CAULIFLOWER SOUP: Eat As Much As You Want!

cauliflower soup6
Once again, we’re nearing sweater-shedding season and those holiday pounds are coming home to roost. But weight-loss doesn’t have to be painful. Starting a meal with a bowl of soup takes the edge off hunger, keeping you from inhaling two helpings of the main course. And, of course, soup can become a main course.

This low-cal CAULIFLOWER SOUP recipe is full of flavor and fills you up enough to leave the table sated. It’s, also, very quick and easy to make.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP – makes about 5½ cups

  • 6 T butter, divided
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4½ cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 3 T chives, chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice

In a 4 quart or more sized pot, melt 3 T butter over medium heat. Add in the shallot, onions, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft, but not brown – about 7 minutes. cauliflower soup3Cut out stem core from cauliflower. Remove and discard the outside area – you’ll see a difference in color – then slice up the remaining core. cauliflower soup1Cut the head into 1/2″ slabs. cauliflower soup2Remove 1 cup of cauliflower florets and cut into about 1/2″ pieces – these will become garnish. Set them aside.

Put half of the slabs and all of the core pieces into the pot with the onions. Add in the water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add in the rest of the cauliflower, bring to boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook another 15 minutes, uncovered. cauliflower soup5While the soup is cooking, prepare the garnish:  Into a small skillet, melt the remaining 3 T butter. Add in the garnish cauliflower pieces and sauté over medium/high until golden brown – about 7-9 minutes. cauliflower soup4With slotted spoon remove cauliflower bits to a small bowl. Stir in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt. Save the butter in the skillet – that will be garnish, too.

Once the soup has cooked, pour it into a blender and purée. You may need to do this in batches if you don’t have a large blender. The soup is hot, so don’t overfill the pitcher. Start blending at a very slow speed, working your way up, so it doesn’t splatter. Clean out pot and add the pureed soup. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning – I add at least a tsp of salt and some ground pepper.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, add in some cauliflower pieces, sprinkle on chives, and drizzle with a little butter from the skillet. (If you want to cut down on calories, don’t do the butter drizzle.)

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Mom’s Fudge! A Holiday Indulgence!

Best ever Chocolate Fudge

Best ever Chocolate Fudge

People love tradition – especially at holidays. It’s comforting as we hearken back to days of yore. (Yes, I said, “hearken” and “yore” – don’t judge!)

When I was a child, every Christmas Eve my Aunt Judy and Uncle Don came over. My dad prepared his cheese fondue and my mother made her famous fudge. It’s widely accepted that my mother’s fudge is the best ever. In fact, about three weeks before Christmas, she and I (when I got old enough) would make mass quantities of her fudge and give platefuls away to everyone we knew. Friends, family, teachers, the postman, the paperboy – all rejoiced with this delectable gift.

Now, when I say “my mother’s fudge”, I don’t mean my mother created the recipe. She was NOT an adventurous cook. But she did have the ability to find fabulous recipes that others developed. Fudge was at the top of her list. I wish I could credit the person who actually came up with this recipe, but all I know is mom found it in the newspaper.

An interesting coincidence occurred in college. I was bragging to a friend about my mother making the best fudge. She bragged back that HER mother made the best. We compared recipes and they were identical. We discovered that our mothers clipped them out of the same newspaper!

While this fudge recipe isn’t difficult, cooking the sugar liquid can be a little tricky. If you cook it at too high a temperature, the fudge will turn out hard. Follow the directions and you shouldn’t have any problems.

BONUS: When you pour the molten fudge from the mixing bowl into the casserole dish to set, there’s always some remaining in the bowl. Those of you who follow my blog will know that I hate waste. So my family and I always have spoons ready to scoop all the dregs. (Every year I seem to leave more of the fudge behind.) Try it and you’ll completely understand!

NOTE: This is not the time to try to reduce calories. Fudge is fattening! If you mess around with the ingredients, you’ll mess around with the consistency and taste.

MOM’S FUDGE

  • 18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s) – this measures out to 3 rounded cups
  • 2 cubes salted butter (½ pound), cut into pieces so it melts quicker
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
  • 16  1″ marshmallows, cut into quarters so they melt quicker
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can evaporated milk, 12 oz can
  • 4½ cups granulated sugar

Put the chocolate chips, butter, walnuts, marshmallows, and vanilla into a large bowl. It needs to be ready to go when the syrup is done.

Into a Dutch oven (large saucepan) put the sugar and evaporated milk. Turn the flame to low-medium and stir – preferably with a flat-headed stirrer – until the sugar is mixed in. Then turn the flame up a bit and stir continuously until it begins to boil. Turn the flame down slightly, keeping the liquid at a slow boil for 10 minutes, continuing to constantly stir. Adjust the flame as needed.

NOTE: Rather than indicating a final temperature, the recipe directed the syrup to be cooked for 10 minutes. This isn’t a very accurate way to cook candy. So I measured the final temperature at the 10 minute mark when I made my last batch. It was 210º Fahrenheit. Use this as a guide. If your temperature is near 210º, you should be okay. If it’s a lot higher, you’ve cooked the syrup at too high a temperature. I’m not sure if cooling it before pouring it into the chocolate chips mixture will salvage it or not. A syrup too hot yields rock-hard fudge.

When the 10 minutes are up, IMMEDIATELY pour the syrup into the chocolate chips mixture and begin to stir with a large spoon. You have to work fast. The goal is for the butter, marshmallows, and chocolate to melt and blend together. If you stir too slowly, the liquid will cool before everything can melt, and it will begin to set. When the last streak of marshmallow (that’s usually the last thing to melt) disappears, IMMEDIATELY pour into a 9½” x 13″ glass casserole dish. Working quickly, spread the fudge evenly. Let cool before covering, then refrigerate overnight.

Now, grab your spoons and dig into the hot fudge that’s still clinging to the mixing bowl! Waste not, want not!