Zucchini Corn Chowder


Hey there– OK, I’m ready– to have a new start after Christmas.  Tree down- check!  Decorations boxed up- check check!  Fudge all eaten– double check!  House in order again- mostly checkity check (close enough)!

Here’s a flavorful bowl of soup– warm and filling.  If you want to be a bit more healthy, change out the bacon for olive oil (we just had a bit of bacon leftover in the freezer, calling to be used!).  With a big chunk of study bread, just right for a winter’s evening.

ZUCCHINI  CORN CHOWDER
1 tab. butter
4 strips of bacon, cut to small bits (or substitute 3 tab. olive oil)
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, but to small bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 smallish zucchini, cut to small pieces
1 cup half & half or whole milk
salt & freshly ground pepper
garnish: chopped parsley or grated cheddar

In a soup pot, cook the butter and bacon until the bacon starts to crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside, leaving the fat/butter in the pot.

Add in the cut onion and carrots and cook until they are tender (about 5 minutes), stirring now & then.  Add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the water along with the bay leaf and dried basil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the corn and zucchini and simmer 5 minutes more until the zucchini is tender.

Take 2 cups of the mixture out of the pot to a blender (or with a stick blender) and puree it to thicken the soup.  Add the puree and half & half to the pot.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot.

Bring it back to a simmer jut to heat it all through and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheddar or chopped parsley (or both!).

 

Lulu’s Famous Broccoli Salad

 

Hi there– I’m pretty sure you’ve had some version of Broccoli Salad– me too.  But this one is my favorite.  Got the recipe from my sis, Lulu.  She served up this broccoli salad last summer at our Laurel’s wedding and it was the best!  (The secret is not a secret ingredient– it’s chopping the broccoli fine to soak up all the dressing).

LULU’S FAMOUS BROCCOLI SALAD
3 pounds of broccoli, stems trimmed off and chopped to small bits
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled to tiny pieces
3 oz. sunflower seeds
1/2 red onion, chopped fine

Dressing:
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

Mix together the broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds and red onion.

In another bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.  When you’re ready to serve it up, stir the dressing and broccoli mixture together.   Delish!

 

P.S. This recipe above is not the one we actually made– here’s her original version, meant to serve 70 people! (She used to be a caterer!)

LULU’S FAMOUS BROCCOLI SALAD– ORIGINAL RECIPE
10 to 12 ponds of broccoli< chopped fine
3 pounds bacon, cooked & crumbled (or 1 Costco size bag precooked bacon crumbles!)
1  1/2 7oz. jar sunflower seeds
2 red onions, chopped fine

Dressing:
1/2 gallon jar of mayonnaise
4 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

So next time you’re feeding a really big crowd–here’s your super broccoli recipe!!

Here’s my sis Lulu and me at Laurel and John’s Wisconsin Wedding in the Woods last August.  She and her husband Ted cooked up meals for the 120 wedding guests!!  Thanks Lulu!!

Ranch Potato Salad

Hey there– I’m a little picky about potato salad.  I think a lot of people are.  Some people love big chunks of egg or spoonfuls of pickle relish.  And then there’s hot German potato salad.  But to my way of thinking, this potato salad is practically perfect.  Ranch dressing flavors the sauce and bits of bacon and cheddar play against the firm starchiness of the golden potatoes.

My sis Lulu and I spent a morning peeling a mountain of potatoes  (21 pounds!!) to make potato salad for the party for our John and Laurel last weekend.  I think it turned out pretty and delicious!

RANCH POTATO SALAD
3 pounds golden yellow potatoes
8 slices of bacon (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2  1/2 tab. dijon mustard
1 oz. package Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1  1/2 cups grated cheddar
4 green onions, cut in thin slices

Cook the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of salted water 15 to 20 minutes until a knife slides in easily, but they are still firm.  Pour them potatoes in a strainer to get rid of the water and let them cool completely.  Peel them and cut them into polite little chunks.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon, cool it and crumble it to little bits.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, Ranch seasoning mix, salt, pepper and cheddar.  Add in the potatoes and stir until they are all coated with dressing.

