Chowder

Creamy Chicken Bacon Chowder

Friends, it’s not often that I eat something so good, I’m compelled to blog about it while the taste still lingers on my tongue and bits of it still linger on my clothing.

I haven’t actually looked down yet so I’m just assuming on that second part.

But back to the matter at hand. This soup.  The soup which compels me to write this post.

This glorious, thick, rich, hearty, soul-warming and life-affirming soup.

Second-best part? It’s a crock pot recipe.

Very best part? My husband created and prepared it himself.

Swoon away, ladies.

He looked around the internet to get down the logistics of creating a soup from scratch, then set about making it.  And on the first try, he hit it out of the park.

Imagine walking into your house at the end of a typically long and yucky Monday to find the aroma of bacon lingering in the air. Yeah. That was me.

Swoon, I say.

In all seriousness, this is a ridiculously good soup, and you should make it happen.

Roasting the chicken before putting it in the pot adds flavor – if you don’t have the time I’m sure you could skip that step.

I’m also sure you could lighten things up a bit, though I can’t imagine why you’d want to.  Okay, I can totally imagine why you’d want to.  Just not at the moment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some soup to lick off my sweater. Um, I mean, to wash off my sweater.

Yeah.  That.

What’s your favorite soup recipe?

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Bacon Chicken

Sometimes I feel the urge.

The urge to eat chicken.

And not always fried and smothered in buffalo sauce, or shredded…and smothered in buffalo sauce.

I think I need to look into my buffalo sauce addiction.

But anyway.  Woman does not live on buffalo sauce alone, try though she might.  And I’ve tried.  Still, there are times when a good ol’ braised chicken dish hits the spot.  And this dish? Oh, it hit all sorts of spots.

I sorta made it up as I went along, to be honest.  I put a bunch of stuff in the pot which I thought would taste good together.

And you know what? It did.

First, I browned up some bacon pieces.  I just hold them over the pot and snip them with kitchen shears rather than use a knife.

While the bacon was slowly browning, I patted the chicken pieces as dry as possible so as to let the skin crisp up.

Removed the bacon, then added butter and once it melted, in went the chicken pieces in two batches.  I left them in til the skin got nice and crispy and golden.

Yes.  Beauty.

When the chicken was all browned and out of the pan, in went the garlic and onions.  Stir stir stir, sizzle sizzle sizzle.

A little flour sprinkled over, stirred into the fat and browned so as to thicken the cooking liquid.  What’s this called? That’s right, a roux! You’re so smart.

In goes the wine and the stock or broth.  Allow it to simmer and thicken a little bit, then in with the chicken and fresh herbs.

All together it simmers for hours. You will practically crawl out of your skin wanting to dig into it because ohmygoditsmellssogood.  I promise.

Once the chicken was finished cooking, I wanted to thicken up the sauce before adding the – gulp – cream, so I removed the chicken and boiled the sauce for around 10 minutes until it reduced to the consistency I wanted.  Then in went the cream and the chicken, to keep warm til it was time to serve.

And once it’s time to serve? Well, remember that bacon you crisped up waaaay back in the beginning of the process? You know, the bacon you had to move up on top of the fridge in order to get it out of your sight so you wouldn’t eat it all?

Oh, is that just me? Okay.  Well, anyway, you can sprinkle that back on top.

The chicken is so tender, and infused with the bacon and wine and herbs.  The sauce? Probably a crime, it’s so good.

So enjoy.  And enjoy some more.  And pick at the leftovers on the serving platter because they are just.that.good.

Or is that just me, too?

 

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Warning: This is not health food.  Do not be surprised by what you see here.

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with y’all for a long time now.  But it seems that no sooner do I make this dip then it disappears.  I can never get good photos.

Today, however, I’ve made it to take to a barbecue so hands off, Rob.

Anyway.  As you may well know, I’m a buffalo chicken addict.  But I’m not a huge fan of super spicy foods.  So this dip is perfect – it’s got just the right amount of heat.  Just enough so you know it’s there but not so much that it can’t still be enjoyed.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get the big deal about eating something so hot that it makes you sweat.  Or cry.  I only endorse tears of joy while eating, folks.

One note: Use buffalo sauce for this.  Not hot sauce.  I learned this one the hard way.

Poach two chicken breasts in simmering water til cooked through, then chop them up.  Add them to a pan with 1 1/2 cups buffalo sauce.  Again.  Not hot sauce, unless you want to hurt yourself.  I cannot stress this enough.

Heat the mixture through, letting the sauce soak into the chicken…mmm…then add two 8 ounce bars of cream cheese, which have been sitting out for a while so they soften up.  Stir them into the chicken.

