Loaded Baked Potato Soup to Keep Us Cosy

We’re in the first peak of tax season so quick meals are key.  And given how cold and snowy it’s been, comfort food is a definite must.  We’re lucky it’s not as bad as the winter in the midwest last winter but you get to a point that cold is cold.

I’ve seen several pins and references to loaded baked potato soups.  The idea really sang to me so I thought I’d come up with my own recipe for this soup.

I cubed up a couple of red skin potatoes and covered them with homemade chicken stock.  Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender and cooked.

Loaded potato soup 1 2015

In a separate skillet cook up some streaky bacon, scallions, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme.  To hold up in the soup the bacon needs to be on the crispy side.

Loaded potato soup 2 2015

Once the potatoes are cooked through use an immersion blender to blend the potatoes until they are smooth.  Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes into the soup.

Loaded potato soup 3 2015

Add a cup of cream and the bacon mixture and warm through again.  Season with salt and pepper.

Loaded potato soup 4 2015

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and some chives.

Loaded potato soup 5 2015

A good stick to your ribs soup!  It was even better the next day with the flavour of the red pepper flakes really coming through.  And it did the trick for pushing back winter.

 

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Warming Ramen Soup

Awhile back my son and I were checking out new food shows and came across “The Mind of a Chef”.  It’s a bit dull but they did an episode about ramen in Japan.  It piqued my son’s interest so I added it to the list of things to try.

The fascinating thing about this soup is how varied it can be from town to town.  So I did a bit of research and came up with my own.  It is fairly easy to make and full of flavour.

Prep the ingredients before you begin cooking.  Do up the soft boiled eggs and set aside to cool a bit before shelling.  Also cook up some frozen corn and set aside.

For this soup I wanted to use the flank steak we had on hand so I seared both sides in peanut oil.  If you like the steak medium rare keep it on the rare side after the sear.  Cover with tin foil and let it rest while you cook the rest of the soup.

Ramen soup 1 2015

I chopped up red onion, carrots, scallions, some mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic.  The amount depends on how many servings you are doing.  Total for the five veg I had about a cup and a half.  In a saucepan saute the onion, carrots, garlic and mushrooms in peanut oil.

Ramen soup 2 2015

Add four cups of veg bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Grate about inch or two of fresh ginger, add about a cup of mung bean sprouts, and add a couple of teaspoons of fresh cilantro.  A few squeezes of fresh lime juice brightens the soup. Meanwhile cook the noodles according the package.  Drain the noodles.

Ramen soup 4 2015

In the bowls add the noodles and layer with the sliced beef.  Add the soup over the noodles.  The broth will cook the beef to medium rare at this point.  Top with half an egg, corn, and the fresh scallions.

Ramen soup 5 2015

Omit the noodles if you need to be gluten free.  It’s a very filling soup without the noodles.  I look forward to trying different flavour profiles with different proteins.  🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash Curry Soup

Squash is another group of food I don’t like.  I know, I have a long list!  But a few weeks ago we had a family get together and my sister made a curry squash soup.  I tried  it and liked it!  But she didn’t really have a recipe.  I swear it’s genetic.  We are lucky my Grammy wrote her recipes down because the rest of us have trouble making the same thing twice.  In fact my blog has ended up being a great thing for me.  When my family asks me to make something I’ve made before I bring it up on my iPad and away I go.

I know the soup I made is different from my sister’s because the soup she made was green and mine isn’t.  So I used hers as an inspiration.

Butternut squash soup 1 2014

I thought roasting it would be fabulous so I sliced it in half, drizzled it with olive oil, and seasoned it with sea salt and pepper.

Butternut squash soup 2 2014

Roast in the oven at 350F/175C until it has softened and turned a nice golden colour.

Butternut squash 3 2014

In a saucepan saute finely chopped garlic and scallions in olive oil.  I used about 3 large garlic cloves and a cup or so of the scallion.

Butternut squash soup 3 2014

Once the garlic and scallions have softened scoop out the squash and add it to the saucepan.

Butternut squash soup 4 2014

I added 2 cups of chicken stock.  Add more or less depending on the consistency you prefer.  Add 6-8 ounces of coconut milk. The rest of this recipe completely depends on the taste you want.  Some prefer to have a lot of squash flavour.  Me?  Not so much.  🙂  We really enjoy red thai curry flavour so I added several spoonfuls as a start.

Butternut squash soup 6 2014

I continued by adding a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, and a healthy portion of hot curry powder.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.  I wanted to keep this rustic so I didn’t blend the soup.

Butternut squash 7 2014

It was very warming and now I can say I have one squash dish I like!  Question is, am I bold enough to try another?  🙂

Grilled Sockeye Salmon with an Asian Flair

The local co-op had some lovely fish for sale which put me in mind to grill some salmon.  I got all excited when I saw the Scottish salmon but then I paused when I saw it was farm raised.  What popped into my head was the thought how humane can it be to farm raise salmon, never mind fish in general?  Salmon go miles in their life cycle.  So how can you properly raise them in the cages?  Plus there are places that do GMO farm raised salmon and thus far the label laws in the States are appallingly lax it makes sense to avoid farm raised.  Which is such a shame as Scottish salmon is amazing.

