Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Bake

There are some things that are meant to go together: peanut butter and chocolate, turkey and mayo, and broccoli and cheese.
Cheese Broccoli and Potato Bake
Thankfully, we've raised our son to eat broccoli without cheese—to just enjoy it in its raw or steamed form. But let’s not kid ourselves; he'll down a ton of broccoli with cheese, compared to broccoli without cheese.
The cheese sauce is a basic cheese sauce, but I kicked it up a bit with some smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. You can omit both these things, but if you’re going to leave just one in, let it be the smoked paprika. You’ll fall in love with the smoky flavor and zip that this spice brings to this meal.


  • 4-5 medium red potatoes
  • 12 ounce bag frozen broccoli cuts or florets, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk (I use 1%, but any kind will do)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, adjust to taste)
  • 10 ounces medium cheddar cheese, shredded ( I use 2% reduced fat cheese)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh black pepper


Preheat oven to 350° F.
Use a fork to poke holes in the potatoes for ventilation. Cook them in a microwave oven for 6-7 minutes. They’re almost done when a fork will go in with slight resistance. You don’t want to cook them completely; they’ll finish in the oven. When they’ve cooled slightly, cut them into bite sized chunks.
While the potatoes are cooking, put the oil in a medium saucepan,  then whisk in the flour and dry mustard. Keep it moving for about four minutes while it heats up. Break up any lumps. Slowly stir in the milk, then add the cayenne pepper and paprika.
Simmer for ten minutes until smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper. Now fold in the cheese. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until all the cheese is melted.
Put the cut potatoes and broccoli into a lightly greased baking dish. Toss the vegetables to make sure they’re mixed. Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetables. Stir to coat all the vegetables with the cheesy goodness.
Vegetables in dish before cheese Pouring on the cheese
Bake for 25 minutes until you see golden brown on the cheese. Remove from the oven and let it rest for five minutes.

Final notes

This goes well with chicken, turkey meat loaf, or ham.
If you want a great one-pot comfort food feast, just add diced ham before putting it into the oven, or top it with crumbled bacon when you remove it from the oven.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home Made Tomato Soup

Home Made Tomato soup by Michael Chirello


2 (14-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil (divided into 1/4 measurements)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped carrots, diced
1 1/2 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves or,( 1/2 teaspoon if using dried basil)
2 cups half n half, or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a stock pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add half-n-half and basil, if using.

Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth. Or pour into a blender small portions at a time, and blend until smooth.

Serves 4-6

*I cut the fat, significantly in this recipe. The original calls for 3/4 cup of Olive Oil & the use of heavy cream all for the original serving size of four! Wow that's a lot of fat, that I just thought was unnecessary. I also increased the amount of stock which adds flavor without fat.
I'd love to hear your feed back on this.
P.S. I topped it with home made sourdough croutons. Oh my this is good soup!