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May 2015

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May. 28th, 2015

Flowers

Alfredo Vegetable Pasta

I had a lovely post prepared and then accidently deleted it.  I may come back and tell the story how I made this, but right now I'm a little too frustrated to do more than recreate the recipe.  I will come back and add the nutrition at least.

Alfredo Vegetable Pasta

IMG_2703.JPG

Ingredients:

12 ounces dried pasta (I used casarece)
Water
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
2/3 cup half and half
2/3 cup shredded parmesan
1 chicken breast (around 8-10 ounces), diced into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
3 cups packed fresh spinach
10 ounces sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (whole)
1 tbsp chicken base
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Directions:

1.  Bring to a boil heavily salted water in a pot near the back of the stove.  Let simmer but do not drop the pasta until further into the dish.

2.  In a large skillet add mushrooms, about ½ tsp of pepper, and ½ cup of water and cook covered at medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

3.  Remove mushrooms and reserve on a large plate.  Add any leftover “mushroom water” to pasta water at the back of the stove.

4.  Add olive oil to pan, increase heat to medium-high, and cook chicken until juices run clear and the chicken has some color.  Remove and reserve the chicken with the mushrooms.

5.  Add bell peppers to skillet.  If the skillet is dry (no leftover oil) add a little butter.  Cook until slightly charred and softened.  Remove and reserve the pepper with the chicken and mushrooms.

6.  Add chicken base to pasta water and let it dissolve.  Once it’s dissolved and the water is boiling add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than directed.  [My pasta stated 9-10 minutes, I cooked it for 8]

7.  Add tomatoes to the skillet.  If the skillet is dry, add a little butter.  Salt and pepper tomatoes and then cook until the skins appear wrinkly and there is some blistering to the tomatoes …about 3-4 minutes.  Be sure to shake the pan often to insure they don’t explode or stick.
8.  Remove and reserve tomatoes with the other reserved items.  Note, you will want to do the tomatoes last as they add a nice flavor and color to the Alfredo sauce.

9.  Add the remaining butter to the skillet and let melt.  Reduce heat to medium and slowly whisk in the half and half.  Stir frequently once added.  You do not want the half and half to boil.  Just barely have a few small bubbles.

10.  Once the half and half starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, whisk in the parmesan and stir until dissolved.

11.  Salt and pepper the sauce and taste to adjust.

12.  Drain the pasta and reserve about 2/3 cup of pasta water.  Add the pasta water to the sauce and stir.

13.  Slowly fold in the spinach and mix for about 30 seconds, wilting the spinach.

14.  Fold in the remaining reserved ingredients and stir until evenly mixed.

15.  Remove from the heat and serve warm.  Be sure to refrigerate the leftovers immediately after eating so that the sauce does not spoil.
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May. 27th, 2015

Flowers

Caprese Pasta Salad

Ever since my mother and stepfather gifted my sister and I with a Weber grill we have been finding excuses to use it (along with the new charcoal chimney starter).  Lately it's been hot dogs on the grill or skewers laden with vegetables. Our grill is fairly small so while I could do a side alongside the "main" course, I haven't been all that motivated to do so. Enter quick, cold sides like this one.

Caprese Pasta Salad
Adapted from Simply Scratch's Recipe
Ingredients:

*  1 package (about 16 oz) of dried orecchiette pasta
*  1 quart (or less if you'd like) grape tomatoes, halved
*  1 container (about 8 oz) of fresh mozzarella miniature balls (cubed in half)
*  1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
*  kosher salt
*  black pepper
*  2 tbsp minced garlic
*  1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
*  1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:
1.  Cook pasta according to direction, drain, and rinse.

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine garlic and vinegar.  Pour in olive oil while whisking vigourously.

3.  Toss pasta in the bowl with the vinegar mixture along with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

4.  Stir to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Serve either right away or let sit in a the fridge for a few hours (or overnight).  Leftovers of this the next day or so are even better than when first served!

Serves 6 | Calories 451 | Fat 19.9 g | Cholesterol 75 mg | Sodium 450 mg | Potassium 448 mg | Carbs 48.6 g | Fiber 1.6 g | Sugars 3.2 g | Protein 20.7 g

May. 21st, 2015

Books

Chicken Tinga

We all have that moment when we get home and we legitimately have nothing to eat that is anyway convenient. You think...well I can make...well no I'm missing that one ingredient for that and well I can make...crap I'm out of xyz. Well that happened for me today and then I remember what Tamar Adler with her cookbook Everlasting Meal reminds me. Make it with scraps or subs. You can make something delicious with what you have in your home. And she is right. I made this fantastic meal at home subbing salsa for chipotle.

Chicken Tinga

Ingredients:

*  2 large chicken breasts (I used frozen, reduce time if you use fresh)
*  1 tbsp dark chili powder
*  1/2 tbsp kosher salt (adjust at end if needed)
*  1/2 tbsp garlic powder
*  1/2 tbsp oregano
*  1/2 tbsp cumin
*  1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
*  2/3 cups resturant style salsa
*  1/2 cup water
*  1 tomato, chopped
*  1/2 white onion, chopped

Directions:

1.  Add frozen chicken to a large skillet with a cover.

2.  Add chili powder, salt, garlic powder, oregeno, cumin, paprika, salsa, tomato, onion, and water.

3.  Cover and cook on medium high for about 30 minutes checking to make sure the mixture doesn't dry out (add water if it does)

4.  Uncover and shred chicken.  You might have to shred a couple times to get it down to small enough strands to suit you.

5.  Mix everything together, making sure to soak the chicken shreds.  Add water if needed here.  Cover and cook another 20-30 minutes.

6.  Uncover and shred again if needed or desired.  (I usually shred the chicken until is about 1/4 wide).  Simmer and reduce the sauce.

7.  Serve warm as part of a rice platter, tacos, nachos, burritos, or a topping for a salad.

Serves 6 | Calories 167 | Fat 6.1 g | Cholesterol 67 mg | Sodium 835 mg | Potassium 362 mg | Carbs 4.8 g | Fiber 1.6 g | Sugars 1.9 g | Protein 23 g
Sunflower

Garden Planted - Part 2

I am almost done pulling weeds from the right bed. It has been a long fragmented journey trying to rip up all of the noxious plants in that bed. Some of it started blooming and with some help from friends and neighbors, I was able to identify most of the plants. Some I maintained in the bed for various reason, so my plantings on the right bed are very much uneven, at least in comparison to the order in the left bed (with the exception of the spinach/mesclun/carrot area which I have pretty much let grow wild).

