Food

The Witch Is In: Halloween Cauldron Cupcakes!

Witch's Cauldron Cupcakes

 With Halloween on the horizon,

 it seemed timely to pull out my cauldron and practice my

 spell making with a batch of Chocolate Cauldron Cupcakes!

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Fitting too since October 18th is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. . .

I’m happy to celebrate any kind of cupcake day!

{insert *cackle* here}

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I like to use a doctored cake mix for quick & easy spelling for cupcakes.

I used a Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix for the cupcakes, substituting buttermilk for the water, 4 eggs instead of 3, and the same amount of oil called for in the mix.

Follow the box directions for mixing and baking, allowing the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

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Twizzlers Chocolate Twists form the handles of the cauldron cupcakes. Bend and insert them in your cupcake, they’re just the right size, no cutting or spelling required! Make sure not to put them too close to the edge of your cupcakes to prevent the cupcake from breaking.

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I tried to insert them after frosting the top, before adding the sprinkles, but I had better more luck placing them prior to frosting to prevent breaking the cupcake. I used the pretzel sticks, aka cauldron stirrers, to help spread the frosting close to the edges of the cupcakes and around the Twizzler/cauldron handles. I found the Chocolate Twizzlers at Target, a short broom ride away.

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This witch likes Pillsbury canned frosting, but if the idea of canned frosting makes your black teeth ache, use your favorite frosting recipe. I used a vanilla frosting tinted with green food coloring for a bubbling cauldron hue.

Little witches will enjoy custom blending their cauldron cupcakes with sprinkles and nonpareils for a fun Halloween activity and treat!

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I hope these cauldron cupcakes make you

Happier than a Witch in a Broom Factory <|: >)

Halloween Witch's Cauldron Cupcakes

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Butternut-Apple Soup with Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves

Butternut-Apple Soup with Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves

Butternut-Apple Soup is a sweet and savory soup,

 ideal for fall with butternut squash and apples in season!

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 I’m serving it up with a side of with

 Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves,

 pie crust leaf “sandwiches” of pecans, cranberries, and cheese!

Butternut-Apple Soup with Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves

The pie crust leaves are a variation of Cranberry-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves,

with the addition of cheddar cheese to complement the

 flavor of apple in the soup!

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I adapted a recipe for Carrot-Apple Soup in

Southern Living Magazine’s September issue.

In addition to substituting butternut squash for carrot, I made an additional change, using evaporated milk instead of cream called for in the recipe for a lower fat alternative. The butternut and apples are pureed, resulting in a thick and creamy soup with the addition of evaporated milk, without the additional calories or fat.

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You can find the steps and directions to make the

Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves, here.

Cheddar-Pecan-Cranberry Pie Crust Leaves

I added 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

along with 1/2 cup each of pecans and dried cranberries.

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Butternut-Apple Soup, adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 tart apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled and chopped (about 1 lb.)

1 large yellow onion

*2 cups cream (substitute 12-oz. can evaporated whole milk and 4 oz. chicken stock for lower fat alternative)

2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock, plus additional stock to thin soup if desired

1 1/4 cups apple cider

3 fresh thyme sprigs

*1 teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste

*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, adjust to taste

Garnishes: diced apples, chopped toasted pecans, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and/ or crispy prosciutto

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Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 40 to 45 minutes or until butternut squash is tender. Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes.

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Remove thyme sprigs. Process soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. For less clean up and no risk of exploding soup, use an immersion blender in Dutch oven, blending until smooth. For a thinner soup, stir in more stock to desired consistency. Spoon into individual bowls, and garnish as desired.

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This soup is even better reheated the second day.

Serve with Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves.

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You can find a printable recipe, here.

And you’re welcome to join me at the table with

Pumpkins, Leaves and Mikasa Autumn Nights here.

Butternut-Apple Soup & Cranberry-Cheddar-Pecan Pie Crust Leaves

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Tricks for Your Treats: Tootsie Roll Witch Shoe Cupcake Toppers

Tootsie Roll Witch Shoe Cupcake Toppers

Here’s a little witchy fun and trick for your Halloween treats,

 Tootsie Rolls Witch Shoe Cupcake Toppers!

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I used Tootsie Fruit Rolls, orange and lime, to match the

cupcake liners and coordinate with the stocking leg straws.

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Every witch has to have her accessories. . .

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 It’s all about the shoes!

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The Tootsie Rolls work like a sticky play Play-Doh, also fun for sculpting poinsettias!

I had a bit of learning curve with the shoes since witches need to be airborne. Contrary to popular belief, witch shoes do not defy the laws of gravity :)

I discovered it works best with 1/2 to 2/3 of a Tootsie Roll, rather than a whole Tootsie Roll. Cut your straw and warm the Tootsie Roll in your hands first, placing it on the end of the straw before shaping it.

