Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vicky's Famous Broccoli-Cheese-Chicken-Rice Soup

Megan and I made dinner last night for a few friends, and as we were pondering what to make, we looked for something warm on a cool and dreary day. We immediately thought of our friend Vicky's delightful Broccoli-Cheese soup. Now, this is no ordinary Broccoli-Cheese soup. This is the world's greatest broccoli-cheese soup. Find below the recipe that Vicky sent us to make this treat. I must disclose though, that Megan and I think that Vicky is holding out on us a little, as this is her specialty, haha. I think to make her version of this famous soup, you need to add a couple more cups of rice, and maybe even an extra can of chicken. (That or Megan didn't do it just right when I wasn't looking, haha.) Anyhow, it's delicious by either recipe, so enjoy! I did also make cheese biscuits from the Bisquick package mix that you can buy at Wal-Mart (as pictured below) to complement the meal. Enjoy!

3-4 stalk celery
1/2 an onion (or so - I try to do equal parts celery and onion)
1 bag chopped broccoli (I think it's 10.5 oz? I use birds eye, but any regular sized bag of cut broccoli will do)
5 cups chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz regular velveeta
16 oz Mexican velveeta (if you want it less spicy you can do more regular or even all regular)
2 12.5 oz cans chicken (I usually get tyson white)
1 cup instant rice (I add an extra sprinkle of rice cause it's yummy!)

Sauté the celery and onion untill soft. Add broccoli and stir until the broccoli is heated through. Add broth. Bring to a good boil. Turn the heat down to whatever setting you use to simmer (2 or 3?) and add cheese. Cream cheese first, because it takes longest, followed by the velveeta. STIR STIR STIR! It helps the cheese to melt and will make sure you don't burn it. Whatever you do, don't let the cheese burn! Ruins the whole pot! Add chicken and let cook at that simmer setting for 15 minutes or so. It should bubble a little, but like I said, don't turn it up too high and burn it. Add your rice and cook at the same temp until rice is done - usually another 15-20 minutes and TA DA!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Camping is in-tents! … Meals for the campfire. :o)

One of my favorite activities of all time is to pack up and go camping with a great group of friends. It should be no surprise that planning great camping food is also a favorite hobby of mine. Below I'm including our whole menu ranging from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack - ALL on the campfire. Get excited. :o)

Dinner: Hobo Packets & Red Russet Potatoes

Chopped Onions
Cut Carrots
Chopped Red & Green Peppers
Steak Tips &/or Chicken

Red Russet Potatoes
Cavenders Greek Seasoning

Hobo Packets - Combine whatever combination of vegetables and meat in a double-layer aluminum foil packet with butter and LOTS of Cavenders (to taste). Fold and seal ends. Then place on hot coals in the campfire, and let cook for 30-ish minutes (or until veggies tender and meat fully cooked).

Red Russet Potatoes - Poke holes in potatoes with a knife and then roll in butter and LOTS of Cavenders (or to taste). Wrap in aluminum foil and place on hot coals in the campfire. Cook for an hour or so until tender.

Snack: S'mores

(Really, everyone knows how to make S'mores, but I just wanted an excuse to post this picture, haha. And, I do think it is almost worth noting on it's own value the use of Reese's instead of Hershey's.)

Graham Crackers
Hershey's Bars &/or Reese's PB Cups

Break Graham Cracker in half. Place 1/2 Hershey's or 1 Reese's on 1/2 of the open Graham Cracker. Roast Marshmallow on stick over the fire.

Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls (on a stick!)

So, this is really cool if you ask me. But really, all you do is purchase the cinnamon rolls that come in a can and are rolled in a spiral. Then you unwrap the spiral of dough on a stick, and then patiently hold it over the campfire (patiently being the key word). After the dough starts to brown and almost crispy, pull it off the stick onto a plate and add the frosting (or you can just eat it off the stick as shown below).

Lunch: Pita Pizza

Pepperoni (or any pizza toppings desired)
Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Sauce
Pita Pockets

Fill pita pocket with desired amount of toppings and them wrap in aluminum foil. Place on hot coals in campfire for 15-20 minutes (or until crisp and cheese melts). Be careful not to scorch the pita pocket. Then, enjoy!


My best friend, Megan Francis, and I took a cross-country roadtrip for spring break this past week traveling about 2800 miles in 40 car hours from Fayetteville, AR to New Orleans, LA to Minneapolis, MN and back to Fayetteville again. We only had a couple of rules for this trip – if one of us wanted to stop somewhere, we did. Also, we only ate at local or specialty restaurants (no “chains”). It was definitely epic, and of course, being they foodies that we are, there was LOTS of great food in the mix. Relive our adventure below with us as we take you through some of the highlights of all the great food that was #epicSB2010.

