Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All About Trout

Smoked Trout and Sweet Potato Cheddar Chowder

Josh did not have a lot of luck catching sturgeon this season. For the past few months he would go out to the river with high hopes of bringing home some for dinner, but time after time he came back disappointed and empty-handed. Last week, however, he switched his attention to trout and his luck (and ours) changed completely. He decided to smoke his cooler full of trout after a simple brown-sugar and salt brine bath. It was my job to whip together a tasty dinner. Since Josh never got to taste "Josh Steele's Slammin' Salmon Chowder," I figured a new chowder recipe was the perfect destiny for all of that sweet and smoky fish.


- 3 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and chopped (white and light green parts only)
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 c. dry sherry
- 1 qt. vegetable broth
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce
- 5 c. heavy cream
- 1 bunch parsley trimmed and chopped
- 2 c. grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 2-3 c. flaked smoked trout or salmon

Melt butter with olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper, sherry, and jalapeno pepper and cook until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add vegetable broth, sweet potato, bay leaves, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked.

Uncover soup, remove bay leaves and add cream, grated cheese, parsley, and smoked trout. Stir over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and the chowder is heated through. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve with bread for dipping!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meatless Makeover

Roasted Butternut Squash and Potato Enchiladas

A few weeks ago I came up with a really tasty enchilada recipe utilizing leftover pork loin and the amazing Nacho's House Dressing I found in the refrigerator case at the Market of Choice. Well, now it's Lent and meat is off the menu for the next few weeks. I had a craving for more of that addictive "house dressing" and melted cheese, but needed to come up with a vegetarian filling hearty enough to stand up to all that flavor. It was a hit! (Even in a house full of meat-loving boys.)


- 10 corn tortillas
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 14.5 oz. cans black refried beans
- 1/2 c. ancho chili peppers in adobo sauce
- 3 c. butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1" pieces
- 2 c. yellow potatoes, cubed into 1" pieces
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1 7-8 oz. container creme fraiche
- 2 c. grated pepper jack cheese
- 1 container of Nacho's House Dressing or red enchilada sauce

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil. Toss the cubed potatoes and squash in a large bowl with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Spread mixture evenly in the prepared baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20-30 minutes until vegetable are soft and begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn oven down to 350˚ while preparing the rest of the enchiladas.

In a small pan heat about 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Fry corn tortillas on both sides, one at a time, in the hot oil. They should just soften (not crisp up) so only cook each side for about 10-20 seconds. Drain tortillas on paper-towel lined plate. Add more oil to the pan as it becomes dry.

While tortillas are draining, heat the beans in a small saucepan with the ancho chili peppers in their sauce. Mix together thoroughly over medium-low heat so that the ingredients become incorporated. Season with a little salt and pepper if needed.

To assemble the enchiladas fill one tortilla at a time with about 2 Tbsp. of the bean mixture, 1/4 c. of the potatoes and squash, and top with about 1 Tbsp. creme fraiche. Roll up tortilla and place in a 13" baking dish. Place the finished enchiladas side-by-side in the baking dish. When all of the tortillas are filled, cover with the house dressing or enchilada sauce and then sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake the enchiladas in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are warmed through. Serve topped with sour cream, guacamole, or your favorite hot sauce. This is a great vegetarian meal!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winter's Not Over Yet!

Chicken Soup for the Sniffles

Even though there are signs of spring everywhere (the pale pink cherry blossoms are an especially good omen), according to the calendar, a couple of days of winter still remain. It seems the common cold has invaded my house and infected my roommates. While there is little to be done medically other than rest, vitamin-C, and time- there is something comfortingly magical about a good bowl of chicken soup. I don't like to see people I care about feeling under the weather and knew that a big steamy bowl of this classic soup would be the perfect prescription to ensure a quick rebound . . . after all, spring is only a couple of days away! While homemade chicken soup is a little time intensive, it's incredibly easy and well-worth it.

- 1 whole chicken
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley
- 4 whole carrots, cut in half crosswise
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 4 stalks of celery, cut in half crosswise
- 1 qt. chicken broth
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- fresh ground pepper
- 6 c. water
- 8 oz. egg noodles

Rinse off whole chicken and remove heart, liver, etc. Cut into quarters and place into a large stock pot. Put carrots, onion, garlic, celery, thyme, parsley sprigs, salt, and bay leaves into the pot. Cover with chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 2-2 1/2 hours until the chicken is cooked through, and very tender.