Right bed contained:

Queen Ann's Lace (literally HATE this plant, still pulling up roots days later)
Rose bush (pink roses)
Several Irises (bearded in several colors)
Hostas
English Ivy
What I believe is a Persimmon tree


Currently the right bed contains:

Rose bush
a little of the Queen Ann's lace I haven't pulled yet
Irises
Hostas
Persimmon Trees

Planting Planned for right bed:

I unfortunately have to replant the two different types of sunflowers I had planned for the right bed. I underestimated how much the birds would love digging them up and eating them. I have been finding sunflower seed hulls everywhere in the backyard. Currently I'm in the middle of sprouting some sunflower seeds to plant. I hope the birds don't like sprouted sunflowers...

I was able to grab about 12 6' bamboo poles during lunch today and two more packets of beans in case I run out of ones to plant. I plan on at least 2 bean teepees, but I have enough to do 3 so that might happen. In addition to the four types planted in the left bed I was able to get Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans and a type of snap pea.

The right and left beds should be done after these plantings, at least till late summer. At that point, I'll start ripping up plants (i.e. beans) so I can plant spinach, mesclun, and carrots before the first frost for a fall crop.

After finishing the back yard...its on to the front. I have a square of mulched area on a slope that is about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long. Currently its planted with hostas, some sort of yellow flower, weeds, tulips, and a yellow rose bush. I plan on pulling all the weeds and the tulips (so I can divide the bulbs) and planting two types of wildflower type flowers, Bachelor's Buttons and Gaillardia Indian Blanket (which looks kind of like a black eyed susan but with red tips).
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May. 11th, 2015

Sunflower

Garden Planted - Part 1

My sister and I finally moved the first weekend in May.  While some of our stuff remains at our old place, we are gradually shifting everything over to the new place or storing yard sale items at our old place until Memorial Day.  We were barely in the house a day and I was already digging up one of the two beds.  It took three days, but all of the weeds in the left bed were removed with prejudice (I include in the "weeds" category items that are not technically weeds but a huge nuisance in PA - spring onions).

My backyard is a little small about 30'x25' in size.  On the left side there is a bed that extends almost the entire length of the yard before curving in front of a detached garage and ending at the walkway.  The section of the left bed that is in front of the garage is largely un-plantable as it contains a Persimmon Tree and an Asian Pear.  I might be able to get some spinach under it (or some other shade liking vegetable or fruit), but at this point I'm giving up the several feet I would have gained.  The left bed is fortunately about three feet wide and almost thirty feet long so there is plenty of planting space.

The right bed extends from the house alongside the path past the garage.  About half of the bed is fairly well maintained ground cover, two trees, and a rose bush and will not be touched.  The rest, closer to the house, is a gangly weed/ground cover/spring onion mess and will be entirely ripped out.

While in the past few years I have stuck to container garden due to lack of space, I quickly and admantently have become a proponent of square foot gardening.  I didn't build a raised bed like recommended or use the "Mel Mix."  What I did do is enrich the soil with compost and composted manure and plant according to square foot spacing.  The soil in my area is generally pretty rich, but I planted some heavy feeders that I plan on treating with compost and a lovely mixture known as compost tea every 2-3 weeks or so.

I planted some plants that require extra sprawl space or trellising.  I choosed trellising and went with a commerical type of trellising known as Florida Weave or Basket Weave.  What this essentially means is creating a post line where the end posts are a heavy type of post (think wooded stakes or metal t-posts) and the middle posts are a lighter but sturdy plastic or thinner wood (such as wooden ties or bamboo rods).  The plants are planted between the posts and then sturdy twine is woven between the plants and the posts about every 6-8 inches on the plant.  Since I have plants that will become quite heavy I added a heavy post every 8 plants.

Here is a basic diagram:


[Heavy Post] Plant Plant [Light Post] Plant Plant [Heavy Post]


The weave is wrapped around the post once or twice, then strung straight across the front of the plants to the next post where it is wrapped twice then across the front of the plants, then wrapped twice around the last post.  Once you wrap around the last post you then string along the back of the plants repeating the wraps around the post.  At the last post you tie it off tightly, effectively "trapping" the plants between a line of twine on both sides.

I placed the Florida Weave in the middle of my left bed and buttressed the plants that needed the weave with different plants on both ends.  On the near side of the left bed I constructed a "teepee" for plants that need something to climb but don't need to be heavily trellised.

The left bed contains the following plants:

Teepee Planting:

- Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpea
- Tall Telephone Garden Pea
- Snow Bird Snap Peas
- Yellow Wax Bean

Florida Weave Trellising

Tomatoes:
- Brandywine
- Sun Gold
- Black Krim
- Mr. Stripey
- Juliet
- Supersonic
- Yellow Pear
- Black Cherry Pearl
- Purple Uk Tomato (2)
- Bush Beefsteak
- Mortgage Lifter

Bell Peppers:
- Purple Beauty
- Chocolate Beauty
- Bell Boy
- Golden Bell

Cucumbers:
- Burpless Bush (2)
- Marketmore (2)

Non-Trellised Plants - Far End of Left Bed

Carrots:
- Chantenay Red Core carrots
- Atomic Red Carrot

Spinach/Lettuce:
- Monstrueux De Viroflay Spinach
- Mesclun

In the past I usually stuck with tomatoes, peas, and radishes, all of which are fairly easy to grow.  I stayed with this tradition planting things that are relatively easy to grow and only need well drained soil, steady watering, mulching, and the occasional compost.  Cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes I purchased as seedlings (except for the Purple UK (2) and Bush Beefsteak (1) that my neighbor and landlord gave me as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.

I adore cow peas and am very excited for this patch to come in.  The remainder peas/beans I have really no experience with.  Last year I planted a different type of snap pea (which turned out marvelous).  They are really only for me and my sister's baby.  My sister is still on the slow route to admitting she likes peas and beans (as she ravenously devours bean filled chili...I know).

