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.

Amy’s Cheesy Artichoke Tarts

This recipe get devoured quickly and is deliciously rich. I recently made 9 times the recipe for a party, so it’s also an easy recipe. I find it much easier to precook the wonton wrappers and then warm the filling inside. Both wonton cups and filling can be made days in advance and assembled last minute.

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Ingredients:
32 wonton wrappers (3 1/2 inch square)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
4 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray mini muffin cups.
Gently press 1 wonton wrapper into each muffin cup, allowing ends to extend above cups.  Spray edges of wrappers with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, cayenne pepper and mustard in a medium bowl and mix well.
Stir in pepper and artichoke hearts.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture into each cup.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cheese mixture is set and edges of wrappers are lightly browned.
Serve warm (but they taste great cold as well).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This is one of the quickest ways to make cookies.

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (milk, butterscotch, white and/or semi-sweet)
1 cup nuts , chopped (optional)

Directions:
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together.  Cream butter and sugars together.  Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Press into greased 9×13″ pan.  The mixture will be thin.  Greasing your hands helps.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sloppy Joes

I don’t like Sloppy Joes. I served a huge vat of the stuff to about a million teenage boys and after that, I had a hard time eating it. Also, I don’t really like sweet in savory dishes, so I would probably not add the sugar (ketchup is sweet enough). My picture that I took looked disgusting because it was a bowl full of it. I will get a better picture where it is plated properly and actually looks appetizing!

Ingredients:
2 pounds hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup water

Directions:
Brown hamburger and onion.  Drain.  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer one hour or heat in crockpot on low for 8 – 10 hours.  If too liquidy, remove lid for an hour.
Serve over toasted hamburger buns.

Freezes really well.

Bulk Cooking

Wow! I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get this post up… So I learned something new two week ago. I figured out that three teenage girls can make 27 casseroles in nine hours. That’s a rate of three casseroles per hour. Even waking up at five that morning, we still had a lot of energy left at the end of the 12 hours at our friends’ home (I calculated nine hours not including the shopping, pranking and taking a few breaks during the day). Shopping was fairly fast and inexpensive; the only thing that made it difficult was the fact that the Winco we were shopping at was set up completely opposite to the one I’ve shopped at every week for five years. 😛 We got the Chalupa on first because it is a slow-cooker meal – we literally left it there for five or six hours. After that we prepped common ingredients, cut all the onions, browned hamburger and grated cheese. Funny story. They had a huge block of cheese for us to use. No, I mean HUGE. We had a hard time cutting through it (it kept bending the knife blades), so we broke off hunks of cheese bit by bit. Who do you know who randomly has a 40-something pound block of cheese in their fridge?

This is actually the size of the cheese!

Once we finished the ingredient prep, we made Italian Enchiladas, Crispy Baked Burritos, Lasagna, Sloppy Joes,Hamburger Corn Casserole and Chicken and Rice Casserole. I’ll try and get these recipes up soon but all of my pictures didn’t turn out how I wanted or I didn’t take pictures. Panning the meals at the end of the day and seeing them all lined up on the table was so satisfying.

Most of the completed meals. 

I had a feeling the cooking would get tiring, but when our friend, Gracie (you can check out her awesome blog here) is working right alongside, it makes time fly! We had loads of fun cooking, listening to music, taste testing, washing dishes, and chatting at about a million words per minute. Even as we left, everyone was talking about the next time we do this, so… how ’bout some notes and goals before next time comes around:

-Maybe some more absolutely fool-proof recipes, perhaps one more chicken, one more pork and two more vegetarian. Also work on getting some freezer breakfast recipes.
-Take large bowls, large/deep hotel pans, favorite knife, large colander, large pot and large frying pan. We went through every bowl we had at least twice.
-Always bring extra disposable pans (which are about $2.50 cheaper from the dollar store than any other store, probably because they’re worse quality)
-Brand new Scotch Brites make cleaning up a lot easier..
-I use a duotang on a clipboard with copies of each recipe and shopping list/budget. It made shopping and cooking much easier because all my things were in one place.

