National Soup Month

When I think of Beer Cheese Soup, the first thing that pops into my mind is Lazlo’s Brewery. It’s a restaurant in Lincoln, NE. The original location is located in the Haymarket District. When I was in college, my friends and I used to walk down there to eat a lot. To this day, I could still tell you what everyone would order. Dan would get the Lazlo Burger and an Empyrean Amber Ale (made in Lazlo’s owner’s brewery). Rob wasn’t a drinker. He always got the French Dip but added Swiss Cheese and sautéed onions. He also ordered a side of ranch dipping sauce for his fries. Lazlo’s makes these great fries. They are crinkle fries with seasoning salt. And Ben always ordered a cup of Beer Cheese Soup. Ironic because Ben was the baby of the group – just 17 years old his first few months attending college.

After college graduations and break-ups, I ended up working for the owners of Lazlo’s. I worked in their neighboring restaurant entitled Jabrisco’s. It was an unusual Italian restaurant named after the owners Jay, Brian, and Scott. (They also had a financial partner who was a dentist but I can’t remember his name.) They had things on the menu like a PB&J wood-fired pizza, homemade spinach pasta, and this to die for chocolate dessert. We also had this amazing patio where I would sell coffee during the weekly Farmer’s Market. I worked there for about eight months as a host/head host. I could sell the bar area better than most on a busy Friday night or Saturday home football game. Following my college graduation, I left to pursue AmeriCorps full-time. But during the time I worked at Jabrisco’s, I learned some great customer service skills, importance to details, and a lot about the hospitality industry.

Today, Lazlo’s has doubled in size and now occupies the space that was once Jabrisco’s. The food is still delicious, reasonably priced, and the service is top notch. The Haymarket has also turned into this major entertainment district.

Although this recipe is very different then Lazlo’s Beer Cheese Soup, it did make me think back to some pretty cool people and an experience that greatly impacted my life.

Beer Cheese SoupBacon Beer Cheese Soup with Chicken from Pinterest
6 slices of bacon
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 c. beer
1 c. chicken broth
2 c. half and half
8 oz. mild cheese
1 tsp. Worchester sauce
chives
croutons

Cook bacon and chicken. In a large sauce pan, cook butter, flour, and spices. Add beer, broth, and half and half. Whisk to combine and bring to a bubble. Add cheese and stir until smooth. Add Worchester sauce, chicken, and bacon. Allow to simmer. Garnish with chives and croutons.

Notes:

  • This recipe is good but spicy. One bowl had me drinking three glasses of water, blowing my nose, and dotting my watering eyes. My recommendation is to cut the spice at least to half or maybe a third of the recipe listed above. That’s my plan for the next time I cook it.
  • I didn’t have chicken stock so I used water and put in about 2 oz. more of beer. Veggie stock is also an option.
  • When I make a soup like this I know I am sharing with vegetarian friends, I make meat more of a topping. Canned chicken is another option. I used about a ½ lb. chicken and pre-cooked bacon.
  • I used fat free half and half. I think our Nutrition Manager at work also said that Fat Free Evaporated Milk is another substitute option to make a creamy soup healthier.
  • I used light beer.
  • I used Velveeta cheese.
  • I added parsley instead of chives.

On the second day, I picked up some chicken stock and frozen hash browns. I added about 1 cup of hash browns and ¾ c. chicken stock. I also added homemade croutons. It decreased the water consumption.

Wacky and Wild Stuff

It’s been so long since Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show that Jay Leno is about to hand it off for the second time. Johnny was from the town of Norfolk, NE – where half my family lives. And like me, Johnny was an alum of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Although I don’t think he ever had this cookie in mind, one of his catch phrases popped into my head when I ran across this recipe.

If you’ve even been in one of those fancy chocolate shops like at Crown Center, you’ve probably noticed they make chocolate covered potato chips. In fact, the new “it” taste is salted caramel mocha. It’s everywhere – including my favorite Starbucks drink.

When I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, I thought to myself “I have to try this recipe”. I figured it would either be the best or the worst cookie I ever made. Although I don’t think it is better than my Chocolate Crinkle recipe or will be as popular as my Weight Watchers three-ingredient cookie recipe, I did enjoy it and will definitely make it again.

Sweet & salty cookiesSweet and Salty Potato Chip Toffee Cookies from Pinterest
2 c. plus 2 T. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. crushed chips (I used Reduced Fat Ruffles)
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. Heath bits or chopped Heath candy bar

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl, blend together butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture and beat. Fold in chips, chocolate chips, and Heath bits. Chill for 30 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Low-fat Creamsicle Cake

I loved this simple three ingredient recipe. Each bite better because it is low in fat. It’s good even without the dusting of powdered sugar.

Low-fat CakeLow-fat Creamsicle Cake from Pinterest
1 box white cake mix
1 (6 oz.) non-fat Greek yogurt
1 c. orange juice

Mix all three ingredients in a bowl and pour into a 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-33 minutes. Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (makes 9 servings): 201 calories, 4.4 g. fat, 40 g. carbs, 1.1 g. fiber, and 3.3 g. protein

Notes:

  • I used sugar free cake and 100% orange juice to decrease sugar intake.

Cafe Rio

My ex P used to marinate and grill chicken for dinner most nights. He loved to serve it with black beans and rice. One of my favorite marinade he made was just Italian dressing and chicken breast. I don’t cook it very often at my house because grilling on my stove top is an invitation to set off my smoke detector before the chicken is cooked. I ran across this freezer to Crockpot recipe and decided to give it a try. It make be missing the grill marks but it taste the same.

I liked the recipe so much that I made it for both my mother and sister as freezer Christmas gifts. My mother tried it a few days ago and liked it too.

Italian_dressingCafe Rio Crockpot Chicken from Pinterest
3 chicken breast
1/4 of bottle of Italian dressing
1/2 packet of dry ranch dressing
1/4 c. water
1/4 T. minced garlic
1/4 T. chili powder
1/4 T. ground cumin

From freezer, thaw for one hour or run under warm water for 30 seconds. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Goodbye 2013

Looking back at 2013, I thought I would share a few of my favorite new recipes. In no particular order, here are my top 13:
Breakfast QuicheBreakfast recipes:

Dinner recipes:

Dessert recipes: