A cheesy chowder and crunchy salad combo brighten a winter’s day. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

My wonderful friend and handywoman extraordinaire, Angie, came to the cove this past week to work on my list of outside chores. Her arrival prompted me to put a recipe for slow-cooking chowder on speed mode so I could serve it to her at lunchtime.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Along with the soup, there was crusty warm bread and this riff on Waldorf salad – a combo that combines sweet, salty, sour and savory flavors into a party for your taste buds. If you’ve never roasted grapes before, take the extra time to give it a whirl. These caramelized, juicy nuggets of sweetness are not only a great addition to salads but can be used as a condiment to dress up just about anything on your plate.

Is the winter season getting you down? Perk yourself up with a pretty libation that will lift your spirits and provide you with a shot of healthy vitamins. This smoothie also serves as a tropical cocktail if you want to spike it!

Corn Chowder with Bacon & Cheddar

6 slices bacon, diced
2 medium onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (half-and-half, milk or evaporated milk can be substituted)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté bacon, onion and celery for about five minutes. Add potatoes, stock, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add corn and cook another 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to make a smooth paste (roux). Slowly add cream, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Gradually whisk into chowder. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Do not allow to boil.

Vegetarian version: Omit bacon and use vegetable stock.

Slow cooker version: Sauté bacon, onions and celery in a skillet. Place in slow cooker; add potatoes, corn, stock, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Remove bay leaf. Make roux as above and add to chowder. Cook on high for 20-30 minutes. Yield: 8 servings

Winter Salad II

1 pound seedless red grapes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
4 ounces walnuts, chopped
5 cups hearty mixed greens, such as baby kale, spinach, romaine, endive
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large crisp apple, diced
3 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 ounce fresh chives, snipped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place grapes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and then add walnuts and roast for another 5-7 minutes or until grapes are soft and walnuts are golden. Set aside.

Place greens, celery and apples in a large salad bowl. Add grapes and walnuts, including any juices from the baking sheet. Toss with yogurt dressing. Add cheese and sprinkle with chives. Yield: 4 servings

Dressing

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 heaping tablespoon plain yogurt
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix mustard and yogurt in a small bowl. Whisk in lemon juice and season to taste. Add syrup if you wish.

Strawberry-Mango Smoothie

1 heaping cup frozen mango chunks
1 heaping cup frozen strawberries
3 1/2 cups orange juice, divided
3-6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey, sugar or maple syrup, optional

Place mango and 1 1/2 cups juice in a blender and puree, adding a bit more juice if needed for desired consistency. Pour into four glasses.

Place strawberries and 2 cups juice in blender, adding more juice if needed to adjust consistency. Add sweetener if needed. Pour strawberry smoothie over mango smoothie in glasses and swirl with a spoon. Yield: 4 servings

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