Curried Pumpkin Coconut and Shrimp Soup

There are so many layers of flavor here from the mirepoix, to the curry, to the coconut, to the potent shrimp stock and of course, the pumpkin. This is a hearty, homey soup perfect for Autumn!

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There are quite a few steps but don’t let this intimidate you. Organize your ingredients, your tools and get to work! I always say, work smarter not harder. Tackle one thing at a time in the order that you will be working. If you are roasting your fresh pumpkin, get that out of the way first. While that’s happening, you can get your shrimp stock simmering. Once you have everything lines up, just bang it on out!

 

Ingredients:

8 cup fresh chopped, roasted pumpkin (3-4 C canned pumpkin)

1 large onion

3 celery stalks

2 large carrots, or 3-5 smaller carrots

4-6 garlic cloves

1-2 lbs shrimp, deveined (save shells)

1- 13.5 oz can of coconut milk

6 tbsp preferred curry powder

5 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp black pepper

Worcestershire sauce

kosher salt, to taste

 

  1. If you are using fresh pumpkin, roast this first. You can follow the steps here. pumpsoup7
  2. Peel your shrimp and place the shells in a pot, cover with waterpumpsouppumpsoup2
  3. Prepare your mirepoix
    1. Roughly chop celery, carrot, onionpumpsoup3
  4. Throw any peels, tops, etc. in the pot with the shrimp, stir.
    1. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, this will be your shrimp stock

      pumpsoup4

      Shrimp shells, onion peel, celery stumps, carrot peel and heads

  5. Over medium heat, soften the mirepoix. Season with salt and pepper.pumpsoup8
  6. Add the pumpkin, add your spices plus salt and pepperpumpsoup9pumpsoup10pumpsoup12
  7. Drain the shells and peels from the stockpumpsoup5pumpsoup6
  8. Add 3-4 cups of shrimp stock, stir
  9. Reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutespumpsoup13
  10. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blenderpumpsoup14pumpsoup15
  11. Return to your pot, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  12. Add the coconut milk and 1-2 splashes of Worcestershire saucepumpsoup16
  13. Taste, taste, taste! Adjust your spices as needed. My family likes bold spice and flavor, you may want a little less or a little more. This is where you taste and adjust.
  14. Add your shrimp, stir and close the lid. Your shrimp will gently poach in the soup liquid.soup102
  15. Allow to simmer for another 20-30 minutes

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Optional:

Top with pepitas, drizzle of coconut milk or chopped mint or cilantro!

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Pumpkin Cornbread

A very homey, Autumny treat. These are lightly spiced. They smell, taste and look like my favorite season. These would be awesome with some really hearty chili. I served these with an equally Autumny Pumpkin Soup!

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Ingredients:

 

1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 cup reduced fat milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ¼ cup cornmeal

¾ cup AP flour, leveled

½ tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

¾ tsp

1 dash each: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

 

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  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In a small bowl, whisk and combine puree, milk, sugar and eggs.cb3
  3. In a larger bowl, combine the dry ingredientscb2
  4. You’ll add the wet ingredients to the dry, plus the buttercb6
  5. Using a silicone spatula, just combine; do not over mix your batter
  6. Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray
  7. Scoop your batter into the tinscb7
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until goldeny; and pass the toothpick test
  9. Allow to cool in the pan before transferring to rack
    1. For a little extra yum, top with butter while they’re hotcb8cb10cb11
  10. Store in air tight container

 

 

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

It is my favorite season of the year. Time for boots, scarves, pumpkin spice everything and hearty, comfort food. I decided to whip up a soup this Sunday. I am hosting my nana and my aunt and I figured comfort food would be the way to go. This was my first time working with gnocchi and in true form I chose to make them myself instead of buying them from the store. Fortunately, it was not a tragedy. This soup is super flavorful and pretty damn easy to make! Feel free to use store bought gnocchi! I am not Ina Garten. Use what you want or what you got!

