Adobo Corn Soup


When I have a barbecue I usually end up with leftover corn on the cob.  I always over-estimate the number of cobs I will need, since my kids love it so much.  Last week I had a large party and ended up with about 6 ears of corn and several roasted chicken drumsticks left over as well as half a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  There are a few ingredients that you buy for recipes only occasionally, and then end up with most of a can languishing in your fridge.  Chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) in adobo sauce is one of those ingredients.  Tomato paste is another. Most recipes that call for chipotle peppers just call for one or two, since they are fairly spicy.  So, you buy it and then what do you do with all the rest?  I guess you could freeze it, but if you’re like me you will forget that there is a little baggie of frozen chipotle peppers in your freezer somewhere and buy another can when you make a new recipe.  Anyhoo, what a great opportunity to make soup!

  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 4-6 thin slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 C. diced onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced, plus 1-2 T. of the sauce from the can
  • 4-5 C. cooked corn kernels cut off from the cobs (or use frozen) reserve the cobs
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 C. chicken stock
  • 2 C. diced leftover roasted chicken
  • sour cream, chives, and tortilla chips for optional garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Fry the bacon and onions until the bacon is crisp.  Add the jalapeño and chipotle peppers and sauce.  Cook until the sauce begins to darken and the jalapeño and onions are soft, about three minutes. Add the corn and beans and season with salt and pepper.  Pour in the chicken stock and leftover chicken and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes with the lid off to concentrate the flavors a bit.  This soup was excellent the second day.  Garnish with sour cream, chives, and tortilla chips.

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Frozen Rainbow Chiffon Cake: Someone Attempted it!

You may remember this infamous cake that nearly wrecked me.  Well, despite my warnings, blog reader Julia, not only attempted it, but made it successfully!  In my original post (following) I stated that I would send a prize to anyone who makes this and sends me a picture of it.  Here is a lovely picture of her cake:


Great job Julia! Your cake is beautiful.  And thank you so much for reading swellkid.  I am sending you two prints from my swellkid collection.


M is for Modern and S is for Swell.  I painted these in 2008 as part of a Retro Alphabet series.  I hope you enjoy them!

If you are interested, the original post is below.

This cake is amazing.  This cake is beautiful.  It’s like eating sorbet, but light and fluffy, like a cloud.  This cake will move people to sing your praises.  People will talk about this cake for weeks afterward.  This cake completely kicked my a**(as a teacher I have to bleep).

My best friend’s birthday was coming up and I happily volunteered to throw her a dinner party.  As we were discussing the menu while flipping through magazines I came across this cake in Martha Stewart Living.  “It’s perfect!” I exclaimed.  A five layer, multicolored, meringue masterpiece.  I skimmed the recipe, taking note of the ingredients and tools required.  I was up to the challenge!

Here is the magazine picture from August MSL:

The cake requires 5 different fruit purees which can be made up to two days in advance.  Each of the purees is then whisked in to meringue and frozen.  The whole frozen concoction is then slathered in Seven Minute Frosting, a marshmallowy, glossy, meringue frosting.

The cake was to be served on Sunday so I decided to make the purees on Friday, the frozen meringue layers on Saturday, and frost the cake on Sunday morning.  I was glad I took this approach considering this G** d**m thing took me the entire three days to create.

Friday.  Puree number one: blueberries and blackberries. Puree two: papaya. Three: apricot.  Four: strawberries and raspberries.  Five: kiwi.  Each puree is blended in the Cuisinart with lemon juice and then strained.  Translation: you have to wash the d*** Cusinart in between every one, not to mention get all the seeds and c**p out of the strainer each time.  Puree making time: two hours.

