Friday, January 01, 2016

2016 is already COOKIN'!

As Suzie Diamond says in The Fabulous Baker Boys about New Year's resolutions, "I figure all that stuff's a bunch of crap, anyway. You do what you do, right?" But one resolution I know I can keep is to cook lots of tasty food in new year, and I'm already cooking up a storm for 2016! I made Monte Cristo Sliders and Sour Cream Banana Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting for a New Year's Eve party last night. And then for lunch today, I whipped up a hearty and comforting (and easy!) Beefy Tomato Soup. Shout-out to my wonderful friend, Karen, for sharing the recipe. All in all, what a delicious start to the new year!

Here are the pics and recipes:

My friends at the New Year's Eve party that I attended were all over these tasty little sammies, and I took home two empty pans! WOOT! They also loved the banana cake, even some of them who claimed (like myself) not to like bananas. I especially loved the frosting, and I will use it n the future of other kinds of cakes.

And the soup I made for lunch today is also going into a regular rotation around here! It's simple and yummy, and perfect for a busy work week dinner with leftovers to take for lunch the next day.

Baked Monte Cristo Party Sliders
(Source: Creme de la Crumb)

12 King's Hawaiian rolls, sliced in half horizontally
12 slices deli ham
12 slices deli turkey
6 slices swiss cheese, cut in half
1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons), melted
1 egg
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
raspberry preserves (I used homemade black raspberry-peach jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or spray a 9x13 inch baking pan. (I used disposable aluminum pans covered with foil to take to the party.)

Slice rolls in half horizontally. Place bottom halves (side by side, touching) in your prepared baking pan. Distribute ham over the bottom half of the rolls. Next layer the turkey, then the swiss cheese. Top with the top halves of the rolls.

In a bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, and dijon mustard. Pour mixture over rolls. Cover loosely with foil (tent the foil so that it does not touch the tops of the rolls) and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.

Using a mesh strainer, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve the sliders with raspberry preserves.

To Die For Banana Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting
(Source: adapted from Cooking Classy)

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (from about 3 large)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or use baking spray) then set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter, then mix in sour cream and eggs (occasionally scrape down bowl throughout mixing process). Stir in mashed banana and vanilla extract. Add the flour, salt and baking soda then mix well. Mix in nuts, if using.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish, spread into an even layer and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 33 - 38 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

For the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste. Slowly add in heavy cream and mix until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake. Store cake in refrigerator in an airtight container. Let rest at room temperature a bit before serving.

Beefy Tomato Soup
(Source: adapted from Mantitlement)

1 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 (23.5) oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup (1/2 8 oz. package) cream cheese
11/2 cups  elbow macaroni or short-tubed pasta
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil, divided (or 2T dried)
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for three to four minutes until the onion gets soft. Add the ground beef, breaking up with a spoon and cook until no longer pink, then add the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes to the beef and stir to combine. Next pour in the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pot as you stir, then add the jar of pasta sauce.

Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook for ten minutes. Stir in the cream cheese, using a whisk to incorporate it well, then add half of the fresh basil. Pour in the pasta, stir and let cook for another ten minutes with the lid on. (If the soup is too thick for your liking, thin with additional chicken stock.)

Spoon into bowls and garnish with the leftover basil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

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