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Unless otherwise noted, all content and photos are property of Elle @ Elle's New England Kitchen. Copyright 2008-14. All rights reserved. If you'd like to reprint an article or use a photo, please contact me for permission at ellenekitchen at gmail dot com. All photos, unless specified, have been taken by me, and if used without permission, an invoice will be forwarded to the proper business/individual. Thank you.



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Entries in food blog event (13)


Chicken Pesto Tortellini Soup for a Soup Off

I love soup. L-O-V-E it. It's so comforting to have a big old pot of soup simmering away on the stove. It warms the home and smells so good, too. My mom made soup a lot. Not only because it's a good way to stretch your food budget, but it's a great way to get a healthy hot meal to your family with little effort. Pair it with a sandwich, crusty bread, or even a nice salad--and you've got a delicious lunch or dinner. And leftovers the next day? YUM.

When I heard the Danny at Gourmet Gastronomer was having a Soup-Off to follow up his Mac and Cheese-Off, I knew I'd enter that one, too.

This soup is a favorite. I've made it twice already and we love it! The second time, I added a splash of red wine and a little pesto to the simmering soup--my husband liked it better the first time, and preferred adding a dollop of pesto to his own bowl. Picky, can choose to add those or not, it's up to you.

For the tortellini, I used dry ones filled with pesto from Trader Joe's. I know Barilla has some, too. If you can't find dried ones, go ahead and use the fresh ones like Buitoni. Just add them close to the end of cooking, and remember they only need a few minutes to cook.

Chicken Pesto Tortellini Soup

1-2 TBSP olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 small-ish leeks, rinsed and sliced across, not into long strips
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz can chickpeas, undrained
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
2 small zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
3 cups dried tortellini (fresh is fine, but keep in mind those take less time to cook)
fresh cracked black pepper
pesto for dolloping individual servings
fresh shaved Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic and Italian seasoning, and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, broth, and chickpeas.
Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add the chicken, zucchini, and peas, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Stir in the tortellini and keep the soup at a low to medium boil for the required pasta cooking time, or until al dente.
Taste first, then season with pepper--I don't think you'll need salt, but add it if you need to. (Keep in mind--you'll be adding pesto and Parmesan to each serving.)
Top each serving with a dollop of pesto and some fresh shaved Parmesan.

To print this recipe, click here!




Mexican Hot Chocolate Muffins and an Award

My inspiration for these came from of course, Mexican Hot Chocolate. I saw some somewhere online and decided to translate the cinnamon-laced chocolate drink to my my favorite little hand-held-excuse-to-have-cake-for-breakfast, muffins.

It wasn't very difficult--a basic chocolate muffin, and add some cinnamon and chocolate chips for good measure. And then a nice chocolatey, cinnamony streusel over the top. I found the streusel here, and just added a good dose of cinnamon to it. It's so good! Could've sat there and eaten the streusel with a spoon. A little crunchy that way, but so tasty.

These are my entry to Grace's Cinnamon Celebration. I love Grace! She makes the most delectable sweet things that constantly make me say "I want that!" And she's got a thing for cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon.

The winner of the Cinnamon Celebration is getting some Vietnamese Cinnamon bark. That's a good reason to enter right there! Head on over and give her your best cinnamon recipe!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
2 TB cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TB of melted butter

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
Sift the dry stuff together, and make a well in the center.
Add the butter, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and chocolate chips.
Mix well, but don't overdo it.
Fill the muffin cups evenly.

Mix the streusel stuff until it's crumbly and top each muffin with some.
Bake for 17 minutes or so, and check for doneness.
Cool in pan for a few minutes then remove to a rack.
A cooling rack, not the old torturing device.
And really, I hope you don't have one of those lying around.
Because then you're probably too mean to make nice little streusely muffins.

To print this recipe, click here!


The Sisterhood Award

This award comes from Giz and Psychgrad at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They are two of the sweetest ladies in the food blogging world, and I'm happy to have met them through their blog. Thank you, ladies! Now, all of you, get on over there and check them out--they have tons of wonderful recipes!

Here are the rules:

The rules for recipients are:
- Put the logo on your blog or post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
- Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
- Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I happily pass this award along to these lovely blogs and sisters in blogging (in no particular order):

1. Kelly at Sass & Veracity
2. Kat at A Good Appetite
3. Grace at A Southern Grace
4. Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
5. Deborah at B More Sweet
6. Lori at Recipegirl
7. Nikki at
8. Judy at No Fear Entertaining
9. Shaye at Smarter Than Pancakes
10. Dawn at Vanilla Sugar



Experience the Cheesy Goodness that is Mac and Cheese.

Is there anyone out there that doesn't like Macaroni and Cheese? Anyone? Bueller? I didn't think so. It's right up there at the top of my list of good old comfort food.

