Monthly Archives:

December 2016

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Satisfying Seafood Chowder

Seafood chowder

Hi there! Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of friends, family and food. We had our first road trip with Baby E to spend Christmas with my husband’s family in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. It’s a 3.5 hour drive from Regina so I was a little nervous about the trek, considering Baby E nurses every 3 hours. But I nursed her right before we left the house and she slept for the entire car ride!

Christmas was fun and chaotic. My in-laws have 7 grandsons and 2 granddaughters. Baby E is the youngest granddaughter at 2.5 months, and the oldest granddaughter is 16. The 7 grandsons range in age from 3 to 14, and the little toddlers make for quite a noisy environment.

Poor Baby E, who is used to quiet days at home with me with political TV shows droning in the background, was clearly overstimulated most of the time. At home with me, she usually stays awake for 1.5 hours before needing a nap, but over Christmas she would last about an hour being doted on by everyone before she started fussing and needed a nap. Side note: I recently put Baby E on a schedule and it has been a lifesaver. My days are easier to plan and manage and she is a much happier baby. I realized that prior to discovering this schedule, I was keeping her awake for way too long and she was not napping enough. But that will be a post for another day where I will provide some details of her schedule and give you “A Day in the Life of Baby E”.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the Christmas dinner that my mother in law made. Let me tell you, no one makes a turkey dinner better than a small town mother. Her stuffing is to die for, and although she’s shared the recipe with me, I can never seem to get it just right. I couldn’t get a decent shot of the meal because 1) I was busy nursing Ella when dinner was ready and 2) with 22 family members for dinner, there wasn’t really a plated, sit down dinner that I could capture. Everyone just dished up and found a spot to sit and eat and socialize.

We are back home in Regina now and my husband still has a few days off from work. He’s currently watching TV and cuddling the baby while she naps, so I have some time to myself to relax on the couch and blog. Today’s recipe is a hearty and satisfying seafood chowder. I love clam chowders and seafood chowders (especially from Earl’s), so I am quite proud of this recipe that I’ve honed to make my own. This chowder can be served with some pan bread for a heartier meal, but I usually just eat a huge bowl by itself.

The recipe below is pretty straightforward, but I wanted to make note of the type of shrimp that is used. My mom has drilled it into my head that black tiger shrimp is the only type of shrimp that is worth using in Vietnamese cooking. It’s the shrimp that she uses in her spring rolls and fresh rolls, and they are bigger and juicier than Pacific White shrimp. And they are also more expensive, around $20-ish for bag of a 26-30 shrimp. I happened to buy the bag of shrimp for this recipe when Sobeys had a coupon in their flyer for 20% off an item of your choosing. The bag of shrimp was the most expensive individual item in my cart that day, so I chose to get a 20% discount on it!

Anyway, Baby E should be waking from her nap anywhere between 15-45 minutes from now and will need to nurse, so I’m going to try to catch up on some reading. I’m currently reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and it is taking me forever to finish. I was so naive prior to having Baby E, thinking that I could just devour tons of books on my maternity leave. What I didn’t realize is 1) it’s impossible to focus on a book while she is awake and playing because you’re always looking at her or engaging with her 2) it’s impossible to read while she’s napping because you either need a nap yourself or there’s housework to be done and 3) when she’s in bed for the night and you have a choice of reading or going to bed yourself, you’ll choose to go to bed every single time!

Enjoy this seafood chowder recipe everyone, and enjoy the rest of your holidays!

Seafood chowder

Satisfying Seafood Chowder

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 6 celery sticks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 4 small red potatoes, cubed
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp dill flakes
  • 2 cans baby clams
  • 12 large shrimp, pan fried and chopped
  • 1 can of crabmeat
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 cups corn niblets (I like a lot of corn in my chowder, so I use 2 cups)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions

1

Fry up your bacon strips, chop, and set aside.

2

Fry up your shrimp in some butter until they are pink, chop, and set aside.

3

In a large soup pot on medium heat, add your oil and butter. Toss in the white onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the celery and garlic and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.

4

Add the flour slowly and coat the contents of the pot. Add in the potatoes, cooked bacon, salt and pepper, sugar and dill flakes.

5

Stir in all the seafood, including the seafood juices. Add the chicken broth and continue to stir on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

6

Add the milk, cream, Worcestershire sauce and corn niblets. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

7

Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley and enjoy!

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Comforting Butternut Squash Soup

It is -42 degrees Celsius with the windchill in Regina today, and it’s one of those days where you have to bring out all the things that bring you warmth and comfort. So far today, I’ve relied on a steaming mug of coffee, some baby snuggles, my thick reading socks from Chapters, and a hot mug of Pumpkin Spice tea. And that was just for this morning.

Now for lunch, I am bringing out two of my other secret weapons to combat the cold – carbs and soup! I’m going to make some pan bread and a big pot of butternut squash soup.

