Black Bean Turkey Chili

Black Bean Turkey Chili {Breaking Bland Eats}

 

I’m dreaming of warm California weather today.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re on day number ‘I’ve lost count’ of clouds & rain while my friends to the East are getting the snow storm of a lifetime. Back in November, my husband and I spent an amazing week touring around southern California, which of course included a day at Disneyland. Walking around the park there were a lot of great food choices but I took note of all the people eating hot chili in what we would consider summer weather. Everyone else was bundled in warm jackets and pants while we were sweating in t-shirts and shorts! We may also have been sweating from the 30,000 steps we took while running around the park trying to avoid the line-ups, but either way our definition of cold is clearly very different.

For me, chili is the ultimate winter food and is perfect for feeding a large group of people – say for an upcoming Super Bowl party? (or my bottomless-stomached husband). I like to make a big batch of chili when having friends over – once the chopping is done it becomes pretty hands-off as it cooks, allowing you to be with your guests rather than in the kitchen.  Then your guests or family members can create their own chili bowls by customizing the toppings.  You can also make chili a day or so in advance which is why this recipe has a permanent spot on my make-ahead dinner list.

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for some years now, mixing different types of beans and vegetables and have finally found the perfect combination.  Kale is the surprising ingredient in this chili, but I love how it stands up well to the long cooking time and also I’m happy whenever I can get something green into a meal.  If you want to make this chili vegetarian, which I often do, simply omit the ground turkey and add a second can of beans.

Hope you all are managing to stay warm.  Me, I’ve got a belly full of this chili!

Black Bean Turkey Chili {Breaking Bland Eats}

 

Black Bean Turkey Chili

Serves 6-8 people

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeños, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced (4 cups or ~8 oz)
  • 1 796ml can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
  • 1 796ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 cups of frozen corn kernels
  • 1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch of kale, middle stem removed and leaves chopped.

Spices:

  • 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Toppings:  green onions, cilantro, grated cheese, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, hot sauce, tortilla chips, cornbread….let your imagination run wild!

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a 5-quart dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, ~5-7 minutes.
  2. To the turkey add diced onions, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, cooking the spices in the oil will develop a deeper flavour and take away the raw spice taste.
  4. Next add the mushrooms, diced and crushed tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini, black beans, corn, and kale. Cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning to taste and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  At this point you can cover the chili and turn heat to low and keep cooking for up to a few hours – the longer it cooks the more flavour you will develop.

 

Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup {Breaking Bland Eats}

I’m sitting here wearing my new fleece onesie (thanks hubby for the early xmas present), binge watching Netflix, with a box of kleenex at my side.  Yup,  I’m home sick today.  Luckily, I made this soup this past weekend while I still had energy.  Everything cooks together in one pot and blends the flavours of chicken stew with the earthiness of mushrooms and wild rice.  You can easily make this soup vegetarian by omitting the chicken, which I accidentally did once and only realized when I sat down to dinner and there was no chicken! It was still delicious.  I’ve also made this soup using cooked chicken or turkey, so a great recipe to keep on hand for using up leftovers post thanksgiving or christmas dinner.

Cooking a big batch of soup or stew is one way to ensure you have healthy meals even if your busy schedule doesn’t allow time to cook each day.  Boy am I glad that I have these leftovers in my fridge for lunch today.

Going to keep this post short because I need to get back to watching my stories.

Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups of sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of uncooked wild rice blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cups of low sodium stock
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into small pieces.
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions, mushrooms for 5-6 minutes stirring frequently until mushrooms begin to caramelize.  Add the carrots, celery, and garlic. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add wild rice, dried thyme, and water/stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add diced chicken, milk, and parsley.  Cook for 5-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked and the rice is tender. If the soup is too thick you can add more milk to desired consistency.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

 

Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Soup {Breaking Bland}

 

 

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Muffin {Breaking Bland Eats}

It’s that time of year again, the leaves are changing colour and pumpkin is making an appearance everywhere.  I can’t help but jump on the pumpkin bandwagon every Fall.  But I’m not talking about pumpkin flavoured products, I’m taking about 100% pure pumpkin.  It’s one of my favourite Fall flavours and it is so versatile, especially if you keep cans of pumpkin purée in your cupboard. I love adding it into my morning oatmeal, or mixed into macaroni and cheese to add vegetables and a wonderful orange hue.   But, you can’t beat the flavour that pumpkin brings to baked goods.

