Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Love Snow Days!

Here in the deep south most of us don't get enough snow to cause us to hate it the way our friends in the north do.  Oh, sure, some Southerners claim they hate the stuff, but I don't think they have the right to hate it as much as someone who has snow on the ground all winter. We get snow and, at worst, it hangs around for a few days before it has completely disappeared. As children, we learned to love snow, not only for the fun we had playing in it, but also because schools were sure to be cancelled at the mere mention of snowfall.  For me, the best snow days involve staying home, reading good books and making comfort foods. Southerners can't drive in snow, so the best thing we can do is stay put and make a big pot of soup and that is just what I did today. I made my favorite tomato bisque with grilled corn, Cheddar Bay biscuits, grilled cheese sandwiches and cream cheese banana bread. The Cheddar Bay biscuit recipe can easily be found with an internet search, so I won't bother posting it here, but I thought I would share the soup and banana bread recipes.  The tomato bisque is one I have been making for several years and I have tweaked the recipe a bit.  The banana bread came from an old Southern Living cookbook, and I have also made some slight changes to that recipe as well.  I think you will enjoy both of these recipes.

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
1 (8 oz.) pkg, cream cheese, softened
¾ c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
3 c. all purpose flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
4 very ripe medium bananas
1 c. pecans chopped and toasted
½ t. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. fresh orange juice
1 t. grated orange rind
Combine cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended after each one.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to butter mixture and mix until blended.  Add vanilla, bananas and nuts and mix until just incorporated.  Their should still be little chunks of banana.  Spoon into two (8 x 4 inch) loaf pans which have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.  Remove and cool for 30 minutes more. 
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange rind and orange juice.  Drizzle over loaves.

Creamy Tomato Bisque with Grilled Corn

1 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes, undrained and crushed
2 T. granulated sugar
1 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 large carton beef broth
½ t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. whipping cream
5 oz. blue cheese
4 ears fresh corn

Directions: Melt 1 T. butter with olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté  until tender 3-5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste.  Add tomatoes, sugar and basil and sauté 3 minutes.  Add broth, salt and pepper.  Use immersion blender to puree at this point  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, uncover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often.  Stir in cream and blue cheese and simmer 15 minutes, stirring often.  Rub corn with olive oil and grill 12 minutes turning every 3 minutes.  Cut kernels from corn and stir unto soup.  Makes 11 cups.

Enjoy your snow day!

Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

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