Thursday, February 4, 2016

Creamy Chicken Chili

A few weeks ago my friend Sarah posted a recipe for Creamy Chicken Chili and I immediately knew I had to make it. I have a Chicken Chili recipe that I make and really enjoy - it is full of different kinds of peppers, tomatillos and beans - but something about turning that into a creamy dish sounded so, so good.

I read through the recipe and decided to rewrite it a bit. While I have used canned chilies, I prefer fresh. I also decided to roast half of the chilies for a deeper flavor.

Instead of chunks of chicken, I decided to go with shredded. Additionally, I mashed half of the beans to add to the creamy texture which let me cut back on the amount of cream and sour cream I used. I adjusted the spices to our liking, as well.

This chili is completely different from my chicken chili, and it's not just the cream. This one was smokier and had deeper flavors and textures. While I still really love my original recipe, I loved a lot about this one too and honestly don't know which I prefer! So I'll just say that I'm really happy that I now have 2 great chicken chili recipes to choose from, and I have a feeling I'm going to have to flip a coin to choose between the two the next time I want chicken chili!

Creamy Chicken Chili
Adapted from: A Taste of Home Cooking
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Poblano pepper, cut in half (seeds removed if you don't want it to be too spicy). Half chopped, the other half kept in one piece for roasting.
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, cut in half (again, seeds removed if you don't want it to be too spicy). Half chopped, the other half kept in one piece for roasting.
  • 1 can Great Northern or Canellini beans (the original recipe calls for 2 cans - this is your preference)
  • 14.5 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 c light cream
  • 1/2 c light sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Grated Monterrey Jack cheese for serving
  • Optional for serving: tortilla chips, rice, quinoa
  • Place the half Poblano and half jalapeno over an open flame (I do this on the grate of my gas stove; in the warm weather I would use my grill). Keep on the flame until the skin is completely charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl and peel off the skin. Chop and set aside.
  • Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cayenne.
  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook 2-3 minutes per side, letting it get nicely browned.
  • Add the onions and garlic; saute 2 minutes.
  • Add all of the chopped peppers (roasted and raw); stir.
  • Move everything to the outside edges of your pot and add half of the beans. Using a handheld potato masher or back of a large fork, roughly mash the beans. 
  • Add the rest of the beans and the broth; bring to a simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. 
  • Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it with 2 forks or in your stand mixer. Return the chicken to the pot and stir. 
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and sour cream. 
  • Return the pot to the stove over low heat and adjust salt if needed. Stir in about 2 Tbsp of the chopped cilantro. 
  • Serve topped with cheese and cilantro over rice or quinoa, or with tortilla chips.
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Easy Beef Enchiladas

My go-to enchilada recipe gets rave reviews. I have been making it for years (wow - I posted the recipe in 2007, my first year of blogging) and still haven't tired of it. But every time I make it I think about all that cream cheese and cheese... there has to be a healthier way.

That's when I found this Skinny Mom recipe for easy beef enchiladas. Unlike my enchilada filling, this one is straight forward - beef, peppers, onions, and no cheese. There is enough cheese on the outside that you don't miss it.

You can use canned enchilada sauce or try this easy homemade enchilada sauce. To bulk it up, add some more veggies, like chopped broccoli, spinach, or corn. Serve them with these easy homemade refried beans or some sauteed corn and peppers.

Easy Beef Enchiladas
Adapted from: Skinny Mom


  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp each chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 green onion, diced (instead of canned green chiles
  • 2 Tbsp of your favorite salsa
  • 1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce (or homemade sauce)
  • 3/4 c Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 8 flour tortillas (cut off the ends so they aren't rounded at either end, but straight to fit nicely into the dish)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat
  • Add the beef and cook, chopping into smaller pieces with a spatula, until almost browned
  • Add the onions, pepper, and spices. Saute until cooked through
  • Mix 2 Tbsp of salsa and 2 Tbsp of the cheese into the beef mixture
  • Put a small layer of enchilada sauce in your baking dish
  • Spoon the meat mixture (one large scoop each) onto the center of a tortilla; roll and place seam side down in the baking dish
  • Repeat with remaining tortillas
  • Coat the tortillas with the enchilada sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese
  • Bake until hot and bubbly, approximately 20 minutes
  • Sprinkle with the green onions and serve

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

On the Menu - Week of 1/30/16

When I was meal planning this week, I tried to focus on making dual use of ingredients. One dish I had in mind called for some cilantro, so I found another dish to make that also uses cilantro so it doesn't go to waste.

