Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yummy Chicken Chili

As soon as the weather hits less than 60 degrees around here, I make a big pot of chili. Luckily, chili is also really easy to make into a healthy meal, and I wanted to see what I could do. For this recipe, I used a basic chili guideline, as provided by Pioneer Woman.

The first step was swapping the beef for ground chicken breast. You definitely do not even miss this exchange. I usually exchange the beef for turkey, but the turkey was super expensive, and I went with chicken. Side note about turkey and chicken: make sure you are using the ground breast meat, not just the regular ground meat. For instance: ground turkey breast is the healthy stuff and ground turkey can have just as many calories, fats, cholesterols, etc. as ground beef.

Also, I used my taco seasoning mix in this recipe for the seasoning. This recipe can be found here from All Recipes. I am a HUGE proponent of using non-packaged seasonings, because there is so much hidden salt in those!! By mixing up your own seasonings, you not only save money, but you can closely monitor your sodium intake.

This recipe will make 8 servings.

Without further ado: here's the recipe!

Chicken Chili
(as adapted from Pioneer Woman's Frito Chili Pie)

1 lb. ground chicken breast
2 garlic cloves OR 1 tsp. minced garlic
1 c. diced onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can Rotel
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 Tb. taco seasoning (or 1 package of chili seasoning)
1 can Pinto beans (drained and thoroughly washed)
1 can Kidney beans (drained and thoroughly washed)
5-6 pickled jalapeno slices, chopped
1/2 tsp of pickled jalapeno juice

In a big pot, put tiny bit of olive oil in the bottom, along with the diced onion and garlic. Let those sweat together for a few minutes and add in the chicken breast. Cook until just finished and add in the tomato sauce, Rotel, crushed tomatoes, seasoning, beans, jalapeno slices, and juice. Stir together. Bring heat to a low temperature and let it cook for as long as possible!! (At least 6 hours.)

**This recipe is AMAZING with the BEST Cornbread!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like crispy cookies, and those that like chewy ones. (And those that don't like cookies at all, I suppose, but that cross-section of the population is totally messed up.)

Anyway, I am in the chewy cookie category. Love them. But can't seem to get a good recipe for them. At least, not one that gets you the perfect crisp edge with the delicious chewy center. (The more I type, the more I am starting to despise the word "chewy.")

Everybody claims to have the perfect recipe for the best chewy chocolate chip cookies. Until now, I hadn't found one that truly was, at least not without spreading out too much, getting too thin, etc. I found this recipe on Pinterest, courtesy of Apple A Day and gave it a shot. Verdict: SO GOOD!! These cookies not only retain their shape and do not spread out, but get a tiny bit crispy on the edges and stay super soft in the middle! Its all due to a small bit of cornstarch in the ingredients. It makes all the difference.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(as a tiny bit adapted from Apple A Day, via Food Network Canada)

3/4 c. salted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, mix the sugars and softened butter together until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix until blended.

Add in dry ingredients until combined, fold in chocolate chips.

Bake for approximately 7-10 minutes, depending on how big you make your cookies. Do not bake more than 10 minutes. Note: the tops will not brown, the edges and bottoms will turn barely golden brown.

Let cool on a wire rack. Once they are no longer scorching, try not to eat them all in one sitting :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

This is a recipe I actually made a while ago, but it definitely needed to be added to the site, because it is so yummy! Last Valentine's Day, I was trying to think up something creative to make for my husband that wasn't red velvet cake. There is a bit of a back story there: Valentine's Day is pretty special for us--its the day my husband proposed. (Which is cliche, I know, but I definitely was not expecting it because it is, in fact, cliche!) Also, there is an amazing bakery in my husband's hometown that makes the most delicious red velvet cupcakes. I therefore know what a delicious red velvet cupcake tastes like and I have been ruined forever on all other red velvet cupcakes.

So, in my search for something unique, I ran across a recipe for a red velvet cheesecake on the McCormick spice website. (Big stretch, I know.) It looked pretty daunting, but I knew I could tackle it! It ended up being much easier than I expected, and I'm looking forward to trying it again!

