Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quinoa Chili

  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • 3-4 medium carrots
  • 2 zuchinni
  • bunch of kale
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • chili powder to taste (I used 1-2 TBS)
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 TBS dried jalapeno (or use fresh)
  • large can of diced tomatoes
  • can of chili beans
  • 1/3 cup of quinoa 
  • 1 can organic chicken broth
Begin by dicing up all the veggies into medium size chunks and sauteing in olive oil until soft. 
Add the seasonings and stir until the veggies are coated.  Add the can of tomatoes with the liquid, and the chili beans with the liquid.  Stir in the quinoa.  Keep at a low boil until the quinoa begins to swell.  Add chicken broth as needed to cook the quinoa.  Continue adding broth as needed to achieve the thickness that you like.  Simmer on low.  I like to cover and simmer mine all afternoon!  You can add or omit any vegetables that you have on hand.  This is a tasty, healthy, and inexpensive meal!  I like to serve mine topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chicken and Veggie Noodle Soup

Chicken and Veggie Noodle Soup

This soup may honestly be my favorite thing that I cook.  It’s simple, tasty, healthy, and makes the whole house smell good!  The best thing about this soup is that you can add or omit any veggies depending on what you like and what you have on hand.  I like to make a pot of this soup on Monday, and enjoy it for lunch for the rest of the week.  It’s so delicious and full of healthy vegetables!  Bailey loves it- happily and proudly eating turnips and kale.  Audrey, at 7 months old, will spend an hour chasing the yummy, soft vegetables and noodles around her high chair tray.  Another plus is that this soup freezes really well- just make sure you set aside a portion to freeze before adding the noodles.  Noodles turn to mush when frozen.
I always start by cutting up all of the vegetables and putting them into my heavy enameled cast iron pot.  My favorite combo includes:

  • ·         4-5 stalks of celery
  • ·         4-5 carrots
  • ·         1 large onion
  • ·         1-2 large turnips (I like to cut this into large chunks, otherwise it tends to disappear in the soup)
  • ·         2 parsnips
  • ·         Container of grape tomatoes (halved)
  • ·         4-5 stalks of kale

The secret of this soup is to start by sauteéing the vegetables in about 2 TBS of REAL butter, and covering generously in Penzey’s Bicentennial Rub.  I also add Penzey’s Black and Red, Bouquet Garni, minced garlic, and salt.  I also add in a dash of dried sage and rosemary.  

When the vegetables are softening, I add a can of white meat chicken with the juice.  A few minutes later, I add a large box of Swanson Organic chicken broth.  Then, I simmer it for a few hours.  Shortly before serving the soup, I prepare the noodles by cooking them in a separate pot, draining, and then adding the cooked noodles to the soup. .  I’ve discovered that if I put the uncooked noodles directly into the soup, they suck up all the broth.  I use a variety of noodles, depending on what I have on hand.  My favorite, though, are the wide, homemade-style, egg noodles.  Sometimes, I do add more broth, or water and organic chicken “better than bouillon.”   Often, I add more broth the following day as the noodles continue to absorb the broth as the soup sits.

Chicken Fajita Chili

Chicken Fajita Chili
Make this a meal by serving with a side of cheese and avocado quesadillas.
Ingredients (proportions are estimates only, as I never measure):

  • ·         2 chicken breasts
  • ·         1 TBS butter
  • ·         1 large onion
  • ·         12 mini sweet peppers, or 1-2 whole red, yellow, or orange peppers
  • ·         Optional (carrot, celery, zucchini, kale)
  • ·         2 TBS taco seasoning
  • ·         1 TBS chili powder
  • ·         2 TBS minced, dried garlic
  • ·         1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • ·         1 can of chili beans

Cut  chicken breasts into chunks and sauté with a TBS or so of butter. 
When the chicken begins to  brown, add large “fajita style” strips of onions and peppers.  I used one whole onion and about 12 mini sweet peppers quartered.  Optional additions could also include- diced carrot, celery, zucchini, kale, or other seasonal veggie.
When the chicken is fully cooked, season with chili powder, Penzey’s dried, minced garlic, and taco seasoning (I used about 2 TBS of Penzey’s Bold Taco).
Add one large can of diced tomatoes and one regular sized can of chili beans in sauce.  I would’ve also added a can of black  beans if it were just for me, but my family gripes when it’s too “beany.”
Simmer on low for at least an hour.  I like my soups simmered for a whole day whenever I am able!
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and tortilla strips.  Fresh cilantro would be tasty too if you like cilantro—unlike me.

Chicken and Forbidden Rice Soup

Chicken and Rice Soup- all measurements are rough guesses, as I don’t technically measure

Sauté these ingredients in about 2 TBS of butter.  Dice the celery, carrots, onions, and kale in very small pieces.

