Loaded Potato Soup

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I got my first cold of the season this week, so I was really grateful when I felt well enough to be up and cooking for my family again last night. I had plenty of organic russet potatoes in the pantry and homemade chicken stock taking up space in my freezer;  and even though it’s not exactly cold and gloomy here – it is dark and rainy! I pinned this recipe from The Pioneer Woman and went with it because she rarely steers me wrong.

Verdict: This was really tasty and the whole family enjoyed it – even my picky daughter! I served this with Parmesan garlic bread because what is soup with out some extra carbs for dunking? ( I will share that new recipe with you all soon). I will make this again and it makes a big batch and would be perfect for potlucks or to split and bring to a family in need. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Perfect Potato Soup – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 6 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Scrubbed Clean And Diced
  • 3 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 6 whole Small Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Diced
  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  •  Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Chives or parsley
  • 1 cup Grated Cheddar

Directions –

Add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the hot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove half to 2/3 the soup and blend in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream, then stir in parsley, reserving a little for garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with chives, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.

Snicker’s Cake

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When it comes to making a cake (especially the three layer, super involved kind), I need a good excuse to make one. My husband on the other hand would have liked me to make this because it was a Monday – no real reason and no company to help us eat it. I know better! The last thing we need is a giant cake all to ourselves,  not to mention how selfish that would be 😉

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I have used this particular chocolate cake recipe many times before, so I knew it would be really good. Also, for quality control sake, I had to taste the fluff and salted caramel I made – so I knew those were also really good. This is definitely not a cake I would have wanted to make in one day because of all the components; also, it’s much easier to work with when the cake layers have been frozen. On Friday, I made the salted caramel and the chocolate cake – let the cake cool completely, wrapped them up individually in plastic and then placed them in the freezer. I made the fluff on Sunday, stored it in a glass container and let it sit on my counter. Monday I made the nougat and I decided to reduce the amount of peanuts added; but other than that modification, I made it as directed. Also, I totally forgot to add the salted caramel to the top of the nougat filling – boo! I figured no one would care especially once i poured ganache and more caramel sauce over the top 😉

Verdict: This cake tastes as good as it looks – maybe even better. All the guests at our Labor Day party really enjoyed it and we only have about 1/4 of it left! 🙂  I’m glad that all that work I put into it paid off, and I’m sure I will get requests for it in the future 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Snickers Cake – adapted from Punky Purls via Brown Eyed Baker

For the Cake:

  • 2½ cups AP flour (312 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
  • 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Nougat Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup salted caramel sauce
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

For the Assembly & Garnish:

Directions –

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

4. Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Make the Nougat Filling: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

6. Make the Frosting: Beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes (I like to use the whisk attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, but it’s not necessary). Pour in the salted caramel and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy.

7. Assemble the Cake: If your cakes baked up uneven or have domed on top, level off the tops. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Top with a second cake layer and cover with the remaining nougat filling and top with caramel sauce. Place the final cake layer on top face-down. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.

8. Make the Chocolate Ganache: While the cake chills, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, yet still a pourable consistency.

9. Garnish the Cake: Transfer the ganache to a 2-cup measuring cup. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward and flow over the sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. To finish garnishing, drizzle some additional salted caramel sauce over the top and side of the cake, and top with chopped peanuts. Keep the cake refrigerated, removing it from the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Salted Caramel Sauce

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I have never made caramel before, but I watched this episode of Kelsey’s Essentials and decided that this should be easy enough to try. Thankfully it worked out really well and I will use this recipe again. This caramel is destined to become part of the Snicker’s cake that I will be serving on Labor Day. I am also going to attempt making marshmallow fluff from scratch so hopefully that recipe turns out as well as this caramel! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Salted Caramel Sauce – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel, or kosher salt

Directions –

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

*Cook’s Note: The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

Key Lime Pie

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He is seriously spoiled…I don’t even like key lime pie, but he has been asking for it recently; and lucky for him I stumbled upon two pound bags of these cuties at my fave store.
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Peruvian lime meets baby key lime 😉
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Just when I thought they couldn’t possibly be any cuter, I cut them in half to juice them – I was wrong!
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But those fuzzy feelings quickly disappeared when I proceeded to squeeze 1 3/4 pounds of these to produce the required 3/4 cup…owee. Other than squeezing all those limes, this is a super easy pie to make.

Verdict: This pie is smooth, creamy and the most tart dessert I have ever had. I loved decorating the pie the whipped cream rosettes, key lime slices and zest. I don’t usually break out the piping bag, but any proper key lime pie seems to have them so I went with it.

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Key Lime Pie – adapted from I Wash You Dry

  • 9″ graham cracker pie crust
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1 ( 14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Whipped Cream (optional)

Graham Cracker Crust – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 6 1/2 ounces graham crackers (12 crackers), finely ground (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions –

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined
  2. Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake until crust is fragrant and edges are golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Pie

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brush the graham cracker pie crust with the lightly beaten egg white, then bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Meanwhile combine the egg yolks, key lime juice, lime peel, sweetened condensed milk, and sour cream in a medium bowl. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared crust.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool to room temp.
  6. Chill in fridge for at least three hours, then serve with whipped cream if desired.

