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Archive for the ‘winter 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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Well, hello. Did you think I had completely forgotten what I use to do over here on these pages? That I no longer remembered how wonderful it is to share food with all of you? That I forgot how to type out a recipe?

Well, almost. It was back in March of 2013, after all, when I shared my last recipe- rustic blueberry biscuits! What??!!! And, while I’m not quite certain how much it’s actually going to happen, here’s a start to the return of recipe sharing. This one…it’s a good one too. Yummy and simple- the adjectives that I hope you use to describe the food I share here.

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Chicken and Four Bean Chili

Ingredients
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black eyed peas
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 medium onion
5 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

Open all 4 cans of beans, pour into a colander, and rinse under cold water. Dump the beans along with the chicken broth, tomato sauce, spices, onion, and garlic into your slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Place chicken breasts on top of bean mixture. Cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.

When cooking is complete, shred the chicken with a fork and stir into chili.
Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and serve over quinoa or brown rice, or alone aside some tortilla chips or a crusty sourdough bread.

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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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David spent the day snowboarding two Sundays ago, which inspired me to cook a big pot of soup. What better dinner to come home to after a frosty day on the slopes? A house smelling of simmering sausage and vegetables in chicken broth, fresh bread warming in the oven…

I had been thinking of this pot of soup for a while, just waiting for an afternoon at home when I could put it together. I was inspired by a recipe I found in a 2011 issue of Sunset Magazine, which happens to be my favorite magazine for all things Northwest- restaurants, shopping, planting tips, travel ideas, etc.- and knew I wanted it to have chicken sausage, chard, and artichoke hearts, but I also wanted to add some more earthy elements to round out the flavors and to make it more hearty. I decided on potatoes because I have so many sitting around right now waiting to be used and mushrooms, both of which provided the earthiness and hearty element I was hoping for. The sour dough bread paired with the soup quite well and we were actually all wishing for a bit bigger of a loaf to sop up our broth with!

This was a very good bowl of soup, and quite pretty to look at too! It would be worthy of a shared meal, but also perfect for a casual Sunday supper or a quick weeknight meal with just your family. You can choose to simmer the broth with the sausage and potatoes for the afternoon or just enough time for the potatoes to soften- depends on how much time you have on your hands. The soup is yummy, versatile, and easy to make. I hope you try it.

Italian Chicken Sausage and Vegetable Soup
adapted from Sunset Magazine

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian chicken sausage, cut into small pieces
32 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 small russet potatoes, cut into small chunks
32 ounces free range chicken broth
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
1 pound chard, chopped

Warm sour dough bread

Directions
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook sausage until browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add 32 ounces of broth and the potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes, or longer if you have the luxury of time.
Add the remaining 32 ounces of broth along with the mushrooms and artichokes and continue to simmer.
Right before you are ready to eat, add chard and cook, covered, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with warm sour dough bread and unsalted butter.

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I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE kale. I mean, I really LOVE it. Like I could eat it twice a day, every day for the rest of my life kind of love. Admittedly, the love is not exclusive to kale, it applies to all leafy greens really. There’s just something about their bitterness and versatility that seems to make every meal complete for me.

Kale appears a lot on this blog in vegetable pies, sweet potato quesadillas, minestrone soup, mixed greens and chickpeas, green smoothies, and tomato Florentine soup. It’s also the star ingredient in what appears to be one of my most popular recipes- the one I hear the most about from all of you dear readers- marinated citrusy kale and black bean tostadas . This is one of my most favorite dinners and this particular recipe has inspired many more dinners of a similar sort featuring kale and beans and tortillas.

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The meal is so easy to put together and it tastes a bit different every time, depending on what you have on hand to use. For tonight’s kale and bean topped tortilla, I used:
1 pound mixed beans and barley
10 ounces kale, roughly chopped
5 flour tortillas
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 jalapeños, minced
salsa verde
lime

I slow cooked the beans for 8 hours on the low heat setting of my slow cooker. This time, I used a bag of 18 bean and barley mix from Trader Joe’s which was quite good. I cooked it in the slow cooker with 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water and a few minced garlic cloves. (More slow cooked bean recipes can be found here and here).

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Once the beans are finished cooking, here’s how I assembled the dinner, it’s not so much of a recipe as a method:
Sauté a few cloves of minced garlic in a large skillet with a good glug of olive oil. Once garlic is fragrant, add minced fresh jalapeño (about 2 medium with seeds removed) and kale (about 10 ounces) and sauté until wilted- about 4 or 5 minutes.
Brush tortillas lightly with olive oil and place in toaster oven or oven, on 200 degrees for about 5 minutes or until browned.
Put tortillas on plates and top with kale, a large spoonful of beans and barley from the slow cookers, a drizzle of salsa verde, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Squeeze the juice from a lime wedge atop the mixture and eat with a fork and knife.

