Chicken · Main Courses · Rice and Beans · Soups and Stews

Quinoa Corn Chowder

Quinoa Corn Chowder

Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plants and grains. It also contains essential amino acids that our bodies need, making it an excellent protein source. That means we can have our “Mostly Meatless Mondays” and still get the protein we need. If you are interested in the benefits this grain, you can read more here.

This is a chowder, so of course there is still some meat here, in the form of BACON, and we are using chicken stock, so its not really meatless, but sorta close. If you want to go meatless, sub in vegetable stock and leave out the bacon.

1 Tablespoon oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 small potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, finely chopped - for garnish
1 scallion, finely chopped - for garnish
Heat the oil and butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onions and potatoes, garlic, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring often until onions are soft and potatoes begin to brown. About 7 minutes.

Add chicken stock and quinoa. Increase heat to high, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked. About 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towel to drain. Set aside.
Add Corn to the simmering soup and cook another 10 minutes.
Add cream, stir well to combine and heat through.
Spoon soup into bowls, garnish with bacon, parsley and scallions. Serve hot.
Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a from scratch soup.   Of course, you can speed things up by using commercially made chicken stock if you are pressed for time, but the soup is more satisfying when you make the stock yourself.

You can break this down into smaller steps by making the stock up to 3 days ahead.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, cover once completely cool.  Remove chicken from bones and chill separately. Reheat stock before proceeding with recipe.
Chipotle-spice purée can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Actually, there are several short cuts you could take to make this soup, and each of you will figure out those that work best for you.  I have given you the long version, because, after all, this site is all about “fresh cooking”, using as few pre-made ingredients as possible.  The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, December 2008.  I have made a few changes, but not many.  The recipe is great as written.

This will make 8 – 12 servings, depending on appetites.  Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze the leftovers so you have a time saver when your schedule gets out of control.

Chipotle Tortilla Soup


For the stock

1 whole chicken (about 1/1/2 kilos)

3 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly  chopped

1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise

3 1/2 litres of water

1 small bunch cilantro stems (25 – 30 stems)

1 bay leaf

5 peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours.  Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth and discard.

Remove chicken from broth, set aside and allow to cool.  Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into large bowl.  Discard solids and wash pot and return broth to pot.


Make the Soup

3 whole allspice berries

1 whole clove

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

8 black peppercorns

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 – 3 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo (depending on your preference for spicy heat)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice, not cooked

1 lb sweet potato or camote, cut into spoon size pieces

1  19 oz can canellni beans, drained and rinsed

15 fresh corn tortillas

5 Tablespoons canola oil

Toast the allspice, clove, cumin, peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking pan to prevent burning, .  About 2 minutes.

Transfer toasted spices to blender and add onion, carrots, garlic, chipotles, salt and 1 cup of the chicken stock.   Puree until smooth and spices are ground.  About 3 minutes.   If mixture seems too thick to properly puree, add a bit more chicken stock.  (Be careful if chicken stock is still hot).

Add puree to stock in pot, along with brown rice.  Bring to low boil over medium heat.  Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until sweet potatoes and rice are tender – about 15 minutes more.

While soup is simmering, remove meat from chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces.  Discard bones.

Add chicken and beans to simmering soup.  Remove from heat once chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F, stack tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss strips with oil, place on 2 baking sheets, season with salt and bake, stirring frequently until crisp and golden.  About 25 minutes.


2 ripe avocados, cubed

2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges

3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice

sour cream

Spoon soup into bowls, top with avocados, tomatoes and tortilla strips.  Serve sour cream and lime wedges alongside.






Chicken · Soups and Stews

Mexican-style Corn & Chicken Soup

In Alberta, corn from Taber  has hit the markets!   A sure sign that fall is on its way.

The heat of the summer has already given way to cooler days and chilly nights.  As much as we hate to see summer go (yes, even down here, I mourn the passing of the Alberta summer), the upside is all that great corn that is now available.

This recipe lets you take advantage of that golden goodness while you warm yourself up with a hot bowl of soup.

After you have cut the kernels off of their cobs, don’t forget to scrape the back of a knife over the cob to extract as much juice (and flavour) as possible from it.   Be sure to hold it over the same bowl that your corn is in while you do this.

This will serve 4 and even with all the dicing, you will have dinner on the table in under an hour.  Win-Win!!


Chicken Corn Soup

4 ears corn (or 3 cups frozen, thawed)

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1′ pieces (about 12 oz)

1 poblano chile, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1/4″ dice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon Chile in Adobo, minced and mashed into a paste (optional)

1 white onion, diced

salt and pepper

4 cups chicken stock , homemade or purchased

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1 fresh tomato, finely diced for garnish

2 scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

crushed tortilla chips for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot (4 litres) over medium high heat.  Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to oil in pot.  Cook. stirring just until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.  Add the poblano, red pepper, Chile in adobo, onion, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring until onion is soft and starting to brown – about 6 minutes.

Add the corn, and any milk you scraped from the cobs, the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pot.  Stir well and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 5 minutes.   Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls.  Top each bowl with crushed tortilla chips, diced tomatoes and sliced scallions.



Soups and Stews


If you want to bring Summer to your table, make Gazpacho.

Aside from being stupid simple to prepare, it’s a great way to bring the freshness of your garden (or Farmers Market) to the table.   I like to serve this with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for a perfect (and fast) summer meal.

My photo doesn’t do the dish justice, you will just have to take my word, that it does taste better than the photo would lead you to believe.