Re-Post: Italian Mac and Cheese

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I haven’t made this in nearly three years, but it tasted better than I remembered it. The leftovers didn’t last long in our house and  we happily ate them for lunch two days in a row – yeah, it’s that good! 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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Italian Mac and Cheese Ingredients – adapted from The Food Network

  • 1 pound penne, ziti or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese blend ( I used Fontina, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and Asiago)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp hot sauce, optional *I used chili flake*
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions –

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta to a chewy al dente, about 8 minutes.  In a large skillet, brown and crumble the sausage. Drain cooked crumbles on a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to heat and add extra-virgin olive oil, butter, mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute about 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and mushrooms become lightly browned.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add flour to skillet and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in milk. Bring to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of Italian cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce, add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce if desired.  Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta and transfer to a large baking dish.  Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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So smooth, creamy, decadent, flavorful and satisfying! I love the creaminess of custard-style ice cream over Philadelphia style hands down. The texture and mouth feel of custard based is so much more pleasant than the butter fattiness of Philadelphia. I learned that a couple of years ago when I tried this recipe; and even though my favorite style requires more ingredients and wait time, I promise it’s worth every minute. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – adapted from The Food Network

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla sugar if you have it (next time I will use a less – it’s pretty sweet!)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Directions –

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Place the half-and-half and the heavy cream into a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and remove from the heat.

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In a medium mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and whisk to combine.

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Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding small amounts, until about a third of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder and return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 to 175 degrees F. Pour the mixture into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place the mixture into the refrigerator and once it is cool enough not to form condensation on the lid, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees F or below.

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Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Serve as is for soft serve or freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Vodka Cream Sauce

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I posted this recipe over a year ago, but I wanted to share it with you all again cause it’s just that good! I made it exactly as the recipe calls for – 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of vodka and everything 😉 No worries – I didn’t have two drunk minors stumbling around after they ate this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Penne and Shrimp with Vodka Cream Sauce – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 3/4 pounds Penne pasta (I used a pound of spaghetti)
  • 1 pound shrimp (I used 1.5 pounds, we love shrimp)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole onion (small), diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka (or white wine)
  • 1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt To Taste
  • pepper To Taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions –

Cook the penne pasta until tender-firm, also known as al dente.

Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook them. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite –sized pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your vodka or white wine. Let the vodka or wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would rather not use alcohol, you can use low-sodium chicken broth instead (about ½ cup).

Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.

Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir.

Fettuccine Alfredo

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My husband prefers decadent cream sauces to my preferred red, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice to make him happy 😉 I’m already planning on going to the gym in the morning! Any exercise after such a fat-filled, dairy-tastic meal has to be better than no exercise at all! This recipe makes about 6-8 servings and sadly, does not reheat well. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Fettuccine Alfredo – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound Fettuccine Noodles
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions –

In a saucepan or skillet, warm butter and cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grate Parmesan cheese and place half of it into a large serving bowl. Pour warm butter/cream mixture over the top. Reserve some of the pasta water, then drain pasta and immediately pour it into the bowl.

Toss a couple of times, then sprinkle in the other half of the Parmesan. Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary. Serve immediately as a main course or accompaniment to meat or salad.

Chocolate Pudding

My husband let me know on more than one occasion, that he wanted chocolate pudding. I was over the “man nagging” so I made it. Now I understand why there is a market for “instant pudding”, because this took at least 40 minutes to make! Here’s hoping that it was worth the work 🙂

Verdict: This was ssuuupppppeeerrrr sweet – way too sweet for me. I used semi sweet chocolate chips and all the required sugar, so next time I will use bittersweet or dark chocolate. The chunks you see in the spoon are the leftover pieces of chocolate chips that didn’t melt completely. Next time I would melt the chocolate before adding to the pudding, but other than those problems, it was tasty. If you have a craving for pudding, you’ll have to wait a while before you can eat this! It needed at least four hours in the fridge to firm up properly. My first time making pudding wasn’t a complete disaster and now I know what to expect for the next time 🙂 The kids loved it and my son asked when I’m making it again cause it was the “best dessert ever”. My son is notorious for “laying it on thick”, so I don’t know how good it is to him. He would have said that about anything 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Double Chocolate Pudding – adapted from Sophistimom

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips, like Guittard brand, plus a small handful for garnish
  • whipped cream (recipe follows)

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk almost to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow, smooth, and it falls in ribbons. Whisk in cocoa powder and corn starch.

2. Whisk in hot milk, a half a cup at a time until mixture is warm to the touch. Pour entire mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly until pudding starts to thicken and it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Pull off the heat and add in cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour in chocolate chips and allow to rest for a minute. Stir the mixture to incorporate the melted chocolate. Pour into a bowl or into individual cups. Serve warm or cold and with a dollop of whipped cream. Chop a handful of chocolate chips and sprinkle on for a garnish

Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream

This couldn’t be an easier recipe – 5 ingredients, 30 minutes of churning and a rest in the freezer. Okay, so it’s not the quickest but it is super simple. I was surprised that there was no salt in this (all sweet needs a little salt to balance the flavor) but I decided not to modify this at all until I taste the final product.

Verdict: This is almost too sweet and fatty. The use of heavy cream and whole milk, (Philadelphia-Style) make this ice cream coat your mouth with butter fat – so if you’re not crazy about that, steer clear of this one. I’m sure the kids and husband wont mind, but I think I prefer the mouth feel of an ice cream that uses egg yolks (French-Style); so I’ll be on the hunt for those. I borrowed The Perfect Scoop from the library a while ago, and I need to search through the book for some must-make-soon desserts. I just realized last night that it’s due back in five days, so I’d better get on it! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream Ingredients – adapted from Simple Comfort Food

  • 1 cup Whole Milk, Cold
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 10 whole Oreo Cookies, Crumbled
Directions –
Freeze your ice cream bowl prior to starting your recipe, as it is very important that it is completely frozen.

Begin by adding the milk and sugar to your mixing bowl, and mix with a whisk until all of the sugar dissolves. Add in the vanilla extract, and the heavy cream. Assemble your ice cream maker, and turn it on, adding in your mixture.

Let the mixer spin for at least 30 minutes, adding the crumbled Oreo cookies about 25 minutes into mixing. Place the bowl back in the freezer for at least an hour, or in my case, overnight. Scoop and enjoy.