Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Would the Muscles from Brussels Eat?

My foodie friend was asking me a seafood question today, and it got me craving some budget friendly seafood for dinner. Everyone has their comfort foods; one of ours is mussels.

Mussels in White Wine Sauce

1 1/2 lbs mussels
1 Tbp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion or shallots
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 roma tomato, chopped
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 tsp saffron*
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley


Cleaning mussels is by far the hardest part of preparing them. We bought them cleaned and de-bearded, but you may have to do this depending on where you shop. Now the trick to getting the sand out is to soak the mussels in water with a large handful of flour. Leave them soaking for about 30 minutes before draining. You will also need to check for mussels that remain open. If you press them shut and they don't react (close up), you don't want to eat them.

Next comes the sauce. You'll need a large stockpot with a lid to steam the mussels. Add the butter and olive oil and heat over medium heat. Cook your onion or shallots for 2-3 minutes and then add in garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until your onions are clear. Now, add tomatoes, parsley, thyme, white wine, saffron, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil.

Add in mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. I like to shake the pot every once in a while to insure even cooking. If they don't open, get rid of them. Serve mussels with sauce. This is a two person recipe. We serve it with a side salad and crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

*If you don't have saffron, don't worry about it. It is delicious, but not necessary.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Crock Pot Chronicles: Recession Soup

How I love my 10 month old, but sometimes he makes shopping challenging. Today I decided to forgo the grocery shopping and create something with what was in the pantry. If you stock the same staples that I do, you'll always be ready to make this one without spending anything. Behold...

Recession Soup

2 lbs of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 cups of chicken broth or stock
2 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground white pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 strips of cooked bacon, chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream


Peel and cut potatoes into equal sized chunks. If you aren't sure what 2 lbs looks like, think of almost half of the bag of potatoes you usually buy (5 lb bag). They will cover the bottom of a large slow cooker.

Add in chicken broth or stock, paprika, celery seed, dill, white pepper, and salt. Turn slow cooker to low heat setting.

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until onions are clear.

Add the onions and garlic to the slow cooker and stir.

Microwave or cook bacon strips in the skillet until they are crisp. Chop and add to the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours. (potatoes should be tender)

Stir soup and break up potatoes to form smaller chunks. Add in the nutmeg and cream. Note: if you'd like to use fresh dill, it would be best to wait to add it until this step. Cover the slow cooker again for 20-30 minutes (low heat). This makes 4 servings of yummy, comforting, CHEAP soup.