Last few years I have planted the following tomatoes with wild success:  Mr. Stripey (gorgeous color and mild/sweet flavor) and Black Krim (beautiful purple/black/green color and a wonderful almost salty taste).  I have always heard wonderful stories about Yellow Pear and I was intrigued by the idea of a Black Cherry tomato.  Mortage lifter I planted for the story.  Brandywine is an immensely popular heirloom tomato in my region so I figured I'd give it a shot, but not conviced it could turn me away from the Black Krim and Mr. Stripey.

Like the rest of my plants, the pepper, spinach, and carrots I planted for easy and for color.  Really...who is going to turn down a purple/black bell pepper?

As for the right bed, it's a little smaller, about 1.5 feet wide and about 20 feet long.  I still have to rip up weeds which to me includes the spring onions, some easter lilies, and ugly ground cover ivy things.  In its place will be another bean/pea teepee and a lot of sunflowers - Taiyo and Harry Wilde Sunflowers to be specific.  Stayed tuned for Part 2 when I lay out the right bed and include pictures.

Here is a picture of the left bed as it is right now.

Apr. 7th, 2015

Sunflower

Ham & White Bean Soup

As always around Easter time I beg everyone I know for a ham bone.  My sister and I don't do an Easter dinner at our place, we usually head over to my aunt's or in rare cases to my mom's to eat dinner with family.  This year my aunt did not have a ham bone....so I had my sister beg her daughter's grandparents for their ham bone.  Success!

Ham & White Bean Soup

Ingredients:

*  one large ham bone
*  1/2 cup various ham "bits" (I like to grab any cartilage, skin, and fatty pieces that no one wants to eat for this)
*  2 tsp apple cider vinegar
*  12 cups warm water
*  kosher salt to taste
*  1/2 cup white onion (don't bother mincing this, just lob a couple bits off and roughly measure)
*  3 bay leaves
*  2 tsp italian seasoning (or herbs de provence)
*  4 medium sized carrots
*  3 stalks celery
*  16 oz dried white beans (I usually use great northern but almost any bean would work here, except for dark beans like black beans...they have a tendency to change the color of the broth)
*  3 cups diced ham (preferably leftover ham)

Directions:

1.  Bring the ham bone, 1/2 cup of ham bits, apple cider vinegar, italian seasoning, bay leaves, and water to a rolling boil in a stock pot.

2.  Boil for about 15 minutes and then lower the temperature so that the mixture is simmering and not violently boiling.

3.  Meanwhile place the beans in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 2-4 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit for at least an hour.  I sometimes add a piece of two of ham to add flavor...this is optional.

[Another approach is to merely cook the dried beans with the ham stock from the beginning.  If I'm particularly lazy, I do.  I don't notice any difference between the two results besides the beans being a little more flavorable if cooked in the fatty broth.  And yes...you can cook beans without soaking.  For this soup just add time to the broth if the beans need it.  Also tap off with water if the broth reduces too much.]

3.  Simmer the ham bone mixture for about 1.5 hours.

4.  Strain the broth reserving any ham that has fallen off the bone or any ham bits that are edible.  Discard the onion and bay leaves.

5.  Bring the broth back to a boil and add the beans.  I usually add the beans and the soaking liquid to the broth, but this is a personal preference.  Drain or don't drain the beans...it's up to you.  Cook the broth/bean mixture for another 15-20 minutes.

6.  Slice the carrots and the celery add to the broth with the diced ham.  Bring back to a boil and cook for another 20 minutes (or until the carrots are soft).

7.  Check the season and adjust with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

8.  Ready to eat!

Serves 6 | Calories 407 | Fat 7.9 g | Cholesterol 46 mg | Sodium 1116 mg | Potassium 1756 mg | Carbs 53 g | Fiber 13.9 g | Sugars 4.3 g | Protein 31 g
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Mar. 30th, 2015

Red Dress

Alfredo Chicken and Artichoke Lasanga

I know...the name of the recipe is a little weird and I wouldn't blame anyone from walking on right by. I never would have eaten or made this in a million years just based on the name. But my mom made it for my birthday dinner and well...its pretty good.


Alfredo Chicken and Artichoke Lasanga

Ingredients:

*  10  precooked (no cook) uncooked lasagna noodles
*  16 oz Alfredo pasta sauce (or make your own)
*  1/4 cup skim milk
*  1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
*  3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about two medium sized breasts)
*  14 ounces artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
*  1 cup chopped red bell pepper
*  1/2  cup finely chopped onion
*  1 tsp minced garlic
*  12 oz shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
*  4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
*  2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Directions:


1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  In a bowl combine Alfredo sauce, milk and oregano.   Whisk until blended and set aside.

2.  Combine chopped chicken, artichokes, bell peppers, and onion in a seperate bowl.  Add minced garlic, mozzarella, and feta cheese.  Mix the chicken mixture well.

3.  To assemble lasagna, spread 2/3 cup of the Alfredo sauce mixture over bottom of 9x11 pan. Top with half of the noodles, overlapping to fit.

4.  Layer half of the spinach leaves over noodles and then top the spinach with half of the chicken mixture.

5.  Repeat layers, starting with half of the remaining sauce. After layering, pour remaining sauce over top of lasagna.

6.  Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes.

8.  Remove foil and continue baking 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.

9.  Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes for easier serving.

Serves 12 | Calories 298 | Fat 14.3 g | Cholesterol 93 mg | Sodium 628 mg | Potassium 282 mg | Carbs 17.9 g | Fiber 3.7 g | Sugars 3 g | Protein 24.6 g

Red Heart

Chow Mein Birds' Nests

This weekend my sister, my niece, and I were scheduled to go our monthly book discussion at church. The event is potluck and as such, everyone brings a dish. Unfortunately we had to cancel our attendance this month last minute, but we were able to drop off our contribution to the mix, Chow Mein Birds' Nests. I have never heard of them until my sister suggested making them for our dessert. Essentially they are rice crispy treats but in many ways, much much better

Chow Mein Birds' Nests


Ingredients:

*  6 cups mini marshmallows
*  6 tbsp unsalted butter
*  1 tsp vanilla
*  6 cup dry chow mein noodles
*  one medium bag (around 12 oz) minature cadbury eggs

Directions:

1.  Over medium heat melt the marshmallows and butter in a large pot (a large saucepan works but a small soup pot might be better).

2.  Grease two muffin pans (12 muffin type)

3.  Once melted, mix the vanilla in with the marshmallow mixture and then add the chow mein noodles.  Take off heat and fold the mixture several times until the marshmallow mixture and the chow mein noodles are throughly mixed.

