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Cheesy Bacon Corn Chowder

Cheesy Bacon Corn Chowder

I married into a family of 100% Swedish descent.  Being of German/Russian descent, I had never encountered this culture before meeting my husband.  I learned very quickly that the Swedes, at least in my new family, have a major sweet tooth!

Growing up, at Thanksgiving, us German/Russians might have had a pumpkin pie after the feast with a scoop of ice cream, but it was always kind of an after thought.  NOT SO, with the Swedes.  The first Thanksgiving I spent at my in-laws house I thought must have been a mistake.  Someone must have not gotten the memo that the other person was bringing dessert because everybody that came brought a pie.  EVERYONE!  As you can guess, this really isn’t much of a problem.  Is there really such a thing as too much pie?!

The reason that I mention the sweet-tooth Swedes in this post is because my husband’s affinity for sweet carries over in to all areas of his eating.  I, on the other hand, prefer much more savory, salty, or spicy foods.  Because of our opposite flavor preferences, I always try to achieve a balance that we can both enjoy.  This chowder is one of those dishes that is a perfect compromise for both of us.  The corn itself is sweet so the cheese and bacon balance that sweetness and round out the dish.  We ate bowl after bowl of this soup last weekend.  So whether you are craving something sweet or savory, this recipe should hit on all of those notes.  Soup on Swedes.  I love you all!!!

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. bacon fat
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 5 cups corn, frozen
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 (15oz) can reduced-sodium chicken broth or 1 3/4 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 8oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Fry chopped bacon over medium heat in a heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  Drain skillet reserving 4 Tbsp. of bacon fat.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. bacon fat to heavy skillet and saute carrots, celery, and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes until softened.  Remove from heat.
  3. In a heavy stockpot, add remaining 2 Tbsp. bacon fat and flour over medium heat.  Stir constantly for 1 minute.  Slowly add chicken broth whisking to break up any clumps.  Heat for 2 minutes over medium heat then reduce heat to low for another 3 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in milk and cream.
  5. Add corn, vegetable mixture, and potato.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes making sure soup doesn’t boil over.
  6. Turn heat to low.  Remove 4 cups of soup, allow to cool, then blend.  Add back to soup pot.
  7. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted.  Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.  Add bacon and serve.
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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Soup, Uncategorized

 

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Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

It’s here..it’s here…it’s really really here.  SOUP SEASON!!!  I despise winter and am so sad to see summer go, but I do love me some Fall.  Comfy sweaters, cool sleeping weather, lazy Sunday Football Fundays, and SOUP!

Someone asked my mom once what my favorite color was and she replied, “Well for Erin that all depends on the day!”  That is exactly how I feel about soup.  It can fit so many different moods, eating habits, and cravings.  From a comforting chicken soup when you’re under the weather to a silky lobster bisque on date night, soup has many sides and serves many purposes.  It’s great for using up leftover ingredients in the fridge along with being easy on the pocketbook.  Oh soup, I love you!

Today I decided on a chicken wild rice soup.  I happened to have some homemade chicken stock in the refrigerator so I wanted that to shine.  I added a bit of cream but not so much to mask the poor chicken stock that spent so many hours on the stove last Saturday doing it’s thing!

This is one of those recipes that tastes best the next day so feel free to make it ahead of time and eat it throughout the week.  It will get better with some age.  Most things do!

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Yield: 8 Servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8oz portabella mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots or 10 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter + 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 shallot, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 7.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie or poached chicken works great here)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse wild rice and drain.  Heat water with 1/4 tsp. salt and rice until boiling.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Rice is done when it pops open and is chewy not hard.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towel, let cool, then coarsely chop.
  3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute for 3 minutes.  Add carrots and continue to saute for another 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large stockpot melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat.  Add shallot until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and stir constantly 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in chicken stock.
  5. Increase heat to a boil.  Add rice, mushroom/carrot mix, bacon, chicken, and thyme.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld and reduce slightly.
  6. Stir in cream and heat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Fall, Soup, Uncategorized, Winter

 

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Easy Baked Rigatoni

Baked Rigatoni

I generally spend one weekend day preparing food for the week ahead.  A pasta dish is always a winner for a few reasons.

