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Entree/ Soup

Fried Turkey Gumbo

So what to do with the fried turkey carcass? You make gumbo!

Well, it was raining today down here in South Texas which pretty much destroyed my plans to play in a golf tournament this morning.  It was not only wet, it was cold too — almost 40 degrees so I really wasn’t too motivated to work in the yard or do anything that was particularly constructive.

Being trapped inside for a day led me to the refrigerator to chow down on some comfort food.  As it turned out, I couldn’t find anything interesting but I did notice a frozen fried turkey carcass in the freezer.  It was left over from Thanksgiving when we deep fried turkeys out in the backyard.

We have fried a ton of turkeys for ourselves and friends for many years. One of my sons and I get up early every Thanksgiving, crack open a bottle of cognac, pour some cotton seed oil in a pot, light up a fire and start frying turkeys. Lots of people use peanut oil for frying but we’re from SE Missouri cotton country and we use cottonseed oil (it burns cleaner and has a high flash point). Sometimes we have two pots going. I generally take a break and run the annual 5 mile turkey trot with our other son, daughter-in-law, daughter and anyone else who feels up to it, then it’s back to turkey frying. Sure helps build an appetite for the rest of the day.

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Quick and Easy Clam Chowder

Winter is finally here in Texas and I’m in the mood for some clam chowder.

Back in the fall I went on a girls trip with my twin sister and two other friends. We went to Newport, RI and had such a great time touring the mansions, shopping, and eating a lot of wonderful seafood.

I knew that I was going to have a lot of seafood while on this trip and I did.  I had crab cakes, clam chowder (twice), shrimp, and steak/shrimp. By the time we left the temperature had dropped to 39° and I was wanting more of the clam chowder and couldn’t wait for some cool or even colder weather here in Texas so I could make a pot of this Clam Chowder. I’ve said before that here in Texas you can’t wait for cold weather to have soup, you just have to make it when you’re in the mood.

My sister and I have been making this quick and easy chowder for years. Supposedly it is a recipe from a restaurant up in St. Louis that we went to back in the 70’s that looked like Noah’s Arc.

The recipe calls for a lot of canned soups but we have tweaked it and use “fat-free” or “healthy request” soups for any of the ones we can find, added some extra clams and some bottled clam juice.

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Appetizers/ HotApp/ Soup

Roasted Parsnip Bisque with Crispy Pork Belly

What is a parsnip anyway?  And do you know what pork belly is???

(Our second course in our “American Tasting Feast” menu after Thanksgiving.)

According to “” — “A parsnip is a pale, homely and under-loved root vegetable that looks something like an anemic carrot. Parsnips have a slightly sweet flavor that peaks during the fall and winter.”

A parsnip can be baked, mashed, steamed, sauteed, or boiled. They have a stronger flavor than the carrot and in ancient times were believed to be an aphrodisiacs. You should read up on the lowly parsnip and you may find other recipes that are delicious as this soup and also my Winter White Vegetable Soup.

I don’t think I had ever tasted a parsnip before making the Winter White Vegetable Soup. I just knew I needed every white vegetable I could think of and this one was on my list.

This soup was a joint endeavor.  My friend Peggy did the soup and I prepared the crispy pork belly. This was the second course in our  menu which if you haven’t seen the menu, it is here.

Now, for the pork belly.  Pork belly is meat derived from the belly of a pig. It is pretty popular in Chinese and Korean cuisine. BUT, growing up we had something we called “fresh side pork” or “fresh bacon” and I was surprised to discover it is one and the same. It has a delicious taste. Unlike bacon, it isn’t smoked so it doesn’t have a smoky or salty taste at all.  The process for doing the pork belly was quite lengthy. First it had to be brined for 24 hours and then it was suppose to bake for 24 hours.  Instead, I baked for 5 hours on low temperature, then cut it into cubes and fried it for a garnish for the soup.

Brined Pork Belly


  • 1 1/4 lbs. of pork belly
  • 12 c.  water
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1/2 stalk lemongrass
  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 1 1/2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/3 bunch thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4-5  star anise
  • 3 Tbsp.  coriander seed
  • 1 Tbsp.  ginger or use 4 Tbsp. fresh ginger


  1. Mix all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool before use. Cover the pork belly with the brine. Brine the pork belly for 24 hours. Remove from brine and rinse. In a pan, cover the pork belly with cool water. Cover with foil. Cook for 24 hours at 325°. (this is the party I ignored and cooked at 250° for about 5 hours). Once cooked, press and refrigerate overnight. Next day, cut the pork belly into small cubes and fry them until golden brown and crispy.  **Note, I think the next time, I may brine but after brining just cut up and fry.

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Chicken and White Bean Chili

Not your traditional chili. The chicken and white beans are wonderful in this fall favorite.

I love any recipe with white beans listed in the ingredients.  Not to sound like Forrest Gump, but I like white bean hummus, white beans with cornbread, cassoulet (we made a wonderful one the year we did French country dinner theme), Italian Chopped Salad (Giadas’ recipe with white beans), and white bean bruschetta.

Ugly chicken — yes, but it holds a wonderful soup.

There’s a story behind this ugly chicken. As you all know by now, I work at Williams Sonoma part time. We use to sell this Staub chicken. I think it was originally priced at $200 (or close to it). Well, seems like they just sat there looking ugly and I started referring to it as the “ugly chicken”. Just look at her, sitting there with her eyes shut like she’s embarrassed for someone to look at her. 🙂

We have these two customers that come in the store often and they were in the store during one of our big summer sales. I was showing them the Staub chicken and said “this chicken is so ugly, she’s cute” and explained how well the chicken roaster was suppose to cook either on top of the stove or in the oven. On the underside of the lid there are these little bumps that allow condensation to build up and then the moisture drips down on whatever you are cooking to make it tender and juicy. It really works.

Well, they each bought one and by the time they were on sale at our rock bottom price, and with my discount, I paid like $30 for my ugly chicken. I have to say that the ugly chicken cooks wonderfully and I use mine on top of the stove instead of the oven because I like to look at her. We did use it in the oven for our cassoulet  and then served right from the chicken. It was a nice presentation for the dish.


That is a killer bread on the plate with the soup. You just mix some mayo with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic and basil, spread it on the bread and broil it until hot and bubbly.

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Sausage and Bean Chowder

It feels like 100° outside today but I’m making chowder anyway!

I know I said before that I make soup no matter how hot it is here in Texas. I decided a long time ago that I couldn’t wait for snow on the patio to make a big pot of soup. Well, we had a cold front come through today, it’s 70° 🙂

This recipe is one that my twin sister put in our “Two Peas In A Pod” cookbook we did about 7 years ago. It has been one of her favorites. She lives in Missouri so she does get those nice snowy/icy nights when you want nothing more than a pot of soup, the TV and a glass of wine to go along with it.

I snuck a handful of small shell macaroni in the pot along with the potatoes. This is a delicious and hearty soup that I think you will enjoy.


All the ingredients you need and a few spices. You can use either Italian sausage or breakfast sausage in this recipe.


I know I have said it before but this is my favorite kitchen gadget. I put a quartered onion in and 5-6 pulls later I had the perfect size pieces of onion. Now look at the celery and green pepper below, they only took about 3-4 pulls.


Believe me, I get no kick backs for plugging this chopper. And there are not many gadgets that I think I can’t live without.

Sausage and Bean Chowder


  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage or breakfast sausage
  • 2 - 16 oz. cans kidney beans undrained
  • 1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 large potato diced small
  • handful of shell macaroni optional
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp. crushed red pepper


  1. Take the casings off the Italian sausages and brown in a skillet. Chop the sausage up with a spoon as it starts to brown. When it has started cooking, add in the diced onion and continue sauteeing about 5-7 minutes longer. Then add in the celery and green pepper. Saute another 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add in the tomatoes, kidney beans, water, bay leaf and all the seasonings. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Now add the diced potatoes, and macaroni (optional), cover and simmer 20 minutes longer.
  3. Serve with cornbread or your favorite bread.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4-6.