4.  Use a greased spoon to collect about a tennis ball sized amount of the mixture and press into each muffin "hole".  You should have enough for all 24 muffins.

5.  After the chow mein is distributed evenly, grease the back of the spoon.  Press the back of the spoon into the middle of each chow mein "nest" and form until the mixture looks like a nest.

6.  Add 2-4 cadbury eggs to each nest.

7.  Let rest for about an hour before packing away.  You can serve the nests immediately but they will be very sticky.  In the alternative, place the nests in the fridge and let harden up for about 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 24 | Calories 209 | Fat 9.2 g | Cholesterol 9 mg | Sodium 95 mg | Potassium 16 mg | Carbs 30.3 g | Fiber .6 g | Sugars 17.8 g | Protein 1.8 g

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Mar. 23rd, 2015

Flowers

Chili

Finally found a place to move to in the end of April. My sister and I had outgrown our two bedroom townhouse. We needed to either find our own places or upgrade to a place with another bedroom (for my niece). We ended up finding a great little three bedroom to the north of the city. In many ways its a perfect place: finished basement, finished attic, washer/dryer, new windows, new insulation, hardwood floors refinished, new kitchen, new bathroom, and off street parking. But the place has several downfalls as well. We lost a half bathroom and the new bathroom is considerably smaller than our old place. The kitchen is new, but tiny and doesn't have a double sink or a dishwasher. It has much less counter space as well. The house has one SUPER plus for me, a fenced backyard with a patio. What this translates to is a MUCH larger garden.

In any event, my sister, as I have often mentioned in this blog, is extremely picky. She in recent years has started to become less picky. She's willing to try new things. This chili recipe is a very new thing. Not only does it have spices in it...its has a plethora of beans, neither of which my sister really cares for. But this chili...she adores and has asked for it TWICE in one week.

This recipe makes a big batch of crockpot chili.  While the sweating down of the onions and peppers and the cooking of the meat is not REQUIRED, it does reduce cooking time and gives a nice depth of flavor. If you do not cook the meat, onions, and pepper prior to placing in the crockpot increase the time by 3-4 hours and reduce the heat to low.  My sister likes a sweeter chili, so this recipe includes brown sugar.  If you are like me and prefer a hotter chili, reduce or omit the brown sugar and add cayenne pepper and more hot sauce.

Chili
Ingredients:

*  3 tablespoons dark chili powder
*  2 tablespoons granulated garlic
*  3 tablespoons brown sugar
*  1 tablespoon ground cumin
*  2-3 garlic cloves, minced
*  2-3 tablespoons kosher salt (to taste)
*  2 tablespoons smoked paprika
*  2 tablespoons onion powder
*  1 medium sized yellow onion, peeled and diced
*  2 15 oz cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
*  1 15 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
*  1 pound ground turkey (99%)
*  1 pound ground beef (85/15)
*  2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (not drained or rinsed)
*  1-2 green bell peppers (I usually judge by size and preference)
*  2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
*  1 tablespoon sriacha (or other favorite hot sauce)
*  4 cups water
*  1 tablespoon beef base (or sub the water and beef base for 4 cups of beef broth)
*  1 tablespoon tomato paste
*  1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1.  Brown the ground beef and ground turkey breaking up the clumps so the ground meat is finely minced.

2.  While ground meat is cooking, in a large crockpot (about 7-9 quart size) add diced tomatoes (undrained), beans, tomato sauce, water, and beef base.

3.  Turn the crockpot on high and cover until ground meat is browned and minced finely.  You may drain as much of the oil off the meat as you wish, however, you will need to either reserve some of the fat for onions and peppers, or add olive oil to the pan.

4.  Add meat to the crockpot.  If you reserved some of the fat for the meat, add the diced onions and green peppers over medium heat.  If you did not reserve some of the fat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and let heat up before adding the onions and the green peppers.

5.  Add the garlic to the onion and green peppers after about 5 minutes or so, or when the green peppers have softened.  Cook about 30 seconds.  Add tomato paste to the pan and cook about another 30 seconds.

6.  Add the onion mixture to the crock pot.

7.  Add the spices (save the salt), water, beef base, vinegar, and sriacha.  Reserve the brown sugar.

8.  Cook on high for about 2 hours.  At that point check the seasoning.  Add salt to taste.  Add brown sugar to taste.  Adjust any other seasonings.  I sometimes add more chili powder or add in cayenne pepper.

9.  Cover and cook another 1-2 hours.

10.  Serve with your choice of toppings.  Sometimes I do the chili over rice or noodles.  Other times I serve just sprinkled with cheese or maybe some diced onions.  Cornbread goes well here and the leftovers makes fabulous egg scrambles or burritos.

Serves 10 |  Calories (calculated on 1 green pepper and as written) 318 | Fat 4.7 g | Cholesterol 69 mg | Sodium 2593 mg | Potassium 1241 mg | Carbs 35.5 g | Fiber 10 g | Sugars 11.4 g | Protein 35.9 g

Feb. 24th, 2015

Red Heart

Butter Chicken

Long story short.  I live with my sister and her infant daughter.  As everyone who has siblings knows, while you love them sometimes you want to murder them.  It could be over the smallest things, such as a food item you were saving to snack on only to find it missing or the trash wasn't taken out or you find dirty plates on the floor.  Regardless of what it is...suddenly its like a fuse has BLOWN and your blood is boiling.  Now I love both of my sisters and my niece, but I'm a loner at heart.  It's not as if I don't like being around people--I just value my privacy.  Now what does this whole paragraph mean and why is it in a "food blog?"  Well...long story short...soon MY SISTER AND NIECE WILL BE OUT OF TOWN FOR A FEW DAYS!!!  *Whew* I said it.

What this means is I can have a peaceful time where the foods that my sister would reject and hate (due to content, smell, taste, whatever), will be DEVOURED as if I've never eaten before.  First up...Butter Chicken.  Since my sister is leaving in the afternoon on a workday, I didn't want to lose a "sister free dinner" just because the prep work/cooking time of what I wanted to eat would be too long after working all day.  Enter the Crockpot.


Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Ingredients:

*  2  tsp olive oil
*  1 tbsp minced garlic
*  1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced
*  1/2 can coconut milk
*  3 oz tomato paste
*  2 tbps all purpose flour
*  1 tbsp garam masala
*  1 tbsp red curry paste
*  1 tsp dark chili powder
*  1 tbsp grated ginger
*  1 tsp kosher salt
*  1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
*  2 tsp smoked paprika
*  1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
*  3 tbsp cilantro leaves

Directions:

1.  Heat oil in a fry pan over medium heat.

2.  Add onion and cook until transluscent.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently and watching it to prevent burning.

3.  Sprinkle with all purpose flour and stir cooking the "raw" taste of the flour out.

4.  When the flour is a golden color on the onions and garlic, stir in coconut milk, tomato paste, garam masala, curry paste, dark chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and grated ginger.

5.  Cook stirring frequently until well combined and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

6.  Place chicken into a slow cooker. Add sauce mixture and toss to combine.

7.  Cover and cook on low heat for 7-9 hours.

8.  When ready to serve, stir into the crockpot (with the chicken and sauce) the chopped cilantro.

9.  Serve with steamed spinach and white rice.

Serves 6 (Calories calculated only on recipe not proposed sides) | Calories 360 | Fat 20.1 g | Cholesterol 101 mg | Sodium 643 mg | Potassium 582 mg | Carbs 10 g | Fiber 2.3 g | Sugars 3.5 g | Protein 35 g

Feb. 20th, 2015

Red Heart

Pittsburgh Salad

My father is from Pittsburgh, but moved to Florida with our family about 30 years ago.  Even though we are not close (and honestly never have been) I blame a certain amount of my love for French Fries on my father.  Pittsburgh is culinarily known as the city that puts fries on everything...and I mean everying, from salads to pizzas to sandwiches.  If you can put a fry on an entree...its going to happen.  The calorie count will not include the cheddar.  I don't care for cheese (unless its Feta or Goat) on my salads.  My sister includes the cheddar on her salad.  Feel free to add the 1/4 cup in your calculations - 1/8 cup on each salad.  I like to put avocado on my salads, but I count those calories seperately.  Enjoy!


Pittsburgh Salad


Ingredients:
*  1/2 pound of good steak (preferably a NY strip or something similar)
*  salt and pepper
*  1 tbsp good olive oil, split into two parts
*  1 cup chopped tomatoes (cherry are usually the best during the winter - heirlooms in summer!)
*  4 cups chopped romaine (or other firm lettuce)
*  30-40 frozen fries
*  1 English cucumber (skinned, quartered and diced)
*  3-4 bunches of green onion, chopped
* OPTIONAL - 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
*  Chosen dressing - I recommend balsamic, ranch, or honey mustard
Directions:
1.   Bring the steak to room temperature and pat dry.

2.  Preheat the oven to 500 F and place a dry cast iron skillet into the oven (on the top rach) as it warms up to 500 F.

3.  Meanwhile, assemble the fries on a dry pan and salt.  Place in the oven with the skillet on the bottom rack of the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes.

4.  When the oven is up to temperature, bring a burner up to medium high/high.  Carefully pull out the skillet from oven and place on hot burner.

5.  Oil each side of the steak with the olive oil (1 part for each side) and salt.  Place in the skillet and do not move the steak for 30 seconds

6.  Flip the steak at 30 seconds and let cook another 30 second without moving it!

7.  Place the skillet back in the oven and cook for another 2 minutes.  Flip the steak carefully and let the other side cook for 1.5 minutes.

8.  Pull the skillet out of the oven and reduce the oven temp to 450 F to continue cooking the fries (for their total 30 minutes).  At this time you might want to toss the fries around a bit so they will cook evenly.

9.  Remove the steak from the skillet and place on a plate.  Cover with tin foil and let rest for 5-6 minutes.

10.  Meanwhile, assemble salad by placing half the ingredients on two large plates. First placing lettuce down and then either assembling like a Cobb (in straight lines) or just sprinkled on top. I prefer mine tossed.
11.  Pull the fries from the oven.  Remove steak from foil and the plate to a cutting board.  Slice against the grain of the steak.

12.  Top each salad with half of the steak and half of the fries.  Serve with optional cheese and your chosen dressing.


Calories calculated does not include dressing or cheese.

Serves 2 | Calories 466 | Fat 20.6g | Saturated Fat 4.0g | Cholesterol 62mg | Potassium 1405mg | Carbs 41.3g | Fiber 5.4g | Sugars 5.9g | Protein 31.6g

Feb. 18th, 2015

Flowers

West African Peanut Soup

About a decade ago, a good friend at the time made me this beautifully complex peanut butter soup.  I remember her telling me it was an African soup and that she found the recipe in one of the Moosewood Cookbooks.  Being new to world of vegetarian cooking techniques I just nodded along like I knew what she was talking about (I didn't).  Fast forward a few years and a similar soup crosses my path on Budget Bytes website (a fabulous website that you must check out).  I took a few ideas from that recipe and my own recollections to make this wonderful soup.  Now, if you are also new to "vegetarian" or "vegan" cooking, I don't think you'll notice the lack of meat in this dish.  However, if you must, must, have said meat, a good meat to add to this soup, I think, would be boneless chicken thighs.  I imagine shredded pork would also work well here.

I don't usually keep vegetable stock in my house, so if you'd like to make this vegan, please sub out the chicken base for vegetable stock or vegetable base.

West African Peanut Soup

Ingredients:

*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  2 tbsp minced garlic
*  1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
*  1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes (about 1 pound)
*  2 cups eggplant, (peeled or not) diced into 1 inch cubes
*  1/2 yellow onion, diced
*  6 oz tomato paste
*  16 oz (one can) diced unsalted tomatoes
*  2 tsp chili powder
*  1 tsp smoked paprika
*  1 tbsp cumin
*  1 tsp kosher salt
*  1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
*  1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
*  8 cups water
*  1 tbsp chicken base
*  2 cups chopped collards (or Kale)
*  2 cups cilantro, chopped and stems removed

Directions:

1.  Bring the olive oil to medium high heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onion and sautee under almost translucent.  Add the ginger and garlic, watching the garlic to make sure it doesn't burn.  Cook for about 1 minute.

2.  Add the sweet potato and sautee with garlic/onion mixture for about 3-4 minutes or until the sweet potato is lightly brown.  Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, paprika, and black pepper.

