RECIPE: Dairy-Free Clam Chowder (my life is complete)

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know my deep love of clam chowder. In fact, the only time I came close to crying when I learned I was allergic to dairy was when I realized that meant I could never have clam chowder again.

Hey, I really like clams. And bacon. And potatoes,celery,onions and carrots.

It was a long, sad, pathetic year before Matt figured out how to make a dairy-free clam chowder that was as good as our old, cream and butter- filled recipe. I knew there was a reason I married him.

We had a few misses and some “something’s missing” versions before getting it right.

And this recipe is right. So, so right.

The only thing that will tell anyone eating it that it’s missing dairy? The color isn’t quite white. Not even close. But one spoonful and no one will care.

AMAZING Dairy Free Clam Chowder

half pound bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces (if you are allergic to dairy, be sure to purchase either locally processed bacon or bacon labeled “casein free”)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock (if you are allergic to dairy, be aware that chicken stock, bullion and base almost always contain dairy. The Kitchen Basics brand of stocks and broth is safe. Or just ake you own veggie stock and use that)
2 (10 ounce) cans chopped clams in juice (strain out clams, reserve juice)*
1 cup coconut milk (use canned coconut milk, like Taste of Thai)
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Red wine vinegar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron skillet or French oven, cook bacon until crispy. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
In a large pot, heat the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute until softened.
Stir in the flour. Stir for a minute so flour heats through.
Add the chicken stock, the juice from the clams (reserve clams for step 7), coconut milk, bay leaves, and potatoes. Stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until potatoes are tender.
Add clams and bacon, cook 2 more minutes.
Season with vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sour dough bread.



Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

My mom’s chicken cacciatore…Neighbor Delford Approved 8-26-10

Chicken Cacciatore was one of those recipes we had a lot growing up. Now that I’m a Mom, I can totally see why: it is easy, uses ingredients you probably already have on-hand, and is a great way to use up leftover chicken.

Cacciatore is Italian for “Hunter’s Style”–or so Wikipedia tells me–and that simply means it includes a lot of those aromatic veggies like onion, celery and carrots. It also includes tomatoes; lots of tomatoes…if my husband was a hunter and all he brought home were carrots, celery onions and tomatoes, I think I’d be kinda mad…and I wouldn’t refer to the meal I made out of it as “Hunter’s Style”…more like “Lame Man who spends his time gathering veggies instead of shooting meat” style… but I digress…

Some recipes call for entire chunks of chicken–and I guess that would work. But I’ve only ever had it with the “spare parts” left over from a roast chicken–mostly unidentifiable chunks of meat. Maybe part of a breast, part of a thigh, part of a…well, who knows. The point is, this is a good recipe to have the day after having roast chicken.

Below is my mom’s recipe, the one I had growing up, and the one I will rely on for making for my family. For another take on this, click the upper image and read about including Kalamata olives in the dish…yum!


1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 full size carrots sliced
3 stalks celery sliced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp sugar
2 chicken breasts… or a bunch of left over chicken
3/4 pound shell shaped or spiral pasta


combine all EXCEPT Pasta,
Bring to boil, reduce heat for 25 to 30 min, simmer another 30 min if using raw chicken. Prepare pasta separately.

Serve over pasta

Recipe: Bread Machine Clone of a Cinnabon

Clone of a Cinnabon; you can add frosting or eat them plain.

Clone of a Cinnabon; you can add frosting or eat them plain.

I’ve been making this recipe for a long, long time. I used to sell it, made-to-order, around the holidays. It makes the house smell great and I always got fabulous feedback…even from my girlfriend who bought a batch to take up to a family brunch 2 hours away…appearently, they were still warm, gooey and addictive even after a few hours in a car. You can’t really say that for the real Cinnabons, can you?

Logan,3, taste-testing the flour for the cinnamon rolls. I tried to tell him it didn't taste like sugar, but he wanted to findout for himself.

Logan,3, taste-testing the flour for the cinnamon rolls. I tried to tell him it didn’t taste like sugar, but he wanted to findout for himself.

Like every food on here, Cinnamon Rolls are special to me. My mom used to make them every Christmas Morning. My eldest cousin, Jennifer, and I used to split a Cinnabon at the mall and talk about boys and life; she is five years older than me and was always–ALWAYS–the cool person I wanted to be. So if Jennifer liked Cinnabons, then I knew I should, too.

