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Hamburger Stew

I make this A LOT especially during the Winter months, when I’m craving something warm and comforting. This dish is extremely easy to make. I usually put it over mashed potatoes, but you can use rice, baked potatoes, noodles, or nothing at all.

Hamburger Stew

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 15

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. to1-1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 (14 oz. cans) beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried celery flakes (optional)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with a little water

Instructions

1

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion on medium high.

2

Add sliced carrot and herbs.

3

Add 2 cans beef broth.

4

Cover, and cook on medium low until carrots are cooked.

5

Add cornstarch mixture to thicken. If not thick enough, mix a little more cornstarch with water and add to desired thickness.

6

Serve over mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

 

 

 

Blog/ Farm Stands & Specialty Markets/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

Sugar & Spice Bake Shoppe

This place is the BOMB! If your looking for a totally unusual cake…this IS the place!

Strawberry Shortcake Cake, Raspberry Mousse Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Boston Cream, Tiramisu, Banana Cream Cake, wow…I could go on and on! They don’t just ice with the usual confectioners frosting…they use mousse filling on the inside which is super delicious.

A super variety of cupcakes, pastries, cake slices, cookies, you name it!

This place makes any cake you can imagine!

Sugar & Spice Bake Shoppe
4 South Broadway    Rt 28
Salem NH 03079
603-890-5451

Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

Cotton Restaurant – Manchester NH

What can I say…Cotton is a great place to meet friends and relatives, have some fantastic Martini’s, and a great opportunity to enjoy some great food by Chef/Owner/Author Jeffrey Paige. Jeffrey is passionate about using local foods and working with local people who are passionate about their products. Before Cotton, Jeffrey was Executive Chef at Canterbury Shaker Village, one of two remaining active Shaker communities left in the world at the time. I had the pleasure to eat at the Shaker Village years ago when Jeffrey was there, and remember vividly what I had…a Chicken Stew over a super light, tender biscuit. Doesn’t sound like anything much in Culinary circles, but I have to say that was damn near the “best thing I ever ate”! I still remember it to this day. Ever since eating there, and finding out who the chef was, I remember the name Jeffrey Paige.

He brings the same perfection to Cotton. Simple, comfort food in a cozy, upscale, atmosphere, all made with the freshest, local ingredients. A true American Bistro. Everyone knows the quality of the end result, relies entirely on the quality of the ingredients.



He has also written cookbooks on Canterbury Village and Cotton.

On our most recent visit, I started with a Cosmopolitan which was delicious. We shared a Farmhouse Salad, and ask for Buttermilk dressing and Balsamic dressing. Both dressings were delicious, and both were home made. The salad was also delicious and included sliced egg,  Maplewood bacon and huge chunks of Pineland Farms Cheddar cheese. Plenty for two it was the perfect starter. For dinner we both ordered the Brandt Flat Iron steak, which came with mashed potatoes and a choice of demi glace or flavored butters. Veggie of the day was also included. The steak was very flavorful and tender. All meals come with Sourdough bread and butter.


It was a great evening, as has been every visit we have made to Cotton. We are definitely going to have to make it there in the Summer so we can sit outside.

As for me, I have to get busy locating one of those Shaker Kitchen cookbooks….I’m still thinking about the wonderful lunch I had years ago!

 

Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Main Dishes/ Soups, Stews & Chowders

Clam, Haddock & Scallop Chowder

Clam, Haddock & Scallop Chowder | afoodieaffair.com

 

This clam, haddock and scallop chowder makes good use of an y leftover fish from meals that you’ve had extra and froze for making chowder later.

I always have leftovers when we visit David’s Fish Market & Lobster in Salisbury MA! This is one of the best seafood markets around! No shortage of fish, clams, lobster, shrimp, you name it. I always purchase a pound of the frozen minced clams for making chowders. They keep in the freezer, and are always handy when you want to make a chowder. There is no worries of getting fresh fish when shopping here…everything’s fresh, and there is loads of selection.

This chowder can be made with all of the different fish, or any of them. The clam juice is better when made fresh, but I don’t always plan ahead. So I use Bar Harbor Clam Juice. It’s a good substitute for fresh when your in a pinch.

Clam, Haddock & Scallop Chowder | afoodieaffair.com

If you like a thicker chowder, make a roux by adding 2 Tbsp flour to the onion/fat mixture and cooking down a bit. Then add the liquids. The flour will help thicken the mixture.

Also, remember when adding the cold milk or cream to the hot mixture, temper the cold cream with a little of the hot liquid so the milk/cream doesn’t curdle when added. You want to add warm cream to the hot mixture. Curdled milk/cream doesn’t ruin the chowder, but it sure does make it look horrible!

