Now that it is finally starting to get warm out, I’m reminded of summers spent sitting on a Newport, Rhode Island wharf having a cup of chowdah (or chowder, if you’re not from New England). Growing up on the shores of Rhode Island, I have had many bowls of clam and seafood chowdah in my life. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I know what doesn’t taste authentic. That red stuff from NY is a no, no for me!
Below is a recipe I have made many times that has been a proven crowd pleaser, even for those who aren’t really into seafood. I add additional seafood beyond clams because I’m not into a lot of chewy clam in my chowdah, its a texture thing.
This recipe makes a large quantity – it’s great if New England is in the Super Bowl and you want to make something that fits the theme. I’ve also made if for Christmas Eve as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My friends and family always love it and it never goes to waste. I believe you can freeze it and reheat later, but I’ve never had enough left over to freeze.
Last year my niece had a Minnie Mouse themed birthday party and I wanted to bring an appetizer that fit the party’s theme. I found a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter on Amazon and thought I would try using it to make some festive Quesadillas. We’re going to pretend it’s Minnie Mouse instead of Mickey.
I bought a few large packages of chicken breast and boiled them. Since I have a bad wrist and there was a lot of chicken to shred, I popped them into my stand mixer. It shred all the chicken (in small batches) in a few minutes. Huge time (and wrist) saver! While it was in the mixer, I sprinkled some taco seasoning and spices over the bowl to give the chicken a Mexican flavor. But because it was going to a kids party, I didn’t want the flavor to be too overpowering, so I only added enough to give a hint of flavor without being too strong.
I shred a few bricks of cheddar and Monterey Jack in the food processor and layered with the chicken in tortilla wraps. Instead of folding them in half, I used two quesadillas with the filling in between like a sandwich. This allowed more room to cut out Minnies. I spread aluminum foil over some cookie sheets and baked them in the over for a few minutes until I could see the cheese bubbling around the edges.
Then I cut them out with the cookie cutter on a large cutting board. Even though it was a metal cookie cutter, it did not cut through the quesadillas easily. I traced around the edges of the cookie cutter with a sharp knife to cut through the wrap. I was able to get about eight Minnies from each quesadilla. This part took some time and there were a lot of scraps left over, which my husband had no problem eating!
They were a big hit at the party among the kids and the adults!
Easter is just around the corner so I thought I would post some fun Easter treats I’ve brought to family gatherings.
The first are Peeps Nest Cookies which start with a basic sugar cookie (the pre-made tube you slice and bake work fine). I use some food coloring and vanilla or cream cheese frosting to make them festive. Then I mix shredded coconut and chocolate frosting in a big bowl. I can’t remember the exact frosting to coconut ratio, but they’re both fairly inexpensive (especially with coupons!) so I pick up a few extra of each. I believe is its 3-4 bags of coconut and one jar of frosting. I just start with the coconut in a bowl and slowly add in a bit of frosting until I get the texture right. Too much frosting and the nest will melt or get a bit soggy. Once the consistency is right, use your fingers to pinch the mixture into the shape of a ring around the cookies. I usually let them sit uncovered overnight so the frosting hardens a bit. Then place jelly beans and peeps on top and you’re all done!
The second is Spinach Dip Bread Bunny. I use Knorr veggie mix and follow the recipe on the back except I double the sour cream and use half the mayo. Then the bunny was made with a bread boule, sandwich bun, baguette, chives, and olives.