JJ's Lakeside Cafe in Chicot County, AR

Great cheeseburgers and what looked to be a delicious dinner buffet. The spicy fries were good too - not so much spicy, but seasoned. Yum.

Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, LA

The original beignets. Thus, the best. They make mix that you can buy in a yellow box. You can also watch them make them from the windows outside. They also have chickory coffee, which is quite strong, but has a really great unique (somewhat bitter) flavor. I'm a fan.

The Praline Connection in New Orleans, LA

You will find the Praline Connection in the French Quarter. It was recommended to us by Captain Ted from our swamp tour earlier that day, so we knew it'd be good. We started with fried green tomatoes in a remoulade. Megan got the jambalaya (pictured below), and I had the crawfish etouffee. Yum, yum, yum. Cajun style soul food.

Inez Cafe in Brookhaven, MS

Cute little local restaurant. We actually caught the church crowd headed to lunch as they were leaving a service and this is where a darling old man recommended we go. It was awesome. One of the best meals we had on the road if you ask me. I started with a basic green salad and then had some great seafood gumbo with cornbread (tasted like cake!). Megan had a club sammich with fries that she attested was great. We finished with dessert - Megan had the banana pudding and I the caramel cake. Oh, and the had the greatest sweet tea, served in large mason jars. Like I said, wonderful meal.

Lambert's in Sikeston, MO

So, if you've never been to a Lambert's, it's worth the trip to MO just to go. Country cooking at its very finest. Home of the "throwed rolls". That's right, they throw rolls to your table, and bring around large buckets of "pass-arounds" like fried okra, apple-butter & sweet molasses (for your rolls), black-eyed peas, tomatoes and macaroni, and fried potatoes and onions. Megan ordered the chicken fried steak and I the pork-chops. We also had cinnamon apples, baked sweet potatoes, corn, and mashed taters. They also have great tea - served in awesome huge trucker mugs. Another one of the best meals of the trip.

Fast Eddie's Bon Air in Alton, IL

So, Fast Eddie's is perhaps the greatest concept ever though up. So great even, that Megan and I drove 20 miles off the highway just to make this stop featured in Alton Brown's "Feeding on Asphalt". It's basically a bar (must be 21 to enter) with cheap food (as indicated, literally, by the menu below). In fact, we ordered the entire menu and each had a beer (required to order food) for $20. That's right, french fries, a cheeseburger, a "hot"-dog, a bratwurst, chicken wings, steak on a stick, pork on a stick, and shrimp cocktail. It was great. The owner even came over and signed our book. Definitely worth the trip.

Cosetta's Italian Market & Restaurant in St. Paul, MN

Cosetta's. The greatest Italian food I've EVER had. Hands down. I had the Tortellini Alla Panna which is basically cheese tortellini with alfredo sauce and crisp prosciutto bits and it was TO DIE FOR. Some of the other things ordered from our group included the pizza, spaghetti, meatballs, lasagne, and the penne with marinara. Each came with garlic bread. Everything was honestly amazing. Well, then we had to order dessert - we had the gelato and cannolis. OMG, wow. Really, there aren't words to describe. Just go. You'll be glad you did.

Rainforest Cafe in Minneapolis, MN

Ok, so this was kind of our break-away from the whole "no chain restaurants" rule, but it's the Mall of America (everything is a chain), I'd never been to one, and they are definitely an experience in themselves, so it was our choice for lunch. The food wasn't half bad either. And they had fun drinks. Like I said, mostly a fun theme restaurant. Worth a visit if you've never been. I had the coconut shrimp, and some other menu selections included an appetizer sampler, the quesadillas, etc. Dessert was a fun volcano brownie tower, which was really good - and huge. Mostly, fun again. In the restaurant, it thunderstorms every 20 minutes or so, AND the gorillas go crazy every other 20. So it was a good time.

Fiorella's Jack Stack in Kansas City, MO

And finally, on our way home, we felt obligated to stop at our favorite BBQ restaurant in the world on our way back through KC, MO, because, come on, how often do we make it to KC? Not often enough to pass up this stop. So, we did, and it lived up to our first experience just as we had hoped. Meg and I split the rib plate for two and did it up right with some french fries, cheesy corn, and the cheesy potatoes. Anyhow, it was pretty much the perfect food ending to our food and road-trip adventure. Ahhh. :o)

Anyhows, that was mine and Megan's #epicSB2010 in a nutshell. There are plenty of more fun stories that go beyond the great food that we had including a swamp tour, a random carnival stop, some great shopping, a fish hatchery, several historical landmarks, and even the search for an unfindable cave winery. It was a really great trip with lots of great people, and I'm glad that we can share it with y'all this way. :o)