Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Black Bean Salsa Chili

This is a nice change for your fall soup arsenal (surely I'm not the only one who has an "arsenal" of soups??). Another recipe that's great to make a batch and have all week for work. It makes six generous servings, so there's even enough to share a little!
I got this recipe from a nice couple at my gym--they were telling me about the goats they're raising for meat, which is probably not something I'll be doing anytime soon, but they also offered me this recipe! She copied it out of some sort of magazine, and it says "Enlightened Cook" at the top. The "enlightened" part comes in the nutrition facts--puree beans to add a little bulk and use lean turkey instead of beef.
I didn't follow the part where you combine the lime juice, cilantro, and sour cream to top it with because I was bringing it in lunches, but I did squeeze the lime in at the end and I'm sure that would be excellent all mixed together for a topper!

Black Bean Salsa Chili

30 oz canned black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2/3 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 slices of bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon)
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups mild salsa
3 tbsp tomato paste
14 oz fat free, less-sodium beef broth (I used chicken)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp fresh lime juice

Combine 1 1/2 cups beans, 2/3 cup water, and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Combine bean puree and remaining beans in a bowl.
Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray; add turkey; brown and crumble. Remove turkey from pan.
Add onion, bell peppers, and bacon to pan; cook five minutse or until bacon and onion are lighlty browned.
Return turkey to pan; add chili powder, oregano, cumin, and crushed red pepper to pan. Stir well to coat. Stir in bean mixture, salsa, tomato paste, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, cilantro, and lime juice. Serve chili topped with sour cream mixture.

Yield: 6 (1 cup) servings

Per Serving: Calories: 249; fat: 4.7 g; carbs: 39 g; protein: 17 g
(nutrition facts without sour cream)

**I froze half of this and got it out the next week for lunches, and it tasted just as great!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The true depiction of "dogpile"

Sis and I took a trip to Topeka last weekend. Well, us and the dogs, that is! We somehow decided that putting three big dogs in a car with us would be a good idea, and it turned out to be pretty hysterical at least! In most pictures, I can't even figure out the jumble of paws...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Basic Hard Candy

When the librarian at school asked my class to make 500 lollipops for Halloween, I somehow thought that sounded like a good idea. In reality, it has turned into cut fingers from handling sugar shards and spending every spare moment either making lollipops or packaging them. It's been a fun experience and the two kids in the advanced class have enjoyed making them, but I think we're all ready for it to be over!!
Thanks to Gram and Granddad (I think Gdad was the taste tester in this situation:) and their extensive research, we are plugging along on these. I remember that Gram used to make them when we were growing up, so I asked her for her recipe, and she went all out and even made a batch herself to check on yield and flavorings. Then, she even emailed me a picture of them!! So helpful!
The best part of this whole experience is that I discovered a cake shop that I have never been to. When I walked in and breathed in the scent, I knew I'd have to go back--it had everything a baker or candy maker could ever want or need!
We used the basic Lorann Oils recipe and have been flavoring them a bunch of different fun flavors and coloring them colors that have nothing to do with their flavors. Hey, they're high schoolers, they'll like whatever flavor they get!!
Thanks for your help, Gram!

Basic Hard Candy Recipe
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup clear corn syrup
3/4 cup water
oil flavorings (they suggest 1 tsp per batch)
colorings (takes us about 8 drops to get the right coloring)
Blend sugar, corn syrup, and water in a saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until the mixture reaches about 280. You need it to hit 290, and it will do that when you remove it from the heat since it's still so hot. If it doesn't, stick it back on the stove and be sure it hits 290. (we didn't let it hit 290 with one batch and our taste tester about lost a tooth because they were so sticky!!)
After the bubbles have subsided, flavor and color as desired. Work quickly and stir minimally, because as you stir, the mixture cools and gets sticky.
Pour into lollipop molds (those metal ones work the BEST!) and let cool (takes about 20 minutes). Package in airtight containers.
*oh, and whatever you do, don't put your face over the hot pot after you have already flavored it--you will clear your sinuses plus breathe in cherry all day long!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken

