Author: Trish Lobenfeld

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup


Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a soup made with a roux, flour, butter and milk as a thickener. I often find that too much roux is used and the soup is pasty. So unappealing. Another problem these days is finding broccoli with full stalks. Stores are cutting them off and repurposing them for their deli or salad bar with broccoli slaws. This is a problem for me, because I only use stalks in my soup. I don’t care for the texture of the florets in the soup and I think they give the soup that bitter taste you get when you overcook broccoli.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Farmer’s markets are a great source for whole broccoli, but the season here is short. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful grocer nearby, The Village Market (LINK) in Wilton CT that accommodates all requests and I can ask for a couple of whole heads. The florets are then steamed for dinner and I might even put a few tiny ones on the soup as a garnish.

Broccoli stalks can be a tad woody and it’s important to trim the ends and pare the outer layer to remove the tough skin.

The recipe calls for a minimal amount of salt. Saltiness of cheese and stock varies and it’s best to have all the ingredients incorporated first and then adjust the salt at the end.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This broccoli Cheddar soup has a silky texture and delicate flavor. It freezes well, so make up a batch or two for future use. I like to use two-cup Mason jars; the perfect serving for one.

Watch the Broccoli Cheddar Soup Video Here:


Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 10 2-cup portions
This broccoli Cheddar soup is super delicious, has a silky texture that hits the spot on any day. Use and extra-sharp cheddar!
  • 8 cups broccoli stalks, pared and chopped (8 stalks, florets removed)
  • 2 cups sliced onion (1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (2 large stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • several dashes of hot sauce, such as Cholulu or Siracha
  • Small broccoli florets, steamed, optional
  1. Place broccoli, onion, celery, garlic, salt and stock/water in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is soft.
  3. Puree the soups in batches in a blender or food processor or in the saucepan with an immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Pour the pureed soup into another pourable container and wipe out the saucepan.
  5. Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Slowly pour in the warm soup, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a gentle boil and cook another 2-3 minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste.
  7. Add the cheese and stir until completely melted.
  8. Shake in the hot sauce to taste; this gives the soup a boost, it doesn’t necessarily need to be spicy hot, but the sauce gives the soup piquancy.
  9. Soup freezes well.


The Personal Touch

The personal touch



Those Borchin/Crosbie girls are so talented. Jane, mother-of-the-groom and Susan, her sister, have added a wonderful personal touch to our upcoming wedding!

We’ve already experienced Susan’s delicious cookies on our wedding dress shopping trip. If you haven’t seen them, click here!

They made more cookies for the shower, in the signature lips and mustache theme the kids are using for their invitation. And the beautiful towel cake! Check those out here!

For the wedding, these two put their heads together once again and come up with more of that personal touch! They found a birdcage, decorated it and it will be used for the gift cards at the wedding. Beautiful and practical.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

Aunt Susan lined a white basket and added purple bows for Aubree’s rose petals.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

And, she made these gorgeous ring pillows for our two ring bearers, Rowan and Scarlett.

Borchin/Lobenfeld wedding

Jane and Susan have also volunteered to make toiletry baskets for both the Men’s and Ladies’ rooms. Our guests are sure to have everything they could possibly need at their fingertips!

We’re very lucky to be marrying into such a talented and thoughtful family. Thank you Jane and Susan!

Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers


I was recently confronted with an abundance of multi-colored bell peppers. Peppers are funny ingredient. Unlike zucchini, another prolific crop, which is easily turned into quick breads and muffins, fritters and casseroles, peppers are rarely the star of the dish. Think of sausage with peppers and onions, fajitas come with sautéed peppers and there are so many recipes that call for peppers to be chopped or diced and added to other aromatics such as onions, garlic, celery and/or carrots as the foundation of a recipe. The only time they stand on their own is as a shell for stuffing. And this is where it gets interesting.

Stuffed Peppers

There are so many different ingredients to choose from. Ground meat of any type is suitable and also optional. There are a multitude of grains and beans to choose from. Add chopped vegetables and herbs and moisten with a sauce and top off with some crumbled or shredded cheese and you have a delicious entrée.

Watch the Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers Video Here:


Along with the peppers, I also had a few eggplants and decided to go with a Greek-style stuffed pepper. Start by sautéing some ground lamb and diced onion with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, oregano and just a bit of cinnamon. To keep it moist, I added a thawed pint of tomato sauce I’d made earlier in the season. Cube the eggplant and toss in couple of cups along with more of those bell peppers cut into small pieces. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. To finish in a traditional Greek style stir in chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta cheese.

Stuffed Peppers

While the sauce simmers, slice off the tops and remove the core, seeds and membrane and season the insides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.