Not only do I try to plan based on ingredients, I also like repurposing leftovers. My husband isn't a big fan of straight leftovers unless it is chili, meatloaf, or stew. So I'm always trying to get creative with mhy leftovers. Some examples -
 - Roasted or grilled pork tenderloin can become these Chinese Pork and Mushroom Wraps
 - Any type of risotto can become Arancini, risotto balls
 - Make extra rice one night and use it for Fried Rice another night
 - Leftover mashed potatoes can be used to make Potato Pancakes or Shepherd's Pie
 - Leftover cooked chicken can be used in a variety of soups or casseroles
 - And of course, meatballs make great Meatball Subs!

So when you are planning, think about how you can cook extra of a side to make it into something else later in the week, or how you can repurpose your main dish into something else. I hope this tip will help you with your meal planning!

Now here is our menu for the week -

Saturday: Meatloaf, Scalloped Potatoes and roasted broccoli

Sunday: Leftovers!

Monday: Creamy Chicken Chili - a new dish I'm trying based on a friend's recomendation

Tuesday: Leftovers. I may make some taquitos or enchiladas out of the leftovers depending on how the dish turns out

Wednesday: Breaded Pork Chops, buttered noodles and a veg

Thursday: Chicken Parm, spaghetti, and salads

Friday: Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers - I have been carrying these over for a while and hope I can finally make them this week.

Soup for the week - something with Quinoa and cilantro, using up ingredients from the Creamy Chicken Chili

Happy Cooking!

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Escarole & White Bean Soup

When I was buying the escarole for this soup recipe I realized that I had never cooked with it before. It's not a green I would think of to just saute with dinner, and I have mostly seen it used in soups and salad mixes. I knew what sort of flavor to expect, so I was looking forward to using it in this hearty but healthy soup.

I found the recipe on the Eating Well site. I read the recipe and immediately changed some things, including the amount of broth. They called for two 14-oz cans of broth, but I knew there was no way a full head of escarole and 2 cans of beans mixed with 28 oz of broth would end up a soup. I wanted something brothy (and you can see from the picture it is still a veggie packed soup) so I doubled the amount of liquid and changed the amounts of the veggies.

I really, really liked this soup as it was very filling and satisfying. The garlic added a great kick and the escarole really held up, adding nice texture. This is a perfect vegetarian soup, but if you want to turn it into a meaty meal, saute some hot Italian sausage and add it to your bowl. I prefer cooking the sausage separately, anyway, instead of in the soup so the soup doesn't get too greasy.

Escarole & White Bean Soup
Adapted From: Eating Well


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 sm carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 48 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 can small white beans
  • 1 head of escarole, washed well and chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: shredded Parmesan cheese for serving
  • Optional: cooked, crumbled hot Italian sausage, for serving


  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat
  • Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and tomatoes; saute 4 minutes
  • Add the Italian seasoning and broth; bring to a simmer and let cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the beans and escarole, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until the escarole is just tender, about 5 minutes. 
  • Optional: serve with cheese and/or sausage

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Monday, January 25, 2016

On the Menu

I started a new type of post last week - On the Menu.  I shared my menu for the week and a tip for meal planning - be flexible. I had to take my own advice last week. After shopping for a week of fresh meat and ingredients, my daughter got sick and it all went out the window. 

I immediately froze the chicken and short ribs, used the fresh veggies and herbs for different dishes later in the week, and ended up making my weekend meals at the end of the week. You always have to be ready to adjust because, well, that's life!

This week I have some carry over meals from last week, as well as a few new things. Here's what's cooking this week - 

Sat/Sun during the blizzard: Guinness Beef Stew and No-Knead Crusty Bread
Monday: French Onion Braised Chicken and sauteed baby greens
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie Pasta
Wednesday: Guinness Pulled Pork and Cole Slaw
Thursday: Leftovers made into nachos
Friday: Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
Soup for the Week - a new recipe, Italian Orzo and Spinach with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Have a great week!! 
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Snowed-in? Let's Cook!

Finally, a full month into winter, we are expecting our first big snowstorm of the season. And from the looks of it, this could be a BIG one! 