The prep work for this soup is a little time consuming because there are a lot of veggies in it. Take a look at all the chopped veggies that go into it:

But I’m telling you, the nutritious punch that this soup gives you is well worth the time and effort. Throughout my pregnancy and now that I’m breastfeeding, I’ve been constantly trying to get more fruits and veggies into my diet. There are some nights where I’ll reflect on what I’ve eaten that day, and I’ll feel so guilty when I realize that I’ve only had one or two servings of fruits or vegetables.  There will be no guilt tonight (and tomorrow when I eat leftovers) though! This soup is jam packed with nutritious orange, beta-carotene-filled vegetables such as the butternut squash, carrots, and yam, and loads of garlic to fight off any cold or flu bugs!

Just a word of warning: this soup has a slight kick due to the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in it. It’s quite amazing what a mighty kick 1/4 teaspoon brings to the soup! So if you don’t like spicy foods or if you’re going to be feeding this to your kids, I would recommend omitting the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper altogether. I’m eating a bowl of it as I’m typing this, and I’m actually sweating a bit despite the frosty weather outside.

Well, the husband is off to his work Christmas party tonight and I’m staying in with the baby. With this soup, some baby snuggles, and one last season of The West Wing to finish, there is no reason for me to leave the house in -40-something weather!

Stay warm everyone!

Comforting Butternut Squash Soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 6 Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 medium butternut squash (or 1 large one), peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yam, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

1

In large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute all the vegetables (butternut squash, yam, onion, carrot, celery and garlic) for about 10 minutes.

2

Add the 4 cups of chicken stock, turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.

3

Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot with a lid, and let simmer for about half an hour or until all of the vegetables are soft.

4

Turn off the heat, and using a hand blender, puree the contents of the pot until it is smooth and lump-free.

5

Turn the heat back on to medium-low and whisk in the curry powder, cinnamon, sugar, cayenne (optional), and salt and pepper.

6

Mix in the heavy cream and let simmer for another 10 minutes, making sure it doesn't boil.

7

Serve with a side of pan bread and it will warm you right up!

Featured/ Frugal Tips/ Meal Planning

Keeping a Tight Grocery Budget

Earlier today I was interviewed on the CJME Morning News radio show here in Regina on how I am keeping my grocery budget in check despite rising food costs.  A study out of Dalhousie University is predicting that the average Canadian family will spend $420 more a year on groceries next year as food prices are expected to rise. $420 a year may not seem like much, but let me list all the discretionary fun things I bought this year for $420 that I would have to give up next year if the $420 had to go to food instead:

  • a pair of Ugg AND Sorel winter boots (I bought these online on Black Friday)
  • a Scotch advent calendar (I bought this for my husband on his birthday)
  • a Peg Perego car seat for my baby
  • a newborn photoshoot

 

Personally, I would rather try to be frugal where I can so that I can spend some of my hard earned money on fun things and enjoy life once in awhile.

To elaborate more on some of the tips that I shared on the radio and in the news article on how to control your grocery budget:

  • Meal planning – for the majority of us, the protein is the central focus of every meal so I recommend meal planning around what protein is on sale. Buying steaks when they are on sale and planning to have steak that week or freezing it to have steaks later is more economical than having a craving for steak one day and running out to the grocery store to buy the meat and all the fixings at full price.
  • Eliminating food waste – Meal plan to use up leftovers. There are so many times I’ve made a roast chicken for dinner one night and had a couple of drumsticks leftover that ended up sitting in the fridge for a week before I had to throw them out. Now, I meal plan for a couple meals in advance – if I’m making a roast chicken tonight, then I’m planning ahead that I’ll be making chicken caesar wraps or chicken salad sandwiches tomorrow using the leftovers.
  • Having a repertoire of “go to” recipes – Make note of what meals your family loves to assist with your meal planning. For example, if I see ground beef on sale I know I can make my shepherds pie or meatloaf.
  • Loyalty programs – Most of us are creatures of habit and usually shop at the same grocery store, so take advantage of whatever loyalty program your favourite grocery store has. Most grocery stores have some sort of points accumulation program that you can redeem for discounts off your bill. And most will also have loyalty cards and digital offers that track your spending and give you specific discounts for items that you purchase the most!

A little time and attention can help you save both time and money at the grocery store. I probably spend an hour every Thursday evening with the flyers for the coming week and plan my grocery shopping and meals. However, that one hour upfront saves me from wandering aimlessly through the store as I go with a detailed list and a plan of attack. Also, because of my careful planning, I only grocery shop once a week. I’m saving time as I rarely have to head to the store to pick up that one thing that I need right away. As for money, I used to spend $600-$700 a month on groceries. Thats just insane for a family of two adults! Ever since I started paying more attention to my grocery bill, meal planning and sticking to a cash grocery budget (no debit or credit for groceries), our grocery costs are now $500 a month. That’s a tangible $100-$200 that I’m saving!

I could talk about meal planning and frugal tips all day! If you have any questions or ideas to share, please leave me a comment, email me at culinarycents@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (links to my social media accounts are on the top left corner of this site).

Here is the link to the article: http://cjme.com/article/1033101/new-regina-mom-uses-strict-budget-sacrifice-combat-concerning-food-prices