Chicken and Potato Chowder

A few weeks ago, we had some rainy and dreary weather.  Thick soups and stews are PERFECT for those kinds of days…at least, in my opinion. 

Thankfully, one of those dreary days, I had an abundance of potatoes in the cupboard and chicken in the freezer, which was perfect for this Chicken and Potato Chowder by Damn Delicious.
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Let’s just say…it was delicious.  Seriously.  I added some extra spices, but I don’t remember exactly what, so I’ll just post the recipe as-is from the original blogger.  But it was a great flavour combo and so cheesy, too!  The chicken broth added a ton of flavour (broth really does make my job easy, hehe).  I loved the cheese addition.  But I love cheese, so that’s not really a surprise.  I used a mix of nonfat milk and half’n’half, because we didn’t have enough milk.  But it was a great mix, because it added some extra creaminess without being incredibly fattening (then again, let’s be honest – when you go to hearty soups and stews, you’re usually looking for comfort!).  Also, the original recipe calls for russet potatoes, but I used reds – I’m pretty sure you can just use whatever you have on hand.  I also didn’t add my carrots until toward the end – I like them to be crisp tender, not super mushy.  Finally, I used dried parsley, because I didn’t have any fresh.  Oh well.
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Bookmark this for the next dreary or chilly day – you won’t regret it!
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Chicken and Potato Chowder

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-1/4cu unsalted butter
-1 onion, diced
-3 carrots, peeled and diced
-2 stalks celery, diced
-1tsp dried thyme (or more!)
-1/4cu all-purpose flour
-3cu chicken broth
-2 cups milk, or more, as needed
-2 potatoes, cubed
-2cu diced cooked chicken breast
-1.5cu shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-2tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 1tbsp, dried)

Directions:
-Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
-Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Then stir in potatoes.
-Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes. Stir in chicken and cheese, a handful at a time, until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
-If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached (mine wasn’t too thick, but everyone does things a bit differently).
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers

My husband and I had a busy and fun weekend!  I was excited to try out several new recipes this weekend, and I love enjoying company and cooking for others, as well.  On Saturday, I made Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers from I Don’t Go To The Gym’s Blog.  We had a couple over from our old church, and their 3 kids (only the adults ate the burgers – the kids had hot dogs).  It was the husband’s first time EVER eating a turkey burger.  I am just flabergasted when I hear things like that, because it is so normal to me!  But then I remember, I didn’t eat turkey burgers as a kid or while growing up – probably once I really started cooking is when I started eating turkey burgers.  My husband also didn’t eat them before I came into his life! ;)

Our friends’ kids also don’t spend a lot of time around pets, and it was just adorable to see them so enamored with the cat and lizard, and even afraid of our sweet little dog!  It was cute to see them warm up to him, petting him, then proudly telling their parents that they were able to.  At first I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough to keep the kids busy, but with having 6 pets and a little play area outside, it turned out to be great for the 2, 4, and 6 year olds!
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Going back to these Mexican turkey burgers…I have had this recipe saved for about a year now, just kind of waiting to make it.  It involves SO MUCH STUFF.  Nothing really expensive or out of the ordinary, but it’s definitely a trashed up or fancied up burger.  I even had to text my friend ahead of time to make sure she was ok with it, or if they prefer “normal” burgers.  As many people know, I RARELY make a normal burger. ;)

There are some changes I would recommend from the original recipe – the original recipe says to use one pound of ground turkey to make 6 patties…um…how is that even possible?  Sometimes it can be difficult enough to make 4 patties out of one pound of meat!  I ended up using 1.25lbs (it was on sale for cheaper than the 1lb package!) and made 5 burgers.  Also, there is SO MUCH additional stuff in these burgers, that I actually had to cut it down a bit, because there would be literally almost no burger and all filling (which I suppose may have been their point, but it’s kind of hard to grill filling with minimal burger).  As it was, we had to grill these on foil (make sure to spray your foil!), so that they wouldn’t fall apart between the grates.  Also, I omitted the jalapeno (but kept the bell pepper – and my husband didn’t mind! Score!).  I also only used half a red onion, to save for a yummy watermelon salsa I also made (check the blog soon for that recipe), and only used half of the red bell pepper because, again, there was just so much filling.

Despite all the filling and despite all the changes – these were YUMMY burgers.  I mean it.  So filling, so flavourful, dripping with flavours.  My friend (the wife) said that she loved the “pockets” of cheese in the burger, and the husband said that he really liked it too!  Sure, he might have just said that to be polite, but he ate the whole thing, which I think says something. ;)

For the recipe below, I am going to post using my alterations, from what I can remember, but if you’d like to compare and contrast, definitely check out the original recipe – feel free to make it your own!

