Chef Becky’s Potato Chowder

The past two summer days here in the Northwest have been, well, chilly. What do we eat when it’s cool outside. Soup. This chowder is the ultimate comfort food, in my opinion, it is full of flavor, simple to prepare and makes one gallon of soup. Usually one gallon would be plenty to serve my what-is-getting-to-be-normal sized family of six for two meals, but someone (ahem, my only brother at home) came home hungry.

So for dinner the following night, I stretched what soup remained (about four cups) with additional milk and cream. Ev cooked me up one red potato and Mom had an extra piece of salmon cooked up, so I added them in along with some corn and some cooked broccoli to turn it into a sort of salmon chowder. It turned out to be delicious!

This is my most-made recipe from my time at Sno-Isle’s Le Bistro.

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Chef Becky’s Potato Chowder
Ingredients:
8 oz bacon, finally chopped, (I usually just use the entire package)
1 lb onions, brunoise (1/8″ cubes)
4 oz all-purpose flour
2 quarts chicken stock
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, small dice (1/4″ cubes)
1 quart milk, hot,
1 quart heavy cream, hot (I usually don’t use the full amount of cream. Start with 3 cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Directions:
In a stock pot, over medium heat, cook the bacon until most of the fat has rendered, but before bacon becomes crisp.
Add onions and cook until tender. Add flour and make a roux, cooking for 4-5 minutes.
Whisk in the chicken stock slowly and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, bring stock down to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until tender.
Add hot milk and cream, stirring to blend.
Add seasoning, adjusting as necessary.

Makes 1 gallon
Corn Chowder Variation:
Reduce potatoes to 2 lbs. Add 2 lbs of frozen corn when potatoes are tender.

Salmon Chowder Variation:
Use combination of redand russet potatoes, add corn and cooked salmon to completed chowder.

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Jamaica Cake (Banana and Pineapple)

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Jamaica Cake 
Ingredients: 
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
20 oz crushed pineapple with juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 bananas, in small dice
Powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x13″ pan.
Mix oil and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the pineapple can.
Combine dry ingredients, including pecans. Mix with liquids. Fold in bananas, try not to mash as much as possible.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Top with a good coating of powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl

I would suggest not trying to make a cheesecake at like 10 at night. They cook FOREVER! I made this recipe from Baker By Nature for the last family meal before Anna heads off to school and Ian and I head off to Tennessee and Kentucky. Our schedules are so busy that we had to do the meal five days before we actually leave. This cheesecake is by far the best cheesecake I have ever made. It was super smooth, the crust was just crunchy enough to add a different texture and flavor. the fresh berries cut down on the sweetness of the entire dessert. And, it was beautiful!

The recipe might look a little intimidating, but it was actually pretty easy to make!

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White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl
Ingredients: 
For the crust:
24 Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling (bring all ingredients to room temperature):
3 packages cream cheese
1 cup sour cream (don’t get low fat)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 oz white chocolate melted (I used Ghirardelli bars), melted and cooled slightly
For the Swirl (optional):
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
For the Garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz fresh raspberries
mint and white chocolate if wanted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the outside of your springform pan with tinfoil to prevent leaks. If not using springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Crush cookies to small crumbs and stir in butter. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add sugar and beat until sugar is incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix. Everything should be completely smooth at this point. Scrape down the sides. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla and combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as often as necessary to get a perfectly smooth batter. Mix in the flour. The recipe I used said to fold in the following ingredients, but I just beat them right in. 😛 Add chocolate and lemon juice and mix until just together. DON’T OVER MIX. Spread evenly over crust.
Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend until “smooth”. Strain out all the raspberry seeds. Drizzle over cheesecake. Swirl with a knife or toothpick.
Place springform pan into a deeper, larger pan (I used a hotel pan) and fill with about an inch of water. This is a bain marie or water bath. It cause more even baking and works amazingly for cheesecakes! I’ve never had a cheesecake top crack doing this method.
Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off and let cheesecake set for 45 minutes inside closed oven.
Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before chilling. For best results, chill overnight.
To serve, beat cream and powdered sugar together until still peaks form. I have a whipped cream whipper which works wonderfully! Dip knife in hot water and dry blade. Make 1 cut and repeat. This gives the cleanest cut to the cheesecake. Top each slice with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and mint/chocolate if desired.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

I loved the white cake recipe from Add A Pinch so much that I knew her chocolate cake recipe would be pretty near perfect. I made minimal changes to the recipe, using coffee instead of espresso, adding chocolate chips and more vanilla, but it is a fantastic, not-too-sweet chocolate cake recipe. My older sister did little music decorations from white and dark chocolate to put on top for her piano recital.

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Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients: 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water
Chocolate buttercream frosting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease mini muffin pans or line with paper liners.
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coffee powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix until combine
Add milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and mix on medium until well combined. Reduce speed and add boiling water. Mix on high for about 1 minute to add air. At this point, you can add chocolate chips or any other add ins.
Scoop batter into prepared pans no more than 3/4 way full. Bake for 10-ish minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.

 

Meatball Bombs

Tried this recipe for dinner last night. We didn’t have any toothpicks, so I made do with some wooden skewers. I also ran out of bacon, so I stretched two pieces per bomb rather than three. All the seasonings I winged because I was far too lazy to actually look up proper meatloaf seasonings. Basically your favorite meatloaf recipe will work. I did butter crisp oven potatoes with it. The original recipe called for BBQ sauce baked on top, but I totally forgot and I don’t think it needed it.

