“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Simple! Fall Dinner Get Together

After writing about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and recommending getting together with friends, I thought I would share some recipes and entertaining ideas. One of the simplest dinner ideas is soup: inexpensive and easy but always a winner. You can make one or make several for your guests to choose. Serve with good bread and end with dessert. An assortment of cheese and fruit would be an easy appetizer. What could be simpler?

I subscribe to House Beautiful magazine; in this month's issue, Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) shared a recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting. I haven't made them yet, but I plan on it. I think I'm going to have some friends over for soup and make these cupcakes. 
Here is the menu idea:
·      Tomato Basil Bisque
·      Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
·      Roasted Garlic Bread

Here are the recipes:

Tomato Basil Bisque

1 Tbls. Olive Oil
1 medium onion (or half a large)
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
6 ounces basil- no stems
½ Tbls. Dried Oregano
1-cup heavy cream
28-ounce can of tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft (not brown). Stir in garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in basil and cook about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes. Simmer 10- 15 minutes.

Puree contents of the pot in a blender or food processor. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. TIP: add a pinch or two of sugar if it is too sour/acidic. Serve with good bread; my favorite is roasted garlic. Serves 4

Chicken and Gnocchi soup
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 lb. chicken chopped in 1-2” cubes
4 tablespoons flour
2 carrots, cut in ¼” coins
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
4 cups chicken broth
1-cup heavy cream
Cracked pepper to taste
1 package gnocchi

Over medium heat, melt butter in a soup pot; add in the garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Add the chicken and cook until almost done. Next, add the carrots and sauté for another few minutes until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the flour; cook for a minute or two. Next, add the chicken broth- bring to a boil (stirring continuously) and then turn down. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are no longer crunchy. Add the gnocchi and cook 3-4 min. Then add the spinach. Simmer for another minute or two until the spinach is wilted. Lastly, stir in the cream. Serve with shaved Parmesan and crusty/rustic bread. Serves 4. 

Makes 10 cupcakes
1-cup all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
1/2-teaspoon kosher salt
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2-teaspoon ground ginger
1/2-teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2-cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2-cup vegetable oil
Maple Frosting (recipe follows)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
4. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

Maple Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor
1/2-teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

1 comment:

  1. I made the soup and the cupcakes the other day....practice run for inviting friends. I brought the cupcakes to FBCJAX counseling office and they were GONE! On the tomato bisque I said 1 Cup cream. I would add less cream- maybe 1/2 a cup to 3/4? In the past, I "guesstimate" a recipe and I think I over guessed. Also add maybe 2-3 T. sugar to get rid of any acidity.