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

picframe-5

 


Tequila Sunset

This stunning, refreshing drink caught my eye on Facebook, thanks to Delish. And it promised to drown my end of summertime sadness. Doesn’t tequila help with a number of sadnesses? The end of summer is certainly one of those. I don’t know about all of you, but I wasn’t ready to face the hustle and bustle of school. My work schedule hadn’t changed and the kids being in different camps at different ends of town didn’t help matters. But it was still summer. The evenings were for playing. The weekends for enjoying the pool, having friends over for BBQs. It now, alas, was all coming to end. How do I face it? How do I accept it? What’s that? Have some tequila? Absolutely!

Ingredients:

1 c. ice
1 1/2 oz tequila (come on, you can add some more. You know you want to. I won’t judge, promise)
4 oz orange or grapefruit juice (I used orange)
1/2 oz grenadine
Maraschino cherry or mandarin, for garnish (I didn’t do garnish, still tasted amazing)

Preparation:

Fill glass with ice, tequila, and juice. Add grenadine. Add garnish, if desired.

Serves 1

Total time: 5  minutes

Featured image

*From Delish


Apricot Chicken

Say good-bye to take out!  This is a super delicious and extremely easy chicken recipe that you can count on being ready in less time than it takes to get take out. This was a hit with the fam (and you know if it’s not, it won’t show up here)!  Even D, who I struggle to make lunches for because she doesn’t like sandwiches, said, “I want THIS for lunch tomorrow!”  I’m seriously considering keeping it on hand for just that reason. ¡Buen Provecho!

Ingredients:

3 tsp sesame oil
4 Tbs BBQ Sauce (such as Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1½ Tbs soy sauce (I always opt for the low sodium version)
1½ Tbs honey
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can use breast meat, too)
½ cup apricot jam
½ cup orange juice

Preparation:

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together sesame oil, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, and honey.  Add chicken chunks, cover and marinade for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight.

Heat large pan to medium high.  Remove chicken from marinade with tongs or a slotted spoon (don’t throw away the marinade) and brown.

Add the apricot jam and orange juice to the marinade.  Add to chicken and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is done.  Serve over warm steamed rice.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chenin Blanc
Riesling
White Zinfandel

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes  Marinading & cooking time: 40 minutes

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

*Derived from Nora Rušev

Mexican Lasagna

I seem to be having a problem with life / work / blog balance lately. While I’m still cooking up a storm, it’s been tough to find the time to post about it.  This, however, REQUIRED me to get it up as soon as possible!  Not only did the entire family give it 3 very enthusiastic thumbs up, but 2 of my fab girl friends did, too!  When the Mexican hubs is this excited about a dish, I know it’s  not only a keeper, but should be a repeater, too. You see it served in the photo below with my baked tortilla chips. Oh, and It’s just as good the next day, and the next, for lunch!  ¡Buen provecho!

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef (can easily sub chicken or turkey)
1 cup water
2 Tbs Tajin (go easy on Tajin, it quickly becomes too salty)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ cups sour cream, divided
1 tsp Mexican paprika
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbs cornmeal
10 flour tortillas, 6 inches (mine were much larger, so I cut them in half)
1 cup salsa (such as Herdez)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet heated to medium, cook beef until no longer pink, drain.  Stir in water, Tajin, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and Mexican paprika.  Set aside.  Sprinkle cornmeal into a greased 13×9″ baking dish.

Arrange five tortillas, overlapping, in the bottom of the prepared dish.  Spread ½ cup salsa, add ½ of the meat mixture and ½ of each cheese.  Repeat layers.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Corona (ok, admittedly not wine, but come on!  This is all the flavors of Mexican food!)
Cabernet Franc
Sangiovese
Beaujolais
Chianti

Serves 8 (large servings)

Prep time: 25 – 30 minutes; Bake & standing time: 50 minutes

Mexican Lasagna & Baked Tortilla Chips

Mexican Lasagna & Baked Tortilla Chips

*Derived from Taste of Home


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

Quick Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff, and it seems that there are so many different recipes out there with the smallest change making a huge change if flavor.  What attracted me, though, to this recipe from Gimme Some Oven was it’s 30-Minute timeframe.  While this did take me a little longer than 30 minutes, it was so worth it!  And between you and me, I think the reason it took longer was completely my scattered fault.  I just can’t seem to get my ducks in a row, and if I finally get them in a row, they certainly don’t stay that way!  There were some substitutions I made to make it a little healthier or I was missing an ingredient.  There are also many ways you can make this healthier, instead of steak, you can use sliced chicken or turkey.  Or, if you are vegetarian, sub mushrooms and use vegetable broth.  All in all, a wonderful weeknight dish!

