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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chew on This | Corn Chowder

I have made soup three times in the last week. One day it was creamy tomato basil (recipe coming soon). Another day it was creamy broccoli, adoringly known in these parts as Green Cheese Soup. And today, I made this absolutely fantastic Corn Chowder. 

This chowder is the perfect blend of summer and fall. The crisp, sweet corn kernels mixed with the soft, silky potatoes - bliss! And a few tricks of the soup makin' trade (listed below) add incredible flavor and richness without you having to spend hours and hours and hours at the stove. 

I don't know when this soup bender of mine is going to come to an end. I'm thoroughly enjoying it - as are the soup addicted members of my family. I'll be sure to share whatever happens to simmer up - Enjoy!!


Here's our recipe:

Corn Chowder
2 T butter
1 T oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, medium dice
6 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed (reserve two corn cobs, after kernels are removed, for added flavor while soup is simmering)
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 C milk
1 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

bacon, chives, green onions

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add butter, oil, onions, and garlic. Salt and pepper to season. Sauté for about 2-4 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add in your potatoes and stir to coat. Cover the pot and allow the potatoes to cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add in your corn. Stir to combine. Add in your broth, milk, and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the potatoes are soft.

To make the chowder extra creamy and divine, take 3-4 cups of the chowder (after it has cooled for about 30 minutes) and blend until smooth in the blender. Pour the blended soup back into the larger pot and warm to serve. Garnish each bowl with bacon, chives, and/or sliced green onions. Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chew on This | Crustless Mushroom Quiche

After some serve thunderstorms (and even a few tornadoes) raced through our area Wednesday evening, fall weather officially arrived to our home Thursday morning. It has been cool and crisp ever since. So of course all I want to do is open all the windows, bake, pull on a sweater and boots, and drink hot apple cider by the fire.

What to do first? Well, I figured to kick things off right, I needed to bake something pronto. My oven had been feeling neglected the last few weeks because of the heat and sticky humidity. So, with screened doors and windows opened, I made a warm and perfectly savory quiche. Too lazy to make a pastry crust, I opted for simple and quick, and a crustless quiche was conceived. The fruits of my minimal labor rewarded me and the family handsomely. Why don't you let the cool air in and reward yourself with this delightful dish, too!


Here's our recipe:

Crustless Mushroom Quiche

1 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces portobella mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
4 large  eggs
1/4 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream
4 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350℉. Generously grease an 8" or 9" pie plate.

In a large skillet, melt your butter over medium to medium-low heat. Add in your onions and garlic and cook until soft. Next, add your sliced mushrooms. Season to your taste and allow the mushrooms to cook until softened. Take skillet off the heat and set aside until needed.

Next, in a mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, and heavy cream. If you want, season this mixture with a bit of salt and pepper. 

Now you can spoon your mushroom mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie plate. Be sure not to include any of the rendered juices from the mushroom mixture. Next, sprinkle on your cheeses. And finally, pour your egg mixture over the ingredients. Put your pie plate onto a cookie sheet, to avoid any spillage, and place into the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is almost set. You may find that the edges of the quiche begin to brown before the quiche is finished, cover the edges with some tinfoil and continue baking until done. Allow the quiche to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chew on This | Pesto Zucchini Spaghetti

My grandparents lived a mere 10 minutes away from our house when I was a kid. We spent lots of time with them and I can honestly say that I can't recall ever being bored during any visit. It was never a bother to go and visit them but always something I looked forward to doing. While there, if my sister and I weren't listening to the adults talk, we were playing in the back yard, down in the basement on my grandpa's organ, playing bumper pool, luring the neighbor's cat to come over and ignore us, or sneaking repeatedly into the bathroom to powder ourselves with my grandma's rose scented powder, or spraying her Evian facial mist onto our sweaty kid faces.

My grandparents backyard was not huge but was perfect for their needs. In the far left corner they had a small garden growing during the summer. When we were young, they had a marvelous screened in porch, where many a celebration were held. From the porch you walked out to their small patio. Growing along the fence, next to the patio was a huge, beautiful, old yellow cottage rose bush, and it smelled like heaven. And, in the far right hand corner of the yard was an area that was umbrellaed by trees, creating a special little alcove my sister and I claimed for playing. 

My grandma was hard-pressed to grow something, anything, in this corner. Hostas, impatiens, pachysandra…none of it would thrive. There was not much sun light and it was a bit damp. And truly, while we were young, I think she didn't try too hard to grow anything because she knew that my sister and I liked to play there. It was a place fairies came to visit, where mud pies were made, where little girls could lie back and dream while staring up through the branches.

Today I felt the strong pull of those childhood memories. I wanted to smell those creamy yellow roses. I wanted to introduce myself to the fairies living under the toadstools. If only.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Chew on This | Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

A new school year has begun. We are waltzing into a second week of changed routines and schedule juggling. And even though this summer flew by faster than we would care to acknowledge, we all seemed ready for the change. 

Could we have used another two or three weeks of summer vacation? Yes. Yes, absolutely. A million times, yes. But reality states that my babies must stretch their noggins in a school-ish way versus a summer experience way. Dang it. 

