Tag Archives: sour cream

Butternut Squash Soup with Jalapeno

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This summer, one of the vegetables I raised was Butternut Squash. It did very well. As I wrote my different relatives, I got over 12 squash that weighed at least 4 pounds each. My sister said she had been able to taste a Butternut Squash soup that was good, and sent me a pointer to the recipe.

This year, I am finding many Butternut Squash Soup recipes. There are several things they all seem to have in common; they use fresh ginger, and coconut milk. And they add capsicum heat. That is the burn from hot peppers. Caprial Pense’s recipe (Curry Winter Squash Soup) gets it heat from the peppers in the curry powder, while this recipe goes straight for the hot pepper by adding a Jalapeno. Finally, they all seem to use a cream product as a garnish- sour cream, cremefraiche, … And as a result, all the photos of the different soups look exactly alike!

Butternut Squash Soup with Jalapeno

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 16 oz. chicken broth
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs granulated sugar
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • sour cream for garnish when serving

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; stir in the onion, ginger and jalapeno pepper; cook until the onion turns transparent.
  2. Add the squash and broth and raise the heat to high to bring the pot to a boil.
  3. reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer until the squash is tender- about 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the evaporated and coconut milks, and sugar; cook for another 5 minutes. Puree the soup** (see below)
  5. Add salt and black pepper to taste, and stir well into the pureed soup.
  6. Ladle the pureed soup into bowls and garnish with a large spoon of sour cream to serve.

**To puree the soup, if possible, use a stick/immersion blender. If not, then do the soup in batches in a blender as follows:

  • ladle some soup into the blender, do not fill the blender more than half full.
  • hold the lid on the blender with a towel so you don’t get burned; then pulse the blender a few times to break up the chunks before turning it onto Puree.
  • Pour the pureed soup into a clean pot, and continue to puree the soup in batches until it is smooth.

When I seed a squash, I always save the seeds and roast them. That is so easy, and they are a good snack.

Since I also grew my own Jalapenos this year, I was finishing my last harvest of the jalapenos and saved two out for making this soup. So I added extra heat by using both the jalapenos instead of just one. It was okay, and the sour cream garnish gives you a chance to cool your mouth from the heat if necessary.

Semi-Home-Made Cake Batter

When you need just some cake to decorate, it is easy to buy a box of cake mix at the store and make it up. It contains all the dry ingredients, and all you need to add are water, eggs and oil. Mix 30 seconds at a low speed, and 2 minutes at a medium speed and you should get a perfectly lovely cake.

But if you want, you can use the dry mix in the cake box as a base, and modify the wet ingredients to add taste and richness to the batter. That is what I mean when I say semi-home-made. You save time by not having to measure out the dry ingredients, but you add flavor by your choice of wet ingredients.

The reason for using semi-home-made cake batter is to give your cakes a richer taste. About a year ago, the Decorette shop gave out tips on making additions and changes to the normal way store-bought cake mix are made in order to make them semi-home-made.

I have been using those tips, but have had one problem; most of my cupcakes collapse while they are cooling and no longer have a mushroom shaped top. I decided to take the tips apart, and use only a single one in each batch of cupcakes until I discovered what was going wrong.
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What was going wrong seems to be when more moisture is added to the batter. I felt I would have to cook the cupcakes longer in order to dry them out, and I did, even though a toothpick came out clean. But still, the cupcakes crashed.
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And then I received a hint indirectly from my Seattle Muse that I should cut back on the “water” equivalent if I were to add the sour cream or yogurt. For ½ cup of sour cream or yogurt, I reduced the “water” equivalent by ¼ cup. I still increased the cooking time by 10%- 21 minutes instead of 19 minutes, and I was happy to have nice mushroom tops on the resulting cupcakes.
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While I am using cupcakes as a test vehicle, you can also make these same changes to a standard cake as specified by the back of the cake mix box.

The tips from the Decorette Shop without change were:

  • Add 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Instead of 3 eggs use 2 egg whites and 2 eggs
  • Replace water with buttermilk or milk
  • Replace oil with melted butter (but double the amount of melted butter
  • Add vanilla bean paste for even more flavor

My taste buds didn’t really detect many of the changes; maybe more sensitive tastes would detect the difference. I ended up with just a couple of the changes, and I even modified those. My changes are:

  • Replace most water with a mix of milk and cream
  • Add 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

If the back of the box calls for 1 cup water, I reduce the total milk and cream to 3/4 cup. And I make the mix of milk and cream 3/4 milk and 1/4 cream. This means that if you have Half-and-Half, you would use 1/2 milk and 1/2 Half-and-Half since it is half milk and half cream. If you use heavy/whipping cream, then you might have to calculate the appropriate amount of milk and cream. It would be nice if the cake box calls for 1 1/4 cups water, because then you would have 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup cream. When the box calls for 1 cup water, I used 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream and got good results; that is slightly less milk and more cream than should be according to my 3/4 to 1/4 rule, and that is why I specifically mention that case.