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Ingredients:

 

Large Onion

Celery

Carrots

4-5 cloves of garlic

Chicken

3 cups of half and half

1 ½ containers of low sodium chicken stock (32oz)

Kosher salt

Thyme

Rosemary

Three handfuls of fresh spinach

Splash of fish sauce

Splash of Worcestershire

6 tbsp unsalted butter

½ cup of flour

 

  1. Prepare your chicken as you prefer. I chose to roast three bone in chicken breasts at 400 degrees. I shredded the meat. Feel free to use your preferred cut of chicken or even a rotisserie chicken.20171015_15233020171015_16184220171015_162337
  2. Over medium heat, sautee your carrots, celery and onions until they’re softened. Towards the end add the garlic. Remove from the heat.
  3. Melt the butter and add the flour to create a roux.20171015_16351220171015_164018
  4. Add the half and half, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the chicken broth.
  6. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, this will thicken.
  7. Season to taste. I used thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic and a couple of splashes of Worcestershire and fish sauce to deepen the savory flavor.20171015_165336
  8. If cooking: Remove your chicken, allow it to cool. Chop or shred. Add this to the soup.20171015_162701
  9. Taste and adjust your seasonings.
  10. Add gnocchi
  11. Add your spinach and allow it to wilt.20171015_173215
  12. Allow this to simmer
  13. Top with chopped tomato20171015_18265520171015_18265820171015_183117

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Weeknight Chicken and Dumplings

The weather has dropped suddenly in Washington, DC and it has been feeling like Autumn all week. I couldn’t wait to make a nice homey comfort dish. Chicken and dumplings is a favorite in my family.

cd16When I have the time and energy, I prefer to make a huge batch starting with homemade stock. But today is Wednesday. That is not a Wednesday meal for me. Tonight, I adapted it to suit a weeknight meal. Mostly homemade but the broth got a helping hand from some store-bought reduced sodium stock. We’ll punch it up, though, no worries.

I like to add garlic and herbs to my dumping dough for an added layer of flavor. Feel free to adapt and adjust to suit your preferences.

Autumn, here we come!

 

Ingredients:

4-6 boneless chicken thighs

Four stalks of celery

One med-large onion

3-4 carrots

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 32 oz container of reduced sodium chicken stock

Fish sauce

Worcestershire sauce

All-purpose flour

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Crushed red pepper

Garlic powder

Rosemary

Bell’s poultry seasoning

 

 

 

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown chicken thighs, do not cook through, over med high heat.
    • I used four boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You can use whatever chicken you prefer, though. It’s also easy to scale the recipe up or down.
    • Be careful with breasts as they tend to dry out if not handled properly.cd2cd3
  1. Chop your vegetables
  2. Remove chicken thighs from heat
  3. Add veg and salt and pepperScreen Shot 2017-08-30 at 7.53.32 PMcd4
  4. Add a 1/2 container of reduced sodium chicken broth, stir and scrape up the bottom of the pancd5
  5. Add remaining 1/2 of the broth, fill container with water and add that to the pot as well
  6. Bring to a boil, add the chicken
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
  8. While the chicken is simmering, in a large bowl add 2.5-3 cups of flour, add about 2 rounded tsp salt, plus black pepper, garlic powder and rosemary to taste (or any other herb that you prefer).cd8
  9. Add ice cold water a few tbsp at a time. Stirring in the center of the bowl. Slowly incorporating flour from the perimeter, almost like making pasta.
    • Do this just until the dough comes together. If it is too wet add more flour, too dry then add more water.
  1. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Sprinkle with flour and gently knead to make sure it’s not sticking. Press, or roll, the dough to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut into your desired shape.cd9cd10cd11cd12
  2. Your chicken should be ready and tender after 20-25 min. Remove from stock, shred using two forks. Add back to the pot.cd6
  3. Taste your broth, add salt and pepper as needed. I also add about 1/4-1/2 tsp of Bell’s poultry seasoning, two splashes of fish sauce and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Taste and adjust.cd7
  4. Bring to a boil. Gently stir while you add your dumplings one by one. You don’t want to have big ol’ clumps of dough.
    • If you prefer a slightly thicker consistency, I create a slurry of corn starch, splash of Worcestershire and cold water.cd13cd14
  5. Once added and incorporated, allow to simmer for at least 10-15 min

 

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chicken Parm Burgers with Homemade Brioche-Roasted Garlic Buns

Scrolling the Book of Face and a friend of mine shared one of those Not-to-be-named Food Videos. I swear, either I’m repulsed, confused or just….left hanging. This recipe video had so much promise but where they could have really amped up the flavor, they fell flat. I told my friend, I am re-doing this recipe and it is happening SOON.

 

And boy, did I.

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For over a week, I thought about this. Where can I up the flavor? How can I make this not boring?

