Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder

Sometimes I wish I was from Boston so I could get away with saying Chowda. But, alas, I’m Cali, born and raised. Saying Chowder, thankfully, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it just as much! And we’re finally (FINALLY) getting into Fall. Which to me means hearty stews and soups, corn bread. Anything that makes you feel warm and cozy. Ok, basically, comfort food. Fall = Comfort Food. This one definitely fits that category.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil (keep more on hand for drizzling)
1 16 oz pkg frozen sweet corn
3 small to medium Russet potatoes
4-6 slices of bacon, chopped (depends on your love of bacon, I used 8. Tells you a little something about me)
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbs butter (I use unsalted)
1 whole onion, diced (to save time, I buy the already diced onion in the produce section. Use about 1 cup)
1 tsp smoked paprika (add more for your desired flavor)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground curry
3 cloves garlic, minced (to save time, I use the preminced garlic. 1 tsp = about 1 clove garlic)
1 cup white wine (always be sure to use a wine you personally enjoy as that is the flavor your dish will have. You can always sub chicken broth)
2 cups chicken stock (I used low sodium)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I didn’t have heavy cream, so I subbed 1/2 cup whole milk. To get the thickness, though, I added 1/2 cup of sour cream. It worked perfectly!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro (ick) or parsley for garnish, if desired

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper (makes for easier clean-up) add the corn and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, turn corn with wooden spoon, and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. The corn should be getting golden brown and starting to char a little. Remove and set aside until ready to add to the soup.

While corn roasts, peel and dice potatoes. Add to a medium pot of lightly salted water, bringing to a boil and then let simmer until fork tender. Drain in colander.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven to medium. Add diced bacon and cook, rendering the fat. Once bacon is crisp, remove with slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. With the exception of about 2 tablespoons of fat, remove the rest. Add shrimp, stir to cook slightly. You want them a bit under cooked because you will be adding them to the hot chowder were they will continue to cook. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and add to the plate with bacon.

Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the onions and slightly increase heat to medium-high. Cook onions until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add roasted corn. Stir in garlic, smoke paprika, and curry. When onions and corn are fully coated, add white wine to deglaze dutch oven. Scrape up any browned bits and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed.

Slowly add chicken stock while stirring. Make sure the stock is completely incorporated with other ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add cream last. Adjust seasoning.

Finally, add shrimp, bacon, and cilantro or parsley. Serve with a warm crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Chardonnay
Fume Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier

Serves: 4-6

Total time: 1 hour – 1:10 minutes

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

I came across this recipe on Eating Well.  My first thought, “Who does not like chicken wrapped in prosciutto.”  Just so we’re clear:  Wrapped.  In.  Prosciutto.  This is taking chicken thighs, which have about a million ways to be  yum, and wrapping them in prosciutto.  That’s like taking bacon and wrapping . . .  well, ANYTHING.  But saltier and tastier.  Then you’ve got the mushrooms.  Mushrooms and sauce are amazing.  And yes, of course, I made mashed potatoes.  While this dish came together in at least 45 minutes, but more like an hour, as opposed to the 35 minute “total time” suggestion from Eating Well, it was still amazing.  The hubs even commented that he didn’t realize he was coming home to a 5 Star Meal.  Today is Veterans Day, and I’m a Veteran, of course you’re getting a 5 Star meal!

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless thighs
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 thin slices prosciutto (If you are not familiar with prosciutto, accept that it will quickly become the higher-power of your bacon God)
4 tsp olive oil – divided (use extra-virgin if you’d like)
1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano plus 1 tps, divided (ok, I don’t always have time to mess with fresh herbs, especially with the wonderful freeze-dried options, such as those available by Lighthouse)
8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (I used 10 oz pre-sliced because that’s how it came and I’m not tossing out 2 oz of pre-sliced mushrooms)
1/2 cup Marsala or dry sherry (the best advice I can offer here, if you aren’t willing to drink it, don’t cook with it.  Look in the wine section of your grocery store.  Avoid “cooking” anything wines .  Cooking wines tend to be higher in sodium and less flavorful.)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (you want to go with a nice ‘meaty’ broth here.  There are so many that as you pour they look watered down.  My tip, if they look watered down, they are, and that will translate to your dish.My personal favorite is Pacific Foods – Organic)
2 tsp cornstarch

Preparation:

Sprinkle chicken thighs with 1/4 tsp pepper and wrap each thigh with a slice of prosciutto.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 4 – 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate; wrap with foil to keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tsp oil, shallot, and 1 tbs oregano to pan.  Cook, stirring, until shallots are beginning to brown (about 1 – 2 minutes).  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring until browned (4 – 6 minutes).  Add Marsala (sherry will work here, too) and cook about 2 minutes.

