Saturday, December 27, 2008

How to make store-bought soup mix taste homemade

I love Bear Creek soup mixes. They provide an excellent foundation for cream-based soups that can otherwise be time-consuming and challenging. And we all know that I am not above taking store-bought meals and tweaking them!

My favorite soup mix is the Bear Creek Potato and Cheese soup. I've tried a few different modifications, and my favorite was the one I made tonight.

-1 package Bear Creek Potato and Cheese soup mix (you can find it at Target)
-4 c chicken stock
-4 c water
-1 small shallot, minced
-Salt and pepper
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 bottle of beer (whatever is in your fridge)
-2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
-1 tsp paprika
-1 c shredded cheddar cheese
-2 c potatoes, whatever you have lying around, peeled and diced

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sautee the shallots over medium heat in olive oil, salt and pepper, until it they are soft and translucent. Add the stock and water, bump the heat to high, and let it come to a boil. Whisk in the soup mix until you can't see any lumps. Once it's lump-free, add all of the remaining ingredients. Bring the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring the bottom occasionally so it doesn't brown.

Use a potato masher, whisk or hand blender to mash up as many solids as you can from the soup - the smoother, the better!

Another variation I have tried is very similar to the one above, only without the beer and Worchestershire, and adding other cheeses along with the cheddar. Parmesan gives it bite, blue cheese adds a wonderful tangy taste, the options are endless. For more of a "twice-baked potato" flavor, throw some crispy bacon on top just as you serve it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Menu

I can't wait to make this dinner!

Crown roast of lamb w/ a dijon sauce
Rosemary roasted potatoes
Green beans w/ shallots
Homemade applesauce

I feel like it could use one more thing but I'm not sure what...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Split Pea Soup

This one is my own - I wound up with far too much liquid the first time, so I scaled way back. Feel free to mess around with the proportions and figure out what works best for you.

-1 pound split peas
-1 c carrots, diced
-1/2 c onion, finely diced
-4 c chicken stock
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp garlic salt
-1/2 tsp ground sage
-2 tsp fresh thyme
-ham hock

Wash the peas, then soak overnight.

In a large soup pot, sautee the carrots and onion over medim-high heat in olive oil, add the salt and pepper. Once the onions are translucent, add the rest of the seasonings. Continue to sautee for another minute or two, then add the stock, ham hock and drained peas.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours. Before serving, remove the ham and pick off any good meat to toss back into the soup.

If your soup is too runny, strain off some of the excess water. Then, remove another 1/2 cup of liquid, whisk a tablespoon of corn starch into it, and add back to the soup. That should help it thicken.

One idea I had was to actually cook a few slices of bacon, then sautee the veggies in the bacon fat. But I didn't have any bacon to try it - let me know if you do, and how it turned out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's been a little slow around here

Sorry about that! I'm working again (finally) and I have been a little lazy about trying out new recipes and making new things. I promise, I'll be back with something tasty and wonderful soon!

(I'm thinking about making a Grunt, has anybody tried it?)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Candy Cane Ice Cream

OMG make this ice cream!

Go to your local fancy Martha wannabe store and buy an ice cream maker and then MAKE THIS ICE CREAM.

-2 large eggs
-3/4 c sugar
-2 c heavy cream
-1 c milk
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-3 tsp peppermint extract
-1 c well-crushed candy canes (about 1 box)

Using your stand mixer with the whisk attachement, beat the eggs until they are fluffy.
Add the sugar, a little at a time, and mix for 5 minutes. Set your mixer to low and slowly pour in the dairy. (Note: you sub the dairy for 3 cups of non-fat half and half. You will lose some of the creaminess, but then your ice cream is practically fat-free). Mix well, then add the extracts and mix again.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, mix according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is done, stir in the candy canes. Freeze for at least 2 hours. Should make about 2 pints.

Then, enjoy the candy cane goodness!