Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chipotle Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

* Photo and Recipe credit to Natalie at

Do you ever find yourself wondering what the point of my recipe blog is since I basically just repost recipes from Don't worry, you're not the only one. The thing is though, last year you probably thought the same thing when I posted a string of recipes from melskitchencafe. So though I go through stints, I sometimes switch things up and start following another recipe blog. So that's why. That and also that the Good Book lets us know that in the mouths of two or three witnesses all things shall be established. So...I like to add my witness to good recipes. Is that blasphemous?

We loved this soup! Probably one of my favorite soups ever. Cleaning up after it was not my favorite thing, however. I curse the frugality in me that will simply not let me buy an immersion blender. I curse even more the frugality in me that returned the immersion blender that was given to me at Christmas and used the money to buy underwear for Gwen. Sheesh. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

4 whole sweet potatoes, roasted and cubed
2- ½ cups corn, fresh or frozen
8 slices bacon (if you can resist the urge to use the whole package of bacon you are a stronger person than I)
1 cup leeks, sliced and rinsed well (I used shallots, certainly you could use any type of oniony thing you have on hand)
1 whole sweet onion ( I actually bought the sweet onion, impressed? )
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried (I only had like half a teaspoon, sad thymes!)
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram or 2 tsp dried
2 boxes chicken stock (32oz each), divided
2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped(I'm not messin' around here, FINELY chop them or you will be sad because your mouth might burn off)
1- ½ cup heavy cream (used half and half)

Wrap sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour at 375 degrees F, until fork tender. Once soft, peel and cube.

Fry bacon in a dutch oven or other large heavy bottomed pot. Once crispy, remove and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pot. Add leeks, onion, corn, thyme and marjoram to the pot, stirring constantly until tender. Add cubed sweet potatoes, 1-1 1/2 boxes of chicken stock, and chipotle peppers; simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend 1/2-1/3 of the soup. (Or transfer to a blender and do the same. You'll want to leave some of the corn and potato cubes whole.)

Simmer chowder for another 10 minutes, then add heavy cream and combine well. If your chowder seems too thick, add more chicken stock and/or water to thin until you reach the desired consistency. Top with crumbled bacon.
Tips: Serve with corn chips or a nice crusty french loaf.

* So here's the thing....I liked the amount of heat in this recipe. I really did. It was borderline too much heat for comfort in some bites (probably because I am too lazy to "finely chop" anything), so if you want your kids to eat it I might suggest only using one of those adobo peppers, and to rinse it quite thoroughly-- or pull out their soup before you add those peppers. Also, I didn't have leeks (the shame!) but I did have shallots and just cut one of those up. And I used a whole package of bacon (don't tell), but I drained some of the grease (bonus points for me!). I also substituted half and half for the cream with good results. And I was short on thyme, but it still turned out alright. (I also made lots of very witty thyme puns, but I'll spare you).

Enjoy! It really was good! I'll try to branch out and post a recipe from another source next. Maybe even one from an actual cookbook, that would be exhilarating!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken and Roasted Broccoli Salad with Goat Cheese

* Recipe and photo credit to Natalie @ (again!)

I think Natalie and I are kindred spirits. She's like a healthier, more creative, more talented photgrapher, cuter dish owning version of myself. And basically what I mean by that is that I love her recipes and they use ingredients that I usually have on hand, plus she seems super nice. Anyway, we LOVED this. I didn't even call it a salad when I served it at my house. I served it as dinner. Blaine drooled over it, the kids actually enjoyed it. It was awesome.

I used the leftover goat cheese from this recipe. You really don't need much, and it is cheapest at Costco. I also used a yellow pepper because that is what I had on hand (random, right?). Oh also, I used a Costco rotisserie chicken because that's how I roll.

Chicken and Roasted Broccoli with Goat Cheese

For the roasted broccoli and pepper:
1 large head of broccoli (about 1 3/4 lbs), cut into 1-2 inch florets
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

For the rest of the salad:
4 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
a couple pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of dried oregano
juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 2 T), plus additional lemon wedges for garnish
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
3-4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled

To prepare the broccoli:
Heat oven to 500 degrees and place a sturdy baking sheet on the lowest rack. Place broccoli florets and peppers slices in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.