I used to love the Blue Box when I was a kid, and occasionally my kids have it, too--and ok, I'll confess to having a bite or two. Childhood memories and all that, you know? But they do love the homemade stuff, as well! In fact, my five year old asks me to make it. The first time I made the good homemade stuff, he told me he'd eat it every day if I made it for him. How's that for a compliment? Or maybe he said he'd plead with me every day not to make it for him...nah--I'm sure I heard him right. Right?

I use a tried and true recipe, given to me by one of my best friends, Jen. It makes a cheesy, totally creamy mac and cheese. You know how some homemade ones can be grainy and well, kind of curdled and dry? This one is nothing but creamy. The secret? Food snobs, you may want to avert your eyes now...

Velveeta. Yes. I'm serious. I tried a few other recipes for mac and cheese. They tasted fine, but were dry, and I just couldn't get the famous "creamy" type that I was looking for. But with Jen's recipe, it's super creamy and just so damn good.

This one's being entered in a Mac and Cheese Off that was put together by Danny from the Gourmet Gastronomer. So have a look at his site, and check out all of the cheesy goodness.

Voting will open to the general public on Tuesday, January 6th at 5:00pm and close on Friday January 9th at 5:00pm. So if any of you guys feel inclined to head on over there and vote, that would be awesome. Also, if you want to join in, you can contact Danny anytime before voting opens.

I made some changes this time around. Yesterday, we packed the kids up in the truck, and headed to Vermont. We went to the Vermont Country Store. We love going there--they have so much in the store--cool retro stuff, great foods, and amazing Vermont Cheddar. LOVE their cheddar. It's creamy and melts in your mouth. So we grabbed a big old hunk of that, along with a bunch of other things, went out to dinner, and called it a day. You should have a look around their site--I guarantee you'll see stuff you haven't seen since you were a kid, or stuff you remember your parents and grandparents using. We make a trip up there at least three times a year and come home with bags of stuff.


Vermont Country Store, at twilight.


So anyway, I used half Vermont Cheddar and yes, half Velveeta. I can't get away from it's creamy goodness in this dish. The result? The Velveeta gave it the ultimate creaminess, and the cheddar gave it that extra kick of flavor. It's delicious! And a nice sprinkling of panko bread crumbs over the top give it some nice crusty crunchy goodness.

I'm eating some right now, hot from the oven, and wishing I could share it with all of you! But I can give you the next best thing--the recipe:

Vermont Mac and Cheese

To print this recipe, click here!

16 ounces elbow macaroni (cooked)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 lb cheese, Velveeta cut into cubes
1/2 lb Vermont Cheddar
panko breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a pan, melt the butter along with the salt, pepper and flour and stir until smooth.
Remove from heat add milk and wine, then return to heat and bring to a boil.
Boil 1 minute while whisking.
Remove from the heat and add both cheeses, and stir until melted.
Pour over elbows, mix well, and pour into very lightly greased baking dish.
Sprinkle with panko and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

So...maybe it's not gourmet with the Velveeta and all, but it's good. Really good. And in the big picture, isn't that what counts? And I could have added a bunch of additional things, but then my kids may not have eaten it. And my husband and I don't really need to eat a whole pan of this by ourselves, hehe.

Don't forget to check out Danny's site and vote for your favorite mac and cheese!

I've been tagged by Karen at Mignardise for Six Random Things about me.


Six Random Things About Elle

1) I think I love football more than my husband does, and he's the one that got me into it. I yell at the coaches
when a play goes wrong, or at the refs when they make a bad call. AND at the players when they celebrate in
the end zone--I'm looking at YOU, Wes Welker. A snow angel? Seriously? Did you not think you'd get a penalty?
A fine, even! Stupidest rule ever, but still!

2) I love to dip french fries into a chocolate shake--just did last night at dinner, in fact!
It's like food for the gods. Seriously.

3) I don't like goat cheese. There, I said it! Am I the only one that hates the taste, the aftertaste,
and how you can still taste it 8 hours later? Yuck! Sorry to be uncool, but it's just gross.

4) I love to sketch and paint with watercolors. I used to be really good at it, but am terribly out of practice.

5) I'm addicted to Twitter. Follow me there:

6) I'm also addicted to my new Blackberry, aka Crackberry. I can even Twitter from it,
so it feeds addiction #5, as well! hahaha!!

I'm not going to tag six people, but I am going to leave this open so anyone can do it and keep it going. Once you do, tag six more people if you like, and be sure to let them know they've been tagged!

Macaroni and Cheese on Foodista



Smokin' Ribs for a Smackdown!

Is there anyone that doesn't like smoked ribs, with a lip smacking sauce to dip them in? Ok, maybe there are a few people that don't, and that's fine. But these might make them change their minds. They're just so damn good!

Do any of you guys read Thursday Night Smackdown? If you don't, you should! Michelle's blog is an adventure in cooking, and doing it with humor and gusto. There are ups and downs, spectacular food and a couple that were better left in the pages of the cookbook they came from. This post and this one come to mind--there's some good reading right there! But Michelle and her cohort/sous chef, Brian, share the good and the bad from their cooking experiences.