This is a perfect weeknight meal because it can be made in your slow cooker and dinner is ready when you walk in the door!! Norris said it was "freakin awesome", so it will definitely be a repeat in our house! I assembled it the night before and had Norris turn it on at about 7:30 the next morning. We were home around 4:30 and put it on warm until we were ready to eat--it could definitely go the extra hour until you get home from work and not be burnt, though. Jenna's recipe calls for it to be on high for an hour, then turned down to low, but I just cooked it on low the whole time because who has time to run home and change their crockpot setting?? If you have a fancy schmany crockpot, maybe you can get it to do that for you!
The only thing I changed was to majorly reduce the brown sugar, which made the spice flavor more pronounced, but we really liked it that way. I doubled the recipe, so I should have used 1/2 cup of brown sugar, but actually only used about 2 Tbsp. You decide how spicy or sweet you like it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Black Bean Fiesta Salad

This is a perfect salad to make at the beginning of the week and take to work each day for lunch. (although if you're doing that, I would recommend sprinkling cheese on top as you are ready to eat it) Add a piece of fruit and you have a great meal that will keep you full all afternoon! It was so pretty and colorful, but I forgot to take a picture before I brought the whole container to work. You'll have to use your imagination on this one!

Black Bean Fiesta Salad
Yield: 8 servings

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

25 oz black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 celery stalks, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 red onion, finely chopped (omitted)

3/4 cup cubed reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (used ~1/2 cup shredded)

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, and pepper. Add everything else but the cheese and toss to coat. Stir in cheese.

Nutrition: 170 calories, 6.4 g fat, 22 g carbs, 8.5 g protein

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chicken in Walnut Sauce

This dish was different, but a great kind of different! I was apprehensive about putting cinnamon and red pepper together into my sauce, but I really enjoyed it. You could go a little light-handed on the cinnamon if you're not sure about it yourself, but I would encourage you to go ahead and try the full amount.
When I went back and re-read Stephanie's thoughts on this, I agreed with everything she said--you probably already have the ingredients on hand and it was a good kind of different! She used half the chicken of the original recipe but the full amount of sauce. I did that and wound up with about half of my sauce leftover, and we used plenty on our chicken. Definitely up to you and how saucy you like your dinner :) Besides using three chicken breasts, I followed the recipe to the letter, so I'll just link you!

Yield: 3 servings (when made with 3 chicken breasts)

350 calories per serving
40 grams protein per serving (!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soft Garlic Knots

These are the perfect accompaniment to a nice warm soup. I was so excited while I was making them because I've seen them so many places lately and have wanted to try them. I don't tackle yeast breads on weekdays, but weekends are perfect for them! These were fun to make, partly because I love working with yeast, and partly because I liked the process of shaping them. They were so easy and had little hands-on time, so you should try them soon!
Shaping the knots

no more cooking in daylight!!

the final product
mmm..can you tell how soft and pillowy they are???

I wound up using the version that I saw on Annie's Eats--I'll just link you to her so you can see her step-by-step instructions of how to shape the knots. Much easier than I thought it would be for sure. Be sure to use bread flour! If I were you, I'd use just a touch more garlic, too:)
I froze half of the recipe after shaping the knots. I put them on a waxed-paper lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer for about 45 minutes. After they were frozen solid, I put them in a freezer bag. To bake, I will put them out on a lined baking sheet and allow to thaw and rise in a warm place, then bake as directed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Loaded Potato Soup

After we had this for dinner, Norris suggested that I make it for Christmas Eve. Wow! If a soup is good enough to be "Christmas Eve" soup, it must be good:)

There are some foods that I try a different recipe for almost every time, even if I like the one I tried last. It's like I need to be sure that I have exhausted all of my options before settling on a favorite. (on a side note, how do the people on those house shows sometimes buy the very first house they see?? I would be so anxious not knowing my options!!) In the case of this soup, I think I am done experimenting with potato soup recipes!

