Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Winter has finally shown it's frosty face here in Philadelphia and I'm desperately digging out all my comfort food recipes, pulling my blinds shut and hunkering down under a blanket.  To be honest, all I really want is a big down comforter, Harry Potter (yes, I know those books are old news and I've already read them 7 times) and a big bowl of steamy soup.  My new favorite?

Potato Leek.

I've taken snippets from several recipes and made it my own.  It's delish.  I highly recommend.
PS - if you want a word document of this, email me..

Dani's Potato Leek Soup

1lb Leeks - cleaned and dark green parts removed
2 slices thick cut bacon - chopped
4 TBSP unsalted butter
4 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
3 small Yukon gold potatoes, diced into "bite-size soup pieces" (peel if you want)
1 quart chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp white pepper
Snipped Chives - for garnishing
Finely Shredded Sharp Cheddar - for garnishing

1. Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to get rid of any sand. Slice thinly and set aside.

2. In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt 3TBSP butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. - They should have cooked down quite a bit and be a golden color. (and smell amazing)

3. While the leeks are cooking, add 1TBSP butter to frying pan and add the chopped bacon.  Cook until crispy.  - (You could probably just fry the bacon and then chop it... whatever works best)

4. Back to the soup - after the leeks have cooked 25 minutes, add the 4 diced, peeled, potatoes and 1quart broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, 45 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and puree the soup mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. (If you don't have an immersion blender, pour small batches of the soup into a regular blender and return to pot)

6. Add the 3 remaining potatoes and cook in soup (on medium low) until potatoes are fork tender.*** About another 30-40 minutes.

7. Stir in the heavy cream, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

8. Sprinkle with chives, cheese and crispy bacon pieces

9. Serve immediately with a thick, crusty piece of garlic bread

*** If you want to cut down on cooking time you can boil the 3 diced potatoes ahead of time and add them but I think they taste better if they're cooked in the soup!


Gourmet Mac n' 5 Cheese

So, I love Mac and Cheese. I love it when it's fancy and gourmet. So, about about a year ago while watching "The Ultimate Recipe Showdown" on the Food Network, this recipe won, and I was hooked. So, I finally decided to spend some money on fancy cheese, and give this a try. It was wonderful! I pretty much ate it all. (I am NOT going to think about the fat . . . ) It was really tasty. If you get the time, the craving, and some dough to spend on specialty cheese (I recommend getting them at Harmons) go for it! Oh, and the picture doesn't do it justice. At all.

Gourmet Mac n' Five Cheese


1 package (16 oz) pasta

1/4 lb. bacon

1 med. onion, diced

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter

6 Tablespoons flour

1 Tablespoon dijon mustard

2 and 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1% and it worked fine.)

2 cups heavy cream

1 sprig fresh thyme (didn't have any! worked out ok!)

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I only put in like 2 Tablespoons. I'm not a huge fan.)

3/4 cups grated Gruyere cheese

3/4 cups grated White Cheddar Cheese

3/4 cups grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 cups bread crumbs

3 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish.

Cook pasta according to package. (I did it a bit less since it will cook more in the oven.) Drain, and set aside.

In a large dutch oven/pot saute the bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until soft. Add the 5 Tablespoons butter to the onion mixture and melt the butter, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the flour. Using a whisk, , stir constantly until mixed well with the fat making a roux. Whisk in the mustard. Gradually add the milk and cream whisking constantly. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and salt. Let come to a simmer and stir frequently for 15 min. Strain the milk mixture and discard the solids. Now mix in 1 cup Fontina, blue cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/2 cup white cheddar, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the reserved bacon and parsley. Continue to stir until all the cheese is melted. Addt eh cooked noodles to the cheese mixture to coat. Add the noodle mixture to the prepared baking sich. Mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 15-20 min. or until golden brown. Remove from overn when done and let rest for 5 min.



Warm Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp Cropped

I'm not much of a baker but I love apples, and they're especially divine with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled in caramel.

Recipe Courtesy of
Essentials of Baking: Recipes and Techniques for Successful Home Baking (Williams-Sonoma Essentials)
6 C chopped, peeled apples (doesn't necessarily have to be 6... use your judgment)
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP fresh lemon / lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 C flour
1/2 C old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Stir together filling ingredients, dump into glass pie dish or baking dish (I use a small, 9x9, but you can use a larger dish)
3. Make the topping by stirring the flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Stir in melted butter, until evenly moistened crumbs form.
4. Spoon crumb mixture evenly over the filling.
5. Bake 35-40 minutes, until apples are tender. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
6. Top with vanilla ice cream and warm caramel.

Can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days


10 minute chocolate cake...literally!

You'll need a "Rice Cooker Plus" with Pampered Chef to make this cake.

All you need to do is make one box of chocolate cake, and then add about 6 spoonfuls of frosting on top of the cake mix, put it in the microwave for 10 minutes, and it's done! It doesn't look beautiful, but it tastes amazing.


Brown Bag Apple Pie

Brown Bag Apple Pie
Crust: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup oil, 2 T. cold milk. Combine and mix until blended. Pat into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate.
4 cups slices apples, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. flour, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp.
Cinnamon. Combine dry ingredients and loss them lightly with the apples, Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Add topping (below).

Topping: 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup sugar. Combine and mix with fingers until crumbly. Put the pie in a large brown paper grocery bag. Fold to seal, staple shut. Bake @ 350& for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from oven and let cool in the bag.


Carmel Brownies

So, this is at the request of my great friend, Toni. These are addicting!
50 Carmels (one package of Kraft is about 50)
1 can of evaporated milk (you'll need 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup melted butter/margarine
1 chocolate cake mix (german, dark, milk, etc.) NOT a brownie mix!
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Unwrap carmels and put in saucepan. Add to that 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk. Melt this over the stovetop. (Stir often!) Meanwhile, make the brownies by mixing the cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk. Take half of this dough (maybe a bit more) and press it into the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Bake 6 min. at 350 degrees. After 6 min., take it out, and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot batter. Then, drizzle the melted carmel over the top of that. Crumble the rest of the brownie dough over the top. Put back in oven to bake for 15-18 min. Let cool completely before cutting! Put in refrigerater when cool enough to set the carmel. ENJOY! These really are yummy, and can be pretty messy too!



I have been on a quest to find a recipe that makes soft and chewy snickerdoodles. I think I have found “the recipe”. The key to this recipe (and any, really) is that you do not add too much flour and that you do not over bake them. Flour makes cookies more dry and hard as does over baking.

To correctly measure flour, use a spoon to lightly scoop flour out of its container into a measuring cup. Continue until the cup is overflowing. Then use the back side of a knife to level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup. That way you don’t pack too much flour into the measuring cup.

1 c. vegetable shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
1 t. soda
1/4 t. salt

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs together in a bowl. In separate bowl, add dry ingredients together and then mix well into the sugar/shortening mixture. Form dough into balls (about the size of a large walnut) and roll in a mixture of 1 T. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon. Flatten them a little. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not over bake. They don’t look “done” but they will after sitting for a few minutes. Yummy!

Cheesy Chicken Skillet Dinner

1 tsp oil
1 1/4 lb chicken cut up into pieces
2 cups carrots (sliced)1 medium zucchini (sliced)
2 TBSP soy sauce
8 med green onions (sliced, 1/2 cup)
2 cups cheddar cheese

Heat 12 inch skillet over med-high heat. Add oil and chicken- stir fry 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove from skillet.

Add carrots & zucchini to skillet, stir fry 4-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Add chicken & soy sauce; toss until chicken & veggies are coated with soy sauce.

Sprinkle with onions & cheese. Cover skillet until cheese is melted.