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Dining Out At Home Two:Soups!

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Dining Out At Home 2 Cookbook has a handful of comforting soup's that everyone can easily make in their own home.They are soups that are simple recreations from popular restaurants such as Apple bee's,Olive Garden,Kroger's and Outback Steakhouse etc. Also the soups are great to enjoy the next day and I feel can be easily doubled or even tripled to serve a larger crowd.Sounds like a chapter I would dive into first?

 So for my choice,I made a creamy based soup from this chapter called Baked Potato Soup inspired by Outback Steakhouse.This was the go to recipe for me because I love the versatility of potatoes and I felt it was quite a unique idea that the potatoes are baked prior for this particular soup.I just knew that this would have a new affect on the potatoes texture and I couldn't resist trying out a new idea for potato soup.So once I made my mind up on the soup I wanted I still felt this recipe was a little lonely and would benefit with a partner recipe.So I chose to make Kroger's inspired homemade bread bowl to serve the soup in, to complete the foodie experience.So how did it turn out for me?

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Well I find homemade soups to be quite easy to make,along with lots of room to experiment.Baked Potato Soup is one of those recipes because its made with pretty basic ingredients and follows a simple method.It follows a method of creating a roux,which aid has a thickening agent and enhances flavors.It also follows a method of gradually adding a low sodium broth and a heavy cream to the roux to prevent lumps and help thicken slowly.Both these aspects in the directions help create richness in flavor and a creamy texture for this particular soup.Lastly,I'm impressed that the fact that low sodium broth is use in this recipe because I was able to control the salt content throughout and had more room to season to my desire.Also,in this recipe, there is lots of room to easily add has many different flavors or ingredients as you like and for me I feel to keep as closely as possible to Stephanie inspiration.

Now, we just want to know what this tastes like, right? Well I was told that this is the best soup that I have ever made thus far.So I guess that definitely says something right off the bat and I agree that it is my favorite soup as well.Every spoonful of this creamy soup is quite addictive and you just want to go back for second or thirds.It has this layer of flavor and texture that just brings you back every time.This baked potato soup is very creamy and rich with heavy cream, along with tender pieces of potatoes with a well balance of seasoning.Though the big surprise in flavor with this soup is when its served.Because we have crisp bacon,shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onion sprinkled on top of this warm,hardy soup.This brings bright and rich flavors to the overall soup,along with a beautiful,impressive appearance. This would be a delicious soup to serve your family and friends.Baked Potato Soup is a top notch recipe and I will  definitely be making it again.

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So now that I have a simple and delicious soup.I knew I needed something equally as good to serve it in so I chose to make Kroger's homemade bread bowls.Yes? It's a bowl you can serve with and eat at the same time.This is quite a unique way to include bread and soup together,along with creating a country,rustic appearance.

These bread bowls are quite simple to make and are sturdy enough to hold any hardy soup.They create a wonderfully buttery and fluffy center along with a beautiful golden exterior.Though I do have to be honest it does take some patience to make these buns because of the rising aspect.So I recommend to give yourself lots of time if you have a deadline and to prep any soup ingredients ahead.So overall,I love the bread bowl idea and it was well worth the wait to serve these with the delicious baked potato soup.A top notch recipe and will be making this recipe again as well.

So I am quite impressed so far with Stephanie Manley recipes and next chapter I will be taking on Main Dishes.So be sure to keep close by and see what unique dishes I will take on.Everyone enjoy your weekend and this baked potato soup. 

The Recipe

Bread Bowls 
Serves 5-6 bread bowls

1 1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp quick rise or 1 package instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups all- purpose flour
2 tbsp semolina flour(optional)
1 tsp salt
Vegetable oil,for bowl
Vegetable shortening,for baking

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I combined the warm water in a medium bowl with the yeast and sugar.Setting aside to bubble and foam.

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I added the flour and salt to my stand mixer bowl.Once the yeast was completed.I poured the liquid into the flour mixture.I placed my dough hook on and blended it on medium, until the hook could no longer blend everything.

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 I unhooked my bowl, sprinkled flour on my work surface and kneaded the dough, until soft and smooth.

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Then I placed the soft dough in a medium bowl with 1 tsp of vegetable oil and turned the dough to coat.Then I allowed the dough to rise in a warm place,covered with a towel.Letting it double in size at 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

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Then I greased the baking sheet and lightly dusted with cornmeal.Then dividing the dough into 5-6 portions.Forming the balls and placed them on the prepared sheet.Now for a second rising,I covered the buns with a towel and let double in size for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

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Once they were fully risen, I uncovered the balls and let them sit for 10-15 minutes,to develop a tougher skin.Preheating the oven to 425F. Before baking I sprinkled the bread bowls with water and baked them for 20 minutes,until they became deep golden brown.