This chowder is hearty, full of seafood flavor, and perfect for any Summer or Winter meal. You can replace or add any type of seafood, such as lobster, or any other white fish to this recipe. You can even add in a can of creamed corn! That’s what’s great about chowders. You use the same principal to make and add your own touch for ingredients.

Clam, Haddock & Scallop Chowder
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 – 8 oz. bottles clam juice
  • 1 lb container frozen or fresh minced clams
  • 4 -5 large scallops, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 lb piece of haddock
  • 1-1/2 c. half and half
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Fully cook the bacon to render the fat. Remove the bacon pieces and reserve the piece for garnish.
  2. Add one minced onion to the bacon fat, and saute until translucent , but not browned. If you want a thicker chowder, add 2 Tbsp flour to this mixture, stir in, and cook for about a minute or so.
  3. Add clam juice, and diced potatoes. Cook for approx. 5 minutes.
  4. Temper (warm) the milk and cream with some of the hot liquid mixture. Then add the milk and cream to the chowder. Cook on low another 5 minutes or cook until the potatoes are tender. Add clams, haddock, and scallops.
  5. Add thyme, salt and pepper and bay leaf.
  6. Cook on low for 10 minutes or so, until fish is cooked.

Clam, Haddock & Scallop Chowder | afoodieaffair.com

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Blog/ Breads, Muffins & Pretzels/ Breakfast & Brunch/ Front Page/ Home Page

Flour Bakery Blueberry Muffins

Flour Bakery Blueberry Muffins | afoodieaffair.com

I have quite a few Blueberry Muffin recipes on this blog, and have made quite a few versions that were all delicious. Knowing how delicious the treats are at Flour Bakery, I knew I just had to try their Blueberry Muffins.

I have made these muffins twice before posting this. The first time they were super delicious. The second time they ended up super delicious…but not before a little work, or should I say aggravation! I mixed the batter, put it into the muffin cups, put into the oven. When I was cleaning up, I realized I forgot to put the 10 tablespoons of melted butter in the batter! I quickly removed the muffins from the oven as they hadn’t started baking yet. Problem is, how I am going to get the batter out of the muffin papers? I tried to tip the pan and help the batter into a bowl, but some of the papers fell in the bowl. So I did my best to get the batter out of the papers, so I can add in the butter and start over with a new pan and papers. Even I tried my best to make sure no papers were in the batter, wouldn’t you know someone got a muffin with a paper in it? Thank God it was someone I knew and when I told her the story she found it comical. Moral of the story is, even with this mishap, the muffins still turned out fantastic! It was a morning to remember, but certainly won’t stop me from making these delicious muffins in a very short time.

I got this recipe online for Flour Bakery’s Blueberry Muffin recipe. I don’t yet have any of Joanne Chang’s cookbooks, but rest assured, I will will be getting them in short order!

Flour Bakery Blueberry Muffins | afoodieaffair.com

The smell of these muffins cooking is phenomenal! My mouth is watering just smelling them! If you are a lemon lover like I am, you will certainly appreciate the lemon zest in the batter, giving it just the right hint of lemon.

If you like a cakelike muffin, you will LOVE these muffins. The combination of the lemon zest and blueberries bursting in your mouth is unreal!

This recipe is easy to make. Just making sure you melt the butter ahead of time so it cools, and getting the eggs, milk and sour cream at room temperature is key. Once you have made the recipe once, you will know for the next time.

This recipe is a true keeper and will be your “go to” recipe for years to come!

I haven’t tried the Banana Muffin version yet, but are dying to try it!

Flour Bakery Blueberry Muffins
Author: A Foodie Affair
This muffin batter is also delicious with the flavoring variations that follow the recipe. Be sure to add the fruit before the batter is fully mixed to avoid overmixing.
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray for the pan
  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh (washed, dried, and picked over) or frozen (no need to thaw) blueberries
Instructions
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) the top of a standard 12-cup muffin tin and then line with paper or foil baking cups. (Spraying the pan keeps the muffin tops from sticking to the pan’s surface.)
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, butter, milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, and zest until well combined.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold gently with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are mostly moistened; the batter will be lumpy, and there should still be quite a few streaks of dry flour. Sprinkle the blueberries on the batter and fold them in until just combined. (The batter will still be lumpy; don’t try to smooth it out or you’ll overmix.)
  4. If you have an ice cream scoop with a “sweeper” in it, use it to fill the muffin cups. Otherwise, use two spoons to spoon the batter in, distributing all of the batter evenly. The batter should mound higher than the rim of the cups by about 3/4 inch.
  5. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and spring back lightly when you press the middle, 30 to 35 minutes. (The muffin tops will probably meld together.) Let the muffin tin cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a table knife to separate the tops, and then invert the pan and pop out the muffins.
Notes
Variations: [br][br]Cranberry-Orange Muffins: In place of the lemon zest and blueberries in the batter, add orange zest and chopped fresh cranberries.[br][br]Banana-Walnut Muffins: Don’t add any zest to the batter. Instead add 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced ripe banana and 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts.

