Friday, December 18, 2009

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

On Wednesday morning when I was leaving for work, I asked Mishke if he could throw a recipe in the crockpot if I left it on the computer screen for him. He agreed, no problem.

When I came home, the house did not smell like chili, and the crockpot was in the cabinet.

I had forgotten to verify that he was in fact awake when he answered me at 6am. He wasn't.

On Thursday morning I put the chili in the crockpot before work. Lesson learned.

Because we got home late-ish, I made a slight variation to the recipe and cooked it for longer before shredding the chicken, and then just warmed it through. Doing it that way was fine in a pinch, but I think cooking as the recipe suggested would reduce the liquid some, which I think i would prefer.

This is great: mild, flavorful, and super fast.

White Chicken Chili (source: Lemons & Love)
-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used tenders)
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 large jar (2 cups) salsa verde
-2 cans cannelini beans drained and rinsed
-1 small can chopped green chilis
-1 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper

-Combine salsa, broth, beans, chilis, and seasonings in slow cooker stoneware.
-Mix together thoroughly and add the chicken
-Cook on high for 4 hours
-After 4 hours, remove chicken and shred
-Return chicken to slow cooker and cook an additional 2 hours on low

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

Our friends just bought Bean a Skippyjon Jones book for Christmas.

Reading it made me crave burritos.

I loved these, and they're a great quick and healthy addition to the week's menu. They skip the rice, which is my least favorite part of a traditional burrito. This was a great sweet and savory combo, with a crunchy tortilla. Delicious served with peach salsa.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos (Source: Chick in the Kitchen; the recipe below reflects the slight variation we made)

-3 medium sweet potatoes (or in our case two enormous ones)
-Salt and pepper

-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 container sliced baby bella mushrooms
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 15-oz. can black beans

-1 can chili beans

-1 tsp. cumin
-8 large tortillas
-2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

-Preheat oven to 350

-Nuke sweet potatoes on high 15 mins

-Scoop flesh out of skins, mash, and season with salt and pepper

-Heat oil in a large pan and saute mushrooms and garlic. Stir in rinsed black beans and chili beans with sauce

-Season and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced, about 15 minutes.

-Layer sweet potato, beans, and shredded cheddar in tortillas and roll up as burritos

-Place seam side down in 13x9 pan and cook about 20 mins or until browned and filling is bubbly

Pork Lo Mein

When I was about ten, my parents bought a wok, and suddenly Saturday nights became homemade Chinese food nights. This is a tradition I can't wait to implement in our house when the kids are older. Friday night pizza and movies, Saturday night Chinese food and games . . .

Lo mein is my favorite Chinese takeout item, and this was the first time I have ever made it. I combined a few recipes and made it my own.

Pork Lo Mein
-3 eggs
-5 thin cut boneless pork chops, sliced into thin strips
-3/4 lb linguine fini
-1/2 bag brocolli slaw mix
-1/2 bag shredded red cabbage
-1 red pepper, julienned
-3 sticks celery, thinly sliced
-1 can sliced water chestnuts
-Minced garlic
-4 tsbsp oyster sauce
-4 tbsp tamari
-1/4 cup chicken broth
-Ground ginger

-Cook pasta according to directions on package (linguine fini cooks fast because it's so fine)
-Heat a tbsp or so of oil (I used olive, but would be great with sesame) over high heat in a deep sided skillet or wok
-Beat the eggs, add them to the pan, scramble, and set aside
-Add a little more oil to the pan and saute the pork until browned and fully cooked, then remove from pan
-Add oil as necessary to the pan and stir fry the vegetables until crisp-tender
-Drain the noodles and toss with a tiny amount of oil to keep from sticking.
-Add the noodles to the vegetable mixture
-In a small bowl, mix the broth, oyster sauce, and tamari
-Pour over noodles and vegetables and heat until bubbling
-Return eggs and pork to the mix and serve

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Lately I've been storing bananas and avocados in the same bowl in my hanging fruit basket. It helps ripen the avocados, but sometimes sends the bananas over the edge.

