Chicken Corn Chowder

chicken-corn-chowderA new soup I’ve been working on is my Chicken Corn Chowder. This soup really does the trick on a cold wintry day (like today, as it’s cold and icy) paired along some toasty french bread. This is an easy soup to prepare and makes delicious leftovers.

Chicken Corn Chowder
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (season the chicken before cooking)
1 cup of red onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
6 cups of new potatoes, diced
3 cups water, plus 2 cups chicken bone broth
1 stick butter
1 tsp thyme
Cooked and crumbled slices of bacon (about 5 slices)
2 cloves garlic
Sprinkles of crushed red pepper
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cans of creamed corn
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot add butter and sauté onions and garlic. Do not burn the garlic. Add potatoes and water/broth and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and reheat to a slight boil and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.

Cheesy Seafood Dip

Need a quick and easy recipe to impress your holiday guests or a dish to take to an upcoming holiday party?  Look no further than my Cheesy Crab Dip.

This is a hot dip I serve with toasted French bread and the best part…you can prepare it the night before and cook it right before your event.

The key to any good recipe is the ingredients you use, so choose wisely on the crab and cheese.  I only use lump crab meat for this dish, which I get from my friend Chris Perkins, who owns Express Foods (a seafood delivery business in our region).  You can also find his lump crab meat at Horrmann Meats in Springfield, MO., or at Farmers Market of the Ozarks every Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, year-round.

I promise this dip will be your new favorite part of the the holiday season!  Cheers and Merry Christmas…

seafood-dipCheesy Crab Dip

(I double this recipe for parties)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
½ C. mayo
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb. lump crabmeat
1 C. shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
½ C. thinly sliced green onion and tops
¼ C. diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C. diced green onion
1 juice of a lemon
2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp. dry mustard powder
1 T.Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf of bread toasted, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combined cream cheese and mayo in a bowl; mix well and press garlic into batter, mix well.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spoon into a casserole dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with French bread slices.

Crawfish Pasta

Crawfish is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with!

Quick and easy Crawfish Cajun Pasta is a family staple around our house.  Simple ingredients let the crawfish take center stage, so I suggest getting the freshest crawfish tails you can.  The Farmers Market of the Ozarks has a great vendor that provides fresh seafood like crawfish- find Express Foods at the market or online. Enjoy this tasty weeknight meal with bread and a salad!

Crawfish Cajun Pasta
1 lb cooked Angel Hair Pasta
1 lb crawfish tails
1 stick butter
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt, more depending on taste
1 T. Cajun Seasonings
1 tsp. Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 handful of fresh parsley

In a large skillet place a stick of butter and heat to medium.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion, peppers and celery.  Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Add the crayfish tails, salt, Cajun seasonings and hot sauce.  Toss and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add 1 tsp of salt and add pasta and cook according to to box directions.  Drain and add pasta to crayfish mixture.  Toss mixture lightly and taste.  Depending on taste, you may want to add additional salt or hot sauce.

*I like to make this the day before or at least 4 hours before serving, so the ingredients can intensify.


Scrumptious Chocolate Banana Bread

Two things that pair perfectly…chocolate and bananas!  This Chocolate Banana Bread is one of my family’s favorite sweet treats for breakfast, snack time or an after dinner dessert.

A trick from my kitchen: I peel and freeze overly ripe banana and store in the freezer to use for smoothies and quick breads.  Stock up when bananas are on sale.

Our little Cora has become quite the little baker in the kitchen.  She loves baking with her mommy and enjoying in the tasty treats afterwards.  Recently when baking this delicious bread she couldn’t resist pulling up a chair and watching the bread rise in the oven.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread
From Simply Recipes

3 large ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed, light or dark)
1 teaspoon salt (1/2 a teaspoon if using salted butter)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Using a blender, food processor, or a fork, purée the peeled ripe bananas until smooth. You should have 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of banana purée. Butter or spray with cooking spray the inside of a 5×9-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle.

