Stuffies (stuffed quahogs)

This is my take on a classic Rhode Island dish, that uses quahogs, a large variety of clam native to Rhode Island. I know that it’s available in other states in New England, but if you can’t find them in your area, you can also use regular clams for this dish if they’re a bit bigger - you just need more of them. It’s got a lot more vegetables, and a lot more lemon, and it’s PERFECT with Newcastle. Seriously—get some Newcastle before you eat these. You won’t regret it.

To make it: 
  • 5 quahogs (very large clams), rinsed of dirt
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 green pepper, chopped coursely
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped coursely (about a cup)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped coursely
  • 1/2 piece turkey kielbasa (about 6-7 inches), chopped coursely
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I use multi-grain, but you can use any kind you like)
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp tabasco sauce
  • 2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 425. Put about a gallon of salted water on to boil. When it boils, put the clams in and cover. Boil 6-8 minutes, until shells open. When they’re done, take them out, rinse in cold water, and take the meat out of the shells (making sure to remove the tough muscly bits—there’s usually 2 or 3). Chop the meat finely and put aside. Break the shells in half, rinse them and lay them out on a baking sheet while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan and add pepper, celery, red onion and kielbasa. Sauté for about 10 minutes, until the veggies are very cooked. Take off the heat. Add the thyme, bread crumbs, lemon juice and zest, minced clam meat and tabasco. Mix together until bread crumbs are moistened. Use the quahog shells to scoop up enough of the mixture to fill the shell. Pack the shell tightly with the mixture (don’t be afraid to use your hands here) and set down on the tray. Continue until all the shells are filled or all the mixture is used up. Sprinkle shredded cheddar on top. Put the filled shells in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and brown. Serve with lemon, tabasco sauce, and a Newcastle.

Tomato and White Bean Bruschetta

The great thing about this dish is that you can make it WAY ahead of time, and it doesn’t need constant chilling. This is a really terrific dish to take along on a picnic. In addition, any leftovers can be combined with veggie broth and rice or spelt to make a very hearty side dish.

To make it: 

Crostini

  • 1 Baguette (white or multi-grain), sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange baguette slices on a sheet pan (or pizza pan, with holes in it), and brush each side with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden-brown and crunchy.

Topping

  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into smallish chunks
  • 1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 15 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped coursely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp capers, along with 1 tsp of the vinegar in the caper jar
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware bowl, cover it and give it a good shake. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors meld together. When it’s time to serve, spoon about a tablespoon of the salad onto each crostini.

Easy artichoke/spinach dip

So, this weekend for St. Patty’s Day, I decided to have a huge feast at the homestead, mostly based around the fact that corned beef and cabbage is a yearly tradition for me, but there’s no way I can eat more than one piece. So, along with about 13 of my closest friends, I made a ton of food, all of which disappeared very quickly. The following used some stuff I had lying around, and it made the absolute best artichoke-spinach dip I’ve ever had. Served with Pita Chips,  it was a bit smoky, a bit spicy, and very creamy (although not in that insane heavy way that artichoke-spinach dip tends to be)

To make it: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch spinach, cleaned thoroughly
  • 1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 6 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 8oz grated monterey/cheddar blend (or just use cheddar)
  • about 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • about 2 tblsp Worcestire sauce
  • fresh-ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to about 425 Farenheit (or, use a toaster oven, which I did). In a large pot, boil or steam spinach until wilted. Drain in colander and press with a spoon to remove as much water as possible. Chop roughly and Put aside. Add cream cheese, Worcestire sauce, paprika, garlic and yogurt together in a large bowl and blend thorougly until incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients except for about 2 ounces of the monterey/cheddar blend. Spread mixture into a small casserole dish, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 425 degrees Farenheit for about 25 minutes until the cheese on top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm with pita chips.