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Archive for the ‘autumn suppers’ Category

I love coming home to an already cooked dinner. I’ve always used my slow cooker on a regular basis, but I’ve been pretty diligent to use it for two dinners a week these days. I’ve made some mediocre things that sounded good but executed sub-par. I think one of the issues is that I have to leave it cooking for so long since we are away from the house for so many hours in a row on the week days. If I could cook it for only four hours or so and then be ready to sit down to dinner (in other words, work half days!) some of those sub-par dinners would have probably been pretty good- swiss chard lasagna, I’m talking about you ;)

Beans and chilis tend to be fool proof when it comes to slow cooking and I make them both on a regular basis. But, I’m always looking for new things to have in the rotation. This soup that I made earlier this week will be added to said rotation. It’s simple, easy to prep for on a week night, and was enjoyed by the whole family. Truth be told, I could easily enjoy food with a Mexican twist any night of the week- tostadas , nachos , bean bowls, soft tacos , chimichangas, and huevos rancheros, for a few examples! ;)

The amount of ingredients in the recipe below made enough for the three of us for dinner and 2 bowls for leftover lunches.

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Chicken Chili Verde Soup

olive oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2, 4-ounce cans roasted green chilies
pinch of Kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, then sauté onions, shallot, green chilies, and a pinch of salt for 5-6 minutes until onions become translucent. Add in red pepper flakes and garlic, and cook for a few more minutes. Put the onion, chili, and garlic mix into a blender with 1 cup of the chicken broth. Puree until smooth. Then, pour into slow cooker. Add remaining broth, beans, and spices to slow cooker and stir to combine. Put the chicken breasts in last. Cook on low heat for 8-9 hours. Before you sit down to eat, shred chicken breasts with a fork and then give the soup a good stir to combine all ingredients.
Top with your favorite Mexican food toppings–avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, a squeeze of lime, and pepper jack cheese to name a few.

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Baked Chicken Tenders
adapted from Chicken Recipe Box

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast tenders
1 cup bread crumbs (I use 3 slices of whole grain bread which I pulse into bread crumbs in the mini food processor.)
3/4 cup of white whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut chicken thighs into thin strips. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook in the oven. Make sure to keep cuts about the same size for even cooking. If you use chicken breast tenders, you can use them as they come if all the tenders are approximately the same size (this choice is healthier since it’s white meat and, therefore, leaner and it’s a time saver=double bonus!).
In one small bowl, combine flour, salt and black pepper. In a second small bowl, beat 2 eggs. In a third small bowl, add bread crumbs.

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Dredge each strip of chicken in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Repeat for all chicken strips. If you have children, let them help with this step- they love to get their hands messy and participate in meal prep, just make sure you are able to get them to a sink with soap and warm water quickly after finishing.
Lay coated chicken strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for less sticking and easier clean-up).
Bake chicken strips in oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked and crisp. Turn the chicken strips about 1/2 way through cooking.

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Serve with ketchup, mustard, or your favorite dip. I prefer a Siracha ketchup or Ranch.

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Happy Spring to everyone! Yesterday, on the official first day of spring, our weather started out with heavy rain and gray skies. Then, the wind kicked up and blew the clouds and rain away to reveal beautiful blue skies and sunshine! The pops of color from the spring flowers, amidst the lush green landscape we are so accustomed to in Seattle, is so much more astounding when the sunlight hits it just right.

Oh, spring! We are ready for you…flowers, longer days, warmer weather cocktails (I’m craving a Dark and Stormy badly these days!), grilling, Easter egg hunts, and basketball!!! Who else is excited for the official start of March Madness today??! My loyalty lies with two teams. First and foremost, my alma mater, the Davidson Wildcats who play Marquette this afternoon (Go Cats!!!) and despite being such a small school nearly always score a spot in the Big Dance! And, the Florida Gators who play their first game on Friday evening…Go Gators!!!

Today is quite the perfect day for the slow cooker to cook your meal and to have it ready to be eaten right when you get home from work, when you’re ready to sit for several hours on the sofa watching all the madness of the games and updating your brackets! This chicken is really good! I prepped it the night before, cutting the onions and peppers and rubbing on the spices, then placed all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and popped it right into the refrigerator until the next morning. I started the slow cooker right before I left for work and when I got home the chicken was fragrant and very tender- I shredded it with a fork. And, it makes enough to have this same meal twice or to use the leftover chicken in a salad or on nachos! If you double the batch,you could even freeze half, which I love to do. A freezer full of stacked ziplocs filled with sauces or shredded meats makes my heart happy!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas Tacos
adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

for spice rub—

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

for serving—

corn tortillas

avocado slices

shredded sharp cheddar cheese

your favorite salsa

limes

Directions:

Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the chicken. Then, place the chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.

Cover the chicken with the chopped onions, pepper, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. If you are prepping ahead, place in the refrigerator until the next morning. When you are ready to start cooking, turn heat on LOW and cook for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, remove meat from crock pot and shred with a fork. It should be incredibly easy to shred.

To serve, heat your corn tortillas in a skillet on the stove or in a toaster oven on 200 degrees. Spoon some carnitas on a tortilla then top with salsa, avocado, cheese, and a squeeze of lime.

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Sometimes, you just want a tasty, spicy, cheesy dinner. Something warm, something familiar. Well, this is that dish. It’s really good. Really, really good. And, the leftovers might even be better than what is eaten the day it’s cooked.
I usually make these enchiladas with shredded chicken, but I think the ground turkey wins hands down! We just had them with chips and salsa and avocado slices, but I think they might be a enough on their own (or maybe I just filled up on too many chips when cooking dinner!).

Easy Ground Turkey Enchiladas

Ingredients:
6 flour tortillas
8 oz Enchilada Sauce- we used Trader Joe’s which is nice and spicy
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
3 cups Pepper Jack cheese
salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and cumin to taste
salsa
avocado slices

Brown ground turkey on medium-high heat. Add salt, cayenne, garlic powder, and cumin to taste. Add onion and red pepper and cook until softened- about 10 minutes.

Pour 4 oz of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.

To assemble enchiladas, lay out the flour tortilla and put just under 1/2 cup of the turkey and veggies down the middle. Add 3 tablespoons of cheese on top. Roll the tortilla by folding in the ends first, and place in the baking dish seam side down. Continue until you have finished using all of the meat. We made our enchiladas on the bigger side, so this amount of filling only made 6 enchiladas with a small amount leftover for a plain Jack- sized burrito. If you like them skinnier, you may need 10-12 tortillas.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas. Then, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is a golden brown. Serve with salsa and avocado slices.

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I think I’ve been upfront with my love of the slow cooker. I try to use it frequently, especially in the winter, for rich, hearty meals that are warm as soon as you are ready to eat them.

This recipe for tender roast beef beautifully seasoned with a balsamic vinegar gravy will most certainly be added to the slow cooker weekly rotation. I love it when I cook a meal, especially one that is simple to prepare, and my family loves it. This is one of those meals- David went back for seconds (and thirds and maybe even fourths!) and, after some convincing that he would be big and strong like Superman if he ate his protein, Jack even seemed to like it (and he doesn’t usually like meat).

This recipe doesn’t even require you to brown the roast before putting it in the slow cooker. All you do is put the roast and the combined liquid ingredients and garlic into the slow cooker…It really is that simple!

I hope your family enjoys it as much as we did!

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Balsamic Roast Beef
adapted from Add a Pinch

INGREDIENTS
2 pound boneless beef round roast
1 cup beef broth
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 cloves minced garlic

DIRECTIONS
Place roast beef into your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring pitcher, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef and then start your slow cooker- cook 7 hours on low heat.

Once roast beef has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs onto a serving dish. Shred the meat using two forks and then ladle ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over the roast beef.

Store remaining gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use. I plan to use it for a dinner of portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and mozzarella cheese…mmmmm!

