Saturday, October 31, 2009

Corn Chowder

I learned this recipe from the bosses at my previous job - every semester they make a huge pot of corn chowder for new volunteers who are training to answer phones at the crisis hotline. They are the masters of soup, at least in my book. Thanks, K and H!

The cheese is my favorite part, but depending on your preference, you may want not want a strong cheese flavor. For this size pot of soup, the minimum amount of cheese is about 8 oz. (which is a standard size block of cheese). In my workup, I used about one and a half blocks of cheddar, and it was pretty tasty. The biggest thing to attend to is keeping the heat low or off once dairy has been added. A nice soup can go to waste if you curdle the milk. It's no problem to reheat this later, as long as you don't allow the mixture to boil.


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 3 large white potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of thyme
  • 3 bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetarian) **
  • 2 lbs. frozen corn
  • 8 to 16 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded **
  • milk
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Heat a stockpot to medium-low heat.
  2. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic and saute until brown.
  3. Add onion. Cook until onions are soft and translucent; about 10 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes to the stockpot, then pour in enough water to cover the potatoes.
  5. Add bay leaves, thyme, and bouillon cubes. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until potatoes are completely cooked and tender.
  6. Add corn and simmer until heated throughout.
  7. Turn heat off. Add cheese and stir well. Pour in enough milk to change the color of the liquid, stir well.
  8. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
**For a gluten-free diet, make sure to use gluten-free bouillon cubes, as well as cheese that was made using gluten-free caking agents, such as Cabot cheese.

This recipe is really flexible because you can add anything you like. If you want to add ham or bacon, cook the meat before the onion goes in. The fat will add flavor that will carry throughout the dish. If you want other vegetables, add them in right before or after the potatoes (depending on soft they are, this will change how much time they need to cook). With regard to the spices, I have often had this recipe with cumin seed replacing the thyme - it is quite nice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Simple Vanilla Glaze

This marks the beginning of my excursion into the world of food blogging. I hope to provide you with a look into my kitchen as I experiment with from-scratch recipes in cooking and baking.

Tonight's recipe comes to you in the form of pumpkin cupcakes, from Martha Stewart Online. Here is a link to the original recipe, and below I share my alterations on that recipe.

I primarily purchase salted butter, as we use it on bread, and I have never had a problem using it in baking, as long as I take care to omit any salt that is added to the recipe. The recipe below reflects that, as well as my love for allspice.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with paper liners.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and all spices. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together both sugars, butter, and eggs. (I used my KitchenAid stand mixer at Speed 2 for about 1 minute.)
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree. Beat at medium speed until smooth and almost fluffy. (KitchenAid Speed 4)
  6. Fill each paper liner about half-full.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from cupcake pan and let cool completely.


  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups confectionary sugar
  • milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Pour about confectionery sugar in a bowl. Whisk in a small amount of milk to thin out the sugar.
  2. Add vanilla. Whisk until blended. Consistency should be thin but not watery.
  3. To glaze the cupcakes, dip them into the bowl of glaze and let the excess drip off.
  4. For a finish, sprinkle with confectionery sugar.


The cupcakes are a lot like pumpkin muffins - very moist with a mellow flavor. My workup of the recipe produced 27 cupcakes, much more than the 18 suggested by Martha. They would also pair well with cream cheese frosting if you were looking for something more substantial than a thin glaze.
I could probably eat a hundred of them.

Happy autumn!