Monday, January 21, 2013

Best Laid Plans. . . Weekly Dinner Planning Already Askew!

So there was a plan. Five meals scheduled, list created, and then grocery shopping. But you know how plans go right?

First my husband requested that I make some copycat Outback Steakhouse Walkabout Soup. Somehow things fall off the radar - we make something and enjoy it a couple of times and then we forget about it. Paul is good about remembering. We are actually thinking about making a master list of dinners/meals we like and putting it in Excel so everyone can "check off" items. I know, I'm a nerd!

The plan for tonight was to have Chicken Sate with Peanut Dipping Sauce. It was one of the dishes that fell off the radar and has been on hiatus for a few months.  It's really delicious, and not that difficult, but it's a little time consuming so we typically make it on the weekend when there's more time, or I make the marinade and sauce ahead of time for a weekday meal.

Hi Ho Hi Ho, off to the grocery store we go. . . (yes, you can sing it to the 7 Dwarfs' tune, I am). Trader Joe's and then Hollywood Market. I get all our dairy at TJ's and some other items but sometimes you have to go to the larger stores. I had the lime in the cart, checked the list against the recipe and so on. . . Except the grocery store did not have any thin sliced boneless chicken breasts! None, not one pack. Maybe it's because today's a Sunday that just feels like Monday?

So now the plan for tonight is the Walkabout Soup. I based mine on the recipe above but have changed it up a bit. A little creamier and I double the recipe, making it into more of a bisque. We are going to have it with pumpernickel bread with sweet whipped butter (think maple and honey with a touch of cinnamon). Here are the customized recipes below:

Debra's Version of Outback Steakhouse Walkabout Soup

Bisque Style!

Debra's Walkabout - Bisque Style with Pumpernickel Bread and Whipped Sweet Butter

Better Than Bouillon
  • 3 Large Yellow Sweet Onions, sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 32 oz carton of chicken broth
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt (Himalayan Pink Crystal today)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Fresh Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chicken Base (I use Better Than Bouillon - you can alternately use 6 Bouillon Cubes)
  • 6 ounces of Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • Half and Half
  • White Sauce (see below)
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

White Sauce:
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 6 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3 Cups of Half and Half
  1. In a large soup pot place butter and melt, add onions and keep on very low heat. Be patient (it's not in my nature either but you don't want to burn those onions) and let them cook slowly. You want them to be clear and soft. 
  2. Add broth, bouillon, salt and pepper and give it a quick stir. Let this heat up.
  3. Add White Sauce and Velveeta. Depending on when you made the sauce, it may be really thick and that's okay. Stir well on medium low heat until well mixed and cubes are dissolved. 
  4. Turn the temperature to low and let the ingredients meld for about 45 minutes or so.
  5. Okay here's my special part. . . Let cool slightly and use an immersion blender. Yes, I know Walkabout Soup at Outback has lots of onions in it. We like it better as a bisque. If you really feel the need to have some onions to add to the visual imagery, just take a few out of the pot before you blend and use as garnish. If you must. . . 
  6. You may or may not need to thin the soup a bit. I stick to more half and half. This isn't a low calorie dish regardless and it's just too thin with the 1% milk I keep in the house.
  7. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and those onions if you decided to keep some in reserve.
  8. Serve with the pumpernickel bread and sweet whipped butter.
I caution you to use a very large pot, much bigger than you anticipate, especially if you plan on using an immersion blender. I find that the blender makes the soup foam for a bit and expand in size.

White Sauce:
  1. Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan and add flour, whisking the mixture until it is heated through and becomes a thick paste, pulling from sides of the pan. FYI you just made a roux!
  2. Put half and half in slowly while you whisk. Stir frequently. I don't say "constantly" because I'm usually cooking something else at the same time to multi task and I have been known to step away for a minute or too. Just be conscious of what's going on and don't stray too long.
  3. Mixture will thicken. Take off stove and have ready for the soup (direction #3 above).

Debra's Sweet Whipped Butter

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon of Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pure Maple Syrup 
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
  1. Whip butter in Food Processor until smooth
  2. Add honey and maple syrup and whip again. You may need to use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides to make sure it's well blended.
  3. Add Cinnamon and give it one more "processing"
The butter will keep in the fridge for a few days. It will harden back up and have the consistency of regular butter once it's chilled. So for our meal, I made it about an hour before and left it in a Pyrex container. Leftovers will go in the fridge.

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