  1. The ingredients are cheap.
  2. It reheats well making a perfect lunch for the remaining work days.
  3. It freezes well so can be assembled and thrown in the oven an hour before dinner.

These are all qualities that I love in a weeknight dinner.  Yes I have made homemade “gravy” plenty of times but, for all time-intensive purposes, jarred sauce is a great base start to a very pleasing weeknight dinner without taking all day to make.  Hence the name, “Easy Baked Rigatoni.”

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12oz rigatoni
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 log fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

Directions:

  1. Brown Italian sausage.  Drain and transfer to a heavy Dutch oven.
  2. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  3. Cook rigatoni until al dente in salted water.  Drain but do NOT rinse.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Add basil and rigatoni to sauce and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer to a freezer proof dish and top with mozzarella.
  7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling.  If freezing, cook covered with foil for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

 

Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

3 years ago I planted my first garden.  I learned very quickly that two people do NOT need 5 flourishing zucchini plants!  We had so much zucchini that I bet I made these fritters 50 times.  Needless to say, I was “frittered-out” by the end of that summer.

It took me until yesterday to have a craving for them.  I forgot how light, fluffy, and full of flavor they are.  The lemony mayo adds just the right amount of creaminess and zing to make all the flavors pop.  So go crazy, make some fritters, and see if you can have more restraint than I did!

Yield: 30 bite-sized fritters
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced with seeds
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped fine, reserve bacon fat for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. Toss zucchini, jalapeno, and bacon in a large bowl to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in milk, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Pour over zucchini mixture and toss to coat.
  3. Add flour and baking powder to zucchini mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Heat bacon fat over medium heat.  Drop spoonfuls of zucchini mixture into bacon fat making sure to not overcrowd.  Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip fritters and flatten with the back of a spatula.  Cook another 2 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Whisk together mayo and lemon juice and serve with warm fritters.
 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Appetizers, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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Lamb and Stout Shepherd’s Pie

Lamb and Stout Shepherd's Pie

Yield: 4 Servings     Prep Time: 2 hours    Cook Time: 1 hour

I had so much fun with my husband on Saturday!  We had absolutely no obligations and were free to do whatever we wanted.  We slept in, eventually put on a pot of coffee, then decided that in honor of St. Patty’s Day we would go to Anchor Fish and Chips in Minneapolis for a bite and a couple pints.  It’s a small place where everyone crowds in the doorway waiting for the next table to turn.  The menu is just as simple and has the classic Irish/English fare.  Look at this Heinz beans painting.  I love it!

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The cod was thick cut and lightly battered.  It had a beautiful golden crust with a crunch but the inside was so tender and flaky.   We have now decided to make Saturday lunch a tradition and will be eating and imbibing at a new restaurant once a week.  What a fun person I spend my life with!!!  After lunch we walked to another pub down the street since we thought it wouldn’t be proper to celebrate St. Patty’s Day without a bit of Jameson!

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So here I am on Sunday morning wanting needing something comforting for Sunday dinner to soak up all of yesterday’s fun.  With a name like Erin, it would be a disgrace to not celebrate this very fun holiday with some Irish fare!

So after doing a little research, research meaning…what am I craving, I decided on shepherd’s pie.  Since it’s Sunday and a holiday I kicked it up a notch with lamb shanks, a hefty stout, some creamed leeks, and an Irish cheddar mashed potato topping to really make this baby sing.  The lamb shanks made this amazing gravy that has the richness of a veal demi-glace without the time and money.  Sooooo comforting and delicious!