Pumpkin Tomato Soup with Creme Fraiche & Parmesan Leaf Puffs

Fall is here and you may be seeing pumpkins pop up all over the fields and markets. Ever think of pairing pumpkins and tomatoes to make a delicious soup?

Doesn’t the below picture just make you want to grab your kids and take them out to a pumpkin patch? Hey, it’s the first of October and I think it’s time to start thing about soups and comfort food.

Not being a tomato soup fan. I’ve never had the urge to curl up with a blanket and a bowl of Campbells’ tomato soup on a cold winter’s night to take the chill off. I’m more inclined to turn the air conditioning down low and then turn on the fireplace so I feel like it is winter here in Texas and then have a bowl of  soup.




This is a beautiful soup and is great served cold, room temperature or warm.

Several years ago, I ran across these two books, Morning Food and Cafe Beaujolais. They were written by Margaret Fox. She use to own and run this little restaurant, Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, California. I found several recipes from these books that have become favorites of mine.

This recipe is from Morning Food and blends pumpkin and tomato together beautifully. You don’t really even taste the pumpkin, it just adds a nice sweetness to the tomato and cuts the acidity of the soup. I like to top this with creme fraiche hearts and Parmesan Leaf Puffs.


I saw these Cinderella Pumpkins at the market yesterday. I’ve never seen them before and had to stop and take a picture. These look like miniature pumpkins but there were very large — large enough to even have Cinderella inside along for a ride. This recipe doesn’t call for fresh pumpkin, but if you wanted to try using it, you would want to use the small pie pumpkins.

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Winter White Vegetable Soup

Soup’s on! 104° or NOT.
I know you are thinking soup!, it’s not winter yet, or least not in Texas. Today I just wanted something easy and soothing. After experimenting with so many things for the blog, I’m tired of eating and just wanted something that didn’t take me all day in the kitchen to prepare and fuss over.
In my married life I have lived in Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and finally in Texas. All the states except Texas ad very cold winters.
When we moved to Iowa in the early 70’s everyone told us that Ft. Madison, Iowa was considered “the Florida of Iowa” — NOT. That first year we had 1020 days of snow cover, the kids could not play outside and we were starting to get “cabin fever”. Never heard of such a think; but when you are cooped up in a house with temperatures around zero and kids can’t get out side, you start to understand very quickly what “cabin fever” is. So on cold winter nights I would cook soup because it was so warm and comforting.
When we moved to Texas 20 years ago, no cold temperatures for sure. I decided right away if I had a yearning for soup, I couldn’t wait until it got cold because that might not happen anytime soon. So, if I want soup, I don’t care if it is 32° or 104, I’m going to make soup.
The idea for this Winter White Vegetable Soup came from a trip to Mexico several years ago. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort that had breakfast, lunch and dinner just waiting for us everyday. Every morning I would eat this white vegetable soup and again for lunch and dinner. I fell in love with it. When we left, one of the receptionist told me that she was dating one of the cooks and she would get me the recipe. I never heard from her.
Years went by and whenever I thought of the soup I would search the internet. I kept thinking, white vegetables. What could be in the soup — potatoes, cauliflower, parsnips etc. then I had to add onions and celery. One day while surfing the web I decided to look again and I came up with a recipe that a lady in the UK had posted. It was loaded with white vegetables so after tweaking my vegetables, I came up with this recipe.

Cucumber Soup

 Cool as a cucumber

Living in Texas for 20 years, we are always looking for a way to stay cool. We stay cool in the pool, in the movie theaters, sitting in front of a misting fan, we wear thinner clothes, we splash water on our faces, we draw curtains, we run fans (even if we have air conditioning), we cook outside often to keep from heating our homes up, or we stay cool eating cool foods on a hot summer day.

Just returning from Chicago over the weekend and enjoying 70° temperatures, we were faced with our 102° reading on our car thermometer. Well, so much for sleeping under blankets and grabbing a jacket before going out for dinner at night. We are back to our “heat” of Texas and this Cool Cucumber Soup will keep you cool and wanting more.

