Tomato Bisque Soup

Rich-Tomato-Bisque-Pin-Word-PierceTomato Bisque is one of my family’s favorite soups that always pairs perfectly along a grilled cheese sandwich for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  This is one meal I remember my mother making me on cold winter days for lunch after I had been playing in the snow all morning long and needed to “thaw out.”

With any recipe that has few ingredients, only use high-quality seasonings and ingredients.  You will notice the difference.  If you are afraid of the half-and-half, well I can’t help you there.  It’s a bisque and isn’t meant to be a “skinny bisque.”  It’s meant to taste rich and divine, not bland and lifeless.

Tomato Bisque
1 medium onion-thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cans stewed tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped chives

In heavy saucepan, sauté the onion in butter for 5 minutes, Add tomato, bay leaf, brown sugar, basil, cloves, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 25 minutes.Remove bay leaves and cloves. Puree rest. Strain if you want a very smooth soup. (I like the little pieces of tomato) Add cream, milk and heat well, do not scald. Serve sprinkle with Parmesan and croutons.

Bread Pudding

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Have you ever had bread pudding? No-Then you are missing out. There are a lot of recipes for bread pudding out there…just go and Google bread pudding and see what pops up. I recall even watching Paula Deen once make a bread pudding from Krispy Kream donuts.  I never tried it myself, but I’m sure it was tasty too!

This pudding is a very old dessert that was known as the “poor man’s pudding” way back when it was made with stale bread. The English would moisten the bread with water, add some sugar and other spices and fruits and maybe candies if they had them.

This pudding is made from lots of different breads such as croissant, French, brioche….any type of bread works. Another change to the recipe from then to now is that the bread is soaked in a rich custard mixture, instead of just water.

This recipe is one that I came up with over 10 years ago, after much experimentation in the kitchen.   My favorite bread to use is brioche bread, but croissants will do.  You can also vary this recipe to add more flavor with such things such as nuts, dried fruits, alcohol, zests, chocolate and fresh fruit, or even a drizzle of caramel.  I use this recipe as a base, then add to it depending on what I have in the cupboard.  Apples and caramel for all, cranberries and white chocolate chips for Christmas and everything in between.

Day Old Bread Pudding
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
4 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins and chocolate chips
1 large peeled and cored tart apple, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mid-sized bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside.

Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins apples, and chips, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins, apple and chocolate chips are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 15 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken Corn Chowder

chicken-corn-chowderA new soup I’ve been working on is my Chicken Corn Chowder. This soup really does the trick on a cold wintry day (like today, as it’s cold and icy) paired along some toasty french bread. This is an easy soup to prepare and makes delicious leftovers.

Chicken Corn Chowder
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (season the chicken before cooking)
1 cup of red onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
6 cups of new potatoes, diced
3 cups water, plus 2 cups chicken bone broth
1 stick butter
1 tsp thyme
Cooked and crumbled slices of bacon (about 5 slices)
2 cloves garlic
Sprinkles of crushed red pepper
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cans of creamed corn
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot add butter and sauté onions and garlic. Do not burn the garlic. Add potatoes and water/broth and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and reheat to a slight boil and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.

Cheesy Seafood Dip

Need a quick and easy recipe to impress your holiday guests or a dish to take to an upcoming holiday party?  Look no further than my Cheesy Crab Dip.

This is a hot dip I serve with toasted French bread and the best part…you can prepare it the night before and cook it right before your event.

The key to any good recipe is the ingredients you use, so choose wisely on the crab and cheese.  I only use lump crab meat for this dish, which I get from my friend Chris Perkins, who owns Express Foods (a seafood delivery business in our region).  You can also find his lump crab meat at Horrmann Meats in Springfield, MO., or at Farmers Market of the Ozarks every Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, year-round.

I promise this dip will be your new favorite part of the the holiday season!  Cheers and Merry Christmas…

seafood-dipCheesy Crab Dip

(I double this recipe for parties)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
½ C. mayo
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb. lump crabmeat
1 C. shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
½ C. thinly sliced green onion and tops
¼ C. diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C. diced green onion
1 juice of a lemon
2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1 T.Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf of bread toasted, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combined cream cheese and mayo in a bowl; mix well and press garlic into batter, mix well.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spoon into a casserole dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with French bread slices.

Crawfish Pasta

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Crawfish is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with!

Quick and easy Crawfish Cajun Pasta is a family staple around our house.  Simple ingredients let the crawfish take center stage, so I suggest getting the freshest crawfish tails you can.  The Farmers Market of the Ozarks has a great vendor that provides fresh seafood like crawfish- find Express Foods at the market or online. Enjoy this tasty weeknight meal with bread and a salad!

Crawfish Cajun Pasta
1 lb cooked Angel Hair Pasta
1 lb crawfish tails
1 stick butter
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt, more depending on taste
1 T. Cajun Seasonings
1 tsp. Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 handful of fresh parsley

In a large skillet place a stick of butter and heat to medium.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion, peppers and celery.  Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Add the crayfish tails, salt, Cajun seasonings and hot sauce.  Toss and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add 1 tsp of salt and add pasta and cook according to to box directions.  Drain and add pasta to crayfish mixture.  Toss mixture lightly and taste.  Depending on taste, you may want to add additional salt or hot sauce.

*I like to make this the day before or at least 4 hours before serving, so the ingredients can intensify.

 

Scrumptious Chocolate Banana Bread

Two things that pair perfectly…chocolate and bananas!  This Chocolate Banana Bread is one of my family’s favorite sweet treats for breakfast, snack time or an after dinner dessert.

A trick from my kitchen: I peel and freeze overly ripe banana and store in the freezer to use for smoothies and quick breads.  Stock up when bananas are on sale.

Our little Cora has become quite the little baker in the kitchen.  She loves baking with her mommy and enjoying in the tasty treats afterwards.  Recently when baking this delicious bread she couldn’t resist pulling up a chair and watching the bread rise in the oven.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread
From Simply Recipes

3 large ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed, light or dark)
1 teaspoon salt (1/2 a teaspoon if using salted butter)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Using a blender, food processor, or a fork, purée the peeled ripe bananas until smooth. You should have 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of banana purée. Butter or spray with cooking spray the inside of a 5×9-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle.

Place the banana purée into a large mixing bowl. Stir the melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Whisk to break up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir in the beaten egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and allspice.

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a buttered loaf pan. Place in a 350°F (175°C) oven and bake for 1 hour. Note that because of the chocolate chips that melt in the bread as it cooks, it’s hard to check for doneness using a tester that you insert. One way to test is to gently push the center top of the chocolate banana bread down with your finger. If it feels relatively firm and bounces back when you release your finger, that’s a good sign that it’s done.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Gently remove the loaf from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.

Honey Apple Salad

appleIt’s apple season in the Ozarks! Orchards all over are offering the tastiest apples on the farm and at the farmers’ market.

Here is a simple recipe for a Honey Apple Salad that makes a perfect compliment to a weeknight meal from the grill.

Honey Apple Salad
3 1/2 diced red apples
2 T. lemon juice
2 c. grapes
1 c. sliced celery, thin
1/2 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. honey
2 T. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

In a large bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Add grapes, celery and dates. In a small bowl combine mayo, honey, sour cream and salt, mix.

Pour over apple mixture and toss; stir in walnuts.