Thursday, 26 May 2011

New England Clam Chowder

I love, I mean LOVE, New England clam chowder. A few weeks ago my very pregnant friend from MA mentioned she was craving it. She doesn't really like to cook and they don't do clam chowder in Ireland, so I thought I'd try my hand at making some and take it over to her. I hadn't had it in ages myself, so I thought this was a win win for both of us! After I started making it I panicked a little bit, wondering if this mid-Atlantic girl could pull off making this soup for a true New England connoisseur of the clam chowder. Fortunately, it turned out better than I expected!

There are a million recipes out there for this soup, calling for things like dill or celery. You can pick one really depending on your taste, but from what I could remember dill and celery aren't really authentic. After searching around quite a bit I ended up using a recipe from a Boston tourist site and can be found here. It's a simple soup to make with basic ingredients. Fresh clams are very expensive here, so I ended up just using tinned ones and it was still delicious. I made this the night before and it tasted even better the next day.

I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, so here's my version using the tinned clams:

Approx. 1 cup tinned clams*, drain and save the juice
2 pieces of streaky bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup 2% or semi-skimmed milk
1 cup single cream
Salt to taste
Dash of cayenne

Heat up a sauce pan and fry the bacon until crispy. Add the onion, thyme, bay leaf, and butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour and stir until blended**. Once the onions are translucent, add in the reserved clam juice, diced potatoes, and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, 8-10 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft add in the cream and clams. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne, tasting until you get it just right to your liking.

That's it! Super easy! I just heated it through the next day and it was even more delicious than right after I made it. This made enough for the two of us to have a hearty lunch with some nice bread.

*Use more or less clams depending on how clammy you like it!
**Yeah, I messed up here. I forgot to put in the flour. So to thicken the soup I added cornstarch before adding the cream and clams. I just added a little bit at a time, eyeballing it until it was a nice thickness.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Beef Goulash

This is my husband's FAVORITE meal (well, other than roast chicken). He gets really excited when I tell him I'm going to make it which totally cracks me up. Funny enough, it's a recipe from the UK version of the Weight Watcher's magazine. I happened to pick up a copy when we were getting on a train and I've made a couple of tasty things from it! This is a quick, easy, and filling recipe, perfect for cold winter nights.

I don't really modify the original recipe too much. The only real changes are made due to what I have on hand, which means the recipe calls for 'paprika' and I use 'smoked paprika'. It does give it a really nice smokey flavor. Also, the recipe called for 'two green peppers', but I always just use whatever I have at that time. This last time I used one yellow and one green pepper. I've used one red and one green in the past. I just think it looks a little more interesting when you mix it up! Also, they tell you to hollow out rolls and serve the goulash in the bread bowl. I'm way too lazy for that!

In WW land, this recipe serves 4. Often times I'll eat 1 serving and Wes eats the rest! 

Beef Goulash
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp smoked paprika
450g (1lb) sirloin steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
Low fat cooking spray
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (at least one of them green), de-seeded and chopped
50ml (2fl oz) red wine
300g (10.5oz) passata (aka tomato sauce)
1 beef stock cube, dissolved in 150ml (5fl oz) hot water
4 x 60g (2oz) crusty bread rolls
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (if you manage to remember it. I never do!)

1. Mix together the flour and smoked paprika with a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat.
2. Mist a large lidded pan with low fat spray and heat until hot. Add the beef, turning it occasionally until it is brown all over. You may need to do this in batches. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Mist the pan again and stir fry the onion and peppers until softened. Add the red wine and let it bubble up, then add the passata, stock and meat. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the meat is tender.
3. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with parsley if you so desire!

Serves 4
With the roll it's 5.5 WW points. Without the roll it's 3.5!


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Easy Roasted Herb Chicken

We eat a lot of roast chicken around here. When I say a lot, I mean like once a week. I think my husband would eat roast chicken, roast potatoes, and broccoli everyday if I let him. Usually I just throw some salt and pepper on the chicken and that's it. A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook and I thought I'd give it a go. It was dee-lish-ous!!! The ingredients were things I have in the cupboard, so I didn't need to buy anything special. My friend suggested doubling the amount of marinade and I added some different vegetables. Next time I'll make more veg since it was our favorite part! It smelled delicious when it was done and even my husband was like, you need to take a picture of this!

Roasted Herb Chicken

1 (4lb) whole chicken (you can do larger if you need to feed more than 4)
2/3 cup soy sauce
6 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
Vegetables to roast:
I used 2 carrots cut into 2-in pieces, 2 sliced onions, and about 10 new potatoes. I'd definitely do more onions and carrots next time as it was barely enough for the two of us. Also good would be parsnips and mushrooms. Just do as many veg as you can fit in your roasting tin!

