Yin / Yang: Hot / Cold – Broccoli, Yellow Pepper & Cheddar Chowder and Cantaloupe Limesicles

No, I didn’t fall off the face of the planet.  More like swallowed up by the busy-ness of end of summer and back-to school.  And, as if those two numbers weren’t enough to keep me on my toes, we decided to fit in a little jaunt back to Ohio to visit the grand parents.  It was kind of a last minute decision, actually.  I mentioned that we should probably try to schedule a trip sometime soon.  The Hubs suggested October.  Sounded good enough to me, but then I realized that the Wee One would turn 2 on September 3rd.  The cheap-o in me said, “Get that clan on the plane before 9/3 and then you won’t have to pay for another seat and you can take Wee One as a lap baby.”  The masochist in me, then added in, “Of course you want to fly to Cleveland via San Francisco ALONE with four girls!”  So with all of my split personalities speaking their piece, I dove in and booked the tickets.

The upside of the Ohio visit?  Seeing family and catching up.  The down side?  Two words: muggy and buggy.  And to think that I had just recently contemplated what it would be like to move my family back to the land of my childhood.  Ummmmm, no thanks.  Just that one visit let the girls get in their tractor driving, lightening bug catching, box trap building, and toad hunting.  Now we’ll just return to our OC suburban life, thank you.

Unfortunately, I think Mr. Muggy decided to stow away in our suitcase or something.  This OC heat is ridiculous and immediately upon returning I remembered a crucial point – I detest OC in September.  It’s as if I have a honing pigeon like instinct born out of my mid-western roots.  The minute it is September my brain starts to think chilly, crisp, fall.  I want to wear sweaters, sip warm tea, and decorate with red, orange and yellow foliage.  But no, it’s a sweltering over here in September and you just can’t escape the heat.

Also, in the midst of all this traveling, and back-to-school planning, and other time consuming stuff, I decided to subscribe to our local CSA program.  Basically this means I’m getting a box of wonderful local and organic produce delivered to my doorstep every week.  I chose Abundant Harvest Organics and so far, love the fruits and veggies.  However, this week’s box gifted us with an abundant harvest of broccoli and we are just not a broccoli eating family.  Call me strange, but my beef (ha! no pun intended) with broccoli is that it doesn’t retain its heat.  And the only thing I hate more than bland food is cold food.  So . . . all this to say that in this blazing weather, I, the genius that I am, decided to make Broccoli Soup.  Yes, you heard right, soup in 98 degree weather.  So here goes.  You, being a more intelligent person than I, can just tuck this little recipe aside and whip it out on a chilly fall day.

I started by chopping up an onion. a yellow bell pepper, and a russet potato.

Broccoli soup - chop

I separated the broccoli florets from the stem and then peeled and finely chopped the stem.

Broccoli soup -florets

I boiled some salt water and then added the florets and boiled for about 3 minutes.  I removed them and plopped them right into some ice water to stop them from cooking.  I saved about 4 cups of the cooking water for later.  I sat the florets aside and went to work on the other veggies.  I sauteed the onion, potato, pepper, broccoli stems, and some garlic for about 10 minutes.    Then I added in some cumin, salt, pepper, and some flour.

Broccoli soup - sautee

I added the reserved cooking water to this sautee and let  it simmer (partially covered) until the potatoes were tender – about 10 minutes.   Then I added in some half and half and grated sharp cheddar.  I whisked it well until the cheese was all melted.  After that, I pureed about 2 cups of the soup and returned it to the pot.  I then added in the broccoli florets and heated until everything was piping hot.  I served with a little French baguette and we were good to go.  The kids gave it rave reviews, even while thinking their mother was insane for serving soup on one of the hottest days of the year.