Flour Bakery Blueberry Muffins | afoodieaffair.com

 

Blog/ Cookouts/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Pasta/ Salads/ Side Dishes

Pasta Salad Italiano

Pasta Salad Italiano | afoodieaffair.com

This recipe was one of those that came from a magazine years ago, probably sponsored by Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix. I have been making this salad for 30 years or so! It is the easiest salad to make, and the most addicting! I think its the Parmesan in it that has you craving it! It’s a basic pasta salad..naturally you can add or delete anything to this salad, but I particularly like the fact that the veggies in it won’t spoil if you have it the next day for leftovers. When you put things like cucumbers in a salad, it has to be eaten that day, or the cucumbers get slimy. In this, I put the tiny grape tomatoes, so if you feel you will have leftovers, they can be left whole and won’t get mushy. The only thing that softens slightly is the broccoli, and if you put in raw, it will take a while to soften. If you blanch in boiling water as I sometimes do, it will soften more quickly, but this salad is so delicious and so addicting, you won’t have any left anyway.

The original recipe calls for Fettuccine, but I have made this with Rotini, or any other pasta I might have. I like the Rotini because it is easier to eat, and the dressing and cheese gets stuck in the twirls of the pasta.

Pasta Salad Italiano
Author: A Foodie Affair
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Fettuccine, or any other type dry pasta
  • 1 – 15 oz can black olives, drained
  • 1 pkg grape sized cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 c. fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 envelopes of Good Seasonings Italian dressing, prepared
Instructions
  1. Boil a very large pot of water and cook pasta according to package directions. If you want to blanch the broccoli, remove the pasta with tongs or a large slotted spoon reserving water to blanch the broccoli in. Make sure the pasta is thoroughly strained, and spread out on a large food safe tray to cool and dry for approx. 2 hours. Do not rinse the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile place the broccoli, tomatoes, olives, cheese and salad dressing into a zipper bag, and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until you are ready to mix the salad.
  3. Mix the vegetable ingredients with the pasta. Let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour to blend ingredients. Adjust the taste with more cheese, salt and pepper, or dressing if needed.

What ever pasta you make this from, DON’T rinse your pasta! The sauce sticks to your pasta much better leaving the starch on the pasta. When making any pasta salad (and potato salad for that matter), I always cook ahead of time, strain, and lay out on a tray in a single layer, and cool and “dry” to room temperature, Then, you can add all your ingredients, or you can throw in a Ziploc bag until later in the day when you’re ready to use it. Just don’t put any dressing on the pasta before you put in Ziploc bag. The dressing will “continue to cook” your pasta and blow it up! Just put it cooled right in the bag until ready to use.

Pasta Salad Italiano | afoodieaffair.com

 

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Blog/ Farm Stands & Specialty Markets/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

David’s Fish Market & Lobster

David's Fish Market & Lobster

If you are in the Salisbury, MA area,and in the mood for super fresh seafood, you’ve gotta stop by David’s Fish Market & Lobster, for a huge selection of seafood.

They’ve got everything here…..lobsters, haddock, cod, clams, mussels, shrimp, swordfish, salmon, striped bass, crabs, halibut and much more. The white fish is huge, giving you those super thick filets, that are desired when baking or sauteing/frying fish.

It is extremely hard to find markets that specialize in fresh seafood these days for some reason. This market is a great find as it has everything you need, and is the freshest possible.

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Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Main Dishes/ Poultry

Chicken Marsala

Updated! When you want the best flavor in Chicken Marsala, “you have to have a really good quality wine”! I’ve been trying many Marsala wines, and one I really like is Cantine Intorcia. It is a dark DOC wine from Sicily. Aged for 1 year, it has a sweet, velvety taste. The taste of Cantine Intorcia is no comparison over those grocery store brands that taste like chemicals. Always use a cooking wine that you can drink, and NEVER use those $2.00 a bottle cooking wines that are loaded with everything but wine (salt, potassium sorbate [preservative], potassium metabisulfite [preservative])!

I still prefer this recipe to the new and improved Better Chicken Marsala by Cooks Illustrated. In the new recipe, you basically make the sauce separately in a pan and add after all the other ingredients are cooked. Although both recipes are delicious. It’s up to you which way you prefer to make. Just make sure to use a really good wine either way. The results in your Marsala is like day and night.

Thanks Cooks Illustrated for the “Best Chicken Marsala Recipe Ever”! I’ve added a little touch of my own, but otherwise this is the best Chicken Marsala I’ve had anywhere. This sauce has no added broth, its all Marsala wine, and very syrupy and rich in its end result. Very addicting!  I order this often in restaurants, and none come close! If you love Marsala, you’ve got to try this recipe. I prefer mine with roasted potatoes instead of pasta, but any side you like will do.

