Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: January 2017

Broccoli Buttermilk Soup

Warm, nostalgic comfort in a bowl, that is what I think when I taste a spoonful of this broccoli buttermilk soup.  It is creamy without being too heavy, and the buttermilk gives it an extra tangy flavor that blends well with the broccoli and herbs.  Two percent milk keeps this soup fairly light while still allowing it to deliver that smooth comforting taste we associate with broccoli soup.  Top it with some shredded cheddar cheese, and it is even tastier!

broccoli buttermilk soupCold, gray skies make me long for soup.  Uncertain times and difficult situations make me long for soup.  Soup soothes a heart that is in need of comfort.  Whether there is turmoil out in the larger world or turmoil in our daily interactions, the act of making soup is an act of positive creation, and a steaming bowl of soup represents the intent of that positive creation.

broccoli buttermilk soupThe richness, the creaminess, offset by the earthy flavor of the broccoli, has such a grounding, calming, and nourishing effect.  This recipe is based on one I found in my Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  It is quick and easy to make, and tastes great for lunch or as a side dish with a sandwich for a cozy dinner.  Broccoli soup is a classic soup that has so many positive associations and memories for me.  Sometimes a classic, nostalgic soup is just what a person needs.

With the weather so gray and with no snow on the ground, we have been doing some indoor things this month.  One very simple and fun trip was to the conservatory at the botanical gardens near us.  What a great place to visit in the winter!  The air in the conservatory is warm and humid, and there are beautiful plants and flowers blooming everywhere.  It’s like being magically transported to a tropical paradise for awhile!

broccoli buttermilk soupAnother fun winter trip was to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  My son is a car enthusiast, and so my husband’s brother and his wife, who know their way around Detroit, took us to the auto show and on a tour of part of the city as well.  We thoroughly enjoyed this day, and Detroit is a city rich in history and positive aspects.  One unexpected bonus of that day was listening to a concert by a jazz band from the Detroit School of Arts.  Very inspirational for my kids, who both love music.

I hope you all have a great weekend, and if you are looking for a broccoli soup recipe, this one is really delicious!  Stay warm and take care!  I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck, Fiesta Friday.  And I am sharing this quote that caught my eye today:  “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh  broccoli buttermilk soup

Broccoli Buttermilk Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
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  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of broccoli (or about 2 large heads of broccoli), chopped to the size you want it
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese for the top (optional)


In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the broth and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, and then add the chopped broccoli.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the broccoli is tender.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and continue to stir with the whisk until it is bubbly and smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and buttermilk and stir until the mixture just thickens.

Add the milk mixture to the chicken broth/broccoli mixture.  Continue to stir until everything is combined and very hot, but do not allow the soup to boil.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Ladle the soup into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.  Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from Hollyhock & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.



Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

Sometimes the most basic recipes are the best. They allow natural flavor to shine.  That is the case with this simply wonderful pear crisp.  Juicy ripe pears give us such a burst of bright flavor, accompanied by a lightly sweet crisp topping and a spoonful of fluffy whipped cream.

pear crispJanuary is a time when good fruit can be hard to come by.  But pears are perfect for this time of year.  They are bountiful at the grocery store right now, and when baked, they deliver such a fresh, sweetness, especially when baked with cinnamon and brown sugar.

I have made countless apple crisps in my time, but pear crisp is somewhat new to me.  And really, I don’t know why I have not made it sooner.  It is my new favorite way to eat pears.  I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, called Savor, by Ilona Oppeheim.  I omitted the walnuts for my recipe, mainly so my sweet son would enjoy this crisp, though I think they would be great in it myself.  But it is great without the nuts too, especially with a dollop of homemade whipped cream!

pear crispSunny days are hard to come by in a Michigan January as well, and it looks like the sun has just come out here for awhile. We will take what we can get, and I will be getting outside here as soon as I can!  We had a sunny day last Sunday, and were able to get out on the lake near our house before the weather warmed up just enough to thaw the ice.  My husband and his friend ice fished while my daughter and I had a few minutes before sunset to walk down to the lake and say hello.  It was so peaceful to be out on the ice at sunset.

pear crispFood can be a great comfort at all times of the year.  In the middle of the winter, when it is often cold and gray outside, and dark in the mornings and evenings, warm food can definitely lift the spirits.  This pear crisp puts a smile on my face, and my family loves it as well.  And it is so very easy to make, which is an added bonus! Be well and stay warm! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s weekly link party, Fiesta Friday!pear crisppears

Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1/3 cup of all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup  or one half stick) of unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing the baking pan
  • 4 ripe pears (or 6 pears if they are small), peeled, cored, and diced
  • whipped cream (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  (You can also use four 4-inch ramekins if you wish.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs.

Place the diced pears in the baking pan in a single layer.  Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and fruit is soft.  Serve warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on top, if desired.  Enjoy!


Tofu Miso Instant Noodle Bowl

Enjoy the ease, speed, and savory, satisfying umami taste of an instant noodle bowl without all the unhealthy additives with this do-it-yourself tofu miso instant noodle bowl.  With just a few ingredients and a mason jar, you can make this delicious and healthy soup in fifteen minutes! Tofu, miso paste, spinach, and thin noodles combine to make a super-quick lunch packed with protein, iron, and many other nutrients.

I have been a fan of instant noodle bowls for a long time.  Like many of us, I relied on instant ramen noodle packages when I was just out of college and living on my own.  I loved the salty, tangy taste and they filled me up for just around a dollar a meal! I quickly got more interested in my health and whole foods, so I had to let the instant ramen meals go. But in a pinch, when I am in a rush or when I am craving a quick umami taste, I will still buy an instant noodle bowl package.  So when I saw this mason jar instant noodle bowl idea in one of my new cookbooks, Mad Genius Tips, by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine, I was very excited.  (That book is full of fun and great ideas, by the way, and I am excited to try more!)

The great thing about making your own noodle bowls is that you can vary the recipe depending on what you have on hand and what kind of taste you want, and you can make them really healthy!  Also, they are portable so you can pack them and then make them at work, or wherever you can get hot water. Just layer the ingredients in a mason jar or other type of heat-proof jar, pour in some boiling water, close the lid, and wait for five minutes.  In this case, with the miso, I found that it works best to add the miso paste mixed with some warm water after the five minutes, since it is not good for the miso to boil.

tofu miso noodle bowlThe recipe below is loosely based on one I found in Mad Genius Tips, though I used tofu instead of chicken and changed a few other things around as well.  Also, I found that pouring the soup into a bowl after it cooks in the mason jar makes it easier to eat, so that is why I call it a noodle bowl instead of a noodle cup.

Miso is one of my favorite ways to add the savory umami flavor to foods.  It is made from aged and fermented soybeans, so it contains that “good” bacteria that is so popular now.  In addition to the beneficial micro-organisms, miso is a complete protein and is full of minerals and antioxidants.  There are lots of different types of miso paste, including white miso, yellow miso, and red miso.  The kind I use in this tofu miso instant noodle bowl is considered brown miso, (or Genmai Miso), and it is aged and fermented soybeans and brown rice.  It has a pretty strong flavor, so a little goes a long way.

White miso is considered the most mild kind, and red miso is also quite strong.  You can use any type of miso you like in this noodle bowl, and adjust the amount to your taste.  The other important thing I have learned about using miso paste is that as I mentioned above, you should not let it boil, because that can destroy the micro-organisms and make it grainy, so I prefer to add the miso paste to the mixture after it has steeped in the boiling water, and the water has cooled a bit.

I like to buy baked tofu because it is fairly firm and holds up well.  Since the cooking time is only about five minutes, the noodles need to be either very thin noodles that are made to be cooked almost instantly, or noodles that have already been cooked.  I have used both, and they both work well.  I especially like using a type of Japanese noodles called Tomoshiraga Somen because they are almost as thin as thread, and cook really quickly.  I have also used leftover cooked spaghetti or angel hair noodles, and they work too, if you are trying to use up your leftovers. If you have leftover cooked vegetables and want to add them, give it a try!  Otherwise, quick-cooking vegetables like spinach, peas, or mushrooms work best.