Broccoli soup - final

So just to redeem myself, I pulled out the coolest dessert ever.  Throughout the summer I have been experimenting with homemade popsicles.  We’ve done orange-raspberry creamsicles (a hit!), watermelon-basil-honey pops (so-so), and then, the the chef d’oeuvre of the summer – – – -cantaloupe limesicles.  So easy and delish!  I took about 3 slices of cataloupe, and, in the blender, combined it with 1/4 c. water, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and the juice of one lime.  Into my popsicle molds it went and hours later we had a wonderful treat to combat the heat!


popsicle13 - 1

So call me crazy for my soup concoction, but in the blazing weekend ahead, whip up your own cantaloupe lime-sicles and enjoy!

Here’s the full Broccoli, Yellow Pepper & Cheddar Cheese Chowder recipe, adapted from Epicurious.

Want to browse other broccoli recipes?  Here are some to get you started.

Blah! I’ve Been Blindsided – Summer Corn Chowder with Bacon

I have seriously hit a wall.  I look at the calendar for the next three weeks and I don’t see any way I am going to feel rested and rejuvenated before that back-to-school bell rings.

The funny thing is that just about two weeks ago I was feeling wonderful enjoying how summer was softly slipping by.  Then WHAM!  Family funkiness set in and I feel like I’ve been robbed.  My reserve of peace and calm has been depleted just like that.  I want it all back, and I want it back now.  I want to laze.  I want to linger.  I want to lollygag.  And yet it doesn’t look lkie that’s in the cards at the moment.

And as some of you readers might well relate to, these periods of unease are notorious for their “trickle down effect”.  Yep, you feel like a rotten egg inside and all of a sudden your offspring start acting like rotten eggs.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I can’t take any more arguing.  I don’t want to wake up to whining.  If anyone is going into timeout, I think it should be me and I think that timeout should take place at a five star resort.

All sarcasm aside, I have seriously considered asking the Hubs what he would think about me escaping for a weekend.  I’m imagining something along the lines of using hotel points, checking in, lounging, reading, listening to pure silence – – – just picture a big sedentary, quasi-comatose blob, and that’s what I dream of being for 48 hours straight.  I may not even emerge to consume food.  I said “may not”; don’t hold it against me if I decide to shower and make myself presentable for the express purpose of eating out at some swanky restaurant.

But until I actually have that conversation with the Hubs, and he’s on board with the 48 hour escape idea, I guess I will just have to suck it up and keep on keepin’ on.  I’ll sort through the major crisis at hand. I’ll take toddlers to swim lessons, drive kids to practices, plan play dates and get togethers, police ipad usage, continue the endless cycle of feeding people, washing people, washing clothes, and washing dishes.  I’ll try not to whine about it all, because as I myself have been heard saying, “Whining isn’t going to change anything.”

I know my perspective will change soon enough, even if the Hubs isn’t down with that 48 hour furlough idea.  It always does.  I know that soon enough I will see things in a different light.  Feel that heaviness gone. When I start hearing kind words from my kids’ mouths again and see them helping of each other with love in their eyes, then I’ll know that we’re back in synch and that, for the most part, everything has been restored.

I  don’t know about you, but when junk goes awry in my little universe, I always find that soup makes it better.  Here’s a little Summer Corn Chowder that I whipped up recently.  It might not cure all ills, but it sure did taste good.

I started by sautéing up a little bacon.


After the bacon was crisp, I removed it with a slotted spoon and set it aside.

I took about 6 ears of fresh sweet corn and removed the kernels from he cobs.


I added the corn, along with some chopped russet potatoes and diced crookneck squash to the bacon drippings.  I sautéed it all for about 5 minutes and then added in some veggie broth.  I simmered it all about 20 minutes until everything was tender.


I then scooped about 3 cups of the mixture out and transferred it to the blender.  I pureed that to a nice smooth texture.  I transferred it back to the original pot, added in some fresh whipping cream and a little cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick.  A little salt and pepper to taste and we were good to go.

corn chowDSCN1697

Here’s the complete recipe for Summer Corn Chowder with Bacon, adapted from Epicurious.