In July, Michelle opened up TNS to her readers, for First Thursdays. On the first Thursday of every month, she posts a round up of her reader's submitted recipes. September's Smackdown theme is grilling. And since I've missed the first two, there's no way in hell I'm missing this one! So yeah, I'm early, hehe.

These ribs are fantastic! They're from the book BH&G Smoke Cooking. We've been looking at this recipe for a while, but you know, you gotta plan ahead if you want to smoke stuff (the 13 year old in me just giggled)! So knowing what the TNS theme was, I pulled out this book, and we decided to finally make them. By "we," I mean my husband Billy and I. He's the guy in charge of grilling/smoking.

There's a little out of the way place in the next town over that's a slaughterhouse/retail and wholesale meat place called Lemay & Sons. I never even knew they were there, but I was in search of something else (that will be posted in about a week or so--it takes that long to make it) and they were the only ones that had it. I was directed there by another butcher in the area. Anyway, this is the kind of place you go to for a whole pig or half a cow, or even something as small as a pound of ground buffalo meat. Good to know! They have lots of different cuts of meats and great prices, as well. They didn't have the beef back ribs that we were looking for on that day, so we went with porky baby back ribs. Two racks, totaling 5 pounds, to be specific. We also picked up a couple pounds of that buffalo meat for later. Can't beat $3.99 a pound! That's cheaper than ground beef!

The ribs! Very straightforward recipe, and the book also has some tips on smoking. They're smoked with a simple dry rub, and brushed with a sauce in the last 15 minutes of cooking, with more of the sauce served alongside. The sauce is also very simple, made with bottled bbq sauce, orange, ginger and soy sauce.

We did run into some trouble, though it was no fault of the recipe. Damn thunderstorms that we've had nearly every day this summer. grrrr. Everything was going great, nice fire, good smoke...then a couple hours into it, the sky opened up and poured buckets all over our smoker. After the lightning stopped and we were able to get out and check it, we found the fire had gone out. For whatever reason, we just couldn't get a good smoke going after that and gave up after about an hour. We brought them in the house and gave them a couple more hours in the oven at 200°. Perfect! Still nice and smoky, but also tender and juicy.

Ginger Orange Smoked Baby Back Ribs
adapted from BH&G Smoke Cooking

4 cups mesquite wood chips

3 tsp regular paprika
3 tsp smoked paprika
3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper

5 pounds baby back ribs (2 racks)

1 cup of your favorite bottled bbq sauce
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

At least one hour before you want to start cooking, soak the wood chips in enough water to cover them. Set aside.

Combine the rub ingredients and rub it into the ribs.

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside in the fridge.

In your smoker or grill, arrange the heated coals, half the drained wood chips and a water pan according to the manufacturers directions.
Pour water into pan and place the ribs, bone side down, on the grill rack over the pan.

Cover and smoke for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until ribs are tender, and brush some of the sauce on the ribs in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

Add more coals, wood chips and water as needed during smoking time.
Serve sauce with the ribs.

Good lookin' ribs, right?

What's that? Where's the side dish?

We don't need no stinkin' side dish! We can just stuff our faces with ribs and be perfectly happy, hehe. But if I'd thought of it ahead of time, I'd have whipped up some cole slaw to go alongside. D'oh!

Go check out Thursday Night Smackdown and get your entries ready for the first Thursday in September!



Beat the Heat with Fresh Summer Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

My friend Grace at A Southern Grace is having a blog event called Beat the Heat. She wants recipes that won't heat up the kitchen during the hot months of summer. (And even though it's only 61° here today--that's fall weather!) And her rules say we can submit new stuff, or things we've already blogged about. I did have a recipe all picked out to make, but we have some guys working at the house, fixing insulation until Friday. So I'm stuck here and can't get to the store. And it's raining. And I have four kids. And it's supposed to rain tomorrow, too. Help. Me.

So I chose two recipes that I originally posted back in March. Did it matter that it wasn't hot out then? No way, because they're good all year 'round. But if tomatoes aren't in season in your area, do yourself a favor and spring for the pretty vine ripened ones. The recipes compliment each other so well, and if you add a couple more things to your plate, you've got a delicious and healthy feast. These are a favorite when you don't feel like heating up the kitchen, or even if you don't feel like cooking. The prep for these is easy--a bit chopping for the salad, and the hummus is all made in the food processor. Add some feta, pita wedges, and good olives if you've got them, and you have a heavenly snack or meal.

You can find the post for the Fresh Summer Salad here

And the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus post is here.

Put them together and you get something like this:

It's a nice light, but filling combination. And that salad is so good! It's like a bowl of summer, hehe.

So that's my entry to Beat the Heat. And even though it's cool out today, I'm adding this stuff to my grocery list. If I can ever get out to the store...