This Pom Pom Snowflake Wreath was one of those projects. You know the ones where you get the idea, buy the supplies (pretty cheap!) and are feeling good. And then you start working and it ends up taking, ahem, a little bit longer than you anticipated. And when I say a little bit longer, I mean, I felt like I was making pom poms for like a week. In reality it was only a couple hours but I think you know what I mean. But don’t let that deter you, it was an excellent excuse to sit quietly and watch netflix for a while which I don’t get to do nearly enough!
I love a big warm bowl of Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup with Caramelized Onions and Apple on a cold day! It’s warm, creamy, full of flavor and actually vegan too!
My mom is a big fan of broccoli and when I was little, she ate it all the time. But she usually steamed it or cooked in the microwave, which, if you have ever done, makes it kind of not smell so great (that’s being polite). So as a result, I developed an affliction common to a lot of kids, Broccophobia (not the scientific term)! Fast forward to adulthood and, like most people, I’ve gotten over it. When I was pregnant with O I actually LOVED it. (Pregnancy is so weird.) I like it in stir fry sometimes, but not usually just plain. And of course, I loooove Broccoli Cheddar soup. Panera has the best. I totally remember the day when I found out that it’s not actually vegetarian (chicken stock). I almost cried.
So since then I’ve been trying to find a good Broccoli Soup recipe that I actually liked. I’ve tried one with white beans (didn’t love the texture), I’ve tried actual Broccoli and Cheese and milk (pretty good but who can eat that all the time without gaining a thousand pounds?!). And then the other day, I had very little food in the house and on the fly made this Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup with Caramelized Onion and Apple. The caramelized onions add a deep flavor, the little bit of apple adds a little sweetness and it tastes like broccoli but not TOO much. I think I found my recipe!
Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup with Caramelized Onions and Apple
1 Onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
5 medium red potatoes
1/2 a small apple
1 rib celery
2 crowns of broccoli
5 cups of water
1 tsp KOSHER salt
1. Start by caramelizing your onions. Use whatever method you like, I always add a squirt of honey and a splash of red wine vinegar to help them along. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook along with the onions until they are soft and caramelized too. Be careful not to let them burn.
2. When the onions are caramelized, add the potatoes, apples and celery, all cut into chunks and the water and salt. Bring to a boil. If you use table salt instead of Kosher salt, use LESS!
3. When the potatoes are starting to get soft, add the broccoli. I used two crowns of broccoli (which is probably a little less than a full head) chopped into medium florets.
4. When the broccoli is cooked through, carefully puree the soup using a blender or immersion blender. It’s hot, be careful!
5. Garnish with parsley, sour cream and/or shredded cheddar and serve with crusty bread.
Clearly I need to work on my dollop-ing skills…can you take a class for that? And what’s your favorite kind of soup for the winter?
Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? I did! We went to my parents’ house for a few days and had a great time. Since O’s food allergy diagnosis I end up doing the bulk of the meal planning and a lot of the cooking to make sure that things are safe for him. And wow, do I appreciate all those years my mom did it all on her own and we just showed up when it was time to eat! It’s a lot of work! At this point I have my favorite dishes, a vegetarian stuffing with apples and craisins, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with chipotle (which we didn’t make this year and I missed!).
And while almost everything turned out great, we did have a few hilarious failures that I wanted to share to show you, hey, nothing’s perfect! First up, as I was making an apple crisp, my mom said, “Oh! I wish we had some of that caramel sauce you talked about on your blog!” And then we decided, hey, we might as well make some! I’ve made caramel before, it’s not that hard!
And you’d think I would know by now that whenever you think something’s going to be a piece of cake, that’s when it becomes a disaster. So my mom googled a recipe for salted caramel sauce and we started making it. My first warning flag should have been when the recipe didn’t have any water and just told you to melt the sugar in a pan on the stove. I’ve never made it that way but who am I to judge, I just trusted the blogger’s recipe. I’m sure it COULD be done that way but we just kept stirring and stirring while the sugar clumped up and some of the crystals browned unevenly. But eventually it all melted, got to the right temperature on the candy thermometer and it was time to add the butter. If you’ve ever made caramel before, you know that it kind of foams up when you add butter and you have to whisk while that happens to incorporate everything.
Well, I added the butter, the caramel foamed up, I whisked and whisked and whisked and the melted butter just sat on the top. The next thing I knew, in the blink of an eye, the caramel turned rock solid. I mean, it was so hard my mom spent like 20 minutes chipping it out of the pan with a wooden spoon. So yeah. That was fail #1. Could have been temperature, could have been time, could have been angry caramel gods…who knows. But the next attempt (a new recipe which did include water!) went much better and we ended up with delicious salted caramel sauce.
