Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cheese Soup

So today it is snowing again and it is a good day to play in the kitchen.  Looking in the meat and cheese drawer I see I have some old cheeses I should use up so I’m making cheddar cheese soup to use as a base for other recipes.  

I also have several bags of chicken hind quarters that were on sale for 99¢ a pound and some huge Idaho potatoes that were on sale for 88¢ a bag.  I also have some left over homemade frozen noodles I made so I am putting together a couple casseroles to eat on the rest of the week.  I’m making a scalloped potato recipe I saw on FB, but they made it much too complicated so I’m stealing their idea and making it my style saving a step or two.  I’m also boiling up some hind quarters and making chicken broth to make a cheesy chicken casserole with the noodles. 

So here are the recipes:

Cheese Soup

6 cups of 2% milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese (or what ever you like)
3 heaping tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. butter

Warm your milk and add the onion powder, salt and pepper.  You can use grated onion if you like, but it’s so much easier to use the powder.  You can add more onion powder at any time if you want more onion flavor.

When it is warm, pour in your cheese and add the butter.  Today I also have some Swiss cheese and some American cheese so tossed them in.  You can also use sharp cheddar if you like, but the cheeses should total about 2 cups. Stir constantly.  When the cheese has melted and it is simmering, make a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and water and mix well.  Add to the soup, stir and let it thicken.  The nice thing about cornstarch vs. a roux is you can always add more if it is not thick enough for you and it is just plain easier.

You now have the base for many different meals.  Try using it in a tuna casserole or pour over asparagus or add broccoli and have broccoli cheese soup.

I’m using it for scalloped potatoes and a chicken casserole.

Scalloped Potatoes

4 large Idaho potatoes
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 ring of smoked sausage
1 small onion
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Peel your potatoes.  If you like the skins on, you do not need to peel them.  Today I peeled them.  Slice them as thin as you can to cut baking time.

Cut your smoked sausage in half down the middle and then into bite sized pieces. 

Put your onion in the food processor and chop it very finely. 

Spray a large casserole dish and combine the potatoes, sausage and onion.  Mix well.
Pour the cheesy soup over the top. You can sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you like.  Put a lid on the top. 

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350°.  I put a piece of foil under it to prevent clean up when it boils over because it seems to always be the case for me.

Bake the scalloped potatoes for 1 ½ hours or until potatoes are tender and casserole is nice and golden on top.

Variation – I took the idea of smoked sausage from a FB recipe.  I have always used cubed ham or left over ham for my scalloped potatoes, but it got me to thinking I was being too limited.  Use bacon or Polish Kielbasa or Spam (I don’t like the product but my son loves it and so do many others).  Use your imagination.  How about hotdogs for the kids?

On to the next casserole dish I making using the cheese soup recipe.

Chicken Casserole

Bag of your favorite Amish noodles or homemade
Chicken broth
2 cups of picked chicken
4 cups of cheesy soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

I’m using chicken hind quarters today because that is what was on sale, but this would be good with chicken breast too.  It would probably better for you but more expensive.  I like dark meat the best so favor the hind quarters.

I covered my chicken in water adding an onion cut in half, a large pinch of Kosher salt, pepper and 2 bay leaves.  After the chicken was tender, I cleaned the chicken and refrigerated the several quarts of chicken broth for later dishes. When the chicken fat hardens, I pick it off and toss it away leaving an almost fat free broth. 

Boil you noodles in chicken broth to add favor.  Cook until they are al dente.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large sprayed casserole dish add your cooked noodles, chicken, cheese soup, and mushroom soup.  Taste test for seasoning.  Add Kosher salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top. 

I cut the above recipe in half and still have a jar of cheese soup for another recipe and left over  chicken for a salad.

Put in a pre-heated oven of 350° for 30 minutes until golden on top.  It is already cooked so you just need to warm through and toast the top. 

Variations – Substitute the chicken with 2 cans of white tuna.  I like to crush some saltine crackers and put them on top when I make this. 

Add some chopped mushrooms, broccoli or asparagus to the chicken casserole to add nutrition, color and more flavor.

Now I have to clean up my mess, but in the long run I will save other messes, time, money and know what has gone into the dishes.  I try to stay away from preservatives and long word ingredients that I don’t even know what it is. 

With a small salad or a veggie, these dishes will feed me for the rest of the week and into the weekend. 

Temps are coming up and I see a much better week ahead.  Hope the rest of your week is great.  Be happy, healthy and may God bless you and yours.  

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