Farmtastic Recipes

Farmtastic Recipe – Broccoli Cheese Soup

Yes, it’s still warm in Texas, but we are getting glimmers of fall with some cooler mornings and days that don’t make you melt. And when it comes to fall food, I absolutely love a good soup.  While Cowboy is not a soup fan, he’s more of a meat and potatoes fella (hold your shock), I think soups make great lunch time options or a quick dinner meal.  And with the shorter days of fall and farm chores to get in during daylight hours, I love something I can make on the weekend and get several meals out of during the week.

On the hunt for a great broccoli cheese soup, I let my fingers do the typing and came across a wonderful blog – The Recipe Critic.  Here are my notes on this bowl of soup that feels like a snuggly hug.

The Recipe: Panera Copycat Broccoli Cheese Soup

The Source: The Recipe Critic (click here for the official recipe)

Farmtastic Notes:

I made the soup as directed with a few little tweaks:

  • First, when making the roux, I added my salt and pepper at this step.
  • I add a touch more butter when sweating down my onions.  Admittedly this was because I was going too quickly, and misread the recipe, but it was still divine.  Butter makes everything better.
  • When it comes to broccoli, I wanted a bit more, so my thought was if 1 cup was great, 2 cups would be divine.  And just as I thought, I got yummy broccoli bits in every bite.  And while on the broccoli note, I used fresh florets chopped well.
  • Because I upped the broccoli factor, I reduced the carrots to about 1/3 of a cup, but I think 1/2 cup would have been perfect.  Also, instead of a julienne cut, I diced my carrots into small bite-size chunks.
  • For the cheese, I opted for a mild cheddar.  And if you get the finely shredded kind, it practically melts as soon as you add it to the soup.
  • Remember to keep the heat on a low simmer.  It can get steamy pretty quickly, and you don’t want the dairy to break on you.

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Overall, this soup was absolutely delicious, and is definitely going into the repertoire of wonderful fall meals. I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe, so give it a try and share your thoughts.

P.S. – In the photos, I’ve included some super cute kitchen must-haves.  Just ask Cowboy, I’m a sucker for adorable glassware and anything that makes the kitchen fun. Here’s where to find them:

  • If you like my adorable wooden spoon, it’s from ModCloth.  While they no longer carry the chirping birds, I absolutely love the fall version with a squirrel.  Just keep in mind it is a hand-wash only item.
  • The soup bowls are Fish Eddy vintage flower storage bowls. What makes these guys great is that they come with plastic lids so they are an excellent choice for fridge storage.  Measure out your soup and get it ready for the week. Also available at ModCloth
Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Drama Donkey

As I’ve mentioned before, this farm mama has a day job, which occasionally calls for me to be out of town. But thanks to Cowboy and family, someone is always at the farm to care for the cast of characters that call Wild Horse Valley Home.

Admittedly, the number of critters we have is due to me, and my inability to say “no” to a creature in need. And while Cowboy is an animal lover too, sometimes they just flat wear him out. Honestly, this last couple of weeks I think they have been conspiring against me to demonstrate just how much work they are.

This summer has been one of emergency vet visits for injured horses and donkeys, multiple busted stalls from bucking and playing, and Maybelle has been on a cricket bender flying around the yard and garden chasing them, eating them, and then unceremoniously throwing them up on the living room floor.   The latter has become such a problem that Cowboy has even considered that we may need to get chickens to contend with the crickets and grasshoppers. I’ll keep you posted on that potential adventure. I digress …

On my recent work trip, I got a text from Cowboy that Sweetie Pie the donkey was limping. As I prepared to speak at a media conference, I was guessing I was the only one getting texts about injured donkeys. Sometimes I feel like a girl with two personalities, high-tech product manager and poop-scooping farm girl.

Anyway, Cowboy and I quickly came up with a plan. Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose were put in the oversized stall with fresh hay and water so she could rest until we could assess the issue. (Where Sweetie Pie goes, Mama must follow.) I reminded Cowboy where the donkey and horse aspirin was to give her some relief. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

Animal Photo - Sweetie Pie the donkey soaking her hoof
This is from earlier in the summer when Sweetie Pie hurt her back hoof. This time she was not willing to soak it like a good donkey. We tried, and we had flying buckets to prove it.

After calls to the vet and farrier, we decided it was likely an abscess and scheduled the farrier to come as soon as he could make it out to us. Cowboy was on donkey duty and kept me apprised daily of how our little Pie was getting along. She was limping pitifully on her front left leg.

However, Cowboy noticed something odd. If Sweetie Pie did not see him looking at her, she moved much better. The moment he would turn and look at her, the limping would ensue with pomp and circumstance, as though her front leg was absolutely useless. Was our little donkey playing on Cowboy’s sympathies? Are they that smart? You bet your bottom dollar they are!

Finally the farrier arrived and found that Sweetie Pie had indeed injured her little hoof with a puncture wound, likely from some type of thorn she found out in the pasture. The farrier made quick work of it and opened the wound so it could drain and give her relief. However, while he said it was likely uncomfortable, he thought our little Pie was a bit of a “drama queen.” Really? You don’t say!

Just like two-legged kiddos, the four-leggeds know how to get attention with the best of them. The good news is that Sweetie Pie is on the mend, that is as long as we don’t look at her.

Farmtastic Recipes

Farmtastic Recipe – Lemonade Cake

To celebrate the end of summer,  I decided to do a little baking with one of Cowboy’s absolute favorite flavors – lemon!  I came across a recipe for lemonade cake in a recent issue of Cooking With Paula Deen.  And let’s be honest, nine times out of 10 her recipes turn out yummy.  Could it possibly be the oodles of butter?  Most definitely, but for the occasional splurge, who says you can’t have a little fun?

Here are my notes on this lemony delight.

The Recipe: Lemonade Cake

The Source: Cooking With Paula Deen Magazine (click here for the official recipe)

Farmtastic Notes:

  • I made the cake exactly as directed with one exception, I only added 1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest.  My lemons were tiny, and it was all I could eek out.  It was still lemony good, so I don’t think I missed anything.
  • For the icing, I added 2 tablespoons of milk to get the consistency I wanted, as well as to take a smidge of the tartness out.
  • The finished product was quickly gobbled up at the farm.  The cake was perfect, slightly dense and super moist.  But the icing was a little sweet for me.  Admittedly, I’m a cake girl, but Cowboy is an icing guy and he gave it a thumbs up.  I think I might try it with a vanilla icing next time.
  • A couple of baking notes:
    • I buttered and floured my cake pan to prep it.  But like my mama taught me, I also cut a piece of wax paper to fit in the bottom of the pan.  This ensure it pops right out, but of course be sure to remove the wax paper!
    • When adding my eggs to the mixer, I crack them into a small mason jar and then add them to the batter.  And yes, I learned this the hard way, as I cracked an egg and all of its eggshell glory into batter once while the paddle attachment was mid mix.  And let’s face it, that just makes quick work of the eggshell, and then your entire batter is crispy, crunchy, ruined.  It’s easiest just to avoid this with a little extra step.

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I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe, so give it a try and share your thoughts.