I LOVE this recipe! Every time I make it I really enjoy it. Letting the wine reduce fully is very important. I use tomato paste in a tube for recipes such as these that only use a small amount. It is such a shame opening a can of tomato paste and end up throwing it out because I don’t end up using it. I added the onions as I just thought they would add to an already fantastic recipe. I have made this recipe for the buffet at my parties; holds well but use that day.
As a variation, you can add a little cream to the sauce. It adds a nice creamy texture to the sauce.

Chicken Marsala
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Author: A Foodie Affair
The fork tender chicken is smothered in sauteed mushrooms, onions, and sauced with a rich buttery Marsala sauce.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use Bell & Evans or organic)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2-1/2 oz. Pancetta (cut into small cubes) [could also substitute bacon]
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered or halved
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 c. Sweet Marsala Wine
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. juice from 1 small lemon
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. Place heatproof plate into a 200° F oven. Heat 12″ heavy bottom skillet to medium high until very hot. Pat chicken breasts dry. Meanwhile, place flour in a ziploc bag; season both side of chicken with salt & pepper. Put chicken in ziploc and coat both sides with flour. Shake off excess flour and set aside. Add oil to hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown; about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets on second side and cook 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven.
  2. Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate. Add mushrooms and onions and increase heat to medium-high; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, and cooked pancetta; saute while stirring until tomato paste begins to brown; about 1 minute. Off heat, add Marsala; return pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, until sauce is syrupy and reduced to about 1-1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.
Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Main Dishes/ Pasta

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Baked Ziti and Sausage | afoodieaffair.com

I haven’t posted much lately as I’ve been pretty busy with my Shopafoodieaffair, and er…life. So I thought I’d better make this post good! At this time of the year, it’s all about the comfort food. So when I saw a Lidia’s cooking show on PBS, and she was making Baked Ziti, its was on my mind all week. Of coarse, that got me thinking, I haven’t made pasta in quite a while. I decided to make it the other night. I didn’t take her recipe and make it, but more the concept. And I’ve been cooking for long enough to be able to wing it. I love the sauteed chucks of sausage in the Rigatoni Abruzzi at Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, so I decided to make it with sausage. She made hers with zucchini. Tomato, tomaato…

I filled a stockpot with water and a little salt and brought to a boil. I added the pasta and cooked until al dente directions on the label. Drain when cooked (do not rinse). Set aside.

Baked Ziti and Sausage | afoodieaffair.com

I started by sauteing some green bell pepper strips, thickly sliced onion and sliced mushrooms in a heavy skillet on medium high to high heat, until slightly browned. I like the veggies chunky rustic style. If you like them smaller, cut them smaller…Then remove from pan, and put it aside.

Then I took the sausage out of the casings, and pinched off large chunks. I added a little olive oil to the pan and sauteed the sausages on medium high to high heat until lightly browned. Make sure to cover to avoid a total mess of your stove top (if that’s possible!). I use a pretty high heat for sauteing, and it takes no time at all since my burners are 25,000 btu. If yours are lower, no problem, just make sure they are slightly browned at least on a side or two. You don’t want them to be brown all over. They won’t look very good, and in my opinion, browned meat ruins the taste of my sauce. Set the sausage aside. For this recipe I used a small amount of hot sausage as well to give it some spice, but its your option to substitute more sweet or any other king in place of it.

Pastene Tomatoes | afoodieaffair.com

In another skillet, I made my Marinara sauce from two cans of Pastene Chunky Crushed Tomatoes, diced onion, garlic, fresh basil and herbs. Viola! Sauce is ready in 15 minutes. You can use jarred sauce if you like…but I think fresh is way better, and takes nothing to make. Don’t be afraid to use herbs. They make or break a dish. Seriously, everything I make has loads of herbs in it. Everything taste flat and boring without them. Once you try this sauce, you’ll never go back! I promise 🙂

Baked Ziti and Sausage | afoodieaffair.com

Then I mixed the sauce, pepper, onion & mushroom mixture and sausages with the pasta. I added some fresh basil to the mixture as well. Its your choice whether to eat as it is, or layer with cheese in a baking dish and bake. I was even thinking of baking and adding some ricotta cheese. Cooking is all about taking a basic recipe or idea, and making it suit your taste and the taste of your family. And with pasta and sauce, how can you go wrong?