Red Velvet Cheesecake
2-8 oz. packages of regular cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
1 Tb. red food coloring (may need more depending on brand/deepness of color desired)
1 prepared Oreo crumb crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low until completely combined.

Take one cup of batter out of the large bowl and put into a separate bowl. Add the red food coloring to this separate amount of batter. Then quickly whisk in the melted chocolate.

Pour the red-tinted batter into the crust first. Top with the remaining regular batter. Bake for 40 minutes, or until set. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Banana Nut Bread

I love baking. Its probably my most favorite thing ever. I hate when a recipe that sounds great turns out gross, but I suppose that sort of thing is inevitable sometimes. This recipe, however, is not one of the failures.

I had some dying bananas on my counter one day and started googling recipes for banana nut bread. I came across quite a few, of course, but paid special attention to the comments and reviews. This one from The Neelys was rated pretty highly, so I gave it a shot. IT IS SO GOOD!!

Banana Nut Bread
1 stick butter, salted
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 large very ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
2 eggs OR 3 egg whites
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

In one small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another small bowl, mash up the bananas, leaving a small bit of texture. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in the bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix until just combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly, mixing as you go. Finally fold in the walnuts.

Bake for 40-50 minutes.

Roasted Broccoli

I'm always on the look-out for how to make blah veggies yummy. I've been hearing a lot about roasting broccoli lately, so I decided to give it a shot. I found this recipe from the Skinny Taste website. Discovered lots of fun things on there I'm going to try in the upcoming weeks, so watch for those!

Roasted Broccoli
3/4-1 lb. of cut broccoli, cleaned, with short stems
3 cloves of minced garlic
11/2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and completely dry broccoli. Trim up stems if browned. Combine EVOO, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until broccoli is brown and tender. To continue to soften the broccoli after taking it out of the oven, cover the dish with tin foil and allow the broccoli to steam.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I'm not a very experienced baker, but I definitely wanted to try to go big and make a lemon meringue pie. I love perusing the Whisk Kid's website, and discovered her recipe for lemon meringue pie. Her's looks much better than mine, but her recipe is spot on! I was terrified that my pie would end up tasting like lemon-y scrambled eggs, but it didn't!! It gets much better after a little bit of time in the fridge.

Also, PLEASE make the pie crust if you can! Her recipe for the crust is so buttery and delicious...its something a frozen pie crust just canot match.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tb. butter (cut up, and very cold)
4 Tb. water, very cold

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until tiny bits. Again, make sure the butter is very cold. Add just enough flour until moistened, knead a few times. Wrap up dough and refrigerate from anywhere to 30 minute to two days. (As a side note, I did not do this. DO NOT LEAVE OUT THIS STEP. It is very important. My pie crust did not act right once it hit the oven!)

When ready to use the crust, roll out until even to fit a 9" pie plate. Lay over pie plate, pinch down the edges, and prick dough all over with a fork. Place back into freezer.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place pie weights/beans/rice/etc onto pie crust when baking to ensure it bakes flat. (Also didn't do this. Again, NECESSARY!) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove weights/beans/rice/etc. Bake for 5-10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and prepare filling.

Pie Filling:
4 egg yolks at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 Tb. flour
3 Tb. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 Tb butter

4 egg whites
6 Tb. white sugar

Place egg yolks in large clear bowl. Whisk and set aside.

Combine cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in water, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and bring mixture to a boil, stirring continually. Stir in butter. Remove from heat. Pour 1/2 cup of mixture into egg yolks, whisking vigorously to ensure that egg yolks become tempered. Pour those egg yolks into the sugar mixture and continue whisking. Put pan back on the heat and continue cooking until very thick. (Just a note, this took a really long time for me!) Remove from heat and pour into cooked pie crust.

Put egg whites into mixing bowl. Using a free standing mixer or hand mixer, beat egg whites together. Slowly add the 6 Tb. of sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks.

Spoon meringue onto hot filling. Use a spatula/spoon/whatever, to fluff up the top, moving meringue to border of crust.

Bake for approx. 10 minutes, or until the tips of the meringue start to brown.