Place the banana purée into a large mixing bowl. Stir the melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Whisk to break up any clumps of brown sugar. Stir in the beaten egg and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and allspice.

Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into a buttered loaf pan. Place in a 350°F (175°C) oven and bake for 1 hour. Note that because of the chocolate chips that melt in the bread as it cooks, it’s hard to check for doneness using a tester that you insert. One way to test is to gently push the center top of the chocolate banana bread down with your finger. If it feels relatively firm and bounces back when you release your finger, that’s a good sign that it’s done.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Gently remove the loaf from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.

Honey Apple Salad

appleIt’s apple season in the Ozarks! Orchards all over are offering the tastiest apples on the farm and at the farmers’ market.

Here is a simple recipe for a Honey Apple Salad that makes a perfect compliment to a weeknight meal from the grill.

Honey Apple Salad
3 1/2 diced red apples
2 T. lemon juice
2 c. grapes
1 c. sliced celery, thin
1/2 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. honey
2 T. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

In a large bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Add grapes, celery and dates. In a small bowl combine mayo, honey, sour cream and salt, mix.

Pour over apple mixture and toss; stir in walnuts.

Feta Stuffed Zucchini

Photo from

Looking for more ways to add zest to all that zucchini you have in your gardens or from the farmers market? I’ve got the perfect recipe with these “zucchini boats” as the kids call them.

And, makes these a main dish by stuffing the zucchini with browned beef or pork sausage.

Feta Stuffed Zucchini
5 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Italian bread crumbs
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh or dried basil
½ tsp. fresh or dried thyme
7 1/2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (Try using Terrell Creek Goat Cheese)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat oven to 475°. Scoop out zucchini centers to form canoes, leaving a 1/4-inch border, set aside.

Arrange zucchini, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, salt and basil and thyme; cook, stirring, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and garlic, and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

Fold in feta and tomatoes and fill zucchini with mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Classic Fettuccine Bolognese


I always say that every delicious soup, sauce, stew or braise starts with the “Holy Trinity.” The holy trinity in cooking is simply a combination of three aromatic ingredients (carrots, onions and celery), sautéed together to provide a stable flavor base for other ingredients to build upon. Typically, butter or olive oil and the vegetables are cooked to release their aromatic flavors. I use the holy trinity in the majority of all my cooking of meats, soups, stews and other recipes.

One example is my family’s Classic Fettuccine Bolognese. This hearty pasta dish is perfect for fall and winter dining. Bolognese simply means ragu sauce (meat-based sauce) that originated from Bologna, Italy. Red wine and tomatoes are added and then the dish is simmered for hours to produce a thick, rich sauce that is something magical.

On a business trip in New York I asked a chef I had met for his recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese after dining at his restaurant. Although, the recipe was jotted down on a napkin and vague, I’ve adapted the basic instructions. He was adamant on using only Chianti wine, to develop a bold flavor in the Bolognese, which you can pick-up at most liquor stores and pairs beautifully with this dish.

This recipe calls for top round, but you can also use a mixture of ground pork and ground veal too.  I use whatever I have on-hand in our deep freeze from the protein butchered from the farm.

Fresh fettuccine is best used for this dish, but you can also use the dried variety if you choose. And, be sure and pick up a loaf of sourdough bread from your local baker or farmers market to serve on the side…you’ll need it to clean the last little bits from your plate. From my kitchen to yours…Bon Appetit!

Classic Fettuccine Bolognese
Adapted from the Kitchen of Macelleria Restaurant

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. beef top round
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 cup Chianti red wine
½ cup heavy cream
1.5 cups crushed peeled tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
4 cups water
4 T. freshly grated Parmigianino Reggiano cheese
1.5 lbs. fresh fettuccine

Heat olive oil in skillet; add the Holy Trinity (celery, onion and carrots), plus garlic and simmer until vegetables sweat. Add ground beef, pancetta/bacon, salt, pepper, and bay leaves to taste. Brown the beef until all liquid is absorbed, then add the red wine and stir until liquid is absorbed once more. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, cream and water. Cook slowly, uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, add water as needed.

