Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slow-Cooker Weeknight Chili

Pic courtesy Cook's Country

I looooooove chili. It's definitely one of my favorite soups. And, being the soup lover that I am, that's kinda saying a lot. So, when I saw Cook's Country's crockpot chili, I knew I wanted to give it a try. And, when I saw rain in the forecast for this weekend, I knew I wanted to try it THIS weekend. It was really good- full of flavor from all the different spices and red pepper, onion, and BACON (yes, you read that right- bacon!). I made a few changes to their recipe, though. First of all, I halved it, didn't put coriander in that the original recipe called for (I put in a little extra cumin and some parsley), and I added some brown sugar at the very end (because everything's better with brown sugar:)). Also, since I don't have a Dutch oven, I just used a regular pot (not nonstick, though).

Slow-Cooker Weeknight Chili
 adapted from Cook's Country

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped fine
  • 2 onions, chopped medium
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds 85 percent lean ground chuck (I used 93% and it was great)
  •   1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
  •   1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • brown sugar to taste (I used about 1/8 to 1/4 cup)
  • 1. Toast chili powder, cumin, parsley, oregano, cayenne, and pepper flakes in large Dutch oven over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer toasted spices to bowl. Add bacon to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towels and pour off all but 1 teaspoon fat from pot. Return pot to medium heat, add onions and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • 2. Add beef, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, using wooden spoon to break up beef into 1/2-inch pieces, until just slightly pink, about 5 minutes. Drain beef and vegetables in colander.
  • 3. Add tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and toasted spices to empty pot and bring to simmer over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Return drained beef and vegetable mixture and bacon to pot, stir to combine, and bring to simmer. Transfer contents to slow-cooker insert.
  • 4. Set slow cooker to low, cover, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 hours, stirring in beans during last hour of cooking. (Alternately, cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.) Beef will get tough if you cook longer than 8 hours. Add brown sugar to taste. Adjust seasonings and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months.)
  • Make Ahead: If you’d prefer to just dump the chili ingredients into the slow cooker before running off to work, you can do all the work the night before. Follow the recipe through step 3, but continue to simmer the assembled chili for 10 minutes. Transfer the chili to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, simmer the chili in a Dutch oven for 10 minutes, then transfer it to your slow cooker and proceed with step 4. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and/or crackers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Creamy Tomato Soup

I made this soup tonight and it was absolutely FABULOUS- I wish I could jump out of the computer screen and make it for you.  We seriously loved it and it was so incredibly easy to put together.  In fact, I decided to make it very last minute and had to make something that I had all of the ingredients for already and this was it.  Even Tessa lapped this up...I'm so glad I came across this recipe- its definitely going in the regular rotation.
google images
Creamy Tomato Soup
Adapted from

1 (29-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (10.5-oz.) can chicken broth
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. chopped onion
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or milk, if you want something lighter)
Cooked Pasta, of your choosing and amount (optional- see below)

In a large pot, mix all ingredients together, except heavy cream and pasta.  Bring to a simmer and leave it simmering for one hour.  Near the end of the hour, in a double boiler (or glass bowl over a small saucepan), heat the heavy cream until hot- do NOT boil or it will scorch.  Add desired spices to your soup (I sprinkled some dried basil and salt- you can use whatever you prefer). Once cream is heated through, add to soup.  I blended my soup in a blender at this point, b/c I knew my kids weren't going to like chunks of tomatoes- this is optional.  Then, stir in cooked pasta and serve.
*Adding pasta is optional- I added it so it would be more kid-friendly and it worked.  My kids loved this dish, and it was more hearty and filling that way.  You can add as much or as little as you like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bean and Bacon Soup

This is MAJOR comfort food for me BUUUUT recently Campbell's changed their recipe AND got more expensive so to find a yummy EASY recipe was major score in our house. And I might add that Quincy and Charlotte would not complain if they ate B&B soup everyday the rest of their, its safe to say I will be making this often.
                                                                            From flickr (oddly enough) but adapted by ME!

 -4 strips of bacon with 2T preserved grease(I would NOT recommend using turkey bacon here)
-2 cup carrots choopped
-2 t. Minced Garlic
-1 t. Dried Minced onions or real
-4 c. Chicken Broth
-2 cans Great Northern Beans
-3 T tomato paste
-salt and papper to taste
-sprinkle rosemary
-sage (this was recommended by the original creator but I didn't have any)

Fry bacon. Drain all but 2 T grease. Add in carrots, minced garlic, and dried onions. Add tomato paste. Incorporate. Add broth, drained beans, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for about 30". MUST garnish with grated sharp cheddar cheese and saltines! YUM! This recipe yields about 5 servings.

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

I made this last week and it was really good and super easy.  I served it with a side of broccoli and it came together perfectly.
Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) 
Salt and pepper 
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup honey 
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water 
1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds
3 scallions, chopped
Cooked rice

Place chicken in crock pot and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.  In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or high for 2 hours.  Remove chicken to a cutting board, leaving sauce. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside.   In a small bowl, dissolve 4 teaspoons cornstarch in 1/3 cup water; add to crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Cover and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Serve over cooked rice. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dragon Noodles

I stumbled upon this blog and have been very impressed with the concoctions she comes up with. They may not be the healthiest but they are simple and cheap. She breaks down the cost per serving so it will help you feel better about cooking at home rather then eating out!  I made this asian dish tonight. It was sooo good and literally from start to finish took 15 minutes. The best part is  I only needed to go get one thing (the noodles) from the store.

