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

 


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

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

Before I started grilling I kind of thought it was really simple.  I mean, why else would that be most men’s sole form of cooking?  I’m learning, however, how wrong I was.  I’ll give you that burgers and dogs are simple, once you get used to the grill.  And that’s the key, getting used to your grill.  Like oven and stove tops, they are all pretty unique in how they heat.  Some can take forever, such as the case with my crappy stove top, while others heat like a stove top is supposed.  I’m finding this pretty much sums it up with grills, too.  Also, finding that perfect spot to grill where the outside doesn’t get charred while leaving the inside raw.  And timing, when to turn it, when to move it, etc.  I’ve found a whole new appreciation for those that grill, and grill well.  But don’t tell them or I’ll deny it.  🙂

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
4 chicken pieces, with bone & skin, about 10-12 oz each piece
1½ lb asparagus
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges (for garnish – optional)

Lemon Butter:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (as a time saver sub Litehouse freeze-dried parsley)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (which is super simple since you just zested one)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation:

In a small bowl mash the lemon butter ingredients, including ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, until thoroughly blended.  (This can be a bit challenging as the lemon juice and butter do no naturally combine well)

Carefully lift the skin of each piece of chicken, being careful to not puncture the skin.  Spread 1 tablespoon of lemon butter around under the skin.  Lay skin back in place.

Transfer remaining lemon butter to small saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Set aside

Prepare grill for direct and indirect heat over medium (350° to 450°F).

Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus.  This is done easiest by taking one and bending it gently at the bottom until it snaps at its natural point, then line the rest up and cut them at about the same location.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill chicken, skin side up over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until nicely marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Without turning the chicken, move it over to indirect medium heat, close the lid and continue cooking until the meat is opaque all the way to the bone, about 30 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the chicken is done, brush the tops with some of the melted lemon butter and then turn chicken over to skin side down.  Slide over to direct medium heat, close the lid, and continue cooking until the skin is brown, basting once more with the lemon butter.  Remove from the grill, cover, and let rest 3 – 5 minutes.

Grill asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until crisp tender, 6 – 8 minutes.  Turn occasionally.  Arrange asparagus on serving platter and drizzle with remaining butter.  Serve chicken warm with asparagus and garnish with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Barbera
Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes / Grilling time:  43 minutes

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

*Derived from Jamie Purviance

 


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

Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce

This has got to be one of the easiest and tastiest enchilada sauces I have made.  Not to mention so authentic the hubs gave it a thumbs up!    He even asked that I make some more so he can make huevos rancheros for breakfast.  This will make a regular rotation in my kitchen, and there is plenty with this recipe to freeze.  (I promise to include a picture next time!)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs Morton & Bassett Mexican Spice Blend (my “go to” Mexican seasoning)
Kosher salt to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation:

In mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, Mexican Spice Blend, salt and pepper.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, broth, spice mixture, whisk to combine.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, over medium-low heat, add canola oil and sauté garlic until fragrant, being careful not to burn.  Gradually stir in tomato sauce mixture.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Serve in and over your favorite Mexican dishes.

Serves: 6

Total time: 40 minutes

*Derived from Skinnyms.com

 


Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Just because Old Man Winter has turned his nose up at Sunny California and left us with spring-like weather, doesn’t mean that we don’t still crave winter food.  You know what I’m talking about; thick stews and rich meals to warm the body (even if the body isn’t particularly cold).  It must be an internal time clock, kind of like bears hibernating or salmon knowing where to spawn.  If only I had a little more time, I would have added a thick slab of my buttery cornbread.  Something to look forward to, for sure. 😀

Ingredients:

12 oz boneless beef check, trimmed and thinly sliced (tip – for easier slicing, pop the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
5 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion (time saver – buy already chopped onions, found in the produce or freezer section)
1½ cups diagonally cut carrot (time saver – buy pre-sliced carrot chips in the produce section)
2 cups pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
3 thyme sprigs
1 Tbs tomato paste (tip – freeze remaining paste in a sandwich bag for later use. Freeze flat and just break off the amount you need)
2 tsp minced garlic (time saver – jarred minced garlic such as Spice World)
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
1½ cups unsalted beef stock
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
1½ tsp lower-sodium soy sauce

Preparation:

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 Tbs olive oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add beef to pan, cook for 3 minutes, browning on all sides.  Remove beef from pan.  Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add chopped onion, carrot, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs; sauté for 4 minutes.  Add tomato paste and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add beer; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Combine beef stock and flour in small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add to pan.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Stir in beef, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in soy sauce.  Discard Thyme.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Hermitage
Petite Sirah
Syrah / Shiraz
Zinfandel

Serves 4

Total time: 40 minutes

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

Hearty Beef & Stout Stew

*From Cooking Light

Seafood Watch Part 2

Seafood Watch 2

 We were having some friends over on Saturday evening and I needed to pick up some salmon and a few other things (it is SO true what they say, never go to the store hungry. Cha Ching later . . .). The Whole Foods in Lafayette was the best decision because I could go right after dropping the kids at Spanish and hopefully avoid the crowds. On a really quick side note, did anyone know that Whole Foods sells, gasp, clothes?? And if so, why has no one told me?? I also got some cute activities for the kids that evening, but I digress. So, here I am, approaching the seafood counter and already feeling a bit intimidated, but standing firm in my decision to make good seafood choice. But, wait, what? What is that that I see (I’m almost feeling nostalgic for Santa Claus because my Wondering Eyes might be deceiving me)?? The list that I have been carrying in my purse (and is starting to disintegrate) is now before me at the Whole Foods seafood counter, in not one but TWO locations! And each seafood option (on the behind the glass label) actually denotes if it is a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative”. THIS is why Whole Foods has now become my new fishmonger. And how could it not?? I knew the choice I was making right then and there. No worries. No question. The best seafood for the environment AND my family!

Seafood Watch 1