Cheesy Vegetable Soup with Popcorn and Apple Crisp for dessert
by Jes Mostek

Apple Crisp
by Jes Mostek
serves: 12
  The key to making a great apple crisp (or pie) is having the right apples. Make sure you use tart apples, such as Granny Smith apples, and you'll get the best flavor.

Also, you'll get the most crumbly topping if you use cold butter and cut it into the other dry ingredients with a food processor or pastry blender/knife.
  4 lg.   tart apples
  1/4 c.   apple cider or juice
  1 T.   lemon juice or grated lemon peel
  1/2 c.   all-purpose flour
  2 T.   all-purpose flour
  1/2 c.   granulated white sugar, divided
  1/2 c.   brown sugar
  3/4 tsp.   cinnamon
  1/4 tsp.   nutmeg
  1/2 tsp.   salt, optional
  1/2 c.   unsalted butter
  1/2 c.   old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  1/4 c.   walnuts or pecans, chopped
  Preheat oven to 375F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 square pan or equivalent sized casserole dish. Set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the apples into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Pour apple cider and lemon over sliced apples. In a smaller bowl, combine 2 T. flour with c. white sugar. Add to apple mixture and stir gently until well combined. Transfer to baking dish.

Cut cold butter into 1-2 chunks. Place all the topping ingredients ( c. flour, c. white sugar and c. brown sugar, spices, butter, oats and nuts) in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture is crumbly (looks like coarse corn meal) and you can no longer see any large chunks of butter. Sprinkle over apple mixture in baking dish.

Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 30 minutes before serving.
Hearty Beer Cheese Soup
by Jes Mostek
serves: 10
  Beer cheese soup can be tricky; it is tough to make a cheese soup that does not curdle or separate, but this one is so easy, you could do it blindfolded (although that might be a dangerous trick in the kitchen!).

And don't worry about serving this soup to kids; if you make this soup according to the recipe, all of the alcohol will burn off. But if you're still concerned, or if you do not enjoy the taste of beer, simply substitute 1 1/2 c. chicken stock for the beer.

To make this soup vegetarian, simply replace the chicken bouillon with with vegetable and replace the cream of chicken soup with cream of mushroom soup.

Also, I find that darker, more robust beers work better than pale ales, but you can certainly use whatever you have on hand.
  3 c.   water
  4 tsp.   chicken bouillon (1 tsp. per cube)
  1 (12 oz.) bottle   beer
  1 c.   diced celery
  1 c.   diced onion
  2 1/2 c.   potatoes, cubed
  1 c.   carrots, diced
  1 (20 oz.) pkg.   frozen mixed vegetables
  2 (10.75 oz.) cans   condensed cream of chicken soup
  1 lb.   Velveeta, or similar
  Pour the water into a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Add the bouillon, beer, celery & onion and return to a boil for 20 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots & veggies, cook until tender (about 20 minutes).

Add the chicken soup and cheese cubes. Heat until cheese melts & soup is hot, but do not allow to boil as soup may curdle (this holds true for all cream soups).

Serve with popcorn sprinkled over top of each bowl of soup.