So, we're all making adjustments. And keeping things delicious and timely in the kitchen makes for a smoother transition. This Slow Cooker Butter Chicken will keep us delightfully fed and on task. I must admit, I wasn't quite sure that this recipe would be enjoyed by all that live under our roof. Surprise, surprise. Each and every one of us agreed that this meal could have a spot on the dinner menu rotation. Good news for me!


Here's our recipe:

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

14 ounces (1 can) coconut milk
1 C plain Greek yogurt
6 ounces ( 1 can) tomato paste
1 t curry paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t ginger powder
2 t curry powder
2 T garam marsala
1 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t cardamon 
1 t salt

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 T butter

Naan bread

In a bowl, thoroughly mix together your coconut milk, yogurt, tomato paste, curry paste, garlic, ginger, curry powder, garam marsala, cayenne, cardamon, and salt.

Generously spray the slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Add in your onions and chicken pieces. Pour your coconut milk mixture over the chicken and dot the top with your butter.

Place the slower cooker on high for 3 1/2-4 hours (or on low for 6-7 hours). Stir occasionally while chicken is cooking. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro (and extra salt, to your taste), and a side of Naan. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chew on This | Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

We have lots of wonderful local and national parks around us that we visit often. One, in particular, has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid - and it is now the favorite of my children. It's spectacular! 

There are awesome hiking trails - varying in degree of effort needed to traverse, though none is too laboring. There are picnic areas tucked into private corners. There is a weeping garden full of so many varieties of weeping plants and trees. Hundreds of tree and plant species are marked for your learning convenience (which was so very handy when The Boy was studying for the Science Olympiad Forestry category earlier this year). One of the most unique areas of the park is the herb and flower garden. We are fascinated by it and have learned so much about culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers. And I can't say enough about the Nature Center - holy moly - it is packed to the gills with displays and interactive learning centers. The park rangers and volunteers are the kindest, and they are brimming with information. Wow, can you tell it's a very special place for us?  

This park is always such a joy to visit! And no matter how often we go, it is always an adventure and always, always fun.*


Monday, August 4, 2014

Chew on This | Philly-ish Stuffed Peppers

The Husband was working out of town on business last week. The kids and I were plugging along with our week when suddenly we felt the itch for an adventure. So, we decided to drive up to where The Husband was working and turn his business into our business. 

We packed up and headed off - and had bunches of fun! Which is what we always hope for when we act upon that spontanoius desire to get up and go. We explored and stretched our minds. We indulged, we saw new places, new things, and even some pretty famous people (!!!). You just never know what will happen when you decide to change things up and chase adventure. 

Our spontaneous trip ended yesterday. We are all feeling happy to be home. We are all feeling full, our impromptu trip satisfying our impulse to scout out adventure. And we are all feeling grateful - for everything.


Here's our recipe:

Being spontaneous is wonderful, but can sometimes cramp your return-home dinner preparations. No worries - having seen several recipes for Philly Cheese Steak Peppers on Pinterst, I knew I had what I needed to make something that resembled these tasty looking morsels. And let me tell you - They. Were. Awesome. Do something spontaneous tonight, make these babies for dinner.

Philly-ish Stuffed Peppers

3 sweet bell peppers, sliced in half (top to bottom) seeds and stem removed 
2 T butter, divided
1/2 sweet large onion, chopped
12 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces deli roast beef, sliced into strips
1/2 - 1 t steak seasoning (I used Penzey's Chicago Steak Seasoning)
salt/pepper to taste
6 slices Havarti cheese
1/2 C shredded mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 350℉. Line a baking dish with foil and spray it with cooking spray.

When the oven is ready, place the bell peppers into the baking dish and place into the oven for 10-13 minutes. 

While the peppers are baking, sauté the onions, in a pan over medium heat, in 1 T of butter, until translucent. Add in your mushrooms and allow to cook until softened. Add in your roast beef and another 1 T of butter. Turn the heat up in the pan and sprinkle on your steak seasoning, salt, and pepper. Continue to sauté until the beef begins to curl up a bit.

By this time, the peppers should be done and ready for stuffing. Divide the sautéed beef and vegetables between the six pepper halves. Top each pepper with a slice of Havarti cheese and place the baking dish back into the oven. Once the cheese has melted, pull the dish out and top each pepper with shredded mozzarella. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and enjoy!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chew on This | Salted Caramel Whiskey Sauce

The Husband had a birthday earlier in the month. We celebrated his happy day several times over the days surrounding his actual birthday and then also on his true birth day. It was delightful! He was loved on by dear family and friends, which is always so precious and kind, and which he appreciates so much.

On one of those celebratory days, I made him all of his favorites for dinner. And for dessert, he specifically asked for a spice cake with cream cheese frosting. No problem - but I wasn't going to just leave it at that. I doctored up the frosting, added sugared pecans, and drizzled the cake with most delicious Salted Caramel Whiskey Sauce. Holy moly! 

Cake and frosting recipes will come later. However, this. This sauce is to kill for. No joke! You really do need to have this recipe in your life right now.

You're welcome.