Monday, March 17, 2014

Spicy Corn Chowder with Chicken - SRC

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  (And Happy Birthday to my younger sis, Anna!)

So this isn't exactly an Irish recipe - but it does have potatoes in it, so that has to count for something.

And, I got the recipe from the blog of a lovely lady from England......which is neighbors with Ireland, so that has to count for something too. (little bit of a stretch there, I admit it)

For this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment, I had the pleasure of visiting Sarah's Kitchen.  Although Sarah is originally from England, she has been living in the States for 12 years and has been an American citizen for four.  She loves crafts and couponing, as well as cooking and baking.

She has a wide variety of recipes on her blog - one that I found particularly alluring was the Processor Danish Pastries.  I actually made them over the weekend with some variations on the fillings and absolutely loved them - but I failed miserably at getting the dough to stay pinched closed and the pastries were....shall we say....messy looking.  Certainly not photogenic.  But totally mouth-watering and irresistible.  I can't wait to try again with that dough.  It was so easy and flaky, buttery perfection.

But that was okay, because I had already made another recipe from her blog that I loved as well.  This chowder is so flavorful with the variety of peppers, but overly spicy.  Although my son thought I was crazy for pureeing part of the mixture, it really helps to thicken it up and make it more chowder-like and not as much of a brothy soup.   It's hearty, satisfying, and just perfect for a chilly evening.   I loved the little chunks of browned chicken breast in there, as well as the crispy bacon on top, but you could certainly make this vegetarian with equally good results, I'm sure.

Spicy Corn Chowder with Chicken

4 slices of bacon 
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cups corn (frozen or fresh)
4 small/medium potatoes, diced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp. dried thyme)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups cooked and diced or shredded chicken (I just seasoned a couple of chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sauteed in a bit of oil in a frying pan until cooked through)

Cut the bacon into strips and fry in a large dutch oven until crispy; set aside.  If you used turkey bacon like I did, you might need to add a little oil to the pan - if you use regular bacon, drain grease, reserving 1 Tbsp.
To the reserved fat, add the onion, jalapeno, poblano pepper, red pepper, and corn. Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add in the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Add in the potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.  Transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree.  Add back to the soup pot and add in the milk, heavy cream, and cooked chicken. Let simmer for a few minutes.  Top each bowl with some crumbled bacon.

Adapted slightly from Sarah's Kitchen

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

How's everybody liking the return of Daylight Savings Time?

Me??  I'm loving it.

It makes me so happy to have sunlight later in the day....and it makes me nearly giddy to have a few uninterrupted minutes in the morning with my husband (and once he leaves, to myself) without my darling littlest ones pulling on my pant legs asking for vitamins or bananas or cereal or my ipod.....because they're still asleep.  :)

I currently have a bunch of quickly ripening bananas in my fruit bowl and I'm gonna make a batch of these to welcome the kiddos up from their slumber today.

When I first saw this recipe, I was seriously skeptical.
The notion that you could make legitimate muffins, that actually look and taste and feel like muffins, without any flour whatsoever just perplexed me.  It just wasn't possible.  Was it??

Curiosity got the best of me and I made a batch recently.
I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

They're tender, moist, and even have a crumb just like regular muffins.  We kinda went crazy for them.  Even my boy who has gotten rather weary of me making "banana" muffins.  Could have been the chocolate, but whatever.

What's also awesome is how fast they go together.  Throw a few ingredients in a blender, whir it around until it's smooth and creamy, stir in a little chocolate, and bake.  Couldn't be easier.

And while we are certainly not a gluten-free family, it's pretty awesome to have some recipes that are.

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Banana Mini-Muffins
Yield: ~ 40 mini-muffins

2 medium bananas, peeled (don't need to be over-ripe)
2 large eggs
1 cup peanut butter
4 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate - optional

Preheat oven to 400° F. Prepare mini-muffin tins by lining with paper liners or spraying generously with floured cooking spray.

Place bananas and eggs into a blender and puree until smooth.  Add peanut butter, honey, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and puree again until thoroughly combined.  Add chocolate and stir by hand.

Fill mini-muffin tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few crumbs.  Be sure to watch closely, as all ovens are different!
Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes - until they're cool enough to handle.
Muffins are best fresh - but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 4 months.

Note: If you used the muffin liners, some of the batter will stick to them.  If you wait until the muffins are completely cool, it will be easier to remove them.  You may still be nibbling some of the muffin off of them. :)

Source: adapted slightly from Averie Cooks

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Browned Butter Snickerdoodles

Ever since I made these, I had been itching to make something else with some irresistibly scrumptious browned butter.
This recipe had caught my eye and been lingering in my mind for awhile and when I finally I made them, I regretted waiting so long.

Snickerdoodles are an old classic and are always delicious, although certainly not as wildly popular as the stand-by chocolate chip cookie. I rarely make desserts without chocolate in some form, if the truth be told.

But the browned butter was enticing me.

And I was blown away by the flavor it imparted.  Blown. away.

These immediately jumped to the list of favorite cookies and are there to stay. I will never make normal snickerdoodles again.

Browned Butter Snickerdoodles

2 sticks butter (I used salted)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. vanilla yogurt (buttermilk or sour cream are good substitutes, or even plain milk in a pinch)

For rolling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Continue to heat and stir until it turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma.  It will get foamy and also get some brown flecks in the bottom.  That is fine.  Just don't burn it!  Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to cool down and prevent burning.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cooled browned butter and both sugars until completely blended.  Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined.  Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low speed just until combined.

The dough will be very soft.  Chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, longer if possible.

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  Once the dough is chilled, roll into balls and roll the balls in the sugar mixture until well coated.  Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look slightly underdone in the middle but will continue to cook once out of the oven.  After a couple of minutes, remove from the pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Adapted slightly from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair

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