3.  Add tomato paste and peanut butter to the mixture and stir roughly.

4.  Add diced tomatoes, water, chicken base, and 1 cup of chopped cilantro to soup pot.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until chicken base and peanut butter have dissolved into the soup.

5.  Add eggplant and collards to soup and simmer about 10 minutes.

6.  Add remaining cilantro to soup and stir.  Soup is ready to serve!

Serves 6 | Calories 370 | Fat 19.1 g | Cholesterol 0 mg | Sodium 1627 mg | Potassium 626 mg | Carbs 41.6 g | Fiber 8.6 g | Sugars 14.6 g | Protein 13.2 g

Jan. 23rd, 2015

Flowers

Rich and Quick Carrot Soup

Soup is for winter...or for all the time. So is the grand debate. Personally I like it all the time, but I certainly crave a warm bowl when its colder out. As part of my "bring food to work more often" pledge. I tried a new soup on Cookbook 101's website. It HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK. OMG so good. I fiddled with it a bit, but in general the same delicious soup.

Rich and Quick Carrot Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

*  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
*  1 medium yellow onion, peeled and rough chopped
*  1 tablespoon red curry paste
*  2 pounds carrots, peeled and rough chopped
*  1 can reduced fat coconut milk
*  1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
*  3 cups water
*  2 limes
*  2 cups spinach
*  1/2 cup cilantro
*  1 tbsp toasted walnuts

Directions:

1.  In a large pan over medium heat melt butter.  Add onions and cook until transluscent.
2.  Stir in curry, salt, and carrots.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
3.  Cover with water and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
4.  Add cilantro to pot and puree soup with an immersion blender.
5.  Add a little more water if you'd like the soup to be thinner.
6.  Squeeze both limes into the soup and stir to combine.
7.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
8.  To serve top with 1/2 cup spinach and 1/4 1 tbsp of toasted walnuts.

Serves 4 | Calories 409 | Fat 28.2 g | Cholesterol 15 mg | Sodium 1281 mg | Potassium 906 mg | Carbs 38.7 g | Fiber 7.6 g | Sugars 13 g | Protein 3.4 g
Tags: , ,

Jan. 20th, 2015

Flowers

Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Lemon Dressing

Good morning everyone.  Two posts in two days...I must be on a roll.  This week my sister and I came to a consensus.  We were going to eat a whole bunch of different salads this week.  Some that we've never tried and others that are our favorite.  This week we are trying two new salads, Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad and Greek Quinoa Salad.  You can't tell by the name, but they both actually have quinoa in them.  Since both salads have no meat (and are even vegan!) the quinoa adds a nice "bump" of protein.  With both of us coming out of a "sick" period, it's just what's needed to shake those January blues.

On another note.  Yesterday's recipe was adapted from Gimmesomeoven.com.  Today's recipe is also adapted from the same source.  If you have a chance check out the beautiful website and admire all the pretty pretty pictures/recipes.  While the purpose of the this blog is a reference for myself and a select few people, I do have an insane admiration for beautiful food blogs.


Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad with Lemon Dressing
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Ingredients:

*  1 pd brussel sprouts with ends trimmed
*  1 cup uncooked quinoa
*  2 cups water
*  2/3 cup rough chopped walnuts
*  1 cup craisins
*  3-4 lemons
*  2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
*  1/4 cup olive oil
*  salt & pepper
*  pinch of sugar

Directions:

1.  Bring either an oven up to temp (around 400 F) or use a toaster oven.  Without oil toast the chopped walnuts, but watch carefully.  They should only need about 1-3 minutes to be toasted.  THEY BURN FAST WATCH THEM.  Alternatively you can toast them tossing frequently in a dry skillet.  THEY WILL BURN FAST THIS METHOD TOO.

2.  Put aside the walnuts to cool.

3.  Place two cups of water in a small pan and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer.  Zest about 2 tbsp of zest off the lemons and add 1 tbsp to the quinoa mixture.  Reserve the remaining 1 tbsp for dressing.

4.  Cook quinoa about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

5.  Meanwhile, trim the ends and rinse the brussel sprouts.  In a food processor (or with a mandolin/knife) shred the brussel sprouts using the "shred" blade.

6.  Set aside brussel sprouts in a little water.  Cut one lemon in half and squeeze one half of the lemon over the brussel sprouts to prevent them from turning brown.  Toss the brussel sprouts in the water and lemon mixture.

7.  Reserve the other lemons and the half not used to coat the brussel sprouts to make the dressing.

8.  In a medium Tupperware container (or in a bowl with a whisk if you prefer) squeeze the remaining lemons into container.  Add reserved 1 tbsp of lemon zest, pinch of sugar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and salt/pepper.  Seal the container and shake for a few seconds until the dressing is combined.

9.  Taste dressing and adjust sugar/salt/pepper to what suits you.  Set aside.

10.  In a large bowl combine walnuts, craisins, and quinoa.  Drain brussel sprouts and add to bowl.

11.  Drizzle brussel sprout mixture with dressing and toss well.

Serves 4 | Calories 453 | Fat 27.8 g | Cholesterol 0 mg | Sodium 32 mg | Potassium 801 mg | Carbs 42.7 g | Fiber 9.6 g | Sugars 3.7 g | Protein 14.7 g

Jan. 19th, 2015

Red Dress

Healthier Sesame Chicken

This is the type of recipe I had to see a couple times before I decided to make it.  Not because it's hard or anything, but because I wasn't hungry for it.  Well, when I finally got around last week to make it...it was a huge hit!

Healthier Sesame Chicken
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

*  2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
*  1 tbsp olive oil
*  3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
*  2 tbsps rice wine vinegar
*  5 Tbsp. honey
*  1 tsp minced garlic
*  1 tsp fresh grated ginger
*  2 tsp cornstarch
*  1/4 cup sliced green onions
*  1 tsp sesame oil
*  1 cup jasmine rice
*  2 cups water
*  1-3 strands saffron
*  1 tsp kosher salt
*  1 tsp olive oil
*  3-4 cups broccoli

Directions:

1.  In a large skillet heat the 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium high heat.
2.  Bring 2 cups of water, 1 tsp kosher salt, saffron, and 1 tsp olive oil to a boil.
3.  When the oil shimmers in the skillet (about 30 seconds) add chicken breast.
4.  Stir infrequently, enough so it doesn't stick to the pan but allowing it to brown.
5.  Once the water is boiling add jasmine rice, cover, and reduce to a low simmer for about 15 minutes (or until all of the water is absorbed).
6.  While chicken is cooking mix the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch together.
7.  Once chicken is completed cooking, add the soy sauce mixture and reduce temperature to low/medium.  Add diced green onions and the sesame oil.
8.  Quickly steam broccoli in the microwave.
9.  Allow sauce to thicken about 2-3 minutes.
10.  Serve with a cup of broccoli, a cup of rice, and a scoop of sesame chicken.


Serves 4 (includes rice and broccoli) |  Calories 487 | Fat 11.6 g | Cholesterol 65 mg | Sodium 1130 mg | Potassium 531 mg | Carbs 67 g | Fiber 4.8 g | Sugars 23.5 g | Protein 27.6 g

Jan. 13th, 2015

Books

Tomato Chicken Soup

Lately I have been feeling a general malaise.  I can't quite point out why I don't feel great, but the fact of the matter is that I don't.  Sometimes my joints ache or I'll get a headache.  The only constant is some swollen lymph nodes around my neck and feeling exhausted.  Even my doctor is a little puzzled.  The only solution I can come up with is chicken soup, sleep, and maintaining exercise.

Here is a recent soup that is a little off the deep end when it comes to chicken soup.  Instead of creamy or brothy, it's more tart with a tomato based chicken broth.  It's adapted from Give Me Recipe's delicious looking soup.

Tomato Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

*  6-8 chicken drumsticks
*  1 boneless chicken breast
*  2 carrots, cut roughly
*  2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
*  1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
*  1 tsp chicken base
*  2 tsp crushed garlic
*  ½ teaspoon black pepper
*  12 cups water
*  1 tablespoon olive oil
*  1 cup pureed tomatoes
*  1 teaspoon tomato paste
*  1 teaspoon dried thyme (or mint, rosemary, basil...whatever suits your fancy)
*  ½ cup jasmine rice (uncooked)
*  1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
*  1/2 cup frozen corn
*  2 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
*  2 limes, squeezed
*  1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

1.  In a large pot on medium high heat add chicken drumsticks.  Sear on both sides.  Add 6 of the 12 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add the 2 rough cut carrots, rutabaga, salt, and black pepper.  Cook till chicken drumsticks are shreddable, about 30 minutes.
2.  Remove the chicken from pot and set aside.
3.  Strain the broth from the cooked ingredients.  Discard cooked vegetables.  Bring strained broth to a boil and scrape off the top any white "foam."  Repeat a few times till the broth is mostly clear.
4.  Add chicken breast to chicken broth and cook about 15 minutes (or until done).  Remove, set aside with cooked drumsticks.
5.  In a separate pan, heat olive oil.  When it shimmers add pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and dried thyme to the olive oil.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring infrequently.  (Watch it...the tomato likes to "pop" at you)
6.  Shred chicken and add to chicken broth with chickpeas, 6 cups of water, chicken base, frozen corn, sliced carrots, rice, and tomato puree mixture.
7.  Cook till the carrots are tender (I prefer of the more crunchy side of things) about 10-15 minutes.
8.  Add lime juice and stir.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.
9.  Before service, place about 1/4 cup of spinach in the bottom of each bowl.  Pour soup over top of spinach.  This will keep the spinach in a nice condition for storage.

Serves 6 | Calories 378 | Fat 8.1 g | Cholesterol 65 mg | Sodium 776 mg | Potassium 741 mg | Carbs 44.8 g | Fiber 9.8 g | Sugars 9.0 g | Protein 31.3 g 

Jan. 7th, 2015

Sunflower

Chopped BLT Salad

The most popular dinner's we have each week are salads.  What's nice, is even though my sister is endlessly picky on ingredients, we almost always agree on vegetables.  While there are a few vegetables we don't agree on, these are easily purchased for the enjoyment of one person and left out of the salad, recipe, etc. for the benefit of the other person.

My sister is becoming more brave in the food department because of her six month old baby.  We make all of the food Ms. Lily eats (thank goodness for my amazing food processor, I highly recommend the 11 cup Cuisinart) and my sister always tries the food before feeding the baby regardless of what she personally likes.  She's discovered mangoes and avocados, although her views have not always changed, she's at least trying them.

One of our favorite meals during the summer time is BLT sandwiches and a tomato salad.  I grow tomatoes out back on my tiny porch in fairly unorganized container garden.  We would be buried in tomatoes in the sheer amount this garden throws except for the fact we adore them so much.  Every year I put several more plants out and every year it's not enough.

Winter is rough with the complete lack of delicious tomatoes.  Some times we make due and pick the best of the lot at the grocery store, but other times I visit my local market which has a stand of hydroponic tomatoes.  Not the best but far superior to the grocery store lot (and much more economical and better the environment as they are grown much closer to home).

This salad is flexible (as are most of my recipes) so feel free to sub and add whatever you'd like.  This is how I personally prepare my BLT salad...my sister still hates some of these items....lol.

Chopped BLT Salad
Ingredients:

*  6 slices of cooked center cut bacon (drained of grease during cooking process)
*  1 cup chopped tomatoes (cherry are usually the best during the winter - heirlooms in summer!)
*  6 cups chopped romaine (or other firm lettuce)
*  1/2 cup yellow corn (if canned, rinsed well)
*  1/2 cup green peas (frozen is fine if defrosted)
*  1 avocado, sliced thinly
*  1/2 cup shredded carrots
*  1 English cucumber (skinned, quartered and diced)
*  Your favorite ranch (I either make it or take a good brand of ranch and loosen it a bit with milk and add a little hot sauce)

Directions:

1.   Assemble salad by placing half the ingredients on two large plates. First placing lettuce down and then either assembling like a Cobb (in straight lines) or just sprinkled on top. I prefer mine tossed.

2.  Crumble the bacon on each salad and add either ranch or your favorite dressing.

[Optional] Add half a grilled chicken breast to each salad.