To sweeten the deal, this is a Cooking Light recipe, so you don't have to worry about trying to lighten it up, but it has all the flavor of a full fat recipe.
Loaded Potato Soup
Yield: 4 (1 1/4 cup) servings
4 (6-oz) red potatoes
2 tsp olive oil (I skipped because I didn't use the onion)
1/2 cup onion, chopped (didn't use)
1 1/4 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp all purpose flour (I wound up using about 4 since I used skim milk)
2 cups 1 % milk, divided (used skim)
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 turkey bacon slices
shredded cheddar cheese and thinly sliced green onions for topping
Pierce potatoes with fork and cook in microwave on high for about 9 minutes, or until tender. Cut in half and allow to cool a bit.
While potatoes cook, heat oil in saucepan and saute onion for about three minutes. (skipped this step, went straight to the broth). Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk and add to pan along with the rest of the milk. Bring to a boil very slowly (so your milk doesn't curdle; I did this by starting on low heat and cranking it up a couple notches every few minutes, stirring frequently). Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.
While milk mixture is coming to a boil, place turkey bacon on paper-towel-lined microwaveable plate. Microwave on high for four minutes. Crumble bacon.
While bacon cooks, peel and dice potatoes. After removing the soup from the heat, stir in potatoes (CL recommends mashing them in, but we prefer chunks over mashed potato soup) and bacon.
Top with cheese and green onion.
**This reheats beautifully! Doesn't separate or anything--perfect for lunches!

as seen on Prevention RD

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fish Tacos: FAIL!!

The other night, Norris and I planned to go out to dinner, but couldn't decide where to go, even after getting in the car. We wanted Mexican, but we have very different ideas of what good Mexican food is--I like the non-chain type restaurants, while he prefers On the Border. We agreed on Jose Pepper's because I do love their chicken and avocado enchilada and their Corona Shrimp Tacos are really good, too! I decided I needed to do something similar at home, so I decided to try some fish tacos at home.


If you have a good fish taco recipe, please share! These tasted like they had too much cumin in them or something. I had one bite, passed it to Norris, and ate a salad instead. Not good!! I even know I like fish tacos because I've had them before! Anyway, I'd be willing to try them again (although not for a couple weeks after the bad taste of those), so if you have something you'd be willing to share, please do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

This was another of Norris' requests--something he grew up eating and wanted me to make. I kind of knew before I made it that I wouldn't be eating it, but gave it a go anyway. Remember, I'm all about the textures, and the texture of the clams just don't agree with me. I did try it though, and the flavor was very good! Norris really liked it and wants it again, which is always a good sign. He said his mom would blend the clams with the sauce, so maybe I'll try that next time to alter the texture. This recipe is from Epicurean. It's a quick and inexpensive weeknight dinner!

(I didn't make a single change to the recipe since I'd never had it before, so the link gets you to the original!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Yep, another pumpkin recipe! This used my last can, so I'm hoping to find more in the store.
This recipe is definitely a keeper--it has the great pumpkin flavor and a really nice texture, but we keep this on the healthier side with whole wheat flour and honey. I cut the loaf into 14 slices and it runs about 170 calories per slice (not including any toppings, of course!). If you've worked with whole wheat flour before, you know it can get a little dense, but this had the perfect texture. Give it a try when you get your hands on a can of pumpkin!!
Also, it freezes well and tastes just the same when it comes out of the freezer. I will most definitely be making this again!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
(she used almonds and dark chocolate chips instead of raisins)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter, honey and sugar together for two minutes. Add in the eggs and combine. Add in pumpkin and vanilla and beat just until combined. Beat in the flour mixture 1/3 at a time. Be careful to not overmix.
Dissolve baking soda in 1/4 cup hot water, then beat into batter.
Stir in raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips.
Pour (well, scoop, since it's not very pourable) into prepared loaf pan and bake about 60 minutes. Test for doneness, cool on wire rack, then consume!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The dogs.

