Tag Archives: writer

Chicken, Corn, and Rice Chowder

It is freezing cold in NC, with a forecast low for this morning of 17 degrees.  Brrr. Maybe we should have moved further south? ;-)

2014-10-28 14.27.14Days like today just cry out for soup. I made this one for lunch with a friend a friend a few weeks ago.  It is a great use for leftover chicken and rice, if you have some on hand.  I used white rice last time, but cooked brown or wild rice works, too.   Just be sure it is fully cooked before adding it to the soup.

Chicken, Corn, and Rice Chowder

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Time: about 2 hours
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4 Tbsp.       Olive Oil

3                Carrots, Finely Diced

3                Stalks Celery, Finely Diced

1               Onion, Diced

2 Cans       Corn (or 1 bag of frozen)

2 lbs.         Cooked Chicken, Shredded

1 Can        Creamed Corn

6 Cups      Chicken Broth

½ Cup      Cold Water

¼ Cup      Corn Starch

2 Tbsp.     Each, Herbs de Province and Creole Seasoning (I use Emeril’s Essence)

1 Cup       Dry Rice, cooked per package instructions (White, Brown, Wild, or some combination would work)

1 Cup       Half and Half

½ Cup      Sour Cream

                  Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium High Heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the corn (whole kernels only, not the creamed corn). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown.
  3. Add chicken, creamed corn, chicken broth, Herbs de Province, and Creole seasoning. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir corn starch into cold water until completely dissolved. Mix into soup and return to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  6. Add the cooked rice to the soup, and heat through.
  7. Mix the half and half and sour cream in a medium bowl. Add a few ladles of soup to the bowl to temper the cream. Add the cream mixture to the soup.
  8. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then serve.

Note: At step 3 all ingredients could be put in a crock pot. Add the cornstarch and water and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Add the cooked rice, half and half and sour cream 10 minutes before serving to warm through.

2014-10-28 14.27.09Unfortunately, we jumped right into this yummy soup, and forgot to take any pictures of it all platted up, but this should give you an idea of the rich, creamy goodness in this hearty chowder.

Just a quick tip: if you like to make up a big batch of soup on the weekend to eat over the course of the week, you may want to hold off on adding the rice, adding it to the bowls and serving the soup over it instead so your rice doesn’t get mushy while sitting in the fridge.

What’s your favorite chilly-day food? Which do you prefer: cream soups, broth soups, or hearty stews? 

And is it just me, or does it seem really cold really early this year? I think I’ll go back to snuggling under the blanket with my mini space heater (also known as the puppy)! :-)

Christmas in October

Just a few of last years cookies.

Just a few of last years cookies.

I love Christmas–the music, the cookies, the decorations, people going out of their way to help others (except in the stores–I avoid stores at all costs at Christmas time), and, oh yeah, the cookies! ;-) Even so, I have always had a not-before-Halloween rule for anything Christmas (except the shopping–that needs to be done as early as possible, thanks to the above rule of avoiding stores at Christmas).

This year, however, I am plotting out a new novel–a Christmas mystery–in October.

This is the first year we are in NC in fall, and the first year in over ten years we won’t be with family for Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Oh, and it is still 80 outside. Even when I lived in Florida, 80 degrees never felt very Christmasy to me. Needless to say, I am having a bit of a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit.

The pup, hanging out under our Christmas tree a few years ago

The pup, hanging out under our Christmas tree a few years ago

Not wanting to get off track, I created my musical playlist for this story a couple of weeks ago– a playlist consisting of all Christmas music. Since then, I have listened to Christmas music (sometimes rather loud Christmas music) during my writing time–usually 4 or more hours every day.

I didn’t think much of it until earlier this morning, when I noticed that I could hear our neighbor talking on the phone between songs. I suddenly realized I have been playing Christmas music in October with the windows open. I think I may have figured out why the neighbors have looked at me like I am crazy the past two weeks.

Hey, at least I didn’t put up the tree yet! (Although I did think about it.) ;-)

What would you think if you heard a neighbor playing Christmas music in October? Or even November? When is it safe to open the windows again?

And, even though I may be the only one thinking about this already, what is your favorite Christmas carol? ;-)

The “Ber” Months

There was a great meme floating around Facebook last week, counting down the days to the “ber” months: September, October, November, and December, also known as my favorite months of the year. ;-)

IMG_1627This year, September also means it has been six months since our move south, and just over four months since we moved into our new home. It has taken a while, but the house is finally starting to feel like home.

Of course, Labor Day brought about a new question this year.  I have always decorated my house with fall decorations on Labor Day. I switch out the pillows and tablecloths in our living room and dining room from summery turquoise to rich cranberry.  I put out mums and other fall flowers.  I add a centerpiece of fall leaves and pumpkin candles.  You get the idea.

On October first, I add a few Halloween decorations. On November 1, Halloween goes away and Thanksgiving décor goes up.  But my favorite has always been September: basic decorations with the rich colors of fall.

This always worked for us.  We did, after all, live in Pennsylvania.  September brought cooler temps and, often, changing leaves. But, now we are in North Carolina. Leaves 2

A few days ago, I googled “when do leaves change colors in North Carolina”. The answer? Late October, early November.  Can I really decorate for fall two months before the leaves change? Or should I wait until October this year?

I was torn.  Our new house has a fireplace and a mantle, and I have been counting down the days to Labor Day since we first signed the lease almost a month before moving in. When I walked into this house, I immediately said that the wall with the fireplace and built-in shelves would be amazing in fall (and for Christmas, but I am not going there yet).

Yesterday, I was still debating when I walked into Sam’s Club for a few groceries and I saw rows of beautiful mums, just starting to bloom.  I have made the mistake of waiting too long to buy mums in the past, so I made sure to grab them right away.IMG_1453

Of course, once I had the mums, I couldn’t put them out without the rest of my fall decorations.  Ultimately, I decided to wait to change out my outdoor decorations (a wreath and a flag) for a few weeks so the neighbors don’t think I am insane, but inside, we are embracing the colors of fall. :-)

What is your favorite season? Do you decorate your home for different seasons? If so, when do you put out your fall décor?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most people who love to bake had one recipe that made them fall in love with baking, something that made them want to try new and exciting things. For me (and many others, I suspect), that one recipe was Chocolate Chip Cookies.IMG_0525 (2)

Like most people, I started with the recipe on the bag of Chocolate Chips. In my late teens, I found the recipe was fun and easy. It quickly became my go-to recipe if I needed to take something to a party.

Back then, the only thing I did to change the recipe was to add M&M’S to add a bit of color. ;-) (This is still a fun idea, just don’t leave out the chips completely.)

One day, when I was about 20, I had committed to bringing cookies to work. I was already running late for my shift when I realized I was out of sugar.  In a pinch, I used all brown sugar. IMG_1460

People immediately realized something was different. Surprisingly, most people loved the change.

At that point, I started playing with the recipe–adjusting baking soda, sugar ratios, vanilla, and number of chips. I have made these over and over until I was truly happy with the end result. I settled on this recipe about five years ago, and these cookies are still my most requested, even by my husband.

You’ll see it isn’t too far off from the original.  More brown sugar, less granulated sugar. More vanilla, more chips. The result is a cookie that is crispy on the edges, but soft and chewy in the middle.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Chunks (1 ½ 12 oz. packages)



    1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
    2. Add butter and sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat on medium until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
    3. Meanwhile, add flour, baking soda, and salt to a small bowl and stir to combine.
    4. Add eggs to butter and sugar and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes.
    5. Add flour mixture to mixer and stir on lowest setting to combine.  Increase speed to medium and beat for one minute.
    6. Remove bowl from the mixer, and add in Chocolate Chips.  Stir to combine.
    7. Using a cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
    8. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are set and the cookies just start to turn golden brown.
    9. Keep on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then slide parchment and cookies to a cooling rack.
    10. Allow to cool 15 minutes to enjoy warm or cool completely.Enjoy!

IMG_1510 Do you have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe? What dish made you fall in love with baking?  Share in the comments! ;-)


One-Pot Wonder – Roasted Garlic Chicken

The first time my dad invited Hubby and I over for 40 Clove of Garlic Chicken, we almost said no.  I love garlic, but 40 cloves is a lot, even for me!photo I am so glad we decided to try it, because it has become one of my favorite meals! I have quite a few friends who have said that this is their favorite thing I make. It was also my husband’s suggestion the first time I cooked for new friends after moving to NC (and they seemed to love it, too).  :-) Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Spinach, Artichoke, and Tomato Risotto

Hubby and I love fresh vegetables, and try to have at least one or two meals a week where the veggie get to be the start instead of the protein.  Risotto is one of my favorite (mostly) vegetarian dishes (I prefer chicken broth to vegetable broth).Spin Art Risotto

Once you have the basic technique for risotto down, the combinations are almost limitless.  I love grilled asparagus or green beans in a risotto, and it is easy to add in some fish or meat, too.  For something a bit different, try substituting barley for the Arborio rice.

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Princess Puppydog

Bored in the car.

Bored in the car.

Jon and I don’t have kids–we have a pup.  We didn’t plan it that way, but we love our life and our baby, even if she is a five-year-old dog. ;-)

We always planned to have one of us home with the kids once we had them.  The opportunity for me to leave my job and stay home presented itself about six years ago, and we decided to give it a try before there were kids in the picture.   At some point we realized kids likely weren’t in the cards, but we were already used to my being home, so we stuck with it.  Which is how I became a childless housewife in 2014 (or, as my husband likes to call it, a stay-at-home puppy mommy).
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