These muffins combine the irresistible  flavours of pumpkin and cinnamon along with another of my Fall favourites, apples.  I had a bag of Honeycrisp apples on hand so that’s what I used today when the baking urge struck me, but feel free to substitute your own favourite apple variety in this recipe.    Grated apple helps to provide a touch of sweetness and moisture which keeps these muffins light and fluffy.  When I’m cooking or baking with apples I prefer to keep the peel on the apple because one, I hate waste, and two, it provides additional fibre and texture.  Plus, it saves time, who doesn’t love that?

Fall Colours

This photo was taken on a stroll around our neighbourhood this afternoon.  I can’t get over how pretty this time of year is or how wonderful my kitchen smells after baking a batch of these muffins!

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Recipe by Kirsten, makes 12 muffins.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin purée (either canned or homemade)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium sized apple, grated (~1/2 cup grated)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

optional add ins: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts/pecans or pumpkin seeds.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, set aside.
  3. Combine wet ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and stir until well combined.  If using optional add ins you can mix them into the wet ingredients now.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients  and then add the wet ingredients.  Stir until just combined, it’s ok to have some streaks of flour.
  5. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the centre of the muffin springs back when lightly touched.
  7. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Whole Grain Zucchini Bread Pancakes with Blueberries

Whole Grain Zucchini Bread Pancakes with Blueberries | Breaking Bland Eats

Breaking Bland Eats turns 2 years old today! I’m so thankful to everyone who reads these posts and for all the positive feedback I have received.  This blog was a way for me to keep and share my favourite recipes, and the fact that anyone actually reads, let alone makes, the recipes still amazes me.  So, thank you.

This past summer I’ve had to get creative with zucchini recipes since both my parents and in-laws have supplied us with an almost endless supply of zucchinis.   After making zucchini bread one day I thought the flavours would be perfect as a pancake.  So, I took my standby buttermilk pancake recipe and added grated zucchini and cinnamon. Then decided to add blueberries – because blueberries make everything better.

When making blueberry pancakes I like to add the blueberries individually to each pancake once they are on the griddle.  This way you get an even amount of blueberries in each pancake, and avoid those blue streaks that often result when you mix blueberries into a batter.  This technique also works well with bananas, chocolate chips, or any other addition you want in your pancakes.

Placing a cookie sheet in a preheated oven (~200F) will keep the cooked pancakes warm until the rest of the pancakes are ready.  This is especially helpful if you are doubling the recipe and serving a large crowd.   These pancakes retain their moisture and keep in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze the pancakes and reheat in a toaster or toaster oven for a quick weekday breakfast option.

It can be confusing when looking at different flours or breads, what’s the difference between whole wheat, whole grain, and multigrain? First off be wary of anything that says “multigrain”.  Simply put, it means that more than one grain was used and often these grains are refined and have been stripped of their fibre and vitamins/minerals.  Make sure to look at the ingredient list, you want to see the word “whole grain”.  Whole grains are exactly as they sounds, the whole grain has been milled down to make flour, leaving all the nutrients intact.  Nutrition lesson over, time to celebrate with some pancakes!

Whole Grain Zucchini Bread Pancakes with Blueberries | Breaking Bland Eats

Don’t have zucchini on hand?  Grated apples make a great addition, simply replace the 2 cups of zucchini with 2 cups of grated apple.  Yum.

Whole Grain Zucchini Bread Pancakes with Blueberries

Makes 12 pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups of 100% whole grain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups of grated zucchini, ~1 large zucchini or 2 medium.
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla

1-2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Then stir in the grated zucchini.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.  Stir until just combined, lumps are ok!
  4. Ladle ~1/3 cup of batter per pancake onto a preheated skillet or cast iron pan, sprinkle blueberries on top, and allow the pancakes to cook until small bubbles are visible all over the surface of each pancake. Flip and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the centre of the pancake springs back to a light touch.
  5. Serve with maple syrup, a dollop of greek yogurt, and fresh blueberries.

*Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for each cup of milk you need.

Don’t have zucchini on hand?  Grated apples make a great addition, simply replace the 2 cups of zucchini with 2 cups of grated apple.  Yum.

Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken with Warm Corn Salsa

Tequila Lime Chicken with Warm Corn Salsa

A few years ago, on our way back from Mexico, we decided to bring back a rather large bottle of tequila. I don’t know why we did this, maybe it was too much sun (or maybe too many drinks at the beach?), but at the time we thought it was a good idea. Fast forward 4 years and we still have a huge bottle of tequila sitting on our shelf.  In my attempt to slowly make our way through the bottle, without actually drinking it, I came up with this marinade for chicken.  It’s now my go-to whenever I need super flavourful chicken for a Mexican inspired meal.   It’s delicious on tacos, quesadillas, or as a topping for a nice salad.  I recommend getting the marinade started first, because you want to let the chicken soak up all the flavours for at least 30 minutes before you cook it.  While you are waiting, you can prep the rest of the ingredients for the warm corn salsa.

Speaking of warm corn salsa, it is absolutely addictive. Sweet, salty, spicy, and a little sour from the fresh lime juice. It really deserves it’s own blog post, but for today it will have to settle for sharing the spotlight with this grilled tequila lime chicken.

This is the perfect summer evening meal: it requires little prep, is bursting with fresh summer flavours, and utilizes the BBQ.  If like me, you aren’t lucky enough to have an outdoor BBQ, you can use a cast iron grill-pan or an electric grill.  Or in a pinch you can simply use a frying pan.  Any way you cook this chicken it will be delicious.

Tequila Lime Chicken | Breaking Bland Eats

Warm Corn Salsa | Breaking Bland Eats

Tequila Lime Chicken with Warm Corn Salsa

Serves 4, recipe by Kirsten

Chicken: 

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • juice and zest of one lime
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper

Warm Corn Salsa: 

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups of corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 medium sized jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (~2 cups), sliced
  • juice of one large lime (or 2 small limes)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • salt
  • pepper

Serve with sliced avocado and a nice green salad.

Directions:

For the chicken:

  1. Combine all the marinate ingredients and pour over chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. On a preheated grill, cook the chicken for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway, until chicken is no longer pink inside.
  3. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps to seal in all the wonderful juices.

For the salsa:

  1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the corn to the onion mixture, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick.
  3. Next add the lime juice and chopped tomatoes.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, then mix in chopped cilantro and feta cheese.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

**If you are using this chicken for tacos, once it is cooked slice into bite-sized pieces, place into warmed tortilla shells, top with the corn salsa and some avocado, sour cream, and fresh lime juice. Yum.

Breaking Bland Eats

Maple Coconut Granola

Maple Coconut GranolaI love granola and I used to make it all the time. But as with my homemade yogurt making, it fell to the wayside over this past crazy year. One of my favourite weekday breakfasts includes this homemade granola, Greek yogurt, and some seasonal fruit.  And a coffee, don’t forget the coffee.

Sure, there are hundreds of varieties of granola in the store you can buy – but trust me this homemade version is way better and it’s really simple to make.  Also, have you ever looked at how much sugar is in some of those store bought granolas? I like my granola less sweet and with a lot more extras. This recipe is extremely customizable; use whatever nuts or seeds, dried fruit, or whole grain flakes you like. When I was in my granola making heyday, I made sure my cupboard was stocked with different kinds of whole grain flakes, from my trusty oatmeal, to barley, quinoa, or spelt flakes.

In this latest batch I added shredded coconut, maple syrup, and some unsweetened dried cranberries for something a little tart. Walnuts, ground flax seeds, and my latest obsession, hemp hearts, provide a triple punch of Omega-3’s. Most of us don’t get enough of these essential fatty acids in our diet. If you are using flax seeds make sure to buy the ground flax seeds, otherwise your body won’t absorb those beneficial Omega-3’s.

The grains, nuts, and seeds become slightly candied in the oven and are deliciously addictive. I suggest adding the dried fruit at the end, once the granola has had a chance to bake; otherwise you’ll end up with very hard, potentially bitter pieces in your granola. No one wants that. If you like your granola with lots of granola clusters don’t stir it as often, or if you like it broken-up, stir it more often.

Maple Coconut Granola 2

Maple Coconut Granola

Ingredients: 

4 cups of rolled oats or mixture of whole grain flakes.
½ cup unsweetened coconut (shredded or flaked)
½ cup shelled hemp hearts
¼ cup ground flax seeds
½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup chopped or slivered almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped cashews

½ cup of your favourite oil*
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries (a little harder to find but I love the tartness these add)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. In a large bowl mix together all ingredients, except the vanilla and dried cranberries. Mix well.
3. Line two rimmed cookie sheets or 9×13 pans with parchment paper. Split granola between the two pans.
4. Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring the granola every 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle vanilla over the warm granola, this will add a wonderful scent to the granola. Set aside to cool.
6. Once cooled, mix in dried cranberries and seal in an airtight container.

