Hearty Cauliflower Soup

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When I was getting ready to fix lunch today, I found three containers of leftovers – steamed cauliflower, mashed potatoes and some carrots from our Sunday roast beef dinner.  I decided to use everything up and make a cauliflower soup which had a great flavor and was thick and substantial.   It made a nice lunch along with a warm roll on a chilly November day.

CREAMY CAULIFLOWER SOUP

  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups steamed cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup cooked baby carrots, cut into slices
  • Salt/pepper to taste

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In a large pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until crisp.

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Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel.  In the bacon grease, brown the chopped onion until soft.  Add the chicken broth.  Turn up heat to medium-high.

In a small cup, mix together the milk and flour; add to broth mixture.  Add the mashed potatoes and stir or whisk until smooth.  Stir in the cauliflower and carrots.  Continue to cook over medium-high heat until bubbly and hot, stirring occasionally.

Place soup in bowls and sprinkle with reserved bacon which has been crumbled.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

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A Salad Buffet

My youngest son and his family (including their dog) come to visit every summer around the end of July.  He graduated from college, married his fiancee, moved to St. Louis and began his engineering career all within a month’s time in 1982.  This is my favorite picture of them taken quite a few years ago.  The girls have both graduated from college by now….


…and the dog, Brandy, passed away and has been replaced by Maggie.


Each year, there’s the decision of what to cook, particularly for the big family meal when everyone gets together.  It’s always blistering hot, of course, and I don’t want to spend all of my time in the kitchen.  This year, I decided to serve corn-on-the-cob from my local farm market and a Salad Buffet.  All but one of the salads have been posted previously on my blog and are old favorites:

  • Vegetable Pasta Salad.  This is an adaptation of the Tuna and Veggie Salad posted previously.  I omitted the tuna so I could have one plain pasta salad.

  • Thai-Inspired Chicken and Noodle Salad.  This is a new salad this year and we all like it very much.  It’s good either room temperature or chilled.

THAI-INSPIRED CHICKEN AND NOODLE SALAD

  • 8 oz. ( 4 cups) LoMein noodles (or thin spaghetti)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, peanut butter, ginger and pepper.   Mix well until smooth.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted sunflower seeds.

This makes a big bowl of salad – 6 to 8 servings.

For dessert we had a sundae bar and then went out on the patio to work off the calories.  My daughter-in-law brought water balloons and small fireworks and the visit ended with a flourish.

Already, I’m wondering – what can I cook next year?

A Picnic at Cincinnati’s Coney Island

For generations, Cincinnati families have been going to Coney Island on the Ohio River for picnics, rides and swimming.  Until the mid-1940s, there was a beautiful boat which made the trip, bringing people from the public landing in downtown Cincinnati to this lovely spot just outside Coney’s old riverside entrance.

Then, up the hill and through the stone entrance to a day of fun.

Everyone enters  Coney Island these days by car, coming in the main front gate, but it’s still a fun way to spend a few summer hours.  I came along with my youngest daughter and her two children to see Lake Como….

….try out the ferris wheel….

…and bounce up and down on The Frog.

The best feature of this old park is the abundance of big, leafy trees and lots of shade.  We picked a shady spot to eat the picnic lunch I had prepared – chicken sandwiches on foccacia bread, brownies and our favorite Broccoli Salad.  Here’s the recipe for the broccoli salad which is a little lower in fat than the original:

BROCCOLI BACON PECAN SALAD

  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Blend mayonnaise, granulated sugar and vinegar and refrigerate until ready to mix with vegetables.

Blanch broccoli by steaming for just a few minutes – just until the broccoli turns bright green.  Place broccoli, bacon, cheese, onion, pecans and raisins in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to mix.

AT LEAST ONE HOUR BEFORE SERVING, mix mayo dressing with salad and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Yield:  4-6 servings.