In a separate small bowl, whisk broth, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Add to pan, stirring.  Return to simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened (about 4 minutes)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Gamay
Merlot
Pinot Noir
Viognier

Serves 4

Total time: About an hour

Proscuitto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

 *Derived from Eating Well

Breakfast Pizza

This was another great “make ahead” meal for Tahoe.  One of the things I truly love about this recipe is its versatility.  Don’t like sausage?  Add more bacon.  Or just leave it out completely.  Not a fan of meat in general?  Remove the meat and add mushrooms and shredded potatoes.  You can even go “traditional” dinner pizza by adding Canadian Bacon and Pineapple for a Hawaiian theme.  Add some of the vegetable bounties of summer, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, etc.  Take any of your favorite omelets and, you guessed it, turn it into a breakfast pizza!

Ingredients:

10 slices of bacon
10 links pork sausage
12 eggs, beaten
2 (8 oz) refrigerated crescent roll dough (such as Pillsbury)
1/2 cup salsa (such as Muir Glen)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:

Dice bacon and cook in a large skillet heated to medium-high, until browned.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

Remove sausage from casing.  Crumble sausage in same skillet used for bacon.  Cook until no longer pink in the center.  Transfer to plate with bacon to drain and cool.

Drain most of the grease from the skillet and return pan to medium heat.  Cook and stir eggs until scrambled.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Roll out crescent dough to cover bottom of 9×13 cookie sheet.  Bake dough until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Let dough cool.  Spread a layer of salsa onto baked dough; top with scrambled eggs.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon and sausage over eggs.  Top entire pizza with cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve!

Serves: 8
Total time: 50 minutes

Breakfast Pizza

*Derived from AllRecipes.com

Bacon and Cheddar Puff Pastry Crisps

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  It’s all about the food, family, and friends!  You don’t have to worry about anyone’s favorite color, what size of jeans they wear, or if you have picked the right handbag.  Nope, just come hang out and eat and drink!  What is NOT to love about Thanksgiving.  I know a lot of people are not thrilled with the amount of cooking.  But if you love cooking, you ARE thrilled with the amount of cooking.  I always have to force myself to not plan the menu before November 1st, and that is such a struggle.  This year, however, I didn’t make it.  I was in a slump while planning my daughter’s 5th birthday, which is on Halloween.  We did a fairy theme.  And the food I wanted to make seemed to grown-up to me.  I didn’t want something total kid, either.  I was really stuck.  So, to get me unstuck, I planned the entire Thanksgiving menu over a glass (or two, ok maybe three) of wine.  This was probably mid-October.  One problem with that, by the time Thanksgiving actually rolled around, I felt so out of touch with it.  It was an odd feeling for me, like I had lost my groove.  I have promised myself that next year, I’ll be sure to sit on my hands the month of October!

Ingredients:

1 pkg (17.3 oz) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup prepared ranch salad dressing (I used Bolthouse Farms, it’s made with Greek yogurt, making it a little healthier)
2 Tbs chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

Heat oven to 470°.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into a 12/2″ square.  Cut into 36 (2″) squares.  Prick pastry with a fork.  Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet, making a total of 72 squares.  Place the squares on a baking sheet

Bake for 8 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Using the back of a small spoon, press down the centers of the hot pastries to make an indentation.

Spoon about 1/2 tsp each of cheese and bacon onto each indentation.  Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.  Remove the pastries from baking sheet and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Top with dressing and chives.