* note if using coconut oil you may need to heat the oil briefly so that it becomes liquid.

Turkey Congee (Savoury Rice Porridge)

Turkey Congee

Sorry for the hiatus.
It’s been a busy past few months, including two wonderful weddings – one of which was my own!  I’m happy to be back in the kitchen and excited to use all of our new wedding gifts and matching cookware.  I feel like such a grown-up.
My first introduction to congee was a few years ago at one of my husband’s bi-monthly family dinners.  A few times a year, Popo (grandma in Chinese) makes a huge vat of turkey Jook, another name for congee.   Congee is a popular Asian rice soup made by cooking rice in water or stock until it has broken down to a porridge consistency.  At first I have to say that I was not overly fond of its bland taste but saw the potential to spice it up.
As the the name of this blog would suggest, I’m all about breaking bland so I had to try making my own version.  Loaded with lots of fresh ginger, turkey or chicken, and a variety of delicious toppings, this meal is now on my comfort food rotation.   I like to add sautéed mushrooms and bok choy, because for me, a meal isn’t complete unless its got veggies! Congee is a great way to use leftover roast turkey, say after Thanksgiving or Christmas – and it freezes well, so why not double the recipe?
Don’t tell Popo, but I like my version best, shhhh….

Turkey Congee

Serves 4-6 people, recipe by Kirsten

1 cup of long-grain white or brown rice (pictured above is with white rice)
3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
8 cups of homemade turkey stock (or 4 cups store bought stock + 4 cups of water)
1 cup of cooked, shredded turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Toppings: choose as many as you like
– chopped green onions
– cilantro
– chopped peanuts
– sautéed mushrooms
– steamed bok choy
– crunchy chow mein noodles
– soy sauce
– Sriracha or other hot sauce
– sesame oil
– soft poached egg

Directions:

1. Place rice, ginger, and  stock in a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the cooked turkey and cook for another 15 minutes or until the rice has broken down* and resulted in a thick creamy soup. If the soup is too thick you can add some water, 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach a desired consistency.
3.  Add salt, sugar, and rice vinegar.  Adjust seasoning to taste.
4. Serve immediately with toppings of choice.

 

*If using brown rice you will find it takes longer to breakdown than the white rice.

 

 

 

 

Spot Prawn Linguine

Spot Prawn Linguine

Growing up I disliked 4 things: peppers, pineapple, pork, and prawns. Maybe I just had a thing against foods that started with ‘P’??

Up until a few years ago, I had only been exposed to those frozen prawn rings, you know the ones with the cocktail sauce? They seemed to make an appearance every Christmas and I just assumed that all prawns tasted like that.  Boy was I wrong.  Spot prawns are in a completely different league and are nothing like the watery prawns of my childhood. They have a wonderful firm texture and a delicate sweetness.  It’s safe to say that I have been converted.

Sunshine Coast Sunset

Gorgeous sunset from our deck

I’m extremely fortunate to have parents that live on BC’s Sunshine Coast.  For the past few years my vacations have consisted of relaxing ocean side and enjoying fresh seafood. Some days we are fortunate enough to catch the seafood ourselves! Each April, before the commercial fishing opens, we try to catch as many Spot Prawns as we can and freeze them to be enjoyed throughout the year.

You can buy fresh BC Spot Prawns between May-June. Spot prawns are caught in traps and hand-picked from those traps, a practice which keeps the fishery sustainable, but also makes these little critters quite expensive.  One tip when preparing the prawns is to use scissors to cut a slit down the back of each prawn. This makes peeling easier once they are cooked, and allows you to easily remove the vein (of poop).  If you want you can peel them before cooking, but I think they look pretty with their shells on.

BC Spot Prawns

Freshly caught BC Spot Prawns

This easy pasta dish really showcases the natural flavour of the Spot Prawns and is simply dressed with garlic, lemon, and a little heat from chili flakes.  Plus, as always, I’ve added tomatoes and spinach for a punch of veggies. If you can’t find Spot Prawns you can substitute your favourite fish or seafood.  I often make this dish using salmon and it’s equally as delicious.