I know, another dog picture post. These made me laugh, so hopefully they'll make you smile today, too :)
Norris decided to try to take a picture of him with both the dogs. The first picture is what most of them turned out like...

The most normal one with them...
My attempt. Amazingly, Bear is now the camera looker and Bruno could care less!

I wanted to take another picture to compare with this one. Bear has gained a few lbs...clocking in at 82 lbs right now. Giant, I tell you! You should see his paw prints in the wet ground. I am forever reciting the poem "Something Big Has Been Here"..
And the pick-up. Bear still doesn't really care, but it's getting harder to do!
I think Bruno was jealous, because later he hopped up on Norris' lap. They are clearly lap dogs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin is back! Pumpkin is back! I love all things pumpkin--drinks, desserts, even savory items. I made a baked pumpkin oatmeal this week and these pumpkin rolls after finally seeing the reappearance of pumpkin at my grocery store. For a real pumpkin lover, they weren't strong in pumpkin flavor, but they were both still great!
I did notice when I logged on to write this up that I have been posting a lot of not-so-healthy items lately! Don't worry, there have been lots of veggies thrown in between, but I don't think anybody wants to see my mixed greens and chopped peppers... but I will admit that the first bite I put in my mouth this morning was a Frito left over from last night's get together, and the second bite was a sample of this caramel icing. I sampled ONE roll and promptly left for a sweaty treadmill session....only make these if you have a place to take them!!
I thought I dreamed up this recipe..I was sitting there one night and said to Norris..Oh my gosh, how good would pumpkin cinnamon rolls be??? I was thinking of my flavor combinations for about 24 hours when I decided I should check out Google, and of course, there were already a thousand recipes for them. So, why reinvent the wheel? I decided to try the one from that had great reviews. It gives approximated amounts, so I'll give you the amount I used. I feel that the pumpkin in the dough just made it even softer, which was awesome. I could not decide on my icing flavor and bounced ideas off a couple of friends. I decided to make both cream cheese icing and a caramel icing (for comparison's sake, of course!!). I liked them both! "Dilemma" unsolved!
Next step is finding a pumpkin cinnamon roll that has an even stronger pumpkin flavor! If you have a suggestion, please shoot it my way!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp softened butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
a couple of dashes of salt
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
In small saucepan, heat milk and 2 tbsp butter until warm and butter is almost melted; remove from heat. In large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and milk mixture. Beat until well combined. Add egg and yeast and mix until combined.
In separate bowl, combine flours. Add half of flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Beat on low speed for five minutes (instead of kneading..yippeee!!), scraping sides frequently. Add remaining flour mix and mix thouroughly for a very soft dough.
Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place dough into it. Turn dough to coat both sides with spray.
Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour) OR put in fridge overnight.
Punch down down and turn onto floured surface. Knead a few times for a soft dough, using additional flour as needed. Roll dough into 12x10 rectangle.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Brush surface of dough with melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mix. Sprinkle raisins on top.
Roll dough and seal seam with a little water on your fingers. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and place in greased 9x13 pan with a little space in between. Cover and let rise until doubled OR put in fridge overnight.
Bake rolls at 350 for about 22 minutes.
While rolls bake, make icing: In small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk and cook over medium low heat for one minute. Transfer to mixing bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, stir in vanilla, salt, and confectioner's sugar. Beat until well blended.
Cool rolls for about 10 minutes, then drizzle with caramel icing.
Oh, and have you made these yet?? I made them again with raspberry and strawberry and a thinned cream cheese icing and they're just as great! I should have planned and had enough powdered sugar to make the lemon glaze, but this was pretty great too!!