Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yummy "Stuffed" Potato Soup

Need I even say more about this soup? It is a variation on the traditional and popular "Twice-Baked" Potato Soup that most people make. I thought it too rich made completely with milk, and it did not have enough bacon, onions, or cheese to suit our family, so I modified the recipe to fit what we like. Everyone who tries this soup likes it as it is tasty, rich, full-flavored, and filling. It really hits the spot on a cold day. I like a good smoky bacon to use in this recipe as it really brings out the flavor. This is my husband's favorite soup as he asks for it on a regular basis~ at least once or so a month. I just made this a couple of weeks ago, and he thought he'd died and gone to heaven. Well, maybe he would not agree with this word picture, but he sure was one happy diner that night. I sure heard a lot of "Mmmm's" while he was eating!  He was also dipping pieces of freshly cut bread into the soup before he got his shower and sat down to eat.
This is delicious served with a Vienna or French Bread, real butter, and a salad.
Yes, this makes a large amount, and yes, it is a bit pricey to make, but it is so delicious that it will soon become a family favorite of yours. Don't be afraid to cut this recipe in half, but for us, it is good 'as is' since we eat on it for the next couple of days for lunch.

Yummy "Stuffed" Potato Soup

2 pounds bacon, fried crisp, then crumbled
4-5 pounds potatoes (any potatoes will do, but I use Russets), peeled and cut small
about 1/2 cup very thinly sliced carrots (1/16" wide or smaller)
about 1/2 cup very thinly sliced celery (1/16" wide or smaller)
64 ounces (half gallon) chicken broth (either store bought or homemade)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 stick butter, plus 2 Tbls.
about 2/3 cup flour
About 4 cups milk
1 bunch (about 8) scallions (green onions), chopped
16 ounces sour cream
16 ounces grated Cheddar Cheese
A couple of pinches of turmeric (for color)
About 2 Tbls dried parsley

Fry up the bacon crisp, crumble it so it will be ready; set aside. Cut up your scallions while bacon is cooking; set aside.
Peel, wash, and chop potatoes into small pieces (will cook faster). Place in an 8 quart pan. Add sliced carrots and celery, then the broth. Add about a Tbls of butter so the pot will not boil over. You can also salt and pepper now so the salt cooks into the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook till potatoes are soft. When soft, mash with a potato masher to desired fineness. .We like ours quite fine, but if you like chunks, then leave chunks, or as is.
In a 2 quart sauce pan, melt the butter and with a whisk stir in the flour to make a roux; cook for about 1 minute. Slowly add some milk, stirring constantly to keep it from being lumpy, then add to the still bubbling soup. Add remainder of the milk and continue to stir as it thickens. If it seems to thicken too much, then add a bit more milk. Stir in the scallions and allow to cook a few minutes, then stir in sour cream and blend well. Stir in cheese and stir till melted and blended into soup. Add a few pinches of turmeric, stirring to combine, until desired color is achieved. (I like a nice golden color without being too bold). This does not affect flavor of soup. Stir in bacon and parsley. Serve with buttered Vienna or French bread and a salad. Makes a full pot.
This can be garnished in bowls with a dollop of sour cream, a few sprinklings of scallions, and some grated Cheddar cheese.

Iowa Brownies

These are misnamed as they are more like a sheet cake than a true brownie, but wow, are these good! And so simple to whip up. I got this recipe out of the food section of my local paper back around 1983, and I've been making them ever since. These hit the spot when you want something decadent, chocolaty, and good. I've also taken these to many pot lucks, funerals, and to those with families whom I am cooking for because of a stay in the hospital or just had a baby. I've made these with and without walnuts, with pecans, and my favorite is with walnuts. If you are out of walnuts, do not despair as these are good anyway! Rich and delicious, a little goes a long way.

Iowa Brownies

1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can (16 ounces) Hershey's syrup*
4 eggs
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Icing, follows

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in syrup, then eggs, one at a time, till well-incorporated. Beat in flour. Fold in nuts. Pour into a greased 10" x 15" jelly roll pan. Bake 25 minutes at 350F degrees. Do not over bake! Cool completely, then ice with the following.


1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk*
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In 2 quart sauce pan, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add sugar, milk, and chocolate chips. Bring to a boil and cook one minute. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour over cake and allow to cool. Cut into squares to serve.

*I always buy my syrup in a large container and measure out 16 ounces on my kitchen scales. I also no longer buy Hershey's syrup as it contains HFCS, so I use Nestle's Syrup as it does not contain HFCS.
*I often substitute regular milk in place of the evaporated.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole


This is a recipe I made last week when I wasn't sure what I wanted to make and I had some leftover fried chicken breasts I wanted to re-purpose and use up. I found a recipe online and modified it some for what I wanted, which means this is my recipe as I fine-tuned it to be what I wanted it to be. I still think it needs some fine-tuning as I want to make it more healthy, but for now, Bob said he likes it and I can make it again. That means it is a winner for him. This is a good dinner dish for your family, just add some salad and a hearty bread with butter, or it would be good to take to a pot luck as it feeds a lot of people. You can half this recipe. I didn't think to take a picture of the entire pan, but I did take a picture of my bowl before I dug into it to eat it! It didn't have enough broccoli as I only had a partial bag in the freezer, but this recipe below has the right amount.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

4 cups cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
16 ounces noodles ( I used Rotini)
2 cans of cream of celery or cream of chicken soup*
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
12 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated, divided*
1 Tbls. dried onion
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1- 2 oz. pimentos, drained
1 bag (16 ounce) frozen broccoli, thawed some*
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed fine*
1 stick real butter, melted

Cut up chicken while waiting for water to boil.
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
In large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, 8 ounces of the cheese, dried onion, salt and pepper. Add noodles and mix well. Blend in pimentos and broccoli till well incorporated. Pour into a 9" x 13" pan, spreading with a spoon or spatula to make it even all over.
Crush crackers and mix with butter till well covered. Sprinkle all over casserole.
Bake at 350 degreesF for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining 4 ounces of cheese and bake for another minute or two until cheese is all melted. Let set up about 5 minutes before serving. Makes enough to serve 8-10 people.
To add another layer and dimension to the taste of this casserole, you could finely chop up onion, carrots, and celery. Green pepper, too, if you like. Also, cut up half a pound of bacon in small pieces and fry, along with diced vegetables until bacon is done, and vegetables are cooked and tender. Mix this in in place of the dried onions.

*Instead of the soup, you can make a comparable amount of thick white sauce using chicken broth in place of water or milk. You can also cook small pieces of celery in broth.
*I like Cheddar, but you can use any cheese you favor.
*You can use any frozen vegetables in this casserole. I prefer broccoli.
*You can replace the crackers with about 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs, either plain or Italian, homemade or store-bought. Just make sure your bread crumbs come from bread with no HFCS or MSG in it.