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Lay your straw on wax paper with the Tootsie Roll on the end and flatten and pinch to shape the end of your witch shoe.

Use a knife to cut a small v-shaped notch out of the Tootsie Roll to form the heel and shape as desired. You can even use a contrasting color to make a witchy shoe buckle.

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I’m thinking they look a little more like elf shoes than witch shoes :)

I found the orange and black straws at World Market and black and white straws at Target.

You can find Halloween straws from Amazon here.

Tootsie Roll Witch Shoes Cupcake Toppers

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Drink Up Witches Halloween Potion and Winners!

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I have a potion brewing for you for Halloween,

guaranteed to help you Eat, Drink & Be Witchy!

Drink Up Witches DIY Cup

I conjured Drink Up Witches Cups, from Pier 1, into witchy stemmed drinking vessels, (easier for long green, crooked fingers to hold :) with the magic of silicone adhesive and a Dollar Tree glass candleholder.

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Park your broom and join me at my Witches’ Potion Table, here.

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Drink Up Witches’ Potion Ingredients:

~1 1/2 ounces of Authentic Wolfsbane, aka Vodka

 ~ 1 1/2 ounces Poison No. 9, aka Ginger Ale

~ 1 1/2 ounces of Vampire Blood, aka Pomegranate Juice

~ Black Cat Arsenic, aka Black Sugar for Rimming

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Adjust the ratio of your potions if you’d like a more lethal cocktail.

Serve over ice, top off with additional Poison No. 9, aka Ginger Ale.

Garnish with a top quality spider bite. . .if you dare.

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You can mix an alcohol free potion for fledgling witches by skipping the

Authentic Wolfsbane, aka Vodka and just adding ginger ale.

Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway

The winners of my Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway are:

Pattie Tierney:  A Cauldron, a Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven

Linda Kemp:  Baking Cups, Halloween Decorating or Potion Sprinkles, Cookie Cutters, Potion Stirring Spatulas, and some Eye of Newt, or Candy Eye Treat Toppers

Lynn @ Happier Than a Pig in Mud: Drink Up Witches Cups, Cocktail Napkins & Picks, Straws, Bar Towel, and Labels for your Bubbling Brew

and

Carolyn P : Some additional baking goodies and Halloween Treats!

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Congratulations to the winning witches,

I’ll contact you by email and get your goodies to you!

Thanks to all who entered!

Drink Up Witches Potion & Halloween Cocktail

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Top 10 Things Chloe & Gracie Love About Fall

Top 10 things Chloe & Gracie love about fall. . .

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1. Sweater Weather!

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2. The Smells

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Fresh Mulled Cider

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Make Your Own Mulling Spice

Make Your Own Mulling Spice

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The aroma of fall baking. . .

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Mini Pumpkin Pies

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Cranberry-Apple-Pumpkin Bundt Cake

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3. Halloween Treats!

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Howl-O-Ween Tricking Treats,

from Three Dog Bakery Cookbook

Made with canned pumpkin, vanilla, water, egg, whole-wheat flour,

chopped pecans, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg & oats

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4. Pumpkins

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5. Chair Sitting

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6. Fall Color

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7.  Leaf Peeping by Boat

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8. Fall Sunsets

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9. Picnics

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Fall Picnic with Pumpkins

10. And an excuse to curl up with a blanket :)

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Chloe & Grace want to know,

What are your favorite things about fall? :)

Chloe & Gracie Fall Favorites

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Fall Sipping: Apple Cider Sangria

Apple Cider Sangria

 Apple Cider Sangria is a refreshing sangria for fall!

An easy seasonal cocktail for a crowd, taking advantage of just picked apples,

 fresh apple cider, and ideal to mix up for tailgating

 or just because it’s fall!

Carrigan Farms Apple Picking

This sangria is infused with perfect combination of apple and ginger flavors and is refreshing without being overly sweet!

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I used a Pinot Grigio for the wine as the base of the sangria, apple cider for the juice,

ginger ale as the mixer, and added apple vodka instead of the typical brandy or rum.

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I stumbled on Absolut Orient Apple Vodka that has a hint of ginger, with plans for mixing applicious cocktails this fall.

It only takes five minutes to assemble this sangria in a large pitcher or beverage dispenser. You can mix it and serve it right away since the apple flavor is already in the apple vodka and the cider, or mix it several hours in advance if you prefer to infuse the sangria with more apple flavor, or the apples with more sangria :)

anatomy-of-sangria-recipe

I followed this handy Anatomy of Sangria chart, courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine for a quick reference for easy mixing, that I used to mix our Red, White & Blue Sangria for the 4th of July.

