Summer Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

{the summer soup}

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I used to hate soups.  I never was a big fan of them growing up.  Chicken noodle soup was served when you were sick, but soup was never a frequent visitor to the dinner table.  I did LOVE beef stew.  However, stew is not soup is not chowder.  In my old age, I have grown to love soups, stews, chowders, bisques, gazpachos etc etc.  They definitely appear on my dinner menu often, but in the fall & winter more.

However, I don’t discriminate soup in the summer so I add some delicious summer flavors to keep it light.  You’ve probably noticed a decent amount of posts including corn lately.  Well, it is summertime and I really cannot get enough of it.  [I will be posting a Mexican Corn Salad shortly where I use the corn straight up off the cob.]  This recipe uses the corn’s kernels and “pulp” to add creaminess to the broth.

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So what exactly is the difference between a stew, chowder, and soup?  I did some research to answer this question for you…..

  • SOUP:  Liquid is very thin.  Can be cream based or broth based.  It is majority liquid with some, if any, added pieces
  • CHOWDER:  Broth is thickened using an agent such as flour and has more “stuff” in it than liquid.
  • STEW:  Mainly solid pieces of veggies & meat cooked in a small amount of liquid (beer) cooked slow resulting in a gravy base.

Based off of these Sara-determined definitions, this is a soup because I didn’t use any flour as a thickening agent.  I am still going to call it a chowder because I like the word chowder and there is more “stuff” than liquid.

This is the ultimate summer soup.  It has many bold flavors, is light, creamy, salty, sweet, and in my chowder, spicy.  If you aren’t a shrimp fan, substitute crab or lobster – yum!  This dinner sounds a bit fancy, but it is yet another “Dinner in 20″ meal.  It requires one pot too which makes for easy clean up :)

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summer corn & shrimp chowder with bacon
Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
3 slices of thick bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk [I used fat-free]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
Optional:  cilantro, cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs over a bowl.  Squeeze any excess “juice” from the cores.
2.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium and add the bacon.  Cook until crispy.  Remove about 2 Tbsp from the pot & set aside.  If there is a lot of grease, discard all but about 2 tsp.
3.  Add the onion and celery & saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic & thyme and saute an additional minute.
5.  Add the corn and any pulp acquired during cutting and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for 2 minutes.
7.  Stir in the milk.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and cayenne.
9.  Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro and remaining bacon pieces.

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Enjoy!

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Curried Cauliflower

{whole foods copycat}

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See what I did there?  bolded the cat part.  Crazy cat lady at heart :)

You guys, I love Whole Foods.  It’s too expensive for my lifestyle though.  The main thing I love is the salad bar and prepared foods section.  It’s about a $9 lunch so I only allow myself to go about every 2 weeks.  I have several favorites all of which I plan to recreate.  To name a few:  Sriracha brussell sprouts, cold sesame noodles with cucumbers, balsamic roasted beets, artichoke spinach dip, casear pasta salad, and the curried cauliflower.

My goal is to try to make my own version of these and compare them to the real deal.  I only get the curried cauliflower every once in awhile because they are pretty rich and a flavor that requires “having a taste for”.  But I mean, who wakes up and says “Omg I am totally in the mood for curried cauliflower”  No one.

 

And that’s the special  thing about the Whole Foods prepared food section.  The one by work varies often so when my favorite ones appear that “taste” immediately happens.

I usually get the little plastic container thing and give myself a small little bit of several items.  Note to self:  do not overload on cherry tomatoes their weight makes your salad $15.  It really is the perfect lunch.  I don’t think there is a Love Your Lunch recipe that beats a Whole Foods lunch.

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However, if I can recreate all the delicious things at Whole Foods I will be able to bring them to lunch myself (and probably be cheaper too!).  I am going to attempt a little series that will be my Not So Doughie (not that WFs is doughie) version of my Whole Foods favorites.  So up first:  Curried Cauliflower

curried cauliflower

Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme:  25-30 minutes   |||   Servings: 4 |||   Difficult Level:  Low

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:
1.  In a small bowl, combine the oil and all of the spices and garlic.  Stir to combine.
2.  Toss in the cauliflower and use your hands to thoroughly coat the pieces.
3.  Spread over a baking sheet and put in the oven at 350 degrees.
4.  Roast for about 25-30 minutes until fork tender (depends on size of the pieces)
5.  Remove from the oven and put into serving dish.
6.  Add the peas and cilantro, stir and set aside.  The heat from the cauliflower will “cook” the peas.
7.  Serve warm or chilled.

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Enjoy!

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Simple Herb & Garlic Chicken Kabobs

{summertime lovin’}

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If you read my dough bites post from Friday, you are aware that I made some kabobs on the grill.  When I first bought the chicken breasts at Kroger my intention was to roast the chicken slowly in the oven.  However, Chase suggested making kabobs since it was going to be beautiful outside.

We love eating kabobs at our house.  The best part is that we put whatever we like on our individual skewers.  I have made many a kabob – beef, shrimp, chicken veggies – with many a marinade – teriyaki, orange ginger, peppered.  This marinade I am sharing today is so very simple with a ton of flavor.  It was perfect for a spring meal and the flavor was not lost during grill time.

I didn’t prepare these kabobs ahead of time, but if you prepare them in the morning before work/school it makes dinner time much faster.  The time consuming part of kabob night definitely is the skewering part.  Have time at night?  Prepare the chicken in the morning and let it sit in the marinade all day.  Longer sit time = bolder flavor.

On the grill

On the grill

We used our propane grill and the kabobs took about 15 minutes to cook through.  We attempted to use this potato express to make baked potatoes to go with the kabobs.  Do NOT buy this dumb product.  It does not work.  After we were all finished with our kabobs, the potatoes were finally ready.  So that definitely was a kitchen failure.  It didn’t matter because the kabobs and asparagus were delicious enough!

The night concluded with dinner on the balcony and homemade ice cream sundaes.  We kicked off the summertime season with kabobs, outside dinner, and ice cream.  What do you cook when the weather is beautiful?

Simple Herb & Garlic Chicken Kabobs

Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  15 minutes   |||   Cook TIme:  15 minutes   |||   Servings: 3-4   |||   Difficult Level:  Low

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into large chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp fresh herbs [I used a combination of sage, thyme, and rosemary]
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Veggie/Fruit for the skewers [I used cherry tomatoes, pineapple, green pepper, and mushrooms]
salt and pepper

Directions
1.  In a bowl, combine the olive, herbs, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper.
2.  Add the chicken and stir to thoroughly cover with the seasoning.  Let sit for 30 minutes – 8 hours
3.  Chop your vegetables as needed.
4.  Skewer the chicken and veggies onto wooden or metal skewers.
5.  Heat grill to medium heat and place chicken kabobs directly over flame.
6.  Turn often and cook for about 15 minutes.

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Enjoy!

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Maple Sage Roasted Carrots

{what’s up, doc?}IMG_3130I forget about carrots a lot.  Cooked ones at least.  We eat our fair share of raw carrots & hummus in my house, but roasting them is always overseen.  Probably because Chase prefers them raw and Bryan doesn’t care for them at all.  I think he liked these ones though!  He ate some… unless he just ate them because I made him.

Anyways… my family always adds a green vegetable to our dinner plate and I decided it’s about time we branch out a little bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I could eat asparagus, green beans and/or broccoli all day.  However, I needed some beta-carotene and had some sage to use in the fridge.

This simple and delicious recipe took minutes to make and is quite not so doughie.  It photographs nicely too.  I recommend just cutting off the leafy greens and keeping the carrots whole – definitely a beautiful presentation if you have guests.  I grabbed a small baking casserole dish to roast them in so I had to cut them to fit.

Maple Sage Roasted Carrots

hands-on time:  5 minutes   ///   cook time:  15-20 minutes   ///   servings:  4

Ingredients:
1 bushel of organic carrots
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions:
1.  Cut the leafy greens off of the carrots and then thoroughly rinse them.
2.  Preheat the over to 400 degrees
3.  Place carrots on a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup.
4.  Use your hands to coat the carrots.
5.  Sprinkle on the sage & season as desired.
6.  Roast in over for about 15-20 minutes depending on preferred texture.  I like mine still a bit crunchy so 15 minutes was plenty.

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eat your carrots!

xoxosara

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this & that

Happy Sunday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend & are gearing up for Christmas Day.  I have a few things I wanted to share!  So let’s get down to business…

Click Here to check it out!

  • Last week we were hit with a decent amount of snow.  We wanted to see how Toby & Ramona reacted to the snow.  Ramona would not go out and was a diva who just wanted to stay warm inside.  Toby… he is now coined our Snow Leopard.  He LOVED it and only came inside for a treat.  He was so cute & I snapped some pics that must be shared!

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Thinking about it….

