Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

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Growing up I think everyone at some point in time had tomato soup and grilled cheese, of course unless your Mom made everything from scratch most likely you got good old Campbell’s.  Don’t get me wrong Campbell’s is a great product, but who knew how really simple making homemade tomato soup was, so when I feel like I want something from my childhood this is what I do.  You can also serve cold or at room temp. For a party I served the soup in tiny cups and made grilled cheese sticks for convenient dipping, it was a hit for sure!!!

Tomato Soup

1/4 cup sweet or red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5oz) whole peeled tomatoes, give them a little squish
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a medium saucepan over medium heat add oil and onions, cook onion until translucent, stirring often not to burn.  Then add garlic, cooking and stirring for about 30 seconds, now add the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil then let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add mixture to a blender and pulse to blend, make sure the lid is vented, you can take the center cap out of the lid, place a towel over top.  Once blended add cream and blend again, pour back into saucepan, keep warm, season with salt and pepper.

At this point you can serve or you may want to top it with some fresh chopped basil or chives, what about some sour cream, goat cheese, queso fresco or for me I like some crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  But you can top this soup with anything you can think of, plus its great to dip your grilled cheese in it too.

Grilled Cheese

1. Start with some good hearty bread, sliced and butter the outsides.

2. Cheese, there really is no one cheese that would not be good inside, for me I love changing it up, these are some cheeses I’ve used, provolone, smoked provolone & mozzarella, fontina, sharp white cheddar, Muenster, then my favorites are manchego and brie.  Brie with pears and some honey so good too, also crispy bacon…delicious

So what ever you use for your favorite grilled cheese go for it, but do me a flavor think outside the box!!!
There are so many wonderful cheeses out there, the next time you’re in the store take time to look around the deli area for the specialty cheeses, ask your deli server to help you pick something out, let them know you want to explore the wonderful cheeses of the world.

Let me know what you some of your favorite cheeses and combinations are…Enjoy!!

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White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie Crust

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Since I work for a grocery chain (Remke bigg’s, Northern Ky/Greater Cincinnati area), our merchandisers will get in new products before they hit our shelves.  I have been fortunate to be given some of these products and I will be sharing with you my results and different recipes I come up with by using the products.

Up first is Betty Crocker’s White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie Mix, this is not yet in the stores, I decided to make the crust for my cheesecake out it….so this is what I did.

Crust :  New – Betty Crocker White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie Mix
1 package of cookie mix
1/3 cup butter
1 tbsp. water
Mix all together

I used a 12 inch tart pan, also cut a piece of parchment paper to in the bottom of my pan, then spray it with non stick spray. 

Press mixture into a tart pan

bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes, the cookie dough will puff up, as soon as it comes out, take the back of measuring spoon and press the dough down and into the sides. You can see in the first picture at the top

White Chocolate Cheesecake batter:

16 oz. white chocolate, chopped (used 2 – 6 oz. packages Bakers plus 4 oz. white choc. chips)
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

In a double boiler or a place a metal or glass bowl over a pot of 1 inch simmering water, not letting the bowl touch the water, melt chocolate and butter together. 
Stirring occasionally to combine, set aside and let cool slightly.

Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, vanilla and sugar
beat until you reach firm peaks, beat in melted chocolate until combined.
 In another bowl add whipping cream

and beat until firm peaks
take a 1/3 of the whipped cream and fold it into the cream cheese mixture
Beat in the rest of the whipped cream

Pour over the crust  
(This does make a little extra, use a couple of ramekins to put the extra filling and top with some of the nuts for a late night snack.)
Top with candied macadamia nuts.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Candied  Macadamia Nuts:

4 oz. macadamia nuts, chopped
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
 1/2 tsp. vanilla
 pinch of salt

In a saucepan add butter, once melted add brown sugar, vanilla and salt
stirring and cooking for 1 minute, remove from heat, keep stirring until sugar has dissolved.
Toss with nuts
stir to coat, then pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet or silt pad. 
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring half way, remove from oven, place on waxed paper or parchment paper to let cool. 
These remind me of Burnt Sugar Nuts, they work well with the sweetness of the cheesecake.

This Cookie crust was a great addition to this recipe, keep a look out at your local store this new cookie mix!  I give it “Two Thumbs Up”     Enjoy!!!!

Coconut Macaroons

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I truly love Coconut macaroons, but of course you have to love or at least like coconut…Well I do 🙂
Its funny when I was little my parents would get a huge box of “Esther Price” at Christmas time from my Dad’s work and I hated when I would pick a piece and it was “Coconut” yuk!!!!   😦
Of course our taste buds change as we grow up and I absolutely love making these, this recipe is so simple and easy!!!  So please “if you like coconut” make these, you will not be disappointed, I love having mine with a great cup of expresso…Enjoy!!!

1 14 oz. package sweetened coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

4 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

I like my coconut fine, so I add it to the food processor and pulse a few times to make the coconut finer, you do not have to do this, this is just how I like it.

Attach the whip attachment to your mixer, in bowl add egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, beat until egg whites become white and just start to stiffen.  Then add sugar in 2 parts, sprinkle in 2 1/2 tbsp. let that beat a few seconds then sprinkle in the remaining sugar and add vanilla, continue to whip until egg whites are very stiff.
Fold in coconut, drop by the teaspoon or tablespoon (I do 2 tablespoon scoop), onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake teaspoon size for 15 – 20 minutes, tablespoon size for 20 – 30 minutes, they should be golden brown but still moist inside.

If you want to add chocolate, just melt chocolate and drizzle over top or dip half the macaroon into chocolate.

Enjoy!!!!

Asian Flank Steak and Chicken Wings with homemade BBQ Sauce

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This is the Flank Steak and Chicken Wing with homemade BBQ Sauce recipe I used when I grilled out with some friends and made the Mac and Cheese in the electric pressure cooker (previous blog)

I love this marinade I use is all the time!

Marinade

1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. whole peppercorns, or just ground black pepper will work too
Mix everything in a ziploc bag, place your steak inside and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Grill about 7 minutes per side, for medium rare, slice thinly across the grain.

I made this steak sauce to be served with the steaks as well, but then I divided it and to half, I added a 1/4 cup more of brown sugar, stirred that in and used it as a BBQ sauce for our Chicken Wings…so good!!

BBQ Sauce/Steak Sauce

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves

Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan, heat over medium-low heat, bring to a bubble, and then reduce to low, cook until shallots are tender, 15 – 20 minutes.  Let cool, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Remember if you want to make half a BBQ Sauce, divide and add 1/4 cup brown sugar to half the mixture.

My go to veggies that I just love so so much are green beans, jicama and onions, I think I could eat that combo everyday.  All I do is clean and break the green beans, peel and slice the onions and the jicama you peel that like a potato, then I slice it and cut into matchstick like pieces (they kind of look like french fries).  I toss all of together with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper, grill them in a sitr-fry basket until the desired doneness…I like me veggies with a little bit of crunch still.  You can also saute these up in a skillet if you don’t want to use the grill.

I really do love jicama, I first had it many years ago in mexico, I thought it was potato, but I quickly found out it was this big root vegetable like a potato.  I use jicama in my soups in place of potato, it really is go much better for you, I also will eat it raw just like carrot sticks.  It’s also great in salad or adding a crunch to salsa, if you have never tried jicama please go to your local produce dept. and ask them for it, you will not be sorry…Enjoy!!!