Monthly Archives: September 2013

Crab and Potato Chowder

There seems to be some sort of social media contest to see how many meals you can stretch out of one dish. For example, you make a roast chicken and manage to get 6 lunches, 12 dinners and one meal for your dog out of the leftovers.

I have had a decent amount of success with this kind of food stretching. I can turn chicken leftovers into quesadillas, soup, pot pie, etc. I’ve probably gotten three full dinners out of a six lb roast chicken. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

Last weekend, I made some of my delicious Loaded Potato Soup (without the loading) and decided to take a couple cups of it and convert it into a lovely Chowder.

Crab and Potato Chowder (4 servings)
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped – I used turkey bacon
2 cups of potato soup
8 oz crab meat
dash of old bay
chopped chives for garnish

1. Saute the celery, carrots, and onion until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the bacon and cook until warm, another five minutes.
3. Add the potato soup, crab meat, and old bay and heat through.
4. Serve topped with chopped chives.

I could have gotten six or more servings out of the two cups of soup with some chopped potatoes or corn or other veggies added. I liked this as an alternative to classic Cream of Crab Soup. I find that to be too heavy. This was hearty, without leaving you with that feeling that you have just gorged yourself.

If you aren’t a fan of crab, you could use shrimp, chicken (hey! don’t you have roast chicken leftovers to get rid of), sausage, or no meat at all. This is a great fall soup. And did I mention that it’s fast! Oh! It’s so fast to make!


Elderberry Mousse

My wonderful brother John has sent me some very delicious gifts from the homeland AKA Minnesota. You may recall the rash of maple related recipes that resulted from his gift of Maple Syrup. For my birthday, he sent me some Wild Rice, Elderberry Jam and Elderberry Syrup. John has been waiting, not so patiently for some Elderberry Recipe to show up on this page. His wait is over.

I thought about a tart, but didn’t feel like making a crust. I thought about something savory with an elderberry sauce and then I thought, well surely there must be some recipe for mousse that uses flavors other than chocolate or white chocolate. I googled mousse made with syrup and came across this recipe for Maple Mousse from Taste of Home. I decided to cut the recipe in half and see if it would work with the Elderberry Syrup. It did! Warning! This is a fussy recipe. I used 3 bowls, 2 measuring cups and a sauce pan. While it came together very quickly, there is considerable clean up.

Elderberry Mousse
3 oz elderberry syrup
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp sugar
dash of vanilla

1. Heat the syrup on medium until it simmers.
2. Add a little to the egg yolk to warm it through and then put the egg yolk mixture in the pan with the rest of the syrup. Cook for 3-4 minutes until it thickens. Stir a lot so it doesn’t burn!
3. Put in a bowl large enough to hold the cream after whipping and cool over ice for two minutes. Stir, stir, stir!
4. Cool to room temperature. It won’t take too long. Maybe 5 minutes or less.
5. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until it forms stiff peaks.
6. Fold into syrup in the other bowl. I hope you chose one that’s big enough! And don’t try to put the syrup on top of the whipped cream. It will fold in best from the bottom of the bowl, not the top.
7. Cool for an hour and serve drizzled with a little syrup.

I was so happy with this. It’s so pretty. It has no nutritional value whatsoever, I’m afraid. Sorry!

In spite of the elderberry’s not so sweet flavor, my kids were thrilled with this. Could be the whipped cream, but they both dove in. And can we talk about that picture for a second? I think I did a great job with that picture. Are you drooling? You should be!

I’m going to just put it out there that this will probably work with any type of syrup. Be creative and let me know how it turns out.


Sausage, Fennel and White Beans

Sunday was another night I was thankful for a well stocked pantry and the interesting items in my produce drawer. Sundays, my kids have orchestra all afternoon. It’s probably brutal that they rehearse for two and three hours, but they seem to like it most days. The only trick is dinner. We don’t get home until almost 6:00 pm and dinner needs to be made quickly so everyone can get to bed on time. Yes, I know. This is the perfect time for the crock pot. But sometimes, I just don’t want to use the crock pot. Sunday was one of those days.

