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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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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Homemade chicken biscuit pie

A bowl of chicken biscuit pieWe’ve had grey skies on and off this week, so I’ve found myself craving comfort food. Keeping in mind my new meal plan regimen, I decided to see how I could revamp an old favourite: chicken pot pie. My old version was no doubt loaded full of sodium, fat, calories and carbs. This new recipe still has all that, but the values are no doubt cut back. Choosing lower sodium ingredients and limiting portions on the bread-like topping by using perfectly sized biscuits helps keep some of those values in check.

Here’s what I did…

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Homemade roast rub

An opened mini Mason jar labeled as "Roast Rub" with seasonings inside.I like throwing an eye of round roast into the crockpot on weekends for hubby and I to eat throughout the week. Some people use steak seasoning to season roasts. Others make their own. I like to make my own. Since I make a roast every week or two, I tend to make up extra rub seasoning and put it into mini Mason jars. Here’s what I’ve been using as of late:

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