Well, for one, I made my own brioche buns. This isn’t absolutely necessary but if you do it? You will not regret it. These buns are so intoxicating without any help. Just fresh out the oven and all you taste is yummy, buttery, soft, crispy heaven. So, allow me to channel Ina Garten- you do not need freshly baked brioche buns, you can use store bought. [insert judgement and friendly smile].cpb7cpb8

I actually just used this recipe from one of my favorite yeast brands. It’s a plan ahead recipe, though there are “lighter” recipes out there that allow you to bake within a couple of hours if you do your Googles. However, because of the way these buns came on? I will dedicate the time to get this result over and over again.

Major note: if you are going to make this recipe with homemade buns, allow yourself time! You need to start the buns either very, very early the morning before dinner or start them the previous night. You need to allow time for the dough to properly rise.

Now, this Video Recipe missed another prime opportunity to step the recipe up. Why put a chicken parm burger on a plain bun? Why not make it garlic bread? I took it a step further and roasted garlic to add to the buttery-herby mixture that topped the buns. Listen, Linda. Honey…Listen. Y-E-S! Brilliant, if I do say so myself. So, boom, right there. Two ways to boost the flavor.

So…. I must admit that I also ground my own meat. Wait, don’t go. This time I just opted for a food processor! Easy-peasy! I ditched the chicken skin, I deboned about 8 chicken thighs and had my sous-chef, Mason, pulse the meat until it was smooth. Any left over carcass? Freeze it in a freezer bag and toss it in your soup! Or use it to make a broth! Waste not, want not!cpb2

In my experience, chicken burgers are not known for tremendous texture. I wanted to focus on a moderate fat content and boosting flavor. When you grind your own meat, not only is it usually cheaper but you control what parts are used and how much fat. Ground chicken is known for being lean, AKA easy to dry out. These burgers were super moist, super flavorful and super easy. If you are not willing to grind your own meat, this I will not judge you for. I promise. Half the time I grind meat because I forgot to buy ground meat from the store. Other times, most of the time, it’s because it is truly cheaper.

With that said, aside from the buns, it’s a very straight forward recipe. A good one for eager, little hands to help with too!


Ingredients:

Burger (yields 6 decent sized burgers):

8 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 2” pieces and ground until smooth

1 tbsp panko bread crumbs

2 tbsp of cheese (parm, romano, asiago- whatever you have)

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tbsp granulated garlic (more to taste)

tsp Italian seasoning

pinch crushed red peppers

2 cups of tomato sauce (your favorite kind or season up some canned crushed tomatoes)

6 slices of mozzarella

Garlic Bread Buns:

6 brioche buns

½ stick of unsalted butter

pinch of kosher salt

3-4 cloves of roasted garlic

dash of granulated garlic

½ tsp of Italian seasoning


  1. Put garlic cloves in foil with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Seal and bake in the oven on 400 for about 20-30m. They should be soft and aromatic.cpb4
  2. Melt butter and add ingredients. Stir to combine.
  3. Debone your chicken thighs and cut into 1-2” pieces. I trimmed most of the fat but I allowed a few bits to remain. This absolutely contributed to the moistness of the burger without any added moisture. Add to food processor and pulse until smooth. (IF you are using pre-ground chicken, skip to next step.)cpbcpb3
  4. Transfer meat to a bowl, add ingredients up to and including crushed red pepper. Mix well with a spatula, or your best tool- your hands. You do not want overmix; you just want to mix until the spices are well combined.
  5. Form your meat into decent sized patties. I was able to make six that were nearly ½” thick.cpb5
  6. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with a neutral oil (if you are unsure about your seasoning, this is the time to add a small bit of meat and cook it through. Taste it and adjust your seasoning if you feel it is necessary.)
  7. Sear three burgers at a time, make sure to get some good color on each side.cpb11
  8. Cook your burgers for 4 minutes on each side.
  9. Remove the first batch and repeat with the remaining.
  10. Remove the second batch and drain any oil.
  11. Turn the heat down to prevent a lot of splatter and add your tomato sauce. (If you’re using canned crushed, make sure you season it up some.)
  12. Bring the sauce to boil then reduce to a simmer.
  13. Your garlic should be ready by now, if not, give it a few minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. The garlic should pop right out of it’s skin. Mash it up with the side of your knife and add to your butter mixture.cpb9
  14. Cut your buns in half and spread the butter mixture onto them.cpb10
  15. Add the burgers to sauce. Flip the burgers over a few times to coat, spoon some sauce on top and put a lid on. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Remember; the burgers are mostly cooked through.cpb12
  16. Turn on your broiler; Put your buttery buns under the broiler until just golden brown. Keep your eye on them so they do not burn.
  17. After about 2-3 minutes, place the slices of mozzarella onto the burgers in the pan. Place the lid on the pan and allow the steam to melt the mozzarella.cpb13cpb14
  18. Put the burgers on the buttery buns. Add some zucchini fries as a side. Please, go prosper!