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Then I removed the buns from the oven and let them completely cool or until easy to handle.Then I cut the tops off of each and scooped out the insides.Then served them with soup.

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Tip:The bread inside is great to dip into soup or using for homemade croutons. 

Tip:If using bread bowls later, you can easily wrapped them before use.

Tip: While the dough is rising, this is the time to start prepping your favorite soup, or a soup in this cookbook.

Baked Potato Soup

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(Inspired by Outback Steakhouse)
Serves 8-10 cups

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4 medium potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped white onions
1/2 cups butter
1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp salt,or to taste
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper,or to taste
8 slices of fried bacon,until crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion

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I preheated the oven to 400 F. Placed 4 medium russet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for 1 hour,once they were easily pierced with a fork.I removed the potatoes and let them cool, until they were easy to handle.Peeled and chopped them into bite-size pieces,setting them aside.

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While I waited for the potatoes to bake,I fried up the bacon slices, until crisp and crumbly,drain them on a small towel and set them aside.I also grated the cheddar cheese,chopped the white onion and chopped the green onion,setting aside as well.

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In a large pot over medium-high heat,I cooked the chopped white onion in the butter,until they were translucent.I added the flour and stirred until it cooked out the raw flour taste.It will smell like cooked pie crust. (Method: This is the roux I was talking about that helps thicken sauces and soups)

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Then I stirred in 1 cup of chicken broth,mixing quickly.Once it thickened,I added another cup of broth,letting it thicken further.Lastly I added the remaining 2 cups of broth.Then I stirred in the 2 cups of heavy cream,allowing to thicken again and adding the rest of the cream.(Method: Gradually adding the liquid helps prevent lumps and will thicken more slowly.)

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Then I let the mixture come to a soft boil and then reduced the heat to low.This is when I added the diced bake potato and seasoned with salt and pepper.I found I had to add more salt and pepper then mentioned.To serve,I poured a portion in the bread bowls and sprinkled bacon,shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onion on top.

Dining Out At Home 2:Appretizers

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Dining Out At Home 2 cookbook has a wide variety of appetizers from many American Restaurants such as Olive Garden,Logan's Roadhouse,Spaghetti Warehouse and even Red Lobster,just to name a few.This chapter consists of recipes for everyone to enjoy.There are delightful comforting dishes and fancy international appetizers to serve at your next dinner party.

For me, it was quite a challenge to pick what recipe to test out, for my reader's like you.So I went with appetizers that have simple ingredients and will fit well with almost any main dished served. The first recipe I tested out was a comfort dish from Logan's Roadhouse Restaurant called Loaded Potato skin's.Then for a simple fancier appetizer I made Classic Bruschetta based  from The Spaghetti Warehouse.These two restaurants are only American chain's.So as a Canadian there isn't much to compare;however each of these recipes caught my eye almost instantly.I feel everyone will have fun making these appetizers, since I found them quite simple to put together.

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Stephanie Manley's loaded potato skins inspired by Logan Roadhouse Restaurant is an easy to follow recipe with direct steps,along with leaving room for adaptations.I love that she gives the reader's tips and uses  inexpensive ingredients.Now the recipe is easy for any level home cook;however its all about timing for these potato skins.This is because it takes up to an hour to bake these potato along with baking a second time and lastly to melt the topping together.So it takes three times to bake these appetizers,then including the prep work and frying the bacon.This can take up some time you might not have to get your appetizers done and serve.

So I recommend to get some extra help in the kitchen and for a cheat you can microwave the potatoes for about a minute to quicken the process.Also, to mention that it seems that the potato flesh isn't used for anything in this specific recipe,however its recommend in the recipe not to waste and mentioned ways to use the leftover.I love that Stephanie is on the same page as me to never throw away perfectly good food.So I followed her tip's and use the leftover's in other recipes.

These loaded potato skins have layers of flavor and color.There is tons of room to put your own creativity into the recipe by adding more toppings or removing some.Just think how tasty these potato skins would be with richer cheese such as cream cheese or change in meat. Ohhh! the endless ideas and desires for such a versatile baked potatoes.I am so surprised I have never even subjected myself to potato skins and I'm so happy I finally experienced it for myself. Taking a bite with a dabble of sour cream was an instant gratification with its layer of flavors.It has a great combination of flavors such as savory,salty and rich along with a soft and creamy texture.The sour cream helps enhance flavor and lightens up the richness. It's a delicious appetizer and great with any main dish.

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Now for a fancier appetizer I made classic bruschetta inspired by The Spaghetti Warehouse.I found Stephanie's recipe to be as simple as the potato skins;however a new learning experience for me when making a first timer balsamic vinegar reduction.The reduction is a sweet and sour vinegar created by slowly simmering the vinegar to half and use for a dressing.This reduction ties everything together in this layered bruschetta.It also creates a large amount of vinegar so its best that who ever make this recipe that you better love this dressing.Its quite versatile though because it has a 60 shelf life and can be used for salads or marinades.

Now the assembling and prep is the most work done in this recipe, including mincing,slicing and of course layering ingredients.When they are all done it looks like a piece of artwork and is quite impressive.When I took a bite of these homemade bruschetta I was instantly addicted to the crunch and fresh ingredients.The Roma tomatoes were sweet and ripe along with a light mozzarella.It was also sprinkled with fresh minced basil and a drizzle of sweet balsamic dressing.This appetizer is refreshing,sweet and savory.I love this flavor combination and I'm now addicted to this Classic Bruschetta.

Overall, these two recipes for potato skins and classic bruschetta are great for most main dishes and I recommend you try out these for your next dinner party.I give both these appetizers five out of five for simplicity in directions and ingredients, along with excellent flavor.So be sure to stay tune for the next chapter of Dining Out At Home Two Cookbook.Introducing restaurant inspired soups

The Recipes

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Loaded Potato Skins 

(A recreation of Logan's Roadhouse Potato Skins)

2-3 servings

3 medium russet potatoes(about 4 inches long)
2 tbsp butter
6 ounces of bacon,6-8 slices,diced into small pieces
1/2 shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup sour cream

I preheated the oven to 400F. Then I washed and pricked each potato with a fork.Then baked them for about 1 hour in the oven.

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When the potatoes were baking. I diced up 8 strips of raw bacon and fried the meat in a skillet under low-medium heat,until crispy.

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Then I placed the cooked bacon on a small towel to let drain,setting it aside to cool.

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Once the baked potatoes were fully cooked,I let them cool down completely and then cut them in half lengthwise and scooped out the center,leaving some flesh behind,about 1/4 inch thickness.I also saved the flesh and made hash browns and mash potatoes with it.

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I then turned on the broiler on the oven and also melted the butter in the microwave.With the butter I proceeded to brush the potato skin flesh and then after placed the skins on a baking sheet to broil for about 8-10 minutes in the oven.Will be done when edges become golden brown.

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In a bowl,I proceeded to toss the grated cheeses together.After broiling,I placed about 1 tbsp of cheese onto each potato half and sprinkled about 1 tsp of bacon.Lastly, I baked the potatoes skins under the broiler, until the cheese was bubbly,about 3-4 minutes.Then to serve I arranged it on an appetizer plate and had sour cream along side for dipping.

Cheat: I added an extra russet potato to the recipe, to make it an even serving for four people!Also, a good tip is to be watchful how long you bake your potato skins each time and add as much filling as you desire.

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Classic Bruschetta

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(A Recreation of Spaghetti Warehouse)

4 servings

1/2 baguette
1 small bunch fresh basil
2-3 roma tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese,thinlu sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction( recipe below)

Vinegar Reduction

2 cups balsamic vinegar

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I poured the vinegar in a medium size metal saucepan and let the liquid simmer over low,until it reduce to about half.It took me more then 30 minutes to reduce it to exactly 1 cup.

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I measured the liquid a couple times to see the progress.Once,I got it fully cooled, it was ready for use right away.Once I was done using the reduction I placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator.(Tip: It has a shelf life of about 60 days and anything after that it will begin to crystallize and will lose its velvety texture, it can be stored at room temp or in a refrigerator)

Classic Bruschetta

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I cut the baguette into 3/8 inches slices.Then I turn the oven onto broiler,then proceeded to place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toasted the bread until golden brown.Then I removed the baking sheet from the oven and flipped the slices over to toast the other sides evenly.

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With the basil I sliced into tiny strips by rolling each leave and cutting very thin.Then sliced the tomatoes thinly and mozzarella.

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To assemble the bruschetta,I placed a thin slice of mozzarella,one slice of tomato,sprinkle it with basil and drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction.Then I served it instantly along side spaghetti as the main dish.
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