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Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe here. I’ve been cooking (promise.)!

Lately, I’ve had been using a self-made template to create our weekly dinner menu. Instead of having a free-for-all with each day, I’ve decided to incorporate certain menu themes weekly. So, each week we have a slow cooker night, an egg night, pizza night, salad night, and a veggie and grain night. I leave two nights open for going out, leftovers, or recipe inspirations. And, with this type of template, I have direction in the menu planning, but can also be as creative as I want to be.

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Last week, for our veggie and grain night, I made quinoa “fried rice”.
I love fried rice- it’s usually one of my choices when we order out for Chinese food- there’s just something about the way the flavors meld together to create a perfectly satisfying dish, but, I don’t often make it because it doesn’t seem that healthy. Using quinoa instead of rice, however, boasted the protein and reduced the carbohydrates, creating a perfectly satisfying AND healthy dish.

Quinoa Veggie “Fried Rice”
adapted from Damn Delicious

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INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced
Sriracha, for serving

DIRECTIONS
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Pour in eggs and fry until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, flipping only once. Let cool before dicing into small pieces.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions become translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and peas. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Add cooked quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

Add ginger and soy sauce, and gently toss to combine. Cook, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in green onions and eggs.

Serve immediately, drizzled with Sriracha hot sauce, if you like it spicy.

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Tonight’s Menu: Pork Chili Verde in Flour Tortillas, Tomato and Avocado Salad

I’ve blogged about this dish before, but it’s a staple in our home and as the days get cooler and shorter, we will be turning to meals like this more and more to warm us instantly as we come home from school and work. It doesn’t hurt that it makes the whole house smell marvelously of garlicky, meaty goodness…and, it’s the easy dinner meal you’ve ever prepared! The leftovers keep well and go nicely atop mixed greens for work lunch salads.

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Ingredients:
1-2 lb. boneless pork loin
1 jar of salsa verde
4-6 medium sized garlic cloves, pureed

Directions:

Put the pork loin in the slow cooker and pour 1 jar of green salsa over the meat (we always use Trader Joe’s salsa verde, but any green salsa will work). Then, crush 4 – 6 cloves of garlic over the meat. Walk away and let it cook 8 hours over low heat.

The meat will fall apart with the touch of a fork. Shred and place on warmed flour tortillas, topped with creme fraiche. Serve alongside a tomato and avocado salad.

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Today’s nap time goal: Shred leftover rotisserie chicken, make salad dressing, slice sweet peppers

Tonight’s menu: Coconut Curry Tomato Soup, Rustic Chicken Salad, Good Bread (recipe to come!), Crisp White Wine

We started a Monday dinner routine this summer of having a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods along with various vegetable sides and usually some roasted sweet potatoes. It makes for an easy Monday night dinner and gives me an excuse to go to Whole Foods weekly to purchase all of the yummy things that we like especially from there.

Typically, I’m the one to gobble up all of the leftovers from the chicken as it sits atop my salad lunches for the week alongside any leftover vegetables. But, sometimes I feel like sharing and being creative with the leftover chicken. Tonight is one of those times. And, this salad is scrumptiously delicious and share-worthy. Pair it with the tomato soup and a slice of good bread and you have yourself a perfect meal to bridge the transition between the seasons.

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Rustic Chicken Salad
adapted from a salad seen on Farmhouse Table
Ingredients:
leftover rotisserie chicken (save the juices and drippings)
1 large bag of arugula
3 small pears, sliced thin
4 medium sweet peppers, seeds removed, then slivered
1/8 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1 shallot, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/3- 1/2 c. olive oil

Directions:
Gently combine shredded chicken, arugula, pears, peppers, almonds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Place shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, drippings from chicken, and olive oil in a small pitcher and whisk vigorously to combine. Right before eating, add dressing to salad and toss until well coated.

