March 31, 2014

Guy Fieri's Chunky New England Clam Chowder

I was so excited to make this Chunky New England Clam Chowder tonight! This is one of the dishes I love to eat out and have always wanted to make at home. I still remember having "real" clam chowder for the first time in San Francisco a loooong time ago on a family vacay after I graduated high school. All the little shops and carts along the Wharf sold Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. Of course, my Dad and I had to try it and I still remember how tasty it was! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to take a trip to Boston yet to try their chowda but this recipe will just have to do for now!
All dressed up with the family in San Fran.
After San Fran, we went to Seattle then took a cruise to Vancouver. A once in a lifetime trip!
A few months ago I caught an episode of Guy's Big Bite with Guy Fieri on Food Network and he was making Mike's Clam Chowder with his Chef friend Jay from Boston. Out of all the recipe for chowder I have seen this one seemed the easiest, with easy to find ingredients and not a lot of prep and looked delicious. And, I, like most of America, love Guy Fieri so if he says this chowda is the bomb, well then it is! Serve in a sourdough bread bowl with oyster crackers to complete the true chowda experience!

 

Ingredients:

Makes 8 servings
  • 5 cups clam juice
  • 1 pound potatoes, diced (I used 2 large baking potatoes, peeled)
  • 5 slices thick cut bacon, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen clams, diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring the clam juice and diced potatoes to a boil in a large soup pot. 
  2. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Set aside.
  3. To make roux: In a pot, render the bacon, until crispy. 
  4. Stir in the onion until it's translucent.
  5.  Add bay leaves, thyme and butter and let it melt. 
  6. Whisk in the flour and let the roux cook until it turns golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Bring the clam juice and potato back to a boil. 
  8. Whisk in a ladleful of clam juice into the roux then gradually whisk the roux into the soup pot until it thickens. 
  9. Then whisk in the half and half and heat to a simmer while whisking. 
  10. Add the clams and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  11. Remove bay leaves and discard. 
  12. Then add the parsley and kosher salt and pepper to taste. 
  13. Serve hot with oyster crackers and in a bread bowl if you would like!
Recipe from Guy's Big Bite on Food Network .
First I cubed thick cut bacon.
Then I rendered it down in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Once the bacon in crispy, add the diced onion and cook until translucent.
Do not drain the bacon fat- that's your flavor and part of the roux!
You need 5 cups of clam juice for this recipe. Here are the two brands of clam juice I found at my store. Each bottle is 8oz or 1 cup.
Peel and cube your potatoes and add to a large soup pot with your 5 cups of clam juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Once your onions are done, add bay leaves, thyme, and butter and let mix and melt.
Now whisk in 1/2 cup flour and let cook. Add up to 1/4 cup more flour if needed to thicken the roux.
 After about 4 minutes it should be thickened and golden brown.
The finished roux! Now add 1 ladle of the clam juice and potato liquid to the roux, whisking to combine.
Remove and discard bay leaves.
Bring the clam juice and potatoes back to a boil. Then add in roux, a scoop at a time, to the clam juice mix. Whisk until it thickens.
Now add 2 cups half and half and whisk until it comes to a simmer.
I bought these fresh shucked, chopped clams at Joe Patti's Seafood Market when I visited Pensacola on my last trip back home. You need 2 lbs for this recipe.

Add chopped clams (drained) to your simmering soup and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to low.

Add chopped parsley and salt and pepper.
Some stores and delis sell pre-cut bread bowls.
 I found a sourdough loaf at my bakery and cut it into a bowl.
Serve in a sourdough bread bowl with extra bread or crackers for dipping!
This chunky chowder is loaded with tasty ingredients and full of flavor..and guess what?
 It only takes 25 minutes to make!
I would love to hear what you and your family think of this chowder. Comment below!
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March 29, 2014

Copycat Olive Garden Baked Lasagna Fritta with Annie's Homegrown Meals

 
I recently joined a fun online group called Influenster. They send you products and you review them. Simple, free, fun! My first VoxBox, as they call it, was a complimentary Annie's Homegrown Freezer Meal from Target. I was staying with my parents so I stopped by their Target and checked out the freezer section.