Baked Ziti and Sausage | afoodieaffair.com

Baked Ziti with Sausage
Author: A Foodie Affair
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 4 – 8″ sweet sausage links (casings removed)
  • 2 – 4″ hot sausage links (casings removed)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small green bell pepper, sliced into thick strips
  • 1/2 very large onion, Cut into large chunk wedges
  • A handful of whole small mushrooms (any kind), sliced
  • Sauce:
  • 1 small onion, diced very fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 28 oz cans Pastene Ground Peeled Tomatoes (I use chunky style)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Handful of fresh basil sliced in a Chiffonade (stack leaves, roll, and slice thinly)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp. sugar
Instructions
  1. Fill a stockpot with water and a little salt, and bring to a boil. I added the pasta and cooked until al dente directions on the label. Drain when cooked (do not rinse). Set aside.
  2. Saute some green bell pepper strips, thickly sliced onion and sliced mushrooms in a heavy skillet on medium high to high heat, until slightly browned. I like the veggies chunky, rustic style. If you like them smaller, cut them smaller…Then remove from pan, and put it aside.
  3. Then I took the sausage out of the casings, and pinched off large chunks. I added a little olive oil to the pan and sauteed the sausages on medium high to high heat until lightly browned. Make sure to cover to avoid a total mess of your stovetop (if that’s possible!). I use a pretty high heat for sauteing, and it takes no time at all since my burners are 25,000 btu. If yours are lower, no problem, just make sure they are slightly browned at least on a side or two. You don’t want them to be brown all over. They won’t look very good, and in my opinion, browned meat ruins the taste of my sauce. Set the sausage aside. For this recipe I used a small amount of hot sausage as well to give it some spice, but its your option to substitute more sweet or any other king in place of it.
  4. In another skillet, I made my Marinara sauce from two cans of Pastene Chunky Crushed Tomatoes, diced onion, garlic, fresh basil and herbs (you can add a little crushed red pepper if you like it spicy). Viola! Sauce is ready in 15 minutes. You can use jarred sauce if you like…but I think fresh is way better, and takes nothing to make. Don’t be afraid to use herbs. They make or break any dish. Seriously, everything I make has loads of herbs in it. Everything taste flat and boring without them. Once you try this sauce, you’ll never go back! I promise 🙂
  5. Then I mixed the sauce, pepper, onion & mushroom mixture and sausages with the pasta. I added some fresh basil to the mixture as well.
  6. You can eat without baking, or as I did for this recipe, I made one layer in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, layer with any Italian cheese, layer another layer and top with cheese. Bake until cheese on top is melted (approx 15 minutes).

There’s no way anyone can resist this ooey, gooey, cheesy, saucy, spicy, baked pasta. If you make your sauce ahead and keep in the fridge, it’s just a matter of boiling pasta, sauteing the veggies and sausage, and throwing it all together! Makes plenty for leftovers!

 

 

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Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Side Dishes/ Vegetables

Weeknight Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes | afoodieaffair.com

Ever since I saw these Weeknight Scalloped Potatoes on Cooks Illustrated, I have made this recipe my “go to” every time I want to make Scalloped Potatoes.

I made them this Christmas for a crown of 11, but they’re even simpler for 2.

Scalloped potatoes are one of my favorites. But traditionally they are unevenly cooked, the sauce is either too dry or too soupy, and its really a crap shoot what you get at the end. This recipe takes all the guesswork and anxiety out, and in the end you will enjoy the easiest and most delicious Scalloped Potatoes you’ll ever eat! I promise….

The basic concept is to precook the onions & potatoes with a hint of garlic, in the cream sauce, and then bake in a casserole or small individual casseroles, with some shredded cheddar cheese on top for about 15 minutes. That’s it! It’s like boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes only in a cream sauce. Who can’t do that? And, you can even control the heavy cream, by using a light cream, and you can thicken if necessary with a little cornstarch.

Mandoline | afoodieaffair.com
As with any recipe, the right tools make the job easier. Instead of hauling out the food processor, I used a Mandoline, which I laid on top of the stock pot I used to cook the potatoes in, and sliced. the job was super easy and the slices were all the same size. When you slice the potatoes by hand, the slices are all over the place in thickness. Using a food processor or Mandoline, makes the job super easy, and they will cook evenly in the sauce. There are a variety of slicers out there for all different price ranges, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one to suit your needs.

Scalloped Potatoes | afoodieaffair.comThe perfect thickness for slicing potatoes is 1/8″. Thicker slices slid apart when serving, and thinner, produced a mashed like consistency.

Thank you to Cooks Illustrated for coming up with this dynamite way of making Scalloped Potatoes! I know this will be your “go to” recipe too!

This recipe serves 4-6 people, and I doubled for 11 people and had a little leftovers, so if you’re making for 2 people, I’d half the recipe.

