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.

To Pin or Not to Pin – Herbed Summer Squash & Potato Torte

Pinterest. It’s like a train wreck sometimes.  I want to look away.  I know I should look away.  I know there are a million better ways that I could be spending my time.  But I just continue to stare and stare.  I have even been known to load all of the “popular” pins, sit there and scroll all the way to the bottom, and then press refresh and load a whole new batch of “popular”.  What a time suck.

We all say it. Right?  But why, oh why, do we continue to come back?  I guess it’s the new suburban-safe addiction.  And then I justify my addiction.  I tell myself that at least I no longer browse the “popular” pins.  At least I don’t pin ridiculous sayings like other people do. At least I don’t “follow” anyone (if I did, I know i would never escape the machine).  At least now I only USE for recipes and homeschool ideas. “Justify, justify, little brain.  You are wasting as much time and energy as everyone else and you know it.”

So some day, I may just go cold turkey from my “habit”.  Some day, I may return to my mother’s era and actually open a cook book or start clipping clever ideas from Ladies Home Journal.  How retro would that be?  Maybe some day I’ll put my money where my mouth is, and monitor my own “screen time” like I monitor my kids.  How funny would that be?  The system I use with them is that they earn Mom Dollars and Dad Bucks for all examples of good behavior.  They then can cash in 5 of those earned singles for 20 minutes of ipad or computer.  Maybe I could start paying myself for each load of laundry done.  Each meal cooked.  Each trip to the market.  Each time I refrain from gossip.  Each time I clean a bathroom.  Each time I give the Hubs some lovin’. Each time I’m a good listener.  Wonder how that would work out for me?

Well, until I decide to really go off the grid (which I fantasize about regularly), I’ll continue to just justify and take my hits of Pinterest when I  can.  I’ll continue to not follow anyone, and I’ll continue to to fill up my “Yum” and “School” boards.  And from time to time, I’ll share a killer find -like this recipe for Herbed Summer Squash & Potato Torte- with you all.

As with so many of these veggie recipes, I kicked things off with a little chopping.  On the block were the summer squash and the potatoes.



Then I mixed up a little breading which consisted of some scallions, freshly grated parmesan, flour, fresh thyme, and salt & pepper.

I took a large, oven-proof skillet, buttered the bottom and up the sides a bit, and then placed a layer of potatoes in concentric circles over the bottom.


A layer of summer squash went on top of the potato layer, again in concentric circles and again just slightly overlapping. I drizzled a touch of olive oil over and then added a layer of the breading mixture.  I repeated that sequence with one more layer of potatoes, another layer of squash, a tad more oil, and a final layer of the breading.  I pressed down the final assembly with a spatula to assure everything was well compacted.


I covered the skillet with foil, and into the oven it went at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Then I removed the foil and baked another 25 minutes until everything was nice and brown.


I sprinkled some additional fresh scallions over as a garnish and served with roasted green beans and steamed cauliflower.


For such simple ingredients, the final product was quite flavorful.  It was the breading (I know I have been calling it that, but it doesn’t have even a hint of bread product in it), that really made this dish.

So thank you, Pinterest.  I’ll continue to loathe you, but we both know I’ll come crawling back again and again with all my lame excuses in tow.  That is, until I buy that ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere and swear off all technological indulgences for good.

Here’s the complete recipe for Herbed Summer Squash & Potato Torte.

And hats off to the Smitten Kitchen for making your way onto Pinterest so that I could find this delightful recipe.

In the mood for more summer squash?  Try these . . .

Grilled Shrimp and Summer Squash (williams-sonoma.com)

Summer Squash, Sausage, and Potato Quiche (spoonful.com)