…and even now as an adult, I still do. But I think it is cooler to make them myself. ūüôā

Special Equipment: you will need a bread machine, rolling pin, a pastry brush, and  some type of large baking dish with sides.

This recipe comes from


  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Recipe:Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia

I have been craving this dish for about six months.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a Johnny Carino’s any where near DC.

I used to order Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia every time I went to Johnny Carino’s.¬† For Valentine’s Day 2007, Matt picked this up and brought it home to surprise me for lunch. I’m sure my breath was awful afterwards, but god it was probably my favorite Valentines gift ever…right after the Valentines when I got engaged, anyway. ūüôā

But now that I’ve found this recipe, I can have it again! YAY! And, best part, Costco is even¬† selling Tilapia in the freezer section now…so, look out!

This recipe is modified from the original at recipezaar. Click the link for additional reviews, comments, etc. If you’d like a lower-fat version, click here.


Dinner on Aug 3, 2009. Turned out really, really well! I used some heirloom tomatoes from my garden to garnish instead of Roma.




Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia in the pan after adding spinach, jalapenos, etc.

Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia in the pan after adding spinach, jalapenos, etc.



Dredge the tilapia filets in the flour, and add them with the melted margarine and garlic to a medium temperature sauté pan.Once the tilapia has finished cooking on one side, flip them over and add the jalapenos, spinach, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.Prepare the angel hair in boiling water, and allow it to cook for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the temperature of the water.As the filets begin to flake, add the heavy cream, and bring it to a slight boil.Once the cream begins to boil, remove the pan from the fire and reduce the lemon butter into the sauce. Place the pasta in a bowl, and pour the fish with the sauce over the pasta. Garnish with fresh roma tomatoes and parsley.

Recipe: Nana’s Chocolate Cake

My Nana's Chocolate Cake. This image was taken at a photo shoot in my house for a magazine article I was writing about the cake in 2008.

My Nana’s Chocolate Cake. This image was taken at a photo shoot in my house for a magazine article I wrote¬† in 2008. You can see that liquid layer of fudge, trapped between the cake and the hardened topping. Yum.

Nana was my best friend as a little kid.

She was my Dad’s mom and I was her oldest grandchild, born four days before her 50th birthday.

She told everyone I was her birthday present; she told a lot of stories that made the world seem to be a nicer place like that. That the world was just waiting to make you happy with a coincidence, a surprise, a sunny day and a laugh.

When Nana moved up to Tracyton, Wash., she named her small piece of land, just like they name plantations down south and ranches¬† in the Midwest and hotels in the big cities. At the start of Nana’s driveway is a custom wooden sign with a seagull on top. I reads “Little Carolina”.

Nana’s a Southern Lady, in every way, having grown up on a tobacco plantation in South Carolina.¬† Sundays were all about brunch; uncles and aunts and cousins and friends and boyfriends and neighbors would drop in, have a drink of coffee and a few too many helpings of eggs fried in bacon grease.

The dogs would have steak. In their dog dishes. Which were silver. Or silver-looking. It didn’t really matter. It was all about appearance anyway. Well, appearance and taste.

The woman can cook. And bake. And make anything you could ever want.

Nana's Chocolate Cake at the Feb. 2008 photo shoot. I sent most of the cake home with the photographer to give to his family.

Nana’s Chocolate Cake at the Feb. 2008 photo shoot.

And being Southern, almost everything was a reason to celebrate with Nana; almost everything was a reason to prepare and consume fabulous food. Including the first day of school.

The First Day of School Tea was an annual thing that started with me and grew to include my cousins as they started school, too. After the first day of school I would walk over to Nana’s house for tea and this amazing cake. We’d talk about my new teacher, my new classroom, my new friends. We’d talk about what I might learn that year, what I wanted to be when I grew up, how much I was growing and how I’d be an adult soon.

The tea party with Nana was my favorite part of the first day of school. And this cake was my favorite part of that tea.

Many years later, after my grandfather died and my Nana needed surgery, I realized that if I was ever going to have that cake again I’d have to get the recipe. The trouble was, there wasn’t one.

Nana called it a “dump cake” because she just dumped whatever looked good in to it. That was the way her mother had taught her to do it. Bake by taste, not by numbers.

