Fabulously Addictive Cheesy Potato Soup

The other day I had a Facebook message from a friend suggesting an online food contest she thought I should try. Actually, her words were, “You could rock this…,” and I was flattered (even if it turns out she said the same thing to her other foodie friends).
What kind of contest is it, you ask? A potato contest!
And what does the grand prize winner get? A professional photo of the recipe and the cover of Family Circle magazine, plus a few other goodies.
So, I am going to rock this. I have the most amazing, comforting, delicious, cantstopthinkingabouttheleftovers recipe for cheesy potato soup, and now I’m going to share it with you. 

You will get addicted!
Cheesy Potato Soup

cheesy potato soup, potatoes, potato soup recipes
{Print this recipe}

Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 20 minutes | Serves: 4-6

2 cups water
6 potatoes, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk*
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3 green onions, sliced
6 strips bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/4 cup sour cream
Combine the first five ingredients in a large soup pot.

potatoes, potato soup recipes, cheesy potato soup
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or until potatoes are fork-tender). Keep covered over low heat; do not drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, whisking to combine, then let cook for an additional minute. Add the milk all at once, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture starts to thicken and bubble, whisk constantly for one more minute. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring until cheese has melted. Add the milk mixture and the green onions to the soup pot and stir to combine. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with bacon and sour cream for garnish.

Let’s hope we have a winner!

*I use whole milk, but you could try 2%. I wouldn’t use skim milk because it doesn’t have enough fat content and your sauce could break.

Out and About: Isabella’s

I was watching 24 Hour Restaurant Battle the other day, and one of the chefs created a lengthy menu filled with lots of little portioned entrées. In Spain they call these tiny meals “tapas,” and it made me think of my favorite local restaurant: Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar, in downtown historic Frederick.

Before I go on, one thing: Volt would probably be my true favorite local restaurant, except for the fact that it costs a small fortune to eat there. I’d like to think my favorite restaurant is one that I can visit on a whim any weekend. Volt is definitely a planned visit, at least for my wallet.

The last time I went to Isabella’s was in July for my birthday, with my sister, Josie, and friend, Theresa. It’s a very social restaurant in the sense that you sit amongst dozens of people, yet there’s just the right amount of “room buzz” to keep your conversation private without feeling as though you need to read lips. On this particular trip, we were seated in the back of the restaurant, in a room that typically seats about 50 people in groups of two to six. Not on my birthday though.

That night, there were four tables around the outside of the room, each with two to four people seated at them. And the other 35 people? They were seated at one, large, u-shaped table in the center of the room. The three of us weren’t sure exactly what kind of group it was, but it was clear that they were an organized group of some sort, like a book club or a dinner club. Now, stay with me…. There was The Leader, The Queen (not literally, but they called one woman “Queen so & so”), and dozens of others that all had one thing in common: A copy of some book that The Queen had written. There was an odd air in the room that evening, but three things stood out as extra peculiar and really funny:

1. About 15 minutes after we were seated, The Leader got up on a chair, tinked his glass with a fork, and announced, “A BIG thank you to the people sharing this room with us, and for putting up with us tonight.” The 10 of us all exchanged glances around the room, not knowing whether to nod and smile politely, or burst out laughing. Nodding won.

2. Midway through the meal, a different man, we’ll call him The Reader, called everyone’s attention and proceeded to read an excerpt of The Queen’s novel. I’d tell you more, except a good bit of it was dirty enough that I don’t want to repeat it here! Seriously, in a restaurant he read this! We burst out laughing AND exchanged glances.

3. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us our dessert and my chocolate pots de crème had a candle flickering in it – the waiter had remembered that it was my birthday from carding me for my glass of wine at the beginning of our meal (bless you, waiter!). One of the ladies in the group noticed, and said, “OH! It’s your birthday! Would you like us to SING for you???”

Theresa and I both politely said, “No.”

Josie chirped, “Her name is Liza, that’s L-I-Z-A.” And the singing commenced – with all 35 participating. I think they were doing harmonies. It was so obscure and bizarre that it was actually hysterical, which is good, because it could very easily have been humiliating.

As it turned out, my birthday dinner at Isabella’s was wonderfully entertaining beyond the tapas, so much so that I’ve not even mentioned the food! Everything I’ve tasted from their vast menu has been delicious, so I recommend trying something new every time you go. But, here are my favorites:
  • Mejillones Al Vapor Cataluña - Mussels, pan steamed with garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil
  • Queso al Horno – Brie baked on toasted bread with port wine reduction and fresh oranges
  • Cocoa Y Setas – Sautéed mushrooms, roasted garlic, olive oil, and melted cheese on grilled flat bread
  • Dátiles Fritos con Chorizo - Bacon wrapped Spanish dates stuffed with chorizo on a mild goat cheese cream
And last, but most certainly NOT least, because out of all my favorites, this is my MOST favorite:
  • Esparragos Fritos con Salsa Alioli – Panko crusted asparagus with a smoked tomato aioli (While the asparagus “fries” are amazing, some might argue the aioli is the best part)
Go and enjoy five or six different tapas with your friends; Isabella’s is all about atmosphere, sharing, and good food!

Out and About: Homemade Grilled Pizza

Well, sort of. Today “out and about” takes me to our vacation house’s back patio, where Josie’s boyfriend, Shawn, made the most delicious grilled pizza I’ve ever had. He made the dough by hand, literally since the house doesn’t have a stand mixer or bread machine. And once placed on the 600 degree grill, it became crispy…and…chewy…and…soft, with a smokey-char-grill flavor. In word: Amazing. 

Though he makes his own pizza and sauce regularly, Shawn decided this time to follow a recipe from a Cooking Light magazine we found lying around the house. Surprisingly (I say this because you always wonder with a “light” recipe, how delicious it will actually be), it was delicious.

Cooking Light, May 2010 Edition
We couldn’t stop eating the pizza – even right up to the last, which Shawn decided to get creative with (mozzarella, provolone, olive oil, peppers, fresh tomatoes, onions, and a fresh basil garnish).

Really, you should try this – REALLY.
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