Some day I’m going to make my cucumber sandwiches that I love so much and have it with this cucumber soup. I love cucumbers and I would be “as cool as a cucumber” I think if I had this for lunch one day.

I was going to serve this to friends in my little 2″ martini glasses but decided the soup was so delicious we deserved more. So, I used larger martini glasses and we used a spoon to eat it instead of sipping the soup.

cucumber 004

I didn’t use the large cucumbers that go into salads and the store was out of English cucumbers which I would have used. These weren’t pickling cucumbers either and I don’t think they were Derby cucumbers. There were 5 small cucumbers in a package. They were about 5 inches long. If you can’t find these, I would use about 3-4 cups chopped cucumbers. If the soup is too thick, you can always thin it with chicken broth.

bananasoup 001

This particular recipe called to saute the onion and garlic a little and stir in the cucumbers and saute a little more. I think this step kind of brightens the cucumbers up a little.

bananas1 003

I finished this off with a dot of the creme fraiche I had left over from making my Coconut Banana Puffs. If you draw a toothpick through the circle you will have a little heart of creme fraiche floating in your soup. I garnished this soup with salad burnett which is a herb that has a cucumber taste. And, I love the look of it on anything.

Cucumber Soup


  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large cucumbers or 1 English cucumber or about 3-4 cups
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt*
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil I used salad burnet


  1. Heat the oil in saute pan and add the onion and garlic and saute for 7-8 minutes on medium-low heat (not browning) until the onion is transparent. Stir in the cucumbers and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Pour this mixture into a blender with the buttermilk (and/or yogurt) and the chicken broth. Blend until you have everything smooth.  Chill, stir in basil (or salad burnett) and salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the consistency by adding a little more broth. Garnish with creme fraiche and serve in your favorite bowl or martini glass.

Recipe Notes

*Note -- I used 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt


Souffled French Onion Soup

Souffle like you have never had before.
 This is a wonderful recipe. A couple of years ago, my daughter and I took a mother/daughter trip to Napa Valley. We ate at the Greystone restaurant which is part of the Culinary Institute of America. We kept seeing these big bowls of “something” being served and decided we wanted what “they had”. Turns out it was French Onion Soup with a Cheese Souffle topping. I have made it several timesAnd it is very rich and I have used croutons instead of bread and not used any bread at all. I serve this in my Lionhead Apilco bowls I got from Williams Sonoma. (I work there part time so I get a great discount)
Anyway, here’s the recipe I came up with, hope you enjoy it as much as we have. It always brings back memories of our trip to Napa. I adapted both of these recipes from The Joy of Cooking. You can take any onion soup recipe and any cheese souffle recipe and make this recipe. Bon Appetite!

Souffled French Onion Soup


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme or pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. Cognac
  • 3 1/2 c. beef broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Cheese souffle recipe follows

Cheese Souffle Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ground nutmeg
  • 5 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded Gruyere
  • 3 egg yolks beaten
  • 4 egg whites


  1. Melt the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the onions and thyme and stir to coat with the butter/oil mixture. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize. This may take 30-40 minutes. You want a rich brown color.
  2. Stir in the cognac and increase temperature to medium high. Stir in the beef broth. Reduce the heat and let simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Keep the soup hot while you make the cheese souffle topping.
  3. To make the white sauce you want to melted the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour until well blended and smooth. This will take about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the 1 cup milk. Return the pan to heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue to cook, whisking until the sauce is smooth and hot and has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove the white sauce from the heat and let stand for 30 seconds. Add, stirring well the Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the cheese mixture. Now you are going to ladle the soup into the bowls, leaving about 3/4-1″ at the top. Put the souffle topping on each bowl of soup. Put the bowls on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for about 20-25 minutes or until they are browned.
  4. Try this first without the bread or extra cheese on top of the soup and you may find that you do not need the bread or croutons. I have never had this souffle fall. I think it is because the soup is hot and steaming and even after removing from the oven, we have never had them fall. I sometimes sprinkle more parmesan on top of the souffle before putting in the oven. Hope you like this one.