*I doubled the recipe and have great left overs for tomorrow
* If you don't like spicy things or are cooking for kids I would half the siracha sauce. Mine and Beaus mouths were on fire by the end but that's the way we like it.
* I also added peanuts but it is good without just a fun twist.

Spicy Noodles 

Total Recipe cost: $2.04 
Servings Per Recipe: 2 
Cost per serving: $1.02 
Prep time: 5 min. Cook time: 10 min. Total: 15 min. 

4 oz.lo mein noodles$1.13
2 Tbspbutter$0.20
1/4 tspcrushed red pepper$0.02
1 largeegg$0.25
1 Tbspbrown sugar$0.02
1 Tbspsoy sauce$0.02
1 Tbspsriracha (rooster sauce)$0.08
1 handfulfresh cilantro$0.22
1 slicedgreen onion$0.06

STEP 1: Begin to boil water for the noodles. Once the water reaches a full boil, add the noodles and cook according to the package directions (boil for 5-7 minutes). 

STEP 2: While waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, soy sauce, and sriracha.

STEP 3: In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the red pepper to the butter as it melts. Whisk an egg in a bowl and then add to the melted butter. Stir gently and cook through. Once the egg is done cooking, turn off the heat.

STEP 4: When the noodles are tender, drain the water and then add them to the skillet with the cooked egg. Also add the prepared sauce. Turn the heat on to low to evaporate excess moisture, and stir until everything is coated well with the sauce. Sprinkle the sliced green and cilantro leaves (whole) on top and serve!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

I pinned this as soon as I saw it on Mel's Kitchen Cafe (my fave cooking blog) because it looked so yummy and healthy too! I'm not a big muffin person- I'd rather have a cupcake! But, these looked justifiable. So, this morning, I had some bananas that were getting brown so I whipped up a quick batch. And, they were SO good! And, I felt okay about eating them for breakfast because they were 100% whole wheat!

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

*Note: You can sub the equivalent amount of wheat germ for the oats, if you like. Also, I prefer white whole wheat to red whole wheat due to it’s lightness, but either kind of whole wheat flour can be used here.
*Makes 12 muffins
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cups quick or regular oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas, lightly mashed
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 teaspoons flour
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer), beat together the butter, yogurt and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. In a blender or food processor, process the oats until they are finely ground. Add the wheat flour, baking soda and salt and pulse one or two times until the dry ingredients are lightly combined. Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in the lightly mashed bananas. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Toss the blueberries with the 2 teaspoons flour and then gently fold them into the muffin batter. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (watch the muffins carefully since each oven may vary slightly in temperature affecting exact baking time). Let the muffins rest in the pan for about 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bell Green Smoothie

I've had a few requests for our family's "green" smoothie. We have been eating this EVERY SINGLE morning for months and months and months and I can honestly say it's expanded my children's palates and also given me more energy during the day. Even Eloise loves it! By the way, it's not always green-colored. It's often a brownish-purplish-greenish hue. Oh, and this isn't an exact science- the measurements are very estimated! So, here it is:

Bell Green Smoothie
serves 5

 2 c spinach leaves
3/4 c kale
1/2 to 3/4 c carrots
1 tomato
2 Tbl ground flaxseed
1/2 c water (or a little less)

Blend all ingredients on high until very blended. Then add:

1 1/2 bananas (not too ripe- it makes it very yucky)
1/2 peach
1 to 1 1/2 c frozen strawberries
1  to 1 1/2 c frozen tropical fruit OR frozen berries (we alternate every other day)

I usually pile all the frozen fruit on a plate and microwave it for about a minute and a half until only slightly thawed (this makes is easier/faster to drink b/c it's not as thick and cold). Add all the fruit to the veggie mixture and blend on high until well blended. Enjoy!!!

Chicken Taco Rice

This is such a yummy meal and a different turn on taco night. I don't have a pic, but you'll get the idea, I think. You can prepare this so many ways and eat it so many ways- it really is very versatile. For example, tonight I made it with black beans instead of corn but you could easily sub the black beans for chicken. I also only use regular brown rice and cook it almost all of the way and then add it in. So yummy.

Chicken Taco Rice
adapted from Blogging: It's what's for Dinner

1 lb. chicken (about 2 chicken breasts)
2 Tb. oil
1 can chicken broth
1- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 pkg. mild taco seasoning
1- 12 oz. can drained corn
1 med. red pepper sliced in strips
1 1/2 cup minute rice (or mostly cooked regular rice)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 bag tortilla chips
some sour cream
Some guacamole

Cut chicken in to bite size pieces and saute in oil in a big skillet (big enough to hold all of these ingredients). When chicken is done, add broth, tomato sauce, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, simmer for 5 minutes. Add drained corn and sliced pepper. Bring to a full boil. Stir in uncooked rice. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover again and let stand for just a little while. Serve with chips, sour cream and guacamole. This is even better hours after you make it so you can make it one night have it the next day or make it in the morning and have it that night.