The magazine layout in Southern Idaho Living March 2008 with Nana's Chocolate Cake

The magazine layout in Southern Idaho Living March 2008 with Nana’s Chocolate Cake

No one could have been less amused about this than my father, who I’d asked to get the recipe for me. My Dad has always had secretaries, always had underlings to delegate work to. He hasn’t had to write something down himself in a long, long time. But for me and his mom, he wrote this down.

It took Dad the good part of an entire day to do it. He went to her house and watched her make the cake, measuring out everything she did as she did it. In the hand-written recipe he had his secretary fax me later, you can tell it was a very casual, top-of-the-head kind of recipe because most of the instructions are in the wrong order; he just wrote them down as she said them, then added additional ones as she said, “oh, well before that…”

The hand-written recipe is probably messier than the kitchen in which the cake was made. But it didn’t stay that way for long. In January 2008 the local gourmet shop I adore so much, Rudy’s, suggested me as a writer to a magazine editor looking for a cooking article.

So I made this, Nana’s Chocolate Cake, and wrote about it. On a computer. I took that messy, top-of-head organization of this dearly loved childhood memory and food and finally wrote it down in something other than chicken-scratch.

The magazine’s publisher came out to my house on a very stormy winter night to do the photo shoot, making my cake look like Martha Stewart herself had done it. Everyone should have the chance to have a favorite family recipe photographed like that. It is like a high end family portrait. But of the family’s favorite food.

Before and after this article, I made this cake for bake sales; I helped to send my students to NYC for a journalism conference by baking this cake repeatedly. This cake alone paid for one student’s entire trip, and helped offset the costs of seven others.¬† I don’t know a lot of recipes–or cakes–that can do that.

But Nana says the cake has a heritage of earning lots of money at bake sales; according to Nana, her mother, Nelle, used to make it for the fire department and church bake sales. I’m glad to continue the tradition of making life sweeter with a sweet little dessert.

Nana’s Chocolate Cake:¬†

Me on the first day of kindergarten, talking to Nana before coming over for the First Day of School Tea to eat this cake.

Me on the first day of kindergarten, talking to Nana before coming over for the First Day of School Tea to eat this cake.


1 c water

2 cubes butter

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

grease a cookie sheet with raised edges at least 1.5 inches tall. In medium saucepan, boil water, add butter, when melted add sugar. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add flour, cocoa, stir; add eggs and beat. Combine milk and soda, let sit a few moments, add to to mixture. Stir. Add vanilla. Stir. Dump mix in to pan. Bake 25 minutes. While baking, make frosting:

INGREDIENTS for Frosting:

5 Tbsp cream or half and half

1 box powdered sugar (I assume this is a standard box–6 cups? 8 cups? I don’t know for sure…just work in as much powdered sugar as you can get in)

1 cube butter

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 Tbsp cocoa

Using the same saucepan, on medium heat melt butter. Add cream, cocoa, sugar, stir. Add vanilla. Frost cake by pouring this on when cake is still hot–ideally within a minute of it coming out of the oven.

I suggest starting on the frosting when you have about 10 minutes to go on the cake in the oven…

My Nana's Chocolate Cake recipe, as it appeared in Southern Idaho Living.

My Nana’s Chocolate Cake recipe, as it appeared in Southern Idaho Living.

Recipe: Singapore Chili Prawns


This is my new favorite recipe.

It is quick (less than 10 minutes from start to serve); healthy (shrimp? veggies? egg? ) and So Darn Good. It is the perfect combo of Sweetness and Spice, with a bit of sour to even it all out.

I had seconds. So did my husband.

I stumbled on this recipe recently on one of my favorite foodie blogs: Closet Cooking.

Closet Cooking is a pretty funny, pretty useful blog from a dude who cooks in a kitchen about the size of a closet.

Singapore Chili Prawns had two things going for it:

1) Singapore. I spent time there as a teen, so any mention of this awesome, insanely populated, little island-city-nation (not unlike Manhattan, in many ways! ha!) always attracts my interest. And…

2) Prawns. Like the writer Kevin, I’m a major shrimp geek. MAJOR. But you already knew that…

This recipe is insanely quick–each minute you’re adding something or changing something, so it is important to have all your ingredients ready-to-go when you start. Also, the starch in the recipe thickens it up A LOT–so if you want something not as thick as my images below, try leaving the starch out…or at least reducing it by a lot.