You are invited to try the other tips given by the Decorette Shop; I am only saying that my taste was not sensitive enough to see the difference.

November 2016: I had reason to make a “pull-apart” cake using the mini-cupcake cups this month, and felt that I should update this post to reflect that experience.

I started with a box of cake mix that gave the directions as follows:

  1. 1 1/4 cups water
  2. 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  3. 3 whole eggs

The directions were to preheat the oven to 325 degrees for dark pans and 350 degrees for light pans. Mix the ingredients including the box of cake mix for 2 minutes, put into the pans and bake for 14-19 minutes for cupcakes.

Now I was making mini cupcakes, so the time had to be adjusted accordingly. And I discovered that the bottoms of the cupcakes were starting to burn, so I baked them (they were in dark pans) with the pans in a sheet pan to protect the bottoms. Because of that insulation of the bottoms, the cooking time came out to be about the suggested time even though the cake size were small and the heat should penetrate to the middle of the cake faster than for a full size cupcake.

I also decided to only make half the box of cake mix at a time so that I could focus better on the cooking. I got 36 cupcakes out of each half of the box of cake mix. Here is the ingredient list I used:

  1. 1/2 box white cake mix (just over 8 ounces)
  2. 3/8 cup milk
  3. 1/8 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/4 cup sour cream
  5. 1/3 cup melted butter
  6. 2 whole eggs

As a side note, I nearly forgot to get the butter ready. I cut the 1/3 stick into small chunks (2 x length and 6 x across) and put it in a small dish. I was going to use the microwave for 30 seconds to melt it, but didn’t want to be cleaning the microwave after melting the butter. So I slipped the small dish into a sandwich baggie, sealed it, and everything went better than I had expected.

The other experience I had was in filling the cupcake cups. First, I piped the dough into the cups for better control. Originally, I piped around the edges and let the center fill itself. It doesn’t fill as well as hoped. So I starte piping the bottom center and letting the dough push itself out to the edges of the cup. This seems to work better.

The second thing to note is about the reuse of the cupcake pans. I discovered that during the cooking there seems to be moisture pushed out and through the cupcake paper. If that moisture is on the bottom of the pan cup when the pan is reused, the cupcake paper wants to pull away from the cupcake paper; the paper seems to fall off the cupcake. So be certain to use a paper towel and wipe the cups of the pan dry before putting the papers in for making the second half of the box of cake mix.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Marlys loved the Halloween season; she was a kid and loved to go out into the fields to find her own pumpkins. And so it is no surprise that when she found this recipe, it became a standard part of the Fall season. It was often the dessert for Halloween night.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Combine above together in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 2 inch up sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup (16 oz. can) solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup undiluted evaporated mil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Beat cream cheese and sugars in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, milk. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg; beat well. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until edge is set.

Topping
  • 2 cups sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine above in small bowl. Spread over surface of warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove side of pan and chill several hours or overnight.

You want to pull the sides of the graham cracker crust up the sides of the spring-form pan all of the two inches suggested in the recipe; otherwise, you will have cheesecake filling left over. The finished cheesecake filling should be a couple inches deep.

The second time I made this recipe, I decided to pour all of the filling into the crust, and it fit, but was domed in the middle. I baked it off this way. As it baked, it leveled itself, and rose about an inch above the top of the spring-form pan; the filling was way above the top of the crust. After taking the cheesecake from the oven and starting to top it with the sour cream mixture, I noticed that the filling was starting to collapse on itself. In the end, the filling was just about at the top edge of the spring-form pan when the cheesecake had been cooled in the refrigerator. So, my hint is to not be afraid that the filling is too much and it does NOT need to stay in the crust; it can overflow the crust by several inches.

Since this is a spring-form pan, and the crust has plenty of butter in it, remember to place the pan on a sheet pan to catch the drips; you don’t want to be cleaning the bottom of the oven, or having dripped butter burning.

When I was making the filling, it seemed as if the mixer wasn’t cleaning the bottom and sides of the mixer bowl adequately; there were areas of white showing through where the cream cheese hadn’t been mixed with the pumpkin. So when you are scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl, go deep to the bottom and lift up any ingredients that are not joining the mix.