Preheat the oven, following the directions on the chicken packaging for temperature and length of cooking. Prepare the chicken by rinsing with cold water and patting it dry with a paper towel. Place into the roasting tin, surrounding it with all the vegetables. Mix together the ingredients for the marinate and baste the chicken (inside and out) and baste the vegetables generously. Place into the oven and continue to baste the chicken and vegetables at least every 30 minutes. Stir the vegetables around at the same time. Once the chicken is finished, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup

This soup may have reformed my husband from a no-soup-for-dinner kind of guy, and it didn't even have meat in it! We both love the broccoli cheese soup at Panera Bread, so we were excited to try this knock off recipe I found on the internet. It's not healthy in the slightest which could be why it was so freaking delicious. It was also really easy to make, so win win! The original recipe is here, but after reading the comments I did make a few changes (there is no half and half in Ireland) and of course I didn't puree mine. Anyone who knows me knows I hate pureed soup.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c whole milk
2 c chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped very small
1 c carrots, julienned (I used a cheese grater)
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp dijon mustard
3-4 shakes of Tabasco or hot sauce

Melt the tbsp of butter and saute the onions. Set aside. Melt the 1/4 c of butter and add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to bubble and brown slightly. Slowly add the milk while whisking constantly. Continue whisking and add the chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots, and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Over low heat, add the cheese, stirring until it's melted. Stir through the mustard and hot sauce and serve.

This recipe serves 4, but if you go to the website you can increase the serving size which will increase the quantities for the recipe. Some of the reviews say it doesn't reheat well, but we thought it was just as delicious leftover.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ham and Spaghetti Supreme

When my sister threw a bridal shower for me, everyone brought a recipe. I LOVE this idea for bridal showers because I love trying out new recipes. That shower was a year and a half ago and I'm sad to say this is the first time I've tried this recipe from my cousin. I have an excuse. It calls for a can of mushrooms and I couldn't find canned mushrooms here. I know, that's no excuse. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with an easy, fresher alternative. So, this is my modified version of the recipe and it was DELICIOUS! It's a great way to use up leftover ham. We had it with steamed green beans.

I apologize for the quality of the picture at the bottom. I had completely forgotten to take a picture and Wes reminded me just as he was about to tuck into his plate.

Ham and Spaghetti Supreme

2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (I used low fat)
3/4 c milk
2 c cooked ham, cubed
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar
150 g button mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt, to taste (my ham was very salty, so I omitted this)
1/2 lb dry spaghetti
1/2 c seasoned dry bread crumbs

Start boiling the water to cook the spaghetti. While making the creamy mixture, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Melt butter over medium heat, then add onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until mushrooms are starting to brown a little, about 10 minutes. Add soup, milk, ham, 1 c of cheese, and pepper. Mix well. Cook over medium heat until cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Taste to see if you need to add some salt. Add the spaghetti to the ham mixture, tossing to mix.

Spread evenly in a 9x13 in baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F (180 degrees C) until bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Makes 5-6 servings.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Sorry for the lack of posts on my food blog. I haven't been too creative lately!

This recipe is adapted from my 2004 Cooking Light cookbook. I was looking for a chili recipe and this recipe was a contribution from a runner in Baltimore. It had Old Bay seasoning in it so I was intrigued! I'm always looking for new ways to use my Old Bay, other than on chips and in my shrimp salad! I had to adapt the recipe because it called for V-8 which isn't available here. I added the lentils at the last minute because I knew they would make it much more hearty and my meat-loving husband would appreciate that! If the chili is too spicy, add a bit of sugar to help calm down the heat.

Vegetarian Chili

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 c courgette, chopped
4 c chopped tomatoes
11 oz tomato sauce with herbs
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp chili powder
3/4 c red lentils
Salt to taste

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, saute for 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add the peppers and courgette, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, Old Bay and chili powder. Mix thoroughly, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low. Add the lentils, stir, and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serves 4-6 (I'm using the leftovers to make a tamale bake)


Thursday, 8 July 2010

The easiest cake of all time - strawberry buttermilk cake

I don't have a lot of baked goods in my repertoire and I'm trying to fix that. I'm a little scared of baking since it's a bit more precise and if you screw it up you have to start over. Cakes are really the scariest because if you're serving it to others you can't try it first! I asked Wes what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday and he said a Victoria sponge (a truly British staple). I'm sure my face turned white with fear and he back-pedaled to brownies. My excuse was my lack of round baking pans. ;-)

I'm not sure where I came across this cake, but it is truly the easiest thing I've ever baked. It's a good way to use up leftover buttermilk. My first time turned out a little dry, but this last time it was perfectly moist. I found the recipe on this site, but apparently she adapted the recipe from Gourmet magazine. She says this is the perfect recipe for a brunch and I completely agree. Gourmet uses raspberries for this recipe and someone commented on the other food blog that they think it's delicious with blueberries. A mixture would be nice too!

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh strawberries(about 5 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (I did 180°C in my fan oven); with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round (or square in my case!) cake pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla.
4. Add egg and beat well.
5. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 Tbsp sugar.
7. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minute. (Check after 20 minutes so it doesn't dry out.)
8. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate. (I don't have a rack, so I just let it cool in the pan. It was fine.)