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

Mom’s “Hamburger Hash (stew)”, made my way

hamburger-hash-stew

This one’s an old family favourite for me. It’s one that we had very frequently as kids and I always looked forward to it. It wasn’t until recently that I said my mom, “Remember when you used to make hamburger hash for us? I used to love that and haven’t had it in years!” My mom told me she had, ironically, just made it a few days prior. So I asked her, “How do you make it??” I said, “Do you first brown the meat–?” She cut me off and said, “Oh, god no! That’s too much work!” or something very similar. She told me how she did it all those years ago and now I’m going to share with you how I made it recently for my hubby and myself.

Oh, but wait. What is hamburger hash, you ask? Oh! It’s not like a breakfast hash made with potatoes. It’s more like a ground beef stew that’s poured over mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, it was made with onion and ground beef and was in a really thick gravy. I imagine it was a favoured dish because it was relatively cheap and easy to make — which of course made it really easy to feed a family of four on a budget and without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Here’s what I did…

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The comfort burger: a Meatloaf Burger

Meatloaf Burger on a whole wheat bun with some Monterrey Jack cheese and lettuce

Sometimes, you just want a burger. Last week, I was craving burgers so much that I almost caved and went to McDonald’s. *shudders* No. No. I’ve sworn off of that place, honest! I think in the last year, I’ve been there only once. Maybe twice. I’m trying to divorce myself from certain places that I know are just  bad news for me.

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A daunting task: attempting a Gordon Ramsey recipe – Sausage Rice

Honey garlic sausage rice

I’ve enjoyed watching Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimately Cookery Course when I’ve managed to catch it. Watching these episodes makes his cooking seem a little more accessible. I was particularly intrigued by his spicy sausage rice recipe. It seemed simple and potentially delicious! The only issue I had was that it featured a spicy sausage, which I am not a fan of (I can’t handle hot spicy foods). But I thought, why can’t I do this with any other sausage?

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Jamie Oliver-inspired cooking: slow-cooked beef stew

Jamie Oliver-inspired Slow Cooked Beef Stew in a bowlI have always made stew the same way: saute onions in some oil, then brown some flour-covered beef in batches, deglaze, add the rest of the veggies and liquid and bake for an hour or two, then try to thicken it up on the stove-top with a flour-slurry, because it just  never seemed to thicken in the oven.

I’ve never been happy with this so I’ve been poking around, looking for a better technique.

Then I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Jools’s favourite beef stew. In it, he talks about how it’s really not necessary to brown the meat in batches, as so many chefs would have you do and that he actually prefers the taste and texture of  the stew when he doesn’t pre-brown. He simply sautes his onions, then throws in the floured, seasoned meat, the liquids, vegetables and then brings it to a boil on the stove before throwing a lid on it and forgetting about it in the oven for 3-4 hours. Let me tell you, when I followed these instructions, I preferred the outcome. The taste and texture was indeed better than any stew  I’ve made in the past and the meat was perfectly tender (it’s been tough in the past).

So here’s what I did this time around for my best ever slow-cooked beef stew…

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Comfort food (not soup!): leek and turkey bacon bow-ties

Leek and turkey bacon bow-ties in alfredo sauce in a white bowl.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about potato leek soup, I’ve been ill since the beginning of the new year and I haven’t done a lot of cooking as a result. I’m just starting to feel like I’m on the mend, so I was able to stand in the kitchen for a little longer today than yesterday to make something with a little more substance than soup.

Don’t get me wrong: soup is great and very comforting, but  sometimes you want something with a bit more chew. Pasta is something I don’t have on a regular basis but I usually have some boxes of whole wheat noodles or pasta in the pantry at all times, just in case. Considering I’m low on proteins in the fridge right now, I had to work with what I had. There is some ground chicken and some pork schnitzels in the freezer, but both need thawing before they can be used. What protein do I have in abundance in the fridge? Low-sodium turkey bacon! Yum!

Considering I still had three leeks to use up, as well, I rummaged around in the pantry a bit more and found that I had a single bottle of store-bought Alfredo sauce. Now, I could start to see a meal forming in my head, so I went to work. Here’s what I did:

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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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