Holidays · Recipes

Chicken Chili

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One of the only redeeming things about winter settling in — and darkness falling before I even leave work — is the option to cook chili again. (Well, that and the idea of taking a nice, hot bath every night with my New Yorker, kitty, and a glass of wine…but back to the chili.)

This has been a rough couple weeks, right? After Election Night, I had a hard time putting two words together or getting dressed for work on time, never mind meal-plan, set up the slow cooker in the morning, or pack myself a healthy lunch, if I’m being honest. Luckily, I had some leftovers of this at the ready, thanks to the big batch I made at my freezer meal workshop last March…which I know I keep mentioning, but has honestly helped me entertain more times than I can really count this past year. If I hadn’t inherited a freezer full of food in August from a friend moving to Seattle, I’d be planning to do another workshop as we speak.

This can be frozen ahead, but it can also be made all at once. If you do freeze ahead, be sure to double bag and give it at LEAST 36 hours to defrost in the fridge before cooking. Mine was frozen solid and took two full days to thaw safely in the refrigerator.

Chicken Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs lean ground chicken
  • 3 TBSP dry buffalo seasoning*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can white or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil**
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth (veggie works fine too)

To serve as toppings, or on the side: a bag of corn or tortilla chips, blue cheese or ranch dressing, hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, corn bread.

* I used Wildtree Blazin’ Buffalo seasoning. Other options include Frank’s Red Hot, McCormick, or something from a specialty store like Williams-Sonoma.

** I used Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil. Any other oil that tolerates heat well is fine; you can pick one with flavor infusions you like.

DIRECTIONS

(If you are freezing ahead, then you’ll need three bags: one smaller bag for the chicken, buffalo seasoning, salt and pepper; and another for the rest of the ingredients. Then double bag in a larger bag for storage, and thaw before cooking).

In a large pot on the stove top over medium-high heat, pour in the chicken, buffalo seasoning and salt and pepper. Use a large spoon to break up the chicken while it’s cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes, add  everything else except the chicken stock and cook for five minutes.

Add the two cups of chicken stock and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

To serve, place in bowls with condiments of your choosing. We had corn muffins, sour cream, cheddar cheese, hot sauce and tortilla chips. Blue cheese, ranch, corn chips and green onions would also be great toppings!

***

Have a great weekend everyone! We are going to eat out for Thanksgiving this year after losing such a beloved member of our family in August, and then try again next year for building a new tradition. Here’s where we are eating. If you’re looking for good T-Day recipes, check here for cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes, two ways of doing Brussels sprouts, and these balsamic roasted green beans, which I adore despite the horrendous photos. I’ll leave you with this sneak peak from our holiday card photo shoot last weekend, thanks to our friend Thais at TDM Photography.

Looking for a great deal on your own holiday cards? Check out TinyPrints, which is offering up to 40% off foil and glitter cards this weekend only — until 11/20! — and 30% off anything else. Click here and use code GIVESHINE!

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Inspired by a popular post on Damn Delicious (one of my favorite cooking blogs), this recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is beyond foolproof, with no braising, marinating or prep work required — just toss it in the slow cooker, come home after work and eat. You can use any cut of chicken and it still turns out moist and delicious. The original recipe called for chicken thighs, but boneless breasts were on sale and are something Georgia prefers, so we decided to try the recipe with those instead. And it worked perfectly. Life = easier, just like that!

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 Chicken thighs (or two packages of boneless breasts, which I used here)
  • 16 oz. red potatoes (half a 2.5 pound bag)
  • 16 oz.baby carrots (one bag)
  • 16 oz. green beans, trimmed (one bag)

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried oregano, basil, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste (about a tablespoon total)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix the sauce together and set aside.
  • In your slow cooker, nestle the potatoes and carrots into the bottom of the pot, then layer the chicken on top. Pour the sauce over and set to cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • The original recipe calls for basting every half hour, which is fine if you are home but not fine if you’re working. It turns out well either way.
  • In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in the green beans.
  • Serve warm on a cold day!

OK, so this doesn’t photograph very well as a finished product. Trust me when I tell you it’s even BETTER as leftovers! 

This is a great recipe to pair with the Maple Dijon Pork Chops I posted about a couple of weeks ago when you’re meal planning for the week, because you can buy one bag of potatoes and use half in this meal and half with the chops; the same goes for the green beans.

Are you all set for Halloween?? We are in full Spooky Swing. Last weekend was the “Boo at the Zoo” event at the same place where we hosted Georgia’s birthday party this year, and we had a blast with friends riding the kiddie rides, seeing the animals in their exhibits, dancing to some monster tunes and of course picking up some toys and (healthy) treats along the walking paths. Monday we had a trick-or-treat in my office, which was another hit, and tomorrow G has her preschool Halloween party. It’s an exhausting life when you’re three — and the actual holiday hasn’t even hit yet! I’m not sure Rapunzel’s wig will make it to Monday intact… 🙂

Have a great rest of the week everyone. 

kid-friendly · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Maple-Dijon Pork Chops with Chunky Apple Topping

This dish has become a fall tradition in our house. Every October we plan a date to go apple picking as a family, usually the first weekend Mark gets off after closing his first show of the season; then, with our bounty overflowing, we get started making apple crisp and this delicious dinner that tops succulent brined pork chops with a maple-dijon glaze and a chunky apple cider sauce. It’s something we all look forward to when the air turns chilly! I made this for the first time this year just last night, and I’m looking forward to baking a sweet apple crisp this weekend, too. I can’t wait to share that with you!

These pictures are actually from the last time I made a large quantity of this for a dinner party a couple years ago (hence the Johnny’s Foodmaster packaging, for a store that doesn’t exist anymore in the Boston area!) Also pictured are some garlic-chive mashed potatoes (click here for my basic mashed potato recipe) and my balsamic roasted green beans, which is my go-to way of baking green beans in the oven so the whole family will eat them. Although there are lots of steps pictured, I actually managed this just fine on a weeknight yesterday. I threw the chops into a freezer-size bag to brine them before work with some poultry seasoning (sage, thyme and rosemary) — see brining instructions below — and then when I got home, I just set the water on to boil for the potatoes, tossed the green beans into the oven to cook, set up the apple topping on a back burner, and cooked the pork chops in the last 7 minutes while I mashed the cooked potatoes. It wasn’t hard at all!!

HOW TO BRINE

Brining, or submerging meat in salt water for tenderizing and flavor, can be done overnight or during the workday so your meat is ready to be cooked when you get home in the evening. As I wrote about in this post for Citrus Pork, brining is a simple technique that does a great job of preventing dense cuts of meat (like pork chops!) from drying out while cooking. Yesterday I just threw the chops into a double-bagged freezer Ziploc with enough water to cover them, and eyeballed the salt and herbs. In general, you want to aim for a ratio of 1 TBSP of salt for every 1 CUP of water; as long as you make sure to cover the meat completely with water and rinse them off well when you are done brining, it’s pretty hard to mess this up. You also want to use flavorings such as onions, herbs, or aromatics like ginger, lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, sugar or garlic in your brining bag. If you are hoping to brine a holiday bird, like a large turkey, or a roast, definitely make sure you give it overnight to soak. Want a more in depth guide by cut of meat? This article is a good place to start.

Recipe: Maple Dijon Pork Chops with Chunky Apple Topping

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 CUP apple cider
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 pork chops (or more for a crowd)
  • If brining: salt, water & herbs (I used a fresh poultry seasoning mix from the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP Dijon or spicy brown mustard (I used the latter)
  • olive oil for the pan

DIRECTIONS

If you are making the green beans and/or mashed potatoes, set those up to boil and bake in the oven first, then turn your attention to making the apple sauce and finally to cooking the pork chops in a frying pan. If you boil the water then prep all your other ingredients, your potatoes will be done cooking around the same time as your apple topping and your green beans, meaning you can set those aside in a warm place and cook the chops while mashing the potatoes.

If you’ve brined the pork chops, make sure to rinse them well and discard any seasonings that brined with them.

To make the apple topping, cook the apples in a medium sauce pan with the cider and brown sugar and cinnamon over medium/high heat until tender, about 15 minutes, then set aside.

(I’ve listed out the step-by-step for both the green bean side and the potatoes below).

To make the pork chops, heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the chops, seasoning with a little pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Then, stir the maple syrup and mustard into the pan, tossing to coat.

Top the pork chops with the chunky apple sauce and serve alongside the mashed potatoes and green beans or sides of your choice. And enjoy!

Here’s a quick recap of the green bean recipe if you don’t want to click over to my full post about it. I bought a pre-rinsed bag of cut green beans (16 oz) and added half of a sliced onion in a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and add in a bunch of whole garlic cloves — I usually do between 6 and 10, peeled of course. Roast in the oven at 350F until browned pretty well, about 30 minutes; you want the onions to be starting to caramelize. You can also do 400F for 20 minutes, but I was timing it to be ready alongside the pork chops and potatoes here. Set aside and while still warm add a few drops of balsamic to the finished beans, tossing to coat (a little goes a long way). Serve warm.