Such was the case this weekend, when I had three rapidly-blackening bananas.

Time to make banana bread.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (Adapted with a few changes from: Pink of Perfection, based on a Cooking Light recipe)

-2 cups all purpose flour
-¾ tsp baking soda
-½ tsp salt
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 stick butter, softened
-2 large eggs
-3 bananas, mashed
-1/3 cup plain fat free yogurt
-1 tsp vanilla

-Preheat oven to 350

-Mix flour, baking soda, and salt

-In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended

-Add eggs and beat well

-Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla, mixing until well blended

-Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir until just combined

-Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for an hour or until a cake tester comes out clean

Naptime Nosh: Rolo Turtles

One of my favorite baking discoveries was that sometimes, in the baking aisle, you can find bags of non-wrapped Hershey Kisses. This saves mass amounts of time when making Peanut Butter Blossoms.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for rolos.

And when you unwrap candy, it seems you need to be paid for the job. In candy. One for me . . . one for the recipe. . .

Or maybe that's just me.

Another quick and easy, make-during-naptime holiday treat.

Pretzel Turtles (Source: Teta Elena)
-Bag of rolos
-Bag of pretzel snaps (the square ones with a grid pattern)
-Bag of pecan halves

-Line a cookie sheet with foil
-Lay out the pretzels; about 50 will allow you to sneak a few rolos from the bag and still have anough
-Unwrap rolos and top each pretzel with a rolo

-Bake at 250 for about 4 minutes until the rolos look shiny, but before they lose their consistency
-Remove from the oven and immediately top each candy with a pecan half, pushing down to smush the rolo

Of course, you will find uses for the remaining pretzels . . .

Naptime Nosh: Two-Ingredient Fudge - Cookies & Cream Variation

This is the most insanely easy fudge. EVER.

It takes approximately seven minutes, start to finish.

When you heat the frosting it's a little creepy. Makes you realize that some foods are not really foods at all . . . but a few food additives never hurt anyone . . . right?

My coworker said this was so sweet it made his teeth stand on end.

Two Ingredient Fudge (Source: Suzie Homemaker)
-One bag white chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)
-One can vanilla frosting
-Oreos, crushed

-Place chocolate chips in a casserole and microwave for 90 seconds
-Spread frosting on top and microwave for an additional 90 seconds
-Mix melted chips and frosting together. The frosting will be separated, but will come back together with mixing
-Stir in the oreos - the mix will be thick.
-Line an 8x8 pan with foil for easy removal
-Spread the fudge mix into the 8x8 pan. It leaves the casserole practically clean (again: strange food chemistry)
-Refrigerate until hardened, cut into squares, and serve

Menu Plan - Week of December 14, 2009

oops . . . missed Menu Planning Monday by a few days.
Here's what's cooking in our house anyway:

-Pork Lo Mein
-Tortellini, butter beans, and spinach
-Sweet potato and black bean burritos
-White chicken chili
-Ellie Krieger Macaroni and Four Cheeses


-Cereal bars
-French toast
-Bagels with peanut butter

-Holiday treats (in mass quantities)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tot in the Kitchen: It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas Part II: Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

These smell insanely good. And they're super cute.

They're not technically a food, but they are made with all food ingredients, so I figure they count.

I had a little challenge with the ratio of applesauce to cinnamon. Not enough applesauce. Too much applesauce. Grrr . . .

Bean loved mushing the dough in a bag

Apple Cinnamon Dough Ornaments (Based on recipe from: Homemaking Fun)
-6 tbsp applesauce
-10 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tbsp ground cloves

-Add all ingredients to zip and seal bag
-Mush around to mix
(I needed to add extra applesauce to make it form a dough)
-Roll out dough and cut into shapes with cookie cutters
-Make a hole in the top large enough to thread a ribbon through it
-Bake at 150 or lowest oven setting for 2 hours
-Turn off oven and leave to dry overnight

Pictures to come . . . they are still drying . . .

