Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chowda Chowda!

If you have ever seen that episode of the Simpsons where the use of the word chowder is argued, you will understand my title.

I don't like clam chowder. So what prompted me to make this? The picture looked good. Plus, there is no flour in this chowder. I think that's why I dislike clam chowder so much: it tastes like I am eating a big bowl of flour. Nasty!

This isn't exactly a summer food, but with the air conditioning on in our house, we can pretend like it's winter right? I was going to make rolls to go along with this, but someone mentioned BLT's and that sounded a lot better. BLT's it is! After all, I had a lot of bacon left over, and I didn't want it to go to waste.

This was tasty. Far tastier than eating a bowl of flour (blech). Plus, the addition of the BLT's was a nice addition. My husband, who doesn't care for tomatoes, had a BL rather than a BLT. Whatever. I will take his cast off tomatoes.

Corn and Clam Chowder
from: Pillsbury the Best of Classics Cookbook

2 slices bacon, cut up
3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (3 cups)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups skim milk
2 cans (6.5 oz) minced clams, drained, reserving liquid
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 oz) cream-style corn
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel to drain. Remove all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings from saucepan.

2. Add potatoes, onions and celery to drippings in saucepan; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add milk, reserved clam liquid, thyme and pepper; mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3. Carefully transfer 2 cups hot mixture to food processor bowl with metal blade or blender container; process until smooth. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir in cream-style corn, whole kernel corn and clams. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 4 to 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

4. To serve, ladle chowder into individual soup bowls. Crumble reserved bacon; sprinkle over chowder.

Now, for the BLT's. I shouldn't have to explain how to make these, but for those who don't know.

Cook bacon, toast bread, slice lettuce and tomato. Slap mayonnaise on toasted bread, stack bacon, lettuce and tomato.

It's Been a While

Life has been hectic these past few weeks, which is why I haven't blogged in a while. I found out that we are expecting a baby, so I haven't done a whole lot of cooking. Instead, I have been finding myself sleeping and snacking a lot more. Blogging isn't fun when you are just posting about the strawberries or crackers you just ate.

Last night, I made a wonderful Taco Pie. It's from a Pampered Chef cookbook that I don't use very often, but it has great stuff in it. It's a paperback book and it's seen it's better days, but I still love it.

I felt like Mexican, and this pie appealed to me. I was surprised that the crust actually turned out. I was skeptical (aren't I always?!?) but pleasantly surprised. I usually don't do well with crusts or items that have a bread-like quality.

If you don't have a stoneware pan, don't fret. Do you have a pie plate? I am sure you could use that. I think this would be excellent with some extra salsa and sour cream also. We elected to have a salad with dinner, which is why you don't see any lettuce on the pie. I figure, there was lettuce in the salad, I didn't need to feel like a rabbit and add extra lettuce to the pie. You know what else would be good? Ground turkey for those people watching their diets.

Enjoy! I know I (and the baby) did!

Southwest Taco Pie
from: Stoneware Sensations by Pampered Chef

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal, divided
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup sliced, pitted ripe olives

1. Preheat oven to 45o degrees. Lightly spray a stoneware pie pan, or pie plate with vegetable oil.

2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the cornmeal evenly onto bottom and sides of prepared pie plate. For crust, combine the remaining cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add milk and oil; stir with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Using floured rolling pin, roll out crust to 10-inch circle. Place in prepared pie plate; shape edge for form rim.

3. For filling, cook and stir ground beef in frying pan over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain. Stir in salsa. Spoon beef mixture into pie plate; sprinkle with cheese.

4. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Top pie with lettuce, tomato and olives. Garnish with sour cream and additional salsa if desired.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

From the Archives

I haven't cooked or baked much lately, due to school, work, and our latest vacation to Lake Tahoe. I wanted to update my blog, and I have some photos and recipes in the archives, so there you have it!

My best friend is currently attending culinary school at Western Culinary Institute. Her ultimate goal is to become a pastry chef and open her own bakery. For the first few weeks, I was able to reap the benefits of her efforts. She did a cake class, and for an entire week, it was focused on different types of cakes, frostings, ganaches, etc. Lucky me!

Below are some photos of the amazing cakes she made. Hopefully, I don't butcher the names of them.

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Genoise Cake with Buttercream Filling
Peach Upside-Down Cake
I personally tried all three cakes, but my favorite was the Upside-Down cake. It was just sweet enough without being overpowering. Of course, my friend happened to come over after class that night, and it was close to 10:00pm. I couldn't resist and had to have a piece of the Upside-Down cake. The other kinds sat in my fridge until the next day.
Of course, I don't have recipes for these beautiful cakes, because I am sure they are trade secrets. However, I do have a recipe for a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake that I can vouch for. I have substituted peaches as well as pears in this particular recipe because my husband does not like pineapple. All three fruits are delicious!
It isn't nearly as good as my culinary friend's cake, but it's pretty darn tasty!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
from: Glamour Magazine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 can (20 oz) pineapple slices, preferably in juice, drained
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch oven proof skillet, cake pan or pie plate. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until butter is melted. Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter. Arrange 6 pineapple slices on bottom of skillet. Cut remaining slices in half and place them, cut side up, around the edges of the skillet (like smiles). Set skillet aside while mixing cake batter.

3. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the remaining butter until almost melted. Remove from heat and let sit until completely melted. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Then add egg, milk and vanilla and stir ingredients until no visible lumps are seen. Scrape batter into the skillet over pineapple slices and spread evenly to cover them.

4. Bake 40 minutes or until cake is golden and firm to the touch. Let cool 10 minutes. To unmold cake, place a large plate over skillet and flip (If any pineapple slices stick, gently pry them off with a spatula and place them firmly back on cake).