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}

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl by Breaking Bland Eats

My aversion to meat as a young child forced my mom to come up with creative ways to transform vegetables, and occasionally chicken or fish, into delicious meals for the whole family. We often ate vegetarian meals and to this day, even though I’m not quite as picky with meat, I still like to make a lot of meatless meals.  I always keep dried legumes and canned beans in my pantry so I can whip together nutritious meals even when my fridge isn’t well stocked. Beans and lentils are inexpensive, a good source of protein, and packed full of fibre – which helps to keep you full and satisfied!

This recipe is my take on an Indian lentil stew called Dahl. I added sweet potato and coconut milk for a touch of sweetness and fresh spinach because the bunch in my refrigerator was starting to look questionable.   All you need to complete this meal is some cooked basmati rice or naan bread.

Trust me you won’t miss the meat in this dish!

Creamy Sweet Potato Dahl

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced or ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala*
3 medium carrots, diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 cup dried brown lentils
3 cups of water
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cups of packed spinach
1/4 cup cilantro (optional, but highly recommended!)

Cooked basmati rice or naan bread for serving

Directions:

1.  Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot, add onions and cook until soft – about 5 minutes.
2. Add ginger, garlic , jalapenos and spices and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until spices are fragrant.
3. Add lentils, carrots, sweet potato, and water. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
4. Add coconut milk and salt, cook for another 10 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook for 3 minutes until lentils are soft and spinach is wilted. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in fresh cilantro if using.

*Note: Garam masala is a blend of ground spices which you can find it in the spice section of most grocery stores.

Turkey Stew with Herbed Cheddar Biscuits

Turkey Stew with Herbed Cheddar Biscuits

For me, this recipe is the definition of comfort food; a hearty stew with chunks of tender turkey and vegetables, all topped with flakey biscuits, what more could you ask for?   This is one of my favourite ways to use up leftover turkey, say after Thanksgiving, but I’ve been known to cook chicken with the sole purpose of making this dish.  It’s just that good.

And don’t throw away those leftover turkey bones, make your own stock! If you don’t have time right away you can freeze the bones in a sealed plastic bag, and then when you are ready simply cover the bones with water in a large stock pot and simmer uncovered for a few hours.  For more flavour I like to add chopped onions, carrots, and celery as well as a good pinch of salt.   Once you strain the stock and skim off the excess oil,  I suggest you portion the stock into small containers (of about 1 cup)  and keep them in your freezer.  This way you have stock on hand which can be quickly defrosted and added to soups, risottos or any dish that calls for stock.

What’s your favourite way to use leftover turkey?

Turkey Stew with Herbed Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe by Kirsten, makes one 9×13 inch casserole dish, serves 4-6 people

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced in ½ inch cubes
¼ cup all purpose flour
3 cups of stock (preferably homemade)
2 ½ cup cooked, chopped turkey or chicken.  (1 turkey breast or 2- 3 chicken breasts)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

Biscuits:
2 cups of white or whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions, carrots, and celery, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Stir in ¼ cup of flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Add stock, potatoes, and thyme, stir to combine.  Turn heat to medium-heat and cook for 10 minutes until sauce thickens.  Note: Potatoes will be slightly crunchy but they will continue to cook in the oven.  Stir in cooked turkey and parsley.  Transfer to a 9×13 casserole dish and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 F
  4. Prepare biscuits: In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cheese and parsley.  Mix in oil and milk until just combined.  Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead 3-4 times to form a ball.  Press into a ½ inch thick circle.  Using a cookie cutter or a round glass, cut dough into rounds and place on top of the stew.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the stew is bubbling and biscuits are golden brown.

Turkey Stew with Herbed Cheddar Biscuits

Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

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With the weather getting colder, soups and stews are starting to make their way back onto my weekly dinner rotation. There are so many different combinations of flavours and ingredients that you could make a different soup each night of the week and never get bored.  Whether you call it a soup or a stew, this rich tomato broth with tender chucks of fish and vegetables comes together quickly and makes a perfect weeknight meal.

Whenever a recipe calls for canned tomatoes I always add just a touch of sugar; this serves not only to neutralize the acidity from the tomatoes but also as a time saver to create a depth of flavour that is usually achieved by cooking tomatoes for a long period of time. The amount of sugar you will need depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes and your own personal preference. Remember the best tool in your kitchen is your sense of taste, so make sure you taste your food as you’re cooking.   It can mean the difference between a delicious meal and a bland disaster!

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Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, juice included.
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste).
½ – 1 teaspoon sugar
2 filets or ~400g red snapper or other white fish, cut into 1 inch pieces.
2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup  fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. In a large soup pot sauté onions over medium heat until they become translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Next add the diced tomatoes including liquid, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon sugar.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste, if it’s too acidic at this point you can add another ½ teaspoon sugar.   I prefer my vegetables on the crunchy side but if you like your vegetables a little softer continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Right before you are ready to serve the stew add the fish and spinach, cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and serve immediately with a nice piece of crusty bread to soak up the tasty broth.

{Tip} You can make the tomato base ahead of time up until the point where you add the fish, then when you are ready to eat simply reheat and add the fish and spinach a few minutes before serving.