Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Tomato Basil Soup

This is definitely a go-to cheap, easy dinner for our family. I normally just do grilled cheese using cheap bread with white american cheese to go with the soup. However, tonight...we are going a little fancy. My friend, Marissa, made "grown-up" grilled cheese for a church event a few weeks ago. She gave me a few tips...good bread, two kinds of cheese, and some other fun ingredient (bacon, ham, fried egg, etc.). Tonight, I'm doing a three cheese Semolina bread (from HT), crispy bacon, good white American cheese and a sharp white cheddar. The other tip Marissa gave is not only to spread butter on the outside of the bread but to also sprinkle it with Parmesan. I'm super excited about trying that! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Tomato Basil Soup

2 28oz cans of Furmano's chunky crushed tomatoes (with basil, garlic, and not substitute this for any other crushed tomatoes!)
1 14oz can chicken broth or stock
1 cup whipping cream (or light cream to be healthier)
1/2 cup butter

In a saucepan bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter and cream. Cook until butter is melted.

This is super easy and SO good! You could also double it and freeze a batch for a fast dinner.

Adapted from Allrecipes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Easy Peasy Sweet and Savory

Last night, we had our first meeting for our trip to Nicaragua. I'm leading a trip with our church to Managua in July to go and serve at One by One ministries. Check out what they are doing down there here I'm so pumped about what God is doing through this ministry and can't wait to see it first hand in just a short couple of months. My sister and her family are the instate contacts for this ministry as well. Check them out here Let me give you some incentive to click on that link. They have 7 sweet kids! Thats! And, they are extremely cute!

Ok, let's get on with what you came here for...the food. My good friend, Mary, made soup and I was in charge of bread and dessert. I really wanted something easy since I had been at church all day and this last week was one of the busiest weeks I've had in a long time. I stumbled upon this bread recipe as I was searching for something cheesy and easy. It will definitely be going in my permanent stash of yummy things to make last minute. The sweet recipe was given to me by someone at church. I tweaked it some because I wanted a few different things in it. You will see. Here we go...

Parmesan Cheddar Quick Bread
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (I used sharp white cheddar by Cabot) with a little extra for the top - the original recipe called for 1/2 cup but next time I would definitely do a full cup
1/2 cup parmesan shredded cheese
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Things I added...
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian seasoning

For the top...
1/2 stick of butter melted and mixed with about a tsp. of garlic powder and a tsp. of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, italian seasoning, and cheese. 
In another large bowl, beat together egg, milk and oil. 
Stir the flour/cheese mixture into the egg mixture, stirring until just moistened (don't over stir)
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle extra cheese on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Once it comes out pour the melted butter mixture over the top and spread it around. Slice and serve with extra melted butted mixture if you want to be extra crazy!

Magic Bars (or seven layer bars)

Here are the original ingredients and then I will give you my recipe below that. You can really do any fun candies that you want. Get creative!
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 Graham cracker crumbs (I bought the expensive store bought to make it super easy...sometimes that is worth it.)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

My changes...
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
9 graham crackers (5 ounces), crushed
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup toffee bits
½ cup butterscotch chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

- Preheat to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with two overlapping pieces of foil or parchment paper, leaving overhang to act as handles for lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with a lot of non-stick spray.
- Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake until the flakes are a golden brown about 4-7 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it – coconut can go from slightly browned to burnt in a matter of seconds.) Set aside.
- Melt the butter and combine with graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Toss with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
- In order, sprinkle the pecans, chocolate chips, toffee chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut over the graham crumbs. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.
- Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, at least 2 hours.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars or squares.

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