This is probably one of the very last 'cool' days we will have in South Louisiana for a long time (unless April surprises). These last three days have been absolutely BEAUTIFUL...but, warm and rainy are coming for the end of the week.
That being said, I thought I'd make one FINAL pot of soup, and chose Baked Potato Soup from River Road Recipes Warm Welcomes (The Junior League of Baton Rouge). It is just fabulous. I tweaked the recipe just a tad, and will note that below. This is a great soup, easy, and uses REAL potatoes - Yukon gold, of course!
4-6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (Yukon gold are absolutely the best)
Salt to taste
1/2 cop flour
1/2 cup butter
4 cups chicken stock*
2 cups milk**
Pepper to taste*
1# Cheddar cheese, shredded
1# bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
1 bunch green onions, finely choppedl
Combine potatoes and salt with enough water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender; drain. Cut into large chunks.
Combine flour and butter and cook over medium heat for a minute or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in the stock and milk. Cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the potatoes.
Cook until only a few chunks of potatoes remain (I assisted with my most favorite of all kitchen appliances, my immersion blender). Add cheese, bacon and green onions and mix well. Cook just until the cheese melts. Serve with additional toppings of bacon, cheese, or green onions if desired. DELICIOUS!
*I used more stock; maybe 10 cups. I find this soup to be VERY thick, so thin as you desire. Also, the longer it sits, the thicker it gets. You can always thin!!!
** I used 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half.
*** Don't be stingy with the pepper! I used McCormick's peppercorn medley grinder.
This day could not have been any more beautiful, and friends and I enjoyed a short trip down I-10 to one of the many plantations on the River Road. Houma's House was our destination for a beautiful lunch, matched only by the company and the beautiful grounds.
EVERYTHING was blooming; the azaleas and pansies were especially beautiful!
Can you imagine this allee covered with wisteria in the summer time? I'm sure it must be just stunning!
I adore these 'flying' pigs!
Look at this HUGE branch on one of the many hundreds-years old oak trees. It was most definitely supported by braces; many have cables holding the ancient and heavy branches off the ground. If only they could talk!
The big house!
The river road is on the other side of that beautiful old gate; over the levee is the Mississippi River.
Often, when you go to places like this, the food is mediocre at best; not here!
I had the bourbon shrimp - delicious!
My friends Barbara and Sue had the snapper with asparagus and fried crawfish and a fabulous cream sauce (I had a bite!)
Don't you like their china?
In order to get in and out one must travel through the gift shop; lots of pretty things. I thought the umbrellas (for sale, of course) hanging from the ceiling were pretty and colorful!
What a great day!!! Perfect for a little 'road trip' with friends, a lovely setting and a great meal!
Don't you just love this centerpiece? Did I create it? Heavens, no! Sadly, I'm not nearly that creative, have no hydrangeas here at this house, and if I did, they wouldn't be blooming right now anyway!
I thought the green looked great for spring, and as a happy coincidence, I was trying to decide what to use on my table for a St. Patrick's Day meal. So, I set out to attempt to recreate it as best I could. It's very similar to the decoration I did for the front door.
I used a similar glass vase from HL, and all the stems came from HL.
Thank you, Pinterest, and www.atlanthomesmag.com for the inspiration!
I don't do too much decorating for St. Patrick's Day per se, but we will be having friends over on St. Patrick's Day for dinner and I thought I might try to add a few touches. I'll have the whole table, etc., in another post soon, but I wanted to share my idea for candles for the table.
I have these goblet-type candle holders that came from Hobby Lobby some time ago. I've always used them with votives just plopped down. However, I wanted to do something a little different, and my mind suddenly jumped to my centerpiece from Thanksgiving this year:
For Thanksgiving, I filled a large vase with different colored beans and then used fresh flowers. The beans were saved for future 'decorating' projects. Thinking about the green lentils, I thought they would certainly do for St. Patrick's Day!
Then, in another burst of 'genius,' (actually I saw them when digging out the green lentils!!), I remembered that the Irish flag was green, orange, and white, and I added the 'pink' lentils (which are actually more orange than pink).
The white votive provides the white part of the flag!
Now, maybe next year I can find purple hulled peas for Mardi Gras!
Although we are currently in the season of Lent, I felt compelled to contribute a door decoration in honor of St. Patrick. With Mardi Gras, birthday, and Valentine's Day coming one after another, I didn't do any Valentine's decorating. It was time to do something!
I started with a 'door pocket' kind of affair that I used last spring.
White and green were the colors with which I worked:
White hydrangeas from HL (on the stem sale day, of course);
A great and airy piece of greenery; I just love how it's so tall and delicate;
an ivy garland;
and finished off with a burlap bow.
And here's what it looks like on my front door:
There are an AWFUL lot of shades of green, but I like how they seem to go together. All this stuff (except for the door pocket) was half price at HL! I would have loved to have added more hydrangeas, but have you noticed their regular prices lately??? Things have gone waaaay up!
This will probably be the 'du jour' door decoration until summer, maybe or maybe not with some additions!
I truly believe that I could possibly eat lobster five times a week; the last time we cruised, I ate it every chance I got!
Since it is still 'chilly' here in southeast Louisiana, it's still 'soup' weather (though the Headmaster has NOT treated us all to his fabulous chicken gumbo). I have a recipe for very easy, but very delicious Lobster Bisque (no stock involved!) which I have made in the past using crab meat. When our local Albertson's had buy one lobster get TWO free, I pounced and decided to try it with actual lobster!
Now...don't think for a second that these lobsters are restaurant-quality babies. They are quite small; probably more like HUGE crawfish. I thought this would be a great time to make this wonderful soup with some of the real thing!
The recipe I used is a variation on the one in Southern Sideboards, from Jackson, Mississippi (where I grew up), and I am happy to give it credit. It is a very simple recipe, and very tasty! Here is the cast of characters:
One can each of cream of mushroom and tomato soup; lobster meat (mine was steamed and I just had to thaw it and extract the meat); dry sherry (this is soooo important, I think); half and half (the recipe calls for whipping cream, but this is what I had). Note: there are NO oranges in this! They happened to be handy for propping up the lobster! Butter, thyme, and parsley are also used, but don't appear here (because...I didn't have them when I made the picture!).
Now, here's the very, very simple but delicious recipe:
1-8oz can lobster (use fresh if available; you can also use crabmeat and/or shrimp)
Sherry (I use the very dry stuff)
3 to 4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 can tomato soup + 1 soup can milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup + soup can of whipping cream
Pinch of thyme (I didn't have any)
Chopped parsley (I didn't have any)
Finely mince all lobster meat (I saved some pieces for adding as a garnish after it was all blended). Marinate lobster in about 2 tablespoons sherry.
Saute onions in butter until soft. Add lobster meat and cook over low heat a few minutes. Combine soups, milk, and whipping cream and add to lobster meat. Add more sherry to taste.
Cool then blend in blender.*
To serve, reheat in a double boiler (we ate ours right away) and add parsley and more sherry, if desired (Desired? Of course it's desired!).
The bisque has a lovely pinkish color. Sadly, the HM and I were so ravenous that we slopped it right out of the bowl with some crusty bread; I didn't even set a proper table! Isn't that just AWFUL???
*I use my trusty immersion blender, the most wonderful invention, in my mind, in years!
** I suppose this would serve six as a small soup course; however, I'll be doing this for a main meal for four, and would probably double.