Weeknight Scalloped Potatoes
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ pounds russet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and sliced ⅛-inch thick (see photos below)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 ounces grated cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potatoes, chicken broth, cream, and bay leaves and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are almost tender (paring knife can be slipped into and out of potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
  3. Transfer mixture to 8-inch-square baking dish (or other 1 1/2-quart gratin dish) and press to an even layer; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until cream is bubbling around edges and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
  4. To Make Ahead: Once the scalloped potatoes have been transferred to the baking dish and pressed into an even layer in step 3, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, add the cheese, cover with foil, and bake in a 400-degree oven until the mixture is hot and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the cheddar begins to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

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Blog/ Breakfast & Brunch/ Cakes/ Coffee Cakes/ Front Page/ Home Page

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake | afoodieaffair.com

I am a sucker for coffee cakes. And, anything with apples in it. Hence, this gorgeous Apple Cinnamon Coffee cake recipe.

I am obsessed with Pinterest! In the car during long rides (no, I am not driving….), on the Ipad while watching TV (obviously I am not watching….), and anytime I have some free downtime. I find all kinds of ideas for decorating, crafts, recipes, table settings, vacations, wonders of the world, you name it.

That’s where I found this great Apple Cinnamon Coffee cake recipe from omgchocolatecakes.com.

This Labor Day weekend its quite a bit cooler than the summer’s been. There is a touch of Fall in the air, so this coffee cake featuring apples, is perfect.

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake | afoodieaffair.com

It’s super easy to make. Make sure you make in the 8″ springform pan though. If it were made in a regular cake pan, a good amount of the crumbs would come off the cake by the time you flipped it. The springform is the way to go.

Mine took a little longer to cook than the recipe called for, but that’s not unusual for my oven for some reason, so I just cooked until the blade of a knife came out clean.

This cake is perfect for taking anywhere, and everyone will be astonished it looks so good!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Author: A Foodie Affair
Ingredients
  • For cinnamon streusel crumb:
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter -melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large (or 2 small) tart apples-peeled and chopped
  • For the cake:
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • For apple cider glaze (optional):
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 -2 Tablespoons apple cider
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 8 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. To make cinnamon streusel crumb in a bowl, whisk together dry ingredient, add melted butter and vanilla and stir until the mixture is evenly moist, set aside.
  3. To make the cake in a large bowl, cream together 4 tbsp butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy, add egg and beat well, then add vanilla and sour cream and beat again.
  4. In another bowl, stir together 1 cup flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and add to the butter mixture, stir until just combined.
  5. Spread half the batter at the bottom of the pan ( it will be very thin layer). Spread the apple chunks evenly over the batter, then sprinkle about 1 cup of the cinnamon streusel crumbs over the apples. Spread the remaining batter over the crumbs and on top spread the rest of the cinnamon streusel.
  6. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Before remove the ring of springform pan run a thin knife around the cake.
  8. To make the optional glaze, whisk together powdered sugar with apple cider and drizzle over the cake.

 

 

 

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Appetizers/ Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Side Dishes

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Garlic Smashed Potatoes | afoodieaffair.com

When you crave garlic….loads of garlic…these Garlic Smashed Potatoes are just the ticket! The creamy red potatoes baked with super crunchy browned edges, are drizzled with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and you guessed it…garlic! You can put as much or as little as you desire…they’ll still be super comforting…super delicious!

Garlic Smashed Potatoes | afoodieaffair.com

These are really easy to make, I put mine in the oven, went out in the pool for a swim, came back in, flipped them, put back in the oven, and….viola….super tasty, crispy, creamy in the center, roasted potatoes!

I found these delicious gems on Pinterest from Dinner then Dessert, and am I glad I did!

What a wonderful surprise!

Garlic Smashed Potatoes | afoodieaffair.com

 

Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 7 large red potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle sheet pan generously with three tablespoons of olive oil. Place potatoes cut side down on sheet pan.
  2. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the cut sides are golden brown.
  3. Flip the potatoes over so the skin side is down.
  4. Using a potato masher, press down each potato until smashed but not completely flattened. (the more varied the top is, the more nooks and crannies that can brown in the second half of cooking).
  5. Brush tops of mashed potatoes with the remaining olive oil.
  6. In a small bowl mix the garlic and Parmesan cheese then add them to the top of the potatoes. Add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  7. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley or additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

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Blog/ Front Page/ Home Page/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

Francesco’s Ristorante

5-stars

I’ve been going to Francesco’s Ristorante occasionally now for quite a few years. The creature of habit that I am, they even know what I like to drink, and where I want to sit.

francescos

Francesco’s is quaint, family run business, where quality is obviously the most important factor. And that’s not just words on a paper, it is words they live by. And the food reflects it.

From the start, you get a warm welcome, mostly from owner Ari, who  makes you feel welcome and at home.

After you’re seated, your welcomed again by a waiter that fills your water glasses (and keeps them filled). Your waiter welcomes you with the specials of the night.

