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Baked Potato Soup

This delicious soup came from a combination of a late dinner with my husband, a visit to Costco and a brainstorming session during our last camping trip!

Baked Potato Soup

On our way home from Disneyland last month, we were hungry, it was late, and there wasn’t much open in the area but a little steakhouse. We stopped for dinner and my husband ordered soup. A little while later, this delightful baked potato soup arrived at our table. One taste and it was decided we had to learn to make this ourselves.

During our pre-camping Costco visit, one of the ladies had a sample tray with cubes of aged sharp white cheddar. Now, I admit, I am cheese tramp. Good cheese (in jokes and on my plate) makes me happy, That little bite, or maybe three or four, I don’t remember, was delicious! Needless to say, we bought a block and a salami tray to take camping.

Fast forward to that camping trip! Freezing on the beach in our little tent trailer, snacking on salami, aged cheddar cheese and crackers, we started brain storming how to use the rest of the gigantic cheese block! It’s COSTCO people! It’s a two-pound block of cheese!

This is one of several recipes we came up with that day. The cheese is just a garnish, but it TOTALLY makes the soup!

Baked Potato Soup

8 TBLS (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
2 medium size baking potatoes
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
4 pieces of bacon, folded in half and cut into strips
chives, to taste
1 cup aged sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F..

Scrub your potatoes, then dry thoroughly. Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Using your hands, lightly coat the potatoes with 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Sprinkle each potato with Kosher salt. Place the potatoes directly on a rack in the oven. Don’t wrap them in foil! You want the crispy skin with great baked flavor! Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

When the potatoes are nearly done baking, start your soup base. Do this all in one pot, it makes clean-up much easier!

At the bottom of a medium stock pot, fry your bacon strips in 1 TBLS butter. When the bacon pieces are crisp, remove them from the pan and let them drain on a paper towel lined plate. Without removing any of the bacon fat, add the rest of the butter and the diced onion. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the onion is soft, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. The roux will get very thick. Be careful not to let it get brown.

Slowly pour in two cups of the chicken broth. Use a spatula to scrape up all the little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth and bring the mix to a boil, stirring often.

Chop the baked potatoes (with the skins still on!) into bite-sized pieces and add them to the soup. Let the soup simmer gently for 8-10 minutes.

Add the pepper and red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Slowly add the heavy cream. I think the soup is better without it, but by all means, use it if you want your soup to be extra creamy! Either way, it’s going to be thick, delicious and wonderful!

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, chives and cheese. Serve immediately!

Baked Potato Soup

If you’re wondering about the other recipes we came up with, stay tuned! Next month could be very cheesy! 😉

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Jicama and Red Onion Slaw!

This fresh, light slaw will be a permanent staple at our house! It has a peppery sweet dressing with a host of unusual veggies that create a refreshing change of pace from the usual mayo heavy coleslaw.

If you have a food processor, this comes together with incredible ease. Simply shred everything and viola!

Salad Ingredients
1 cup peeled, shredded jicama
1 cup peeled, shredded carrots
1 cup shredded cucumber
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shredded red radishes
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 TBLS cilantro, roughly chopped

Dressing Ingredients
5 TBLS Rice wine vinegar
5 TBLS Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

In a small bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Using a food processor, shred all the veggies except the red onion and cilantro. If you don’t have a food processor, simply julienne all the veggies so the pieces are all the same size. Toss together in a large bowl. Thinly slice the red onion and add to the veggies. Chop the cilantro and set aside.

Add HALF the dressing to the veggies, tossing gently to coat. Allow the salad to sit for 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator to combine flavors. Add the cilantro just prior to serving. Put the rest of the dressing on the table for serving.

I love the way the vegetables blend together with a little sweetness from the Jicama with a tangy bite from the radish. The dressing adds some heat with the red pepper flakes and everything is light and fresh! A perfect addition to any summer meal!

A bit of warning, this makes a HUGE amount of slaw! We’ve been eating it for several days, but if you took it to a family party or outdoor BBQ, I guarantee it will disappear quickly and you’ll have requests for the recipe!

Enjoy!!

Foccacia Recipe

So many of you have asked about this, I thought I’d share so everyone can learn to love (and make repeatedly) this wonderful bread!  You can have this bread on the table in less than 30 minutes, just be sure to pre-heat your oven first!

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar (only if baking right away!)

1 tsp salt

Olive oil for the pan

Yep!  That’s it. Four ingredients and warm water.  Here’s what I used:  (Ohhhh shameless product plugs!)

Directions

Pour the water into a bowl and add the (sugar – if you are baking right away), salt and yeast.  Let the yeast foam up and then leave it alone for five minutes!  This is what it should look like:

Don’t worry about the clumps.  It’s My Imperfect Kitchen, remember?  😉  I promise it won’t hurt the taste of the bread.  Pour the flour into the bowl and mix well.  It should look like this:

At this point you can cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours, or even overnight.  For you morning people, you can put this together, then throw it in the oven (Make sure the oven is OFF) to rise all day while you are at work.

To those of you saying “Wait?  I added sugar!  You said you could make this in less than 30 minutes?  Who wants to wait TWO HOURS for bread to rise?!?”  To you, I say AMEN!  We’re going to mix this up and toss it in the oven right now!  The rest of you can follow along when your dough has risen to perfection.

Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees.  You want your oven nice and HOT.

Use an 8×8″ pan OR a metal pie pan.  Just be sure it’s an 8″ pan.  I’ve found the 9″ pans make the bread too thin.  Coat the bottom (don’t be shy about this step) with olive oil and dump the bread dough into it.  (Do not add any flour and don’t knead the dough – you will want to keep those lovely air bubbles!)  Drizzle more olive oil over the top of the dough.  Using your fingers (or let the kids do it!) spread the dough to the edges of the pan and poke holes into it.  You want to see the bottom of the pan!  This will give the olive oil a place to settle in and will let your crust be crisp, with that traditional Foccacia look, but still soft and yummy in the middle.  Like this:

Now, top it with any ingredients you’d like.  Tonight, I used Italian Seasoning, Parmesan cheese, basil, Sea Salt and Red Pepper Flakes.  It looked like this:

Bake at 500 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it.  There should be enough oil in the pan so you can slide it out easily when it’s done.

Ta-DA! So delicious and so easy!  Now you have bread to go with your dinner and your house will smell fabulous! You can also serve the bread as an appetizer to dip with olive oil and balsamic vinegar!  You can also cut it in half horizontally and use it to make an Italian Sub Sandwich.  Imagine ham and salami, layered with basil, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and spicy peppers! Mmm-Mmm, I’m getting hungry!   Here is what we are having for dinner tonight:  Beautiful Foccacia, Baked Rigatoni with Spicy Italian Sausage and Roasted Zucchini!

 

Enjoy your bread!

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