Tomato Corn Chowder

I am a chowder girl.  All the way.

OR chowda…if we are to be saying it correctly.  Which I think we should be, even if we are in Ohio and a good days drive from any New England accent…which is sad, because I could listen to them talk for days.  And driving 8+ hours to hear an accent might be a bit crazy.  But what if I added chowda’ eating and lobsta roll gorging?  The thought of driving for all three of those things; accents, chowda, and lobsta rolls….well, I am thinking it might be doable.  Insane, perhaps…but totally worth it.

Did someone mention coffee ice cream?

OK, all dreaming of a New England fall vacation aside…

Do you have an insane amount of tomatoes sitting on your counter?  And a few cherry tomatoes too… that perhaps your cat is swatting off the counter?  No?   My CSA and fellow co-workers have been supplying my humble abode with tomatoes faster than I can eat or Stan can swat.  Such a tough situation, right? Too many tomatoes…womp, womp…

Besides canning or making salsa – both great ways to enjoy a tomato…I didn’t have enough to go through the whole canning process and I can’t be trusted with salsa and a bag of tortilla chips….So, I always turn to making some sort of soup/stew or in this instance, a chowda when I have more tomatoes than I can eat on sandwiches or in salads.

Lets gather some ingredients.

Skinned yellow tomatoes…and all their glorious juices.  Super easy…the darn oven does all the work – you just have to wait and allow them to cool or wind up nursing burnt fingertips.  I swear, I pray for patience.  Daily.

You will need some sweet corn.  And leave it under the broiler longer than I did.  Read about my patience above.

 

Handy dandy way of trimming off the kernels without them flying all over your kitchen…Game changer.

Is there anything more satisfying than eating a chunk of corn kernels?  No, there isn’t.  Sorry, I didn’t give you a chance to answer.  So. darn. satisfying.

What is chowda without bacon and onions?  I don’t even want to think about it.  Get bacon.  Find an onion. Dice.

 

Potatoes.  Keep the skin on.  It is easier.  Why new potatoes rock.

 

 

Eat.

With crusty bread.

And a spoon.

And friends.

A cold beer wouldn’t be bad either…

Tomato Corn Chowder
 
Makes about 4 large servings
Ingredients
  • 3 Large Yellow Tomatoes, ripe (or 4 medium)
  • 4 Ears Fresh Corn, in husk
  • 6 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, Diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme (use 1 Tablespoon if you have fresh)
  • 3 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 5 Small New Potatoes, washed and large dice – I used Yukon Gold
  • 1 Cup Half and Half.
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast tomatoes and corn. Turn boiler on high. Place tomatoes and corn (in husk) on separate tinfoil-lined rimmed baking sheets and place under broiler. Broil tomatoes until the skin has blackened – turning every so often. Broil the corn until the husks begin to brown. Remove trays from oven and let cool until they can be handled. Remove skins from tomatoes and remove husk and silk from corn. Roughly chop the tomatoes, reserving any and all liquid. Slice the corn kernels off of the corn husks. Set tomatoes and corn kernels aside.
  2. Place a large pot over medium heat and add diced bacon to pan. Cook bacon until crispy.
  3. Stir in the onions and thyme and cook until onions are softened and translucent, do not let them brown (about 5 to 7 minutes, if they begin to brown, turn down heat).
  4. Add tomatoes and corn and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth and potatoes and bring to a simmer, cook until potatoes are fork tender (about 8 to 10 minutes).
  6. Stir in half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Store in fridge.

 

 

Broccoli Salad

My week days consist of me telling  people they can’t eat broccoli.

Or brussel sprouts or kale or god-forbid any greens – including but not limited to turnip and collards.  And do not even think about spinach.

But I feel really bad about the broccoli.

I blame the drug they’re on…it is the main reason.  Or perhaps it’s their heart that isn’t functioning as it should or maybe they have blood clots in their legs or lungs or somewhere in-between or perhaps it because they had a knee replaced….I place the blame on one of the above….but I think the patients blame me.  Because I am telling them ‘ no dark green vegetables’.  I am the bad guy.  If only vegetables didn’t contain vitamin K…because that is the true suspect.

It is hard to be angry at a vitamin…

 

The other month (yes, I made broccoli salad weeks ago and just haven’t found the time to post ) when I was explaining to an elderly women and her daughter, with whom she lived, that she would need to hold off on the broccoli, she turned to her daughter and shouted (either from pure distress over no broccoli or she damn near deaf…) ” DOES THAT MEAN NO MORE BROCCOLI SALAD FROM HEINENS’?!?!?!?! (note: Heinen’s is a local grocery store with a lovely prepared food/salad bar and their produce is top- notch, but their parking lots are death traps and they don’t let you remove their carts from the store…drives me bonkers)  She was visibly upset by this fact.  And I instantly had to agree with her…that stuff is like crack.

Dopamine triggering goodness.  Bacon, cranberries, red onion, creamy dressing, and of course – crunchy, vitamin K rich broccoli.  I felt the need to hug this lovely old women, with graying hair, and wrinkly thin skin…because I too, would be unconsolable.

Honestly, I hadn’t given broccoli salad much thought in some time…I am not a frequent salad bar at the grocery store type.  I grab my veggies, coffee, head down the baking aisle for flour and sugar, grab my almond milk, eggs, and butter in the dairy and I am out the door…But I knew of the concoction she was mourning over.  I’ve been to summer picnics and church dinners…places where broccoli ALWAYS makes an appearance.  And I have had my fill…trust me. And it is delicious.

The thought of broccoli salad stuck with me and before long I found myself in my kitchen rendering bacon, chopping onion, and nibbling on cranberries…I needed a fix before I got too old and needed to be placed on Coumadin, which I think is the prize that is awarded for becoming elderly.  Can.  Not.  Freaking.  Wait.

Until then…I am loading up on broccoli salad.  I think you should too.

 

 

Broccoli Salad
 
Serves about 4-6 as a side.
Ingredients
  • 2 Heads Broccoli, stems removed and florets chopped into bit sized pieces
  • ½ lb Bacon
  • ⅔ Cup Cranberries
  • ½ Cup Walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
  • ½ Small Red Onion, diced or thin half moons
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dressing
  • ½ Cup Buttermilk, well shaken
  • ⅓ Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread walnuts (or your nut of choice) evenly on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes until fragrant (keep close eye). Remove from oven and let cool and then roughly chop. Set aside.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel lined plate to absorb extra grease. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bit sized broccoli florets, bacon, cranberries, roasted walnuts, and red onion. Toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine ingredients for dressing and whisk to combine – if you would like a thicker dressing, decrease buttermilk and increase mayonnaise.
  5. Pour over salad and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste as needed.
  6. Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.

 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese

I had a day off during the week.

Glorious.  Delicious.  Relaxing.  Exciting….kind of like skipping class, but without the consequences.

No alarm clock mid – week…whatttt?  Yeah, kind of awesome.  Lazy mornings that leak into mid-afternoon…my sweatpants are quite versatile, they can take me from pre-dawn to late afternoon…it is all in the accessories.  Trade off those slippers with socks and you are golden.

My mid-week day off was in exchange for weekend work.  I get two of these days once a month…which means I have to work one weekend a month.  In the world of pharmacy…this is a pretty good gig.  People still get sick after 5pm on Fridays… Weekends happen.  But days off during the week are a great exchange if you ask me…Now if you had this whole being an adult thing down, you would schedule eye/dental/doctor/hair/etc  appointments or do whatever it is adults do on their days off…clean?   Organize closets?  Prep a whole week worths of dinner?  Fold laundry?  I don’t know…but I don’t do those things until I have to….

No, I do zero of those above mentioned things… I lounge in sweatpants, watch endless amounts of Netflix and Hulu, drink coffee until late afternoon, catch up on my Google Reader, and spend the entire morning thinking of what to make for lunch.  I have time to make a kick ass lunch…a lunch not found in a brown paper sack or in my case, my purse…I just toss things in as I am walking out the door every morning…apple, yogurt, a box of soup from Trader Joe’s that will last me all week…all fits in my purse, no paper sack needed.   Saving the earth, one lunch at at time.

I had cheese on the brain this go around.  And bacon.  And was craving a favorite pizza combo.  I had hearty crusty bread.  Ranch, check.  Leftover roasted chicken, always.  It was destiny.

Let’s make a day off grilled cheese.  The best kind.

Ingredient round-up.

Buttered crusty bread.  Ranch.  Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  Chicken.  Bacon.

Done. Done. Done. Done. And. Done.

Step 1:  Slather the non-buttered side of bread with ranch.

Step 2:  Cheese.

And A LOT of it.

Step 3:  Leftover Roast Chicken

Step 4:  BACON!!!

Step 5: Even more cheese.

Step 6: Ranch slathered bread.

People, this is a masterpiece.

Step 7:  Grill it.  Or panini press it.

Step 8:  Admire the masterpiece.

A tad cocky, perhaps.  But this sandwich was AAAHHHMAAZZZING.

Step 9:  Sit back, put your slipper/sock clad feet up, flip on some Friday Night Lights, and enjoy your mid-week kick ass lunch.

You earned it.

That morning was rough.

 

 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese
 
Makes 1 Sandwich
Ingredients
  • 2 Slices thick cut crusty bread.
  • 3 Slices Bacon, cut in half so you have 6 pieces of bacon
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3-4oz. Leftover Roasted Chicken, thinly sliced
  • 1-2oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced
  • Extra Ranch Dressing for dipping – if you are like me and LOVE ranch.
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a papertowel lined plate (to drain excess grease) and drain off grease. If you do not have a panini press (join the club!), use this skillet to make the grilled cheese.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Take one slice of bread, butter side down and slather the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing (or a tad bit more if you like). Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
  4. Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up.
  5. Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you do not have a panini press, do not fret. Place non-stick skillet over medium heat. Transfer sandwich to skillet and cook until bread becomes golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip sandwich and cook the other side of the sandwich until golden brown.  You may need to place a heavy pan atop the sandwich when you are grilling it, to smash it down a bit – helps stick it all together.  I used a square pyrex dish.
  6. Remove from skillet, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.

 

Bacon Jam

I made bacon jam.

I am also watching golf…on TV.

Today is weird.

I don’t even know me right now.

I enjoy bacon.  I am a fan of jam.  I figured I would love bacon jam.  I was right.

But golf?

I can’t play golf.  I have never played one hole let alone a front nine or back nine or a full eighteen, which honestly is a little overkill.  I can count the number of times I have played putt putt on my left hand (or right for that matter).  My only attempt at golf was as a kid, we hit golf balls in my grandparent’s orchard…I spent more time searching for my golf balls in the bean/corn fields that flanked the sides of the orchard.  A result of hooks and slices.  I never grasped the ability to hit is straight.  And those miniature golf pencils used for keeping score …we used those to keep score of the never-ending gin rummy game.  That has to count for something. No?

… 

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Shrimp and Grits

Ever feel like you are just one step behind, just a little late.  I think I am perpetually meant to be one step behind, I mean,  I am kind of good at it.  Getting to the party just a little past fashionably late.  Where you sneak in and close the door quietly behind you so that the party in the next room isn’t disrupted and so that you can sneak in without being truly noticed, because you don’t enjoying being the center of anything.  You slip your shoes off and place them next to a pair of wedges that you take notice of and quickly snag a glance at the designer/brand and make a quick mental note to add those to your wish list and wonder/hope if they are still available in your size.  You take quick inventory of your socks, praying there are no holes and that they are matching.   You toss your jacket and scarf over an empty chair and slip ever so quietly into the background of the party, scanning and searching for a friendly familiar face.

This one step behind phenomenon is kind of ironic, seeing how I am one of the most punctual people I know.  I learned early on that to be early is on time, on time is to be late, and to be late is to be left behind.  This may have pertained to team sports and practice and bus schedules and wasn’t meant to be a life lesson, but it has stuck with me.

I have gotten used to showing up to the party a bit late….I am just glad I get to the party, safe and sound.

So when I discovered the glories of grits, I just assumed I was probably the last to figure this out.  And I think I am.  The grit party started hours ago and here I am, sneaking in…trying to pretend that I have been here from the start.   But I haven’t and that is OK…it doesn’t matter when you show up, just that you do.  So here I am…tying on my party hat, grabbing a cocktail, and joining in on the party.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Shrimp and Grits
 
serves 3 to 4
Ingredients
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Grits (or polenta)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • ⅓ Cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Pound Shrimp, peeled,deveined, tails removed
  • 6 Strips Thick Cut Bacon, chopped
  • 2 Bunches of green onions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons Lemon Juice (from a lemon shaped bottle is fine)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in grits and whisk to combine. Reduce temperature to low. Cook for about 20 minutes (or according to package directions) until water is absorbed and the grits have thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, milk, and cheese.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse shrimp and pat dry.
  3. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.
  4. Discard all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of bacon grease. Add shrimp to bacon grease and cook until shrimp turn pink (just a few minutes).
  5. Add bacon, green onions, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
  6. Serve the shrimp over a healthy helping of grits. Serve immediately.

adapted slightly from Bobby Flay