When the Stars Make You Drool: Pasta Fagioli

I needed a toddler-friendly, preschooler-friendly, nursing-friendly, big-family friendly lunch for getting together with siblings to shoot Christmas pictures of the cousins.

I made the perfect choice. Except for the fact that all the kids were wearing white shirts. Oops.

Enjoy - while wearing dark colors.

Pasta Fagioli (this has been adapted through various sites, but I found it on Christine's Cuisine) - I changed it slightly so the recipbe below reflects what I used
-2 tbsp olive oil
-20 ozs bulk sweet Italian sausage
-1/2 container sliced mushrooms
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 bag julienne carrot
-4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 14.5 ozs can petite diced tomatoes
-1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
-32 oz. chicken broth
-1 28 ozs can tomato sauce
-Italian seasoning
-1 lb. small dry pasta (I used mini wagon wheels)
-Parmesan for serving

-Brown sausage in a large stockpot
-Remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon
-Saute mushrooms, garlic, carrot and celery, over medium heat until vegetables are soft ( 8-10 minutes)
-Return the sausage to the pot, add the diced tomatoes and juice, stir, and simmer 10 minutes.
-Add beans, chicken broth, tomato sauce, and seasoning and bring to a boil
-Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer at least 30 minutes.
-Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions
-Drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking
-Serve with pasta at bottom of bowl and soup ladled ontop
-Add parmesan at table

No picture. Too busy taking pictures of the kids.

Snow Day Crockpot Chicken Chowder

It was our first big snow this morning and so I holed up at home and telecommuted. Mishke and Bean braved the elements to make snow angels and dig out the car to head out the store and buy ingredients for dinner. It was the perfect day for a long, slow soup. Although making this in the crockpot when home is bad because this recipe smells delicious and you just want to eat all day long . . .

The original recipe calls for onion and chive cream cheese, but we don't like onions or chives, so we substituted spinach artichoke (who knew that even existed?)

Chicken Chowder (Source: Land o' Lakes, found on Crockpot Tuesdays)
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
-8 small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
-1 cup onion, diced (we omitted)
-2 14 oz. cans chicken broth
-1 16 oz. package frozen mixed vegetables
-Seasoning (used liberal amounts of tarragon and table blend)
-1 cup half and half
-2 tbsp. cornstarch
-1 8 oz. container spinach and artichoke cream cheese

-Combine chicken, potatoes, broth, frozen veg, and seasoning in crockpot

-Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

-After it is cooked, mix half-and-half and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth

-Stir into mixture in crockpot

-Re-cover and cook on high 30 minutes until thickened

-Turn off heat and stir in cream cheese until melted

Photo to come

Tot in the Kitchen: Pancakes

We are definitely a breakfast family. We love going out for it, making it, and eating it. The first meal I ever made for Mishke was French Toast (my SIL has me way beat on French toast though and swears it is how she will woo her future spouse.) And I make a pretty mean omelette, because when I spent the summer in Paris my roommate was really homesick for her boyfriend who used to make omelettes all the time, so I had to step up to the plate.

However - I can't make a pancake to save my life. Mix or from scratch, my creations have a place in the NHL. So I didn't have high hopes for anything un-puck-like when I decided to make pancakes with Bean this weekend. The post with the recipe I used raved about how light the pancakes were but I was still skeptical.

Things turned from bad to worse when I realized not only did I not have the cake flour the recipe called for, but I was almost out of All Purpose. So the pancakes had to be mostly wholewheat. I love wholewheat flour, but it's kind of the kiss of death when it comes to airy baked goods.

But I've got to tell you. These somehow came out vaguely fluffy; and I would be willing to bet that, made with cake flour, they would be about as perfect as the name suggests.

I'm a believer . . .