Working quickly, remove baking sheet from the oven and spread broccoli and peppers into an even layer, placing the florets cut-side down when possible. Return to bottom rack of the oven and roast 10-12 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through and there are caramelized spots scattered throughout. Be sure not to cook until the tips of the florets turn black.

To prepare the rest of the salad:
Heat 2 T olive oil, sliced garlic, and pepper flakes in a small skillet over med-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is soft and begins to turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until heated through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove chicken-garlic mixture from heat; stir in oregano and lemon juice.

Toss roasted vegetables with the chicken-garlic mixture and an additional 2 T of olive oil in a large salad bowl. Gently fold in the goat cheese crumbles and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

* Photo and Recipe Credit to Natalie@

These were so fun! Blaine turned up his nose as I was preparing them thinking they were sloppy joes or hobo dinners. Then he couldn't stop "ooooo"ing and "ahhhhhh"ing. He loved them! They were really easy to make and very tasty indeed! I doubled the meat (and beans, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning) in the recipe, because Heaven knows that a half a pound of ground beef would simply never do in this house.

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
2-3 T taco seasoning
1/2 cup tomato sauce (4 ounces)
1 can black, kidney, or pinto beans, drained
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
2 T butter
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for garnish
6 12-inch long pieces of aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans. Set aside.

To assemble packets, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup sweet potato cubes in the center of each piece. Top with a small piece of butter (about 1 tsp) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some chopped spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

*Recipe and Photo Credit to

Remember how much I love Bountiful Baskets? Well, I kind of got tired of them for a while. Not that I am opposed to fresh fruits and veggies at a discount, it's more like I really wanted to be able to choose my food for a while. I do love the bread though so I've been ordering a basket about once a month and add 40 loaves of bread to my freezer (I think the BB people call me the "bread lady"). Anyway, BB totally bit me in the behind last week. I had gone shopping in the week and bought acorn squash, potatoes, and spinach and then when I picked up my guessed it MORE acorn squash, MORE potatoes, and MORE spinach. It's like they are mind readers. Anywho, I needed some new ideas for how to prepare acorn squash, since I am now the proud owner of about eight of them.

I simply googled "stuffed acorn squash" and found a recipe that looked good, prepared it, and it knocked my socks off! It was a perfect meal and I felt super healthy eating it, in fact, I feel inspired to create a "healthy" category for the sidebar there, just for this post (lookin' at you Ang).

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash
• 1 T butter
• 1 C quinoa
• 2 C chicken/veggie stock or broth (reduced sodium)
• 1 T extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 habanero peppers, chopped finely (remove seeds for less heat)
• 1/2 C mushrooms, chopped
• 2 C spinach, uncooked
• 1/2 feta, crumbled
• 1 T parsley, chopped
• 1 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375dgs, slice acorn squash in half.

Once sliced (albeit perhaps unevenly), scoop out all the seedsSprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper and put 1/2 T butter in each squash half.

Place on a baking tray and roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Make sure squash is tender to the fork upon removal (otherwise, stick it back in the oven for a few more minutes)In the meantime, start cooking your quinoa, according to directions. You can use water, but I find chicken stock/broth to be a bit more flavorful. I generally try to get low-sodium, so I can control levels of salt. And, of course, use vegetable broth if you want to keep this dish vegetarian-friendlyWhile the quinoa is cooking and the squash is roasting, pour your extra virgin olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms, onion, garlic, and habaneros until they’re slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and squeeze lemon juice over.Now, turn heat to low and add the cooked quinoa to the veggie mixture. Throw in 2 cups of spinach and stir to combine and wilt spinach a bit.

Add in feta cheese and parsley here, as well. Save a little of each for topping, if you want.

Your acorn squash should be looking beautiful by now.
Spoon quinoa mixture into acorn squash halves and top with a little extra feta. And parsley too, if you desire.

Absolutely delicious! And completely vegetarian! I doubled the recipe and was very glad that I did and I served it with this salad, which I dumped bacon bits on (the real kind from Costco), obliterating the vegetarianness of the meal : ) Also, I didn't have habenero peppers but I did have some jalepeno slices (the kind you put on nachos) and chopped a couple of those to put in and what I learned was you definitely want something to give the dish some heat and the jalepeno slices worked great, just work with what you've got. Also, I hope you know that whenever a recipe calls for fresh squeezed lemon juice I squeeze it fresh from the bottle. Now if it calls for zest, that's another story....