Seafood “Quartet” Chowder

When it comes to seafood you usually get two kinds of people, those who love it or those who hate it. I fall into the category of those how love it. I will eat anything that comes out of the water and have never understood people that cant stand seafood. It’s so good and there are so many ways to cook it, as well as so many different dishes that can be made. Seafood has so many different flavors and tastes and things you can do with it. I just don’t get when someone condemns it all. But to each their own I guess. This past weekend I got a craving for clam chowder but while there are a few seafood places in San Antonio to get seafood there aren’t many to get a really good homemade chowder. So I set out to come up with my own recipe and in the process I just went crazy and decided it needed more seafood. This chowder has shrimp, clams, crab and crawfish and is so good that it sings in your mouth when you take a bite (get it Seafood Quartet)…

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Anyway. Here is how I did it. (Yes I did have to use some canned ingredients just because finding fresh ingredients like clams is hard to do in the land locked city of San Antonio).

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Shrimp (peeled/devained and cut in to small pieces)

1/2 lb crawfish tail meat chopped into small pieces

1 can whole clams (drained but keep the juice for cooking)

1/4 lb crab meat (not imitation)

3 medium sized white potatoes (cut into small cubes)

3 celery stalks sliced into small pieces

1 yellow onion diced into small pieces

1 bottle of clam juice (can usually be found on the canned meat aisle in your grocery store)

3 table spoons ground black pepper

2 table spoons course sea salt

2 bay leaves

4 slices thick sliced bacon (applewood smoked is preferred)

2 tablespoons of butter

1 pint of heavy cream

all purpose flour (2 or 3 tablespoons)

Cooking

In a large pot you will want to cook the bacon crisp and then remove it to a paper towel covered plate to drain off excess grease. Drain as much grease as you can from the pot without removing the little bits that come off during frying (leaving some grease is fine).

Now add the butter to the pot and let melt on medium heat. Add the Onion and celery to the pot and cook until the start to turn clear.

Now add the potatoes and pour in the clam clam juice (enough to come to the top of the potatoes). Stir in the two bay leaves and increase the heat to high and boil until the potatoes start to soften up.

Now add in all of the seafood (shrimp, clams, crawfish and crab) and reduce heat to medium. Now chop up the bacon into small pieces and stir into the pot. When the shrimp all turn pink go ahead and reduce heat to low and let it cool for a few minutes before moving to the next step.

You are now ready to add the heavy cream. Start stirring it in a little at a time until the whole pot is a nice thick milky color. Now add the salt and pepper and stir in really good and let simmer on low for a few minutes. to thicken it up a bit you will want to add a little bit of flour in at a time. Start with a couple of tablespoons and stir it in until it is completely mixed in to the chowder. Do this a couple more times until you get the desired consistency. Some people may like it thicker or thinner than others, I personally like a thick chowder. Keep in mind that it will thicken up a little as it cools too so you may not want to add a lot of flour or it could come out to thick.

Now you are ready to serve it up and enjoy. It would be great with a nice Cesar salad or garlic bread. I served mine with a crispy garlic, basil gnocchi and it was great.

Thanks for read

JMW

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One Pot Rosemary Chicken Dinner

In this day and age people seem to have less time to do things than ever, which makes simple one pot meals that can be set to cook with minimal involvement so that other things can be done at the same time have become a growing trend. While I like cooking and prepping and all of that there are times when I have a busy weekend doing things around the house and would like to be able to put together a simple yet delicious meal and still have time to do all of the little necessary things in life. The recipe I have come up with this week is just that, simple and delicious. I wanted to do something hearty yet somewhat healthy but also easy to put together and have lots of veggies to make a nice rounded meal. So with that in mind I came up with a one pot rosemary chicken meal.

Here is what you need.

1 large oven safe pot with a lid.

Ingredients:

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 medium sized sweet onion quartered (Vidalia if you can find them)

4 medium sized red potatoes quartered

2 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup of trimmed fresh green beans

about 2 tables spoons of chopped fresh rosemary

course sea salt (1 tablespoon)

ground black pepper (2 table spoons

3 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic

Chicken broth/stock (32 oz container should be enough)

Non stick cooking spray

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Cooking

Go ahead and pre heat your oven to 375.

For this one it is all about layering. First coat the pot with non stick cooking spray and then put the 4 chicken breasts in the bottom. Now add the potatoes, then the carrots, then the onion, then the garlic and lastly the green beans. Now you want to sprinkle about half of the salt and black pepper evenly across the top and then top it off with the rosemary.

Once you have everything in the pot go ahead and add some chicken stock until it fills about 3 quarters of the pot. Then put the lid on and place in the preheated oven. You will let this cook for roughly 5 hrs.

After 5 hrs take the pot out of the oven and with a long handled spoon give it a good stir. You will see that the chicken is nice a tender is breaking apart easily. Once it is good and stirred up go ahead and add the rest of the salt and pepper and add another half cup of chicken stock. Then put it back in the oven, uncovered this time and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. This will get a little bit of crunch added to the top for texture.

After 15 to 2o minutes pull it out of the oven and give it one more stir and place the lid back on the pot until you are ready to serve.

This is a nice meal that is sure to please the entire family while giving you time to work on other projects around the house. So serve it up, sit back and enjoy.

