Monday, December 30, 2013

Hard Rock Baked Potato Soup

It is sooooo cold here in Omaha - time for soup!!

My friend Lya - is an amazing cook.  I lived with Lya while at Baylor and she was a good cook before we even starting cooking much.  On occasion when I am visiting in Texas, I get to stay with Lya and she shares some of her new favorite recipes.  She has a recipe card stand in her kitchen and it usually has some of her most recent favorites clipped in order.  Check out Paprika-Mushroom Chicken or "Gravy Chicken" as Lya's family calls it.  Also, we love Spicy Flank Steak - you have to try this!!

I was looking for yummy recipes to serve to my Bunko group quite a few years back and I made this Hard Rock Baked Potato Soup that Lya gave me and I also made Tomato Basil Soup - which is another favorite from another wonderful Baylor friend - Belinda!!  I got bread bowls from Panera - we had quite the feast.

I just made the Tomato Basil Soup, Mini Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches  and Craisin Salad for a girlfriend lunch over the holidays.  I am a busy girl and I don't always have time to research new recipes. This time - I just went with my favorites!!

Enjoy this amazing soup.  I have made the "full fat" version with cream but I used Fat Free Half and Half this time and it was still tasty.

Hard Rock Baked Potato Soup

6-8 slices of bacon, fried – retain drippings
1 cup diced yellow onions
2/3 cup flour
6 cups of hot chicken broth
4 cups peeled, diced baked potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½  tsp. Tobasco sauce
1 ½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup diced onions

Chop bacon, reserve.  Cook onions in drippings until clear.  Add flour stirring to prevent clumps – 3 – 5 minutes or just until golden.  Add chicken broth gradually, whisking to prevent lumps, until thickens.  Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes, cream, bacon, parsley, garlic, basil, salt, Tobasco and pepper.  Simmer 10 minutes – do not boil.  Add cheese and onions – heat until melts.  Garnish with bacon, cheese and chives.  I even added a little sour cream :)

Serve in bread bowls or with French bread and white wine!! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pretzel Turtles

I LOVE the Pioneer Woman.  Being from Texas, I can totally relate to almost everything she says and does.  I didn't grow up on a farm or a ranch or ever even live on one.  I just love Ree's fun personality and her amazing recipes.  Please visit The Pioneer Woman.  You will love her site!  She has the best pictures with a great description for each recipe.

I saw this one on Facebook the other day.  I have made something similar to this before but Ree always adds a twist or something to make them even better.

This turned out amazing.  They looked professional - and oh so yummy!  I only made 24 like the recipe mentions but I am ready to make more!!

Pretzel Turtles - adapted from The Pioneer Woman

24 whole mini pretzel twists
24 whole individually wrapped caramel squares, unwrapped
8 oz good quality milk chocolate, melted
24 whole pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325,  Place pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in oven for 5-6 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until lightly toasted.  Remove from pan and allow to cool.  Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat.  Arrange the pretzels neatly on pan.  Top with an unwrapped caramel.  Place the pan in the oven for 4 - 5 minutes - or until the caramels are softened... but definitely not melting.  Remove pan from oven and gently press a pecan half into each caramel - just enough for the caramel to fill the pretzel.  Set them aside to cool.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate.  When pretzel/caramels are cooled, spoon about a teaspoon of chocolate in 24 spots over the baking sheet.  Lightly place each pretzel in the middle of the dollop, making sure they are centered.  You don't have to press -the weight of the pretzel is enough.  Allow them to cool completely before serving or storing.  (you can hasten them in the fridge)

Variation - you can spoon a little extra chocolate over the tops of the turltes to cover the whole thing in chocolate.  *I did this on a few 

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Butternuts - great Christmas cookie

Saw this recipe on Facebook the other day and thought the cookies looked like a great new recipe to try.  Chris loves butter-type cookies and I knew with the pecans and butterscotch chips - these would be awesome.  Denise posted this recipe on a great website...Just a Pinch.  She said this is her most popular Christmas cookie.  She makes like 500 a year!  How could I not try this cookie!

I did and we love it.  I love the butter-goodness and the crunch of the nuts and butterscotch chips.  Perfect recipe for you to add to your collection of Christmas cookies!