Ingredients:

Lamb:

  • 2.5 pounds lamb shanks, bone-in
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 small onion, quartered with skins on
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1/4 cup stout beer
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. flour

Potatoes and Carrots:

  • 1.5 pounds russet potatoes
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup half-n-half
  • 1/2 cup Irish cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced

Creamed Leeks:

  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin and washed thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Rub lamb shanks with oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and whole cloves.  Place lamb and quartered onions in roasting pan.
    Braised Lamb Shanks
  3. Roast lamb for 40 minutes.  Turn shanks, add thyme and rosemary, and roast for another 40 minutes.
  4. Remove roasting pan from oven.  Pour stout, broth, and water over lamb.  Cover roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil and return to oven to braise for another 45 minutes.  Bake potatoes at the same time by piercing with a fork and placing on lower rack for 45 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven to 350F.  Transfer lamb to a plate to cool.  Strain liquid through a colander, reserving onions.  Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add carrots for 10 minutes.  Remove carrots and place in an ice bath to immediately stop cooking.
  7. Once lamb has cooled, shred meat removing all fat.
  8. Once potatoes have cooled, mash with a fork, add 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/3 cup half-n-half, and 1/2 cup Irish cheddar.
  9. In a skillet melt 2 Tbsp. butter.  Add onions and leeks and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add cream, Parmesan, salt, and nutmeg and stir until thickened about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  10. Next, deglaze roasting pan with 1 1/4 cups chicken broth.  Spoon off as much fat as possible.  Whisk in 1 Tbsp. flour and bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add shredded lamb to gravy.
  11. Pour lamb/gravy mixture into a gratin dish.  Layer with carrots, leeks, and finally mashed potatoes.  Run a fork over the top of the mashed potatoes.  This will create more surface area for the potatoes to crisp up in the oven.
  12. Bake for 1 hour until potatoes are browned on top.  Serve immediately.
 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Beef Noodle Soup (Freezer-Friendly)

Beef Noodle Soup #1

It’s 1 degree today in MN, but with the windchill it feels like -18F.  Brr!!!!!  When the weather is this frigid, I can’t help but think of my mom.  I remember getting off the bus in grade school on a day like this.  I would run as fast as I could into the house to get out of the cold while being careful enough not to biff it on the icy driveway.  As soon as I got inside I could smell the soup.  It was so warm and inviting just like my mom!  She would snuggle me up in a big blanket and feed me this soup with buttered saltine crackers.  It’s not fancy, but it’s comfort and it reminds me of home.  Stay warm people, eat your soup, and call your mother!

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless beef roast or stew meat, cut in bite-size cubes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/4 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought reduced-sodium broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (16oz) package baby carrots
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Season cubed beef with salt and pepper.  Add beef to pot and brown on all sides.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions cooking for about 5 minutes until they are softened but not burned.
  3. Add flour to beef/onion mixture and stir to coat for about a minute.
  4. Slowly add chicken stock and water.  Scrape up any browned bits from the pan and stir until slightly thickened and raw flour taste is gone.
  5. Add carrots and potatoes.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool in an uncovered shallow container.  Once cooled, transfer to freezer-proof container.
  7. Remove from freezer the night before cooking.  Place mixture in slow cooker and heat on low for 6-8 hours.  One hour before serving add egg noodles and parsley.

Note: Soup will keep frozen for 2 months.

Beef Noodle Soup Label

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Crockpot, Entrees, Soup

 

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Chicken and Dumplings (Freezer-Friendly)

1

Serves: 6

Ingredients:
Chicken Base:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Dumplings:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup whole milk


Directions:

Chicken Base:

  1. In a heavy pot, melt 3 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, celery, carrots, and leek.  Cook 3-5 minutes until onions sweat.
  3. Add 1/4 cup flour and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in chicken until cooked thoroughly, ~5 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
* Chicken base can be frozen for 3 months.


Dumplings:

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley.
  2. Cut in butter.
  3. Stir in milk.
  4. Make 6 equal dumplings.

* Dumplings will keep frozen (uncooked) for 3 months.

DSCN2170 1. Wrap dumplings in wax paper.

DSCN21742.  Next wrap in tin foil.

DSCN21763.  Last place wrapped dumplings in a freezer bag.


To Serve:

  1. Heat the chicken broth mixture slowly on low heat until unfrozen, stir frequently.
  2. Increase heat to medium.  Add dumplings, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes until dumplings are puffed and cooked thoroughly.

Chicken and Dumplings Label

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Entrees, Soup, Uncategorized

 

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