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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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This chili is nothing to look at. I’ve made it many times and have been wanting to share, just waiting to get a good picture of it, but I’ve never been successful! Finally, I threw my hands up and decided you deserve to have the recipe despite having a good picture to go along with it.

The chili is green and dreary, but trust me what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in taste! It has a nice spice from the peppers, jalapeños, and green chiles, yet it is not overly spicy- even Jack likes it and he only has a preference for mildly spiced foods. The edamame provides a unique twist from the typical chili recipe and also some good crunchy texture. The addition of spinach, avocado, and lime at the end is important. These ingredients are essential to balancing the chili and providing a freshness that other bowls of chili seem to lack.

I’ve served this chili with whole grain couscous, brown rice, and orzo pasta and all have been good. But, our preference is to eat a big scoop of it poured over cheese grits. I use stone ground grits from Logan Turnpike Mill, which is about an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. There is just no substitution for real southern grits, so I still have family or friends bring them to me when they come to visit! We stir in freshly shredded white sharp cheddar cheese when the grits have about 5 minutes left to cook. The combination of green chili and cheese grits is really amazing, but if grits aren’t your thing, any grain will do!

Edamame Green Chili
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2011

a large glug of olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 large red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 12-oz bags shelled frozen edamame
2 5-oz cans chopped green chiles
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups salsa verde
6 cups fresh spinach
avocados, peeled, pitted, and chopped
sour cream
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
lime wedges

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and celery, and cook 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chile powder, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until fragrant about one minute. Add the edamame and green chiles and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and salsa verde, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until you are ready for dinner but at least 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Ladle into bowls on too of grain of your choice, and top with avocado, sour cream, and/or cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

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A date night wasn’t part of tonight’s plan. But it’s been part of our weekly plan since the beginning of January and it hasn’t ever really happened…work excuses, colds to heal, late bedtimes for Jack, and on and on…so, tonight seemed as good as any to make it happen. It actually seemed a bit more than necessary after seeing Jack kick and scream in David’s arms when being hauled off for bedtime and then hearing him loudly protest to David about not wanting him to read bedtime books.

As I was making dinner, I kept hearing our beloved three year old scream from upstairs, “I don’t want you to come home anymore”…”I only want to see Mama”…”I don’t like you”. That’s when I knew that we needed a little respite. The night called for a proper dinner…with candles and wine and even a bite of chocolate. With linen napkins and matching silverware…with our places set at the table. So, our easy dinner of egg and arugula sandwiches turned into what I think we would claim as our first official casual at-home date night of the year. And, it was good. We sipped our white wine, talked about David’s day of snowboarding, of our plans for the year…we enjoyed our food and our berries and our dark chocolate peanut butter caramel truffle. We enjoyed the peace the meal brought to the end of our day and realized that it’s not exactly all about what’s eaten, but how it is served that might matter most of all…
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Egg, Cheddar, Maple Turkey, and Arugula Sandwiches

Lightly toast bread of your choice. Then, cover with slices of a good, sharp cheddar cheese and broil until bubbly and browned.
Add a few slices of maple roasted turkey to the cheese toast and warm.
Cover turkey with a large handful of arugula.
Place fried egg on top and serve immediately.

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I am always searching for alternative chili recipes. I love the idea of a warming bowl of beans and spices, but truth be told, standard red chili is not my favorite thing to eat. I once blamed my dislike of chili on the chili powder, but I have come to realize that it is the combination of tomato paste and kidney bean that I do not love (and this coming from a lover of beans!).

When I stumbled upon a recipe for chili in Real Simple using sweet potatoes and no tomato paste, I knew I had to try it with a few adaptations of my own. And, boy, am I glad that I did! This chili will warm your chilled body and make your taste buds happy! The notes of cocoa and cinnamon combine so perfectly with the sweet potato, yet the sweetness does not overpower. Instead, the sweetness mellows out the intensity of heat from the fire roasted tomatoes. All the ingredients play on one another to make a perfectly harmonious dish that will greet you comfortably as you come home from work. It pairs nicely with a winter beer like Snow Day from Fat Tire Brewery.

Let me know how you like it, if you give it a try in your kitchen.

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Sweet Potato Chili

INGREDIENTS
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt
1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1/2 cup. beef broth
sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, shredded sharp cheddar, and tortilla chips, for serving

DIRECTIONS
In a slow cooker, combine the onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, beef broth, and 1 cup water.
Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, cheese, and tortilla chips.

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