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Cooking Concoctions

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Cooking Concoctions published in 2019

January 2019

NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
Yields 6-8servings
This is an authentic New England clam chowder recipe. It is very creamy, and without the cream! Sure to warm you right up on a cold winter�s day.

Ingredients:
1 � sticks unsalted butter divided 4T and 8 T
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced
8 boiling potatoes, medium diced(red ones are great)
�tsp. thyme
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 quart clam juice
� cup flour
2 cups milk(I use � light cream &1 � milk)
3 cups minced chowder clams

Directions:
Melt 4T of butter in a large stock pot.
Add onions, cook over medium low heat for ten minutes.
Add the celery, potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Saut� for ten minutes.
Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered till veggies are tender about 20 minutes.
In a small pot, melt the remaining butter (8 T).
Whisk in the flour, making a rue here.
Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Whisk 1 cup of hot broth (from big pot) then pour mixture back into the stock pot.
Simmer for a few minutes, so broth thickens.
Add the milk and clams, heat gently to cook clams.

Serve hot! Great with some fresh crusty bread or oyster crackers.

February 2019

This month I am sharing one of my daughter�s favorite comfort foods, homemade stuffed shells! I take a weekend day and make a whole bunch of these delicious pasta delights, (doubling the recipe below). Stuffed shells are both yummy and filling, a little goes a long way. Therefore, I have plenty to freeze and save for future dinners! This dish is also great if you have a number of house guests staying with you, and it will please vegetarians too!

Ingredients:
1 box of jumbo pasta shells
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
� teaspoon each basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme
1 26-oz. jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or your homemade sauce)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook pasta shells according to directions; drain and set aside to cool.
3. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, and spices.
4. Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of a 13 X 9 baking dish.
5. Stuff each shell with cheese and spinach mixture, about 1 tablespoonful, and place in baking dish.
6. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
7. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
8. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
Serve with an antipasto salad and fresh Italian bread for a great dinner!

Variations: Brown some ground beef or turkey to add to your sauce.
To freeze: Once the shells have completely cooled, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer, for about 15 minutes., or until frozen. Then remove the shells, separating any that may have frozen together, and store them in a large freezer bag. Then the next time you are craving stuffed shells or need a quick delicious dinner, take out the amount you need and reheat in the oven with more sauce on top.
Bon Appetito!

March 2019

Saint Patrick�s Day is around the corner and I have been saving this recipe sent to me from reader Ellen to share this month. This is a corn beef and cabbage recipe her grandmother used to make every Saint Patrick�s Day. Ellen now makes it for her family, and thinks of her grandmother every time. Enjoy, and Happy Saint Patrick�s Day!

Apple Corned Beef & Cabbage

Ingredients:
1 (3 to 4 pound) corned beef brisket (not in a brine), cut into 6 to 8 pieces
1 small head of cabbage, cut in thin wedges
3 to 4 medium-sized potatoes, cut in chunks
2 to 3 cups baby carrots or sliced full-sized carrots
1 quart pure apple juice
1 cup brown sugar

Directions:
Place corned beef in 5 quart slow cooker.
Place vegetables around and on top of meat.
Pour apple juice over everything. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Cover; cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender but not over-cooked.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

April 2019

This month not only am I sharing a family favorite comfort food, but it�s microwavable. So when you want a delicious dinner and don�t want to turn on the oven, try out this recipe!

Meatloaf Stuffed with Cheese

Ingredients:
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup milk
3 slices fresh bread, cubed
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 slices fresh bread, finely crumbled
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
Meatloaf; In large mixing bowl, mix together beef, bread, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.

Cheese stuffing; In 1-1/2-quart casserole place onion, pepper, celery and lemon juice, stir and microwave on high 3 minutes, until lightly saut�ed.
Add egg to vegetables and stir to blend well.
Stir in cheese and fine bread crumbs.

