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

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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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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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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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REVIEW & REJIG: Hungarian mushroom soup recipe

A bowl of low-sodium Hungarian Mushroom SoupI was off sick from work today and slept most of the day away. When I awoke, I was feeling much better, but was absolutely famished. I considered calling and ordering some take-out chicken soup from Swiss Chalet until I looked up the nutritional value. For one bowl of chicken and vegetable noodle soup was over 1000mg of sodium!! No thank you!

My husband suggested that I make my own. The problem with that was that I had no chicken in the fridge! I had veggies and broth and whole wheat egg noodles (no yolk) but no chicken. Can’t have chicken soup without chicken, can we?

But by this point, I knew I wanted soup. So I went scouring around the web, looking for ideas. I knew I had about a pound of mushrooms that needed to be used up soon, so I based my searching on that ingredient. What I found was an intriguing recipe over on AllRecipes.com called Hungarian Mushroom Soup. I was surprised to find out that with the exception of the fresh parsley (I just had dried), I had all of the ingredients.

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Chicken parmesan meatloaf muffins

Two 'muffin'-sized meatloaves made of ground chicken and seasonings are topped with homemade marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Served with cauliflower risotto.I love chicken parmesan when I go out to eat, but I’ve been avoiding it due to the elevated sodium levels I know the sauce will undoubtedly have, the breading on the chicken, etc. I’ve been learning that some of my favourites from restaurants over the years are not the healthiest of choices and tend to have a million calories, two million grams of fat and an ungodly amount of sodium. Chicken parmesan is no exception, sadly.

But does this mean I have to swear off of it? No! Why not make my own and adjust things to fit my dietary needs? I’ll save my waistline from expanding (or my feet!) and save my pocketbook too!

I had a craving for it one night but didn’t have any chicken breasts to make it myself. What did I have? Ground chicken. What could I do with that? Well, I make beef meatloaf ‘muffins’ all the time, so why not do the same with the chicken? They’d have bread crumbs worked into them, using a similar theme to chicken parmesan. And heck, I have light parmesan in the fridge at all times! If I made up my own sauce, I could control the sodium considerably. So I went to work on it and here’s what I did:

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Low-carb adventures: chicken patty w/light Caesar salad

A chicken patty on a plate with a Caesar salad beside it.Recently, I’ve been trying to cut back here or there on my carbs. Due to my mother’s diabetes and my obesity (and therefore being in the danger zone), I figured it was a good move to make. So I’ve been browsing the diabetes-friendly recipes online and found this really interesting one: Chicken Caesar Burger at Taste of Home.

The idea intrigued me but I didn’t want the big white hamburger bun. I had bought some whole wheat English muffins, but I got to re-thinking that idea. I thought, Why do I need a bun?? So I considered deconstructing the recipe ever so slightly and presenting the patty next to a Caesar salad.

So, that’s what I did and boy, am I full! They were very filling and very satisfying. I was full after one patty and my salad. I only made a slight change to the patty recipe: I didn’t add the second bit of parmesan cheese to the top of  the patty and I didn’t have fresh garlic, so I used a teaspoon of garlic powder.

The recipe itself was extremely easy to follow. Everything for the burger goes into one bowl to be mixed, while the salad stuff is mixed in another. Grill these up on your indoor grill and within 6-8 minutes, they’re done (just make sure that the internal temp is at least 160F). I think the whole process took no more than 15 minutes to throw it together and cook. While the patties cook, make the salad. And the patties are very large, being 1/4 pound a piece.

The salad was about 2 cups of romaine lettuce, 3 slices of ready-made bacon (chopped and quickly cooked up in a non-stick pan), the parmesan I didn’t put on the burgers and some Renee’s fat free Caesar salad dressing.

Delicious! Even hubby agrees! I’d recommend this to anyone.

Nutritional Info

Serving: 1 patty

Cal: 298
Carbs: 4g
Fat: 12g
Sodium: 717mg
Sugars: 2g