Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New England Clam Chowder

This is my favorite recipe of chowder I've tried. I like it really thick and velvety, not runny. This one delivers. Yum. Loved it. Now I want to make bread bowls.

New England Clam Chowder
Yield: Serves 6
  • 5 cans (6.5 ounces each) chopped clams (I added one more just because I needed to use it up)
  • 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and small diced (about 3 medium potatoes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 4 medium stalks)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  1. Drain the clams, reserving the juice. Set both the clams and juice aside.
  2. In a 5- or 6-quart pot, combine the clam juice (just the bottled stuff, not what you've reserved), broth and potatoes (the potatoes will just barely be covered with liquid; it's important they are diced small). Bring to a simmer, add the bay leaf, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes cook, in a second pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the onions, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and half and half, stirring quickly to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened, 4-5 minutes.
  5. Stir the creamy mixture into the potatoes, whisking quickly until combined (take out the bay leaf if it's getting in the way). Stir in the salt, pepper, vinegar, and reserved clams. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Stir in any of the reserved clam juice to thin the consistency, if desired (I usually don't but we like it thick). Serve.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Butternut Squash Soup


By far the best butternut squash soup ever, with the help of those crisp bacon bits blended right into the soup!


  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Place butternut squash, onion, bell pepper and bacon in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
  3. Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender, stirring at halftime.*
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  5. Heat a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add butternut squash mixture and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chicken stock and puree with an immersion blender.
  6. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon, goat cheese and chives, if desired.

recipe found here http://damndelicious.net/2014/12/10/roasted-butternut-squash-bacon-soup/

This is so so good! I left out the bacon and goat cheese, but only because I didn't have any on hand. I will maybe add it next time. Either way, this is delicious!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Curried Lentil Soup

If you like curry, make this soup. I loved it. It's not super pretty but it's really tasty. Rob loves Mulligatawny, but I think this is much better. We didn't have enough leftovers. I wish I would have had enough to freeze.
from Mel

Curried Lentil and Sausage Soup with Toasted Almonds
I feel like I'm a bit redundant about curry powder but I'll just say it again: my favorite curry powder is the Sweet Curry Powder from Penzey's spices. You can use any type of curry powder here (yellow, red, hot) just make sure you like the flavor as it will come through in the soup. 
Also, you can play around with the type of sausage used. If using an uncooked, crumbled variety, brown it first (before the vegetables) and remove to a plate before proceeding with the recipe (and then stir it in at the end with the beans). The color of the finished soup will largely depend on what kind/color of curry powder and lentils you use. I used a blend I found with red, black, yellow and green lentils. Also, scale back on the broth if you want an ultra-thick soup; conversely, add a few more cups if you want it to go a bit further and don't mind a thinner consistency. Keep in mind it will thicken a bit off the heat (after 10 or so minutes).
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 large carrots, peeled and small diced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (see note above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 can white beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I used beans)
  • 1/2 pound precooked chicken sausage, diced (see note above) (I used 1 pound of Jimmy Dean Country Mild. Browned it first, then drained and threw it in at the end)
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Slivered almonds, toasted, for garnish Loved this
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
    Report this ad
  1. In a 4- or 5-quart pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften, stirring often.
  2. Add the broth and lentils. Bring to a low simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender (but not mushy).
  3. Stir in the sausage and beans and heat through. Stir in the heavy cream, if using. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. The soup will thicken slightly upon standing.
  4. Serve warm with slivered almonds and cilantro.

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe sent to me by Tamara B. (thank you!)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pizza Rolls

I make these frequently.  I don't make my own dough, I just buy it from Trader Joe's (they have good pizza dough).  I make a double batch and freeze half.

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Rolls
I've made these pizza rolls (and our favorite pizza dough) with all types of flour. Bread flour, all-purpose unbleached flour, and white whole wheat flour. My favorite combo is probably half bread flour, half white whole wheat flour; the dough is extremely versatile!
    Pizza Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (see note above)
  • Filling:
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups pizza sauce (homemade recipe here)
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5 ounces pepperoni, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet (about 12X18-inches) with parchment paper.
  2. For the dough, in an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (you can also do this by hand in a large bowl with a spoon), stir together the water, honey, olive oil, yeast, salt and 1 cup of the flour. With the mixer on low speed, continue adding the flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and forms a soft, smooth ball. Knead for 3-4 minutes (add a few minutes if using whole wheat flour). Let the dough rest, covered, in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Separate the dough into two pieces. On a lightly greased countertop, press one portion of dough into a thin rectangle, about 14X10-inches.
  4. Spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup pizza sauce evenly across the top. Sprinkle evenly with half the mozzarella cheese and then half the pepperoni. Starting with on long side, roll up cinnamon-roll style, pinching the seam together to seal.
  5. Place the cornmeal in a bowl or shallow dish. Cut the dough into 1-inch sections. One by one, press the bottom of each pizza roll into the cornmeal and then place on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.
  6. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.
  7. Once all the pizza rolls are placed on the baking sheet, sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  8. Warm the extra pizza sauce, and serve the pizza rolls immediately out of the oven with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe is from Andy's mom.  Not sure where it came from originally, but they have it every Thanksgiving and I made them when we were home just last month.