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Note: You can freeze the formed patties! Separate them with parchment, wrap with plastic wrap and stick them in a freezer bag. They will be ready to go next time you are craving burgers!

 

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Homemade Danish Pastry Dough

 

1 standard package of active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

½ cup milk (room temp)

1 large egg (room temp)

1 tsp salt

2 ½ cup leveled all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

14 tbsp very cold unsalted butter

 

In a large bowl, proof your yeast. Mix yeast with warm water and sugar. Once foamy, mix in egg, milk and salt. Set aside while you mix dry ingredients. (If foam does not form, your yeast is dead and you should begin again with a new packet.)

 

Pour flour into food processor and add butters, sliced into tabs. Pulse until flour butter is crumbled into flour.

Pour mixture into wet ingredients. Gently fold to just incorporate ingredients. You will see pieces of butter. Turn the dough out and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 2-3 hours, or overnight. (If you are in a pinch, you can freeze for about 45 minutes to an hour).

danish5

After the time has elapsed, flour a work surface liberally. The dough will be very sticky. Flour your rolling pin, as well. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough into a small square. Roll the dough out into approx. a 15” rectangle. It may be necessary to continue to flour as you go along to prevent sticking. Fold the rectangle as if you were folding a letter. Roll out, flour, fold. Repeat three times. This is what creates the flaky layers.

danish9danish10danish11

Fold the dough and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. (Or up to one day).

Simple Black Bean Dip

Super simple, packed with flavor and good for you! Can’t beat that.  This dip makes for a great appetizer or a middle of the afternoon “geez, I need to nosh on something before dinner snack”. I’ve heard…..

dip

2 cans of black beans

2-3 cloves of garlic

Lime

Worcestershire sauce

Rice wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Crushed red pepper or jalapeno

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Chili powder

Cumin

Olive oil


  1. In a food processor, place 1 medium red onion, 2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans, 2-3 smashed cloves of garlic, the zest of a lime, the juice of the lime, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar or white balsamic (trust me).
    *(Some recipes call for sweating the garlic, onion and peppers in a pan dip2before pulsing. This is also an option.)
  2. Add a liberal pinch of kosher salt, crushed red pepper or chopped jalapeno, ½ tsp of garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder and a tsp of cumin.
  3. Pulse the food processor while adding about a tbsp. of olive oil.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish or ramekin.dip4
  5. Eat with tortilla chips or raw vegetables.

 

 

 

dips

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Quick & Easy Brownies with Coffee Infused Butter

I am still learning to bake quite a few things, as such, brownies have been the last boxed treat that I had to ditch. I’d long since stopped baking cakes and such from the box, but brownies remained a staple until recently. A warm piece of Duncan Hines’ brownie is really sinful. Partially because it’s from the box and *gasp* “YOU cook from THE BOX!?” and partially because, well, chocolate.

 

They serve a purpose. A middle-of-the-night, “you know what I could go for?” purpose. Then there are other times when not only do you need a hit of chocolate, but you also need the therapy that comes with following the steps of a recipe; the browning of the butter, the measuring and the stirring.

 

Today was one of those days. I needed to eat a brownie just as badly as I needed to create a brownie. This recipe has been adapted from a very basic recipe from King Arthur flour, it’s a bit less sweet and I steeped coffee in my browning butter before adding it to the mixture. (Listen….it’s an extra step but the flavor of the brownie?? NOM!)

