Winter-friendly meal: slowcooker chicken chowder

A bowl of crockpot chicken chowder topped with crumbled bacon.Although it’s a little warmer out today, I know it’s just a matter of time before the winter cold sets in again. Time for soup! But not just any soup: chowder. Now, I know that chowder is more traditionally made with fish, but I’ve made corn chowder more than once. This time, I’m going for a chicken chowder with lots of veggies and I’m trying out Campbell’s Stock First (TM) Cream stock. I got two boxes to give them a try. Earlier this weekend, I made a mac and cheese with one of the boxes (and it was pretty tasty!). So, today, I used the second box to make the chowder.

I will warn: this is not that thick, gloopy type of chowder that is more traditional. This is a thinner broth. If you prefer a thicker broth, you might want to switch to cream instead of skim milk. I’ve heard of some folks who make it with heavy whipping cream. I might consider using two boxes of the cream stock next time, cutting out the milk and sour cream entirely. I just used what I had on hand.

Here’s what I did… Continue reading

First days of Winter call for “Empty Your Fridge” Soup

emptythefridgesoupWinter is coming…

I’ve actually only seen the first season of Game of Thrones but I thought this statement was appropriate. Last week, I was wearing just a fleece sweater to work, occasionally with a light scarf. This week, I was wearing the same sweater but with my winter coat and those little stretchy gloves. But no hat. Not yet. That’s just crazy talk. 😉

We’ve started seeing some flurries on and off and with the first signs of winter settling in, I start craving comfort foods such as Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie, really, as we use ground beef, not lamb, but my family has always called it Shepherd’s Pie), stews, casseroles and soups. So, I got up this morning and started rummaging around in the fridge to see what I could throw together to get that going.

What I came up with was really “a little bit of this, a little bit of that”. I had a few stalks of celery that were just starting to get rubbery (just barely). I’ve got half a bag of large carrots taking up some space in the crisper. Oh, about a cup of shredded cabbage that needed to be used or tossed soon… some dredges of minced garlic in the bottom of the jar on the door of the fridge… a leftover baked chicken breast… a part box of beef broth… half of a red onion and half or maybe one quarter of a white onion…

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Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup

"Summer Solstice" vegetable soup with garlic cheese bread

I’ve recently found out that onions are generally a bad idea for me.  If I don’t want to end up having certain health issues that I won’t discuss here, I need to generally avoid them like the plague.

To say the least, this has really put a cramp in my cooking-style.

Almost every recipe out there involves onions of some description or another. Sliced, diced, chopped, minced, pureed… somehow, it’s present in everything from soups and stews to burgers and meatloaf. What’s an onion-avoiding girl to do??

With the recent rainstorms and cooler summer weather, I’ve found myself craving a good, hearty, warming soup. Yes, soup in the summer — I’m not crazy, I promise! But again: soup = onions. Right? Well, not exactly. I’ve found  that I have no adverse effects from onion powder. There’s hope yet! Based on this and wanting to get something equally tasty and nutritious into me, I went out to buy some veggies I haven’t had in recent days: cabbage  and sweet potatoes.

Sure, I’ve got potatoes in my pantry but the  sweet potatoes are generally so much better for you and they just have a different taste. So, today, after I had gotten up from a short afternoon nap, I started chopping and slicing and  whipped up this yummy little number. I’ve dubbed it Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup because I created it on the Summer Solstice and the flavours are warming without being “spicy”. Feel free to play with the seasonings to make it more to your taste, but  I have to say that this turned out better than I originally imaged!

This also makes a huuuuuuuuuge pot of soup/stew, so feel free  to cut these measurements in half to make a dutch oven’s worth of soup. This one took my large stewing pot, just as a warning.  (See the end of this posting to see the “leftovers” after hubby and I both had two full bowlfuls!) Also, this was an instant hit with my hubby, though there was no meat in the soup. Woo! Here’s what I did…

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Making menus

spinachberrysalad-turkeysausage

This was my breakfast yesterday: spinach and berry walnut salad with light feta cheese and a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette next to a baked turkey sausage patty.

I posted this to Facebook and people raved about how good it looked. Then I shared a secret: I didn’t make the  salad myself, nor the sausage. They were pre-made at the stores. The salad was from Metro. I just added the feta and dressing (which I did make myself with some olive oil and raspberry balsamic vinegar). The turkey sausage patty was bought at (of all places) Walmart and baked for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven (flipping over once halfway through). I could have made these from scratch, yes.

But sometimes, you just want something quick and easy. With buying the pre-made (but fresh versions of these) foods, it makes meal-making pretty quick and easy. This post isn’t about short-cuts — though I encourage you to make whatever short-cuts you wish or to make everything from scratch if you so wish. No, this post is more about menu-making, to help my friend out. 🙂

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Just what the doctor ordered: potato-leek soup

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So, I’ve been sick since New Years Day though I finally seem to be on the mend. The problem is that when I’m sick, we tend to eat horribly and rely on takeout a lot. This probably isn’t helpful to the recovery process as takeout isn’t exactly the most nutritious food out there

So I mustered up some strength and tore apart the fridge, taking my cutting board and veggies into the living room to chop and prepare while sitting down as much as I could. (Standing for long periods of time just won’t do when you are lightheaded.)

Luckily, there were lots of veggies to choose from including leeks, which is something new to this household. I’ve wanted to try them out for a while and just thought to pick them up with the last grocery run. And when you’re ill, what’s the first thing you generally want to eat other than toast or crackers? Soup!

Now, I haven’t had any stomach problems with this illness, so I didn’t need it to be broth-based, so here’s what I did…

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Beef vegetable soup with a kick

Beef vegetable soup with a kick in a white bowl

We’ve had cooler weather as of late, so I’ve been craving more and more soup and stew. After having the hearty goulash soup from the Black Forest Inn upped my cravings for beef soup, specifically one I would consider to be hearty. I already had a large eye of round roast cooking in the slow cooker, so I thought why not use half of that for a soup and slice up the rest for sandwiches?

Then I considered what I wanted in the way of a flavour profile. I knew I wanted something deeper in flavour than usual and maybe something that cleared the old stuffy sinuses a bit. So here’s what I did…

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Kitchen sink… soup!

A bowl of chicken-based soup with veggies.

What do you do when you have a whole lot of bits and bobs in your fridge that need to get used up? Make soup!

I was faced with this dilemma this weekend while fighting off a bit of a bug of some sort. all I wanted was soup. So I looked around and found that I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but not a lot of anything that seemed useful, until I started pulling things out of the fridge. I like to call my soup creations that are made in this fashion “kitchen sink soups”. You just throw everything you have, sometimes including the kitchen sink! 🙂

Here’s what I did with this one…

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