I intended to freeze the stuffed peppers in batches for future use and needed to
partially cook the yellow bell peppers that would house the filling. The pre-cooking step deactivates the ripening enzymes to ensure that the peppers retain their color, shape and flavor.

Stuffed Peppers

Place the prepared bell peppers upright in a baking dish. and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Stuff each shell with the filling.

Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6-8 servings
Use the abundance of vegetables at the farmers’ market to make these delicious and eye-appealing Greek-style stuffed peppers with lamb or to keep it vegan, use a grain such as orzo or quinoa in lieu of the lamb. Keep it colorful and use a variety of colors!
  • 8 bell peppers, tops removed, seeds, ribs and stems removed, save tops
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Filling
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 ½ cups minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced cloves garlic (3 medium cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) fired roasted tomatoes or a pint of tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish
  3. Lined baking sheet to catch any spills
  4. Season the inside of each bell pepper with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper. Place upright in a baking dish.
  5. Note: If you are making in advance and planning to freeze, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or just until slightly softened.
  6. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the lamb and onions, using the edge of a wooden spoon to break up the meat into a crumbly mix. Cook until the meat is no longer red.
  7. Stir in the oregano, garlic and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds.
  8. Add the eggplant, peppers and tomatoes or tomato sauce and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in the olives and feta off heat and stuff each pepper with the filling.
  10. Cover tightly with foil and place on a lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, one hour for frozen peppers.


Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto

Classic Pesto


The recipe for Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto didn’t start out with pepper flakes. It never even occurred to pair pepper flakes with pesto. However, when I was sautéing the zucchini and shrimp I forgot I wasn’t making a butter sauce and sprinkled in the spice. It was one of those “aha moments” – spicy pesto is delicious!

Sauté zucchini and shrimp and crushed red pepper flakes in olive, add pesto and combine, stir in cooked spaghetti, garnish with cherry tomatoes and you’re done! Click here for the Classic Pesto recipe.

Classic Pesto

Watch the Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto Here:

Spaghetti and Shrimp with Spicy Pesto
Recipe type: Pasta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
Spice things up with this spaghetti and shrimp dish with spicy pesto!
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini cut in quarters lengthwise and then in ½-inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pesto sauce
  • pasta water, as needed
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta liquid before draining.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  3. Stir in the zucchini and salt and cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and crushed pepper flakes, cook stirring occasionally until shrimp are pink and firm – about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pesto sauce and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta liquid. Stir to loosen. Add the pasta, stir to combine and add as much pasta liquid as need to coat the spaghetti evenly.


Classic Pesto



When basil is at its peak, the bunches are huge and plentiful. I scoop up tons and bring them home to make pesto; batch after batch. I freeze in one-cup portions, which is perfect for a pound of pasta.

Don’t limit yourself to pasta, though. Pesto is delicious over grilled chicken, just put a good dollop over each cutlet. I also like to use it in a caprese salad – instead of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, little dabs of pesto on the tomatoes and cheese is a fantastic variation.

Grill some eggplant rounds and stack with mozzarella, roasted red peppers and slather a little pesto on each layer.


Here’s some tips to making pesto. Young basil (thin stems) use both the stem and the leaves. Remove tough stems on mature basil. Pine nuts are the classic nut used in traditional pesto, but don’t hesitate to use walnuts or almonds. Be sure to toast your nuts to maximize flavor!


Keep nuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoilage. Use the lemon juice not only for flavor, but it also prevents the pesto from turning black when mixed with hot food.

See our Spaghetti with Shrimp in Spicy Pesto recipe here.

Head out to the garden or the local farmer’s market and bring home the basil!

Watch the Pesto Video Here:


Classic Pesto
Recipe type: Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 2 cups
Classic pesto made from fresh basil is a multipurpose sauce. Make large batches and freeze for year-round use! Use on chicken, fish and vegetables.
  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: quartered cherry tomatoes
  1. Place the basil, cheese, nuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to chop up the ingredients.
  2. Turn the processor to “on” and slowly pour the oil through the spout until an emulsion forms.
  3. Store in an airtight container with a piece of plastic on top of the pesto to keep the oxygen out.

The Wedding Shower


I sat in my hotel room waiting for Claire – we were on our way to Margot’s Wedding Shower! I hadn’t given much thought to the event because Claire kindly handle everything, from LA, freeing up more time for me to devote to the wedding planning. In those quiet few minutes, I realized what a milestone this day was.

I had a sneak preview the day before of the details Claire created and was excited to see her vision come to fruition. She had so many thoughtful and beautiful details worked out. And Bryan, Claire’s boyfriend, executed her ideas creating beautiful graphics on all her “props.” I was excited to participate in such an important day for Margot. Frankly, I was beaming with pride for both of my girls, and the anticipation of the day was thrilling.