Serves 72 pieces
Prep time: 20 minutes; Total time: 30  minutes

Bacon & Cheddar Puff Pastry Crisps

Bacon & Cheddar Puff Pastry Crisps

*From Pepperidge Farm

Crepes

If you are a part of our house, you have to love crepes.  I’m trying to remember if Berto was 2 or 3 when we introduced crepes.  Actually, it doesn’t matter because once he was introduced, he was hooked.  And that has been passed down to Daniela.  Now, before you go to another post, crepes are ridiculously easy to make.  So easy that the Hubs has it memorized (this is the same guy that can’t find the milk in the refrigerator), which means if he knows how do it, so can you.  The best thing about crepes is we can fill them with eggs, cheese, and ham.  Once the kidlets have eaten two of those, then they can have the crepes that are just buttered with powdered sugar sprinkled in.  BUT, that is so boring compared to what you CAN do!  How about Nutella and bananas?  Awesome!  Oh, did you want strawberries and whipped cream with that?  Not a problem.  A Denver omelet stuffed in a crepe? We got it right here.  You name it,  you can do it.  Oh, I just thought of something!  A sausage with maple syrup stuffed in a crepe!  I’m seeing breakfast . . . 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (you can use soy, just keep in mind it does change the flavor slightly)
4 Tbs butter
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

In a small pot, or the microwave, melt the butter.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift flour and salt.  Add milk and eggs, then add melted butter.  Stir to combine.  In crepe pan or small fry pan heated to medium-low melt 1 tsp butter to coat pan evenly. Lift the pan to a slight angle and  pour approximately 3/8 of a cup of batter to the center, tilting the pan to spread the batter to the edges.

Return pan to heat and cook until crepe is golden brown underneath, approximately 1-2 minutes.  Flip crepe and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm, or if Berto and Daniela won’t wait, serve immediately with desired filling.

Serves about 16 crepes (they go fast)

Total time: 30 minutes

Crepes

*Original Serves4 Recipe

Chai Spiced Banana Bread

Chai Spiced Banana Bread - Loaf

Sometimes you just know a recipe is going to be perfect. From that first moment you lay eyes on it. Maybe it’s the ingredients that are your favorites or bring special memories. Maybe it is the Chef. Someone that has a history of delighting your palate. In this case, it was both. When my eyes first danced upon Chai Spiced Banana Bread from Jennifer Segal of Once Upon a Chef, I had to stop as a quick breath escaped my lips. Chai? And banana bread? How can that be? How can that be!? I could hardly wait for everyone to fall asleep that night (there is some baking / cooking you want to do on your own. I can’t explain it.). As I was cleaning the dishes I assembled the ingredients. I would go in at bedtime as everyone was quietly snoring. As I sifted the spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, I knew this was going to be perfect. As I mashed the bananas and readied my inverted pumpkin loaf pan, I knew this was going perfect. My only hesitation, my only fear, came as the bread was baking and the most amazing aroma enveloped my home. Surely it was going to wake at least the family, and quite possible the whole sleepy neighborhood! No one awoke and I was able to get a few hours sleep before my youngest foodie made her appearance. “What is that amazing smell Mommy?” “Oh that? Just some bread I made last night. Would you like to try it?” And as I showed D the bread she started jumping up and down, licking her lips. I gave her a big, fat slice (it was breakfast time, after all). “Oh mommy, this is SO good. You are the best cooker ever! I love everything you cook. Can you cook this again?” And I knew it was perfect.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with a knife
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas, from 2-3 bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl or electric m ixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt.  Add to the butter mixture and beat gently until just combined.  Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined.  Gently stir in nuts if using.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until deep golden brown and cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 – 70 minutes.  Let rest for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.  Serve warm or even toasted.

Servings: One Loaf
Prep time: 10 minutes; Baking: 70 minutes

Chai Spiced Banana Bread - Slices

Courtesy:  Once Upon A Chef

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Cheese and Bacon Potato Rounds

I’ve been wanting to try this one forever.  It’s got ALL of the comfort food ingredients: cheese, bacon, potatoes.  The opportunity presented itself when my older sister bought her home, completely on her own.  And she finished her college degree!  I was so proud of her, I had to show her.  For me, food is a language, a conversation, feelings.  What better way to express myself then to host a house-warming party for her and to “cater” it, too!

Ingredients:

4 baking potatoes cut into 1/2″ slices (my mandoline made quick work of this.  Best purchase ever!)
1/4 cup melted butter
8 slices of bacon – cooked and crumbled (or more if my niece (aka bacon hound) is around)
8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 chopped avocado
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400.

Brush both sides of potato slices with butter, place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes, turn slices over; bake remaining 15-20 minutes.  Slices should be lightly browned on both sides.  Remove slices and top with cheese and bacon.  Pop back in oven and continue baking until cheese is melted.  Allow to cool slightly, top with avocado, sliced green onions, and small dollop of sour cream.

Serves – Approximately 15 potato slices

Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 40 minutes

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*Derived from AllRecipes.com

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