Saturday: You would think that you could make one giant batch of meringue and then divide it into 5 bowls.  No.  That would be too easy.  Martha felt that the texture just wouldn’t be right unless you made a separate meringue for each of the 5 layers.  I have heard people say that they think some of Martha’s recipes are purposely too complicated.  As though she wants to somehow make us feel just the tiniest bit inferior.  I never believed this until I attempted this cake.  Needless to say I made 5 different d**n meringues.  You have to beat the egg whites to frothy while heating sugar and water to 250 degrees, then add the sugar syrup to the egg whites in a slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl.  Then you have to beat the whole thing on high until it becomes thick and glossy.  If you boil that sugar even two degrees too hot you end up with a hard, rock candy coating on the sides of the bowl that has to be chipped away before you can start all over.   Once the meringue is made you can whisk in the fruit puree and pour it into the 8 inch springform pans that you have lined with parchment paper.  Then it goes into the freezer for two hours.  Of course you can’t really start on the next layer right away because you have to wait until the first layer is frozen before you can pour the next one on to it.  I started drinking adult beverages pretty early on this day.  Total active time: 3-4 hours.


Sunday: The layers are frozen, one pan has three layers, the other pan has two.  Now I have to ease the pans off, peel off the parchment, and stack the two together to make one 5 layer stack.  This part was the part I was most dreading.  I imagined the whole thing sliding onto the floor and splattering the kitchen with kiwi meringue.  Surprisingly this was one of the easiest parts of the process.  The frozen layers released easily from the pan, the parchment peeled right off, and I was able to stack the cake onto its serving platter with ease.


The whole thing went into the freezer while I made the frosting.  Seven minute frosting gets its name from the seven minutes it takes to beat the mixture to the correct glossy, stiff consistency.  You start out the same as the other meringues: sugar/water/corn syrup heat to 23o degrees this time.  Beat into a bowl of frothy egg whites with a little more sugar.  The end product is not unlike marshmallow fluff.  With the frosting made I got the cake out and began to slather it on.  Wait a second….is this wrong?  There are bits of the strawberry layer coming off into the frosting and marring the glossy-white perfection!  And, hold on…this isn’t working…it’s not going to cover it.  Are you kidding?  This isn’t enough G** d**n f-ing seven minute frosting to cover the cake?!  The recipe says it makes 4 cups, enough to frost a 5-layer, 8 inch cake.  Well, it’s wrong.  I had to put the cake back into the freezer, and go back and make a second batch of frosting.  Once that was done, I quickly finished frosting the cake and stored it in the freezer for the party that night.  Active time on day three: 2 hours


I brought the cake out – the requisite “oohs” and “ahhs” were uttered.  I cut the cake, and there was that rainbow slice of perfection I had been fantasizing about.  Everyone loved the cake.  It looked great (I thought it looked better than it tasted) and a good time was had by all.  The birthday girl loved it, and that’s what mattered.  Although I will never, ever, EVER, make this cake again, I will never ever forget it.   Here is a link to the actual recipe should you choose to ignore my warnings and try to make it yourself.  If you do make one, take a picture and send it to me, and I will send you a surprise!


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Farro Tabouli


I love this salad for hot summer evenings when you don’t want to turn on the oven.  You can make this salad a day ahead and let it sit in the fridge until you need it. It’s great cold or at room temperature, so bring this to your next potluck.  It’s also vegan.  Farro is a nutty, chewy grain that is similar to barley, which would be a great substitute. Serve this salad with some hummus and toasted pita and you’ve got a healthy, fresh dinner!

  • 1/4 C. olive oil, divided
  • 2 C. farro
  • 4 C. vegetable broth or water
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. shallot, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 C. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 t. of olive oil in a medium pot with a lid.  Toast the dry farro in the oil until it begins to turn golden brown, about three minutes.  Add the broth and cumin and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the farro is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Drain the farro if any liquid remains.  Place it in a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool, or cover and chill and finish the salad later or the next day.

Combine the cooled, cooked farro with the rest of the oil, the zest and juice of the lemon, shallot, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, and stir to combine.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

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Basil Whiskey Soda

Basil and whiskey go together surprisingly well! This basil simple syrup is easy to make and is a great addition to a gin and tonic or even a glass of bubbles. I like Irish whiskey for its drinkability, my favorite is Powers.

1 C. Loosely packed basil leaves
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Water
Irish whiskey
Club soda

First make the basil syrup. Heat the basil leaves, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let the syrup cool completely in the pan. Strain the syrup into a jar and chill. Discard the basil leaves. The syrup can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.

To make a cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice. Pour in 1 1/2 oz. whiskey, 1 oz. basil syrup, and top with club soda. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a basil leaf.