 

Ingredients:

10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick +2 tbsp)

1 to 1 ¼ C white sugar

¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of ground coffee (or espresso)

2 large eggs

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2/3 C of AP flour

 

Cooking spray

Foil or parchment

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to cook, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes add the coffee, again, stirring frequently. The butter will froth up but continue to stir. After about 10 minutes remove pan from the heat.brown1brown2
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Grab a small bowl and using a fine mesh strainer, pour your butter-coffee mixture. Using a spatula, gently press the coffee mixture in order to get as much of the butter out as you can. (There will be fine coffee particles, don’t worry. This is OK.)brown3brown4
  4. Pour your coffee-butter into your bowl of dry ingredients. Using a silicon spatula, or wooden spoon, stir into all of the ingredients are well-combined.brown5brownie10brown6
  5. In a larger bowl, pour your flour. Into the flour, add your cocoa mixture. Add one egg and stir until combined, then add the final egg and your vanilla extract. Beat this mixture thoroughly until it is well combined, 30-45 seconds. You should not see any flour.brown8
  6. Line your cooking dish with foil or parchment paper, grease with butter or cooking spray.brown7
  7. Add your batter and smooth the top. Using a knife or the flat side of your spatula, create some light swirls.brown9Bake for 20-25 minutes, it should pass the tooth pick test.
  8. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan.
  9. Once cooled, remove lined brownies from the pan and cut into squares.brownier15brown13
  10. Store in an airtight container.

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Veggie-Packed Spicy Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna is one of those meals that you whip up and you know you won’t have to worry about dinner for a couple of nights. It’s also one of those meals that allow you to load up on veggies! If you punch up the flavor, even the most anti-veg person will devour a serving or few.

 

Yields 15 lasagna rolls

 

Ingredients:

Box of lasagna noodles

5 Spicy Italian sausage

small yellow onion

half of a green bell pepper

1 large zucchini

3 large carrots

1 pack of frozen chopped spinach

pint of reduced fat ricotta

4 cloves of garlic

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Kosher salt

Crushed pepper

Your favorite tomato sauce

Your preferred shredded cheese

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375
  2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
  3. Boil the lasagna noodles.
  4. Using a mandolin slicer, create zucchini ribbons and carrot ribbonsrolls2
  5. Defrost spinach
  6. Brown your sausage or other ground meat (this could be a omitted for a completely vegetarian recipe)rolls1
  7. Add chopped garlic, onion and pepper, cook until just softened, season with salt and pepper.
  8. Drain your noodles, should be al denterolls3
  9. Remove the meat and veg from the pan and drain in a strainer or a paper towel
  10. Drain spinach, season with salt, pepper and about 1 tsp garlic powder.
  11. Season ricotta with 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp kosher salt and a pinch of crushed pepper, mix to combine
  12. Take one noodle and “paint” ricotta mixture using a spoon or a spatula
  13. Lay carrot ribbons, sprinkle spinach, sprinkle meat mixture and top with cheeserolls4
  14. Tightly roll the noodles uprolls5-copy
  15. Nestle a zucchini ribbon overtop, repeat until your pan is full. My pan was 13×9 and that fit 15 rolls. Lightly sprinkle kosher salt over your ribbon-wrapped rolls. rolls6
  16. Top with your favorite tomato sauce (I used 2 parts canned diced tomato and 1 part canned crushed tomato that I seasoned it up using my go-to’s: kosher salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, Italian seasoning, pinch of sugar and a dash of fish sauce).
  17. Generously top with your preferred shredded cheeserolls8
  18. Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes then uncovered until bubbling and the edges start to brown.

rolls9

rolls11

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Red Velvet Waffles

We received our first recipe donation! We created a poll on Twitter and you all wanted a breakfast/brunch recipe. Mason loves The Red Waffles and we make these pretty often. It’s definitely a decadent go-to!

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Yields 6

 

Waffles:

2 eggs

2 cups of all purpose flour

1 ¾ cups of buttermilk

½ cup of vegetable oil

¼ cup of sugar

4 tsp baking powder

½ tsp of salt

2 tsp of vanilla extract

½ tsp distilled white vinegar

2 tbsp red food coloring

1 tbsp cocoa powder

 

Glaze:

1-2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

¼ – ½ cup of milk

(3-6 oz of cream cheese, optional)

 

For the glaze:

  1. Whisk together ingredients until smooth

 

For the waffles:

Preheat the waffle iron

 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder together.waffle
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla and vinegar together.
  3. Carefully stir in the red food coloring. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, mix until smooth.

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  1. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray.

 

  1. Using a ladle, carefully pour the mixture onto the iron, do not over fill.

 

  1. Close the iron and cook until the waffle is a deep red and crisp on the outside.

 

  1. Serve each waffle with the glaze.

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NOM!

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved