Monday, November 24, 2008


It was rainy and cold here today. Fitting for a Monday, especially for a Monday after a wonderful, beautiful weekend spent in sunny, breezy New Orleans with a lovely group of girls. (One of whose mother sometime reads this blog, which excited me to no end to find out.)

So...what to eat when the weather is nasty? Soup,
bien sur. We had brothy soup last week, so creamy chowder was in order. I've made chowders before. But I wanted something different. I'd never made clam chowder, but it's one of Jason's favorites. So I found a recipe on Epicurious and made some tweaks to suit our tastes (and the contents of my fridge).

I'm sorry I didn't make this sooner—it's definitely one of those classic recipes I can check of my "to make" list. (And then put it right back on my "to make again" list.) I'm sure we've all ordered clam chowder at a restaurant and received a bowl of pasty milk with a few sad little rubbery clams and some mushy potatoes. (Meg—I'll never forget your chowder from Cedar River.) Well, this one was nothing like that. It was creamy, flavorful, and comforting—and perfect for a cold, rainy weeknight. Serve with a green salad, and you're golden.

Classic New England Clam Chowder
{adapted from gourmet magazine}
You could certainly use regular bacon in place of pancetta...and heavy cream or regular half-and-half in place of the milk and fat-free half-and-half. But I must say, the lightened-up version was very creamy and still delicious.
serves 6 as a first-course, 4 as a light supper

4 (tunafish-size) cans chopped clams, juices reserved
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 (1/4-inch) slice pancetta, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped finely
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, diced small
2 cups whole milk
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Oyster or saltine crackers

Drain the clam juice from the clams, and combine with enough bottled juice to equal 3 cups of liquid. Cook the pancetta and butter slowly in a stockpot over medium heat until lightly browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.

Add the green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in the clam juice, bring to a simmer, and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally; it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the clams, milk, and half-and-half in a small saucepan, and simmer for 5 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the clams and milk/half-and-half to the soup base. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve in bowls with the crackers on the side. (The roux)

Creole and Cajun in the Crescent City

Just back from New Orleans...get jazzed (er...sorry for the terrible pun) for a rundown of the fantastic food we had. Here's just a little something to get your mouths watering...

(photo via

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shame, shame, shame.

{Photo by Portal and Friends via Flickr}

I can't help it. I love chips and queso. I might draw the line at the kind that squirts out of a pump at concession stands. But queso, processed and gooey and salty as all get-out, holds a dear place in my heart. Many people in Birmingham just call it cheese dip. Which is actually more fitting, seeing as how this stuff is not even close to something authentically Mexican. Ay Dios mio, I can't get enough.

What is your secret (or totally public) shameful food indulgence? Mom...fried shrimp? ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Hi. I won't make excuses, but I know I've been MIA for way too long. For my (however small) crowd of readers, I apologize for the abrupt halt of even remotely interesting posts. Especially after I set out last Sunday saying I'd be back. And then I wasn't. Again, I come with no excuses, just an apology. And! A soup recipe.

We were craving something light but still warm since it's mighty chilly here in Birmingham. A brothy soup fit the bill. And since we've been trying to stay budget friendly with our dinners, this was also a clean-out-the-pantry meal. A can of tomatoes, a can of beans, a box of broth...some spinach and chicken in the fridge needing to be eaten, and the the last of a bottle of white wine. An onion came from Publix, but otherwise, everything else was readily at hand. I kept the flavors very light and simple—feel free to add and adjust to suit your tastes.

And with that, I'm back.

Sunday Night Soup

serves 4 with leftovers
I didn't want this to be too heavy on the chicken, so I only used 1 1/2 breasts. You can use one or two, or even none. I kept the chicken breasts whole and shredded them, because I prefer that texture in soups, but you could chop the raw chicken into bite-size pieces and toss it in the hot broth, and it would cook much more quickly.

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional olive oil for drizzling
1 onion, chopped or diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 (14.5-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup white wine (the drier the better)
1 (4-cup) carton chicken stock
1 1/2 chicken breasts
1/2 (16-ounce) bag spinach, chopped well
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and salt, and stir to combine. Cook until onions are soft and transluscent, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes including the liquid in the can, then add the beans. Add wine and broth; stir, taste, and adjust seasoning. Raise heat to medium-high, and add chicken. Lower heat if necessary to maintain an even simmer.

Cook chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breasts. Remove, and set aside to cool slightly. Put spinach in soup, and lower heat to medium-low. Using two forks, coarsely shred chicken. Return chicken to soup, and stir to combine.

Ladle soup into serving bowls, and squeeze a wedge of lemon over each bowl. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and serve.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

For real this time

So...moving took a LOT more out of us than we thought it would. I guess it wasn't the smartest plan to try to move over the course of a workweek, instead of over a weekend. Hm. Anyway, we ate out...every night. Agh! It pains me to admit it, but I didn't unpack the kitchen until yesterday, so we did a little tour of some inexpensive B'ham spots. Pizza at Chez Lulu (always delish), Chili and BBQ at Demitri's (darn good), pho and spring rolls from Que Hong (just so-so), and tacos at Cantina (our fave). I went out for drinks after work on Thursday (we scored a free appetizer...sweet!) and I made fried rice for myself on Friday. Saturday's I've-been-unpacking-all-day-in-a-freezing-house-and-all-I-want-is-something-hot-and-fast dinner was at a place that will remain unnamed. It wasn't even a little bit good.

OK, so, this week will be my actual first week in the new kitchen. Needless to say, I am ready to get cooking again! Here's what I'm making...

Sunday - Chili & grilled cheese
Monday - Pork tenderloin Chicken thighs with creamy mustard-thyme pan sauce, Heston Blumenthal's broccoli
Tuesday - Tuscan White Bean Soup, garlicky spinach
Wednesday - Ina's Indonesian Ginger Chicken, quinoa
Thursday - Solo dinner again...probably leftovers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This Week

I'm sorry I've been MIA — we didn't end up moving yet, but we will be in the new house by tomorrow evening. So after we're finally settled, I promise to update, update, update!

Until then, here's what I'll be making in our new house this week...

Sunday - out
Monday - Ginger Chicken, broccoli, roasted grape tomatoes
Tuesday - Beef tacos, creamy lime slaw
Wednesday - Asian pork noodle soup
Thursday - Solo dinner...maybe baked potato with broccoli & cheese...or leftovers...