For the mashed potato recipe you see here, I used half a bag of red potatoes (~1 pound) plus 1 stick of butter, about a half cup of milk (any kind; I used almond) and a hefty dollop of sour cream (a bit of cream cheese would also work), adding a generous sprinkling of salt to taste. I boil the potatoes, chopped in half, until fork-tender, then drain them, add them back into the stockpot and mash them by hand (skin still on) with all the ingredients mentioned above. So creamy and delicious!

I hope you enjoy this one. Stay tuned for a recap of our apple picking trip, some pictures from my recent travel to Detroit (where the food scene is bustling if you know where to look), and that apple crisp recipe I mentioned. The best part of fall is definitely the food if you ask me!

Blue Apron · Recipes

Sirloin Steak with Smashed Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

As you all know, I am barely a meat-eater, never mind a steak eater. But in the interest of broadening my child’s palate, and in treating my poor Irish husband to more of the meat n’ potatoes fare he grew up with, I have branched out into cooking sirloin … for the first time ever. And I dare say it came out really good.

Thanks to my Blue Apron membership, I had a recipe that I knew would turn out really well, and I loved the idea of pairing a good-quality organic meat with something offbeat, like Purple Potatoes and this tangy Green Bean side dish zipping with the flavors of garlic, tomato and scallion.

Sirloin is a cut from the back of the animal. It is a bit less tender than top sirloin, but not at all tough if you cook it for the exact amount of time called for. Seriously, if I can’t screw this up, then truly nobody can.

Sirloin Steaks with Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sirloin steaks, best quality you can find
  • 10 oz. purple (sometimes also called ‘blue’) potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz. green beans
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of tarragon
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste for seasoning

DIRECTIONS

To start, wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high and large-dice the potatoes. Peel and slice the garlic thin. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the green beans. Halve the tomatoes. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems (discarding them).

Add the potatoes to the pot of boiling water. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Off the heat, add half the butter. Using a fork, mash the cooked potatoes to your desired consistency. Stir in the white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside in a warm place.

While the potatoes cook, pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Let the cooked steaks rest for at least 5 minutes.

While the steaks rest, heat the pan of reserved fond on medium-high until hot. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.) Add the green beans; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Add the vinegar and ⅓ cup of water to the pan of vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by ¾ and the green beans have softened. Add the tarragon and the remaining butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the meat against the grain and add any juices left on the cutting board to the vegetables, then stir to combine. Divide the sliced steaks, mashed potatoes and finished vegetables between two plates, garnish with the green tops of the scallions, and enjoy!

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Options: If you really prefer much creamier potatoes, you can add milk, sour cream or creme fraiche to these, but I prefer them without. You could also decrease the amount of garlic and/or scallions if they’re too strong for you. And, it’s possible to substitute other types of vinegar (such as cider) if you don’t have red wine on hand.

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Buon Appetito!

And enjoy the last truly warm week we are going to get. I know I am. 


Recipes

Belgian Salad

This recipe comes to me from my aunt who lives in Florida and hosts lots of casual cookouts and parties. This is a great dish to bring to a barbecue because it doesn’t spoil, since there’s no mayo or sour cream or any other protein/dairy in it. The marinade adds a nice tang to the crisp veggies!

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Belgian Salad

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Ready In: 8 Hours 20 Minutes
  • Servings: 10

Says my aunt, “this is a refreshingly sweet side dish of baby peas, white corn, green beans and pimentos, all tossed together with a simple sweet n’ sour vinaigrette. Using all canned vegetables, this is a snap to prepare and has wonderful flavor after marinating overnight. It does not taste like canned veggies and you get a variety of crunch in every serving.”

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can baby peas
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white corn, drained
  • 1 (2 ounce) jar pimentos, drained
  • 1 cup chopped celery, plus the leafy green tops if available
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring oil, vinegar, and sugar to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate for one hour.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the drained green beans, peas, corn, pimentos, celery, and onion. (I actually put my canned veggies in my colander and let them drain while I am chopping the fresh onions and celery). Combine them all in a big bowl then pour the dressing over the top and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Before serving, drain the marinade. Season with salt and pepper, and serve chilled.

This easily feeds 10-15; double the recipe to feed a crowd of 20 or more. Enjoy!