Ingredients:

1 lb wide egg noodles
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 ½ lb thinly sliced steak (I bought the fajita sliced steak in the meat department.  They also have super thin carne asada style)
1 white or yellow onion thinly sliced (I used a small one, the size depends on your enjoyment of onions)
4 cloves garlic minced (As always, I used the pre-minced from Spice World)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (You can use a mixture of different kinds of added flavor)
½ cup dry white wine (or you can just use more beef broth.  I had the wine, but it fell into my mouth . . . )
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (thanks to the kids experimenting, I didn’t have any.  I used A-1 instead and it brought a very nice, unique flavor)
3 Tbs flour
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt (or you can use light sour cream, the yogurt added a different flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as optional garnish

Preparation:

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to package directions (Gimme Some Oven recommends actually adding the egg noodles to the water at the same time that the beef broth is added, and this is a perfect recommendation for timing!)

As pasta water is coming to a boil, melt 2 Tbs of butter in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add steak in a single layer and season with salt and pepper, let it cook for 3 minutes without turning to get a good sear.  Remove the steak from pan with slotted spoon, transfer to a separate dish.  Discard the cooked butter from the pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 Tbs butter.  Once melted, add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms, stir to combine.  Continue sauteing an additional 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms have through and onions are soft.  Add white wine (or broth) and deglaze pan.  Let mixture cook down an additional 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together beef broth, Worcestershire (or A-1) sauce, and flour until smooth.  Pour the broth mixture into the pan and stir to combine.  Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, stir in Greek yogurt (or sour cream) until combined.  Finally, stir in cooked steak.

Serve over egg noodles, garnished with parsley if desired.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noire
Sangiovese

Total time: About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Quick Beef Stroganoff

Quick Beef Stroganoff

 *Derived from Gimme Some Oven

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

Do you ever feel like, when you are working away, that you are just going to topple over onto your desk in a heap, asleep so fast that as your head makes contact a dribble of spittle has already appeared?  That is how the last month to month and a half has been for me.  We’ve had major construction going on in the 2nd most important area of our house, the family room.  This was due to a large flood on Christmas morning (Yeah!  Merry Christmas!!).  So we’ve been dealing with that, in a small part, since then.  But when the construction finally started, well, it’s just been tiresome.  While our general contractor has been amazing at keeping everyone on schedule, I’m just over it, you know.  I’m ready to have that room opened to the rest of the house again.  I’m ready to have a laundry room again (something I’d never in my life thought I’d be excited about, a new laundry room).  I’m ready to have that 3rd bath available downstairs, as opposed to a 5 and 6 year old trying to race upstairs to pee when they’ve been outside playing with ladybugs and refused to “listen to their bodies”.  And at the tail end of this endeavor has been . . . dun, dun, dun . . . daylight savings.  “Come everyone, let’s Spring Forward!” I can clearly hear a very cheery Mother Nature shouting.  I want to shout back, not so cheerily, “Let’s all put our freakin’ happy faces on as our internal clocks get all screwed up!”  Sorry, I’m a grump today.  This is the perfect dinner for a grump to make.  It comes together quickly and painlessly.  And none of it would have been possible without my little sous chef!

My Sous Chef!

My Sous Chef!

 

Ingredients:

8 oz spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil (go easy on olive oil because the sausage will have plenty of oil when cooked)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning (or any favorite herb, oregano, thyme, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth (can sub with chicken)
2 cups pureed tomato
1 lb sausage meat (you can buy sausage links and remove the casings, luckily I found a package of bulk sausage meat prepared by the butcher)
Parmesan
1 bunch fresh basil (optional, I didn’t have on hand so I omitted)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.  While spaghetti cooks, prepare sauce.

Add 1 Tbs olive oil to large pan heated over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add Italian seasoning.  Stir in salt to taste.  Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.  While onions cook, use sausage meat and form small balls.

Add stock, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.  Add tomato puree and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.    Add meatballs into tomato sauce and simmer until fully cooked, about 10 – 12 additional minutes.

Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan and a handful of torn basil.  Serve with hot crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Busy Mom's Spaghetti & Meatballs

Busy Mom’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

 


Ravioli Lasagna

Who does not like ravioli? And who doesn’t like lasagna? Also, though, who doesn’t like or have all the time it takes to make lasagna? I’m a total cheater when it comes to the rav, so I won’t even go there. That being said, I love ravioli, little pillows puffed with ricotta and maybe a meat, or even just the ricotta and some spices. They are, really, a blank canvas. You can  add a sauce making them as rich and decadent as you’d like. Or, you can add a sauce bursting with fresh flavor from the garden. Filling you up, but not leaving you heavy. Pretty much the same idea goes for lasagna. There are so many amazing, and completely opposite ends of the spectrum options. But, what if you took ravioli and made it into a kind of quasi lasagna? Oh my, now you’re talking!

*For this dish, the recipe called for a 26-28 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce. Being typical of a cook that wants to use what is available to me, I used the 1/2 jar of 24 oz Barilla Organic Olive Oil, Basil, and Garlic pasta sauce and 1/2 of the jar of the 15 oz Barilla Alfredo Sauce already opened in the refrigerator both from a past lazy night of wanting something especially quick. With both of these leftover jars I’d say I used 28 oz., total.

I also loved this recipe for all of the options. While I used just cheese ravioli, I could have easily used chicken or sausage rav. I could have also added sliced, fresh mushrooms; I could have even added frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain. Or, how about pepperoni. Maybe some Italian sausage crumbles? So many options! Oh, Oh, Oh! You could also go with a Tex Mex theme. Simply sub the pasta sauce for a jarred salsa (such as Old El Paso), add corn and change the cheese to cheddar or a Mexican blend. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Hmmm, it JUST got interesting!

There is also the most wonderful make-ahead option. Simply layer the ingredients in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 ours. Then bake as directed. So this dish COULD be made on a week night! I LOVE that option.

Ingredients (as I made it):

1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (any variety)
1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 pkg (25 – 28 oz) cheese filled ravioli
3 cups shredded mozzarella (low moisture used)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350°.  Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread ¾ cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Arrange the ravioli in a single layer over sauce; top with mozzarella cheese.  Next layer, spread ¾ cup Alfredo sauce over ravioli, top with mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.  On the final layer, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes (if using frozen ravioli, bake 40 minutes).  Remove foil; bake uncovered 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with warm bread and Daniela’s Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 1:10

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna

*Derived from Betty Crocker

Mongolian Beef

This dish came together so quickly and easily, it was ready before the rice cooker! My kids always say, “I’m hungry. When is dinner going to be ready?” This time when I answered, “In just a minute.” I was telling the truth! Full of flavor to rival any takeout. My youngest foodie was putting the sauce not only on her rice, but her broccoli too! That’s when you know the dish is a keeper.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb steak (sirloin or flank), sliced thinly (time-saving tip:  pop the meat in the freezer for 15-20 minute before slicing, it will make that task so much easier)
3 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tsp chili sauce (I used Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce b/c the kiddos are not quite ready for the full chili effect)
1 clove garlic minced (time-saving tip: by it already minced in a jar, such as Spice World)
1 tsp grated ginger (time-saving tip: I don’t know what I’d do without my Gourmet Garden ginger paste)
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/3 cup beef broth
1 Tsp sesame oil
¼ cup sliced green onion

Preparation:

Heat oil in large, nonstick pan, over medium-high heat.  Add beef and sauté until just cooked, about 2-4 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, and water.  Add this to meat and cook about 1 minute, until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat, mix in sesame oil and serve over rice or noodles.  Top with sliced green onions.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot

Serves 4

Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef

Courtesy Closet Cooking

Simple Syrup

Here is the Simple Syrup recipe that goes along with the Sunny Margarita recipe. Who knew it would be so, well, simple? Ok, totally in my defense, how many times have you seen something that was supposed to be super easy to make, and once you got started you realized they meant if you were Martha Stewart? I hate to disappoint, but I’m not Martha Stewart (yes, I realize this is a shock and I send my most humble of apologizes.). I’m just a girl that loves to cook. Works full time, and has a husband and kids to feed. But not simple syrup, I do not feed my kids simple syrup. Crap! Unless its going in to Berto’s fresh squeezed lemon aide, but that’s really not feeding it to them. Oy vey . .

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 lemon juiced

Preparation:

Combine all 3 ingredients in saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. All sugar crystals should be completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour into a clean, medium-sized bowl. Cool completely before using. To speed up cooling process, sink bowl in ice bath. Simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely, if kept in an airtight container.

040

* From Food Network