However all was not lost!  They also had some wild sockeye salmon which is fabulous.  As it is seasonal I look forward to this time of year when it shows up in our stores.

I had a bit of oyster sauce left over so I thought I’d an Asian inspired marinade for the salmon.

Asian salmon 1 2014

I chopped up a small scallion and 2 cloves of garlic.  In a small bowl, mix 1-2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a splash of fresh lime juice, some grated fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with the scallion and garlic.  Mix well.

Asian salmon 2 2014

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Asian salmon 3 2014

Earlier this year I started grilling the salmon on lemon slices.  I love how it adds citrus notes to the meal.

Asian salmon 4 2014

Grill until it’s cook to medium.  Serve with the grilled lemons.

Asian salmon 5 2014

My daughter and I enjoyed this with grilled corn and potato while my husband and son had jalapeno chicken sausages.  All in all a great meal!

Oh Pad Thai, Where Have You Been?

I have yet another example of oh duh, why didn’t I try this before?  I suppose it is similar to writer’s block.  You know the dish exists and you hear good things about it but for some reason you don’t try it.  There isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.  But after making this dish I am really wishing I tried making it before.  I’ve never had it before but I knew my husband liked it so I wanted to make it for him.

It’s not overly complicated but there are a few steps.  I followed this pad thai recipe somewhat closely with just a minor change or two.

About an hour before making the dinner I got the sauce and chicken prepped.  I cubed a half pound of chicken and tossed it in 2T of low sodium soy sauce and 1 tsp of cornstarch.  Place in the fridge until it’s time to cook.

Pad Thai 1 2014

In a separate bowl mix the juice of two limes, 2T rice vinegar, 5T oyster sauce, 5T brown sugar, and at least 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes.  If you want more heat add more flakes.  The original recipe asked for fish sauce but I had oyster sauce.  I’ve been waiting for a recipe to come along so I can try it.  It’s fabulous so I need to find more recipes!

Pad Thai 2 2014 Pad Thai 3 2014

Before starting to cook get the rice noodles ready for the dish.  Follow the directions on the packet.  The noodles will be finished off in the wok so don’t cook them all the way separately.  Finely chop 4 cloves or so of garlic and a 1/4 cup of chopped scallion.  Heat 2T of sesame oil then saute the garlic and scallion for a few minutes.

Pad Thai 5 2014

Add the chicken and cook through.

Pad Thai 6 2014

Remove the chicken, garlic and scallions and set aside.  Add a bit more oil to the wok and beat 3 eggs.  Add the eggs to the wok and start to scramble.

Pad Thai 7 2014

When the eggs are about halfway cooked add the oyster sauce mixture and stir well.  Add the chicken, noodles, about a cup of bean sprouts, and chopped cilantro.

Pad Thai 4 2014 Pad Thai 8 2014

The original recipe says to cook until the sprouts are soft but we like them crunchy so I cooked it until it was heated through.  Serve immediately garnishing with chopped peanuts, lime, and cilantro.

Pad Thai 9 2014

This was delicious!  I am kicking myself for waiting so long to make this.  And even try Pad Thai.  This has moved up the list of meals I like to make on a regular basis.  🙂

Coconut Curry Soup

Once in awhile as a treat for my husband I tell him I would like to make a special meal of his choice for him.  Whatever he wants.  This time he picked out a Thai soup.  I found this on pinterest here Coconut Curry Noodles. The base of it looked good but as I saw in the comments it was a bit bland for some so I decided to make it my own to make sure it had some zip to it.  It isn’t hard to make and you have control with the level of heat.

For the rice noodles, I just follow the directions on the box.  Boil for 4-6 minutes then drain.

To start I chopped up some carrot and scallion from our garden and chopped up a few cloves of garlic.

Coconut Curry Soup 1 2012

I saute these for a few minutes in olive oil then I add a few tablespoons of Thai red curry paste.

Coconut Curry Soup 2 2012

Next I add a bunch of peppers.  I got to use our frozen peppers from the garden for the first time and I have to say I was pleased with the result.  I don’t like mushy veg and I didn’t get that with this soup.

Coconut Curry Soup 3 2012

Next I add about 1 1/2 cup of veg broth and bring to a simmer.

Coconut Curry Soup 4 2012

Then I add a can of coconut milk.  I have to say, as this was the first time I used this, it was weird!  It separates in the can so the solids are at the top.  So much so I could turn the open can upside down.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I mix in the coconut milk and a handful of chopped cilantro.

Coconut Curry Soup 5 2012

It was at this point I had to get creative as it was bland.  I added a bit of salt, more curry paste as we like the heat, and a bit of soy sauce.  It still needed more.  So I added a few splashes of lime juice then grated a good amount of fresh ginger.

Coconut Curry Soup 6 2012

I have to say the ginger was the right way to go.  It really added a great dimension to the flavours.  I chopped up a bunch of peanuts and threw half into the soup while cooking.  To serve put the rice noodles into the bowl.

Coconut Curry Soup 7 2012

Then pour the soup over the noodles.  Top with peanuts.