P.S.  I doubled the recipe.  I always like lots of cookies to around during the holidays.  Also, the glaze on this recipe calls for 1 tsp of Rum Extract.  I was a little worried about the rum flavoring but went with it anyway.  The cookies are yummy.  Denise recommends trying another extract if rum isn't your favorite.  I might try vanilla next time!

Butternuts - adapted from Denise at Just a Pinch

3/4 cup butter, room temperature + 1 Tbsp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 oz butterscotch chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Rum Glaze ( This is enough glaze for a doubled batch)

3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp rum extract
1/2 cup pecans\
3-4 Tbsp milk

Cream butter with powdered sugar and salt til light and fluffy.  Blend in flour - mixing well.  Add butterscotch chips and 1 cup finely chopped pecans.  Dough is crumbly - shape dough into small balls - scant teaspoonful.  Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 15 minutes or until firm but not brown.  Let cool on wire racks.  Make rum glaze - mixing until smooth. Dip the cookies in glaze and sprinkle with chopped pecans.   Enjoy!!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Roasted Pecans with Butter/Salt YUM!

These are amazing!  I love pecans... and roasted in the oven with butter and salt...oh my stars!!

My parents moved across town after I graduated from Baylor.  A sweet family lived just around the corner - one I had known my whole life at church.  As neighbors do in East Texas, they exchanged small Christmas gifts.  Mr. and Mrs. Kerr would always bring mom and dad a sweet plate of cookies, candies and a handful of these yummy pecans.  I always happen to be around when this plate was delivered so I could enjoy the pecans.  Mr. Kerr was a golfing buddy of dad, and he knew I LOVED his pecans.  He would often send a coffee can full - labeled... "Susan's Private Stash" so my dad wouldn't be tempted to get into them. (cause we know Dad)

Since then, my wonderful dad is in heaven and Mr. Kerr is there too.  I am sure they are enjoying golf stories with Ronnie and other friends.

I don't have Mr. Kerr's exact recipe.  This is one of those recipes that you can really use as much butter and salt as you would like.  The more butter/salt - the richer the taste.  I think Mr. Kerr's were richer than mine.  Just make them and enjoy them.  They make a great gift in a cute Mason Jar, etc.  And... They are so easy!!

Oh - one last thing - I just found a coffee can stash in my freezer.  I must have decided I needed to save them.  I know they have been there at least two years.  THEY ARE STILL TASTED AMAZING!  Just a thought!

Roasted Pecans

1 lb pecan halves
4-5 Tbsp butter
1 - 2 tsp table salt (can add a little sea salt too - if you like) 

Melt butter and pour over pecans.  Toss with salt.  Roast in oven at 325 for about 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through baking.   Allow to cool and store in an airtight container!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Forgotten Cookies (Meringue cookies)

I made a German Chocolate cake for my hubby in November and I had left over egg whites.  I remembered this fun recipe that a sweet family friend always made when I was growing up in East Texas.  I have known Libby my whole life.  She and my mom were sorority sister at North Texas.  Libby is a great cook.

Another great memory with Libby and her family... heading over to their house Christmas morning as we were headed out of town to my grandmothers.  We would enjoy a little fun time with them - us dressed for the day, them in their PJs still.  Libby always had Sausage Pinwheels for us to enjoy.  She made her dough from scratch where I have improvised and I use canned biscuits.  Regardless, this is a favorite Christmas morning recipe and anytime of the year recipe.  My girls LOVE them!!

Enjoy these Forgotten cookies - you will love them if you like Meringue cookies.  You could even put a little green or red food coloring and color them for the holidays.

Forgotten Cookies ( I doubled this because I had four egg whtes)

2 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips

Beat egg whites, adding sugar gradually, until stiff peak.  Fold in vanilla, chips and nuts.  Cover cookie sheet with foil, shiny side up.  Heat oven to 400.  Put dollops of cookies on cookie sheet.  (They don't really spread out so I put as many on there as would fit).  Put cookies in oven and immediately turn off the oven.  Leave the cookies in overnight.  Enjoy!

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