Chili Mac

I got this recipe from the Hacking family. The kids taught me how to make it while we were babysitting them. Now we make it all the time and it’s become a family favorite! Thanks Hackings!

Ingredients: 
16 ounces pasta of choice
3 cans of Nalley chili
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

Directions: 
Cook pasta to al dante. Heat chili. Drain pasta and mix in chili, cheese and sour cream.

Notes: we used three different kinds of chili,one thick, one original and one jalapeno and it gives the mac a little bit of a kick.

Cinnamon Buns

This isn’t that hard of a recipe, but we don’t make them very often. This recipe makes a lot, so we freeze the leftovers. Of course no one can decided on what frosting/glaze they like best. Everyone likes a different one… glaze, buttercream and cream cheese. 


Ingredients: 
Basic Sweet Dough:
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
6 cups flour
Cinnamon Filling:
3 cups brown sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup butter

Directions:
Mix water and milk. Heat to 110 degrees. Add yeast, sugar and 2 cups flour.  Mix till thoroughly combined.
Cover and let sponge for 35-45 minutes covered..
Add salt, butter and eggs.  Stir.
Mix in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until it cleans the side of the bowl.  Knead 6-8 minutes.
Let rise till doubled (apx. 45 minutes).
Punch down and divide into quarters.
Working with one quarter at a time, roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, apx 10.5 inches wide.
Mix together filling ingredients until they form a thick paste (use pastry blender or hand mixer).  Or mix brown sugar and cinnamon together.  Spread on butter and then spread sugar mixture.  Spread one third of filling on dough, spreading right to edges.
Roll dough tightly.  Pinch seam.  Using dental floss, cut into 1 1/2 inch wide pieces.  Place, pretty side up on a greased round cake pan.
Repeat with other two sections of dough and filling.
Cover and let rise 30 – 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

To bake in morning, complete through till ready to put in oven.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge.  In the morning, let pans set at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Bake as usual.
To serve, invert onto plate and frost.  These really need milk with them.

Chapman’s Alfredo

This recipe is by far one of the easiest, impressive meals. We got the recipe from a good friend and make it all the time!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper

Directions:
Heat butter and cream over medium heat in saucepan till butter is melted and mixture starts to bubble.  Reduce heat to low, simmer 6 minutes, stirring frequently till slightly thickened. 
Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese, salt and pepper.
Serve over fettuccine, penne or spaghetti pasta. Serve with or without chicken 

Chicken Enchilada Sauce

A twist on the usual Mexican that we eat everyday? This is a delicious and still super-simple way of serving Mexican. The original recipe was served over pasta and while I enjoyed it that way, rice was definitely preferred by the family. 

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
20 ounces canned green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheese
1 cup sour cream
Cooked rice
avocado, diced
green onion, sliced
black olives, sliced
tomatoes, diced
sour cream

Directions:
Cook and shred chicken. Heat oil in deep skillet and cook onions for about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and peppers and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Add chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt and enchilada sauces. Let simmer for about 8-10 minutes. 
Add cheese and stir till cheese is melted and heated through. Add sour cream and heat till hot. Serve over rice with avocados, green onions, black olives, tomatoes and sour cream. 

White Chocolate, Macadamia, Raspberry Cookies

Another recipe from Pinterest. I love raspberries, white chocolate and macadamia nuts, so how could this recipe fail? The raspberries give the cookie a nice tart compared to the sweet of the cookie. 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup salted macadamia nuts , barely chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, or more if needed
1/2 cup raspberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs, vanilla and cream.
Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cornstarch.  Add to creamed mixture. Stir in macadamia nuts and white chocolate.
Drop by tablespoons onto prepared sheets. Slice raspberries in half and put two pieces on each cookie and
gently press in.
 Bake for 12-13 minutes or until golden.