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Slavic Slaw with Paprika Vinaigrette


My husband loves cabbage.  Weird I know.  Who loves cabbage? “Like” cabbage, yes.  “Enjoy” cabbage, sure. Love it? He also happens to love root vegetables like turnips and radishes, so when I came across this salad in Food and Wine magazine I actually read the recipe out loud to him.  He got pretty excited. Incidentally, my youngest was begging me for leaves of cabbage to munch while I was making this, so I guess it’s hereditary. This is a beautiful salad to serve for guests at a summer barbecue.  Prep and chill all the ingredients ahead and toss with the dressing at the last-minute.  You want cold and crisp for this one. I used a mandolin slicer to do the julienned radishes, apples, and turnips.  You could also use a food processor with the grating attachment, but I liked that using the mandolin gave it a more handmade texture with pieces of all different sizes.  I made a few substitutions, but if you want the official recipe click here. My dressing is a bit sweeter and if I made this again I would add more apple. Serves 4.

  • 1 T. minced shallot
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1/8 C.
  • 1/8 C. white wine vinegar
  • 2 t. honey
  • 1t. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 C. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 green apple, julienned (i didn’t peel it)
  • 1/2 C. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 C. cilantro, chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced into thin strips, vertically (they curl up in the ice bath)
  • 2 small turnips, peeled and julienned
  • 3 large radishes, julienned

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.  Combine the shallot, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, paprika, and olive oil in a jar and shake it to emulsify.  Taste for salt and pepper and season to your taste.  Set aside.  As you prepare your vegetables, place them into the ice bath.  Slice the cabbage, plunk into the ice bath.  Slice the apple, ice bath.  And so on.  All the veggies and herbs can sit in the ice bath until you are ready to serve the salad.  Or, if you are prepping ahead, let them sit in the bath for about 15-20 minutes, drain, and place into a bowl in the fridge until ready to use. The ice bath keeps everything super fresh tasting and crisp.  When ready to serve, drain well and toss with the dressing.




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Easy Coconut Lime Sorbet


I had most of a can of coconut milk sitting in the fridge, begging to be used up.  20 minutes later, sorbet! Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 C. full fat coconut milk, cold (stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 2 limes, or 1/4 C.
  • 1/4 C. simple syrup (I keep a batch for cocktails, it’s just equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil and cooled. Or buy a bottle in the drinks aisle)

If your can of coconut milk separates into half clear liquid and half thick, white cream, just give it a stir before measuring.  Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker.  This took about 15 minutes to freeze into a sorbet/soft serve consistency. I imagine this would also make a terrific popsicle…

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The Quickest Weeknight Chicken


This is my quickest (15 minutes tops) weeknight chicken recipe.  I keep boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer so that with a little veggie, I can always make a healthy, fast dinner with little to no planning.  You can use a variety of liquid for this dish, white wine is my favorite, but you can also use beer, chicken or veggie stock, or even marsala or dry vermouth.  Serves 4

  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C. white wine, or beer, or chicken stock…some kind of flavorful liquid
  • 2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • parsley for garnish

Split the chicken breasts horizontally so you have 4-6 thinner pieces of chicken.  If they are very thick breasts you can cut them into three slices horizontally.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat a large, NOT non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat with the olive oil.  When the pan is nice and hot, place the chicken in the pan.  It should only take about two or three minutes per side to get nice and brown. Resist the urge to turn it over too soon.  If the chicken is sticking it’s not ready to flip.  When it’s nice and brown it will release itself from the pan easily.  If you want to double this recipe, you need to cook the chicken in batches.  Crowding the pan will cause the chicken to steam instead of brown, and you really need those brown bits to make a great sauce. When the chicken is browned on both sides, remove it to a plate, cover with foil, and keep it warm. Immediately add the wine or other liquid to the hot pan.  Let it bubble up for a minute while scraping the brown bits that have accumulated in the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the mustard.  Whisk it in until smooth.  Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the cream.  Taste the sauce for seasoning.  Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat in the sauce.  Place the chicken on a serving plate, top with the sauce and garnish with parsley. The more you make this dish, the faster you will get.  You can experiment with different liquids and different mustards. You can also use this exact same method with a thinly sliced pork chop or steak.



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