joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

baked potato soup.

Cheese. Bacon. Potatoes. Butter. Sour cream.

That’s a list of delicious things. I don’t know if you knew or not.

I’ve been looking for a baked potato soup recipe forever. Eventually I figure out the basics of the soup and then I found a recipe to inspire me the rest of the way. The internet is great for that.

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I love baked potatoes. Making it into soup on a snowy day just makes sense. There’s just something about standing over a pot on the stove stirring a concoction of cheese, cream, and potatoes. It just makes everything feel a little more okay.

Make some soup. Curl up on the couch. Watch a movie. Eat some cookies.

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Baked Potato Soup
adapted from seeded at the table
serves about 6 people

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk
4 large potatoes
4 green onions, chopped
1 package bacon
1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 8-ounce jar sour cream
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Clean and poke potatoes with a sharp knife. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool (seriously don’t burn yourself). Peel with a paring knife and cut into small cubes. Set aside.
While potatoes are baking, fry bacon in a large skillet. Allow to cool and crumble into chunks. Set aside.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined well with butter. Add milk and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes, over medium heat. Increase heat by a little bit and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the sour cream, crumbled bacon, and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and potatoes are slightly broken down. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with extra cheese and bacon.

If you have extra, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat.

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creamy pasta chicken bake.

I’m still trying to figure out good ways to make meals for one or two people. Sometimes that ends with me getting a pizza from somewhere and just keeping it in the fridge for two or three meals. This is not good. Sometimes I forget about eating until late in the evening and by that time it’s too late to thaw chicken or something so I just eat cereal. That’s normal, right?

This meal came out of my brain last night after 5 hours of pep band because I wanted pasta but didn’t have any spaghetti sauce or anything like that. But I had a package of Italian blend cheese and that makes everything okay! I’ve also had boneless chicken tenders in my freezer for awhile (which, by the way, are the perfect size for a meal for one or two people) so I had protein. (This is really how my brain works, I don’t get it…)

I’m not much of a cook; I’m more of a baker (and usually when I make something it involves pasta), but I decided to attempt making cream sauce for the first time. What do you know, it was way super easy and pretty delicious. SO. All you have to do is make each thing and then throw it all together and bake it until everything is all melty and delicious. (I love the word melty.) I baked mine in a 8 by 4 1/2 casserole dish and it worked out really well. But this is one of those things that you can adjust all the quantities and make for a few people or a bunch of people. How good is that?

Gosh. Melted cheese is one of my most favorite things ever. Seriously. Right up at the top of the list with yarn, my cat, and cookies.

Make some pasta. Watch too much Psych. Eat too many Girl Scout Cookies. Save the world.

Creamy Pasta Chicken Bake
serves 1-2 (adjust as needed)

for the cream sauce:

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano leaves), to taste

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When completely melted, whisk in the flour until smooth. Stir in the milk and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in desired spices. I used about a half teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of crushed oregano leaves. Use what you want and what you like.

for the chicken:

2-3 bonesless chicken tenders

salt, pepper, garlic powder

Slice chicken into strips. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and toss to coat. Saute over medium heat until opaque and cooked through.

for the pasta:

about 1 cup of your favorite pasta (I used penne rigatoni)

Cook according to the package directions.

for the pasta bake:

cooked chicken

cooked pasta

cream sauce

1 cup of Italian cheeses (mozzarella by itself will also work)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together the pasta and cream sauce. Add chicken and stir until coated. Pour half the mixture into a casserole dish (either an 8×8 or 8×4 1/2). Sprinkle on half the cheese. Pour the remaining pasta mixture over that and cover with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and golden brown.

Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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taco salad. aka: not a cafeteria lunch.

Recently my Saturdays have been full of early mornings and nonstop hours of band and socialization. This usually leads to be being burnt out on people and activities. This leads to the unhealthy habit of eating really poorly the next day. Or even that day. If I don’t have good food in my apartment, I’ll probably just eat pop tarts for dinner…like yesterday…also, I don’t know if you know this but cafeteria food is gross. And not always really good for you. I tend to avoid it. All the time.