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The sangria combinations are endless with this chart as a guideline. Pick and choose your mixers, fruit, juice, wine & liquor, adjusting the flavors and quantities to your taste.

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Apple Cider Sangria

Ingredients

3 – 4 apples, diced

1 bottle Pinot Grigio, or white wine of choice

1/2 cup Apple Cider

1/2 cup Absolut Orient Apple Vodka

1 can Ginger Ale (I used diet)

Dice apples and add to a large pitcher. Add wine, cider and vodka. Refrigerate until serving, 1 – 2 hours or up to 24.

Just before serving add chilled ginger ale to pitcher and mix well. Fill glasses half full with ice, add sangria and apples.

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 I didn’t add any additional sweetener to this sangria with the sugar in the apple cider and used diet ginger ale instead of regular ginger ale. It was refreshing and plenty sweet for us but adjust to your taste and crowd, adding additional sweetener or simple syrup if desired.

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You can find a printable recipe, here.

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Make sure you eat the apple after you’re done sipping,

An apple a day keeps the doctor away! :)

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Pick Your Own Apples

Carrigan Farms Apple Picking

I went apple picking at Carrigan Farms, a local

pick-your-own farm in Mooresville, NC.

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You can take the kids for an apple hayride. . .

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Or they can walk the orchard and drag

 their bag of apples behind them. . .

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{insert *wince* and *grin* here}

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The orchard is open daily in September

to pick Golden and Red Delicious Apples.

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Peeking through the cornstalks is encouraged too :)

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Barn, silo and beautiful homestead love. . .*sigh*

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And tractor love too . . .

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In October, Pumpkin Patch Tours and hayrides begin. . .

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And on select nights in October Carrigan Farms

turns into. . . Scarrigan Farms. . .

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Carrigan Farms, Apple Orchard and Corn

If you’re not tired of picnicking :) you can enjoy an Apple Picnic. . .

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with Apple Walnut Salad, Redd’s Apple Ale and

Sweet & Savory Apple Gorgonzola & Thyme Pies.

Apple Gorgonzola & Thyme Pies

Are you Apple Picking this Fall?

Carrigan Farms

Thank you for your visit!

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Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway!

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With Halloween on the horizon, are you feeling Witchy?

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Are you dusting off your broom? . . .

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Brushing up on your spells. . .

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Preparing to shake up a sinister Skeletini Cocktail. . .

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Or custom blending your potion stirring spoons?

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Ready to fuel up with some sweet treats for a long midnight ride. . .

Halloween Oreos

Maybe some Halloween Oreo Brownies. . .

Halloween Dipped & Sprinkled Apples

Or Halloween Dipped and Sprinkled Apples. . .

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Or Witch Hat Cupcakes

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Ravenous Witches may need to pack some Finger Sand-Witches. . .

Witches' Brew Stew and Finger Sand-Witches

Along with a cauldron of Witches’ Brew Stew. . .

 Hearty, satisfying, and tasty after a long flight!

Bread Dough Witch Fingers

Or Conjure Witch Fingers from Bread Dough

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In Celebration of Halloween,

I visited some of my favorite haunts to scare up some witchy treats!

Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway

To help you Eat, Drink & Be Witchy this Halloween. . .

 One witch will receive a Cauldron,

a Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven.

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A second witch will receive Drink Up Witches Cups, Cocktail Napkins & Picks, Straws, Bar Towel, and Labels for your Bubbling Brew.

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And a third witch will receive Baking Cups, Halloween Decorating or Potion Sprinkles, Cookie Cutters, Potion Stirring Spatulas, and some Eye of Newt, or Candy Eye Treat Toppers.

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To enter this giveaway and throw your name into the cauldron,

leave a comment telling me your favorite halloween candy or treat!

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Subscribers/followers automatically get a second entry.

Subscribe by email or follow on Facebook

and let me know by comment.

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For a third entry, share this giveaway on Facebook

and leave an additional comment telling me so.

Brains of Cawing Ravens

Giveaway is open to those witches :) living in the continental US only. 

 The winners will be chosen October 3rd,

in time for you to Eat, Drink and Be Witchy!

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winners.

Eat, Drink and Be Witchy Tricks & Treats!

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The Flavors of Fall Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers have had a full & delicious week packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for picnic week!

Here’s a final picnic to wrap up the week and with a little fall flavor to end on!

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Fall is my favorite season and the perfect time to picnic or tailgate!

I found a vintage Redmon picnic basket from a favorite antique mall for $15 to pack up and take home with me. . .

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The brown woven plaid basket reminiscent of football, fall sweaters,

leaves and thermoses filled with steaming soup!

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Our leaves don’t typically change in North Carolina until October so I packed some fall photos from the archives to add for some additional seasonal color!