Claire and I got to the venue an hour before the shower to set up. The event was held at Talaula’s Garden in Washington Square, Philadelphia. It was a hot and very humid day, so the event was inside. A pity because they have such a lovely outdoor garden. However, the restaurant is adorable and the AC was much appreciated.

From the minute we walked into the venue, we were warmly greeted and told to make ourselves at home. The florist was putting the finishing touches on the tables.

Claire went around and put the table names, menu card at each setting.

Including a clever ad libs she created especially for Margot “Marg Libs,” that everyone got to help her write her vows to Andy!

I put up the sign “Margot is getting married.”

Lined up the Prosecco splits with the adorable straw attached with a flag that read “Sip Sip Hurray!”

Jane (Andy’s Mom) and Susan (Jane’s sister) contributed their own homemade touch to the décor. These two are amazing. They made a beautiful towel cake, which I had never heard of!

They also made dozens and dozens of mustache and lip cookies! This is the theme of their save-the-date card and wedding invitation.

While we were working, I watched a women assemble a beautiful cheese spread. It was as artistic in design as it was in taste.

Our first guest was very special. Across the street from their childhood home, were twins – Erica and Kristina. They felt like my own children. They’ve moved away to their respective jobs and we don’t get to see them often, so having Erica there was wonderful. We spent lots of time just hugging, trying to make up for lost time.

More friends and family poured through the door and the party was on. Margot showed att 11:15 – the shower wansn’t a surprise, but the location was.

A very happy, excited girl!

Hors d’oeuvres

Spanakopita with yogurt
Hummus on crisp chickpea canapés (VEGAN)
Saffron arancini with lemon aioli

Specialty Cocktail

A gin-St. Germain-cucumber drink that is fizzy (either with soda water or sparkling wine) and Bloody Marys.


Walnut Block “Collectables” Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, NZ
Domaine du Chapitre Côtes du Rhône 2015 L’Ardeche, FR

Claire also arranged for “Pop Up Polaroids” to come and take photos during cocktails, including some fun props. Everyone got into the spirit and we have loads of great group photos in addition to the ones I took.

Luncheon Menu

Then it was present time. No wilting flower, Margot enthusiastically and emotionally opened so many wonderful and thoughtful gifts. While Margot loves receiving gifts, you should know that the smallest present is as much appreciated as something monumental. She realizes that a gift is a reflection of affection and she is so appreciative of every little detail.

It was fun to watch her facial expressions, tears of joy and her innate silliness. This particular picture shows just what a nut she is – they got a pet hair vacuum and she’s hugging it!

It was a perfect day filled with so much love and laughter and there is nothing better than being surrounded by your closed family and friends.

Both MOB (me) and MOG (Jane) were delighted with the outcome!

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs


This is the final video in our mini grilled chicken series: Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs.

When you remove the bone from the thigh, the meat is thin and cooking time is quick. The thigh still retains some fat and remains moist. The flavorful meat is good with only salt and pepper and a little oil to prevent sticking. Also try different marinades and rubs.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

I like to use the grilled boneless chicken thighs in sandwiches. Choose a nice bun or good bread and use your favorite condiment or condiments, pile on the lettuce and tomatoes and a few slices of dill pickle. The perfect sandwich!

Tune in to Honeypie’s Recipes YouTube Channel to view the Grilled Chicken Mini Series playlist!

Watch the Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs Video Here

Quick Marinade Trick

Quick Marinade Trick


This quick marinade trick was a fluke. Many years ago I was making Rosh Hannah dinner. One cousin doesn’t care for red meat and won’t eat the brisket. I always make something else as a second entrée. One year I was running behind and needed something quick. I grilled chicken and as soon as the chicken came into rest I poured an herbed lemon juice over the chicken. The resting time allows the denatured proteins to coagulate again and when they do, they trap liquid. The salty juices from the chicken and now the lemon, thyme and garlic from the quick marinade.

My cousin and her husband loved the dish and she asked for the recipe. When I told her what I did, she didn’t want to believe me. It was too simple for something that tasted that good!

Quick Marinade Trick

You can do this, too. Simply juice a lemon, throw in some thyme sprigs and smash a garlic clove and toss these together. Pour this over the chicken after grilling and let rest for 5 minutes. Use lime juice and garlic – sprinkle with chopped cilantro for something different.

These are just two quick and easy suggestions for a quick marinade trick!

Watch the Quick Marinade Trick Video Here:


Grilled Onions

grilled onions, Red Onion Rings


Cooking onions highlights their inherent sweetness. Making grilled onions does that and adds a lovely charred flavor so distinctive of the grill.