Remove stock pot from heat and remove chicken pieces with a pair of tongs. Be careful as the chicken will be extremely tender and falling from the bone. Set aside chicken pieces in a large bowl to cool slightly. With a slotted spoon remove vegetables and other solids from broth and place in a bowl. Slice carrot and celery pieces into bite-sized pieces and return to broth. Discard other solids (bits of bone, herbs, etc.) When chicken has cooled slightly remove meat from bones. Discard skin and bones and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and return meat to broth.

Bring broth to a boil and add egg noodles. Boil for as half as long as the package directions indicate (usually about 4-6 minutes). The noodles will continue to boil in the hot broth and you don't want them to turn mushy. Remove soup from heat, season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and divide the soup among bowls. Eat up! It will make you feel SO good.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Viva Fajitas!

Ancho Chili and Flank Steak Fajitas

Steak fajitas rank amongst my favorite things to eat. Delicious meat and vegetables wrapped up in a tortilla? Uhhh, yeah I'll have one (or two). I had a flank steak in the freezer that I wanted to eat before my upcoming meatless Lenten season began. I also had a couple of dried ancho chilies sitting in the pantry waiting for a purpose. It seemed like a match made in Meat Heaven. Topped with a little sour cream and homemade guacamole, this was a delightfully spicy and filling dinner.


- 1 flank steak, about 2 lbs. scored on both sides in a diamond pattern
- 2 dried ancho chili peppers
- 1 c. jarred Peppadew peppers
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp. cumin, divided
- 2 Tbsp. cardamom, divided
- 1 Tbsp. chipotle chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 yellow onion sliced in half and then lengthwise
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- flour tortillas

Place steak in a large baking dish. Season with sides with salt and pepper. Boil two cups of water in a medium sauce pan. Add ancho chilies and boil for about 8-10 minutes so that peppers soften. Remove stems and seeds and slice into 2" pieces. Place in a medium bowl or in a blender. Add garlic, Peppadews, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. cardamom, chili powder, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Blend ingredients together in a blender or with an immersion blender. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend to combine thoroughly. Brush marinade on both sides of steak, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

Remove marinated steak from oven and heat the broiler in the oven. Broil steak to desired level or doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove steak from oven, put on a plate, and tent with foil. Allow meat to rest for about five minutes before slicing.

While steak is broiling and resting, heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onions and cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to soften. Add peppers, tomatoes, and remaining spices. Cook over medium heat until all the vegetables cook down and soften. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Slice steak and serve fajitas in warmed tortillas with sour cream and guacamole. SO GOOD!

Monday, March 7, 2011

One-Dish Wonders

Chicken and Artichoke Pasta Bake

One of my favorite "secret recipes" to whip up for parties is my Artichoke and Jalapeno Dip. Bubbly, warm, and cheesy, it's always a hit. I was planning on making it for a Friday night roommate gathering of movies and Wii, but plans came up we had to delay. I had all the ingredients for my dip in the fridge and wanted to find a way to repurpose them for an easy one-dish Saturday night meal. A couple of chicken breasts and some extra cheese helped make this tasty bake possible.


- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2" chunks
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 handful parsley, chopped
- 8 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 c. flour
- 2 c. whole milk
- 2 c. grated goat Gouda cheese (found in at good ol' Trader Joe's)
- 1 c. dried bread crumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. penne pasta

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Butter a 13x9" baking dish and set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet oven medium heat. Add chicken chunks and season with salt and lemon pepper. Saute until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile begin to boil water and cook penne pasta to al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Cook diced bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium until cooked through, and just starting to crisp up. Remove from Dutch oven with a slotted spoon allowing bacon to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Add diced onion to bacon fat and cook oven medium heat until it begins to turn translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter to Dutch oven and allow to melt before adding flour. Whisk butter and flour constantly over medium heat for 1 minute until a thick paste forms. Slowly add milk to mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. When sauce is warmed through and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, lower head and add cream cheese and Gouda and allow to melt into mixture. Remove from heat and add cooked pasta, chicken, bacon artichoke hearts, spinach, and parsley. Stir ingredients thoroughly to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and Sriracha sauce to taste. Add reserved pasta cooking water to mixture if the cheese sauce is too thick. Pour pasta mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with an even layer of dried bread crumbs.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until it is hot through and the top begins to brown. Eat up!