Perfect Pancakes (Source: originally from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, found through Mommy's Kitchen)
-3 cups + 2 tbsp Cake Flour (NOT wholewheat, but if you happen to have to substitute you won't screw it up as epically as you think you might)
-½ tsp Salt
-3 tbsp Baking Powder
-2 tbsp Sugar
-2 cups Milk
-2 eggs
-3 tbsp vanilla (or more if you're heavy handed like me
-1/2 stick of butter

-Find willing toddler
-Have them mix together dry ingredients in large bowl (Bean gleefully yells "dump!" every time we measure something in.)
-Mix milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
-Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined
-Take bowl away to chagrine of toddler
-Melt butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine.
-Cook on a greased skillet on medium-low until golden brown, adding whatever fun things you like in your pancakes (we did my favorite - bananas and chocolate chips)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Skillet Lasagna - Veering from the Menu

Sometimes I plan meals for the week and religiously go through all of them. And sometimes all of a sudden none of them sound appealing, but I have meat hanging out in the fridge that needs to be cooked somehow.

Today I had this problem with about twenty minutes to figure out and make something so we could eat dinner as a family before Bean needed to hit the tub. Additionally, we were all vaguely hypoglycemic because the only thing we'd eaten since brunch at Auntie B's Place (go now if you are within a 100 mile radius - don't forget to bring cash) were treats from Sugar.

Google Reader starred items to the rescue!

I had starred this recipe partly because it was billed as an easy weeknight option (and partly because it just sounded delicious.) It totally proved to be both - about 5 minutes of active prep and 25 minutes of it hanging out while I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.

Slight fail on my part - I misread the directions (I blame it on hunger-induced blindness) and did not stir the noodles in when cooking. Some of them welded together into a pretty crispy sheet that, as Mishke said, was a tad reminiscent of rawhide. Totally my screw-up though - the recipe is delicious and will definitely go into the regular rotation.

Skillet Lasagna (Source: Found on Christine's Cuisine, originally from Cook's Illustrated)
-28 ozs can diced tomatoes
-1/3 jar pasta sauce
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 container mushrooms
-1 tbsp garlic
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1lb extra lean ground beef
-10 lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
-4 cups baby spinach
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan
-1 cup part-skim ricotta
-3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

-Pour tomatoes with (including juice) into liquid measure and add water to make 4 cups. Add 1/3 jar pasta sauce and set aside
-Saute mushrooms, garlic, and red pepper flakes until mushrooms are browned in a deep skillet
-Add ground beef and cook until browned
-Scatter pasta over meat - do not stir in.
-Pour tomato mixture over pasta, cover pan and bring to a simmer Scatter the pasta over the meat but do not stir. Pour the diced tomatoes with their juices and the tomato sauce over the pasta. Cover and bring to a simmer.

- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes
-Add spinach and cook an additional 5 mins or so until pasta is al dente (I left the spinach on top to steam and then stirred in at the end.)

-Turn off heat and stir in parmesan
-Spoon ricotta over top, cover, and leave for 5 minutes
-Sprinkle with basil before serving

Picture to come

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas Part I: Cranberry Beef

I have no idea where I copied this recipe down from. If it's your recipe, please tell me, and I'll share the love!

It smells seriously amazing cooking. Just like Christmas! Well, beefy Christmas . . .

We served it with wholewheat couscous and steamed carrots

Cranberry Beef
-1lb ground beef
-1/2 container sliced mushrooms
-1 cup tomato sauce
-Ginger, cinnamon, and ground cloves to taste
-1 cup fresh cranberries

-Saute ground beef and mushrooms (original recipe called for onions, but we don't really dig them) over lowish heat for about fifteen minutes
-Season with spices (original recipe called for chili powder too, but we seem to be out of it.)
-Add cranberries and tomato sauce and simmer 15 further minutes.
-Enjoy eating and how good it smells!
Disregard the crummy picture. Camera battery is dead, so this is a cellphone picture.

As a post-eating modification: the cranberries are pretty naturally tart in this dish. I'm a cranberry wimp, so next time I make this, I would probably add a little balsamic and some agave to knock the edge off them.