Assemble the meatloaf; pat half of meat mixture in bottom of 9-inch glass pie plate.
Mound cheese filling over meat leaving about 1 inch uncovered at edges.
Spread remaining meat mixture over filling.
Seal around edges.
Brush assembled meatloaf with Worcestershire sauce.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, microwave on high for 25 to 30 minutes.
Let stand about 10 minutes to firm before serving.
Serve in wedges with such vegetables as corn, green beans, or mashed potatoes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

May 2019

This month I am sharing a recipe that came from our editor, Karen Santiago. She told me that she won the golden ladle in a crockpot cook off at her place of employment on Fat Tuesday, last month.

Tortellini Sausage and Kale Soup

Ingredients:
4 links of sausage, mild or spicy (still frozen makes it easier to cut)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
3(14.5 ounce) cans, fire roasted garlic diced tomatoes
12 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon italian seasoning
� teaspoon garlic powder
� teaspoon onion powder
� teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds frozen cheese tortellini (no need to thaw)
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Directions:
Add sausage, garlic, onion, tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and crushed red pepper flakes to a slow cooker.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
30 minutes before serving stir in the frozen tortellini and kale.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in more crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.
Serve immediately, sprinkling parmesan cheese on top!

Note: This will fill your crockpot to the top!

June 2019

Happy Father�s Day to all the dad�s!
Here is a recipe that our very own Nat (author of the Braille Highway, and webmaster) has graciously shared with all of us. This just might be a great dinner idea for dad on Father�s Day!

Grilled Flank Steak with Chipotle Sauce
Ingredients:
1.5 pounds flank steak, trimmed
� cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 large shallots, diced
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
� cup balsamic vinegar
� teaspoon salt
� teaspoon black pepper
� teaspoon brown sugar
1 chipotle pepper, finely minced
� cup cold butter, cubed

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and saut� shallots for 4-5 minutes.
Add garlic and saut� for another minute.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cool marinade.
Place flank steak in a Ziploc bag and add marinade. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove flank steak from marinade and place on centre of a preheated, hot grill.
Sear 5-8 minutes per side for rare to medium rare.
Remove from grill, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

While steak is resting, strain marinade into a small pot and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Adjust seasoning and thicken with 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed.
Add butter one cube at a time until sauce is thickened and glossy.
Slice flank steak on diagonal, place on a platter and top with sauce.
Serve with a salad, potato wedges, seasonal veggies, and garlic toast!

July 2019

Here is my recipe for my ultimate favorite pie, which is only available for a short time, if you use the fresh ingredients. And, for this pie, fresh ingredients are the only way to go.

I have also included a recipe for the flakiest pie crust you will ever eat! However, feel free to use your own favorite recipe, or store-bought pie crust.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Flaky Buttery Pie Crust
Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

Directions:
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening.
Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it resembles pea-sized bits, having a few larger bits of fat is OK.
Measure 1/2 cup of water. Add ice, and stir it around.
From that, measure 1/2 cup of water. Drizzle the cold water in, 1 Tablespoon at a time, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon after every Tablespoon added.
Do not add any more water than you need to. Stop adding water when the dough begins to form large clumps.
Transfer the pie dough to a floured work surface. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats.
Form it into a ball. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky.
Cut the dough in half.
Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. Or freeze.

Pie filling:
3 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
2 and 1/2 cups coarsely chopped strawberries
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon orange juice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
optional: coarse sugar for garnish

Directions:
The crust: Prepare the pie crust as described above.
Preheat oven to 400�F.
Stir the rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, and orange juice together in a large bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Roll out one of the chilled pie doughs on a floured surface. Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter.
Carefully place the dough into a 9X2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth.
Spoon the filling into the crust, leaving all of the excess liquid in the bowl (you don�t want that in the filling).
Dot the pieces of butter on top of the filling.
Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a circle that is 12 inches diameter. Then gently, and loosely roll it up.
Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut strips 1/2 � 1 inch wide.
Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave.
Press the edges of the strips into the bottom pie crust edges to seal. Use a small knife to trim off excess dough. Crimp the edges with a fork, if desired.
Alternatively, you can simply cover the filling with the 12-inch pie dough circle. Cut slits in the top to form steam vents. Trim and crimp the edges.
Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with the egg/milk mixture. Sprinkle the top with a little coarse sugar, if desired.
Place the pie onto a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.
At the end of the 20 minutes, cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of foil, to prevent burning. Bake for an additional 25 � 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 3 full hours at room temperature before serving. This time allows the filling to thicken up.

Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes
Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: This is a great pie to make 1 day in advance since it is so juicy, the filling will have time to set overnight. The pie crust dough can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Baked pie freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Prepared filling can be frozen up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

August 2019

Here are three healthy veggie snacks that pack a lot of flavor. These are simple to prepare, and just maybe your family will like them too!

Baked beet chips infused with rosemary and speckled with sea salt. Perfectly crispy, simple to make, and a healthy snack on the go.

Ingredients:
3 medium-large beets, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2-3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
Thinly slice beets with a mandolin (or a sharp knife), getting them as consistently thin as possible. They should curl a little when cut. This will ensure even baking and crispiness.
Pour oil into a bowl and add the rosemary, salt and pepper.
Toss in the sliced beets and coat them evenly.
Divide between two baking sheets and arrange in a single layer, making sure the slices aren’t touching.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly brown. Be sure to watch closely past the 15 minute mark as they can burn quickly.
Remove from oven and let sit until cool. serve.

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips. Another healthy alternative to the traditional potato chip, and packed with lots of flavor!

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil (or less)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a mandolin, slice potatoes to desired thickness.
Pour oil and vinegar into a bowl and add sea salt.
Toss in the sweet potato chips and evenly coat.
Place sweet potatoes on two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and turn chips over, and cook for additional 15 minutes.
Note: Cooking time will depend on thickness of potatoes. So be sure to check them after the first 15 minutes.

Baked Parmesan Cheese Zucchini Chips. These veggie chips can be made with fresh herbs and freshly grated cheese for a delicious healthy snack!

Ingredients:
4 Zucchini, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 – 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon or small sprig (coarsely chopped) of each; thyme, Oregano, and Basil
¼ teaspoon Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the zucchini into ¼ inch thickness.
Pour olive oil into a bowl and add the cheese, oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, and the salt and pepper.
Toss in the zucchini chips and coat evenly.
Spread the zucchini chips onto two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cheese becomes a golden brown.
Note: best to check after 10 minutes of cooking, and every 5 minutes afterwards for doneness.
Serve warm, and if desired dip into warm marinera sauce.

September 2019

Since I was informed that Catherine was going to write more about gluten, I thought to share some gluten-free recipes. Try them, you may like them!
And, if you want more, just shoot me an email at my address above.

Baked Avocado Cheesy Egg
Serves 2
Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
2 eggs
2 tablespoons shredded cheese
Salt and pepper seasoning mix

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut an avocado in half and remove the seed.
Place an egg in center hole of each half avocado.
Sprinkle with seasoning mix and cover with shredded cheese.
Place in oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is brown.

Note: It may be easier to prepare in a muffin tin, as oppose to on a cookie sheet.

Detox Energy Salad
Serves 2
Ingredients:
1 cup nuts (pine, walnuts or almonds)
1 cup seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin)
3 cups greens – mixture of kale, lettuce, arugula, spinach
½ avocado
½ pomegranate (in season)
juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Add nuts and seeds to a base of greens.
For color top with avocado and pomegranate.
Serve with a simple mixture of lemon and olive oil dressing.

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili
Red lentils work nicely to thicken this chili, while the sweet potato gives a mellow, smooth contrast to the spices.
Serves 6
Ingredients:
Water, just enough to cover the bottom of the pot
1¾ cups onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2-2½ cups orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2½ cups water
1¼ cups dry red lentils
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14 ounce can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime wedges (for serving)

Directions:
In a large pot on medium heat, add water, onions, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices.
Stir well, cover, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes
Stir occasionally; reduce heat if onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Rinse lentils.
Add additional 2 ½ cups of water, lentils, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf to the pot.
Stir to combine and increase heat to bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are softened, stirring occasionally.
Stir in lime juice and serve portions with lime wedges.

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