Corn Chowder to warm an ordinary winter day

I don’t know about you, but after the holidays I’m always relieved to have things back to normal. I like my winter routines, including preparing some of my favorite comfort foods, long walks, reading by the fire and tucking myself in early.

As far as cooking goes, I like to keep things simple and use what’s in the pantry. Here at the cove, it’s a good distance from the nearest grocery store, so keeping basic ingredients for a winter supper on hand helps make me feel secure.

I always have frozen vegetables and a couple packages of ground turkey in my freezer. I could eat a tasty turkey burger at least once a week. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered how to vary this staple by adding ingredients to the burger or onto the toasted bun. Why, just the other night, I elevated my usual burger with just a bit of fresh herbs and a spoonful of cranberry-orange sauce from last week’s tenderloin sliders stirred into a dab of mayo. I’ll be doing that again.

I was never much of a corn chowder fan until I gave this particular recipe a whirl. If you don’t have any leeks, just use a bit more onion. I don’t bother peeling the potatoes. To make it even more delicious, I added just a smattering of bacon on top. I mean, wouldn’t you if you had the chance?

And since I somehow ended up with a bag of caramels in my cupboard, these cookie bars had to be made. The most difficult part was unwrapping all the sticky squares of caramel. Yes, it’s a lot of butter, but what would life be like without it?

Savory Turkey Burgers
1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 tsp. salt

Pinch black pepper

2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage

1 1/2 tsps. chopped fresh thyme

2 tsps. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 patties. Place the burgers on a broiler pan brushed with olive oil. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. (Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.)

Serve with buns and toppings. Yield: 4 servings

Corn Chowder
2 tbsp. butter

1/4 tsp. cumin

Pinch of paprika

3 stalks celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 leek, sliced (white part only)

1 large carrot, diced

2 cups potatoes, diced

3 cups fresh or frozen corn

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tsp. salt

1 cup light cream

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Crumbled cooked bacon or homemade croutons for garnish (optional)

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add spices, celery, onion, leek and carrot. Sauté until tender. Turn the heat to high and add potatoes, corn and stock. Bring to a boil and add salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and add cream and pepper. Simmer gently until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Salted Caramel Bars
2 cups butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla

4 cups flour

1 (14 oz.) bag caramels, unwrapped

1/3 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 tsps. flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, mixing until a soft dough forms.

Press one-third of the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bake for 20 minutes. Set the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. This can also be accomplished in the top of a double-boiler.

Stir vanilla into the caramel filling, then pour over the cooled crust. Sprinkle salt on top.

Crumble the chilled dough evenly over the caramel layer.

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Yield: 24 bars

Karen Schneider is a Coastal Journal contributor. She can be reached at [email protected].

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