Column: Susan McClanahan: New year, new cooking adventures (1/14/21)

A new year and a few new recipes to kick-start your new year menu planning. Today, I have a few entree recipes, a couple of salads and a few desserts to start your cooking adventures.

All of the recipes today are pretty easy to prepare but are tasty for family or guests. Recipes don’t have to be complicated to be good, so give these a try as we kick off a new year of cooking together.

Tomato Bisque With Grilled Cheese Croutons

* 4 tablespoons salted butter

* 1 medium onion, finely chopped

* 1/2 of a small red bell pepper, finely chopped,

* 1 rib celery, finely chopped

* 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

* 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

* 2 fresh basil leaves, chopped

* 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

* 2 (14 ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes

* 4 cups of chicken broth, low sodium

* 3 tablespoons tomato paste

* 2 teaspoons light brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste

* Pepper to taste

* 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

* 1 tablespoon salted butter

If desired, you can add all the veggies, basil and garlic to a food processor and pulse till fine.

In a 4-quart pan, melt the butter. Add the veggies and saute for 8 minutes. Add the flour to make a roux, let cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered with a lid.

Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and puree till smooth using an immersion blender or add the soup to a regular blender. With the soup back in the pot, add the whipping cream and butter. Swirl around to lightly blend.

Keep warm while your prepare the grilled cheese (recipe below). Ladle up into bowls and serve with grilled cheese croutons.

For the grilled cheese:

* Premium White Bread slices

* 2 different varieties of cheese slices, your choice.

* Mayonnaise

Heat a skillet, or griddle to 375 degrees. Spread mayonnaise to one side of one piece of bread and lay it down in the skillet, mayonnaise side down. Add cheese slices (two, three or four) Spread other slice of bread with mayonnaise, add to top of cheese, mayonnaise side out. Toast on the one side for several minutes and flip to toast the other side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into one inch cubes. Add cubes to the top of the soup in the serving bowls.


Original Old Bay Crab Cakes

* 2 slices dried bread, crusts removed

* n 1 tablespoon milk

* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

* 1 tablespoon parsley flakes

* 1 tablespoon baking powder

* 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 egg, beaten

* 1 pound lump crabmeat

* Vegetable oil

In a large bowl, break bread into small pieces. Moisten with milk.

Add mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, baking powder, Old Bay, salt, egg and crabmeat. Mix lightly and shape into 4 patties. Refrigerate patties 30 minutes to help keep them stay formed when cooking. Fill your frying pan with about 1/4-inch vegetable oil. Over medium-high heat, fry until golden-brown on both sides. Flip every minute to avoid over frying.


Strawberry Fields Salad

This Strawberry Fields Salad recipe is full of greens, grilled chicken, strawberries and balsamic dressing. A good winter salad to start off the new year. Try replacing the berries with raspberries or add some in for a berry variety.

* 1 (5 ounce) bag spring mix greens

* 1 pint fresh strawberries, thinly sliced

* 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

* 1/4 cup dried berries (cranberries or cherries)

* 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles

* 1/2 cup praline pecans

* 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

* 2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced

* 1 bottle Balsamic Salad Dressing

Place spring mix greens into a large bowl or large platter. Remove tops of strawberries and slice thinly. Thinly slice red onions.

Tip: When using raw onions, soak the sliced onions in ice water for a few minutes before serving. This will help with the onion tasting too pungent and overpowering the rest of the dish.

Add sliced onions to salad and sprinkle with dried berries, Feta cheese crumbles, praline pecans, sliced strawberries, bacon and sliced chicken.

Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette dressing on top (as little or as much as you like.)

To make this even easier, you can use the grilled and sliced chicken breasts that are in the refrigerated and frozen section of the grocery store. Also, you can find the praline pecans over in the supermarket. Finally, you can use microwaveable bacon as well.


Easy Oven Barbecued Pork Chops

Easy Oven Barbecued Pork Chops are cooked in a tangy BBQ sauce that is lick your finger good. You get that delicious BBQ flavor without ever turning on your grill.

* 4 thick cut bone-in pork chop

* Salt and pepper

* 1 cup ketchup

* 1/2 cup chili sauce

* 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

* 2 tablespoons honey

* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

* 1 tablespoon yellow mustard

* 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

* 1/2 teaspoon paprika

* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* 1/4 teaspoon celery salt, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and place in baking dish.

In a medium bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Pour over pork chops. Cover with foil and bake 45 to 50 minutes.

Uncover, flip pork chops over and spoon sauce on top. Bake another 10 minutes.

Spoon sauce over top again and broil 2 to 5 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and thickened.

Note: Use thick-cut pork chops with the bone in because they have more flavor. Plus they are less likely to get overcooked and dry out.

Leftovers will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

The sauce has a little bit of heat to it. If you want your pork chops spicy, double the amount of cayenne pepper.


Orange Marmalade Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is one of the most tender proteins. As well, it’s very lean and it cooks quickly. However, since it’s so lean you do not want to overcook it. The USDA recommends cooking chops, roasts, loins, and tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, followed by a three-minute rest.

This pork tenderloin is grilled and glazed with orange marmalade and spices. Great for entertaining or easy enough weeknight dinner.

* 1 to 2 pound pork tenderloin

* 16 ounces Sesame Ginger salad dressing

* 16 to 18 ounces orange marmalade

* 1 teaspoon ginger

* 1 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

* 1/4 teaspoon pepper

* 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Marinate tenderloin in Sesame Ginger salad dressing for 4 hours.

Combine orange marmalade, ginger, garlic powder, thyme, pepper, and soy sauce in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat grill to 350 degrees. Remove tenderloin from marinade and discard marinade. Grill tenderloin on medium-high heat (350) with the lid on. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes turning once. After turning, take the lid off the grill and brush the marmalade mixture on the tenderloin. Grill an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove tenderloin from grill and allow to rest and cool 5 minutes before cutting.


Turkey Caesar Sandwich On Garlic Toast

This tasty Turkey Caesar Sandwich has the ease of a cold cut sandwich with the taste of warm toasted garlic bread and Caesar salad.

* 1/4 cup mayonnaise

* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

* 1 tablespoon lemon juice

* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

* 1 clove garlic, minced

* 1 box (8 slices) frozen sliced garlic Texas toast, prepared according to package directions

* 12 ounces sliced deli or leftover turkey breast

* 4 small romaine lettuce leaves

* 2 medium tomatoes, sliced

Bake garlic toast slices according to package directions.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, cheese, lemon juice, mustard, and garlic.

Remove toast from oven and spread mayonnaise mixture on one side of each of the 8 slices of toasted garlic bread.

Top 4 slices with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and remaining toast (mayonnaise side down).

Cut in half to enjoy.


Banana Pudding Dream Dessert

No Bake Banana Pudding Dream Dessert is an easy dessert lasagna recipe made with banana pudding, layered with no bake cheesecake and a Golden Oreo Crust. Easy enough for the kids to help in the kitchen and yummy enough for the whole family.

* 25 Golden Oreos, crushed

* 6 tablespoons butter, melted

* 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

* 1/4 cup granulated sugar

* 8 ounces whipped topping, divided

* 1 box (3.4 ounces) instant banana cream pudding mix

* 1 cup milk

Mix the crushed Golden Oreos and butter. Press into the bottom of an 8- x 8-inch or 9- x 9-inch square pan. Chill 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping until combined, then spread over crust in the pan.

Add the pudding mix to a large bowl (you can use the same one you used before). Whisk in milk until pudding thickens. Once it has set, spread it over the cream cheese layer.

Top with remaining whipped topping and some additional crushed Oreos for decoration.

Note: Add 1-2 sliced bananas in between the cream cheese and pudding layer.

Chill at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.


Best Clam Chowder

* 8 bacon strips, divided

* 2 tablespoons butter

* 2 celery ribs, chopped

* 1 leek, finely chopped (or 1 shallot)

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

* 3-4 small unpeeled potatoes (red potatoes or Yukon gold), cubed into 1/2-inch pieces (optional to peel)

* 2 cups broth, chicken or vegetable

* 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

* 2 cups half-and-half, divided

* 3 cans 6-1/2 ounces each of chopped clams, undrained

* Bay leaf

* Chopped fresh chives or green onions, for garnish

In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain; set aside. Add butter to the drippings (you can spoon out some of the drippings if you don’t want to use that much); saute celery, leek, and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the potatoes, broth, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 cup half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into the soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.

Stir in clams and juice and remaining half-and-half; heat through (do not boil). Turn down to low heat; add the bay leaf. Cook for additional 2-3 minutes on low heat. Add in 4 strips of crumbled bacon.

Crumble the reserved 4 strips of bacon. Garnish chowder with crumbled bacon and fresh chopped chives or green onions thinly sliced.


Orange, Lemon, and Lime Citrus Cookies

These cookies are chewy and sweet with citrus zest and rolled in sugar. Yum!

* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

* 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

* 1 egg

* 2 cup all purpose flour

* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1 orange, zested

* 1 lemon, zested

* 1 lime, zested

In a small bowl, zest all the citrus. Remove about 2 teaspoons of zest and place in a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar to the 2 teaspoons of zest. Combine with a fork and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add butter and remaining 1 cup sugar. Beat for 1-2 minutes. Add egg and beat until combined. Add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until combined. Slowly add in zest.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll cookies into 3/4 to 1-inch balls. Then roll them in the sugar/zest mixture, coating generously. Place ball on cookie sheet and repeat. Using a flat bottom of a cup, press the ball slightly to form a disc. Repeat for all balls. I then pressed a little extra sugar on the tops of the cookies at this point (totally optional). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.

Store in a covered container for up to a week.


Gooey Butter Peach Cobbler

The best of two worlds. If you love cobbler and gooey butter cake, then you’re sure to love this gooey peachy deliciousness. This would work well with any cobbler friendly fruit.

For the crust:

* 1 cup buttermilk baking mix

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 2/3 cup milk

* 1/2 stick butter, unsalted

* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the gooey layer:

* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

* 2 eggs

* 3 1/2 cup powdered sugar

* 1 stick butter, unsalted melted

* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the peaches layer:

* 3 cups fresh or frozen peaches

* 1/2 cup sugar

* 3 tablespoons flour

* 1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1/2 stick of butter in a 9×13-inch pan and melt in the oven.

To make crust layer: mix all remaining crust ingredients (except butter) until smooth. Pour 1/2 of the mixture in bottom of pan with melted butter. Do not stir.

To make peaches layer: Put peaches in a medium saucepan mix in flour, sugar and salt. Heat until mixture thickens slightly. Spoon peaches over crust mixture in pan.

To make gooey layer: Mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour over peaches. Make sure each layer is distributed evenly in pan as you pour it. Do not mix layers once in pan.

Drizzle remaining crust mix on top of cobbler (it will not completely cover the gooey layer). Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting or serving. Excellent warm but good cold or room temperature, too.


Have a great week, an until next time, happy cooking.

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