From start to finish, this recipe takes less than 10 minutes. Seriously. You can have a home-made from-scratch dinner in less time than it takes to heat up a “TV Dinner”…and it is WAY better tasting AND better for you. Awesome, right?

…Kevin (closet cooking)¬† got the recipe from a site called Almost Bourdain…which you know made me happy.

On to the good stuff: the recipe!

Prepared 08-16-09; served on brown rice. Used extra corn starch to make it thick.

Prepared 08-16-09; served on brown rice. Used extra corn starch to make it thick.

Singapore Chili Prawns

(makes 4 servings)


1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound shrimp (shelled and deveined)
1 tablespoon garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
1/4 cup shallots (chopped)
2 chilies (seeded and chopped)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/2 lime (juice)
2 teaspoons palm sugar (grated or sugar)
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 egg (lightly beaten)

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, and chilies and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
3. Add the shrimp and saute for a minute on both sides.
4. Add the water, tomato sauce, sweet chili sauce, lime juice. sugar and corn starch and bring to a boil.
5. Stir the egg into the pan and continue stirring until the egg is cooked.

FYI: Kevin had this to say on his blog about the egg and the soup:”I was introduced to the concept of slowly pouring an egg into a hot liquid while stirring. The egg quickly cooks into little particles that give the liquid an amazing texture in addition to adding some protein to the broth itself. Speaking of hot and sour, these chili prawns have both hot and sour elements along with sweet elements.”

Recipes: Krumkake 2 ways

Krumkake may sound funny, but it tastes awesome.

Krumkake may sound funny, but it tastes awesome.

My husband likes to taunt me with the sound of this Norsk dessert.

“KaKa” he says; like in the begining of the Selena movie when Selena lets the pet chicken in the house and the Mom is mad because there is now “KaKa” all over the walls. (watch this clip; at the 1:25 mark)

“KROOOOOOM ka-ka” I say, as if that makes it better.

It doesn’t.

“CRUMB-kaka” I say, as if altering the oooh to an ahhh will improve the sound.

It doesn’t.

I try to explain that they are a lot like homemade waffle cones–almost exactly–but that doesn’t help, either. Waffle Cones sound better than Kaka.

In fact, there is no way to get past the funny name that comes with so many Northern European sweets and treats (Ebelskivers, Stroopwafels, Lefse, Fattigmann…) until you’ve been lucky enough to eat them.

I was lucky enough as a kid to have Krumkake, lefse, rosettes–all of it–on a fairly regular basis. As the Queen of the Sons of Norway lodge, I was always around for celebrations like May 17th and Santa Lucia in the winter. For the 10 years before getting my crown, I gobbled up the treats at heritage camp, folk dancing performances and when my Grandma bought them at fundraisers at the lodge.

Since we aren’t Scandinavian, and this was well before the time of the internet and, we didn’t know how to make these goodies. Most families had pizzelle irons, lefse sticks and rosette molds that had been handed down to them by their grandparents; we weren’t so lucky.

So now that I’m an adult, and I have the internet, I spend entirely too much time looking–searching–for perfect recipes and equipment for my edible childhood memories. Krumkake is one of those memories.

Special Equipment: you will need a Pizzelle/Krumkake iron and a cone for rolling the waffles around.

A simplified version of krumkake was found at


  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Beat egg. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add whipping cream. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  2. When krumkake iron is hot, put 1 teaspoon of batter on the iron and bake until light brown. Roll on stick immediately when krumkake is still hot.
  3. OPTIONAL: you can fill the krumkake with cream before serving, or dip half of it in melted chocolate. Or just dust with powdered sugar, like a normal person.

A more traditional take on Krumkake, from



3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted and cooled)
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cardamom


Pre-heat Krumkake iron (medium-high heat, let both sides warm).

Beat eggs and sugar together until blended and fluffy. Mix in rest of ingredients until well-combined. Pour a generous tablespoon of batter onto the iron. Close the iron and flip over until both sides are very lightly browned (about 30-45 seconds per side, depending on your stove).

When done, open the iron and place the rolling cone on one edge, wrapping Krumkake along the cone until it’s complete. Set rolling cone aside to cool while you cook the next one.

Once cool, pile Krumkake pastries on a plate and serve any way you like. Traditionally they were served with whipped cream or fruit inside. Tonight we served them as accompaniments to vanilla bean ice cream, drizzled with chocolate-Bailey’s sauce.