Aug 30, 2009

Potato Soup reheat

Oh and a note on reheating the potato soup. It'll tend to thicken up and look like mashed potatoes.. Just add some more milk and butter to thin it back down.. However I do seem to remember my Mom just reheating it as is and eating it like mashed potatoes!! So whatever floats your boat right?!

Aug 28, 2009

Cheddar Bacon Potato Soup

So this week I've been craving Lobster Bisque... and well since my lobster budget is non-existent I had to settle for potato soup. Its a favorite of the family.. Never really had a recipe for it, just kind of go with the flow.. But I'll do my best!

Potato Soup
3-4 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut up
4-5 c milk (heavy cream if you want it richer)
1/4 c butter (yes.. BUTTER!)
1/4 c sour cream (not necessary if using heavy cream)
10-12 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2-3/4 c mild cheddar cheese
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
5-10 'shakes' of hot sauce (to taste)
1/3 c chopped scallions (aka green onions)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender, drain well. Start with about 3 cups of milk and 1/4 c butter in a pot over med-high heat and add the potatoes. You can either get a masher and work the potatoes down or get a stick blender if you like it smoother. Keep adding milk to get it to a good consistency. Remember that your adding cheese and sour cream which will also add thickness. Once it looks good go ahead and whisk in the cheese, and sour cream. Then add the bacon, onion and garlic powders. Add hot sauce, salt, and pepper a little at a time until you have a flavor you like. Lastly add the scallions. If the soup is still too thick add more milk. If you made it too thin, don't worry. You can either add more cheese and sour cream OR if you happen to have some instant mashed potato flakes lying around add a bit of them. Garnish with cheese and scallions and a little dollop of sour cream

Came out great. I actually didn't even bother with potatoes. I found some bags of 'steam and mash' potatoes in the freezer section. They may be my new favorite thing. They're already washed, peeled and cut. You pull the bag out of the freezer and put in directly in the microwave for 10 minutes and ta-da! I used a stick blender to make it smooth. I actually did end up making mine too thin, and really too milky so the cheese and sour cream didn't help. I added the instant potatoes and fixed it right up. Mine also had no scallions because Walmart apparently was sold out. It was still good, but I would have liked it better with the scallions.

A good 'secret' ingredient to add here I didn't put in the recipe is lemon juice. Lemon juice is one of my secret ingredient stand by's. Just like every, and I mean every recipe needs salt, many need an acid. It brings a nice brightness. Lemon juice is good for this.. it's an acid but not too sharp as lets say vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute tho. It doesn't take much, maybe a 1/2 tsp but it really does brighten things up! Another good 'secret' ingredient to add to random recipes is anchovies. You can either buy the can and turn it into a paste using the side of your knife on a cutting board, or a spoon in a bowl OR you can buy pre-made anchovy paste. A little bit of that in your salad dressings, soups, sauces, and such add a really interesting back note that most people can't detect. Be careful with the salt in your recipes however, anchovies are VERY salty!

Well, I think I'll call it a day! Good eats!

Molasses Cookies and Pretzels

SO yesterday I made Molasses cookies. Kind of a throw back of days in grandma's kitchen. Couldn't find grandma's recipe tho so found one on line and played with it a bit. They came out great! Mom sent me the recipe later that night and they ended up being almost identical! Here's the recipe:

Molasses Cookies
3/4 c margarine, room temp
1 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c white sugar

Cream the brown sugar and margarine and add the egg. Mix in the molasses. Then add all of the dry ingredients (go ahead and sift if your the sifting type. I never do) Chill for an hour. Roll into walnut sized balls and roll in the white sugar. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart (do not press down) and bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes.

So those came out WONDERFUL. I did however forget the baking soda and remembered after they'd been in the fridge for about 5 minutes. I mixed it in and they seem just fine! Also didn't have ground ginger so I used all-spice - still came out great! Here's a hint - You really should use margarine and not butter. The margarine is oil based and will give you a chewier cookie. Butter can also cause the dough to spread out more and makes for a thinner, crisper cookie. This isn't true for all cookies or desserts - many are MUCH better with butter.. but this recipe is one of those exceptions. Also the less you cook them the chewier they'll be. We had our batches going at about 7 minutes and they were perfect.

I also made some almond bark dipped pretzels.. which there is no need for a recipe because it was simply the entire block of vanilla almond bark melted down (in a double boiler.. aka a pot of boiling water with a heat resistant bowl over it) and pretzels. I added a hand full at a time to the bowl of almond bark and used skewers to fish them out onto wax paper. I started using 2 skewers like chop sticks and that made it even easier. Any time the almond bark started getting too thick I'd put it back on the heat to re-melt. Very very yummy. I'm surprised they're still around!

The beginning...

So, I start here, from the beginning I suppose. My name is Ashley and I love food. My Grandmother Allie taught me how to cook as soon as I was able to reach the counter. Unfortunately growing up my Mom wasn't the best cook ever, but she worked hard for my brother and I and I don't blame her at all! In high school I started making dinner most nights, usually simple things, but as I grew up I learned to try to make more and more things. After high school I went to a community college to major in baking and pastry. I started working in kitchens when I was 18 starting at Universal Studio's Mythos and bouncing around to Planet Hollywood, Emeril's Tchoup Chop, and ending eventually at a Steakhouse called A Land Remembered. Working in restaurants taught me a lot about cooking.. but a lot about how much it sucks. I finally understood my grandmother's warnings that it wasn't going to be as I thought it would be.. and it wasn't. My love of food was destroyed thanks to rude and obnoxious cooks I worked with, and just simply the stress of being a line cook. Then my grandmother passed away in October of '07. It hit me rather hard because she was more like a second mother to me than a grandmother. I remember being at her house every weekend making dinner and laughing around the dinner table eating and playing cards. In January of '08 I left Florida and my cooking career for good.

So now I am a home cook, and not much of even that really. My husband Javier also worked in a few kitchens with me and also has a love of food. We have a lot of fun in the kitchen together cooking dinner and poking fun at each others mistakes. Over the last few weeks my love of food has started to explode even more. Its been almost 2 years now since I've left the kitchen and since the death of my grandmother and I'm really to bring cooking back in my life. Not as a career, but as a serious hobby.

I've started this blog to share recipes and tips with my friends and family, and well, anyone else who's interested I suppose. I hope y'all enjoy!