The next fail was when, after a full day of pre-cooking on wednesday, my mom and I decided we should have margaritas. We definitely earned them. So we put Aa to work making them. My mom had some margarita mix in the cupboard and all the other ingredients and he put it all in the blender, blended it up, salted the rims of some glasses and poured the drinks in, and in about 1 minuted, they turned gray. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen and I’m not sure if this picture accurately captures it. It was like a grayish blue color and the liquid separated from the ice almost right away. The only thing I can think to compare it to was that it looked EXACTLY like dirty dish water with foamy soap scum on top. So weird!
The next batch turned out normal (we went with on the rocks instead of blended this time) so we’re still not sure exactly what happened.
And our final Thanksgiving fail wasn’t mine but my brother’s. He and his girlfriend were in charge of the mashed potatoes, among other things. And when they arrived, T, my brother’s girlfriend, told us the story of how she always always buys plain yogurt, never flavored and so, when making the potatoes, when my brother decided to add some yogurt (good idea!), he grabbed it out of the fridge, stirred it in the potatoes and THEN noticed that it was french vanilla!!! Apparently they’d been mixed up at the store and she had accidentally bought vanilla. And N, thinking they never ever had flavors didn’t even think to check when he added it (totally understandable!) Luckily, you couldn’t taste it at all. I think I may have gotten a little whiff while I was reheating them but they tasted delicious. So maybe french vanilla yogurt is a new mashed potato secret ingredient?? Should I blog a recipe?
Anyway, Thanksgiving was lovely, the rest of the meal turned out perfect, and we all had some good laughs about our Thanksgiving failures. How was your Thanksgiving?
When I was little my mom always used to get us those cardboard advent calendars with the elaborate Christmas scene and little hidden numbered doors. And behind each door was a tiny, perfect, and oddly shiny little chocolate shape. And of course she got two so my brother and I wouldn’t argue over whose turn it was to open the door that day. I LOVED those advent calendars. I mean, I am a complete chocoholic so really that’s no surprise. But actually the chocolate in them wasn’t even all that good, it was more the excitement over opening the tiny door and getting closer to Christmas.
But of course, for us, because of O’s peanut/tree nut allergy, tiny chocolates are out. So last year I decided I should make an advent calendar. Something that he could remember having fun with as he grows up. I started out thinking about this amazing advent calendar that one of my best friends had growing up. Her mom is an amazing quilter. Like, she’s not just a hobbyist, she really knows what she’s doing. I should show you the quilt she made for O when he was born sometime–totally amazing! But anyway, at some point when my friend, or one of her siblings, was young, her mom made this felt advent calendar that had a felt christmas tree and 24 little pockets and inside each little pocket was a different tiny felt ornament. It was so cool!
So I started out thinking I would make something similar. But of course I decided this on like November 29th so I didn’t have a lot of time to gather materials and if I wanted this to last I knew I didn’t want to use the cheap felt you buy at the craft store. So I went to my fabric stash and started rethinking things. I was also totally influenced by Scandinavian Christmas decorations. My mom tends to lean that way in her decorating and I’ve always loved the modern simplicity and use of neutral whites, creams and tans with pops of bright red. It’s so pretty!
In the end, my advent calendar is basically a little quilt, it’s two layers of fabric with an appliqued Christmas tree on the front and then it has tabs to hang it from a white dowel.
And instead of 24 different little ornaments, I found these little cardboard snowflakes at the craft store. They’re diecuts, maybe intended for scrapbooking, and they were in the impulse buy bins near the register last year. Here are some very similar ones. I was hoping for wooden snowflakes but I couldn’t find anything small enough. And I will say, before I started I did a full size paper sketch and boy am I glad that I did because I really underestimated how big the tree would have to be to fit all the snowflakes without them overlapping. Anyway, I painted them white and embellished with a silver paint pen. (And of course they’re all different because everyone knows no two snowflakes are alike, right?) Piece of cake!
The idea is that at the beginning of december it’s snowing and all the little snowflakes are floating in the air and as you get closer and closer to Christmas, more and more snowflakes land on the tree!
The snowflakes have a little loop of baker’s twine glued to the back and they just hook over the button on the advent calendar. White buttons for the sky and pretty red buttons on the tree. O loves putting a snowflake on the tree each night and I think it’s a pretty decoration to look at for a whole month, so it’s a win-win!
Do you have a happy advent calendar memory from growing up?
If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…