The very first thing I think of when a big snowstorm is coming is what will I cook? We will be snowed in for a day or two, and with lots sledding, snowball fights and snowman making expected, we will be hungry! Here are some of my favorite things to make while looking out my kitchen window at a beautiful winter wonderland. Most of these meals also make great leftovers and are even better on day 2. 

Hands down, my favorite cold weather dish is this Guinness Beef Stew. It has a slight kick from the cayenne, and deep, rich flavor from the Guinness. 

This no-knead crusty bread pairs perfectly with the stew. Even better, it's such an easy recipe that even a non-baker like me can't mess it up. 

Sticking with the Guinness theme, this Guinness Pulled Pork is my favorite way to prepare pulled pork. Put it on a sandwich with some homemade cole slaw, BBQ sauce, and pickles. 

Chicken and dumplings. My mouth waters just thinking about this dish! 

I love lasagna (who doesn't?). Instead of a traditional recipe, try this Sausage, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch is a must. I love the heat from this Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. 

Instead of grilled cheese with your tomato soup, try these bite sized Baked Ham and Cheese Pinwheels. 

I personally love a good chowder for a hearty lunch. Bacon makes everything better, and it is just perfect in this Potato and Corn Chowder with Bacon

We can't forget about a hearty breakfast before going out to shovel and snowblow. I love a good fritatta, like this Asparagus Ham Frittata or a Broccoli-Red Pepper-Potato Frittata.  

These Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Pancakes are made with flaxseed and will definitely fill your belly (without the guilt!). 

Happy Cooking! 

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chicken Kiev

My husband requested Chicken Kiev for dinner a few weeks ago and I honestly had no idea what it was. Before I looked it up, I pictured Chicken Kiev being one of those old fashioned chicken dishes you would find on an early-bird diner menu. However, after googling I was really excited to try it - crispy rolled chicken stuffed with a savory butter? Ok!

I went in search of the best recipe. My friend at The Way the Cookie Crumbles recommended the Cook's Illustrated recipe. I liked a lot about the recipe, didn't like some (like making my own bread crumbs and using tarragon in the butter), so I wanted to read a few more before deciding. That's when I found Alton Brown's recipe. It was a touch simpler and called for frying the chicken, whereas the CI recipe baked the chicken for 45 minutes. I decided to take what I liked from each recipe, added a few things of my own, and used a combination of frying and baking for a total of 15 minutes cooking time.

Although there are several steps, this dinner can easily become a weeknight meal if you prep everything ahead of time. I made the butter the day before we planned on having this chicken for dinner - here is what it looked like after being in the fridge overnight:

I also trimmed my chicken and got it pounded out. An hour before dinner I stuffed and rolled the chicken and put them in the fridge, so all that I had left to do was bread and cook the chicken. You could easily roll the chicken the night before and just store it in the fridge until you are ready to start cooking.

We liked this so much that we made it twice in a month. I'm glad we decided to fry the chicken - it got so crispy and sped up the baking time. And the butter - oh that butter kept this chicken so moist and tender. You could really season the butter any way you like - I see a lot of options for changing up the flavors with this one.

Chicken Kiev
Adapted from both Cook's Illustrated and Alton Brown (see links above)


  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour for dredging (approx. 1/2 c)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c breadcrumbs seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
  • Light olive oil for frying
  • You will need one pan for frying. For baking you will need a cookie sheet with a cooling rack resting on it. 
  • Make the butter: Mix the butter, parsley, garlic, shallot, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Once mixed, place on a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a log. Roll the wrap around the butter and plan in the fridge overnight. 
  • Prep the chicken: trim your chicken (if needed) and pound it out as thin as possible without ripping (approximately 1/4 inch). 
  • When you are ready to roll the chicken, cut the butter into 4 equal sections. Lay one piece of chicken on a cutting board lined with plastic wrap and season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Place one section of the butter just below center of the chicken. Fold the side edges of the chicken in over the butter, fold the end over, and then roll the chicken to completely enclose the butter (use the plastic wrap to help you roll it tightly). Seal with a toothpick if needed. Repeat with remaining chicken. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. 
  • Once you are ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. 
  • Put out three dishes for breading. Place the flour in one, the eggs, beaten, in the second, and the breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper in the third.
  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan. You want just enough to coat the pan generously, but not too much that you are deep frying sections of the chicken.
  • Roll each chicken breast in the flour, shaking off any excess. Coat in egg, and then roll in the breadcrumbs. 
  • Once the oil is hot (about 350 degrees), place the chicken in the pan. Cook chicken on each side until brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. 
  • Once browned, place the chicken on the cooling rack and put in the oven to finish cooking, about 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. 
  • Let rest 5 minutes before serving. 

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Friday, January 15, 2016

On the Menu

I'm going to start a new series of posts this year - On the Menu. I'll share with you my meal plans for the week, along with a few tips on meal planning with each post.

I start my meal plan by writing out the days of the week and making notes about our schedule. If my husband has a dinner meeting one night I know I only need to plan a meal for 2 or eat leftovers. When my daughter has her weekly dance class on Wednesday night I know that we will have leftovers or my husband will cook if he is home. I like being able to look at my week and pick which days I'll make big meals that will give us leftovers for those busy nights when dinner may have to happen later.

This week I was able to plan for a full week with everyone being home. I know that may change, so the plan has to be flexible. But for now here is what I have - 

I hope you all have a great weekend! If you have a meal plan for the week or even the next few days, please feel free to share it! 

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Salisbury Steak Meatballs with a Mushroom Gravy

Trying to save some time on busy weeknights? This recipe can be prepped in advance and doesn't require much active/standing at the stove cooking time.

I was really craving Salisbury steaks last week - it's something about that mushroom gravy! But the thought of standing at my stove frying the steaks, all of that splattering grease on a clean stove, and then the smell your house gets after frying beef was enough to make me rethink that plan. Then I had an idea - why couldn't I just turn the steaks into meatballs? I could bake the meatballs and then just simmer them in the gravy.

It worked perfectly. I was even able to prep a quick pot of soup for lunches for the week while my meatballs were baking. 

Salisbury Steak Meatballs with a Mushroom Gravy
Author: Mary Ellen Smith

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 sm onion, minced
  • Approximately 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup 
  • 1 egg
  • Approximately 1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • A few pinches each of salt and pepper
For the gravy:
  • 1/2 sm onion, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mushrooms stemmed and sliced; I used baby bellas. White mushrooms would work too. 
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 14.5 oz can of beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray; heat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • In a large bowl, mix the beef, onions, Worcestershire, ketchup, egg, salt and pepper. 
  • Slowly add the breadcrumbs, using more or less as needed until you have a moist mixture that comes together when you form a ball.
  • Form meat into small meatballs; I was able to make 20 meatballs with 1 lb of beef.
  • Place meatballs on the cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning once. 
  • In the meantime, make the gravy - heat butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat (I used a non-stick pan). 
  • Add onions and mushrooms; saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir for 1 minute
  • Add the broth and Worcestershire - stir to mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer. 
  • Once the meatballs are done, add them to the gravy. Allow to simmer, partly covered, until you are ready to eat (simmer at least 10-15 minutes). 

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chicken with Broccoli and Bok Choy

Stir fry is the ultimate quick and easy weeknight meal. The prep is easy, it cooks quickly, and you can change up the ingredients based on what you are craving or what you have on hand. 

This stir fry uses chicken, broccoli, and bok choy and the sauce is a mixture of sweet and spicy. Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables to use in a stir fry. You get crunchy and leafy in one veg, and the flavor is just slightly bitter. The steps to a stir fry are simple - marinate meat, cook, add veggies, add sauce, simmer, serve. This recipe would also work well with shrimp, beef, or even tofu. 

Chicken with Broccoli and Bok Choy

  • 3 chicken breasts (approximately 1.25lbs) cut into chunks
  • Marinade: 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 sm onion, sliced
  • 1 sm head of broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 bunch of bok choy, chopped (cut off the very bottom part and a few inches of the top greens, leaving you mostly white stem and white stem with leafy greens)
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp Hoisin sauce (or more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1 tsp (or more) hot sauce, like Sambel Oelek (chili paste) or Sriracha 
  • Toss chicken with the marinade and set in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Toss with cornstarch when you are ready to cook.
  • Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large wok or saute pan over medium high heat
  • Add the chicken and cook until almost done
  • Add the garlic and onions; saute 1 min
  • Add the broccoli and bok choy; saute 2 minutes
  • Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin and hot sauce
  • Lower heat and let simmer 5 minutes
  • Serve over rice or noodles
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