Serves 4

Gazpacho with Grilled Ham and  Cheese on Dark Rye


1 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes

1/2 English cucumber, or use a regular cucumber, just scoop the seeds out

1/2 red bell pepper

1 clove garlic

3 Tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)

1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

capers, for garnish

Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper and garlic.  Toss into a blender, along with the vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Puree until there are no more large chunks of of veggies, but mixture still has some texture.  Refrigerate while you grill the sandwiches.  Divide between 4 bowls, drizzle each with olive oil and add a few capers for garnish and serve.


Main Courses · Pork · Soups and Stews

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

What can I say, flavours from this part of the world fascinate us!

Considering how quickly this dish comes together, we were surprised at how much flavour it has.  It is a great weeknight dish.

If you have pickled ginger on hand, be sure to include it.  It adds a nice spark of flavour to the finished dish.

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (be sure to peel it before mincing)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely diced, divided

1 lb lean ground pork

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Sambal Olek** (or to taste)

salt & pepper

1 cup water

4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed and leaves chopped or torn

6 oz rice noodles


1/4 cup finely chopped pickled ginger (optional)

chopped salted peanuts

fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the fresh ginger, garlic and all but 2 Tablespoons red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork, turmeric, chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  Cook the meat, breaking up most of the lumps, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the chicken broth and spinach (the pot will be very full, but the spinach will wilt quickly). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the broth has reduced slightly and the spinach is tender, about  minutes. Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, in separate pot, cook rice noodles according to package directions, stirring to separate the noodles.   Drain noodles well, shake dry and divide among 4 bowls.

Ladle pork-broth mixture over noodles.  Top with peanuts, cilantro, pickled ginger and the reserved red onion.

Serves 4


** COOKS NOTES :   Sambal Olek- a chili garlic paste found in most supermarkets



Beef · Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Beef Chili

Yes, I know, I have already posted a chili recipe, but I like this version too.   The dried chilies in this recipe add a nice depth of flavour that will help chase away those winter blues.    They are easily found here in Mexico, but depending on where you live, you may have to do a bit of searching.  If your local grocery doesn’t carry them, look around for a Mexican or East Indian market.  They often carry spices that the big name stores do not.   I realize it could be a bit of a treasure hunt for some of you, but I’m pretty one bite will convince you that finding the chiles was worth the effort.

This serves 8.


Beef Chili

4 large ancho chiles

2 dried guajillo chiles

2 dried pasilla chiles

3 cups boiling water

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 kilos boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2″ slices

Salt & pepper

2 large onions

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 bottle Corona beer (or any other kind you like)

1    14 oz can diced tomatoes

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon molasses

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

sour cream and grated cheese for serving

Wipe chiles with a damp paper towel to remove any dust or sediment.  Remove stems and seeds from all of them.  Tear into large pieces and place in large heat-proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to soften chiles.

Meanwhile, season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, brown beef on both sides – about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate.

Reduce heat to medium add onions and cook, stirring often until onions are translucent and very soft.  About 6 – 10 minutes.  Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Add cumin and oregano and cook, stirring one minute more.  Add tomatoes and brown sugar and scrape bottom of pot to loosen any spices stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Add the beer, increase heat to high and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the beer has evaporated.  10 – 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put chiles and their soaking liquid into blender and blend on high until smooth.  About 1 minute.  Cut beef into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add beef, chile puree and 2 cups of water to pot.  Bring to boil, reduce and let simmer, uncovered, until meat is very tender and liquid has thickened slightly.  About 2 hours.

Stir in beans and cook just until they are heated thru, another 5 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese and /or whatever else floats your boat on the table so guests can help themselves to toppings.  Round the meal out with a  salad, baked potatoes or rice and garlic bread.


Soups and Stews

Onion Soup

Yeah, it was going to be French Onion Soup, but we ended up eating the cheese earlier this week in Quesadillas and sandwiches.

It turned out to be a happy accident,  because this is still very tasty, and much lower in calories than if I had remembered not to use all the cheese.   Of course, you can still top this with a handful of Gruyere or Swiss cheese to make it authentic,  if you wish.

Caramelizing the onions will take you 45 minutes to an hour.  You cannot rush this process so be patient.  The flavour you get by caramelizing the onions is the key to the success of this soup.

Of course, I did not take a photo, so had to borrow one from the internet, but this is a reasonable facsimile of how the soup turned out.

This will serve 2 for a light dinner or 6 as an appetizer.

Image 2018-03-02 at 1.53 PM

Onion Soup

2 Tablespoons butter

3 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 lbs)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine (basically, something you like the taste of, but not too sweet)

2 cups chicken stock (canned or homemade)

4 cups beef broth (canned or homemade)

1 cup leftover cooked beef, cut into small cubes (optional)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Toasted slices of French Bread for topping

Parmesan curls for garnish



Over low heat in large saucepan, melt butter.  Add onions and garlic and a pinch of salt.  Cover & cook, checking & stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and have a nice even brown colour. About 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Be patient.

Add wine to pan, increase heat to medium and simmer, stirring until wine is evaporated – about 3 minutes.

Stir in mustard and chicken and beef broth.  Add cooked beef, if using.  Stir well and let simmer 20 minutes.   Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste if needed.  (This can be prepared 1 day ahead, just let soup cool to room temp before refrigerating overnight.  Reheat before continuing. )

Spoon hot soup into bowls and top each with a toast slice and some parmesan curls.