Paella is one of those dishes that was always on my “to make” list, but I just never got around to. Honestly, I don’t know why I waited so long to give it a whirl. Chicken, spicy chorizo, shrimp, clams, white wine, saffron – all cooked together, with a hefty portion of rice acting as a bed to absorb all that goodness.

I love one dish meals to begin with. But, the flavor that comes out of this simple – yet sophisticated dish, is un-paralleled.

Yeah, I know it’s traditionally made with mussels. But, that’s something we don’t come by too often here on the Eastern Shore. They tend prefer rocky coastlines, and we have alot of marshy muddy coast here. That being said, I love this Eastern Shore twist of the littleneck clams. Juicy and tender – they add wonderful flavor to the paella. That I’m not so sure you’d get with mussels to begin with…

I’ve never had a paella pan (don’t believe in uni-taskers), but if you have a heavy dutch oven – you’re all set! The good folks at Le Creuset were so kind to send me this gorgeous Mariner Star Dutch oven a couple of weeks ago. I love it’s nautical look and feel, it looks right at home in my island kitchen.

Oh yeah, by the way – they have one to give away to one lucky reader! Details can be found at the end of the post.A quick sear of the chicken and chorizo, followed by a saute of onion and garlic. Tomatoes, wine, chicken stock saffron, and bay leaf create a rich broth in which the rice cooks, along with the chicken and chorizo, in the oven. The seafood is added for the last few minutes, so it doesn’t get overcooked in the process.

To attain the soccarat, or the crispy edge on the bottom of your paella, just takes a few minutes on the stovetop once the paella is removed from the oven. And trust me, it’s worth it. Don’t skip this step.

An easy garnish of a lemon wedge and some fresh parsley, a green salad, and a bottle of wine – and you’ve got a lovely meal fit for company!

Le Creuset has graciously offered to giveaway one of the Limited Edition Mariner Star 5.5 Quart Round Dutch Oven to one lucky reader. What’s your favorite thing to make in a dutch oven? Leave a comment telling us what that is, here on this post, to be entered to win. Winner will be chosen on February 10th at 12 PM, via random number generator.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Disclaimer: I received a 5.5 Quart Round Dutch Oven from Le Creuset for review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This time of year, there’s really nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of soup. Am I right? Well, except for when it’s a chowder. Made using pantry staples. That’s incredible easy…

The shorter days and grey skies really have me yearning for comfort foods. And this recipe definitely fits the bill. A deliciously cheesy chicken chowder that can be made in just a few minutes. I usually use leftover chicken. However there’s no shame in the store-bought rotisserie game. Just stay away from the canned stuff, ick!

A quick saute of stand-by veggies – all the usual suspects: onions, carrots, celery, garlic. Then some carbalicious goodness in the form of potatoes and corn join the party. With a good helping of shredded cheddar and heavy cream, ya know… to throw the richness factor just right over the edge.

Pair with a nice green salad, and some warm crusty bread. Sheer perfection! As with any soup, stew, or chowder – this just gets better after a day in the fridge. Perfect to whip a batch up and enjoy for lunch all week. 

Source: adapted from Taste of Home, June/July 1993

Garlic Herb Salt

Back at Christmas time I bought an insane amount of pre-peeled garlic due to poor grocery shopping planning, and needed something to do with it. I’d remembered a recipe they’d talked about on The Splendid Table a while back for homemade seasoned salt using fresh garlic, and decided that since I had a plethora of the stuff that I needed something to do with…this was the perfect opportunity to try out said recipe.

You guys, it’s been pretty much the only seasoning I’ve used since then – save chili powder and cumin. Not a meal goes by that I don’t find myself dipping into the stuff. I keep a mason jar curing of it at all times, just because it’s so perfect to use on everything – any protein under the sun, to any vegetable or starch you can throw at it! It really heightens the flavor of whatever it is you use it on, without overwhelming it…which many store-bought seasoning blends tend to do!

I roasted the garlic first – to intensify and deepen the flavors. Then, toss it into bunch of salt along with some freshly chopped herbs. Any mix of your favorite will do – I’ve been using rosemary and thyme recently, just because it’s been pretty readily available during the cold months.

However now that it’s warming up and I’m starting to think about my herb garden – I’m looking forward to experimenting with different blends of herbs this season. I also think that bit of citrus zest would also be a welcome addition to the party! Or maybe a smidge of lavender for an Herbes de Provance twist? Have fun with it, you can’t mess this one up!

Source: adapted from The Splendid Table

Monterey Chicken Sandwich

Life has been crazy around here lately. First off, our school day has been extended through the remainder of the year to make up for lost time for all the snow/fog days we had. So, our 1st grader goes in at 8:15 AM – and doesn’t get home until around 4:45.

Then factor in homework, Cub Scouts, and baseball practices/games into our schedule…and it doesn’t leave much time for a good, home-cooked meal around the dinner table. This chicken sandwich is an answered prayer on those evenings!

A chicken cutlet cooks up quickly on the grill or in a skillet, brushed with a flavorful barbecue sauce, then piled with bacon and melted cheese. Throw it on a bun, and dinner is done! They’re even great wrapped up and taken “to-go”, to later be enjoyed at the game (or on the beach!).

I added a slice of tomato and onion for a little extra flavor and crunch, and I thought it worked nicely with the other components. I served alongside some sweet potato chips and a pickle, for a quick dinner.

Another great, quick recipe to have under my belt for those nights when life is just – crazy!

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman