Corn Chowder

I don’t know how the weather has been where you live, but down here in the South, I think Mother Nature is going through a mid life crisis. One day it’s freezing, the next it feels like spring. These last few days have been pretty cold ( after I post this it will probably be a balmy 60 degrees) and on cold days and evenings, that makes me want to cook something warm and comforting. What could be better than some creamy homemade soup…..or corn chowder in this case.

I really haven’t eaten a lot of corn chowder, but for some reason I’ve had a craving for it lately. Yes, fresh summer corn would be the best, but it’s not summer and unfortunately, all of that delicious corn that I put in the freezer at the end of summer is gone. But I found that frozen corn can be tasty as well. This chowder does take some prepping, but the end result is oh so worth it. It has sweet corn with onions and garlic. There is also some chunky potatoes, carrots and smoky bacon ( anything is better with bacon right?) with a touch of a few spices and some cream to add that nice creamy texture, All of this in one bowl that tastes like a soul satisfying hug.

This chowder is great as a side dish, but also hearty enough to be the main star. So grab your spoon and a big bowl and here’s what you need to make your own.

*5 slices of bacon, chopped

*2 TBS. butter

*1 medium onion, chopped

*1 large carrots, chopped small

*2 garlic cloves, grated using a microplane or minced

*2 TBS. flour

*2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1/4 inch cubes; I prefer using russet potatoes because these are starchier potatoes that will help thicken the chowder.

*4 cups fresh corn cut off the cobb or frozen (defrosted)

*4 cups chicken or vegetable broth; I used Better Than Bullion

*1 tsp. dried Thyme or 1 TBS. fresh Thyme or more to taste

*1 tsp. sweet paprika or more to taste

*1 Bay leaf

*1 cup cream

*salt and cracked pepper to taste

*chives or scallions for garnish (optional)

Heat a large pot to medium high heat; add the bacon and cook until brown and crispy stirring often.

Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Pour off the bacon fat but leave 1 TBS. in the pot; turn the heat down to medium and add in the butter. When the butter is melted add the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes stirring frequently.

Add the flour, cook while constantly for about 1 minute or until the flour appears mixed in.

Add the corn and the potatoes to the pot and stir together.

Pour in the stock and turn the heat up to medium high heat then add the Thyme and paprika.

Stir until the broth starts to bubble. Add the Bay leaf, cover and turn the heat to simmer. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and the carrots are tender. Discard the Bay leaf.

Take off of the heat and add in the cream. With an immersion blender, blend until some of the vegetables are smooth, but still leave a good many chunks. You can also take about 1 to 2 cups of the chowder and blend in a blender, then add it back into the pot.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the bacon pieces. Continue warming the chowder while constantly stirring about 2 to 3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chives or scallions


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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Original Date: January 28,2021 Revised Date: December 16, 2022

This is one of my favorite comfort foods to make for those long cold winter evenings. What I like even better, is throwing it all in the slow cooker and let it do all the cooking…not to mention the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen for most of the day. There is a bit of prepping involved, but it is so worth it. The meat in this stew comes out so tender and flavorful from the herbs and spices, while the potatoes and tender carrots makes this a hearty meal. It’s even better served with some crusty bread to help soak up all of that rich, delicious stew.

Here’s what you need:

*3 TBS or more of olive oil

*2 lb. stew meat or a chuck roast cut into bite size pieces.

* 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices or more if you prefer more carrots

*2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks; I prefer using russet potatoes because it has more starch which helps thicken the broth, but you can use any other potato if you prefer.

*1 small onion chopped

*1/4 cup flour

*2 tsp. dried Thyme

*2 tsp. paprika

*1/2 tsp. celery seed

*2 tsp. dried rosemary

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*2 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*cracked black pepper to taste

*1 large bay leaf

*2 cups water

*2 tsp. or more to taste Better Than Bullion Beef Base or 2 beef bullion cubes

*3 TBS. tomato paste

*2tsp. Worcestershire sauce

*cornstarch and water if needed

In a large bowl, add beef, Thyme, paprika, celery seed, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. I find it easier to just use my hands,  it’s messy but what can I say, I like playing in my food. Add the flour and toss to coat all of the beef pieces.

In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat to medium high heat; add some of the beef to the pan. Do not over crowd the pan or the meat will not brown properly. You will need to do this in small batches.

Cook about 2 minutes then turn the beef over and cook another 2 minutes. If needed, add more oil to the pan.

I will be honest and say that at times, this is my least favorite part.  I did leave this step out once and the flavor was just not the same. So with love, patience and tongs in hand, I will brown the beef.

When the beef is seared on all sides, add them to the slow cooker. Next, add in the carrots, onions and potatoes.

Stir everything together.

In a large bowl, add the water, beef bullion base, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce; mix to combine. Pour over the beef and vegetables.

Add in the bay leaf, cover and cook for 6 to 7 hours on low.

Remove the bay leaf and stir. If the broth is not thick enough stir together 1 1/2 Tbs. of cornstarch to 1 1/2 TBS. of water and stir into the stew. Cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes or until broth thickens.


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Slow Cooker Chili

Original Date: December,21 2020 Revised Date: November 11, 2022

Now that the weather is starting to turn cooler here in the South, well, on the days when the temps are not climbing into the high 70’s, it’s time for some hearty comfort food. This slow cooker chili is just that. It’s meaty and satisfying with a nice kick of spice, but not too spicy….unless you want it to be. You can throw it together and let it cook for hours and have a nice dinner everyone will love. It’s even better the next day.

The hardest part, and it really isn’t that hard, is browning the beef. The other hard part is trying not to lift the lid on the slow cooker to take a few bites. The wonderful smell wafting through the house for several hours makes it so tempting. This is one of those dishes my hubby asks for during the fall and winter months so I do tend to make this a lot. It also makes a great meal when you have friends and family over. I will admit, when I was a kid I hated beans in the chili. I would try to leave all of the beans behind and just score all of the other tasty stuff. Of course my mom and dad wasn’t too pleased with being left with mostly beans and a few morsels of beef and tomatoes. I can proudly say that when I got older I learned to savor this comforting dish, beans and all.

So pull out your slow cooker and get ready to fill your home with the mouthwatering smell of simmering chili.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb ground beef

*1 small onion, chopped

*3 garlic cloves, minced

*1 1/2 TBS chili powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. Chipotle powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp. salt

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*2 tsp. onion powder

*2 tsp. cumin

*2 tsp. coriander

*2 tsp. paprika

*2 tsp. dried Thyme

*1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

*2 tsp. beef stock base; I used Better than Bullion Beef base

*1 bay leaf

*2 cans of light kidney beans, drained

*2 cans diced tomatoes with juices

*1 15oz. can tomato sauce

*shredded cheese for topping (optional)

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and brown; drain if needed. Turn down the heat to medium and add all of the herbs and spices (chili powder thru the beef stock).

Mix well and cook for 1 minute, add any more herbs or spices if needed. Spoon in to the slow cooker.

Add in the onions and garlic.

Add in the beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Mix all of the ingredients together and then add in the bay leaf.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Remove the bay leaf and serve with some nice crusty bread and top with cheese if desired.


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