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My galvanized bottle tote (from Pottery Barn) makes a convenient picnic caddy. . .

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And makes it easy to tote jars of flatware, napkins, food, flowers/ leaves and bottles or glasses for a picnic. We’re picnicking with Shelton Vineyards Madison Lee, a Yadkin Valley North Carolina wine. You can enjoy a visit and sample some other Bottled Sunshine, here.

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My salad inspiration for our picnic came from Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

Spinach Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts can be enjoyed year round, but would be especially good with pears in season in the fall.

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 No recipe required for this salad, just a combination of baby spinach, firm ripe pear, peeled and sliced, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.

I tossed my sliced pears in some canned pineapple juice, less tart than lemon juice, before assembling the salad to prevent them from oxidizing.

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Toast your walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant at 350 degrees (about 7- 10 minutes) for maximum flavor and crunch! This recipe called for adding endive, cored and thinly sliced, to the spinach, which you can add or omit. It would be great with dried cranberries too for some extra sweetness and color.

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Bring along your favorite dressing in a jar to add before serving. If you’re looking for a wonderful salad dressing for fall, try Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette, a mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard.

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We’re picnicking with our favorite fall soup, Roasted Pear and Butternut Squash. It’s flavorful, healthy, and easy, since you roast all the ingredients in the oven and then puree them with chicken stock!

Butternut Squash Soup

I prefer the flavor of chicken stock but you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative. Use an immersion blender in your dutch oven or stock pot to blend the roasted vegetables with the hot stock for easy clean up and no risk of exploding soup in your blender.

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Garnish your soup before serving with a little crumbled blue cheese, chopped walnuts and a little bacon or crispy prosciutto to top it off is delicious too!

You can find the recipe, here.

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And ending on a sweet note, Easy Caramel Apple Bars!

They’re easy since they start with an oatmeal cookie mix that’s layered with apples and a caramel topping.

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This crowd-pleasing recipe comes together in 15 minutes and bakes in about 20.

The hardest part about these bars is waiting for them to cool long enough to cut!

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You can find the recipe, here.

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Flavors for Fall Picnic Details:

Plaid Throw / Target, several years ago

Brown coverlet/ Bed, Bath & Beyond, several years ago

Redmond Plaid Picnic Basket & Fruit Crate / antique mall

Plaid frame JanetBasket with cover / Amazon

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Caddy & Flatware / Pottery Barn

Plates & Mugs / Johnson Brothers Fruit Sampler Old Granite

Napkins / Pier 1

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

The Flavors of Fall Picnic

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A Rainstorm Picnic

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I’m joining the The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for a couple of months in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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My Rainstorm Picnic was inspired by a week of summer weather with pop up storms, a bottle of Rainstorm Pinot Gris. . .

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. . .and Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway. 

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Some shelter under the dock provided the cover and some colorful umbrellas set the stage.

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Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway: 

A picnic is classically defined as a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion. But why settle for that when you can experience a Sunset Romance Picnic, a Snowshoe Picnic, or even a Dinner Picnic in Bed?

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 Hilary Heminway and Alex Heminway share dozens of creative ways to take a meal outside, whether the sun is just coming up for the day or romantically dropping in the sky, in the heat of summer or during a winter’s chill. All-season picnics include: Sunset romance, boat on a lake, snowshoeing in the woods, rodeo tailgate, riverside barbecue, horseback riding, dog pack, picnic for children, and rainy day.

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A water-themed menu was provided for a rainy day picnic. . .

 Watercress Soup, Watermelon Salad and Water Crackers with Cheese.

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I filled some rain boots with some flowers for vases . . .

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And I packed some water related reading to enjoy. . .

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Waterside Cottages and Waterside Living.

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And packed my favorite Watermelon Salad, combined with feta cheese,

the creamy, salty cheese a perfect partner to the sweet, juicy melon!

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No recipe required, just the fresh and delicious combination of watermelon, feta cheese, chopped basil, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper!

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Water crackers and Brie, tied with some baker’s twine and some herbs, rosemary, blooming lavender and tarragon.

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A rain gauge ready and handy, tucked in a pot of lantana. . .

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I couldn’t find watercress for soup this time of year so I substituted arugula for a similar peppery flavor.

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Potato-Arugula Soup

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (or use 4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, no need to peel)

3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock

1 cup arugula (or substitute watercress)

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon lemon juice

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Directions

Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the arugula. Cook for 1 -2 minutes, until wilted.

Place half of the broth mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender for easier clean up and no danger of exploding soup). Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Repeat the blending process with the remaining broth mixture. Return all the puréed mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Serve immediately or refrigerate at least 2 hours until well chilled.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Rainstorm Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

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