Add 1 cup of blue cheese dressing and stir it in.

Then add around 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.  Usually I’d use the orange kind (I know, I’m so scientific) but someone in my house seems to have an obsession with the white cheese.  So.  That’s what I used.

Pour this into a pretty 8×8 baking pan and add more cheese.  Okay, it doesn’t have to be a pretty baking pan.  But it helps.

Then pop the whole thing into the oven and let it bake for around 20-30 minutes, until nice and hot and bubbly and melty.

You could also be like me and take some extra, put it in a ramekin with some cheese, and nuke it for a minute.  If you’re feeling extra impatient.

Mmm.  Mmmmmm, I say.

So good.

Now.  Here’s another tip if you are really unhappy about the grease layer that forms on the surface: When the finished product comes out of the oven, lay a paper towel over the dip and gently press it down to soak up the grease.  I said gently – not only because you don’t want to lift off the cheese, but because it’s hot!

And there you go.  Buffalo chicken dip.  Your guests will go crazy over it.  And so will you.

Try to share.

I’m still working on that myself.

 

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Boneless Wings

One day, many moons ago, I was experimenting in the kitchen.

I admit, sometimes this doesn’t go well.  Like the time I tried to make cream of potato soup by boiling the potatoes in the milk.  Shudder.  I didn’t always know a whole lot about cooking.

Anyway, I was experimenting.  I think I was going to be throwing a party and wanted to make something easy and delicious, something people would flock to but which wouldn’t take me a whole lot of time to make and could be prepared in advance.

It was also around that time that I started frying things.  As in dunking them in hot oil and seeing what happened.  I’m a wild and crazy girl, aren’t I?

After much experimentation, I came up with…this:

Popcorn chicken.  You know you want it.

Be sure to cut the chicken up into pieces of approximately the same size – you want them to cook evenly so you know when one is finished cooking, the rest are as well.

It’s important to make sure the oil is ready for frying.  How do you know? When you drop a small piece of bread in the oil and it sizzles, then floats to the surface right away, it’s time to fry.  If the oil isn’t hot enough it will just make the breading soggy.

But keep an eye that it doesn’t get too hot or else you’ll have some burned chicken, or a lovely golden coating with raw chicken inside.  Which is no good for anyone.

That’s what you want.  It may take a little experimenting at first to get the hang of it.  But it’s well worth the experimentation, believe me.

How does it taste? Well, let’s just say that I was frying batches for a New Years Eve party a couple of years ago and one batch was gone before I turned back to replenish the plate.  And we didn’t have that many people in attendance.  And there were approximately a million other things to eat.

Plus, Rob’s addicted.  So that’s saying something.

The next time you feel like a little KFC is in order (or Church’s or Popeye’s or whatever), and you have a little time and patience, give this a shot.  You can play with the flavor in the coating after frying a piece or two and seeing how you like it- personally I like it on the milder side, but that’s only because I like to do…THIS to it:

Oh yeah. Buffalo sauce.  I went there.  I went there, sat down, ate a heap of it and wiped my mouth after.  And it was good.

Incidentally, this could also be called boneless buffalo wings.  Which is the only kind I’ll eat.  I’m not a fan of, like…bones and stuff.  Just give me the meat.

And then, if you’re really bad (like me) you could dunk it in some dressing…

Gulp.

Excuse me.  I have to wipe the drool off my keyboard.  And fry up some more of this.

You should fry some up, too.  Only don’t blame me if you find yourself dreaming about it and buying oil by the vat in order to keep up with your chicken frying habit.  Your addiction is your own, as they say. ;)

 

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bc

Can I just take a moment and share with you my happiness at the fact that my husband now likes Indian food? Well…Indian Lite, anyway.  But I’ll take it.

Ever since I bullied him into trying Chicken Tikka Masala for the first time, he’s been hooked.  Now he requests, nay, demands that I make it on a regular basis.  I am all too happy to comply.  I mean, it’s for the sake of our marriage.  Nothing’s too good for my honey.  Okay, now I’m even making myself gag.

Recently I remembered seeing a recipe on Tasty Kitchen whose name had me at hello.  Butter Chicken.

The word butter is in it.  Come on.

I found out that while the dish is not, in fact, butter heavy…it’s still no caloric picnic, due to the use of heavy cream.  Now, I’m the sort of gal who likes to stick as close as possible to the original recipe the first time I prepare something and make my own changes later on if the dish is, in fact, worth making again.  So I poured it all in there, shaking my head at my own gluttony the whole time.

All that cream and tomato sauce cooked down to a color reminiscent of sunset.  Sunset in Bliss Town.  Because ‘blissful’ is what this dish made me.

Note: It did not make me ‘skinny’.  I will be lightening this up in a big way the next time I make it, because even though each and every bite was a trip to Bliss Town, I still felt horrible for my poor arteries and thighs.

Even as I wished I had a straw to slurp the sauce through.

 

Do you think you could become good friends with this dish, as I certainly have?

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Chicken Tikka Masala.  According to numerous sources, this is considered Britain’s #1 dish.

And there’s a reason why: It’s freaking phenomenal.

The end result is more than worth any work involved, and it’s really not very work-intensive.  It’s one of only a few Indian dishes I’ve eaten and I have to wonder if anything will measure up.  I’m just so in love with it.  I’m also in love with the grilled naan I serve with it – but that’s another post.

There are a few keys to the dish.  Make sure the onions are caramelized -  not just translucent.  Getting them nice and brown and sweet is the way to go.  You may be tempted to substitute a lower fat, or even non-fat, choice for the heavy cream.  Half and half or light cream would work well, but fat free half and half turns the texture rather grainy (I know this from experience).  Go for the highest level of fat you feel comfortable with. 

If it’s too spicy for you, you can always add a little yogurt while simmering.  Cilantro is normally used in this dish, but I can never seem to find any when I need it – if you have it on hand, add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro to the final dish.  Since I’ve never used it I leave it out of this recipe.

Let’s get to it so you can make it yourself, shall we? But be warned: Once you start making this, it’s all over.  Just pencil it into your meal plans from here on out.  Rob has demanded that I make it once a week.  He actually referred to it as a “requirement”.

Darn…well, he’s the husband.  I’m only following orders.

As always…enjoy!

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Do you like Indian food? What’s your favorite dish?

 

It’s been my goal as of late to make meals that are:

1) Nutrious

2) Fast/able to cook while I’m at work

3) Something both Rob and his dad will eat (this is not easy)

In the past I’ve put chicken in the crock pot before, and I knew it would turn out well.  So that was my morning project: Rosemary Lemon Chicken…in the crock pot.

The first thing to do when preparing this dish is to wad up four sheets of aluminum foil into loose balls.  In the picture you can see the approximate size I used. 

The chicken rests on these foil balls in order to keep it out of the juices while it’s cooking.  And it’s a very good idea.  Make sure the balls aren’t so big that they will prop the chicken up too much to close the lid, though! You can probably flatten them out a bit if this is the case.

As I’ve learned the hard way: Crock pot without a lid? Not so good.

Remove the giblets, place the chicken on the foil and pat it dry with paper towels.

Then drizzle on some delicious, wonderful, fragrant olive oil.

And do a lovely little massage.  Make the chicken feel loved and relaxed so it can do its job.  Because you do love it.  And you’ll love it more later for all it will give to you.

And don’t forget to wear your wedding rings while you’re doing this, so they get all oily and chickeny.  It’s a good idea.

Then you can get creative about your herbs and spices.  For the sake of this recipe, of course, I used rosemary along with salt and pepper and parsley (which I use with almost everything so don’t feel like you have to, certainly).

Once the seasoning was over, I poured a cup of water around the chicken to keep it moist (you could of course use chicken stock or even white wine) while cooking, and then I used some of this stuff…

Don’t be hating.  If I had a lemon I’d have been using it, thankyouverymuch.  And I probably would have squeezed the juice of half into the water, slicing the rest and laying the slices over the chicken.  But here I am, using what I have.  So several healthy squirts went into the water, and then I drizzled it over the chicken.

Here’s how it looked when I was finished.

And after 10 hours of cooking on low, and an hour of sitting on warm, here’s what I was left with.

It smelled ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  I cannot possibly overstate this.

When the time came, I attempted to lift the chicken out of the crock.  This was not going to happen as the chicken was totally falling apart.  Of course I knew this would happen since I had, after all, made this in the past.  So I had to settle for pulling it out in pieces and trying to arrange it on a platter in a semi-attractive manner.

And it was delicious – tender, juicy and flavorful.

Enjoy!

UPDATE! I have since tried this chicken another way - I used vegetable oil instead of olive, and half a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Rach Dressing mix sprinkled all over.  And can I just tell you…it’s the most chickeny chicken you will ever make in your LIFE.  I’m serious.  Something about it just makes the chicken taste that much more like chicken.  I’ve made it twice and both times I found myself picking at the platter long after my plate was empty because I just couldn’t get enough! So give it a whirl.  You’ll thank me later, I promise!!!!

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