Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowda!

I could eat this every day.

I could eat this every day.

While our neighbors to the north are digging through snow, we’ve had warmer temps and rain, rain and more rain down here in the South. Not that I’m complaining because it’s so good for the garden. However, there’s enough of a chill in the air to make you want something warming and comforting for dinner…wintery comfort food, in other words.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

The broccoli harvest from my little winter garden was almost laughable, it was so small. There are still some babies on the stalks so I may see more before it’s all said and done, but for the time being…about 3 or 4 bites worth! I wanted to combo it with something where we both could enjoy its flavor, even if there wasn’t enough for a side dish, and that’s how I came up with this lovely chowder. It’s rich without being too heavy, and you can easily omit the bacon for a vegetarian option, if you want or need to do so. You just can’t go wrong with anything that combines roasted potatoes, broccoli, sweet corn, onions, and a creamy base topped with a little sprinkle of bacon for good measure. You just can’t!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Roasting adds much depth to the flavor of the chowder.

Roasting the potatoes and broccoli adds a ton of depth and flavor to this chowder. Leaving the skins on the potatoes adds a rustic touch!

Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowder
Serves 6

1 lb. red skinned potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
2 cups broccoli florets (I just used my smaller amount, but 2 cups is better!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon
Kosher salt and freshly black ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 large sweet onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons flour
4 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
(Optional) Garnish of 3 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and set aside

Cover a cookie sheet in foil and grease it with a little olive oil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the cut potatoes on the foil and toss them with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, some kosher salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, then give them a stir, then roast them for about 8 more minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to become tender when pricked with a fork and beginning to brown. Toss the broccoli florets in 1 teaspoon of oil and add them to the potatoes, then roast another 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the potatoes and broccoli are roasting, melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and onion and cook the flour, stirring constantly, for about a minute or two, then add the milk slowly, stirring, then the cream, chicken stock and corn. Add the roasted potatoes and broccoli to the pot, then the chives, remaining thyme, cayenne pepper and salt, and bring to a simmer. Allow the chowder to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, adding a few grinds of black pepper. Serve hot in bowls and crumble 1/2 slice of bacon on top of each serving, if desired.

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Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf

This meatloaf is anything BUT dry and boring...and so not Meh!

This meatloaf is anything BUT dry and boring…and so not Meh!

Meatloaf = Meh.

I know. As they say in these parts, “them’s fightin’ words!” But for the longest time, meatloaf did equal “meh” to me. A big mass of meat, usually dry and covered with ketchup. Naturally that wasn’t really what was going on with the meatloaf presented to me, but that’s how I felt about it…like I’d really so much rather have a burger!

Then a few years ago I tasted an amazing turkey meatloaf at a local restaurant. It was moist and flavorful, had lots of veggies, oats and sun-dried tomatoes in it, and was served with a mushroom gravy and mashed redskin potatoes. How could you NOT like that? But the main thing was, it turned my head around about the potential of a meatloaf. I decided then and there that I should revisit my thoughts on meatloaf and give it a fair shake. Since then, I’ve had some fabulous sandwiches and plates—and some equally not-so-fabulous ones. I’ve experimented making meatloaf at home, too, such as the beef and pork variety, the all-beef and the all-turkey…with varying degrees of success, like and love. But my most recent fave is this Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf that I’m very enthusiastic about for a number of reasons.

Look at the steam rising off that puppy!

You can see the steam rising off that puppy.

First and second…this turkey meatloaf tastes great and it’s healthy. While I’m a true fan of making food healthy whenever possible, I’m not interested if it doesn’t taste really good, and therefore I won’t use a non-fat product that was intended to have some fat in it and is consequently sub par in taste and texture. As a result, you’ll find throughout this blog recipes that are a good mix of the healthy, and a healthy dose of the decadent. This turkey meatloaf falls mostly into the former category, but dips just a teensy little bit into the latter one, too, simply from the richness of taste. And here are five more reasons I really love it:

It’s moist and flavorful.
It’s full-bodied and dense.
It’s practically a meal unto itself.
It makes a mean meatloaf sandwich.
It’s actually as delicious cold as it is hot, and it gets two thumbs up from my meatloaf-loving husband! (Okay, that’s six reasons.)

bamspotatoes

BAM’s bashed potatoes!