Bonus: we used fresh cilantro from our garden! Yay!
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Mexican Spiced Turkey Burgers

serves 4

Ingredients
-1lb lean ground turkey
-1/2 or 1 chopped red bell pepper
-1/2 or 1 chopped small red onion
-1/2 cup frozen corn
-1tbsp olive oil
-1-2tbsp cumin
-1-2tbsp chili powder
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 handful cilantro, chopped
-1 lime
-1 egg white
-1/4cu panko (I used a little more)
-4tbsp Mexican cheese blend
-buns

Directions
-Add one tbsp olive oil to saute pan over medium heat, then add red pepper, onion, garlic, frozen corn, 1 tbsp cumin, and 1 tbsp chili powder to saute pan. Saute until golden brown. Add juice from one lime and mix to combine flavors.
-In a mixing bowl combine lean ground turkey with the veggie mixture. Add remaining cumin and chili powder (if you want to – 1tbsp of each was actually pretty decent). Mix in chopped cilantro, panko, and egg white.
-Form patties, stuffing some cheese into the center, and then fold the meat around.
-Either grill or use saute pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Cook on medium high heat for 5-7 minutes each side
-Top with condiments of your choice, on the buns, and serve.

Ranch Roasted Red Potatoes

Side dish time!  This is a simple four-ingredient roasted potato dish from Laa Loosh that was a great accompaniment to our Aidell’s chicken sausages (LOVE THOSE, in case I haven’t mentioned it before…haha).
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The ranch packet was a bit more expensive than I thought it’d be…I thought packets like that were about 50 cents, however it was about $1.50 (I bought the generic brand from Fred Meyer).  It was not quite as Ranch-y as I would like.  At first, I only sprinkled about half of the packet on the potatoes, since it seemed like so much, and then I added a bit more, and halfway through cooking, I added the rest of the packet. 
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Because of this, I was expecting a Ranch Explosion (great visual, right?), but I did not get that.  Sure, it was seasoned and fairly tasty, but far from the flavour explosion I was expecting.  We still ate them all, though!  Now if only I could finish up the 5lb bag of red potatoes…

Good news: This is actually a WW-ish recipe, and 1/2 cup of potatoes is 2 WW points.  Score!
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Ranch Roasted Red Potatoes

serves 2

Ingredients:
-2-4 red potatoes (depends on size)
-1 packet Ranch Dressing Dry Mix
-Non fat, olive oil cooking spray
-1tsp salt (I just used a quick grind, cuz the dressing mix is pretty salty)

Directions:
-Cut potatoes and let sit in water for at least 10 minutes, then drain.
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-In a large bowl add potatoes and spray lightly with the cooking spray. Then add the Ranch mix and toss well to fully coat each potato.
-Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray and spread out potatoes evenly on sheet.
-Bake for about 20-25 minutes, tossing about halfway through, until slightly crisped and fully cooked.

Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon & Crispy Herb Roasted Potatoes

Costco is our new BFF.  We got a sweet deal on good salmon (which I portioned into 4 meals for 2 people each), cedar planks, and red potatoes (the potatoes part is super old news, if you’ve been reading this blog this summer!).  This was the first time I used the Costco salmon (I *love* buying in bulk, but I also *love* hoarding/savouring things). 
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In addition, this is about our 10th time using the potatoes since we bought the 5 pound bag – and there is STILL a lot more!  Thankfully, when stored properly, potatoes last for a long time, so we can use them all!
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This salmon from Simple Bites was so simple and yet so delicious.  On one side, we could taste the dry rub ingredients (including a subtle sweetness from the brown sugar) and on the other side, we could taste the smokey, cedary flavour.  It was great!  Also: my husband used to dislike salmon (hence why I think this is only the second salmon recipe featured on Never the Same Dish – the first salmon recipe were these delightful grilled barbecue salmon burgers).  But he gobbled up this piece of salmon, and would have eaten extra, if there was any!
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The crispy herb roasted potatoes from Barbara Cooks were a nice accompaniment and there is nothing particular to note about them.  Just trying to slowly but surely plow through my potato recipes…

