Friday, March 25, 2011

Creamy Clam Chowder

This is not a typical New England clam chowder. I served it with a salad and these yummy cheddar cheese scones from my friend Emmy's blog.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4-6 small potatoes, quartered
  • 4-6 carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 C. butter
  • 3/4 C. AP flour
  • 4 C. milk or half-and-half
  • 10 oz. clams
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ground black pepper to taste

  • In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots in a small amount of olive oil or butter. After vegetables begin to brown, add water to cover, and cook until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk and stir constantly until it thickens. Stir in vegetables and remove from the heat.
Optional: Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. I love to do this. I have a Vitamix blender because my younger son needs his food blended for his g-tube - this thing is the Maserati of blenders and can handle anything. Before I needed a super-blender, I would just use an immersion blender.
Stir in clams, vingear, and salt. Season with pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sugar Cookies

My oldest was born on St. Patrick's Day, so every year we make Shamrock Cookies for his class. This recipe is the best sugar cookie I've ever had. The cookies are buttery and soft. Because there is so much butter in the recipe, the dough is a little finicky to work with, but it's worth it!

1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into slices 
1 C. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 C. AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
colored sugar for sprinkling, if desired

Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until well incorporated.

Form dough into a ball and refrigerate for several hours (I wrap it in parchment paper.)

Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 4 or 5 pieces. Roll each piece until flat - I wrap a piece of parchment paper around the dough and roll on top of that, to prevent the dough from sticking - I don't have to use extra flour this way. Work quickly, as the butter in the dough will begin to soften and make the dough sticky. If this happens, put the dough back into the fridge to firm up.

Use a cookie cutter to cut-out shapes and place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired. If you have a little helper like me, pour a little sugar into a small bowl so that it is sprinkled on via the fingers, rather than dumped all over the tray...

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies (more if you use a smaller cutter).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Potato and Onion Quiche

Those who know me well will not be surprised that I wanted to celebrate Pi Day (3/14). When I was a high school math teacher, we celebrated this "holiday" every year by allowing the students to bring and eat pie in class. 

This time of year is very hectic for me, as both of my sons were born this week (they are turning 3 and 5 this year), so I only had time to make one pie. Don't despair - I love pie, and as local fruit comes into season, you will see lots of pie recipes on this blog!

Since I had to make dinner anyway, I decided to make a quiche. Because it was a Monday, and we try to keep our Mondays meatless, I made a potato and onion quiche. This quiche can be time consuming, so I made a simple crust - I don't miss the butter from a traditional crust recipe, since the quiche itself is so rich.

For the crust:
1 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cold water        

In a medium size bowl, combine flour and salt with fork. In a measuring cup, whisk oil and water to thicken. Pour into flour and mix with fork, until combined. 

Press into pie plate.

For the filling:
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4-6 small red potatoes, thinly sliced
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. shredded cheese (I used parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Saute onions for about 10 minutes, until they start to caramelize. Add potatoes to pan. Cook and stir until potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes.
While the potatoes and onions are cooking, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.

Pour potato and onion mixture into pie crust. 

Pour the egg mixture onto the potatoes, then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until brown and set throughout.

Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BLT Wraps with Tangy Avocado Mayo

As I've mentioned before, there are some nights when I need a quick and easy recipe. Sandwich wraps are a snap to put together and are easily customized to what you have on hand. Since I had some leftover bacon from the bacon pancakes, I decided to make a riff on a BLT.

BLT Wraps with Tangy Avocado Mayo

Saute 4 slices of bacon, finely chopped, in a skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon starts to brown, add half an onion, diced, and cook until everything is browned and crispy. Drain on a paper towel.

For the mayo, in a small bowl, mash the flesh of one large avocado with a fork. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and half a teaspoon of salt. Then mix in 1/4 cup of mayonnaise until blended.

To assemble the wraps, lay a flour tortilla on a plate (I like the soft taco size). Spread a thin layer of the mayo, then top with some of the bacon/onion mixture, some diced tomatoes, and some lettuce (I used arugula).

Fold in the sides and roll the tortilla up, placing the seam on the bottom. Repeat to make 4 small wraps. Slice each in half and serve.

There will probably be some mayo left. Cover and keep in the fridge for a day or two. It is great on burgers or sandwiches.

