Monday, January 15, 2018

Cheddar Corn Chowder

Over Christmas, we were at my parents' house and I was looking through all of her old holiday Taste of Home cookbooks.  I bookmarked a few to try and looked them up online.  (I think all TOH recipes are online now.)  I made this when we got back home and it was a good, simple, quick soup for winter.  I love different variations on Corn Chowder.
Cheddar Corn Chowder
adapted from Taste of Home

1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 large potatoes, diced (unpeeled)
1-1/2 cups frozen corn (can use a can of corn)
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced

1.  In a large saucepan, saute onion and red pepper in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended; gradually add broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened.Add the potatoes, corn, mustard, paprika, salt, pepper flakes and pepper; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

2.  Add milk; cook and stir until soup comes to a boil. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese until melted. Sprinkle with green onions. Yield: about 8 servings.
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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

We had this for dinner on New Year's Day.  I knew we wouldn't be awake enough to have it for breakfast, and I was too tired New Year's Eve night to prepare it anyway.  (It should be refrigerated for 8 hours before baking.) It was a nice breakfast-for-dinner thing to do on New Year's.  We had so many appetizers the night before, nobody felt like a big fancy meal anyway.  This would make a great Christmas breakfast, too.

I loved the eggnog flavor of this! Eggnog is probably almost gone from stores by now, but this is a great send-off for it.  I hope everyone had wonderful holidays.

Note: I used Pandoro bread/cake for this.  It's like Panetonne but has no dried fruit inside, and it comes from Verona.  It was perfect for this.
Overnight Eggnog French Toast
adapted from The Kitchn

1 loaf challah, brioche, Portuguese Sweet bread, Panetonne or Pandoro (about 16 ounces), cut into 1-inch-thick slices
6 large eggs
3 cups eggnog
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, and warm maple syrup, for serving

1.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Spread the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast until dry and very lightly golden-brown, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Grease a 3-quart or 9x13-inch baking dish.  Cut or tear the bread slices into roughly 1-inch pieces and place them in the prepared baking dish in an even layer.

3.  Whisk the eggnog, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl. Pour evenly over the bread cubes and gently press down with your hands to make sure all of the bread gets saturated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate for a few hour or overnight.

4.  To bake, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.

5.  Uncover the french toast. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the tips of the bread are lightly toasted, 45 to 50 minutes in a metal pan or up to 55 minutes in a glass or ceramic pan. If the crust seems like it's getting dark before the custard is done, tent the dish loosely with foil. (I left the foil on for the first 30 minutes and then uncovered it.  It worked very well.)

6.  Transfer the bread pudding to a wire rack and let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon and serve with warm maple syrup.
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Merry Christmas! We really enjoyed this super easy hot chocolate.  It was so easy to put together and I had everything on hand.  I've made a few white hot chocolate recipes in the crock pot before but never a "regular" one. This was nice, thick and rich.  It was a little too sweet, so I think I'd cut the sugar next time.  Maybe in half.  But one could always use half the sugar, then taste an hour before serving, and add more if needed.  We had leftovers and it was good the next day (just refrigerate and heat up later). 

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
adapted from Delish

1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar (try cutting in half, then tasting after cooking for a while)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
6 cups milk (I used 2%)

1.  Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir to combine.  Cook until everything is melted, stirring or whisking occasionally, 2 hours on LOW.
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fudgy Brownies

I love this easy brownie recipe.  They're super chewy and fudgy, and they use pantry ingredients.  (Cocoa powder instead of chocolate, which is great for brownies whenever one wants.)  And, you can make the whole recipe in the saucepan you used to melt the butter.  (I love that!)  The original recipe calls for using the microwave, but I prefer to use the stove, it's just as easy and I can control it better.

Fudgy Brownies
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) butter
1 1/4 cups (9 7/8 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 7/8 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (2 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour

1.  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Lightly grease with cooking spray and set aside. (I always skip the foil or parchment with things like brownies- just use cooking spray and a small spatula to get them out.)

2.  Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. 

3.  Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly (is warm to the touch not hot). It will look gritty but it will become smooth once the other ingredients are added.  Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the pan.

4.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Cut into squares and serve.
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Simple Indian Butter Chicken

My family and I love Indian Butter Chicken.  This summer, in the US, we went to two Indian restaurants, and both times, my kids all ate Butter Chicken.  I have three recipes on this blog for it already, but I spotted this new one and it looked simple and good, so I gave it a try.  It was delicious!!  And a little easier than some other recipes.  I tried a tip from the blog The Kitchen Paper (where this recipe  comes from) and browned my naan on the open flame of my stove, after cooking in a skillet.  It was good, and an improvement on just using a skillet- but, if you can, grill the naan on an outdoor grill; it's so, so good.

Indian Butter Chicken
adapted from The Kitchen Paper

6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or ginger paste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper- or more to taste
one 15 oz. can tomato sauce or puree (puree for a thicker sauce)
2 cups cream (can try using coconut milk)
salt & pepper
cilantro, for garnish
naan bread & rice for serving

1.  Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is browned. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside on a plate when you’re done.

2.  Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.

3.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low here — not a rolling boil, or the cream might separate. 

4.  Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro, alongside rice and naan.
*This dish would be gluten-free when served without Naan bread.
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Candy Cane Shortbread Bars

I loved these bars.  They're very similar in taste to these cute little Peppermint Meltaways, but making anything in bar form is just so much easier and faster.  The original recipe called for melted white chocolate to be put on top of the frosting, but I thought that was just overkill.  And I love white chocolate.  I left it off, and these bars were wonderful without it.  I found crushed candy canes in a bag this year, and I'm so excited, because that's the worst part of making a recipe like this.  The candy cane bits don't look as vibrant as ones you crush yourself, but I'm ok with it.

Candy Cane Shortbread Bars
adapted from Taste of Home
Makes one 9x13 pan

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup crushed candy canes (or a bit less)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9-in. baking pan.  

2.  In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extract. Gradually beat in flour. Press evenly into prepared pan. Bake 15-19 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3.  In a bowl, combine buttercream ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread over shortbread. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes; let stand until set (press candy canes lightly into frosting with your hand or the back of a big serving spoon). Cut into bars. 
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Butternut Squash Fettucini Alfredo

This was so good!! I really enjoyed it, and so did the whole fam.  I might not have mentioned (to the kids) that it had squash in it until they were done eating, lol, but nobody seemed fazed at all and they want me to make it again.  First, you roast the squash, giving it a delicious flavor.  Here, one can buy pre-cut/peeled butternut squash all fall and winter.  I love it!  It's always labeled "zucca", which is a generic term for pumpkin or squash.  But at a cooking class the teacher told us this is usually butternut squash. 

Butternut Squash Fettuccine Alfredo
adapted from the Kitchn

3 cups (1-inch) cubed butternut squash (about 1 1/4 pounds)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 pound dry fettuccine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.

2.  Toss the cubed squash with the garlic and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes. (Check on it- it may need more or less time.)

3.  Remove the squash from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the cream, broth, cheese, and nutmeg, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside

4.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot.

5.  Add the Alfredo sauce and toss with the pasta. If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, to loosen the pasta and evenly coat it with the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and more Parmesan and serve immediately.
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