This recipe was adapted from one I saw in the magazine Southern Living and I just fell in love with it. We enjoyed this with some of BAM’s Kitchen’s bashed potatoes, which are pretty awesome and you need to check those out in her flank steak, spinach and potato post right here. Because I was having a turkey meatloaf, I decided to forego the bacon in BAM’s recipe just this once, and I substituted olive oil with a touch of butter instead, along with more onion and some rosemary for my herbs. All I can say is…these two dishes were made for each other!

So now I’m a bona fide meatloaf convert, and one who is really looking forward to tonight’s meatloaf sandwich! I’ll make mine the traditional way with marinara, mozzarella and good bread, but you can see a delicious-sounding gourmet version for some inspiration at Karen’s Backroad Journal blog right here.

‘Tis the season for meatloaf, and I do hope you’ll give this one a try!

Herbed and Veggied Turkey Meatloaf
(Adapted from Southern Living Magazine)
Serves 8

1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 Tablespoon of olive oil, divided
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cup of your favorite herbed pasta or marinara sauce, divided (homemade is even better!)
2 lbs. ground turkey breast
12 ounces of fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 Tablespoon each of fresh parsley, thyme and oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons of Italian pasta seasoning (I use Trader Joe’s)
1 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Optional additional pasta or marinara sauce for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, then dab a tiny bit of it onto a clean paper towel to grease an 8 x 11 inch casserole dish and set the dish aside. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat and add in the raw spinach. Cook the spinach until it is well wilted and just tender. Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing to release the liquid and set aside. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the carrots to the mixture and saute an additional 3 or 4 minutes until the onion is tender. Set aside and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, the spinach, 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce, the turkey, oats, chopped herbs, Italian pasta seasoning, salt, pepper and egg. Mix well with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated evenly. Shape the mixture into a 5 x 10 inch loaf and place it into the greased casserole dish. Bake the loaf for 45 minutes. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta or marinara sauce over the top of the loaf and bake another 10 minutes. Remove the loaf and cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 8 portions and serve, passing additional pasta sauce if desired. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for 3 days.

NIght time shots are very cruel, but you can get the idea of what a great plate o' food this is!

NIght time shots are very cruel, but you can get the idea of what a great plate o’ food this is!

Happiness Is: Betsy’s Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup

Good for what ails you…home-styled comfort for a rough day or a cold night.

Around here the leaves have turned and fallen, the wind is cold and blustery outside, the fat bird has sung its Thanksgiving song and all that remains are the memories…and few extra pounds, perhaps!

It’s a fun time of year, but a stressful one. The weather keeps changing, the baking and gift giving frenzy is upon us, and with all of that can come an unwelcome cold or case of the flu, or maybe just a touch of the holiday blues.

Fear not, dear ones, I have just the thing for you!

My Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup is simple and simply comforting. It’s the thing to have after all the stuffing and overstuffing of the Thanksgiving holiday, and to recover with before the next round of partying and eating. Over the years I’ve found that is has the power to not only ward-off oncoming illness, but to surely make anyone with the sniffles or blues feel warm and loved. Even the steam off the bowl is good for clearing your sinuses! Additionally, this bowl of goodness will take the edge off of your hectic day and remind you of cozy comforters and a warm fire in the fireplace. Granted, in some cases it may not replace antibiotics in terms of a cure-all, but it sure can’t hurt!

This soup is wonderful accompanied by a slice of cheese toast. And if you feel so inclined to gild the lily, you can add a few drops of fresh lemon juice and a small bit of sour cream to your bowl to mix in for a little extra comfort and joy. Mmmm, mmm, good!

Betsy’s Cure-All Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 8 servings

To Start:

3 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin
1 trimmed and peeled carrot cut into 3-inch pieces
1 1/2 stalks of celery with leaves cut into 3-inch pieces
2 quarters of a peeled onion
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 springs of fresh thyme
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
10 cups of water

Bring the above ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot, reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the chicken breasts are just done through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the stock and set aside to cool, reserving the stock. Strain the stock to remove the vegetables and herbs, then place it back into the pot. While the stock is cooling and when the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and the meat from the bones, and chop the meat into bite sized pieces. Reserve the meat. Skim fat off the top of the stock and discard the fat. Bring the stock back to a boil and add:

3 1/2 cups dried curly or flat, sturdy egg noodles
2 leeks trimmed and sliced, white and light green parts only
2 large carrots peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 1/2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced

Cook the noodles in the stock with the leeks, carrots and celery according to the time on the noodle package directions. When the noodles are done and just tender, add:

3/4 cup dry full-bodied white wine, such as chardonnay
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
the reserved chicken meat
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Allow the soup to simmer until the mushrooms are done, about 5-8 minutes. Serve in bowls and enjoy!