I had some sausage I needed to use, and fennel which I happen to LOVE! And I think these two ingredients are wonderful together. But they needed more stuff with them. White beans in the pantry, fresh spinach… And now we have…

Sausage, Fennel and White Beans
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
Fennel bulb, sliced thin
Crushed garlic to taste
15 oz can of white beans
4 cups of fresh spinach

1. Put a little oil in a pan and saute the sausage, sliced fennel and garlic until the sausage is done and the fennel has softened. It will take about 15 minutes.
2. Add the white beans and the fresh spinach and cook for another 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

I served this over pasta for everyone else but I ate it with no pasta. It was delightful! We sprinkled it with a little parmesan and had some nice crusty bread on the side.

There was nothing left for lunch Monday which made me happy and sad at the same time. I was hoping for just enough for me. Maybe even half a serving that I could put into broth and have as soup but no such luck. I’m really looking forward to making this again.


Tortilla Soup

I have to admit, I’ve been a little unprepared for dinners since school started. I’m not even 100% sure I could say what we’ve eaten the past couple of weeks. But now that the beginning of the year excitement has passed, and we are settling into a routine, I am feeling back on my game.

It’s been a while since I’ve made soup. I stepped back into it with a very easy Tortilla Soup that can be thrown in the slow cooker in the morning, or is just as good if you make it at dinner time. And everyone in my house seems to like it which is a huge bonus!

Tortilla Soup (4-6 servings)
1 1/2 quarts broth of choice – I used chicken
2 – 15 oz cans of black beans
15 oz salsa
1 1/2 cups corn
1 lb meat of choice, cooked and chopped

1. Put everything into a pot.
2. Heat through.
3. Serve!

See! Three easy steps. I’m not even sure three are necessary, unless you are tempted to simply stare at your simple meal masterpiece and ignore the people at the table banging their spoons. I choose to serve mine topped with crumbled tortilla chips and shredded cheddar.

If you decide to use the slow cooker for this, put all the ingredients in, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

There are lots of variations for this soup. You can skip the meat and make it vegan. You can make it nice and spicy by using hot salsa and adding some chorizo sausage. And if you are lucky enough to have one of those slow cooker sets that has the three of four bowls, how much fun would it be to let everyone customize their own soup!

Welcome back to fall! Enjoy!

Crepes with Nutella Whipped Cream

Our summer really ended last weekend. The kids have been back in school for a week. But some of you may need a last hurrah for the summer, and I have just the breakfast for you.

Nutella seems to be a pretty hot commodity. This may shock you, but I’m not a huge fan. But my boys love it. And they love crepes. So for a weekend breakfast celebration for surviving the first week of 6th and 11th grade, I made them Crepes with Nutella Whipped Cream.

Nutella Whipped Cream (make this first, maybe even the night before but don’t whip it!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Nutella
dash of vanilla or cinnamon while whipping

1. Heat the cream until almost boiling.
2. Turn heat down and add Nutella.
3. Stir well until Nutella has melted completely.
4. Refrigerate in a mixing bowl until very chilled.
5. Add a dash of vanilla or cinnamon and whip until soft peaks form.

If you aren’t a magician who can make whipped cream and crepes at the same time, put the whipped cream back in the fridge so you can start on the crepes.

1 cup flour (I used half white and half wheat)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter

1. Combine all the ingredients except the butter in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add the butter and give it another couple pulses.
3. Heat a pan (a regular one will do since most normal people don’t have a crepe pan lying around) to slightly over medium.
4. Pour in some batter so you have a four or five inch circle. Cook until the crepe starts getting a matte finish (as opposed to shiny batter). It’s going to be very quick!
5. Flip using a rubber scraper.
6. Cook for another 30-45 seconds.
7. Repeat until you have fed everyone or you just can’t take it anymore.

You can fill the crepes with the whipped cream or just top them with it. I topped mine and added a little powdered sugar. I think I whipped the cream a tiny bit too long but it still tasted great and my boys didn’t seem to notice that it looked a little bumpy.

If Nutella whipped cream is not appealing to you, feel free to top with anything that suits your fancy. We’ve used plain whipped cream, sliced fruit, maple syrup, jam and butter. All are excellent.

I hope you have a good weekend. If your kids start school Tuesday, I wish them the best of luck.