I hope you all have a great weekend! If you are looking for a very quick, healthy, heart-warming lunch, give this tofu miso instant noodle bowl a try! There is nothing like soup to warm the body and soul on a cold day. tofu miso noodle bowl

Tofu Miso Instant Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 1
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  • 1/3 cup (or about 2 ounces) of baked tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
  • about 1 and 3/4 ounces, or about 1/2 cup of very thin oriental style noodles (or previously cooked angel hair or spaghetti pasta), broken or cut to fit into a wide-mouth one-pint Mason jar
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) of brown, red, or white miso paste
  • about 1 and 3/4 cups of boiling water, plus about 1/2 cup of warm water for the miso paste


Cut the baked tofu into cubes and tear the spinach into bite sized pieces.  Layer the tofu and spinach in a one-pint Mason jar.  Add the noodles, breaking them or cutting them into pieces that fit through the opening of the jar, filling the jar to the top.  Set the miso paste aside.  Heat some water in a kettle until it just boils.  Pour the hot water into the Mason jar and screw on the lid.  Let the Mason jar sit for five minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a bit (1/2 cup or so) of warm water, whisking it till the clumps dissolve.  When the five minutes are done, remove the lid from the Mason jar and pour the contents into a bowl.  Stir in the miso-water mixture until everything is combined.  Enjoy!


Cozy Oatmeal Baked Apples

Fill your kitchen with the iconic smell of baking apples and cinnamon with these cozy oatmeal baked apples.  Cored apples are filled with an oat-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and then baked until the apples are soft and the oatmeal mixture has a cake-like consistency.  The moistness of the baked apples surrounds the oatmeal mixture to make a heart-warming dessert or breakfast that is full of nutrients and delicious comfort.

oatmeal baked applesI love all types of baked apple-cinnamon recipes, and this one is a bit different to me because the apple is stuffed with a filling inside of it instead of sliced and used as a filling.  Because it’s a bit different, it makes a festive dessert or breakfast, especially served with some vanilla ice cream or drizzled with some maple syrup, or even caramel sauce.  We had them for breakfast this morning straight up without any added toppings, and they were so good!

oatmeal baked appleI added two new cookbooks to my collection over the holidays, and I adapted this recipe from one of them–Savor by Ilona Oppenheim.  I love the photos in this cookbook, and the recipes are natural, beautiful, and seasonal.  I made a few changes from the recipe in the book to fit the tastes of my family–but I am so grateful for the idea and the basic framework.  This is a dessert/breakfast that is easy to make and comes together quite quickly, plus you can feel good about the wholesome ingredients.

oatmeal baked applesThe holiday season is over now, and it is time to get back to work, time for the kids to go back to school and indoor soccer, and hopefully time for me to put some positive new intentions and habits into practice in my little corner of the world.  We spent a few days up in northern Michigan over the New Year, and it was so refreshing and invigorating to be up in that cold, clean air!

Getting away from the routine allowed us to have some good family time when we weren’t rushed or pulled in a bunch of different directions.  We played some long games of Pokémon Monopoly (thanks to my son 🙂 ), went sledding, and walked along the snowy beach.  I loved all the lights in town on the dark evenings–lights in the trees, lights on the shops and restaurants, lights reflected in the water along the beach, and especially the fireworks over the lake on New Year’s Eve.

This is such a good time of year for introspectionand for making home a warm and cozy place.  Walking in the cold air clears the head.  It is also definitely the time of year to make warm, nourishing things in the kitchen.  These oatmeal baked apples hit the spot this morning.  Happy New Year!  I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck, Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Quinn @ Dad What’s 4 Dinner and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipesoatmeal baked apples

Cozy Oatmeal Baked Apples

  • Servings: 6
  • Print


  • 6 medium to large apples (I like Honeycrisp or Jonagold for this)
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well with a fork.  Make sure your butter is melted.

In another bowl, combine the milk, vanilla extract, egg, and melted butter.  Stir well. Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the oat mixture, and stir well with a wooden spoon.

With a paring knife, cut off the tops of the apples.  Set the tops aside.  With the same knife, carefully cut around the core and cut out the core (you can also use an apple corer).  Scoop out the seeds and rest of the core with a spoon, if necessary.  Leave 1/2 inch at the bottom of the apples intact, with the holes in the core about an inch wide.

Place the cored apples on the prepared baking dish.  Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the cavities of the apples, filling them as full as you can.  Place the tops back on the apples for baking.  If you have oat mixture left over, you can bake it in a small baking pan and bake it alongside the apples.  (I put mine in a min-loaf pan and it made a cute little cake-like loaf).

Bake the stuffed apples in your 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the oat mixture is set.  These taste best warm, but can also be served at room temperature.  Enjoy!