The martini’s and drinks are always perfect, and they even offer 25% off bottles of wine as of this writing.

bread

The bread is phenominal! Truly Artisan Bread, with a crispy “fresh out of the oven” crust, tender, warm, moist interior. It is served with olive oil for dipping, or butter. Save some for your salad if you order one, the bread is perfect for sopping up leftover Balsamic dressing. If a restaurant pays that much attention to the bread, you know you’re in for a treat!

Usually I go right for the main course, but occasionally I order an appetizer. Anyone that knows me, knows I LOVE Shrimp Cocktail. I have ordered in many, many places, and most are a disappointment. Either they’re too small, no where near cold enough, or taste like iodine. I have had them several time at Francesco’s, and every time they are a really good size, super cold (as they should be), and tasty. Recently, during the Taste of Hartford, I tried the Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms. WOW, they were the BEST Stuffed Mushrooms I have ever tasted. They are stuffed with a yummy Seafood Stuffing, and served with an equally yummy Gorgonzola Sauce. The sauce alone is so delicious, you’ll want to sop it up with your bread!

Francesco's Ristarante Hartford CT | afoodieaffair.com

As for entree’s, I have had the Chicken Picatta, Chicken Marsala, several fish specials of the day, and on those nights I feel like eating “healthy”, they even offer a deliciously seasoned sauteed boneless breast of chicken with some fresh sauteed veggies. Hubby says the Chicken Parmesan is the BEST he’s tasted. Generally Penne is is served on the side with most entrees, which come with a Vodka sauce. They also offer the best Marinara I’ve tasted.

Francesco's Ristarante Hartford CT | afoodieaffair.com

They also offer Cappuccino, Lemoncello, after dinner appetifs, and oh…those delicious desserts!

Francesco's Ristarante Hartford CT | afoodieaffair.com

In the warmer months, the patio is open for alfresco dining. The Lounge is perfect for watching your favorite team on one of three big screen TV’s, while enjoying a delicious meal!

During the week, lunch is also offered, featuring a selection of Panini & Wraps, Entrees & Pasta Specialties. What a perfect way to take a break from a stressful workday, than to sit on the patio with a delicious wrap, cool beverage and warm sunshine and fresh air!

francescos-dining

If this isn’t enough, they also offer a Banquet Facility that seats up to 65 people. Perfect for your next Business Meeting, Social Gathering, Holiday Party, Mercy Meal, Bridal Shower or Stag Party.

Off street parking is available right at the restaurants front door.

See for yourself what Francesco’s Ristorante has to offer… You’ll see why many describe it as “The BEST Little Italy Hartford” has to offer. It will be a meal to remember!

318 Franklin Avenue
Hartford, CT 06114
Phone: 860-296-3024 | 860-956-8198
http://ristorantefrancescos.com/

 

 

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Blog/ Cookies & Bars/ Front Page/ Home Page

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars | afoodieaffair.com

These Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars are the perfect alternative to chocolate chip cookies. These are super easy to make! Perfect to bring to a picnic, potluck, or any party! And at this time of year, you don’t want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, but still want something delicious to bring to parties!

I like nuts in Chocolate Chip cookies so I added pecans for some crunch and nutty flavor.

Butter is definitely the showstopper in this recipe. There is a stick and a half in this recipe. But that’s what makes them so delicious! Normally, I’m not a fan of raw cookie dough, but this dough smells just like the aroma when you’re making a caramel sauce! Buttery and delicious. You just have to taste it…

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars | afoodieaffair.com

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray (for easy removal and cutting).
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, on low speed, blend melted butter and sugars in until just combined. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Blend until combined. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Add chocolate chips and pecans, until blended. Turn out batter into the prepared pan, press into an even layer with your hands.
  4. Bake until bars are lightly golden brown, 25 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a knife until it comes out clean. Let cool. Remove bars, by lifting the parchment. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into squares.

The results are amazing! The texture of brownies, and the deliciousness of chocolate chip cookies! They store perfectly (especially at this time of year), which makes them perfect for lunches, snacks for the kids, or dinnertime dessert! This recipe is a keeper!

Chewy Chocolate Chip & Pecan Bars | afoodieaffair.com

 

Adapted from Mels Kitchen Cafe

Blog/ Front Page/ Gardening/ Home Page

Dragon Wing Begonias

Dragon Wing Begonias | afoodieaffair.com

It’s that time again! Time to get outdoors, drag out the outdoor furniture… and time for outdoor picnics and parties. It’s also time to get all the planters and window boxes planted with loads of annual flowers for that burst of Summer color.

One of my favorite annuals is the Dragon Wing Begonia (also known as Cane type Begonias). Over the years, I have planted virtually most every annual available in my area. None stands out as being the best for beautiful display, maintenance, and easy care. It is hard to believe that a plant can do so well in so many locations, flower all summer long, and even if you forget to water stays beautiful. I can’t tell you the plants I have thrown away due to the fact that most container plants must be watered every day.

