Home     About Us     Chew on This     Who Knew?     Pied Piper     Thoughts

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chew on This | Cheesy Bread Sticks

Our fall has been both eventful and quiet. 92% of the eventfulness has been joyfully entertaining. That other 8% - not at all. Though, because of the 8%, we have had days, that would have otherwise been jam packed and busy, turn into easy, quiet, do-whatever-days. I can't tell how lovely this has been. Now, I certainly don't want a redo of the circumstances that led to these now open days - but my family and I are very much taking advantage of this strange and wonderful schedule freedom. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chew on This | Warm Rosemary Bean Dip

Last Thursday I was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying the peaceful quiet while one kid was playing outside and the other was reading a book. A glorious fall evening, I had the doors open and was gazing out into the backyard when suddenly a mass of movement crossed my line of vision. The mass landed with a loud thud onto the porch, right outside my door.

My first fleeting thought was that the mass was a ball that The Boy was throwing around, it finding its way onto the porch. But I knew quite quickly that I had made an incorrect assumption, replaying in my mind what I had actually seen. Standing, looking, seeing - I confirmed that the mass was two birds that had some how managed to collide, mid-air, and fall to the porch. They didn't move. They didn't move.

I couldn't believe it. I was equal parts sad and dismayed that these sweet, tiny birds perished before my eyes. I stood there looking at them in a bit of a stupor when one of them abruptly flipped over, sitting himself upright. Gasping, I said a little pray of thanks and continued watching, waiting, formulating a plan of how I would carefully collect the bird and get it to a wildlife rehabilitor. While making calls and getting organized, that birdie found its strength and was able to fly away. Right before my eyes! It was truly amazing! Yet, his companion was not going to be so fortunate. During that hour I did see him trying to move a few times and thought, "Hurray! Both will live!" - but he soon stilled, and stayed that way long after his friend left.   

Knowing that the second bird had probably passed, the evening dragged on as I looked out the door almost continuously, hoping. I could hardly keep focused on any one thing, except the bird. As the sky grew dark I turned on the lights for another check and was stunned. That second bird has righted himself and moved several feet to the left. What!?! And when I looked again, he was gone. 

I tell you, in those hours witnessing, watching, waiting…I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. What I came away with was an appreciation for the struggle and perseverance of all creatures - bird and human alike.


Here's our recipe:

A delicious, soothing, stick-to-your-bones dip that will keep everyone coming back for more. Perfect for get-togethers or as a meal. Enjoy!

Warm Rosemary Bean Dip

1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 T butter
2 (15 ounces) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 large sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/3 C heavy cream (milk or chicken broth could be used in place of heavy cream)

In a sauté pan, over medium-low heat, melt your butter and add your onions. Cook onions until they just start to caramelize (about 20 minutes). Add in your beans, rosemary sprigs, and salt and pepper, toss to incorporate and coat beans. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until beans are soft. Add in your heavy cream (or other chosen liquid) and stir. Some of your beans will begin to break down and the dip will really thicken up - if you prefer and thinner dip, add more liquid. Remove from heat, place into a serving bowl and serve with chips, veggies, and/or French baguette. Enjoy!

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.*