Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dining In

I have found that one way to simplify is dining in.  Now don't get me wrong I love trying local joints and eating the native cuisine.  But there is nothing like sitting in the peace and quiet of your home surrounded by people you care about at your table.  Ever since I snagged my better half I've been dabbling in the kitchen.  Here is a dining in meal I served this week:

(Warning: I'm including pictures and realize they are not the best.  Who knew it would be so difficult to snap good photos while your cooking.  I'll definitely be practicing more!)

The entree is a Tomato-Basil Bisque I modified from one of my favorite cookbooks Food that says Welcome by Barbara Smith, she is Michael W. Smith's Mom.  It is a super easy recipe that is absolutely delicious!

First you just simply heat up 2 cans of tomato soup (10 3/4 oz).  While that's warming up you drain one can of petite diced tomatoes (14 1/2 oz).
(You can also use fresh tomatoes if you have some around)
Once the soup is heated add 1 can of evaporated milk (12 oz) and stir until it becomes nice and creamy.

Then add your drained tomatoes, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 2 tbsps of  butter, and 1 tbsp of dried basil.
(The original recipe calls for chopped fresh basil (2 tbsp) 
but since I didn't have any I added half the amount, 
a tip I heard works if you are adding dried ingredients instead of fresh)
Now just stir until heated through and serve.  I also added some warm sourdough bread to serve with the soup.  It was delicious!
Since I was already in the kitchen I thought I might make this dinner extra special and include a homemade dessert.  I decided on a Blueberry Pudding Cake, a recipe from my all time favorite recipe book Taste of Home.  For this recipe you can use fresh or frozen blueberries (don't thaw!).  I had a stash of frozen blueberries in the freezer so again I opted for not fresh.  (I know I should really start thinking about going to the grocery more often).  

I used 24 oz of frozen blueberries (2--12 oz packages) and placed them in a bowl.  Then add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and 2 tsp of lemon juice.
Place that mixture in a greased 9x9-in square baking dish.  In another bowl combine 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of baking powder.  Then stir in 1/2 cup of milk (I like using whole milk) and 3 tbsp of melted butter.  Then slap that on top of the berries.
Then in another bowl (or if you're like me and hate doing dishes you can use the same bowl) mix 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 tbsp of cornstarch.  Sprinkle that over top of your blueberry/flour mess.  Then pour 1 cup of boiling water over the blueberry/flour mess and pop it in a preheated (350F) oven for 45-50 minutes.
Whoala!  Once it's finished it should be a nice golden-brown on the top and if you stick a knife in the center of the cake portion is will come out clean.  And you don't even half to let it cool.  Trust me your company will appreciate it.
And the thing I like most about this dinner.  Not much clean up....
Enjoy the fixins',

Here is a list of all the items needed for each recipe:

Tomato-Basil Bisque
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans tomato soup
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 (14 1/2 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dried basil (or 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped)

Blueberry Pudding Cake
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (don't thaw)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp of butter
3/4 cup suger
1tbsp cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

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