Spot Prawn Linguine

Recipe by Kirsten, serves 4

454g linguine noodles
20 Spot Prawns, deveined, peeled or unpeeled (your choice)
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste.
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped.
2 large handfuls of spinach
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 to 2 cups of reserve pasta water
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted boiling water.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, melt butter with olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes soften and begin to release their juices 3-5 minutes.
3. Add prawns and cook until they turn pink, about 2 minutes.  Do not over cook.
4. Add lemon juice, zest, and spinach to the prawns and cook until spinach wilts.
5. Mix together cooked pasta and prawn mixture, if it seems dry add small amounts of the reserved pasta water until desired consistency.
6. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Chicken Corn Chowder

Thai Chicken Corn Chowder | Breaking Bland EatsCold and flu season has hit our family pretty hard over the past few weeks, and they say nothing cures a cold like chicken soup, right? Well, this is my (somewhat loose) interpretation of a classic chicken soup mixed with one of my favourite dishes – red curry.  This sweet and spicy soup gives you a good dose of vegetables and is sure to help clear those sinuses! Red curry paste, frozen corn, and a tin of coconut milk make this a quick, one pot dinner. You know me, I’m always looking for ways to add more vegetables, so I used sweet potato and spinach in this soup, but you can play around with different vegetable combinations or even make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken.

Kaffir lime leaves are a common ingredient in Thai cooking as well as many other Southeast Asian cuisines.  You can find them fresh or frozen in most Asian food stores and I’ve even spotted them at my local chain grocery store. They add a wonderful lime fragrance and they also freeze well, so it’s worth getting your hands on some if you love Thai cooking.  If you can’t find them, you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lime zest, but the flavour won’t be quite the same.

Hope you are managing to stay healthy!

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Thai Chicken Corn Chowder

Recipe by Kirsten, serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into 4 round pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes.
1-2 tablespoons of red curry paste, to taste
1 tin of coconut milk
4 cups of water
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or soya sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 kaffir lime leaves

2 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups of frozen corn kernels
4 cups of packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
juice of one lime 

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
2. Add ginger, sweet potato, and red curry.  Start with 1 tablespoon,  you can add more later if you want it spicier. Stir until vegetables are evenly coated with the curry paste.
3. Next add the coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar, salt and kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
4.  Add chicken and frozen corn, cook for another 10 minutes.  Once chicken is cooked and the sweet potatoes are tender, remove the 4 pieces of ginger and kaffir lime leaves.
5. Stir in spinach, lime juice, and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning prior to serving.

White Borscht Soup

DSC03451

You may be asking yourself, “What is white borscht?” Well that’s exactly what I asked myself when I walked into a small café and saw the soup of the day.  Borscht is something I’ve made many times in the past, but it always has a distinct purple colour thanks to the beets.  So what made it a white borscht? The waitress could obviously sense my confusion and she offered to give me a sample. After one sip I knew it was exactly what I was going to order for lunch. As it turns out, white borscht is a lot like beet borscht, just minus the beets!

It was so good, I came home that same day and tried to recreate it. I couldn’t find anything online that resembled the flavours or texture of the soup I’d had at the café, so I made it up.  The result, although not exactly the same, was a delicious marriage of fresh dill, tender chunks of cabbage and potato and a light creamy broth. I topped it with a generous dollop of sour cream, more fresh dill and served it with warm cheddar biscuits (see biscuit recipe from this post).  This may not be a traditional white borscht, but nonetheless, this soup is delicious and perfect for these cold Fall nights. 

White Borscht Soup
Recipe by Kirsten, serves 6-8

1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small green pepper, diced
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups of water
4 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 small head of green cabbage, (approx 600g), thinly sliced
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of sour cream (I used light or 5%), plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped.  If you don’t have fresh you can use dried dill – start with 1 teaspoon and adjust to taste.  

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and green pepper for 5-8 minutes or until onions start to become translucent.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except the sour cream and fresh dill.  Cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
3. Next stir in sour cream and fresh dill. To serve ladle into bowls and top with more sour cream and dill.

Note: one of my favourite grocery store finds was a tube of tomato paste; think of a toothpaste tube but filled with tomato paste.  I’ve never made a recipe that called for the whole can of tomato paste and always ended up having to freeze the leftovers.  The tube is perfect because you can use what you need then put the cap back on and it’s ready for the next time you need it.