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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Glazed Salmon

It’s been so long since my last post, and it’s not as if I stopped cooking. No, I’ve still been plugging away, cooking the majority of our dinners. And, I’ve been trying some wonderful recipes! My heart, however, just hasn’t been into blogging. Sometimes updating my blog, after everyone is quietly snuffling in their beds, can be difficult. Sometimes I just want to read. Sometimes I want to get lost in Pinterest. Sometimes I want to check in with my FB friends. Or play Hay Day. Sometimes that is the hard part of being a full-time wife and mom, as well as working outside the home full time. But, as winter sheds it’s coat (yes, we have a Cali version of winter) and spring dawns anew, we can all feel somewhat reborn. Throw aside what has been holding you down, sit outside and soak up the sun. Take a walk and marvel at what beauty springtime brings. Ride a bike and feel the warm breeze  on your face. Ahhh, to start anew. It’s a wonderful thing!

What better way to pay homage to spring than wild caught salmon? Don’t get me wrong, I can eat salmon year-round. But there is something about salmon that speaks to warmer weather.

Ingredients:

1 tsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 – 2 lbs skin-on salmon filet
Pepper to taste
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 recipe glaze (below)

Glaze:

3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preparation:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300°. Combine brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a 12″ oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place salmon, flesh side down, in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat and evenly spoon glaze over salmon. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until fillets register 125° (for medium-rare) and are still translucent when cut into, about 7 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Grenache
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

*Derived from America’s Test Kitchen

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Glazed Salmon


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


On Top of Old Smokey Meatballs

All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.  But it’s ok because I made tons!  These meatballs were so easy to make and quick.  Such wonderful flavor!  And one of things that attracts me to a recipe is the ability to really make it your own.  Change it up some. Use spicy Italian sausage for a kick. Or, add your favorite hot sauce to regular Italian sausage. Instead of Italian seasoning, how about the Mexican Blend I always use with some fresh cilantro?  Add ginger and teriyaki sauce, served over steamed rice, for an Asian flavor.  Oh, how about subbing the bread crumbs with finely ground potato chips, shredded cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce.  Tailgate anyone?  So, let everyone sneeze as much as they want, you’ve got meatballs covered!

Ingredients (Meatballs Only):

16 oz pkg premium pork Italian sausage
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix ingredients until blended (the best way is to don some gloves and dive right in).

Shape meat mixture into 2″ meatballs and place on a baking sheet.  Either spray with nonstick spray, or as I did, line with parchment paper.

Bake meatballs 15 minutes or until done (when they reach 160°).  Serve with your favorite pasta sauce (such as my  Busy Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatball – but ignore those meatballs, just this once, and go back another time to try those!)

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Grenache
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6 (with pasta & sauce)
Prep time: 15 minute; Cook time: 15 minutes

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

On Top of Old Smoky Meatballs

*Derived from Jimmy Dean

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