Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore

1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and either crushed or halved
1/4 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken breasts and thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup apple juice or white grape juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 (16-oz) package linguine, cooked per instructions
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and stir frequently until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon (this is why you need to keep the onion and garlic pieces big) and transfer the onions and garlic to your blender. Increase the heat on the stove top to medium-high.
2. In a large zip-top bag, combine flour, 1 tsp salt, and black pepper. Add chicken pieces, seal bag, and shake to coat pieces with flour. Place all the chicken from the bag into the hot pan and stir quickly to prevent pieces from sticking together. Saute until chicken is golden. Remove the chicken with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Remove the pan from heat.
3. While the chicken is draining, add the juice, vinegar, chicken broth, tomato paste, thyme, and marjoram to the onions and garlic in the blender. Blend until smooth. Place the chicken and bay leaf in a medium or large stockpot and pour the blended mixture over the chicken. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 60-90 minutes.
4. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the mushrooms and green peppers. When the mushrooms and peppers are tender, remove the bay leaf and serve over hot linguine or rice and garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes: Love love love this stuff. Partly because it reminds me of meals I had on my mission in Paraguay and partly because it is just really good. Brittany really liked it, too. You have to plan ahead to make it, though, due to the amount of time it simmers. We didn't have linguine and used spaghetti instead. Source: Our Best Bites cookbook.

Black Bean Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
3/4 cup diced celery (about 1 rib)
1 cup diced onion (about 1 small-medium onion)
4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (3.5-oz) can diced green chilies
2 (15-oz) cans low-sodium beef broth
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dry oregano leaves
1 bay leaf
1 lime, juiced, plus other limes, for garnish
Optional toppings: sour cream, tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.

1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the black beans, chilies, and beef broth. Stir to combine and then add the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf from soup.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender. Place lid on blender but remove the stopper in the lid to let heat escape. Cover the hole with a paper towel to avoid splatters.
4. Puree soup until desired consistency is reached. Squeeze in the juice from one lime and pulse to combine.
5. Ladle into bowls and top with desired toppings. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Notes: I liked this, but did not love it. I think perhaps I would enjoy it more if we made it again, though, because now I know what to expect. It was perhaps a bit too spicy for my 3-year old. Source: Our Best Bites cookbook that I got for Brittany for Christmas.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Smoky Mac 'n Cheese

3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (12 oz.)
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp coarse (kosher or sea) salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
8 oz smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
2 cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced green onions (4 medium)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Progresso plain bread crumbs
2 tsp olive oil

1. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on box. Return to saucepan; cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 2-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream, mustard, salt, and red pepper to boiling. Reduce heat; stir in Cheddar cheese with wire whisk until smooth.
3. Pour sauce over macaroni. Stir in tomatoes and onions. Pour into baking dish. In small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in oil. Sprinkle over top of macaroni mixture.
4. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown.

Notes: Another winner. I really liked this. It has a bit of a kick to it and I didn't think my 3-year old would like it, but surprisingly she ate several bites (and took several drinks of milk in between to cool her mouth down). We couldn't find smoked cheddar, so we used what we had. Source: Betty Crocker 2011 recipe calendar.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wild West Sizzlin' Chicken Tacos

2 cups cooked chicken strips
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
4 Old El Paso Stand N' Stuff taco shells (from 4.7-oz box)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup barbecue baked beans (from 16 oz. can)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In small bowl, toss chicken strips with cumin and paprika to coat. In 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish, stand taco shells side by side.
2. Fill each shell evenly with seasoned chicken. Divide pepper strips evenly over chicken. Top each with 1/4 cup baked beans and 1/4 cup cheese. Sprinkle with bacon.
3. Bake 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted. If desired, garnish with grape tomatoes.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 tacos

Notes: I think this is my first 2012 post that we actually made in 2012 (there are still 4 or 5 from 2011 that I haven't got to yet). We bought the regular taco shells because they were a better deal, but it made it hard to fit everything in. I put in what I could and ended up with 6 tacos. I really enjoyed these. They looked delicious in the original photo and I wasn't disappointed at all. Source: Betty Crocker 2011 recipe calendar.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dinner in a Pumpkin

1 Medium size pumpkin, about 4 pounds
1-1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 (4 oz) can mushrooms
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cup cooked rice

black olives
steamed carrot
whole cloves
fresh parsley

1. Cut lid from pumpkin, scrape out the inside of the pumpkin and discard what you scrap out.
2. In a large skillet brown hamburger, green pepper, celery, and onion. Mix salt, pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup, and cooked rice together. Mix together with hamburger, green pepper, celery, and onion. Mix well and place mixture into pumpkin. Place lid on pumpkin.
3. Place pumpkin on foil lined cookie sheet and bake in 350 oven for 1-1/2 hours.
4. When you spoon your portion, be sure and scrape and get some of the cooked pumpkin too.

Optional: If you want to, decorate outside of pumpkin. Attach olives to pumpkin (using toothpicks) for the eyes, steamed carrot for the nose, and whole cloves for the mouth. Use fresh parsley around top for hair.

Number Of Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 2 Hours

Notes: We got this recipe from Brittany's brother, Brian. I don't know where he got it. We had a similar recipe at a friend's house and really liked it. This version was also tasty.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

David's Chili

2 cans red beans
1 can black beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
Salt, black pepper and jalapeno to taste.

Combine in pot and simmer at least until heated and peppers are cooked.  The longer it simmers, the better.

Notes: This recipe is from my brother-in-law. When Brittany first made it last year, we didn't have any jalapenos, and I didn't think it was anything special. Then David made it (with jalapenos) for a family gathering around Christmas and I really liked it.  So in my opinion, the jalapenos are essential. David made the following comments when he posted this recipe on the family web site: "I like [my chili] a little more spicy then Stephanie but not hot enough to burn your mouth. I also like mine more liquid. I do not drain the juice from the beans."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shush Kabobs

1 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 medium apple, coarsely grated
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp each salt and black pepper
1 lb ground turkey breast (we used beef)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, egg, apple, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add turkey and fold into wet mixture until just combined.
2. In a frying pan, heat oil on medium. Roll meat mixture into 12 balls. Fry, turning frequently until meatballs are browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
3. Glaze: In a pot, mix apple juice, maple syrup, and vinegar. Simmer over low heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Toss meatballs in glaze, thread three onto each kabob stick. Makes 4 servings.

Notes: From the magazine: "We put these sweet glazed-apple meatballs on a stick so your kid would be so engrossed in the presentation, he'd forget that he's trying something new." Luckily our kid doesn't have any problems trying something new, so for us the presentation was just for fun. My toddler really enjoyed these, and so did I. They were tasty. Source: October 2011 issue of Parents Magazine, page78.