Side note: Despite following our plank-preparation instructions to a T, it still charred (and even…um…caught on fire a teeny bit…), but it did not at all ruin the salmon itself!  It was my first time cooking with a plank, and the planks we have work great, but are disposable, so I have no idea if that is normal, or totally strange.  Any thoughts?
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Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

serves 2

Ingredients:
-Two 4-6oz salmon fillets
-1 cedar plank, prepared (please follow the directions for your specific plank!)
-1/4cu brown sugar
-1tbsp olive oil
-1/2tbsp dried Italian seasoning
-3/4tsp smoked paprika
-sprinkle of kosher salt

Directions:
-Prepare plank according to plank package instructions
-Preheat a gas grill to medium
-Combine brown sugar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika and Kosher salt in a small bowl, then rub the mixture on the salmon (opposite skin-side)
-Place the prepared salmon onto the cedar plank, skin-side down
-Grill for about 10 minutes, or until salmon is cooked and flaky (you can Google cooking time instructions for various sizes of salmon – the amount and thick-ness I used called for about 10 minutes).
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Crispy Herb Roasted Potatoes

serves 2

Ingredients:
-4-5 red potatoes (depends on size, of course)
-1/4tsp dill
-1/4tsp garlic powder
-pinch of paprika
-1-2 grinds of seal salt and pepper
-1tsp olive oil

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Cut each potato into wedges and let sit in a bowl of water (this can be done as early as overnight, or as late as 5-10 minutes before)
-Combine the dill, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and then the seasoning mix
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, lightly spray with cooking spray, and spread the potatoes in one layer on top.
-Bake 30 minutes or until edges are a golden brown, tossing a few times during cooking.

Thai Beef Tacos

I spent 3 days at the Watershed music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre near George, Washington (yes, that is really what it’s called).  It was my first time at the Gorge and it was truly an epic experience.  There were so many amazing performers, musicians, and entertainers.  And the entertainers weren’t only on stage!  There were definitely the crazy kids walking around trying to shock everyone (guys wearing daisy dukes and sporting bikini tops, guys wearing speedos with dollar bills stuffed in them, girls in teeny thong bikinis, and even a guy that shaved his chest hair into a bikini shape – that one was actually pretty original).
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Before my mini vacation, I made these AMAZING Thai beef tacos from How Sweet It Is‘s blog.  I have been waiting for ages to make this.  It is a bit more costly than the average dish, because I had to buy fresh mango and it has a lot of ingredients, but it was SO, SO, SO, SO, SO worth it.  I had bought some thin steak on sale recently, so just had to stock up on some of the fresh produce to pair with it.
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The “serving” is about 3 tacos (using the little corn tortillas), but I think I ate 4-ish.  I could have eaten about 10, if we had enough meat for it.  These were seriously amazing.
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How Sweet It Is has been the inspiration for many of my favourite meals, and this one was no exception.  I marinated the meat for 24 hours (longer is better, people!).  I also added the jalapeno to my salsa separately, as my husband can’t handle that kind of spice.  Speaking of the mango salsa, I may or may not have just eaten the salsa by the spoonful when there were no more tacos, but still some salsa left over…divine.
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Thai Beef Tacos

serves 2

Ingredients:
-1/2 to 3/4lb thin flank steak
-1tsp salt
-1tsp pepper
For the marinade
-3/4cu light (canned) coconut milk
-1tbsp sesame oil
-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
-2tsp freshly grated ginger
-2tbsp brown sugar
-3tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
-1/3cu sweet chili sauce
For the mango salsa
-1/2 mango, chopped
-1 shallot, diced
-1 jalapeno, diced
-2tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
-sprinkle each of sugar, salt & pepper
For the tacos
-1tsp canola oil
-6-8 corn tortillas
-1/2cu sweet chili sauce
-1/4cu peanuts, chopped
-green leafy lettuce + fresh cilantro for topping

Directions:
-Sprinkle flank steak with salt and pepper. Combine coconut milk, sesame oil, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar and cilantro in a bowl and whisk. Add flank steak to a ziplock bag or a shallow baking dish and pour marinade overtop. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
-When ready to prepare, remove steak from fridge and let sit for 20-30 minutes, to reach room temperature.
-In a bowl, combine mango, shallot, jalapeno, salt, sugar and pepper, mix thoroughly, then set aside.
-Heat a large oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) over high heat. At the same time, preheat the broiler in your oven. (You can also grill the steak if you wish.)
-Using a pastry brush, brush oil onto the skillet so there is only a very thin layer. Remove steak from marinade with kitchen tongs, placing in the skillet. Sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes.
-Remove skillet and place is the oven directly under the broiler. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more (for a 1-in thick steak, this results in medium to medium well, but broil for less if you’d like it less done).
R-emove skillet from over, and place steak on a cutting board to rest for 15-20 minutes. At this time, assemble your tortillas (warm them if desired), salsa, extra chili sauce for drizzling and -cilantro. After the steak has rested, slice it into thin strips. Assemble tacos as desired and eat!
**Side Note: I did not broil my steak at all, because it was SUPER thin stir fry steak, and broiling would have literally charred it – so use your best judgment if you decide to broil/grill, as it totally depends on what kind of steak you have.**