Keep the mixed potato salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve it up– Then fold in the green onion & bacon and set it on the table.  Enjoy!

 

Summer Pasta Salad

 

Hello all– This weekend we’re happily stacking all the things we need to pack up for early Monday morning, when we fly off for our Laurel & John’s wedding in the woods of Wisconsin!  Party dress,  check. Sunblock, check. Grandma Lo’s wedding cake bride and groom, check.  Surprises for grand-girl Jobay, turning 6 on the wedding date, checkity check.

And meanwhile, around here, we’re cleaning out things lingering in the kitchen before we go.  Had a 1/3 bag of egg noodles, a ready to eat avocado, MORE of Larry’s sweet tomatoes…  Throw them in with some corn, a couple slices of bacon and a little chicken.  Summer Pasta Salad  –just right on a hot summer evening!

SUMMER PASTA SALAD
4 oz. pasta (I used egg noodles)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tab. olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, cut to nice chunks

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar*
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain and let it cool.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into 3 flat filets and saute in a skillet until it’s nicely browned and cooked through (3 or4 minutes on each side). Remove to cutting board and cut into nice polite size pieces.

Wipe out the skillet and cook up the bacon.  Crumble it to small bits.

Cook the corn cobs in the microwave 6 or 7 minutes.  Cut the corn from the cobs with a large knife.

To make the dressing put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until it’s completely blended.

When the chicken and pasta have cooled, put them in a large mixing bowl and mix in the bacon, corn, tomatoes, green onion and dressing.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Put to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Zucchini & Tomato Pasta

 

Hi all– Still “tomato time” around here.  So many tomatoes!  We are eating them twice a day–lunch and dinner (so far no tomatoes have slipped into our breakfast cereal!)  And this is my favorite use of our “crop” so far.

The little cherry tomatoes burst and shed their juices.  And this mixed with parmesan and garlic makes a lovely rich sauce.  Throw in some pasta and its a pretty perfect summer supper.  I was excited that we had leftovers to enjoy it all over again!

ZUCCHINI & TOMATO PASTA
8 oz. of your favorite pasta
6 oz. pancetta (or 6 slices of bacon), chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped to bits
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parmesan romano
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut to shreds

While you are making the tomato topping, put the pasta on to cook.

Cut the pancetta to small bits and cook it in a large nonstick skillet.  When it’s cooked crispy, remove the bacon from the skillet, leaving the fat in the pan.

Put the chopped zucchini in the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt & freshly ground pepper.  Cook 4 or 5 minutes until the zucchini starts to brown, but is still crispy (not soggy!).  Take out the zucchini and set aside.

Then add the tomatoes to the skillet.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and cook on high heat, 7 or 8 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and release their juices.  Add the minced garlic to the skillet the last couple minutes the tomatoes are cooking.  Stir in the parmesan romano, stirring to melt it a bit.

Finally add the zucchini & bacon back to the skillet. Stir in the shredded basil.   Spread the drained pasta on a platter and then top it with the tomato mixture.  Enjoy!

Baked Bacon & Eggs

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Good morning!  I meet with a group of young moms (MOPS) every other Tuesday– and each time we meet they fill tables with eggs, muffins, fruit… It’s a breakfast banquet.  Last week, this is was my little contribution.

It’s my go-to egg dish–So easy– and you can change it up.  Take out the bacon & chilis and substitute any omelette-ish ingredient you are partial to– ham, mushrooms, avocado, peppers, spinach, broccoli, sausage…  It can be different every time.  The secret ingredient here is cottage cheese– makes it creamy and smooth! I hope you like it.

BAKED BACON & EGGS
6 strips of bacon
5 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar (I used colby jack)
4oz. can mild green chilis

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Cook the bacon until it’s crispy.  Drain on a paper towel and then break it up into small bits.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy.  Then stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, cheddar, chilis and prepared bacon.

Pour it all into a 9″ pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray– and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes more until the eggs are set and a little browned around the edges.  Best eaten hot from the oven!

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Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

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Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!

MEXICAN COBB SALAD WITH CILANTRO LIME DRESSING

Salad:
4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.

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