Snowy Potatoes

No plows needed to get through these snowy potatoes!

Tired of looking at the Spooktacular beef and sausage chili recipe yet?

Even though it’s a magnificent chili recipe if I do say so myself, I imagine you are actually ready for something new, and I do apologize yet again for a delay in my regular posting, as well as my ability to catch up with my fellow bloggers. It seems this year has been full of hiccups, several big ones and a few small ones as well…some years are just like that, I guess. Last week I had a recipe all lined up, and before I could finish the post I had to leave town for a few days, sadly to attend a funeral. I think this is one year that I’ll be very ready to ring out at the end of December.

But let’s get on to the matter at hand, some good food! As those of us here in the U.S. know full well, we’re zooming towards another holiday…the biggest of the big food days around these parts, Thanksgiving! We all have our food traditions for Thanksgiving, with many decisions to make each year such as: Will it be turkey or ham? Cornbread stuffing or bread dressing? Pecan pie or pumpkin pie, that is the question…or is it? And let’s not forget the potatoes! Sweet or plain, our year-round favorite tubers are a must-have.

Last week, I was reminded of a dish I had in childhood, so simple and so very delicious. And best of all it involves potatoes, because what better all purpose comfort food is there? Okay, maybe chocolate, but the potato is right up there in my book. The dish I remembered happened to be one that a dear, and now departed lady used to make to feed the masses of children she loved and taught how to horseback ride, and it was called Snowy Potatoes.

I think I was about 9 years old the first time I had this dish which I believe was made with instant mashed potatoes, adding lots of butter, sour cream, chives and some other magical ingredients. The mixture was poured into a casserole dish, and baked in the oven until it became a puffy, beautiful white mound of potatoes, glistening under a layer of cheese. Those hot, gooey potatoes were a big hit with all the kids, as well as the many family members and friends who were always on hand at her house. And there seemed to be an endless supply of these filling and comforting spuds, made and delivered with a good dose of love.

Of course at that tender age, I didn’t care too much about learning how to cook things—even easy things like Snowy Potatoes—so when I decided to recreate these last week, I was going from fragments of a fond memory. But my result was just the same. Warm, comforting and creamy potatoes, made with a dash of love. I think she would approve of my version, and I think you will, too! These would be perfect as a side dish for any occasion, and an especially wonderful, easy addition to a Thanksgiving table.

Note: The original Snowy Potatoes probably had more sour cream than suggested below, the chives incorporated into the potatoes and some cheddar cheese grated on top. For my only slightly healthier version, I used whole potatoes instead of instant, and parmesan for my cheese to keep it looking snowy. This “recipe” is definitely one you can make your own and I encourage you to experiment based on your family likes and dislikes!

Snowy Potatoes
Makes 10-12 servings

6 lbs. of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup half and half, plus more if needed
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup) melted
1 1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche, or a mixture of the two
2 cups freshly grated parmesan, plus about 1/4 cup for topping
More Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 heaping Tablespoons fresh snipped chives

Butter a large casserole dish, about 13 x 3 x 10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the potatoes and cook them until they are very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the pot. Mash them well with a potato masher, and then mix in the melted butter, the half and half, sour cream or crème fraiche (or a mixture of the two) and the 2 cups of parmesan cheese. The mixture should be that of creamy mashed potatoes, but not runny, so add a tiny bit more half and half if needed to thin the mixture. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of parmesan evenly over the top, and bake in the preheated oven uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the mixture has heated through and puffed up slightly. Remove from the oven and allow the potatoes to sit for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the snipped chives and serve.

If you happen to have any leftover potatoes you can chill them and reheat the next day in the microwave. Or even better, you can make little potato cakes out of the chilled potatoes, roll them in panko seasoned with more chives (or not) and fry them for another repurposed tasty tater side dish!

A heapin’ helpin’ of some hospitality!

Chickpea, Feta and Basil Salad with a side of Gratitude

An easy little salad for all seasons…packed full of healthy and hearty goodness.