 

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Meatloaf Bombs

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt
Pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Garlic or onion powder
3 onions
1 package bacon
Toothpicks (necessary)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9×13″ pan with foil.
Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, cheese and egg together. Season. I just winged the seasoning, it’s not exact, just don’t be super shy. Ground beef needs a decent amount of seasoning to give flavor.
Cut tops and bottoms off of the onions. Cut in half from top to bottom. Peel the individual layers off for the until you reach the small inner layers. Put small handfuls in each half onion, place the matching piece on top to close. Wrap with 2-3 pieces of bacon and use toothpicks to hold in place.
Place in prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Once cooked, I thought about crisping up the bottoms in a hot pan on the stove, but I didn’t

Optional, spread bbq sauce over top and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

I’ve seen versions of these that had cubes of cheese inside the meatloaf. I’ll have to try that next.

 

Crispy Breakfast Potatoes

So, yeah. I love crispy potatoes and these are pretty darn near perfect. This recipe is for 1 serving.

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Crispy Breakfast Potatoes

Ingredients: 
1 medium red potato
2-3 teaspoons butter
Salt and pepper
Directions:
Wash potato, stab it a couple times. Wrap in a wet paper towel. Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until almost cooked. Cut into small cubes.
Heat a pan on high and add about a teaspoon of butter. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Remember potatoes need a lot of salt for flavor. When butter is completely melted and pan is HOT, add potatoes. They should start sizzling. If the pan is too hot, the potatoes will begin to burn. After about a minute, gently toss the potatoes. Continue to cook over high heat tossing potatoes occasionally. When the butter is completely absorbed, add another teaspoon and continue to cook until golden brown and crispy.

Chocolate Muffins

So I was in the mood to bake. Chocolate muffins sounded wonderful and just challenging enough to cure my baking mood. The recipe that had the best pictures and best looking recipe was from Bright Eye Baker. Elsa and I started by putting on aprons. She has a darling little apron with with her little checkered shirt and braided pigtails. She did a great job of lining all the muffin pans with liners, stirring together the dry ingredients and adding them to the mixer and adding chocolate chunks (one for the batter, one for her mouth, one for the batter…)

Anyway, my favorite way to eat these is to warm them slightly in the microwave so the chocolate chunks melt, then eat with fresh strawberries and milk. Delicious!

 

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Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients:
8 1/2 ounces (or 2 level cups) all-purpose flour
3 1/2 ounces (or 1 level cup) cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
8 3/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1/2 cup oil
12 3/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
10 1/2 ounces chocolate, whatever kind floats your boat. I did chocolate chunks…

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line muffin pan.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat eggs. Slowly add sugar while beating and continue to beat until the mixture is pale and thickened.
Beat in the oil until fully incorporated. Add sour cream and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add about 8 ounces of chocolate or if you’re me, add more. Taste the batter. It’s amazing.
Scoop into prepared muffin cups. Top with remaining chocolate chunks, M&Ms, sugar sprinkles or whatever you want.
Bake muffins for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Yield: 12 (I got around 18 muffins)

 

Chicken Pot Pie

So while in Tennessee, this is the recipe for chicken pot pie that Lisa used. It was always amazing! It is well worth it to completely cool the mixture before putting the puff pastry on top because it makes the pastry cook evenly, including the bottom! If you want to do these in individual, just cut out pieces of puff pastry the side of the dishes you are using, press around the edges and egg wash before baking.

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Ingredients: 
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons chicken base
1 cup peas
1.5 lbs chicken (Or however much you want), cooked and shredded or diced (I prefer shredded)
2 sheets puff pastry
Directions:
Melt butter in a pot. Add vegetables and cook until almost completely done. Add flour and salt and form a roux. Add milk, chicken base and cream. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes or until thick. Add chicken and peas.
Dump into a 9×13 inch greased pan. Refrigerate until cool.
Cut puff pastry into 1/2 inch pieces and form a lattice across the top of the cooled filling. Brush pastry with egg wash. Bake at 425 degrees until the top is puffy and golden brown and the base is hot.

 

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

It wasn’t perfect texture wise. At least I think. I’ve never had risotto other then the stuff I’ve made. It was delicious, though!

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Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

Ingredients: 
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion or shallot, small dice (I didn’t have onions, so I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion blend )
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups arborio rice
6-8 cups chicken stock, simmering
1/2-3/4 lb chicken breasts
1/4 cup cooking sherry (or white wine)
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan cheese (to taste, but at least 1/2 cup)
Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper and bake until done. Shred into coarse bite-sized pieces with two forks. Keep warm.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a decent sized pot. Add onions and garlic and saute until aromatic. Add rice and stir to coat rice in remaining butter. Add sherry or wine. Stir and let cook off. Add chicken stock one ladle at a time. The mixture should simmering gently. Wait for chicken broth to be absorbed before adding another ladle full.Should take about 25-30 minutes to cook the rice this way. You may use all the broth or you could need to supplement with water or more broth.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and cook mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. I like my mushrooms more on the caramelized side, so I let them cook for quite a bit.
When rice is cooked, add cooked chicken and mushrooms. Stir in 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately with parsley garnish and more cheese if desired.