It’s a simple thing to make grilled onion rings, but frustrating. No matter how hard you try to keep the onion slice in one piece, it eventually softens and falls apart. Then the onion rings begin to fall through the grates and all is lost.

Now I use a vegetable grill tray. Don’t ask why it took so long to get one of these – it changed my life!

Red Onion Rings

Slice and separate the onion rings. Toss with a little oil, salt and pepper, and strew the rings over the vegetable grill tray. Place on the hot grill, cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn and cook a little more. Keep turning and cooking until you get the desired doneness. I like some to have a little char on them, but still have some texture.

These are perfect for fajitas, hamburgers or toss over any grilled meat or vegetable.

Watch the Grilled Onion Rings Video Here:


Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs

Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs


Next up in mini course on cooking chicken: Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs!

Whenever cooking meat or poultry with the bone on, the cooking time takes a little longer. The bone can be in the center or perimeter and location also affects cooking time. Center bones take longer to reach and the meat near the bone is the last to cook because the bone holds that coldness from the refrigerator.

The best alternative on the grill for cooking anything with a bone is to start with direct heat and then move to the other side of the grill and finish on indirect heat. This keeps the outer meat moist and slowly lets the heat permeate throughout.

Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs have more fat than the breast, so if you overcook a little, it’s a bit forgiving. Use marinades, rubs or just plain old salt and pepper with a little olive oil.

Fire up the grill and get started on your grilled bone-in chicken thighs tonight!

Watch Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs Video Here:

Tasting Dinner

Tasting Dinner


We had our tasting dinner and Andy’s parents, Jane and Roger, joined us for the event. They got a tour of the facility and saw the lawn where, weather permitting, the outdoor ceremony takes place. We then moved into the dining room to have a feast!

Tasting Dinner

Tasting Dinner Hors d’oeuvres

We were served the following seven hors d’oeuvres and they chose six:

BLT Bites
Adorable round, one-bit BLTs that just hit the spot. I’m sure these will be a favorite!

Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin on Rye Crisp

Smoked Chicken and Apple Chutney in Seasame Cone
So tiny, and the smoked chicken was just right.

Vegan Springs
These had a delicious, slightly spicy sauce for dipping

White Truffle Risotto Spheres
Truffles are one of Margot’s favorites and she wanted one thing on the menu to feature it.

Shrimp Dumplings
Served in an individual spoon with soy sauce

Pork Shoulder Croquettes
I think these were Andy’s favorite!

Tasting Dinner Entrées

The Clubs specialty is a duo of meat and fish or meat and chicken with assorted sides. We shared from the various entrées we were served so everyone got a chance to taste everything. Andy and Margot made the final decision on which two proteins and the sides – they’re fabulous!

Here’s what we sampled:

Filet Mignon & Swordfish
Beef Jus, Mustard Cream, Creamed Baby Kale
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Filet Mignon & Chicken Francaise
Horseradish Sour Cream Shallot Risotto Cake
Grilled Jumbo Asparagus

Braised Short Rib & Grilled Jumbo Shrimp
Mushroom Risotto Cake, Haricots Verts
Baby Carrots

Filet Mignon & Salmon
Beef Jus & Bernaise, Mushroom Risotto Cake
Brussels Sprouts

Vegan Options

Many of their friends are either vegan or vegetarian and Andy was very adamant they be served a special dinner and not just sides. They had a choice between a Red Thai Curry or Vegetarian Paella.


They will have a small, six-inch cake for the cake cutting ceremony and dessert for all is Key Lime Tart!

Dinner Wines

The house Prosecco and wines were perfect accompaniments for everything we tasted.

As I’m sure you can imagine, and see from the top photo, we were quite full and very content at the end of the meal. Everyone left in a great mood and we’re looking forward to having the meal again. The one nice thing about the tasting is that Margot and Andy really got to enjoy the food. It’s highly unlikely they’ll have the time or presence of mind on their wedding day to do so.

Final menu in the final MOB blog!

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs


The key to successful hard boiled eggs is gentle heat and slow cooking. By using this method, the egg is moist and tender with no off odor and a perfectly yellow egg yolk.

Overexposure to high heat releases sulfur from the egg white and iron from the yolk, which results in that unpleasant odor and gray-green coloration on the outer yolk.

Place eggs in a pan large enough to hold the eggs so they are covered by two inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 12 minutes.

Plunge the eggs into an ice bath and let cool completely.

Crack and peel for delicate and delicious hard boiled eggs!

Use to make egg salad, deviled eggs, or slice to top salads.

Watch the Hard-Boiled Eggs Video Here: