Tag: homemade

Chocolate Éclair Cake

Chocolate Éclair Cake

No-bake chocolate éclair cake is the perfect make-ahead dessert for birthdays, holidays, or family dinners.

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili uses pantry ingredients, can be on your table in 30 minutes, and has a great vegetarian option.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Frozen Broccoli

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Frozen Broccoli

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Overcooked broccoli smells like farts. Let’s be real. I love broccoli, but fart smell can be one of the hazards of working with cruciferous vegetables. Obviously, I want to avoid this problem with my broccoli cheddar soup recipe, and the answer turns out to be frozen broccoli.

Testing this soup gave me a run for my money. At first I wanted this to be an Instant Pot recipe, but it was never quite right. The virtues of a pressure cooker work against broccoli and cheese, namely extreme heat and pressure. The broccoli overcooked and got brownish and stinky, and the cheese seized. In my quest for the perfect broccoli cheddar soup, I went back to my old friend, the enameled cast iron pot.

If you’re looking for an affordable cast iron Dutch oven, Amazon Basics has one for a fraction of the price than the fancier-sounding brands. Plus, it comes in lots of colors! Enameled cast iron is one of my very favorite cookware materials because it heats reliably and gently, sears great, and is easy to clean. As a bonus, enameled cast iron can also go in the oven.

Why Frozen Broccoli?

Frozen vegetables can be pretty great. In the case of frozen broccoli, it is quickly par-cooked and then flash frozen. This preserves its bright green color and makes it ready to be thawed and added to this soup. We’re not so much cooking the broccoli as heating it up, preventing overcooking and unappealing odors. You could get the same results by blanching (quickly boiling for a few seconds and then plunging into ice water to stop the cooking) fresh broccoli, but frozen broccoli has been through the same process, and you don’t have to do it! All you need to do is thaw, chop, and throw the broccoli in the soup.

Techniques For Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Making a roux: A roux is equal parts butter and flour. Technically they should be equal by weight, but for this application, by volume is fine. A roux is used as a thickener. The butter and flour are cooked together to avoid a raw flour taste. Then stock is added and brought to a boil, then a simmer. The roux will reach the peak of its thickening power after a few minutes of simmering.

broccoli cheddar soup

And that wraps up week 2 of Soup Month 2022! If you love soup as much as I do, check out creamy mushroom soup with chicken and brown rice and taco soup.

If you’ve been on my social media lately, you may have noticed that very soon the name of this site will be changing! When I started The At-Home Test Cook, I thought the blog would be very science-y and testing forward. While I do a lot of testing for my recipes, the way that my little heart has taken this site has veered toward comfort food and recipes geared toward feeding family and friends. The new name will reflect this, and I can’t wait! Thank you for all your support, and I’ll see you back here next week for week 3 of Soup Month!

broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Gracious Cooking
Broccoli cheddar soup comes together easily on the stove – perfect for a chilly day.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 6 or 7 quart pot preferably enameled cast iron, but anything with a heavy bottom is good.
  • 1 Rubber spatula
  • cutting board and knife


  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups vegetable stock chicken stock or water work, too.
  • 6 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice squeeze of a fresh lemon
  • 4 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste yes, I'm going to make you taste as you go. 🙂


  • Preheat a large (6 or 7 quart) enameled Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
  • Thaw your broccoli by placing it in a large bowl and microwaving until thawed, but not cooked all the way through. I did 3 one minute increments, stirring in between. Then dump your thawed broccoli onto either a kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towels, and gently wring the water out over the sink. Chop into small pieces. Now your frozen broccoli is ready to go.
  • Cut 2 Tablespoons off of your 1/2 cup stick of butter and add it to the pot. When the butter bubbles, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent.
  • Add the grated carrots, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the carrots are soft, about 3 minutes or so.
  • Add the rest of the stick of butter to the pot. Let it melt, and then add 1/2 cup of flour. Stir until a paste forms. This will be the thickener for the soup (the roux). Don't worry about the onions and carrots being in there. They'll be fine.
  • Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.
  • Add a little bit of the vegetable stock, stir vigorously to break up any lumps in the roux. Add more stock, stir again. Then add the rest of the stock and stir.
  • Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Add about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt at this point, and add your squeeze of lemon juice. Check for seasoning. It should taste bright and savory, not dull. Add more salt until the seasoning is where you like it.
  • Add the thawed, chopped broccoli and stir.
  • Add the cheese a in 2 or 3 additions, stirring in between until all the cheese is melted. You don't want the soup at a rolling boil for this, or you run the risk of your cheese seizing. A simmer is just fine.
  • Add the heavy cream and stir.
  • Adjust the seasoning. Dairy dulls seasoning, so you will need to add more salt and pepper until you have a bright tasting, savory soup.
  • Bring the soup back to a simmer, serve, and enjoy!
Keyword Broccoli, Cheddar, Cheese, Soup
How to Make Taco Soup

How to Make Taco Soup

Homemade taco soup is warm, filling, and full of tasty vegetables. Taco soup comes together in about 39 minutes with ingredients you probably already have!

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple cinnamon rolls are the luxurious treat that your next gathering needs. Your family and friends will think you’re a baking genius.

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Whoever invented the chocolate chip muffin deserves a smooch. Nothing beats a fluffy muffin riddled with chocolatey puddles and a crunchy, sugary top. Conveniently these one bowl chocolate chip muffins only take 15 minutes to prepare, 15-20 minutes to bake, and use minimal equipment. This easy recipe is also fun to make with kids. One bowl chocolate chip muffins are simple to make, the kids can dump ingredients into the bowl, and there is no electric mixer required. In fact, I’m whipping up a quadruple batch of these babies with my 6 year-old daughter today. She’s having a bake sale this weekend to earn some money for a stuffed snake toy she wants to buy.


To make one bowl chocolate chip muffins, you will need:

Special Ingredients

The only special ingredient in one bowl chocolate chip muffins is the turbinado sugar. Used for sprinkling on top of the muffins, turbinado sugar has a large crystal structure and creates a delicious crunchy muffin top. It is not a required ingredient, but turbinado sugar really brings these, or any other sweet muffins to the next level of deliciousness. You can find turbinado sugar at most grocery stores in the baking aisle, or on Amazon.


When making one bowl chocolate chip muffins, it is important to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without overmixing. To do this, start at the top of the bowl (the side furthest from your body). Slide your rubber spatula down the side of the bowl furthest from you, and scrape along the bottom of the mixing bowl until you reach the part of the bowl closest to your body. Next, hook the spatula to your left, creating a “J” shaped pattern. Repeat. The goal is to bring wet ingredients up from the bottom and fold them together with the dry ones until the batter is well combined. If you do this by just stirring in a circular motion, you will create too many gluten networks. This abundance of gluten networks will make your muffins tough and dense, and nobody wants that!

Hot tip: for the most even chocolate distribution, use mini chocolate chips. I almost never have these lying around, so I normally just use regular chocolate chips, and place a few chips on the top of the muffins right before they go in the oven. This ensures that you get some chocolate on the top.

one bowl chocolate chip muffin

Bake Time and Muffin Storage

Every oven is different, and so bake times vary. For my oven, one bowl chocolate chip muffins are done after 18 minutes of total baking. You will know when the muffins are done when you lightly press on the top of a muffin and it springs back instead of sinking or feeling squishy.

Chocolate chip muffins will stay good covered at room temperature for about 3 days, though they’re best the day they’re baked. To freeze fully baked muffins, put them in a zip top freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, in the fridge, or throw these chocolatey morsels in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

I can’t wait to see the muffins you bake! Tag me on instagram @at_home_test_cook so I can see your creations. If you love this recipe, check out these apple cinnamon muffins too!

Happy baking!

one bowl chocolate chip muffins

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gracious Cooking
These fluffy chocolate chip muffins come together in 30 minutes and only use one bowl.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 standard muffins


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips either regular or mini
  • turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the muffin tops


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare a standard 12 well muffin tin. Spray the tin with Baking Pam and line the muffin wells with paper muffin cups.
  • In a medium to large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.
  • Add the eggs and buttermilk, and whisk until smooth.
  • To the bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together until well combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter. This is best done with a large scoop (#16 scoop).
  • Sprinkle the top of each muffin with turbinado sugar. This creates a crunchy, sweet crust when baked.
  • Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes. The muffins are done with the tops spring back and do not sink when pushed slightly.
  • Remove the muffins to a wire cooling rack, cool, and enjoy!
Keyword chocolate chip, Dessert, Muffins, Quick & Easy
Homemade Cheez-It Tostadas

Homemade Cheez-It Tostadas

I made Joshua Weissman’s recipe for Taco Bell’s Big Cheez-It Tostadas. It was adventure in cheese, crackers, and fast food fun.

Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon

Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon

This simple, elegant salmon dinner comes together in 40 minutes!