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Since this was suppose to be a Halloween dessert, I decided to make a pumpkin face on the top of my cheesecake just for fun. I used food coloring to make the topping orange. It took quite a few drops of both the red and yellow to get a deep enough orange. Then, before spreading the topping, I saved out about 1/3 cup, and added food coloring to make a deep brown color. After adding the blue, I needed to add still more red to get the right shade. I filled a piping bag and drew the features free-hand on the spread, orange topping. Have fun with your food!

Wiener Casserole

This dish is much like the Frankfurter Bake; they are both pasta and wiener dishes.  When I took this casserole out of the oven, the first aroma that met my nose was the cooked bell pepper.  I like that smell, and love stuffed peppers. I think this dish is milder than the frankfurter dish; it is probably due to the mustard and brown sugar used in the frankfurter dish. In my mind, either dish is a simple, easy-to-make casserole that you will enjoy. And because they have both your meat and pasta, they are a good base for your meal.

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Wiener Casserole

  • 8 oz. elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb. wieners
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon dried, minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook macaroni as package directs. Cut wieners into 1″ chunks. Chop bell pepper into 1/2″ dice. Mix together well the cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion, and mustard; Mix in the macaroni, wieners, and bell pepper. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake 30 minutes.

If I have any hints for this casserole, it would do with the mixing of the sauce. The cream cheese is difficult to break up, and I was getting a sore arm using the whisk, so I took out the hand-held mixer and used electricity to do the mixing in just a few minutes.

The other place I would watch is if your cooking of the macaroni gets ahead of your other preparations. I noticed on the macaroni package that it suggests tossing the drained macaroni with a small amount of oil if it isn’t to be used immediately. I should have done that. Mine sat in the colander while I was working on the sauce, and it stuck together; it broke up easy enough when I incorporated it with the rest of the ingredients, so it isn’t really a problem, just an alert.

The recipe is remiss in that it doesn’t state a baking dish size; I chose my 9 x 13 inch dish, and it seems to be correct. I also sprayed the cooking dish with cooking spray; I don’t know if that is really necessary but I chose to use some of the information from the Frankfurter Bake casserole dish as hints for this dish.

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When I served this casserole, it did not stick together tightly as the frankfurter dish did, and so required spooning out a serving rather than cutting and lifting the serving. I suspect part of that is the macaroni is smaller than the noodles in the frankfurter dish, and the noodles then stick together better. But of course, the gluten in the flour and the butter would tend to make a tighter dish also. However, later as I was preparing the left-overs for the freezer/refrigerator, the pasta had stuck together and I was able to cut the casserole and lift the servings into my storage pieces.

Creamed Squash

This is an easy, delicious side dish made from zucchini. Jenn admits that it is one of her favorites, and she has made it herself. So I gave her half of what I made.
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Creamed Squash

  • 2 lbs. fresh zucchini squash.
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon flour

Coarsely grate zucchini. Using a 10″ or large frypan with a tight lid, combine the butter, water, pepper salt, basil and garlic. Place on high heat; mix in squash. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Remove lid and cook to evaporate the liquid—about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the sour cream and flour. Mix until smooth; stir into squash mixture. Bring to a boil stirring until blended into a smooth sauce.

While I don’t think any hints are necessary for you to have success with this recipe, I will explain what I did and think. First, the two pounds of grated zucchini takes a large space. It cooks down, but you need to start with a large pan. I used the 12 inch sauté pan, but remember you need a pan with a lid.

It took me a couple minutes longer than 10 to evaporate the water, but then, I don’t like to turn the burner all the way to “high”. I tend to keep the burner about 70-80% of “high” when the recipe calls for high heat.
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When I served myself some of the Creamed Squash, I felt that the salt was not as strong as I would like it. However, I won’t change the recipe, but instead will add salt from the shaker on the table.

I hope you will try this delicious side dish of zucchini, and find it as good as I say it is.

Potato Salad

This salad came to us from a visit one summer day to my brother John. He fixed a feed for us, and his roommate, whose name is forgotten, made a Potato Salad that was simple, yet very taste. It is a cold potato salad.
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This salad has very few ingredients. It has no mustard or pickles or any other explicit spices, but presents a clean taste of the potatoes and hard cooked eggs. I think you will enjoy it.

Potato Salad

(Brother John’s roommate)

  • 3 lb. small red potatoes, cooked.
  • 1 cruet Good Seasons Italian or Caesar dressing
  • 6-8 hard cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream to cover.

While still warm, dice and pour dressing over them. When cool, add eggs, salt, pepper and sour cream. Best served at room temperature.


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I am assuming that hard cooked eggs are not a problem; if you need help in that area, please send me a comment and I will reply. Likewise, if cooking the potatoes is a problem. I guess I do these often enough that I am assuming all my audience knows how to do these boiling operations.