One-Pan Chicken Parmesan

TGIF!!!!!  Who’s with me??  Seriously, I have been so tired lately and I am ready for the weekend!  It also helps that I am attending not one, but two, barbecues this weekend.  I can’t wait. ;)
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Sometimes, though, you need a break from grilling, and when you do, there are dishes like this yummy One-Pan Chicken Parmesan by No. 2 Pencil to fall back on!  This was a nice, comfort food-esque dish, that was sort of like baked ziti, only in chicken parm form.  And we all know how much I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE chicken parm! 
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For me, this turned into more of a two-pan chicken parm because, well, I’m not always as prepared as I should be.  I didn’t have any chicken broth (which is almost a crime, since it’s one of those essentials that you should always have!), so I ended up adjusting the recipe and boiled the pasta separately in water, then added back to the rest of the dish.  I did that, because without the broth, there was not enough liquid in the “one pan” to cook the noodles, and I didn’t want to water it down with…well…water.  I also used tomato sauce instead of canned tomatoes, cuz I’m just that kind of person.  Also, I used dried parsley for garnish, not fresh.  Still pretty, and tasty!
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One-Pan Chicken Parmesan

serves about 4

Ingredients:
-4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided (I think I used less – I try to not overdo it with the oil!)
-2 cloves of garlic, diced
-1/2 of a medium onion, diced
-1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (uncooked, diced into bite-size pieces)
-1 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (or just use tomato sauce)
-1 8oz can of tomato sauce
-1 14.5oz can of low-sodium chicken broth
-1/2lb of uncooked rotini pasta, about 2 1/2 cups
-2cu freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/2cu freshly shredded parmesan cheese
-1cu Panko bread crumbs
-kosher salt and pepper
-flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:
-In a deep saute pan, saute onions and olive oil until onions start to soften.
-Season chicken with small amount of salt and pepper, increase pan heat to medium/med-high, and brown the chicken.
-Lower the heat and add garlic to pan. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes more.
-Use kitchen shears to break up canned tomatoes in the can, then add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth and pasta to pan. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat.
Cook covered for around 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.
-Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, only if necessary, then stir in mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
-In a small bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with 2 tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta and heat under broiler until bread crumbs are crispy and golden, 1-2 minutes.
-Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley.

Maple Barbecue Beef

Hello slow cooker!  It has been awhile since I used it, to be honest…or them, I should say, since we actually have two!  I have been a huge fan of Stephanie O’Dea ever since she had her New Year’s Resolution several years ago to use her crockpot every single day.  I remember reading her posts every day to see what looked good (or gross), and she has certainly gone viral since then, and even has appeared on cooking shows and has some cookbooks!

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This maple barbecue beef recipe comes from her blog.  At the grocery store the other day, there was a BOGO deal on huge beef roasts, and everyone knows I love a good deal!  I still have one roast in the freezer that I am likely going to use for slow cooker beef sandwiches, but we’ll see.

My verdict was not quite as good as her verdict – it remained a very thin broth and I could not taste the maple syrup at all.  ALL I could taste was salt.  That actually may be an exaggeration, but most people know by now that I am pretty salt-sensitive.  I used low sodium soy sauce, but I think my broth was not low-sodium.  Also I know that beef roasts on their own produce a fair amount of salt.  If I were to make this again, I’d decrease the amount of broth or soy sauce, increase the maple syrup, or use low-sodium broth.  Despite the slight negative, it was still pretty good, and created a little bit of leftovers!

Side note: I’m sorry the pictures for this one kind of suck. Ha.

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Maple Barbecue Beef

serves 4+ (the beef roast cooks down A LOT)

Ingredients:
-2lbs stew meat/beef roast/etc.
-1/3cu soy sauce
-1/3cu maple syrup
-2tbsp dried onion flakes (or one diced onion)
-2/3cu beef broth

Directions:
-Place all of the ingredients in a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker. Stir around a little if possible, and make sure the meat is coated.
-Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours (if possible, stir once during the day, but if not possible, just stir right before serving).