To remedy the situation of not having food here I decided to be like my friend Bethany. She is really good about making food and having it ready for anything. She’ll be safe when the zombie apocalypse happens. I started today by making a bunch of taco meat to keep in the fridge/freezer for awhile. Then I made a salad. I don’t even like salad that much. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Here’s some possibilites of things to put in and on your taco salad:
Lettuce (that’s a given)
Taco meat (also a given. I just buy the little packets and make that with ground beef. someday I’ll learn to make my own)
Cheese
Tortilla chips
Doritos
Sour cream
Salsa
Tomatoes (let’s be real..if you add salsa are tomatoes just overkill?)
More lettuce
Cheese (I really like cheese)

Make this your own. Do what you like. Be yourself. Remember to be nice to people.

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easy mac n’cheese.

Need a quick lunch idea? This is mine. My mom has been making it forever and it’s probably way better for you than mac n’cheese out of a box. Although I am a sucker for boxed mac n’cheese. I’ll be honest.

This has been my go to lunch for the summer. It’s pretty cheap (great for college kids) and pretty delicious (great for everyone). All you need is noodles, some block American cheese (like Velveeta), some milk, and butter. That’s all. Kids love this. At least my brothers and I did when we were kids. That’s gotta mean something right?

This doesn’t even need an oven. It’s wonderful. You can add anything you want to this. I don’t even measure the normal stuff. My mom adds some frozen vegetables. I just eat mine plain. It’s how you want. Make it your own. Just like life. (Yeah, I totally connected life to macaroni and cheese. That happened.)

Easy Mac n’ Cheese

makes 1 serving, adapt amounts to suit needs

3/4 cup uncooked noodles (I like elbow or rotini)

splash of milk

butter

Velveeta

shredded colby jack cheese

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and return to pan. Add enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan. Add about a spoonful of butter. Add however much Velveeta you want to get your desired cheese amount. Allow everything to melt in the pan while stirring. When everything is melted together pour into a bowl and top with some shredded cheese. Enjoy while hot and maybe with some chicken nuggets.

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mini bacon quiches

I made quiche! Aka: I’ve been obsessed with breakfast foods recently and wanted breakfast for dinner. That’s a good reason to make quiche isn’t it? Right up there with bridal showers and potlucks. That’s how that works, right? Let’s just go with it.

I’m feeling extra sarcastic today. That’s weird. I either need to go for a run or sit and eat ice cream and watch Pride and Prejudice. This is a difficult decision. I’ll get back to you on that one. Right after I tell you about this quiche.

Quiche is one of those weird things that not very many people make very often. But, come on. It’s eggs and you can put whatever you want in it! What’s so bad about that. Now, quiche is normally made in a pie pan. But I am not in possession of one of those…luckily my lovely roommate, Em, has a set of 4 4-inch spring form pans. This is how my brain works: I said to myself, “I can make quiche in a spring form pan. It’s like my own personal quiche that no one else gets to eat.” Yeah, those were my thoughts last night around 11:30pm. Really.

So two personal quiches were made. It is totally acceptable to use a pie pan to make this, you just won’t have personal ones, and you’ll have to share. You’re probably better at that than I am. You may have to adjust ingredients, but it’ll work out. That’s what cooking is about. I used a roll-out pie crust, which meant cutting in half and then cutting some more to make them fit in the pans. There was a lot of cutting and pasting. That’s just the fun part though. This quiche is also full of bacon (because it is amazingly delicious) and cheese (because it is also amazingly delicious). Spices are also a great thing to be combined with the eggs. Sometimes eggs can be boring, and that is the opposite of what we want.

This looks oddly like soup before it gets baked, but it’s all good. The eggs bake up really fluffy and light. The pie crust adds just enough crunch. If you do use spring form pans, be careful getting them out. Don’t be like me and try to get them out as soon as they come out of the oven. And make sure you use potholders or oven mitts or something. This quiche is perfect for breakfast or dinner. I plan on saving my second quiche for breakfast in the morning. (Meals that do double duty are the bomb!) Make these then eat ice cream at watch Pride and Prejudice. After forcing yourself to do the dishes…real life. It’s intense.

Mini Bacon Quiches

makes 2 4-inch quiches

1 roll out pie crust

5 strips of bacon, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 of one onion, or 1 shallot, diced

3 large eggs

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/8 cup milk

1/4 cup frozen hash browns

pinch each of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pie crust in half, grease 2 4-inch spring form pans. Cut and piece the pie crust into the pans until each is covered. Set aside. In a small skillet, fry diced bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and set aside to cool. Discard most of the bacon fat and then saute the onion and garlic until the onions are transparent. Remove them from the pan and let them cool. In a small bowl whisk together eggs and milk. Add the spices, frozen hash browns, onions, 3/4 of the bacon, and 3/4 of the cheese. Mix the eggs well. Divide between the two pans. Top with remaining cheese and bacon. Place the pans on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a fork inserted into the top comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before removing from the pans. Serve warm.

These will last stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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Lasagna Rolls

This summer, I decided to stay at school in Illinois instead of going home to Iowa where I hail from. I am totally okay with this because I have a sweet job here and love having this independence (sorry, Mom!). This comes with one large drawback: no home cooked food. This recipe is here to remedy that!

I love lasagna. Heck, I love Italian food in general. There is definitely something delicious about pasta, cheese, and tomato sauce. I don’t know what it is, but combine all those things together and you get some pretty nice dinner. This is also a really good meal to have friends and neighbors over and make good memories with old friends and make new friends. People seem to be more in the mood to chat over garlic bread and lasagna.

I found the idea for this recipe on Pinterest but decided to change it up and make it a little different. If you haven’t checked out Pinterest, it is probably one of the best ideas ever. I mostly like to browse on it while watching Netflix and eating handfuls of white chocolate chips. Yeah, that’s real life.

The original recipe called for chicken in the rolls, but I have decided that chicken and lasagna go better when there is Alfredo sauce involved. So I decided to use ground beef instead. You can also use no meat for your vegetarian friends, which also happened tonight. Half and half. I’m a fan. We start with sauteing garlic and beef. Pretty simple. But wait until the cheese happens.

Check out that cheesy goodness, friends.

Three kinds of cheese: Ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. So good. (If you’re adding meat, this is where it goes) This mixture gets spread on cooked lasagna noodles and rolled up. Super fun. This should happen while you listen to sweet music, say Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. It’s pretty chill.

As much as you can fit. So worth it.

Let’s be real, these are pretty adorable.

These get placed into a baking dish to sit in some sauce and soak up some of those flavors. This means that you have to pick a really good sauce. Not necessarily expensive or fancy, just choose a sauce that you like and that you are comfortable with and it’ll all work out. What else could we put on top of these? More cheese? Yes. I like the way you think.

This gets more delicious as we go.

This will get baked for a little bit to warm them up and melt all that cheese. This is a really good time to break out the garlic bread and heat that up too. This recipe makes 12 rolls, and you could put all of those in one 9×13 casserole dish to bake, or if your kitchen isn’t quite as well stocked with casserole dishes as you would hope, 2 8×8 dishes also work well.

Ready to be devoured.

This is also an easy recipe to half or multiply, so don’t be afraid to do so for fewer or more people.

Lasagna Rolls

(adapted from ivillage.com)

Makes 12 rolls

1 lb ground beef

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 cup Ricotta cheese

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained, cooled slightly so you can handle them

2 cups favorite spaghetti sauce

In a medium sized skillet saute garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for 1 minute or so. Add in ground beef and and cook until brown.  Add oregano when beef is almost all the way cooked. Drain the meet and set aside to cool. In a medium sized bowl combine milk, cheeses, and pepper. Add the cooled meat to the cheese mixture and mix together. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of sauce in to the bottom of the pan (divide among pans if using two). Take one noodle and spread the cheese mixture along the length of the noodle, leaving a half inch on each end to make rolling easier. Roll up the noodle and put seam side down in the sauce in the pan. Repeat that for all the other noodles. Pour the remaining sauce over the tops of the rolls and top with extra mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with garlic bread.

If you have leftovers, keep them well wrapped in the fridge for up to 7 days. But you should eat them before that. Don’t let that cheese go to waste.

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