Dairy Free Clam Chowder You Will Not Believe

dairy free clam chowder in bowl with Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest
Jen’s dairy free clam chowder dressed up with a touch of Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest

I could begin this post with some discussion of the weather but, like the gale force winds knocking down every tree in my town, I’m going to blow past that topic and talk about something more pleasant – food!

I’ve been wanting to post a recipe for some time, but the embarrassing truth is I haven’t made anything noteworthy in a long time. Thank God for good friends who are fabulous foodies and inspire me with delicacies dropped off at my doorstep that are so crazy good I had to share.

Jen Killilea is an amazing cook. Even more amazing is that she loves to share. One day she told me about a Paleo dairy free clam chowder she’d prepared. The secret…water soaked cashews!

I was skeptical. Jen generously dropped off a container full of her dairy free clam chowder and I was blown away. It was so thick, rich and creamy. I couldn’t believe that it was dairy free and that the creaminess and richness was derived from cashews. I nearly finished what Jen delivered straight out of the plastic container.


Look at how thick and creamy it looks!


If you are an ambitious home cook and appreciate dairy free options, this one is worth a try.

Another delicious dish from the Killilea kitchen. Thank you Jen!

*Jen’s tips: do not over soak the cashews and consider investing in a powerful blender like Jen’s Vitamix – worth it!

Dairy Free New England Clam Chowder (Paleo)

  • Cook Time:30m
  • Total Time:45m
  • Serves:4


  • 2 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 16 ounces frozen clam meat
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or fish stock
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste


  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of filtered water for a few hours before you plan to use them.
  2. If you’re using frozen clams, skip to step 7.
  3. Rinse and scrub clams.
  4. Add clams to a large stock pot or wok. Cover with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Steam until clams just barely open, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using tongs or slotted spoon, transfer clams to large bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  6. Remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Add the clams to the bowl with the clam juice. Discard the shells.
  7. Coarsely chop clams.
  8. Cook 5 slices of bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes on each side over medium heat. Chop into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
  9. Finely chop the onion, carrots, and celery ribs.
  10. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, celery, and half the salt. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring often. Then add carrots and thyme, and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  11. When the veggies are tender, add in the clams and a few tablespoons of their juice. Stir clams around with the veggies. Then add in the rest of the salt, garlic powder, and stock. Boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  12. While the soup is simmering, drain the cashews, rinse well, and add them to a blender or food processor with filtered water. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
  13. Add the blended cashews to the pot with the soup. Stir and allow everything to come to a light simmer (not a boil) again. Cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Turn the soup down to very low and cover to allow soup to thicken for 30 minutes.
  15. Add pepper and fish sauce to taste, garnish with crumbled bacon, and serve hot.

Bon Appetite!

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I Love a Good Bento Box

bento box with vegetable tempura, sushi, white rice, gyoza
My bento box

About a month ago I had a mad craving for a bento box. I must have suggested we go out for bento boxes about a dozen times before one of my girls finally said, “What the heck is a bento box?”

They may be know-it-all teenagers, but they can still learn a little something from their mom. I excitedly told them that bento boxes are cute, compartmentalized lunch trays served at Asian restaurants. Rather than ordering just one dish, you can get small tastes of several foods all neatly sectioned out in a fun little box.

The Definition

Merriam Webster says: a bento is a multicompartment box used for containing the different courses of a usually Japanese lunch.

Ally and Tony were skeptical, but Julia was on board. Nicely, everyone agreed to indulge me so I dragged my family out at about 2:00 pm in the afternoon to Thyme Restaurant in North Andover. Smartly, I called ahead to inquire when they stopped serving bento boxes because they are a lunch item and not available for dinner. Thyme stops serving them at 3:00 pm. I find this troublesome because I often wish I could get a bento box for dinner. I’ll have to investigate further as to why bento boxes are not served beyond lunch – they really should be!

I completely enjoyed my lunch complete with sushi, veggie tempura (my favorite), gyoza (pan fried dumpling) and rice (top photo). Julia liked her bento box too. She tried the teriyaki salmon and shumai (steamed dumpling) in addition to her rice and sushi (photo below).

I just think the presentation of a bento box is so pretty and portion-wise, the amount of food is just right.


Bento box with teriyaki salmon, shumai, sushi and white rice
Julia’s bento box


Now, as I write this, I want a bento box again. But it will have to wait until tomorrow because the clock just struck 3:00 pm 😟

I hope you are all enjoying the summer. Have a great weekend!

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LaRosa’s Andover – The One Pound Meatball

Our Meal at LaRosa’s Andover
The one pound meatball, salads and rose from LaRosa's Andover
The menu, the artichoke, fennel, lemon dijon vinaigrette salad, the shaved celery Caesar salad, my glass of Rosé and the one pound meatball.