Serves 2 (Calories do not include dressing or optional ingredients) | Calories 411 | Fat 25.8 g | Cholesterol 23 mg | Sodium 473 mg | Potassium 1198 mg | Carbs 34 g | Fiber 12 g | Sugars 10 g | Protein 16.2 g
Tags: ,
Dancing

Slow Cooker Red Chicken Chili

Nobody get up in arms.  I'm making a Chili and it's not meant to offend anyone...ok?  Sometimes the topic of food is more divisive than politics or religions.  What one person considers the epitome of a dish, another would be appalled at.  Now, if you think that chicken, salsa, or beans don't belong in chili...call this soup something else.  I won't be offended.  Promise.  However, if it sounds good to you called "Slow Cooker Red Chicken Soup," then try it. You won't be disappointed.

This recipe came out of an attempt to follow someone else's recipe.  I looked at the picture and said yum!  I'm going to do that.  Except...I didn't read the recipe or buy even half the ingredients needed.  So I made this instead...and I don't regret it at all.  It's not really that red of a soup.  I called it Red Chicken Chili because Chicken Chili usually uses tomatillo salsa or green salsa as one of the ingredients.  I was lazy though, and when I found out my grocery store (which is always short on any sort of "ethnicy" ingredients) had neither tomatillos or a can of tomatillo salsa...I improvised.

Feel free to do your own sort of improvisation.

Slow Cooker Red Chicken Chili


Ingredients:

*  1 small white onion - chopped finely
*  1 tbsp minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
*  1 chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
*  1 jar of medium red salsa (about 16 - 20 oz)
*  2 cans cannellini beans (about 32 oz), drained and rinsed
*  1 can pinto beans (about 16 oz), drained and rinsed
*  1 tbsp ground chili powder
*  1 tbsp smoked paprika
*  2 tsp onion powder
*  1 tsp garlic powder
*  2 tsp chicken base
*  2 cups water
*  1 tsp kosher salt
*  1/2 cup chopped carrots
*  1/2 cup chopped celery

Directions:

1.  In a medium size slow cooker added garlic, onion, salsa, beans, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, chicken base, water, salt, carrots, and celery.

2.  Add chicken breast (whole not chopped) to slow cooker.  Cover the chicken breast in the ingredients.

3.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for about 4 hours.

4.  Shred the chicken in the slow cooker and let cook on high for about another 30 minutes.

5.  Serve warm with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, and plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)...or serve just by itself.  Yum!  Feel free to add heat with choppped peppers or reduce heat by subbing mild salsa for medium.

Serves 4 (Calories calculated just on soup not on toppings) | Calories 502 | Fat 4.2 g | Cholesterol 40.2 mg | Sodium 1493 mg | Carbs 80.7 g | Fiber 28.6 g | Sugars 11.9 g | Protein 37.6 g

Dec. 29th, 2014

Red Heart

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip

So I'm back! Holiday season always takes a lot out of me and its not even done yet. Fortunately I'm only working three days this week before having six days off in a row. New Years Eve will be spent at my Aunt's party with family and friends. My aunt's only requirement for her party? Bring an app or a desert. Believe it or not I'm bringing three apps (Buffalo Chicken Dip, Stromboli, and Guacamole). One was requested, one I wanted to bring, and another I had enough leftover deli meat from my niece's baptism party yesterday to make.

I usually make a quarter of this recipe and bake it off in the oven, but since the party is supposed to have about 50 people, I quadrupled it and made it more convenient in a Crockpot. It won't be as crusty on the top as I like, but it will keep warm during a longer party and I can start it right after coming home from work and before my run that day. It also frees up my oven, something I'll need as I'll be making two stromboli's for the party (using up extra deli meat/cheese).

What is especially nice about this recipe is the ability to sub and the ability to reduce calories. Many buffalo dip recipes call for canned chicken, which is something I don't usually have in my kitchen...even when I lived in the south and had a "hurricane" stock of non-perishables. I prefer to use ranch dressing over bleu cheese, but that can be easily changed to taste. In the past I have also added chopped celery and carrots for extra crunch.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

*  8 cups shredded and chopped chicken.  (I recommend using rotisserie chicken or baking off a few chicken breasts)
*  2.5 cups hot sauce (I like Anchor Bar sauce medium)
*  4 packages reduced fat cream cheese (32 ounces)
*  2 cups ranch dressing
*  1 cup mozzarella cheese
*  1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

1.  Bring a medium size Crockpot to the counter, plug in, and set on high.

2.  Add chopped and shredded chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese, ranch dressing, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese to Crockpot and stir.

3.  Cook on high for about 2 hours.  Check to see if everything is melted/combined, stirring if necessary.  Cook for an additional hour if needed.

4.  Set to warm and keep crockpot covered except for when serving.

5.  Serve with celery, crackers, carrots, and tortilla chips.


Makes about 16 cups of Dip - Serves about 40-50 people |  Calories (for 40 servings of dip only) 134 | Fat 7.9 g | Cholesterol 49 mg | Sodium 631 mg | Potassium 102 mg | Carbs 2.6 g | Sugars 2.0 g | Protein 13.6 g

Dec. 8th, 2014

Flowers

Greek Chickpea Salad

I usually either grab some leftovers or eat out for my weekday lunches.  It wasn't always this way.  I used to be really good about packing a lunch.  Well, at least I tell myself that.  But now I'm sincerely trying.  No more than once a week may I eat out during a weekday lunch.  Leftovers are still ok, but a planned lunch schedule is SO MUCH BETTER.  Enter a chickpea salad.  (P.S. - salads don't require lettuce FYI).

Greek Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

*  3.5 cups canned chickpeas, about  15 oz cans or one really large one, drained and rinsed (Goya Chickpeas preferred)
*  1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
*  1 can of yellow corn (low sodium), drained and rinsed
*  1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
*  1 cucumber, seeds removed, quartered and diced
*  1 container of extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and diced finely
*  1/8 cup feta cheese
*  1 cup Newmans' Own Greek Vinaigrette (or your own preferred brand)
*  20-30 green or black olives, quartered
*  1/8 cup bannana peppers, roughly chopped

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, onions, corn, tofu, cucumber, corn, feta, olives, and bannana peppers.

2.  Toss well and add Greek dressing.   Let sit at least 1 hour, preferrably overnight.

3.  Reserve tomatoes for when serving (if storing for several days).  Add tomatoes prior to service.

Serves 5 | Calories 463 | Fat 24.5 g | Cholesterol 3 mg | Sodium 1514 mg | Potassium 322 mg | Carbs 47.7 g | Fiber 12.6 g | Sugar 8 g | Protein 21.5 g

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