that it’s not so easily found in the stores around Atlanta. Whole Foods let me down.

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i rolled out my dough paper thin…folded it over…sliced it my desired thickness….and voi-la! Ready to cook!

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I learned that after placing the fresh pasta in boiling water, you know it’s done when it floats to the top. (it only took not even a minute i don’t think)

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cook, combine, and ready to eat! (am i the only one who loves that mini ponytail?! i bet he plays soccer, too. i forgot to ask.)

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Believe it or not, this was the best meal i ate our entire trip! I had seconds. And then dessert. I don’t think I can ever eat boxed pasta again and find it tasty.

and yes, we graduated!

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We’ve since re-created the entire meal for my dad….only I added caprese salad to the menu :)..of COURSE!

I am just a LITTLE italian food obsessed now. Or more, fresh food obsessed. I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. Just harder on the pocketbook.

love, whit

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autumn is coming!

i love georgia because it has all four seasons.

and it has a very beautiful FALL! i am getting very anxious for this time of year and all it brings.

cider in an apple mug?! YESplease!

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fall fashion. boots, cardigans, tights, and scarves!

i have to mention that this last week, i just happened upon some excellent clearance at Target – woven/knit/patterned tights for $2!! knee socks for my boots, too. $2. i love a good deal. and yes, i stocked up for the season.

thai spiced pumpkpin soup

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on a different note. Dieter F. Uchtdorf is the man.

his inspiring words from this last weekend’s conference…

love, whit

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the weekend

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my weekend had me thinking about a few things.

1. in the words of justin bieber, “never say never”  (great documentary, bee-tee-dub) – life has curve balls. plans can change. time will make things happen that you might have never anticipated…i mean, five years ago had i been asked that infamous question, “where do you see yourself in five years?” – this is not entirely what i would have pictured…

…so,

2. prepare. to take on whatever. go forward with faith. no, maybe you don’t have all the answers, and things are unsure – but go forward anyway.

3. TiME. time does so much to a person. a relationship. a block of cheese. it takes times for something to be ripe enough for the picking, but with time, the same thing can also go rotten. i may be only 24 – but sometimes i feel like i’m ALREADY 24. time is slipping away. things need to happen! i feel behind. stuck. as though i’m on pause but the world around me and the clock keep ticking. i get anxious and frustrated. then i have CARPE DIEM moments of caring less about any time-table other than fitting in as much as i can and enjoying life while i am still young and single and life is full of options and opportunities. i guess regardless… time: don’t waste it.

ps – i’m SO ready for full-time school again in january.

again, go forward.

i guess my #3 really goes with #1…and #2. whatevs.

4. thanks to a great lesson in sunday school – the Lord’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom are not the same. a reminder of the constant need to re-evaluate priorities, what’s most important, and my motives.

5. maybe North Point is a good idea. (Paige, if you read this, let’s not jump the gun though)

6. i’m glad i called elissa

7. two words – apple festival

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caramel apple cheesecake bars

um, YES!

love, whit

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