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You Asked For It: Baked Potato Soup, Apricot and Walnut Energy Bars

I would like a tried-and-true, from-scratch recipe for baked potato soup. Thank you.

Lyn Wood, St. Petersburg

Barb Masson of Clearwater offers a recipe for Lyn to try. Although there are a few parts to making this soup, it is delicious and worth the work. You do need to plan ahead because the potatoes need to bake for at least an hour. Once the prep work is done, the recipe comes together quickly. I suggest cooking the bacon and measuring all the ingredients while the potatoes are baking. Barb likes this recipe because it is thick. If you prefer a thinner soup, add extra milk, a small amount at a time, for desired consistency.

I would like a recipe for simple, economical protein bars to make for holiday gifts.

Janie Roberts, St. Petersburg

Clearwater resident Margaret Guyatt shares a recipe she says is wonderfully delicious for a fig and walnut energy bar. It's from dietitian Ellie Krieger and appeared in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine. After stops at two grocery stores left me without dried figs, I opted to use dried apricots. If you prefer figs and can find them, use 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped, stemmed, dried figs. You will need a food processor. No other appliance can achieve the coarsely chopped texture. Just don't over pulse. They freeze well.

Recipe request

St. Petersburg resident Marge Nickerson would like two dressing recipes she recently had at the cafe at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. They are creamy lemon and creamy balsamic dressings. . . . Carol Deese, also of St. Petersburg, would like a recipe for unemployment pudding. It is a very sweet dessert made with flour, sugar and vinegar and baked in the oven. It's a recipe she had 30 years ago in Quebec.

Recipes tested by Times correspondent Ellen Folkman unless otherwise noted. Send requests to You Asked For It, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail youaskedforit@tampabay.rr.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

>>moderate

Baked Potato Soup

4 large baking potatoes

2/3 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 green onions, chopped, divided use

12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided use

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided use

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

Wash potatoes and prick several times with a fork; bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until potato can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp and set aside. Chop skins into small pieces.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add potato pulp, skins, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons green onions, 1/2 cup bacon and 1 cup cheese. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in sour cream, adding extra milk, if necessary, for desired consistency. Garnish with remaining green onions, bacon and cheese.

Yield: 10 cups

Source: Barb Masson, Clearwater

>>easy

Apricot and Walnut Energy Bars

Cooking spray

1 cup quick cooking oats

1 cup bran cereal

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup walnut pieces

1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots

½ cup nonfat dry milk

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ cup honey

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place the oats, cereal, flour, walnuts, apricots, dry milk, cinnamon and ginger in a food processor; coarsely chop. Add the honey and eggs; pulse until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to the pan; spread evenly with your fingers. Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then cut into 16 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: Margaret Guyatt, Clearwater

You Asked For It: Baked Potato Soup, Apricot and Walnut Energy Bars 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 3:30am]
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