Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Clam Chowder After trying three times, I think I came up with the perfect pot of clam chowder. My kids love this stuff, and Bethany has requested that I make a huge pot of it to get her through this first weekend after her first treatment of the new chemo cycle. She knows she'll feel awful and the only thing she'll usually eat then is clam chowder. 3 C or so of chopped taters (1/2 inch chop, I left peels on because I used Yukon Golds) 1 really big onion, chopped 1 stick of butter (don't be cheap and use margarine, it tastes nasty and your body is better of with the real thing, look it up) 1/3 C flour 1 can of evaporated milk 2 C milk 2 cans of chopped clams (I dump 'em on a cutting board and chop them even smaller after I've drained the juice into the pot) 1/2 the bottle of clam juice (I will run downstairs in a bit to see how big the bottle is, and get back to you) Dried or fresh parsley Salt Put chopped taters and onions in a "big pot", add just enough water to barely cover, add salt to taste, and cook until just underdone. You are gonna cook them again in a little bit, and if you cook them all the way in the beginning, you'll be sorry because they'll get all mushy and gross. I HATE mushy potatoes in soup. Now drain them and leave in the drainer while you do the rest. Melt the stick of butter in your pot on medium or so. Add flour and stir constanly for 2 minutes or so. Whisk constantly while you add the evaporated milk and the regular milk. Keep whisking until the milk is thickened. Add the potatoes and onions back to the pot, dump in the clams and juice, and stir it all up. Put in the parsley and salt to your taste. Turn to low and let cook for another 10 or so minutes. If it gets thicker than you like, you can add some milk to thin it back. We like our chowders to hold their own spoon up in this house. Stir alot and don't let it boil or it will scorch and stick and be gross and a big pain in the buttowski to clean-up....ask me how I know! ;) This made enough for one good size bowl for the four of us, so I will have to double it once we are back with Jeff. Although he probably won't eat this, so ax that thought. I'll make him a pb&j that night. ;)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Smoky Black Bean Soup & Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Has it really been last summer since any of us wrote on this recipe blog?!  Have I got something yummy and perfect for these winter days to share with you!

A friend gave me Fine Cooking's One-Pot Meals magazine from 2011.  She said it had recipes that were too fancy for her to want to try.  I've been looking at them for a couple weeks now, looking forward to the day when I have ingredients to try some of the more scrumptious looking ones.  Coq Au Vin  with a spin anyone?

Last night I was looking at it again and realized there was one recipe I could do with ingredients we already had on hand.  Smoky Black Bean Soup.  I didn't have all the ingredients, but knew it was doable with some improvisation.  Totally yum.  While it did not pass my four year old's taste test, due in large part because he refused to even take a taste, it passed our taste tests with flying colors.  I do think that the average child who is willing to try a new food would like it and not find it too spicy.  It's full of flavor, very savory, and reminds us why slow cooking is such a great idea.

Grace gave me a delectable gluten free biscuit recipe very much like what you find at Red Lobster.  Tonight I made the recipe without using the gluten free mix, and it was still just as yummy.  These biscuits heat up well as leftovers in loosely wrapped foil package in the oven.  Store any leftovers in the frig.

Here's my version of Fine Cooking's Smoky Black Bean Soup:

2 cups Dried Black Beans, picked over
1 T. Oil
1 Small Onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 Leeks, white and light green parts, chopped and rinsed well, about 2 cups (I only had a cup.)
2 Medium Ribs Celery, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 Carrots, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 Ham Bone with a bit of meat
6 cups Water
3 Bay Leaves
2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 tsp. Herbamare Salt (You could just use Kosher Salt.  The Herbamare is infused with herbs.)
1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
5-6 Dashes Hot Sauce (I used Frank's Original.)
1 T. Maple Syrup
Optional Sour Cream/Plain Yogurt for Garnish

1. The night before, soak the beans in 6 cups of cool water after they have been thoroughly rinsed.

2. The next morning, rinse the beans well and set aside. (Or if you need more time, rinse them and put them in a second soaking of water for a few more hours.)

3. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and add the onion, leeks, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are soft and beginning to brown a bit.  This should take about 10 minutes.

4. Add the drained beans, ham bone, 6 cups of water, bay leaves, thyme, and salt to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 2 - 2.5 hours.  If the beans are tender at this point, remove the ham bone and bay leaves.  If they aren't, continue cooking a bit more.  Put the ham bone on a plate to cool so you can strip off some of the meat.

5. Puree about three cups of the soup mixture in a blender and return to Dutch oven with the rest of the soup.

6. Add the crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, and maple syrup.  Stir to combine.

7. The meat on the ham bone should be falling-off tender at this point.  Add whatever amount you prefer to the pot and stir in.  Cook about 15 more minutes to let flavors meld.  Serve with biscuits and the sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish, if you prefer.

8. You'll have enough to serve 4-6 people, or plenty to freeze for a later meal.

Here's a non-gluten free, slightly tweaked version of Grace's Garlic Cheddar Biscuits:

1 c. Trader Joe's Multi-Grain Baking Mix
1/3 cup Milk
1/4 cup Oil
1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder


1. Mix all ingredients with a fork.  Using a large cookie or muffin scoop, drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

2. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes about 7 good-sized biscuits.

3. Thank your lucky stars that you know Grace.

***If you need the GF version, Grace uses Pamela's Pancake Mix.  And it's quite yum.***