For extra orange flavor in these iced pumpkin-carrot bars, use a few drops of wild orange essential oil or a teaspoon or two of Grand Marnier in both the batter and the icing. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Baked Potato Soup seems to be on offer everywhere these days, but did you know how easy it is to make at home for a fraction of the cost? Not to mention the fact that when you cook at home, you have more control over what ingredients are going into your body.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

This basic recipe can be dolled up with the additions of bacon and cheese. Also try cooked shredded chicken, corn, broccoli or a package of frozen mixed vegetables for even more variety.

Whenever you’re making soup from scratch, it’s so much better when the stock is homemade. With a little planning you can make any kind of stock and simply freeze it in Mason jars. It’s so satisfying to have this on hand. It imparts such a rich flavor to your cooking.

Having containers of soup in your freezer or fridge is like money in the bank. Make it when you have time, then for those evenings when you’re tired or rushed (or both) you have something delicious and nutritious available. Prepare a simple salad and these cheddar biscuits and you’ll be all set.

These autumnal cookie bars are just the thing to bake for a harvest supper, Halloween party or sports award dinner. Think orange upon orange upon orange: pumpkin, carrots and the juice and rind of an orange. For extra orange “wow,” I use a few drops of wild orange essential oil by doTerra or a teaspoon or two of Grand Marnier in both the batter and the icing.

Baked Potato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 baked potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), skin removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
Fresh chives for garnish

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 7 minutes.

In a bowl, blend 1 cup stock with flour and whisk into the pan with the vegetables. Stir in remaining stock, salt and pepper, and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Whisk in milk and sour cream and heat through, being careful not to let it boil. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with chives. Yield: 6 servings

Bacon Cheddar Cornmeal Biscuits

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup cold milk
1 egg, beaten
4 slices crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cheese, milk, egg, bacon and chives. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it just until dough holds together. Gently roll dough into an 8-inch square and cut into nine squares. Transfer to baking sheet; brush with additional milk.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly on baking sheet. Yield: 9 biscuits

Carrot Pumpkin Bars with Orange Icing

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup carrot, grated
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Walnut halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, orange zest, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs and brown sugar. Stir in pumpkin, oil, milk and vanilla. Stir in carrots and chopped walnuts.

Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until combined. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Spread with Orange Icing, then cut into triangles or bars. If desired, garnish each with a walnut half. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Yield: 36 (2-by-1-inch) bars.

Orange Icing

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoons orange juice

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and orange juice to make a thin icing. Pour over bars and spread evenly.

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