Twice Baked Potato Skins

Twice Baked Potato Skins

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Potato skins saved my dog niece’s life. Nova, my dog niece, has Addison’s disease, which affects her adreanal gland. When Nova has a flare up, she sometimes stops eating, which is obviously very stressful. During one particularly bad flare up, Allison, Nova’s mom, my sister, had tried everything to get Nova to eat again. The poor dog looked like Skeletor. She wouldn’t eat dog food, broth, Wendy’s chicken nuggets, cheese, hotdogs, nothing. Until one fateful day.

Allison was heating up some potato skins for herself, when Nova became very interested. The little dog hadn’t shown any interest in food for some time, so when they were done and cool, Allison offered one to Nova. Lo and behold, she ate it! She loved it! The magic of potato skins had brought back Nova’s appetite. She started eating again, and was back to her happy little self in no time.

This little cutie was cured by the allure of potato skins. Look at how happy and fluffy she is now.

Could you use some potato skin magic in your life? I’ve got a recipe for you.

Potato Skins Can Be Improved

If you’ve never had a potato skin, they are little potato shells that are baked in the oven with cheese and bacon on them. Are they delicious? Yes. Perfect? No. What happened to the middle of the potato? Did it get thrown away? Did a little potato gremlin eat it when no one was looking? Who knows. What I do know is that in this version of potato skins, we’re making a filling and stuffing those bad boys.

potato skins on plate


The equipment for this recipe is very simple. You need the following:

  1. one half sheet pan
  2. one wire cooling rack
  3. parchment paper

Ingredients for Twice Baked Potato Skins

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • salt and olive oil for roasting the potatoes
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • salt and pepper for the filling
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese- if you shred the block of cheese yourself, you will get a better result. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in starch, which can affect the texture when it melts.
  • Dijon mustard- this is the secret weapon. A little Dijon makes all the other seasoning pop. It’s delightful, and doesn’t make the potato skins taste like mustard.
  • One egg- this binds the filling and makes the potato skins puff slightly in the oven.
  • Cooked bacon, chopped.
  • Sliced green onions and sour cream for serving


  1. Bake the potatoes
  2. slice the potatoes the long way, scoop out the middles, then slice the short way.
sliced potatoes

3. Mix up the filling. Taste the filling for seasoning before adding the egg.

potato skins filling

4. Stuff the potato skins with the filling, top with cheese and bacon, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

potato skins

5. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.

I hope you enjoy these little twice baked beauties. I know Nova will. 😉

Please leave a comment with a recipe you’d like to see! Happy cooking!

potato skins

Twice Baked Potato Skins

Gracious Cooking
Use the whole potato and take classic potato skins up a notch.
Prep Time 1 hr 45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 16 potato skins


For Roasting the Potatoes

  • 4 large russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Filling

  • the insides of your roasted potatoes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg

For the Topping

  • 8-9 strips bacon, cooked and chopped up
  • more sharp cheddar cheese
  • sour cream and sliced green onion for serving


Roasting the Potatoes

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a half sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper and putting a wire rack inside. The wire rack and parchment aren't strictly necessary, but help with even roasting and cleanup.
  • Prick the washed potatoes all over with a fork. Put a little olive oil in your hands, rub the potatoes down, and place them on the wire rack. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you don't have any cooked bacon, cook some now. I cook mine in the oven while the potatoes are roasting. Put the bacon on a parchment lined half sheet pan, and bake for 25 minutes.

Prep the Filling

  • Let the potatoes cool for 10-20 minutes, or until you can handle them. Slice the potatoes in half the long way, and scoop the flesh of the potatoes into a medium sized mixing bowl, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh on the potato skins.
  • Slice the potato halves in half again the short way, making 16 potato skin shells.
  • In the mixing bowl with the insides of your potatoes, add the butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, shredded cheese, and dijon. Taste for seasoning before adding the egg.
  • After you add the egg, mix the filling until well combined.

Assembling the Potato Skins

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fill each potato skin shell with filling, going no higher than the top of the potato skin. Arrange all the potato skins on the same wire rack and half sheet pan you roasted the potatoes on.
  • Top with cheese and bacon bits, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the filling has puffed very slightly.
  • Sprinkle the potato skins with sliced green onions and serve with sour cream.
Keyword Appetizer, Bacon, Baked Potato, Cheese, Party, Potato
Creamy Mushroom Soup With Chicken And Brown Rice

Creamy Mushroom Soup With Chicken And Brown Rice

Creamy mushroom soup with chicken and brown rice is the perfect fall or winter meal. This soup will warm you up and make everyone happy.

%d bloggers like this: