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July 13, 2011

Spicy Salmon and Corn Chowder

Sorry! No picture this time - it was gone before I had a chance.
I ordered 5 lbs of sushi grade salmon this year before I knew I was having another baby - I haven't been able to stand cooking the stuff since I was pregnant with Moo and ended up giving away 2 lbs of it and the rest has been in my freezer. Knowing that this expensive fish doesn't keep forever, I figured I might as well start getting my act together and cook it!
I love a good fish chowder - fell in love with it when I lived in Sweden and have tried a few different variations of it. My mother makes a really good jalapeno corn chowder that has bacon in it/on it and so I figured I'd use that as my inspiration and go from there.
The results were a creamy, spicy, filling delicious salmon chowder that I was even able to stomach with this growing baby making me ill at every corner. My husband ate 3 bowls of it! Bobalu ate 2 - I consider that a definite success.

Spicy Salmon and Corn Chowder:


4 slices thick cut pepper bacon, diced (or regular - it's just what I had)
2 small white onions, diced

2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups corn - fresh cut would be wonderful, all I had was frozen

1 carton Pacific Natural Foods Creamy Potato Leek Soup (Equal to 4 cups. I thought I had broth but when I went to grab it, this is what I found instead. It worked out really well, so...)
2 cups water
1 lb salmon, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup cream
4 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped

Fry bacon in bottom of large dutch oven until crisp - remove bacon and save for garnish
Add Onion, Celery, Carrot and Jalapeno, salt, and black pepper and cook 5 mn or until tender
Add Potato and stir until coated.
Add Garlic and stir until the fragrance releases, about 30 sec - 1 mn
Add soup, water, corn and red pepper flakes - bring to a simmer and lower heat
Cook about 20-30 mn or until potatoes are tender.
Add salmon and cook another 5-10 mn
Add cream and cook about 5 mn more
Garnish with reserved bacon and green onion
Salt and Pepper to taste


June 7, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

I bought a bunch of rhubarb at the farmers market this weekend thinking that I would make this pie again.

Sadly, I didn't have pie crust and my counters were a mess from making blue cheese dressing, rubbing steaks, and butchering and marinating a chicken (seriously, I was so disgusted...I'll post more about it soon).

Don't worry - my counters were bleached in between all that meat juice, but I had a TON of dirty dishes and wasn't feeling like making pie crust.

I needed to use up the rhubarb so I perused one of my favorite sites, epicurious.com and found this recipe that I could use. I modified it a bit. I used a metal 9" pan instead of a glass 8"pan, buttermilk instead of whole milk, and salted butter instead of unsalted. It was WONDERFUL. Better yet, it was EASY. In fact, it was so wonderful that my eldest son requested it for his birthday. He's had my version of chocolate mud cake the last 5 years without ever even considering anything else so I consider this a pretty great accomplishment.

Here's the recipe! Make it! It's scrumptious.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake ala Bobalu

1/4 cup water
1-1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup all purpose flour
1-3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9" nonstick cake pan.
  2. Stir together water, rhubarb, cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, lower heat immediately and simmer 3 minutes, stirring so it doesn't stick to the pan or burn. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Place 1/2 of fruit mixture in bottom of buttered pan, top with the batter, spreading evenly, then drizzle the remaining fruit over the top.
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool at least 5 minutes - we let it sit during our dinner and while I made homemade almond whipped cream to top it with - about 45 minutes. It was still slightly warm and very delicious.


Rhubarb Lemon Jam

I made this rhubarb jam a couple weeks ago. My pictures and my jam weren't quite as rosy and my water tends to leave a white film on my canning jars, so please, look at the photos from the link instead of my own. In fact, I'll post mine just so you can see how much paler my rhubarb was and how much my canning bath films up my jars. Anyone have a good solution for that? I fear it's our water.

In any event, it was a nice way to use up the bagful of rhubarb I'd bought. I actually found it at a garage sale and the woman sold me an entire grocery bag of it for $3! I couldn't believe my luck! The jam is super easy to make, doesn't require pectin, (which I adore!), and is great either on ice cream or on a bagel with cream cheese. It also makes a pretty killer PB&J, if you're into that sort of thing - which we are. If you halve this recipe, you could probably just use it all right away and not worry about canning it. I think it should be good in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Since you can access the recipe on their site and I didn't modify anything, I'll just let you mosey on over to leitesculinaria.com and check it out for yourself. It's one of my favorite recipe sites.

Oh, and p.s. Yes, I did use a plastic IKEA plate to test my jam on...don't judge.

March 11, 2011

Italian Meatloaf

There are certainly a gazillion meatloaf recipes out there and I have tried a lot of them. I think the best one was from my friend Zimmy but I lost that recipe and he's too lazy to send it to me again so I've been trying different ones along the way. (I'm pretty sure he's going to read this - he should RESEND IT!)

Fine Cooking had a whole feature on what I like to call "the meatloaf" in their Feb/March issue. I used the article as a starting point and worked with what I had and what I've found successful in the past. I had beef and some hot italian sausage in the freezer which I'd never combined before but I love anything with a little kick to it so decided to go for it! It made the biggest meatloaf I've probably ever seen, but I brought some to a friend and we had it for dinner/lunch a couple days so all was good in the world. This really is a pretty good comfort food for long Minnesota winters...

Italian Meatloaf:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1.5 lb ground beef
.5 lb hot italian sausage
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste
6-8 thin slices bacon
1/4 cup bbq sauce (I used Famous Daves Bold and Sassy)

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium low heat. Cook onion, celery and carrot until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until almost dry, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool until warm but not hot.
3. In another bowl mix together the oatmeal, milk, Worcestershire sauce and fresh parsley. Stir until well combined and saturated.
4. Combine meat and eggs with the vegetables and oatmeal mixture. Season with salt and pepper and
using your hands, gently mix all the ingredients until just combined.
5. Transfer meatloaf mixture on a 9 x 13 baking pan and shape into a 4 x 10 rectangular block. Spread your bbq sauce over the top and lightly down the sides of the meatloaf and then criss cross the bacon strips over the meatloaf, trimming or tucking under if needed.
6. Bake 45 - 55 minutes or until done. Broil about 3 minutes to crisp up the bacon, if needed.
7. Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes and then cut into 1" slices and enjoy!

Mojo Chicken and Sticky Rice for Pete...

A good friend asked me for a chicken breast recipe this week and I have to say that they are the hardest thing for me to cook. I don't know why, but they just don't really do it for me during the winter months. Maybe because I really only love them marinated and grilled? I don't know. I often just make cutlets with them but other than that, I'm not all that creative with Chicken other than hotdish and enchiladas...

Anyway, I ADORE this recipe. Made it the first time 10 years ago and it's one of my favorite meals. It came from the cookbook, Bowl Food, which is also one of my favorite cookbooks. You should check it out!

Although this recipe is best when grilled, I've also made it indoors in a grill pan and even a regular frying pan - just make sure to drizzle a little olive oil in there and get it nice and hot before you start cooking.

Mojo-Marinated Chicken:

1 cup fresh OJ
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato or canned, drained
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp green curry paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. Combine the oj, oil, tomato, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, curry paste, and turmeric in a blender or food processor and process until blended.
2. Place the chicken in a large glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn the chicken to coat it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, and as long as 8.
3. Preheat a grill until hot. (If cooking indoors, go ahead and set the stove for medium to medium high heat and lower the cooking time to 12-15 minutes.)
4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. Arrange the chicken on the grill grate and cook until cooked through, about 20 mn total time, turning once. Slice into 1" thick pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to individual serving bowls.
5. Just before the chicken is done, bring the marinade to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil for 3-4 mn. Drizzle over chicken and serve.

Mango Coconut Rice:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 cups sticky (pearl) rice, rinsed, drained and air dried (I've also just used regular rice and it worked out fine - just a little different texture)
3 cups water
1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
(NOTE - I use the whole can of coconut milk which I think is about 1.5 cups and then just use water to make up the difference otherwise what do I do with 1/2 cup of coconut milk?)
salt/pepper to taste
1 cup diced ripe mango
1/4 cup chopped scallions

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add the shallots and saute' until translucent, about 5 mn.
2. Add the rice and stir for 5 mn. Add the water and coconut milk, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, until all liquid has been absorbed, 15-20 mn.
3. Remove from the heat and fold in the mango. Spoon the rice into individual serving bowls and sprinkle with the scallions.

January 31, 2011

Pita Bread

My daughter is in love with pita bread so we've been making it a lot lately at home.

I based my recipe off one in The Bread Bakers Apprentice Book and love it.

3 cups regular flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1 pkt instant yeast (about 2 - 2-1/2 tsp)
4 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 - 1-1/2 cups water, room temperature

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast,. honey, oil and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need all the water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough. Knead for about 10 mn or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover it with plastic wrap.
4. Ferment at room temperature for 90 mn, or until the dough doubles in size
5. Separate the dough into 6 oz pcs (about 1/2 cup) and roll out into 9" circles, about 1/4" thick.
6. Preheat oven to 500 with  a pizza stone on the bottom most rack
7. Bake pita just until they inflate and form a pocket. Count to 10 and then remove them from the oven


January 28, 2011

Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps

I love lettuce wraps. They make me happy. They make me SO happy in fact that I can't remember to take pictures of them before I gobble them up.
Here's a super easy recipe for how to make them!

Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps:

1 Head Bibb lettuce or other full leaf lettuce. Iceberg even works well here.
1 Tbsp Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
1 lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
Any other vegetable you'd like, diced (sometimes I add mushrooms, green beans, etc. )
1/2 cup hoisin, divided
1 tsp honey
juice from 1 lime
cilantro for garnish
green onion for garnish
sesame seed for garnish
chopped peanuts for garnish
peanut sauce (optional) to serve

1. Seperate lettuce, rinse and drain. Set aside.
2. Mix 1/2 hoisin, honey and lime juice. Set aside for serving with the wraps.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in large pan over medium heat, add ground pork and cook until no longer pink. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat remaining olive oil in the same pan and add garlic and onion. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
5. Add onion, red pepper and any other veggies you like and stir, 3-5 minutes
6. Add water chestunts and 1/4 cup hoisin, stir to combine and add pork back into mixture. Heat through.
7. You can either serve the garnishes on the side or sprinkle them all on top (what I do!) and serve alongside the lettuce wraps. Fill each cup with mixture and either the peanut or hoisin sauce.


Owl Ring Holder

I have a weird personal dislike. I hate lotion, I hate the feeling of anything squishing between my fingers. This is probably why I rarely make anything that requires me to handle raw meat, although I suck it up and do it because I know that sometimes it's really worth it.

Recently, I discovered these really neat little ring holders that a friend of mine from college makes. They're made specifically for when you have to slip a ring off your finger (gross meat!) when you're cooking!
I seriously love this idea and am getting one for my kitchen. Plus, I sort of have a thing for Owls...

Here's a picture of my favorite one and a link to her etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saltydapleco

Broccoli Beer Cheese Soup with Tarragon

I had 2 bags of frozen broccoli in the freezer and we don't really love it around here. I like the fresh, but the frozen stuff usually ends up a little mushy so I figured we'd try to make soup. I found this recipe on epicurious.com and thought I'd mix it up with my beer cheese soup. Seriously, I basically just winged it and it turned out pretty good!

Broccoli Beer Cheese Soup with Tarragon:

4 Tbsp butter (1 stick)
2 - 12 oz bags frozen broccoli, defrosted
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 - 12 oz can beer (I used miller lite since it was all we had...ATK recommends Miller High Life!)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
8 oz cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 oz american cheese, finely grated or cut into small cubes.

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent but not browned, 5-6 mn. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
2. Stir in the flour and cook until golden, about a minute.
3. Slowly whisk in the broth and beer. Bring to a simmer, then add all but 1 cup of the broccoli.
4. Bring entire mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to low and simmer gently (do not boil) until the broccoli is soft, about 20 mn.
5. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth (safest done off the stove). 
6. Return soup to the stove, add the cream and simmer over medium low heat about 5-10 mn.
7. Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time, until smooth.
8. Add the remaining broccoli and simmer until cooked through, about 10 mn
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with homemade crackers!

Homemade Crackers!

I promised no more low-res phone pictures. I lied. Cooking with kids is challenging enough without bringing the expensive camera into the kitchen sometimes...
 We got stuck home last week...partly because of a sick kid, partly because I'm really tired of winter. It was coming up on lunch time and the thought of buttered noodles or PB&J's again was killing me. Sooo...I made a pot of broccoli cheese soup (post to come!) and then Monkey and I made some homemade crackers. It was pretty fun. You can roll them out and use cookie cutters which we did with half the dough, or you can roll out into long pieces and then break apart. Either way they're easy and good and pretty adaptable. Next time I'd add a TON more seasoning as I thought they were fairly bland, but the kids gobbled them up!

I found a couple recipes that required what I already had at home and just sort of winged it, but they were a fun project to do with the kids. The texture and taste sort of reminded me of a biscuit type cracker. Maybe because they weren't as thin as they could be, I don't know, but they're super easy and fun to try!


4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup shortening or bacon fat (yes, I'm one of those people that saves it...)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or whatever else you want)
salt or seasoning to taste (I actually used Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning)

Mix flour, baking powder and shortening
Add milk and blend well
Form a ball of dough and divide so you can roll out and cut
Roll out dough very thin and cut with cookie cutters or else roll into planks
Poke all over with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden

That's it! Very easy :)

January 10, 2011

A Different Kind of Vampire Book...

Tandem by Tracey Bateman

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Although not a huge fan of vampire type books, I thought this one looked interesting and I was right. Although it's a sequel, (I didn't realize this until I was finished with the book!), I don't feel like I was missing too much having not read the first book.

The book is about a woman running an auction house while dealing with Alzheimer's taking it's toll on her father. She's pulled into the vampire plot when a fire claims the life of a man and woman who were vampires (I'm not spoiling this since it was laid out in the first book). The woman who was killed had a sister (also a vampire), who comes to the small town to claim items found in the house. The story continues to follow these two story lines with twists and turns that were sometimes surprising but often predictable...

I really got into Anne Rice when I was younger but hated the Twilight series. I think that this series is a little more akin to the Rice books because the characters are more believable, the suspense builds and leaves you guessing (although honestly, it wasn't too hard to figure out who the "other" vampire was), and overall it was a decent read. Would I recommend this? Maybe, if you like vampires and want an easy read. I didn't have any problems getting through this and actually added the first of the series to my "easy books to read" list

January 9, 2011

Tortellini and Spinach Ribbons in Saffron-Romano Broth

The weather this week-end is bitterly cold. Driving home last night from my girlfriends house, I had to alternate hands on the steering wheel because they kept freezing! No fun...totally worth a fun night with the girls though :)

My original plan today was to roast a turkey but I forgot to take it out yesterday morning. So today I thought I'd make a huge pot of marinara, but I was short a couple ingredients and when my husband came home with them I was taking a nap, so....I was looking for something easy.

This soup is perfect for a cold night - it's basic yet filled with great flavor - not too many ingredients and easy enough for even the beginner cook. Try it. You'll like it! It made enough for all of us, (2 adults, a teen, a tween and 2 toddlers), to finish and a bit left over. Double it if you want to serve a crowd...

  • 5 oz piece Romano cheese with roughly 3"x3" rind, or enough area to cover approximately the same area
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups cheese tortellini
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, cut into 1/2" wide ribbons
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced - about 2 Tbsp
  • Homemade or good quality croutons
  1. Cut rind off cheese
  2. Combine rind, stock, garlic, saffron, parsley and olive oil in a medium sized pot and simmer gently, partially covered, about 30 minutes.
  3. Discard parsley and rind and season broth with salt if needed (probably not, depends on your broth)
  4. Add tortellini and simmer, partially covered, until al dente, about 10 minutes
  5. Add spinach and simmer, uncovered, 1 minute.
  6. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
  7. Divide among serving bowls and shave remaining cheese on top to taste. 
  8. Top with croutons.

January 5, 2011

Crazy Potato Squares! (Ham and Potato Gratin)

Monkey is my #1 fan in the kitchen. I don't mean that he loves everything that I make, but every time I'm in there, he really really wants to help. He's a natural and will actually eat anything he helps make, so it's a good motivator for me to try new things with him.

For Christmas, he made an apron at a playtime, and got these knives and this cookbook from his Nana. We haven't made anything with the cookbook yet, but I promise we will and post how it went!

Last night my plan was to make a quick potato gratin - I bought 20 lbs of the suckers on impulse at my grocer when they had organic bags on sale for $3.99. It's a lot of potatoes! I also had some ham in the freezer from Christmas that my Grandmother sent home so the gratin seemed like a good idea. I also almost always have cheese and cream in my fridge. What can I say, it's a good thing I'm not lactose intolerant!

Enter my little Monkey.

He tried to help cut up the ham with his trusty knife but it was a little tough going so I helped with that. We cut up the potatoes in my Cuisinart using the julienne attachment, or as he likes to call it, the crazy potato squares! (Side note, my Cuisinart is still semi-broken and while I can get it to make salsa without too much effort, putting things through the feed tube means an entirely different headache...I put this on my Valentines wishlist...)

Anyway, Monkey assembled the entire dish with very little help from me and loved doing it. It turned out wonderful and the entire dish was gone! No leftovers! I couldn't believe it...

Crazy Potato Squares aka Ham and Potato Gratin with Cheese!


  • Approximately 5 cups of potatos cut into 1/4" julienne, from about 2.5 lbs
  • 2 cups leftover ham, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Marjoram
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 oz Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz Romano Cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp Butter


1. Preheat Oven to 375
2. Butter the inside of an 11 x 15 pan
3. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, ham, onion, marjoram and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

4. In another bowl, or food processor, combine the shredded cheeses

5. Place 1/3 of the Potato mixture in the pan

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top

7. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and cheese, ending with a layer of cheese.

8. Press the mixture down flat with the back of a spatula and bake in the oven for 90 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

p.s. Because he ate all his dinner and because he's so dang cute, here are a couple pictures of him eating his pumpkin pie for dessert!