  • ·         3 stalks of celery
  • ·         3 medium size carrots
  • ·         5 green onions
  • ·         4-5 large red kale leaves
  • ·         Pinch of fresh rosemary, oregano, and thyme
  • ·         1 TBS sea salt
  • ·         ½ TBS black pepper
  • ·         ½ TBS Penzey’s Black and Red
  • ·         1 TBS dried minced garlic (could use fresh)
  • ·         1 TBS dried minced onions

When the veggies and spices are nicely sautéed, add:
  • ·         1 can of white meat chicken
  • ·         1 64 oz container of organic chicken broth
Boil for around 5 minutes

Add rice (I’m sure any other types of rice would work, but this is what I used)
  • ·          ½ cup of “Forbidden Rice,” which I get in bulk at the health food grocer.  It’s a blackish/purple colored rice with lots of antioxidants and a flavor and texture similar to wild rice. 
  • ·         ¼ cup of Uncle Ben’s converted rice (a hybrid of white and brown rice- very tasty!) I get it at Target.
Once the rice was added, I covered the pot and kept it at a slow boil for about 30-45 minutes until the rice was cooked.  I added some water and a scoop of chicken “Better than Bullion” condensed stock when the rice soaked up too much of the broth.  You could also add more canned broth if needed, or plain water and extra salt and seasoning.  It turned out to have a slight purplish color from the forbidden rice, which was a little odd looking, but it was unbelievably yummy!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My little bunnies

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out because my children refuse to eat most cooked vegetables.  Bailey will eat cooked corn, peas, and broccoli.  Bryce will literally gag on any and all cooked veggies.  I make him try, and then instantly regret it as he dry heaves on one bite of mushy zuchinni.  Can we say texture issues?

On the flip side, they do seem to be liking their veggies cold, crunchy, and served as an appetizer!  The two biggest hits are peppers and carrots.  I've discovered that they love raw, unpeeled carrots.  This particular night they ate 4 whole carrots each.  It's the small victories.  Odd little bunnies...

Crock Pot Stew

Delicious, simple, cooked-ahead-of-time recipe number 2!

Crock Pot Stew

The awesome part of this recipe was that it took me about 10 minutes to prepare on Saturday night, and it was ready to eat on Monday night with the flip of a switch!  Perfect for the working mom!

I began with frozen venison round steak.  You could also use a beef roast or beef stew meat instead.  However, I love venison in the crock pot because, rather than getting tough with overcooking as can happen with beef, venison just gets more tender and starts to fall apart.  Venison can be a tasty, healthy, and very natural meat if it is butchered and cooked correctly.  Anyhow....

I sprayed my crock pot with cooking spray and put the frozen meat at the bottom.  I then washed and sliced about at dozen small potatoes (from the bucket), no peeling required!  In addition I added (all from the bucket), sliced celery, onions, purple carrots, tomato chunks, and fresh sage.  I sprinkled in some Penzey's dehydrated garlic, salt, and ground black pepper.  I put the cover on, and put the crock pot into the fridge until Monday morning.  On Monday morning at 7:00, right before leaving for work, I turned the crock pot on low.

I got home around 5:00 to a delicious smelling house and dinner, ready to go.  I whipped up a jiffy mix of cornbread mini-muffins (which I topped with a dollop of real maple syrup before baking- yum!) and dinner was on the table before 6:00.  Super simple, easy, and full of veggies!

Garlic Tomato-Cream Spaghetti

I finally had a chance this weekend to tinker in the kitchen.  September is an INSANE month for me as a teacher, so with 50+ hours a week at school, cooking has been "on the back burner" so to speak.  There's a whole new challenge to getting home at quarter to five each night with two hungry, cranky kids.  Not a lot of time for experimentation or fussy recipes.

I had the bright idea to do some cooking ahead of time this weekend, and successfully created 2 newly tweaked classics.

Garlic Tomato-Cream Spaghetti

Vampires beware...

I started by putting 3 garlic cloves in the magic bullet and pureeing it into a paste.

Then, I began my traditional cream sauce- equal parts Earth Balance and Wondra Flour.  I added the pureed garlic into the flour/butter paste.  I then added roughly a cup of organic half and half and stirred until thick.

In the magic bullet, I added a variety of tomatoes.  I had so many tomatoes from my own plant as well as from the bucket these past two weeks.  I tossed all kinds-from grape, to roma, to cherry- into the magic bullet and pureed into liquid.  I don't know how many tomatoes I used, but I filled the large cup on the magic bullet twice.  I also added a few fresh basil leaves in with the tomatoes.

I stirred the liquified tomatoes into the thick cream sauce, brought it to a boil, and turned off the burner.

Here is the magic part------I did this on Saturday night.  I tasted it that night and it was so-so.  I left it to "brew" in the cast iron pan in the fridge until Tuesday at dinner time.  I simply warmed it up and served it over whole-wheat thin spaghetti noodles.  48 hours of fridge time changed it from so-so to so delicious!

In addition, I broiled up some chicken breasts with garlic salt and Penzey's Bicentennial Rub.  I scored the chicken at the co-op today.  It was fresh from a local farm and packaged just yesterday.  Fresh and delicious.  Once you go organic chicken, you can't go back.  It's a whole new level of chicken- juicy, tender, and so flavorful.  Add a side of steamed spinach and it was a perfect meal in about 25 minutes!

Bryce even ate the spaghetti, and he usually claims to like his pasta plain.  He complained for a minute, then cleaned his plate.  He gets a hefty serving of tomatoes, and I avoid another night of begging for "garlic noodles."  Win.