***that 1 package of cream cheese should be 8oz***

When I made them, I only kind of followed this recipe. I was quadrupling the recipe, but didn't have enough cream cheese and somehow I added more bread. So really, you can just adjust everything to how you like (or to what you have). I also didn't have green pepper.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lemony Lemon Brownie Bites

If I had to choose between one of these and lemon bar, I would choose one of these. So delicious. I made them for a little girls night I hosted and they were a hit. They have the texture of a brownie but are full lemon flavor. from Mel

Yield: Makes 25 small squares
The glaze recipe makes a very thin, light layer of sweet, lemony glaze on top of the soft, chewy lemony brownies. If you want more glaze, consider doubling the recipe (just make sure the glaze doesn't overpower!).
Altogether, you probably need 2-3 large lemons for the recipe to get the 4 tablespoons juice and 1 tablespoon (plus 1/2 teaspoon) zest. 
These bars are delicious at room temperature but try them chilled and you may never go back.
    Lemon Batter:
  • 1 cup (5 ounces/142 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces/155 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup (2.75 ounces/75 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8X8-inch aluminum baking pan with parchment so that it hangs over two of the edges (to lift out the bars later - alternately, you can just grease the pan really well and slice them in the pan) and lightly coat the pan and parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon zest.
  3. In a separate bowl or in a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the butter, eggs and egg yolk, lemon juice and vanilla.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs (the top of the bars should spring back lightly when gently pressed). Don't over bake or they might be dry.
  7. For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth and combined.
  8. After the bars have cooled completely in the pan, drizzle the glaze over the top (since the glaze layer is thin, it helps to pour it all across the bars instead of in one puddle before spreading) and use an offset spatula or knife to spread evenly over the bars.
  9. Place the bars in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to let the glaze set before lifting them from the pan (using the parchment overhang) and cutting into small squares. These taste best chilled, in my opinion, but can be served at room temperature also.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Skillet Creamy Mac and Cheese

From Mel. Rob loves this stuff because it's more flavorful than my old recipe--I used to just make a white sauce and add cheese, this is much better. It's super quick. If I have 15 minutes, I'll make this over Kraft any day. I make it in my lodge cast iron skillet.

  • 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni (I weigh it, 12 oz is  usually less than 3 cups. I like it creamier anyway)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (I've never added this, but I should...)
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups) (when i weigh it, it's closer to 2 cups shredded)
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups) (when i weigh it, it's closer to 2 cups shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks 
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  1. Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes. (I go less, we like it al dente)
  2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Date Pinwheels and Pineapple Ice Cream

They just had a reunion for people who went to the Esmerelda Street chapel. Anyway, they asked me to take pictures and look what we found in one of the old cookbooks on display. I thought it would be fun to document it here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos

Think tinfoil dinners gone taco. But with sweet potatoes. These were super good. Pretty quick and pretty healthy (before the cheese). Loved them. Rob wants me to make them for his next campout. 

Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos
  • 2 pounds ground turkey or beef (I used beef)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, membranes removed and finely chopped (keep seeds for more heat, if desired) (I skipped this, still good)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach (or more)
  • 2 cans (15-ounces each) beans (black, pinto, white), rinsed and drained (I used black)
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped small (1/2-inch pieces)
  • Garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados or guacamole, salsa, olives, cilantro I added frozen corn, a few tortilla chips,  and Rob liked hot sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the ground meat, salt, pepper, and onion. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess grease.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, tomato sauce and jalapeño (if using). Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the water, spinach and beans and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. 
  4. Lightly grease the center of 6-8 foil pieces, each about 12-inches long. 
  5. Place about 1 cup of sweet potato chunks in the center of each piece of foil arranging them into somewhat of a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper (don't skip this step!). Add a heaping 1/2 cup or so of the meat mixture on top. Bring the long sides of foil together over the filling and fold tightly down. Fold and crimp each edge until tightly sealed and a little packet is formed. Repeat with all the pieces of foil and ingredients.
  6. Place the foil packets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender. 
  7. Carefully open the foil packets and serve with taco toppings and garnishes of your choice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tom Kha Gai Soup

Recipe found here.


can (14 oz.) coconut milk 
can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth 
quarter-size slices fresh ginger I microplanes about an inch into the broth
stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-in. pieces 
1 pound boned, skinned chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks I used some leftover rotisserie chicken
1 cup sliced mushrooms 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla) 
1 teaspoon sugar 
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste 
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves I didn't have these, so I left them out. 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro 

I added salt to taste


In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to boil over high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Garnish servings with basil and cilantro.

Because I used rotisserie chicken, this took about 15 minutes to make. I think the flavors would be more melded if I let it simmer longer, but I just couldn't wait.
ps I am the only one who likes it in my family...