Saturday, October 13, 2012

SOUPer saturdays - creamy tomato soup

Not sure if you remember my very first recipe post, but it started something like this:

I.  love.  Summer.  (and tomatoes.)

Ring a bell?  The "and tomatoes" part is the important one here, and so I decided to share a wonderfully flavorful soup recipe that is perfect for this time of year!  In fact, if you notice the title of the post, there will be more of these to come.

I enjoy soup tremendously.  I think it might be because I have an unusual problem with being cold more than not.  I have been known to leave my hairdryer running, while getting ready for school, just to take the chill off in the mornings.

(Don't tell John.)

Being warmed from the inside out is comforting, and this tomato soup does the trick.  But do plan a little ahead.  You really need to let it simmer for the time it suggests to get the full flavor.  The reduction "sweetens the pot," if you will!  Actually, if you really look at the picture and the original line on the pot, you'll see how much it reduced over the duration of simmering.  Letting it do so will result in a richer, sweeter dish.

Take note:  No tomato soup meal is complete without grilled cheese.  You need at least half of one for adequate dunking.

It's the weekend, friends.  Enjoy your families, your football games, and - of course - your food.  Savor it all!

Creamy Tomato Soup - makes 8 servings
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 10 sprigs thyme, tied together
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
~  Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat.
~  Add thyme, onion, and garlic, cooking onion until completely soft and translucent, 10-12 
~  Increase heat to medium-high, add tomato paste, and continue cooking, stirring often, 
     until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5-6 minutes.
~  Add tomatoes with juices, 1 tsp. sugar, and 8 cups water to pot, increasing heat to high 
     and bringing to a simmer.
~  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 2 
     quarts, 45-55 minutes.
~  Discard thyme sprigs and puree soup in blender or with hand blender until smooth. 
     Return to pot and and stir in cream, simmering soup 10-15 minutes longer.
~  Season with salt, pepper and remaining sugar.  Add more cream if desired.

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

dirt pudding (with two worms, please)

I love being a mom, and I love the different qualities both of my boys have.  To be so close, they are extremely diverse in their likes and dislikes, their interests, and... yes... the food they prefer.

My youngest, Luke, just celebrated his 8th birthday at the end of September.  Since he could talk, he's had very specific requests for his birthday treats, each of them different.  The child has a sweet tooth like no one's business, and his eyes literally glaze over at the first glimpse of his Friday morning donut we pick up on the way in to school each week.  More than once, I've watched him in the rearview mirror pulling it out of the sack and whispering, "Come to Papa."

No joke.

Weeks in advance of this year's birthday, he was going through his calculated list of dessert choices and finally decided on Dirt Pudding.  But it couldn't be just any dirt pudding.  It had to be vanilla and chocolate with two worms, one sour and one plain gummy, to satisfy any friends who might not like sour.  The following is the recipe I came up with.

At three o'clock in the morning of his birthday, he woke up, and woke me up, to see how far I'd gotten with the pudding and how it turned out.  His anxiety about them started making me anxious, I have to say.  But as I carried them into the cafeteria for him to pass Vaout to his classmates, his face told all.  There was no question he was 100% satisfied, and any hesitation I had melted.  There is no greater feeling than knowing your child is happy, as long as they're happy for the right reasons.  And if all it takes is 14 cups of dirt pudding with two worms, I'm one blessed mom.

Happy Birthday, my dear Luke!

Dirt Pudding - makes 12 servings
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant French Vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant Chocolate pudding mix
  • 6 cups cold milk
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 (14 ounce) packages Oreo-type cookies, crushed (divided)
  • 1 package sour gummy worms (optional)
  • 1 package regular gummy worms (optional)
~ Whisk French Vanilla pudding mix with three cups of milk in large bowl until softly set, 
    about 2 minutes.  Do the same with the Chocolate and remaining milk.  Puddings will 
    thicken as they stand.
~  Cream sugar, cream cheese, and butter in a separate bowl until smooth and creamy and 
     stir mixture into puddings until thoroughly combined.
~  Gently fold frozen whipped topping into the mixture.
~  Layer cookie crumbs, Vanilla pudding, cookie crumbs, Chocolate pudding, Vanilla 
     pudding, and top with cookie crumbs, in that order.
~ Add worms.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

frosted pumpkin cookies

A big shout-out to my friend, Heidi, for this great photo. The cookies were a part of a baby shower spread,
"My Little Pumpkin."
I have dogeared, torn out, or bookmarked about seven or eight pumpkin recipes already this season.  I'm immediately drawn to them this time of year, and yet I know not everyone is interested, necessarily, in all things pumpkin.

I remember Mom asking me a couple of years ago for my favorite childhood memory.  I have a million, really, but for some reason, carving pumpkins with Dad sticks out on top.  In fact, back home, there's a great picture of him removing the insides of one with me proudly standing by his side.  In the picture, he is years younger than I am now (which, by the way, blows my mind) and so handsome.  Halloween was a fun, FUN time growing up, thanks to him.  I'm not sure who enjoyed getting dressed up and trick-or-treating more!

Although I could go on and on about the many more reasons why I constantly look forward to this time of year, I'll get to what you are probably really here to read...

The recipe.

I REALLY love this one.  It's always a success and earns "yums" from everyone.  The cookies are very cake-like, tender, sweetened just right, and very pretty with their pinch of cinnamon slightly dusting the cream cheese frosting.  This particular recipe is already doubled, so it makes a ton!

Please heed the warning of over-beating.  Taking it easy with the mixer will definitely keep the cookie tender.

I'm sure I won't go long without another pumpkin recipe or two, but I'll try to squeeze in some variety beforehand.  Wishing you and yours a flavorful, fun, and fabulous fall.

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies - makes about 5 dozen  

For the cookie
  • 1  1/2 cups shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs 
  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon (plus more for dusting)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 29 oz. can pure pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. allspice
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~ Mix sugar and shortening, adding eggs and beating until creamy.
~ Add cinnamon, salt, and allspice.
~ In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  
~ To the wet mixture, add the pumpkin and flour mixture, alternating wet and dry.  *DO 
~ Drop batter by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet (I prefer parchment-lined).  
~ Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cooked through but not dried out.  
~ Once cooled, frost cookies and dust with cinnamon.

For the frosting
      1    stick butter, salted, softened to room temperature
         1    package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
         1    2-lb bag confectioners sugar
         1    tbsp. vanilla

~ Mix all ingredients together until blended and creamy.  If frosting is too dry or stiff, add 
    milk or cream, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  If frosting is 
    too wet, add confectioners sugar until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe slightly adapted from Nicole Wills.