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Tonight’s menu, a bridge between Summer and Fall: Coconut Curry Tomato Soup, Good Bread with Butter, Rustic Chicken Salad (recipe coming Monday), Crisp White Wine

I’ve been holding on for dear life. As I hear other people wish for the shortened days of Fall to grace us with her beautiful colors and slight chill, I wince and hope that their wishes don’t come true. I’m not being mean, I’m just not ready. Not yet.

This is the first year for as long as I can remember that I have not been ready for what has steadfastly been my favorite season. You see, in Seattle, we wait and wait (and wait) for the long days of summer. For the blue skies and sunshine. For the temperatures that range mostly between 55 and 80 degrees. For the dry weather. And, when summer finally arrives, it’s too perfect. It’s “pinch me, I must be dreaming” good. It’s “I will never leave this area from July until October” good. And, I’m not quite ready to let it go…

But, Fall. She’s knocking on the door, wanting to settle in. The leaves are slowly starting to turn to vivid shades of red and orange and yellow. The blue of the sky is shifting to what I have always referred to as Autumn Blue. The daylight is taking its time to greet us in the mornings, making my very early runs glorious under a dark sky of moon and stars. There is a delicate chill in the air. Summer lingers, but Autumn, I can tell that she’s just around the bend.

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I’m anticipating the smell of firewood burning, the feel of layers and the aroma of wool, earlier and cooler evening walks, cozy blankets piled on our couches, baskets filled with pears and apples, pumpkins finding new homes on front steps right next to colorful potted mums, and the tastes of warm, Autumnal food. In our home, Fall means more slow cooker meals with the smells of warmed meat traveling from our kitchen to greet us at the front door as we return home from work and school. More baked goods. Yes, many more baked goods. Soups simmering on the stove for hours and then being eaten half by spoon, half by the bread that has been dunked in the bowl to soak up the flavors. Warm foods, more hearty foods to help transition us into the new season and to make the sting of the close of summer a bit more tolerable.

To help bridge the transition from Summer to Autumn, try this tasty soup that has just a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper and curry, yet the cool of coconut milk. It will have you grabbing a second slice of buttered bread so you can keep dunking…and, if you are like me, perhaps, it will actually make you excited to feel Autumn’s chill.

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Coconut Curry Tomato Soup
adapted from a recipe of Heidi Swanson’s on 101 Cookbooks
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, at least one fire-roasted
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

Directions:

In a large pot over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften up – 10 minutes or so. You may get a bit of browning, but I think this just adds depth to the soup.

Stir in the curry paste, cumin, and cayenne pepper, and cook just until the spices are fragrant- about 30 seconds or so. Stir in the tomatoes with the juices from the cans, the can of coconut milk, and 4 cups of water. Simmer for as much as time allows, but at least for fifteen minutes- I simmered it about 1 1/2 hours- then pour (taking care not to splash!) into a blender to puree until smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Add back to the pot and continue simmering on low until you are ready to eat.

This soup is great served simply with a slice of good bread, a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese, and a large torn leaf of fresh basil.

Happy eating and Happy nearly Fall!

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We made this pasta dish after we all arrived home from long days at work and school stumbling into our dark house, shedding our scarves, hats, and coats, throwing our empty lunch bags onto the counter, and gathering in the kitchen for dinner prep. I began chopping as the ravioli boiled in a large pot. Jack got in a few dances to “Farmer in the Dell” and “Oh, Susanna” playing from his farm magnet on the refrigerator, we poured 2 glasses of red wine, and all three of us were happily sitting around the table by 6 o’clock enjoying a delicious plate of pasta.

The arugula brings the perfect addition of green and the olives and feta provide just enough salt and tang to brighten the dish. This is really yummy…a perfect weeknight meal.

Ravioli with Arugula and Olives

1 pound mini cheese ravioli
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped green and black olives
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 cups chopped arugula
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and stir well. Let the pasta cook at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, until tender. When the ravioli is cooked, drain completely and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir the olive oil into the pasta, then add the olives, basil, arugula, and feta cheese and toss gently to mix. Enjoy with red wine and milk ;)

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