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Thanks for reading,

JMW

Brunswick Stew

Today we are going to talk about an old southern classic and family favorite of mine, Brunswick stew.  This is a nice hearty BBQ style stew that packs a lot of flavor into each bite. If you search for Brunswick stew online you are going to find many different recipes and and ways to prepare this stew and you will see that many of them are completely different in their approach to doing it. There are so many variations in fact that its hard to imagine most of them tasting how this stew should taste which is why I set out to see if I could do it justice. When I was coming up with this recipe taste was first and foremost on my mind. Brunswick stew has a unique flavor that has a hint of BBQ, a little smokiness, a little sweet taste and a great black pepper flavor. Traditionally this stew is mostly made with left over BBQ bits. If you have left over pork, brisket, chicken etc, they all get shredded up and tossed into a pot with a bunch of veggies and cooked into a stew. This is what gives this stew its unique BBQ taste. Surprisingly I did not have any left overs this time so I went in a little bit different direction but it still came out pretty amazing.

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Here is what you need.

Crock Pot

3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia if you can find them) (diced)

2 Jalapenos (chopped with seeds)

1 small bag frozen Lima beans

1 small bag frozen corn

3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes (diced)

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons of liquid smoke

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of chili sauce (sriracha sauce)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 table spoons black pepper

1 cup sweet BBQ sauce ( I used Sweet Baby Rays)

Prep and cooking

Boil your chicken breasts in a pot of water until the are cooked through then set aside to cool a bit. Do not pour out the water as you will be using this as stock for your stew.

In your crock pot add the crushed tomatoes,onion, potatoes, jalapeno, corn and Lima beans. Now pour enough chicken stock over it to come to the top of the veggies (don’t completely cover them, this is stew not soup).

Now break apart the chicken, shredding it in to small pieces and add to the pot.

Now add everything else and stir it all together.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on high heat for about 5 hrs, then reduce to low and cook for another 2 hrs. If you are around you may want to give it a stir about half way through but if not its not a big deal.

I really hope that you all enjoy this stew. It is something that I grew up with and is an old southern tradition that just tastes great. Its unique flavor is something that you don’t taste every day. So scoop out a nice bowl full and grab a roll or piece of bread and enjoy a new experience. You wont be disappointed.

Thanks for Reading

JMW

Breakfast Sandwiches

Everyone that knows me knows that breakfast is my favorite meal. So much so that I have been known to have breakfast for lunch and even dinner on more than one occasion. While I love all types of breakfast foods and combinations of them, one of my favorite things is breakfast sandwiches. Yes the kind you get from fast food restaurants (I am a sucker for a sausage McMuffin). I don’t now why but they are a guilty pleasure of mine that I tend to enjoy way to much. Oh and its not just one kind either, I enjoy the breakfast sandwiches from several different fast food restaurants. It just depends on my mood as to which one I go to.  This however does create a bit of a problem when it comes to trying to eat right and drop a few pounds, which is something I am working toward right now. So I set out to create my own breakfast sandwich that I can make at home that cuts out a lot of the fat that you get from fast food places but still tastes great.

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Here is what I did

What you need:

(this makes two sandwiches)

Butterball Smoked turkey sausage (one link)

2 slices Kraft fat free cheese

4 slices Natures Own White/Wheat bread

2 eggs

1 teaspoon smart balance heart right buttery spread

Non stick cooking spray

Here’s how to make it:

Coat a non stick skillet with the cooking spray and heat to medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of smart balance to the pan and let it melt while spreading it around with a spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Take your bread and separate into two stacks so that it looks like you have two sandwiches with nothing in them. Put them in the pan and toast them on either side (leaving the middle part un-toasted. This step is just like making a grilled cheese with no cheese in between the two slices. Now put them on a plate and separate the pieces so you have 4 pieces of bread toasted side down on the plate in a big square. Two slices for the bottom of the sandwich and two for the top.

Cut the sausage link in half and then cut both halves in half long ways down the middle. Spray a little more non stick spray in the pan and place the sausage cut side down and cook to your desired amount of done-ness. I like mine cooked pretty well but some people like it just warmed up a little. Turn them once and cook on the other side. Now place them on the bread (two pieces for each sandwich). Then place a slice of cheese on each sandwich so it will start to melt.

Reduce the heat in the pan to medium and crack two eggs in it. Cook on one side a couple of minutes until the white starts to firm up. Now add a little salt and black pepper for flavor and flip both eggs over. Once flipped over gently pop the yolk so it runs out and starts to cook. As much as I love a runny yolk it doesn’t work to well on a sandwich.  Let the eggs cook for another minute or so and then place on top of the sausage and cheese and add the other piece of toasted bread on top to finish off the sandwich.

That my friends is how to make a tasty low fat breakfast sandwich. There are several reasons for doing it this way. Using the smart balance to toast the bread adds a little extra flavor that reduces the need for topping it off with Jelly, Mayo, ketchup or whatever you like to put on your sandwiches that tends to add extra fat or unwanted calories. The other ingredients are to me the best tasting brands out there for fat free and low fat food of its kind. When combined they taste great and make a great sandwich. While this is not 100% health food it is a lower fat alternative to the high fat and processed versions of what you will find in a fast food restaurant.

Enjoy

Thanks for Reading,

James