Chicken Corn Chowder

Many people don’t think of summer as the time to eat soup, but, some of the best soups can be made during the warmer months. Especially with the bounty of vegetables that are in-season. Just think of the amazing soups that can be made with watermelon, tomatoes and corn – all three of which have their peak season during the summer. A few years ago I made a Corn Chowder after attending a culinary event at a local Williams-Sonoma and I saw a Corn Zipper used and knew I had to have one. Well, that Corn Zipper has been sitting in a utensil drawer ever since then until last week when thinking of what to make for dinner I saw it and instantly knew what I wanted to make… Chicken Corn Chowder. Just in case you are wondering, a Corn Zipper is exactly what it sounds like, a tool that allows you to zip corn kernels right off of the cob. It’s much easier and safer than using a knife! As luck – or not so lucky depending on how you look at it – would have it I ended up making this chowder on a rainy day last week that resulted in some heavy flooding in my area so I was essentially rained-in. Hence, I took advantage of the day and also made a pesto sauce and a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake which I will be posting about within the next day or two.

Along with corn, the other vegetables I added to the chowder were celery, carrots, onion and potatoes.

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My lovely corn once it was shucked. I lucked out with picking perfect corn just by touch because it was way too crowded in the corn area of my supermarket to shuck it there.

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Here are the chicken and vegetables prepped and ready to go. I poached the chicken thighs in chicken stock along with salt, pepper and some spices (onion powder, garlic powder and oregano) for about 40 minutes. More than likely I cooked it longer than need be but since it was in liquid it didn’t dry out or anything. I diced up the celery, a carrot and the onion and mixed it together along with a minced garlic clove. And finally I cut two potatoes leaving them in large chunks so they wouldn’t break down while cooking.

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Using a large Dutch oven I began by sautéing the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in melted butter for two minutes – this is more or less a mirepoix. A true mirepoix calls for two parts onion and one part each of carrot and celery.

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I then added in a 1/2 cup of flour and stirred the mixture to make a roux. Once the roux had browned I set it aside and let it cool to room temperature.

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While the roux was cooling I combined the corn, potatoes and 3 cups of chicken stock in a pot and brought it to a boil and then let it simmer for about 15 minutes. My gauge for the cooking time was the tenderness of the potatoes. I didn’t want them to be completely cooked through, but, I wanted them pretty close to being done. I then added the chicken stock mixture to the roux – a little at a time – whisking it briskly so it wouldn’t get lumpy and then returned it to the heat and brought it to a boil.

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Once the chowder came together – it was thick – I then heated 2 cups of half-and-half in a small saucepan and added it along with the chicken to the chowder and some salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. I let it simmer for about another 15-20 minutes so the chicken could heat through and the potatoes could finish cooking. This chowder was absolutely delicious and even better the next day.

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Chicken Corn Chowder – Adapted from here

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken stock

2 cups half-and-half

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into pieces (I poached two chicken thighs, but you could easily use a store bought cooked rotisserie chicken)

3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I used 4 ears of corn)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 clove garlic, minced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

2 potatoes, cut into chunks

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. If you are choosing to cook your own chicken, prepare it whichever way you like. You could use leftovers or as I did simply poach the chicken with chicken stock and spices.

2. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (or a large pot) over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook until the roux I lightly browned and then set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. In another pot combine the corn, potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add this to the roux slowly, whisking it so it doesn’t lump. Return the pot to the heat and bring it to a boil. The mixture should become very thick.

4. In a small saucepan, gently heat the half-and-half; stir it into the chowder along with the cooked chicken. Add the nutmeg and the salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat so the chowder can simmer and so the potatoes can finish cooking and the chicken can heat through.

5. Enjoy!

 

 

Quesadilla Casserole

I was running out of ideas of what to make for dinner – I’m a much more creative baker than cook – so I turned to one of the McCormick Recipe Creations I had in my cabinet and opted for a Quesadilla Casserole. The ingredients were basic, it seemed super quick and most importantly it sounded delicious.

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To start I gathered all of my ingredients together.

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Up first I chopped the onion and cooked it with the ground beef until it was browned.

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After draining the beef and onion mixture I added in two cans of tomato sauce, a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a can of corn (undrained), and a can of chopped green chiles (undrained).

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After mixing that together I then added in all of the spices: chili powder, ground cumin, minced garlic and oregano leaves.

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I brought the mixture to a boil and then lowered the heat from medium-high to low and let it simmer for five minutes.

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Now it was time to assemble the casserole. I began by spreading 1/2 cup of the beef mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish which I sprayed with a non-stick baking spray.

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I then topped that with three 8-inch flour tortillas.

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To complete the first layer of the casserole I topped the tortillas with half of the remaining beef mixture and then one cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

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I made the second layer by repeating the tortilla, beef & cheese order.

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I baked the casserole in a 350 degrees pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and then let it rest for 5 minutes before digging in. It was a hit… This recipe is definitely a keeper and thankfully uses spices that I currently have in my cabinet so there’s no need for the recipe packet next time.

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Quesadilla Casserole

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. oregano leaves

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (8 3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, undrained

1 can (4 1/2 oz.) chopped green chiles, undrained

6 flour tortillas (8-inch)

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp. red pepper (optional)

1. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper to taste, if desired.

2. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13x9x2- inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.

3. Bake in preheated 350F oven 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.