To go along with the wraps, I made a quick chickpea salad. In a medium bowl, combine one can of chickpeas, drained; half a cucumber, diced; half an onion, diced; 1 large tomato diced; and 1/4 cup of chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then toss with 1 tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Dried Fruit & Nut "Scones"

These yummy treats are sort of a cross between a muffin and a scone - in fact, the blog that I adapted this recipe from calls them "scuffins". They are a little more healthy than your typical scone or muffin, too.

2 C. AP flour
1/4 C. granulated sugar 
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. low-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C. margarine, melted
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberry flavored craisins)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, egg, margarine, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Bake at 400 for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

Makes about 24 scones.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatless Monday

Have you heard about Meatless Monday? It's a grassroots movement created by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays, both for health and environmental reasons (and it's pretty budget-friendly too). We actually try to go meatless about half the week, but even if you are used to eating meat every day, it's a snap to eliminate it just one day a week. The organizers chose Monday since it's the start of the week, and if you get into the habit of doing something every week, it's easier to continue to do it.

For today's Meatless Monday dinner, we're having Potatoes Au Gratin with a salad on the side.

The Potatoes Au Gratin take a while to bake, but not much prep time. For about 4 servings, thinly slice about 6 medium-sized red potatoes (with skin on), season with salt and pepper (and any other dried herbs you may have - oregano, rosemary, thyme, or basil are all good choices), and layer in a 8x8 square baking pan.

For the delicious cheese sauce, create a roux: Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. flour and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 C. of warm milk and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 C. shredded cheese (my #1 choice is gruyere - a nutty Swiss cheese). If you're using gruyere, sprinkle in a little nutmeg - it enhances the flavor.

Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 15 minutes more, until brown and bubbly.

Serve with a salad. To make the salads extra special, I use arugula, which is deliciously peppery. I also add pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) and a little goat cheese, and finish with some yummy homemade dressing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bacon Pancakes

I would have a tough time being a vegetarian, simply because I love bacon. I find that pork bacon works best in this recipe, but you could also try turkey bacon. This recipe makes about 10 medium-sized pancakes, but it's easily doubled.

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

1 C.  flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

1 C. milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Then drain on a paper towel. Pour out the excess bacon grease (never down the drain, though - I keep a jar under my sink for cooking grease, and throw it in the trash when it's full), but save the skillet for cooking the pancakes.
While the bacon is cooking, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl - I use my pyrex 4 cup liquid measure, because it makes pouring the batter easy. Add the wet ingredients and stir just to combine. Allow the batter to stand for about 5 minutes, then mix in the crispy bacon pieces.

Heat the skillet back to medium heat. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles start to form on the surface of th pancake. Then flip and cook for 1 minute more.

Serve with maple syrup. The sweet and salty combination is delicious!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Roti (Indian Flatbread)

I love Indian food. My Indian cooking repetoire is pretty limited, but I like to try new recipes when I can. Today, I wanted to make some bread to go with a quick Indian dinner I was making. I didn't have time to make a yeast-based flat bread, so I decided to try my hand at roti, which is kind of like an Indian tortilla. 

2 1/2 C. bread flour
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 C. warm water

Mix together the flour and oil. Slowly add the water, stirring until the dough starts to come together and form a ball. Turn dough out onto counter and knead, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky. Let dough rest for 10 minutes, covered with a dish towel.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Take a golf ball size piece of dough and roll it into a small circle (I put the dough between parchment paper, which keeps things from getting too messy).

Pour a little oil to the skillet and then add the rolled out dough. Cook until bread puffs up, about 1-2 minutes. Then flip and cook the other side for another 1-2 minutes.

Keep the roti covered with a towel or plastic wrap, while you cook the rest. Sprinkle with salt or brush with melted butter, if desired.

Serve with a dish that has a lot of sauce that you can mop up with the bread. Yum.

This is Chicken Tikka Masala with rice - I sauteed chicken breast and onions and used a jar of Tikka Masala sauce that I had in the pantry. It's a tomato-yogurt sauce with lots of Indian spices. Someday, I will learn how to make it from scratch!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spiced Carrot Nut Bread

I had a bunch of shredded carrots in the fridge and didn't want them to go to waste. I find carrot cake too rich, but this bread is perfect - not too sweet at all.

3/4 C. white sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
3/4 C. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Add carrots and nuts and mix until combined. Pour batter into greased 9x5 loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.