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A different version of a potato salad that I enjoy is a recipe I got from Food Network Giada De Laurentiis called Warm Vegetable Salad. I am giving you a pointer to the salad.
It is surprising how many hits a google search for “Giada Warm Vegetable Salad” returns. It must be growing in popularity.

Giada starts with having you roast your red peppers, and then clean and skin them. Having made this salad a few times, I decided that it was easier to buy a jar of Roasted Red Peppers than to do the job myself. A jar contains about 4 peppers, so I use half the jar, and then freeze the other half; I don’t want it to go bad in the refrigerator. I still have to go over the peppers to check for skin and veins, so maybe I am kidding myself about the work.
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Giada says that putting the potatoes into boiling water will cook them in 10-12 minutes; I feel that is misleading – it depends on the size of the potatoes. Generally, when I go shopping, the potatoes are fairly large, and I test them with the tip of the knife for tenderness when I cook them. Sometimes it takes more like 30 minutes to get them tender.

As a result, I have started cutting the potatoes to their final size before putting them in the boiling water; now they tend to be done in the 10 – 12 minute range.

The biggest problem with the salad is that it needs to be made at the last minute, and served immediately. That is hard to do for a larger group, and besides, you want to be talking with your guests and not out in the kitchen.

However, if you decide to take this salad on, believe me the taste is well worth the effort. The lemon brings a bright note to the flavor, and the green beans and roasted pepper add color.

8 Layer Dip

This dip has a Mexican taste; it starts with Beans, contains Avocado, and ends with with Salsa, and we suggest serving it with Corn Chips. It is big in size, and your problem might be finding a dish on which to assemble it. I would suggest a 12 inch platter as a starting point. And it is bold, with lots of opportunity for spicing it up.
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I purposely built my version of the dip in a pyramid so that the different layers would show; that is not necessary, and you should bring each layer out to the edge of the serving platter. A lot goes into the dip, and you need all the surface you can use for each layer.
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8 Layer Dip

  • 3 Avacados
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans bean dip or 16 oz refried beans
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (4-6 oz.) can sliced ripe olives
  • Salsa

Mash avacados with lemon juice, salt and pepper
(You may use commercial guacomole instead.)

Assemble in layers on a large round or oblong dish:

  • spread bean dip
  • Avocado mixture
  • sour cream
  • onions
  • tomatoes
  • olives
  • cheese
  • salsa

Serve with corn chips for dipping


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I made my version of the dip with the bean dip that is usually in the aisle with the chips; I feel the dip could use a little more spice at that level, and might try one of the refried beans that are sauced up to medium instead of mild. You could also add a little spice in the guacamole (Avocado mixture) with a couple shakes of hot sauce. The sour cream acts to cool the hot tastes down, but if your crowd isn’t into spicy food, you can do just as well with the recipe as given. The only heat I detected in my version was in the salsa.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

Strawberry Tart 002I have made this tart several times; it is easy, and is a real treat for the strawberry lovers. I particularly like the balance of the cream cheese and sour cream against the sugar in the glaze. The result is that the pie is not excessively sweet.

Here is how to make this tasty tart.

Strawberry Devonshire Tart

  • 9 or 10 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled.

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts strawberries

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Red food coloring

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Spread on bottom of pie shell and refrigerate.

Wash and hull berries. Mash enough uneven ones to make 1 cup. Force through a sieve and add water to make 1 cup juice, discarding berries.

Mix the sugar and the cornstarch together. Add 1/2 cup water and the berry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is clear and thickened; then boil 1 minute. Stir to cool slightly and add a little red food coloring if necessary.

Fill shell with remaining berries, tips up, and pour cooked mixture over the top evenly. Chill 1 hour before serving.

For the pastry shell, I buy the frozen kind and then blind bake it. It use to be that we would fill the shell with dry beans to keep it from rising, but the directions now are to prick it all over with a fork. The directions on the shells I bought said to bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes; I thought it came out perfect.

We no longer seem to buy strawberries by the pint basket; I bought a 3 pound container of berries, and I think that maybe the weight follows the old saw about “ a pint a pound the world around”. So my 3 pounds would have been 1½ quarts. That was plenty of strawberries with about a half dozen left over.

To decide how many berries I can afford to mash and use for the juice, I take a second pie tin and arrange the good looking berries to fill the space. This allows me to try to ensure the best berries are whole and in the pie shell, and not mashed.

To mash the “uneven” ones, I first spin them in the food processor; I suspect a potato masher would work, but the food processor really gets the juice flowing. I still put them through a strainer to eliminate any remaining pulp, and all those seeds.
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I hope you will make and enjoy this different type of a fruit pie.

Errol