Coconut Curry Soup 8 2012

I will definitely be making this again.  I loved how it turned out.  A few days later we had a little for leftovers so I sauteed up some chicken and then reheated the soup to have together.  That worked really well and this would be perfect with prawns.

Chicken Eggrolls

So the other day I was standing in the middle of the kitchen suffering from the equivalent of writer’s cramp.  Cooking cramp if you will.  I could not think of what to make for dinner!  I had defrosted a small chicken breast so I needed to use that but that’s as far I could get.  Have no idea how long I stood there.  Finally inspiration hit!  We still had some oil out to use for frying and I was in the mood for fries.  So I decided to whip up some eggrolls.  It would let me use some leftover veg we had cut up earlier in the week.  All I had to do was grab some scallions from the garden.

I sliced up the chicken breast into small pieces.

Then I sliced the carrots, peppers, and scallions from the garden plus some mushrooms.  I added olive oil to the pan and sauteed the chicken for a minute or so then added the veg.

Next I splashed in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and some ground ginger and sauteed until cooked.

Now the eggroll wrappers have been thawed and frozen a few times so they weren’t easy to handle at this point.  Time to get new ones!  But I spooned some of the mixture onto the wrap in the center.

I roll it up and use water to seal the edges.  I find it works really well and you don’t have to waste a whole egg.

Fry until golden brown and serve with your favourite sweet chilli sauce.

It’s Chili Time!

I love fall and spring.  Warm enough not to have to wear a thousand layers but cool enough for comfort food.  We had a hint of fall yesterday so I thought it was time for warm bowls of chili.  I think this is my son’s favourite.  I make ours vegetarian.  I know it doesn’t look it from my previous posts but we do cook a lot of meals without meat.  I do use in this recipe Morning Star “beef” as it adds protein along with the beans.  But without all the fat or grease!

First stop was out to the garden.

I picked some peppers and kale for the chili.  We already had some scallions from the garden in the fridge that we needed to use up.

The recipe is:

Olive oil – to coat the bottom of the pan

Garlic – 3-4 cloves minced

Onions or scallions (we used scallions as that is what we have.)

Peppers

Mushrooms ( I used a portobello cap this time)

Lime juice

1 28oz can of crushed tomato or diced tomato

1 15oz can of tomato sauce

3/4 cup of black beans.  If they are dried soak them in water for a bit, otherwise you have to simmer the chili for a few hours like I had to.

Chili powder to taste (For the seasonings add the amount you like.  Some like the chili to be on fire, others not so much)

Cumin to taste

Adobo seasoning to taste

About 1 cup of fresh or frozen kale

1 cup of corn

6 oz of Morning Star “beef” (or any brand you like as it’s a taste preference)

Cilantro

Dice your veg to saute.  I usually saute the garlic and onions for a minute or so before the rest of the veg.  If you are using scallions then add those as you are adding the sauce.

Add a bit of lime juice to the sauteing veg. Then add the tomatoes and sauce, beans and corn.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the seasonings to the heat level you would like.  Add the kale and the “beef”.  Add a bit more lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro.

Once the beans are cooked through it is ready to serve.  I usually put hot sauce, sour cream and shredded cheese on the table.  This is a super easy meal and prep time is under a half hour.  The simmer time depends on the beans. And of course if you have it the next day the flavours are even better.

 

Quiche with Duck Eggs

Yesterday Antje traded some duck eggs for kale that we grow in the garden.  The duck eggs are very yummy and I think I owe her a boatload more kale to make the trade fair!  So for dinner I decided to make a quiche.

My family and I love to cook and we take inspiration from all sorts of places.  The thing is I take after my mum and usually change the recipes.  The inspiration was a recipe from Fanny Farmer’s Cheese and Bacon Quiche.

Here is the recipe and some of my notes on what I do:

10 slices of bacon (I only use 4!  That would take up a lot of space!)

1 Partially baked tart crust (I just make the pie crust and bake it all together)

4 eggs (3 duck eggs or 2 goose eggs as a substitution)

2 cups light cream (I used 2% milk as the eggs add the creaminess)

1/2 teaspoon salt (sounds about right)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I use a couple of dashes)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (Again a couple of dashes)

1 1/4 cup of grated Swiss ( I eyeball it and use Jarlsberg)

I also added scallions from our garden and some mushrooms

My daughter helped with dinner and here she is cooking the bacon.  I usually add a bit of white balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan but we’ve misplaced that so I used a bit of lemon juice.  Then we add in the scallions and mushrooms.  While that is cooking I make the pastry,

I make it using my hands just like my Grandma did back in England.  She was an amazing lady who could bake delicious things.  She taught my dad how to make pie crust and he taught me.  It doesn’t let me down!  I just use flour, shortening, and a bit of salt.

The key is not to overwork it!  The feel of it will change depending on the time of year with the heat and humidity but not too much.

Once it is rolled out I put the bacon mixture in the bottom of the quiche.

I mix all the other ingredients together and pour into the crust.  I bake at 425F for 15 minutes and then 30 minutes at 350F.  It takes about 20-25 minutes to prep.

Let it cool for a few minutes then enjoy!