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My Favorite Treat: Soup?

My Favorite Treat: Soup?

I’ve never been a huge fan of soup… Well, until this last winter. You see, I grew up in a family where homemade soup came from a can. There really isn’t anything too special about that, right?

So when I bought the Our Best Bites Cookbook, and saw all of the amazing looking soup recipe’s, I decided to give them a second chance. Starting with their tomato soup!

It has quickly become a staple here in our household. The texture is out of this world, and it is so simple to put together. I’m not sure exactly how healthy it is exactly, but comfort food is supposed to be bad for you, right?

tomator soup with extra creaminess

Creamy Tomato Soup
{recipe found in the Our Best Bites Cookbook. If you don’t own it yet, you should!}

1 T reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes, or olive oil
1 C chopped onion
¾ C shredded carrot

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbs dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2/3 C sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14oz) can chicken broth
3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (if you like heat, don’t skip this!)
– Heat your olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pan. Toss in the onion, carrot, and garlic. Saute for a few minutes, or until the onion is transparent. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. {phew

! That’s a lot of ingredients!}. Heat to a boil, then reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
– Remove from the heat. Transfer the mixture to your blender, and add the cream cheese. Remove the center piece of your blender, and cover with a paper towel. {important: don’t place your hand offer the paper towel! I learned the hard way that the soup splatters, and that it is HOT! I’m a genius, I know!} Process for a few seconds, or until the soup has reached your desired consistency.
– Spoon into bowls, and serve!

 

Here is another new thing for me. Dipping grilled cheese in your tomato soup. I must have been living under a rock, because the first time I tried this was three months ago! I’d never even heard of dipping a sandwich, but my husband swore by it, and boy am I glad that I tried it out!

However, I wanted to give our meal a creative spin. I’ve learned, as a mom, that the smaller things are the more likely my child will eat them. And that is why I made Grilled Cheese Croutons!

extra treat: cheese croutons from the grill

Grilled Cheese Croutons
{basically a grilled cheese chopped up.}
Bread
Butter
cheese singles, or your preferred type

– Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat.

– Butter one side of one slice of bread, place cheese on the other side, and top with an additional piece of buttered bread.

– Place in the heated pan, and cook on both sides until brown.

– Cut off the crust of your sandwich, and then proceed to cut small squares out of the rest. Toss in your soup and enjoy!

Death By Food Processor?

Death By Food Processor?

I want a food processor. It has been on the top of my ‘must buy’ kitchen appliance list for a few weeks now. I found a really great sounding graham cracker recipe the other day, and decided it was time to give in, and get one.

Luckily for me, my dad is excellent at bargain shopping. He can get me a sweet deal on anything! So, I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I told him how just about every graham cracker and macaroon recipe I want to try this summer calls for a processor, and I need one ASAP. And that’s when it happened….

My dad told me a story…

Did I believe it?? No way!

Was it funny to listen to my dad go on in a panicking rant about it? Of course!

Here’s how our conversation went:

Dad: ‘Jess, I will NOT help you buy one of those machines! They are so dangerous!! I cannot tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard about them. One guy in Florida was decapitated!’

Me: ‘I’m sure that didn’t happen. They wouldn’t sell something if it were that dangerous.’

Dad: ‘It really happened. Well, maybe it was 20 years ago… and it could have been a juicer… I’m not sure which one… but it happened! Don’t buy one of those crazy machines! With your luck, you’ll end up cutting something off!’

Thanks for the confidence dad!

Thanks to our little pep-talk, I have yet to buy a food processor. Not because I think they are dangerous, but because I’m looking for the best deal, and the best product. I decided to try out our blender, and see if I couldn’t make it work for now.

awesome-crackers-1

Graham Crackers
{Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe}

8 3/8 ounces graham flour
1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
3 ounces dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
1 1/8 ounces molasses
1 1/8 ounce honey
1 1/2 ounces whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Place both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, honey, milk and vanilla extract and process until the dough forms a ball, approximately 1 minute. Press the ball into a 1/2-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

-Unwrap the chilled dough and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper and top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it is 1/16-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a cookie cutter of choice. {I used a heart shaped cookie cutter, and skipped the next step} Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of each cracker. Place crackers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 16-18 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven, set the pan with the crackers on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. {It is important to make sure they are cooled. The cookies will come off MUCH easier!! Otherwise you’ll end up with a graham cracker mess.}

-Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

awesome-crackers-2

These are SOOOO good. Dax & I sat down and finished off 15 of these crackers!
I do have a suggestion. You want to roll these out SUPER thin. If they are too thick, you’ll end up with a soft bran type cookie, so the thinner the better. You want to make sure it gets a good crunch. Also, watch them closely. They get dark pretty quick!

Don’t judge a book from it’s cover!

Don’t judge a book from it’s cover!

Remember those Vanilla Bean Cupcakes from Wednsedays post? Well, those were just one of 4 cupcakes I made for the bride to taste test!

Wondering what flavors the bride asked for?

Vanilla
Chocolate
Cherry Coke {recipe coming soon}
& last but not least…..

Sweet Potato!

That’s right, I said sweet potato! When she mentioned this flavor, I sat in shock. Who in their right mind would want such an outrageous flavor? I couldn’t even imagine what a sweet potato cupcake would taste like… maybe sweet potato pie?

ugh… I hate sweet potato pie!

But who was I to argue with the bride? So I made her cupcakes. The whole time I was baking, I kept thinking… these are not going to turn out well. . . I tried to do a little online research to find out what I was in for, but there aren’t many sweet potato cupcake resources out there!

While the cupcakes were in the oven, I had to admit, they smelled wonderful. I started to wonder if I was wrong about these things. Maybe they would turn out to be a hidden gem. I couldn’t help but sneak a bite while they were still warm, and WOW were they good!!

Phew! What a relief!! But what frosting should I put on top?? Ultimately I decided a basic cream cheese would be fantastic, but I wanted something a little more sophisticated for a wedding. I think maple butter cream did the trick!

cupcake-vanilla

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

2 c. Flour
2t. baking powder
1t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 C. butter
1-1/2 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 (17 oz) can sweet potato’s
1/2 t. vanilla

– Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners, and set aside.

– In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Whisk together, and set aside.

– Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sweet potato’s. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients.

-Once combined, distribute evenly throughout the liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost with desired frosting.

Maple Buttercream

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 C. butter
3-4 C. powder sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1-1/2 t. maple extract

– In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Scrape down the sides of pan, and add powder sugar. {I only added 3 cups, but you may need more depending on how thick you want your buttercream}. Stir in vanilla and maple extract. Frost your cupcakes!

I definitely learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. These cupcakes are shooting up to my number one favorite treat of all time. The maple buttercream is a great addition. It helps bring out the flavor of the cake without overpowering.

The bride loved the flavor combination, and decided that these would for sure make it to her wedding! They are the prefect fall flavor, and a great addition to her catering options!