My Target's selection of Annie's Homegrown freezer meals.
They carried 4 different varieties of freezer meals and I decided to go with Lasagna for my pasta lovin' Dad. 
The box is smaller than some of your typical family size freezer meal but don't let the size fool you! Once we cooked it and saw how thick and rich it was, we knew it would be plenty (and it was!).




Since y'all know I have to create something fun with this lasagna and not just bake and serve, I decided to make a version of my favorite appetizer from Olive Garden: Lasagna Fritta. Olive Garden's menu describes it as: Parmesan-breaded Lasagna pieces, fried and served over alfredo sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce. Perfect for this thick, delicious lasagna and better yet most of the work was already done! I just had to bake it, then cut it up, bread it, and bake again until crisp. I changed it up a bit from Olive Garden and decided to bake instead of fry and I added fresh sauteed spinach. Trying to stay on the healthy side since this is a rich, decadent meal on it's own :)

Overall, I was happy with the Lasagna from Annie's Homegrown. I am weary of freezer meals but this one  was flavorful, rich, and tasted fresh not stale or dry. Bonus: you get your bang for a buck because a little goes a long way and this lasagna is filling!
The recipe inspiration: Olive Garden's Lasagna Fritta appetizer.

Ingredients:

Makes 3-4 entree servings
  •  1 Frozen Family Size Lasagna (I used Annie's Homegrown Lasagna with Meat Sauce 1lb 12 oz)
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten (I used 2 but if you use a larger lasagna add another egg)
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach
  • olive oil, for saute
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, heated
  • 1 cup Alfredo sauce, heated
  • Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt/ pepper, to taste

 Directions:

  1. Bake (or microwave) Lasagna according to package instructions. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  4. Make a breading station with a bowl of beaten eggs and a bowl of panko breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.
  5. Once lasagna has cooled enough for you to handle, cut into 8-9 squares.
  6. Carefully lift out of container with a fork and gently dip in beaten egg, then panko. Make sure it is coated well in the panko.
  7. Lay on baking sheet and repeat with remaining slices.
  8. Once you have breaded all pieces spray the lasagna with cooking spray and bake for approx 8-10 minutes, or until browned.
  9. While the lasagna bakes, heat a skillet over medium. 
  10. Add a swirl of olive oil and add spinach and garlic. Toss until sauteed and wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  11. To plate: add a couple spoonfuls of Alfredo to the center of a plate, top with a serving of sauteed spinach then add 2-3 slices of breaded lasagna. Top with a healthy drizzle of marinara sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
  12. Serve with a side salad and garlic bread to make it a meal! 
Bake (or microwave) your frozen family size lasagna. Let cool slightly.
Make a breading station with a bowl of beaten egg and a bowl of seasoned panko.
Once the lasagna has cooled enough to touch, cut into about 8-9 squares.
Using a fork remove a square from the container and dip in egg then in panko, coating well.
Place breaded lasagna square on a greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining squares.
 
Spray squares with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
In a skillet add a swirl of olive oil and add garlic and spinach. Saute over medium until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Heat a bowl of marinara sauce and a bowl of alfredo sauce.
To plate: add a couple spoonfuls of Alfredo to the center of a plate, top with a serving of sauteed spinach then add 2-3 slices of breaded lasagna. Top with a healthy drizzle of marinara sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
 
I served my Lasagna Fritta with a side salad and a slice of garlic bread. Using Annie's Homegrown Lasagna in this recipe saved me time, dishes to clean, and I knew my family was getting a fresh, hearty organic meal.

* Get a $2 off Annie's Homegrown Freezer Meal coupon here. *
I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

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