Cook fresh fettuccine for one minute. Drain pasta, leaving a small amount of water and olive oil. Mix fettuccine with Parmigianino Reggiano, gradually adding the Bolognese sauce to fettuccine and serve.

Flag Football Season Here We GO!

As baseball season winds down for Caston, we enter the fall football season.  Caston LOVES football and the kid has some fancy feet and can catch the ball like a rockstar.  It’s hard to believe he’s only a six-year-old!  We can’t wait to see how he develops over the next year.  #footballseason2016

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon

0302Fall in the Ozarks is my favorite time of the year.  Our region boosts an array of fall vegetables like spaghetti squash, eggplants, peppers, acorn and butternut squash, sweet potatoes, bright greens, apples and more!  It’s the perfect time for a visit to the local farmers market or farm stand to see what’s in season for your family’s table.

Butternut squash is one of my very favorite fall vegetables to cook for my family.  Roast this fall squash and it becomes slightly sweet, puree it for a hearty soup and its the perfect texture.  The best part about all winter squash is the long storage life, if kept cool and in a dark place.

Here is one of my go-to recipes all winter long that our family enjoys and takes little effort to prepare.  It’s perfect to warm you up on a crisp fall day!

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon
Serves 6

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced sliced
4 sliced of bacon, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
½ tsp. fine grain salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. nutmeg
For garnish: Crispy bacon, chopped chives, crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F and place a rack in the middle.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and place butternut squash chunks, quartered onion, diced red bell pepper, chopped bacon, and garlic cloves in a single layer.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring at halftime, until butternut squash is nicely roasted.

When ready, remove from the oven and peel garlic. Transfer everything to a large pot, add thyme, stock, and puree with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, then transfer roasted veggies to a food processor and process. (You may need to add some chicken stock to get a fine puree.) After you have pureed the mixture, add it to a large stockpot.

Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. If it’s too thick add more stock, ¼ cup at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Take a taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with some crispy bacon, chopped chives, and crumbled goat cheese as desired.

And, if you are looking for other ways to use up all that delicious winter squash from your garden or the gardens of local farmer friends, check out this great list.


Berry Freezer Jam

blueberry-chia-jam-1Growing up as a farm kid meant good food was always served on our table. My mother preserved food by canning everything from green beans and pickled beets and okra, to jelly, pickles and fruit. Food preservation was a priority to not only save money, but extend the season. She would store all the canned products in the basement, where her three large deep freezes were- which also were packed full of frozen veggies, corn, fruit and harvested beef from the ranch.

Now, I freeze and preserve fruits and vegetables from the farmers market and our own garden. But, it seems like the older my kiddos get, the harder it is to find time to can as much as we used too. That’s why I love making freezer jam!

Freezer jam makes life a little easier because it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and preserve the fresh summer fruit into pure deliciousness. I make a variety of flavors like Very Berry (strawberry and blueberry), Red Raspberry, Blueberry Peach and others. Below is a basic recipe to use or you can view my post about How to Make Jalapeño Freezer Jam.

Be sure the fruit you use is in peak season for the best flavor!  I like to stock-up during berry season and freezing the fruit until I am ready to turn it into jelly.  The farmers market or a you-pick farm are the best places to find top-notch local fruit.

Basic Fruit Freezer Jam
makes 7 cups
3 cups crushed fruit (Blueberries for instance)
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 package pectin
3/4 cup water

Combine blueberries and sugar; stir well. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine the pectin and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil the mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add hot pectin to blueberry mixture and stir for 3 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved and is no longer grainy.

Pour or ladle jam into glass jars, leaving 1/2 space at top for expansion during freezer. Place lids on containers, and let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or store in the freezer for 1 year. When ready to use frozen jam, simply thaw in refrigerator.

Raspberry Peach Jam: The directions are the same, but use 2 cups crushed raspberries, 1 1/2 cups finely chopped peaches, and 7 cups of sugar. This makes 7 cups of jam.

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