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Testing it out…snowcat3

I love the snow, Mom!! I’m catching snowflakes on my kitty tongue!

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Now I’m going to dig in the snow!

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Kitty Paw Prints!

  • On Friday, we had our holiday decorating judging at work.  The theme for my row was “Santa’s Workshop”.  We spent a lottttttttttt of time making the decorations and thought we were a shoe in for 1st place.  Unfortunately, we got 3rd :-/  I snapped some pictures of our work… take a looksie.

  • For our work Christmas Pot Luck, I made a Sugar Cookie & Strawberry Trifle.  It was sort of a last minute thing, but it turned out great and perfectly sweet.  As you can see from previous posts, I am not much of a sweet tooth.  However, there are certain things I like in sweets and this recipe encompasses all of them:  fruit, cookies and homemade whipped cream.

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{Click here for the recipe}

Alright that’s what I have for you today!  Enjoy and happy holidays :)

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Mexican Chipotle Hash Browns

{simple & satisfying}

Thanksgiving is a mere 3 days away!  Bryan and I will be going to celebrate the holiday at my Mom & Step-Dad, Ryan’s house.  Since it is a short(er) work week I didn’t go to the store.  Tonight was a whatever night – Chase not here & Bryan quarantined himself to study for a work licensing exam.  Our fridge looks pretty barren, but I knew I would be able to come up with something to satisfy my hunger tonight.  I was going to go with a mini bagel and cream cheese and then I remember the potatoes I had left over from my Guinness Beef Stew recipe.  I rummaged around and pulled out some remaining veggies.  I was in the mood for something with a bit of spice so I went with Urban Accents Mesa Rosa as my main seasoning.  In about 10 minutes, I had myself a little Mexican hash brown dish.

Compared to last night’s crazy kitchen adventure, this side dish is so simple yet the flavors were really bold and would be star on a brunch menu.  The recipe can also be tinkered with to make it more of a breakfast bowl by adding some scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a dollop of salsa (I will be trying this soon!).  Restaurants take brunch pretty seriously these days and some places are very hard to beat.  However, if you are on a budget, just love breakfast food, or want to mix up your boring morning oatmeal then try this recipe.  It was satisfying for dinner and would be delicious for breakfast as well.

Enjoy & have a great night :)

Mexican Chipotle Hash Browns ::::: yields: 2 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup potatoes (any kind), small dice
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 Tbsp Urban Accents Mesa Rosa chipotle
salt and pepper

Directions
Place a saute pan over medium heat and then add the olive oil.  Add the potatoes and cook until about tender (5-7 minutes).  Add the seasoning and stir to coat the potatoes.  Add the green onion and corn.  Cook until the corn is soft then add the cilantro and tomato.  Season with salt and pepper & serve warm.   If desired add scrambled eggs, cheese, and a dollop of salsa to the saute pan for a main course breakfast dish.

Enjoy.

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xoxosara

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Guinness Beef Stew

{Guinness + Beef}

Beef stew.  My guess is most people think comfort food when they hear beef stew.  Not me.  I think of the first book I ever read on my own titled Beef Stew.  Sure, I read Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat and the Hat and all the classics.  However, I clearly remember grabbing that book when I was little and reading each word on my own.  What an interesting title… I really wonder what the author was thinking when the book idea came to mind.  Maybe she was eating beef stew?  Had a few too many drinks?  No idea.  All I know is that I loved this book and probably still do if I read it today.

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I make beef stew about once a year and I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often.  It is so easy and the smell when you come home from work – yum.  The crock pot is one of the greatest inventions in the cooking world.  I love being able to put something together in the morning and come home from work to dinner.  This is definitely one piece of equipment in my kitchen that gets its use.  

I knew it was time to break out my classic beef stew recipe with the cold weather well underway.  However, I decided to add a twist to my original recipe.  I wanted something with a deeper flavor and unique.  My original recipe uses red wine as the base of the sauce.  For this recipe, I decided to use a bold and hearty beer – Guinness.  My secret piece of this recipe – 1 oz. of bittersweet chocolate.  It gives the recipe that little something that causes people to think “Hmm what is in here?”  

I prepared the beef stew this morning and was happy to come home to smell my masterpiece.  I cooked it on low for 10 hours and the beef became so tender soaking in the liquid all day.  Preparation for the stew was so easy and it was a two thumbs up meal at my dinner table.  I definitely will make this version of my beef stew again.  It was very delicious and the flavors were so unique.  I hope you enjoy.

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{Click here for the recipe}

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