Most of the time, while away on vacation, you are worried that you will return to see your plant fallen over, and dried up. Not the Dragon Wing Begonia…it’s strong and hardy. Last year, I think I watered one of my planters that was pretty far away from the hose…therefore a pain to water…ONCE! I don’t remember last year being an especially rainy Summer, so imagine it got the normal water that Mother Nature delivers, and my one watering. Now, I’m not telling you never water, because I’m sure it depends where you are located, how much natural rain you get, etc. I am telling you that this plant is hardy, beautiful, and something you will plant year after year, no doubt.

Dragon Wing Begonias | afoodieaffair.comAbove are one of my planters just planted this year. I buy plants in 4′ containers.

I can’t find these beautiful gems in every garden center, so you may have to look for them, or better yet, call garden centers and ask if they have them. This great plants grow to be about 15″-18″ or so. So, if they get too big for your area, just cut them back some. In a fairly large container, approx. 15″ in diameter, only need about 2 plants (the size that come in a 4″ or 6″ pot). They may look a little scant in there at first, but will quickly grow into a full display, trust me.

Pink Dragon Wing Begonias | afoodieaffair.comDragon Wing Begonia in pink.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately for some people), these gems are only hardy in zones 9-11. That means, in those areas, they will return year after year. In the zone I live in, they are considered an annual. I will tell you I have brought them in right before a hard frost was expected, not wanting the beautiful display to end. They did well at first, but slowly would lose their leaves, and essentially end up just sticks in a pot. Then I’d throw it away.

Since then I have been doing research on how to overwinter, and its says the “outdoor” leaves have to drop off and the plant grows “indoor” leaves, so perhaps I didn’t wait long enough. I will retry it again this year. Its says that the plant never goes dormant, so keep lightly moist, and placing the plant in a pebble tray where you can refill with water to keep plant humid. It prefers humid conditions to dry, and the inside of your house can be very dry with the heating system on in winter.

Dragon Wing Begonia | afoodieaffair.com

The light classification shows as light shade to shade, but I put these around my back patio which gets bright light but not scorching sun, and they do very well. They are super heat tolerant, and never need deadheading. Just give them occasional water, and leave them alone to do their thing! I am going to try overwintering again this year, and see how it goes. I’ll post my results later.

I have noticed a garden center in my general area that has loads of varieties of begonias. There seems to be a new white baby wing begonia I haven’t seen yet. I may have to take a road trip and go visit Andrews Greenhouse and check them out.

EVERYONE asks, “What is that plant over there???” it’s gorgeous!!! This plant is surely a SHOWSTOPPER!

Blog/ Breads, Muffins & Pretzels/ Front Page/ Home Page

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping | afoodieaffair.com

What better way to start off the Memorial Day weekend, than with these great Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping! Trust me…there isn’t one! Sitting on the porch, with a great cup of java, and these delicious muffins.

These muffins have a great lemon scent as there is lemon zest added. Just enough to taste without becoming overpowering (although it is my belief that you can never over do lemon…). The delicious crunch of butter and cinnamon on top just makes the whole thing.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping | afoodieaffair.com

I found this great recipe on Fifteen Spatulas blog…what a great site. You should definitely check it out. I’ve book marked quite a few recipes to try in the future!

Back to these great muffins….they are super easy to make…anyone can do it.

I always use fresh blueberries that I freeze. They never stick together and are perfect for this recipe. They are also delicious when cooled, which makes them perfect for lunchboxes, make and takes, etc.

You’ve just gotta try this great recipe! Thanks Joanne for such a great recipe!

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping | afoodieaffair.com

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 8 oz all purpose flour (about 1.5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • For the Streusel Crumb Topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2.5 oz flour (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (cinnamon goes beautifully with blueberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In the meantime, make the streusel crumb topping. Dice up the butter into cubes, and work all of the ingredients together with your fingertips, until it forms a bunch of crumbs and clumps. Chill in the fridge until ready for use.
  3. For the muffins: Whisk to combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon zest. Take a tbsp of the mixture and toss it with the blueberries. This ensures that the blueberries stay suspended throughout the muffin, instead of falling to the bottom.
  4. Place the vegetable oil, egg, and milk in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add that to the flour mixture, and remember, leave lots of lumps. If there aren’t any lumps whenever you are using the muffin method of baking, you have overmixed and invited more gluten (and toughness) to the party than was welcome. Don’t worry, a few lumps will bake out.
  5. Dump in the blueberries, and fold them in gently. Use a scoop to portion them out into the muffin cups, and sprinkle the crumb topping all over the tops. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with no wet batter. Let them cool, and enjoy!