Last weekend, I had the pleasure of stopping in to LaRosa’s Café and Bar in Andover, MA. I’ve enjoyed lunch and events here before, but I’d not yet been in for dinner. When a friend posted a pic of LaRosa’s one pound meatball, I couldn’t get it off my mind.

Tony and I enjoyed a relaxing meal on the patio in LaRosa’s quaint outdoor seating area. While our mini-meal (two salads, one meatball) was delightful, I was most impressed with one question. Our waiter kindly asked if we would like bread for the table. Interestingly, I’ve never been asked that before. We weren’t all that hungry, so the answer was an easy no. But had that bread shown up, I would have eaten it. That’s just the way it is. So, I was happy to have had the right of refusal. It was a nice touch and seeing we couldn’t even finish the meatball, I was glad not to have filled up on bread.

Service was friendly, our salads were delicious (Tony got a unique take on a Caesar salad with shaved celery instead of romaine – quite good!) and the meatball with honey basil whipped ricotta was divine. Yummy!

If you’ve not been, LaRosa’s Andover is definitely worth a visit.

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Do you Rosé? The Resurgence of Rosé Wine

La Crema rose wine

I think it’s common knowledge that rosé wine has a bad rap. It has the reputation of being low-grade and overly sweet. Years ago, when the Real Housewives of Orange Country first introduced me to the idea of rosé, I was all into it. Pink, pretty, sweet – what could go wrong? Well, try suggesting a bottle of rosé to a room full of wine snobs and you’ll get laughed out of the room just like I did. Honestly, the feeling of judgement was worse than what I experienced with my Pinot Grigio habit. I made the move to Sancerre just to avoid ordering Pinot Grigio. I blogged about it here.

But back to rosé. While many naysayers hold their opinion, it’s hard to deny that this lovely blush vino has made a comeback. It’s pretty much all over the place. Namely Bravo’s newest reality show sensation “Summer House.” They had rosé wine in every episode (clearly a sponsor) and these successful Montauk millennials were drinking it by and from the gazillion ounce bottle. You just have to check out this pic – it’s insane. This actually didn’t make a great case for my appreciation for rosé, but at least it indicated it was on trend.

And look at the rosé display at my favorite North Andover gift store, Rose and Dove. How fun – I love it!


rose wine display


Whispering Angel seems to be the rosé of choice around my parts. However, if I’m being honest, I find myself preferring rosés with a bit more color and flavor. I’ve noticed that the pinkest of pink rosés tend to lean a bit sweet and floral for my taste. If you can find one that boasts a slightly more orangey hue, you may find the flavor to be more satisfying.

I recently cracked open the featured bottle of Le Crema Rosé – notice the deeper pink tone. La Crema has long been a favorite of my chardonnay loving friends, so I figured they might have a good handle on their rosé. Not bad!

Call me girly, but there’s something about sipping on a pretty pink libation that makes me feel good.

So, what do you think? Is rosé wine classé or passé?


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Simple Cocktails to Enjoy at Home or Anywhere

Simple cocktails gimlet, amaretto and ginger, baileys and coffee cubes

Have you ever gone to order a cocktail and said…I can’t decide, I don’t know what I want. I do that all the time. The older I get, the more I struggle to find adult beverages that agree with me. Beer fills me up, wine gives me a headache, mixed drinks are risky for my tummy and most hard alcohols are just more than I can handle.

While my signature martini with…3 olives and a twist of lemon has become my go-to order, it’s not something I make for myself at home. If I’m going to sit down for a drink, simple cocktails are the only ones I’ll pour.

Here are three Simple Cocktails that I have come to enjoy and find easy to prepare.

Amaretto and Ginger

This is a little sweet, but I find a good squeeze of orange juice and a lot of ice helps cut the cloying sweetness. This is a nice, warming spirit that’s perfect by a fire.

  • I like a healthy pour of Amaretto, over ice, with a splash (or two) of ginger ale and a good squeeze of fresh orange juice. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Bailey’s and Coffee Ice Cubes

I saw this simple cocktail on Facebook and have been dying to give it a try. It’s more of a dessert drink, but it sure is good.

  • Freeze prepared coffee in an ice tray. Place frozen coffee cubes in a glass and pour in Bailey’s Irish Cream. Finish with a shot of vanilla vodka. Yummy!

Vodka Gimlet

This is the simplest of my simple cocktails and I just love it. It’s clean, crisp and smooth – so easy to sip and savor. Gimlets are traditionally made with gin, but I’m a vodka drinker so…

  • Combine 2 oz. vodka, 1 oz. fresh lime juice and 3/4 teaspoon simple syrup (I buy mine bottled) in a shaker. Shake and pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.




Hope you like these super simple cocktails.  They are great to make at home or even better when ordered out and someone else prepares them for you.

The blog will be on break next week during February vacation. See you back on Monday, February 28th.

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