A few seasonal recipes for fall

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This week the temperatures dropped and a chill is definitely in the air. As soon as the temperature dropped, I found myself at the store ready to purchase ingredients for a couple of different types of soups and wanting to do some baking. Turning the oven on takes the chill from the air and the children love to have fresh baked items.

I will share a few recipes today that remind me that we live in an area where we are blessed to have four beautiful seasons, and fall is here.

Just Like Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe

1 pound spicy Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 pound smoked bacon, chopped

1 quart water

2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth, (about 3 2/3 cups)

2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean, cubed

2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

1 medium onion, peeled, chopped

2 cups chopped kale or Swiss chard

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown sausage in a pan over medium to medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain sausage and set to the side. Brown bacon in a pan over medium-high heat. Be careful not to cook crispy. Drain bacon and set to the side. Place broth, water, garlic, potatoes, and onion in a pot. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Add sausage and bacon to the soup. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add kale and cream to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Heat thoroughly.

Clam Chowder with Corn

2 to 3 slices bacon

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

2 (6 1/2 ounces each) cans minced clams

2 cups diced potatoes

1 quart water

2 tablespoons butter

1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 can (approximately 8 ounces) cream-style corn

Brown bacon in a heavy skillet. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon; crumble and set aside. To the hot bacon grease, add onion, clam juice, minced clams, potatoes, and water; simmer until potatoes are tender. Add butter, milk, cream style corn and salt and pepper to taste; heat almost to boiling point. Sprinkle crumbled bacon over each serving. If thicker soup is desired, make a flour paste by combining 2 tablespoons flour with a little cold water and add to the soup. Clam chowder recipe makes 6 servings.

Quick Shrimp Chowder

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of potato soup, undiluted

3 1/2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 1/2 pounds medium fresh shrimp, peeled

1 cup (4-ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Fresh snipped parsley, as garnish

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat; add onions and saute until tender. Stir in cream of potato soup, milk and pepper. Bring to a slow boil. Add shrimp; reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until shrimp turns pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Yields 12 cups.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole with Spinach and Mushrooms

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves

1 1/2 cups (about) water

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

8 ounces spinach fettuccine

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs from French bread

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine chicken, 1 cup water, garlic and bay leaf in large saucepan. Cover and simmer just until chicken is cooked through, turning once, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; cool. Shred chicken. Pour cooking liquid into measuring cup, adding more water to measure 1 cup if necessary. Reserve cooking liquid. Whisk flour and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan. Add 1 cup milk; whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 cup milk, tarragon, salt, nutmeg and reserved 1 cup chicken cooking liquid. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 5 minutes. Add wine; stir until mixture is very thick, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in shredded chicken and spinach. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, before continuing.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil 11-by-7-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Return to pot. Add mushrooms and chicken mixture; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Heat oil in small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake until casserole bubbles and breadcrumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

For crust:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats

2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

For cheesecake filling:

1 (8 ounce) bar cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, separated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced

1 cup pumpkin puree (if using canned, look for 100 percent pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling or mix)

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

To make crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-by-9-by-2 inch square baking pan by lining with parchment paper or buttering generously. In a large bowl, stir together first six ingredients. Pour melted butter over top, and stir until moistened. Press firmly and evenly into baking pan. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes. Keep oven temperature at 350 degrees.

To make cheesecake:

In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat together cream cheese and sour cream. Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Remove 1 cup of cheesecake batter and stir in minced crystallized ginger; set aside.

To remaining batter, add pumpkin puree, remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, and spices; beat to combine.

Drop spoonfuls of cheesecake batter onto the prepared crust, alternating between the plain and pumpkin batters. Gently swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Bake in center of preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until set (edges will puff a bit and center will jiggle only slightly, springing back when gently touched).

Cool on a wire rack, then, transfer to refrigerator. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

YIELD: 16 bars.

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

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at newssemissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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