No matter the time of year, I love eating salad, and this particular one is a favorite. Featuring chickpeas, feta, red onion and fresh basil lightly dressed with a flavor-packed vinaigrette, this salad makes a great vegetarian meal by itself, or a tasty accompaniment to another veggie or meat dish. It’s hearty and comforting, and yes…healthy. And it’s so easy to make, what’s not to like about it?

I first tasted this salad years ago at a neighborhood health food restaurant and deli. For many years I’d go in and buy a little carton of this salad for my lunch, all the while thinking that I should just make some myself…but then seemed to never get around to it. Then one day I had a craving for this salad, had all the ingredients on hand and I finally constructed my own version of it which I not only love, but I think it’s even better than the restaurant’s version. I’ll let you be the judge!

But before we move on to the recipe, I need to take a moment to say some heartfelt thank you’s to a few of my fellow blogging friends who have bestowed their most kind words and honors on me lately. I don’t really participate in these awards anymore, but when someone is so kind as to think of me or mention me or my blog, it is such an honor that I feel I must take the time to show my appreciation, and I hope you’ll go and visit these folks and see why I think they are so very special, too.

First up is Chocolate Chip Uru from Go Bake Yourself—a quite brilliant and talented Aussie teenage (17!) baking wunderkind who epitomizes versatility by juggling school, family life, baking and blogging very successfully. She recently gave me the Versatile Blogger award, and if you’d like to see my answers to this award’s challenges you can check that out in a post from last fall right here. Thank you again, Uru, for your support and kind words and for all the truly scrumptious and decadent sweet treats you post! And to my readers…if you like sweets or baking at all…you ain’t seen nuthin’ until you go and check out this amazing gal’s site. You won’t be disappointed, in fact, you’ll be salivating all over your keyboard.

Next I need to thank the very creative Sawsan of Chef in Disguise for awarding me both the Versatile Blogger award and the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I just discovered Sawsan’s blog this past spring, and could only think to myself…where has she been all my blogging life? Talk about inspiring, she’s a most talented chef—disguised or otherwise—and an equally talented photographer who documents the process of making her lovely and delicious dishes in a very approachable and educational way. Hailing from Jordan, the food she makes is not only based on family and traditional middle eastern, Levantine and arabic recipes, but her dishes represent cultures from around the world. I’ve never seen anything on her blog that I wouldn’t want to eat, and that’s the highest praise I can give! Do please go and check her out for yourself.

And lastly, but not the least for sure, is a big thank you to the beautiful Karista from Karista’s Kitchen, who so kindly nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award. Karista is a professional personal chef and teacher whose every plate of food makes me not only want it, but feel like I can make it, too. In fact I’ve made a few of her recipes and they are always delicious and, well…beautiful! Her colors and flavors are so lively and perfectly balanced, and I can’t tell you how many recipes I have bookmarked to make. She lives on the west coast of the U.S. with her Ranger husband, and shares some of their ranging experiences from time to time as well. She’s also spent some time in my current home territory of Georgia, so she often can relate to some of my own ranging experiences, which is quite fun for me! But don’t just take my word for it, go and see her lovely food and site for yourself.

Applause please, and thanks again to all three of you for your kindness! You can also find these good folks…and me, of course, on Facebook and follow us there!

And now for today’s recipe:

A B C, it’s easy as 1 2 3, it’s simple as Do Re Me…

Chickpea, Feta and Basil Salad
(Makes about 6-8 servings)

2-15 oz. cans of chickpeas, low or no salt, drained and rinsed well
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin slices (chiffonade)
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, red onion and basil, then gently stir in the feta cheese. To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, tamari, lemon juice, salt and pepper, until well blended and emulsified. Pour the dressing over the chickpea, onion, basil and feta mixture and toss gently to coat all of the ingredients. You can serve immediately or place in the fridge for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. This keeps well for several days in the fridge.

Veddy Veggie Soup

This is the tree we got for our cats this year…a live cat-sized tree! The angel ornament on top is a gift from a friend and fellow cat lover who brought it back for me from her trip to Paris. The plaque at the bottom is St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the Patron Saint of Cats. The spoiled pussycats themselves are across the room eyeing the tree.

Well now. After a whole weekend of fun and frolic, great artwork and party food, and general misbehavin’, I’m exhausted and feel the need to recharge with something healthy and yet comforting for dinner. It’s time for some homemade veggie soup. Continue reading