Holidays · Recipes

Chicken Chili

chicken chili.png

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

Baby & Toddler · Recipes

Our Thanksgiving Traditions

This is going to be Georgia’s first Thanksgiving (and everything else!) and we are super excited to have her around for the holiday.

This time last year, we were just keeping our fingers crossed that she’d be coming into our lives soon, and a few weeks after Thanksgiving we found out that our wish had come true and she was officially on the way! I haven’t decided what she’s going to wear yet (well, other than this bib, since she drools like crazy) but I have decided what we are making. My father-in-law does the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, and our relatives split all the sides and desserts.

We bring:

  • Pumpkin, lemon meringue and apple pie. I order them from this bakery near where we live. They deliver for $1, and donate 20% to the Bread of Life, a local food pantry which hosts a huge Thanksgiving dinner every year for hundreds of people north of Boston, all for free.
  • Mashed potatoes. I have a great make-ahead method!
  • Cranberry Sauce from scratch. My specialty.

Click the photos below for my easy recipes for those buttery mashed potatoes and special cranberry sauce, which has little kick thanks to some ground ginger and orange peel.

Boil and mash these with half-and-half and cream cheese the day before, then bake topped with butter the hour before Thanksgiving dinner.
Sweet and tart.

Need more inspiration?

Don’t miss the New York Times Vegetarian Thanksgiving Guide, which includes Gluten-free options and plenty of ideas for leftovers this year.

I’m also dying to try this recipe for Sweet Potato Tart Tatin topped with Mascarpone (!) from The Chew, and this recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes topped with caramelized onions. Mark said next year he’s going to try his hand at cooking for Thanksgiving by whipping up these sauteed cipolline onions by Mario Batalli. My grandmother always made creamed pearl onions for Thanksgiving; it might be a Scandinavian thing. I really miss them so I can’t wait for Mark to try these!

I’m headed back to work the Monday after the holiday, so wish me (and Georgia and Daddy) good luck. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

This is a great one-dish comfort meal. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started occasionally eating meat again. This recipe satisfied both Mark and I, and is a very filling option for chilly fall nights. Make it in a big casserole dish and go oven to table with it!

20131024-041736.jpg


This recipe comes courtesy of the Boston Globe.
I mentioned it in my fall flavors post a few weeks ago and finally got around to trying it. I used turkey kielbasa to be a little bit healthier, a mix of Cortland and Mackintosh apples because they were in season in New England when I made this, and packaged mashed potatoes from Ikea, which saved time and was super delicious.

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

Served over mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 TBSP grainy or French mustard, like Dijon or spicy brown
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for sauteing the onions

20131024-043654.jpgDirections

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your sliced ingredients.

In a flameproof casserole dish, such as this Le Creuset french oven I used, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and one apple. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until the onion starts to brown.

(Note: if using a cast iron pan such as Le Creuset, it is VERY important to start the heat on the low end. This type of cookware heats up very efficiently and you can’t cool the dish once it has gotten too hot.)

Stir in the sauerkraut, wine, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the sausage slices on top.

Bring to a boil then transfer to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 45 minutes, or until the sausages are pretty well browned.

If you are making the prepared mashed potatoes, place them in the oven a few minutes before the casserole dish as they require slightly longer to cook.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the remaining apple chunks.

Serve over the mashed potatoes with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer!

20131024-043633.jpgBy stirring in one apple before you roast the dish and another one right before serving, you create a sweet sauce that also has a touch of tartness. Otherwise, all the apples would turn to mush!

20131024-043734.jpg

To plate, spread a layer of the mashed potatoes on each dish and top with the kielbasa. You can obviously make mashed potatoes from scratch if you have more time than I did, and you could also serve over egg noodles or rice if that’s more your style.

20131024-043831.jpg

A little bit goes a long way. Yum!

20131024-043852.jpg

In other news, Georgia had her first Halloween a couple weeks ago! We went trick-or-treating with friends whose son was a bit more age appropriate for appreciating the holiday. Baby G’s age didn’t stop us from dressing her up, even if it meant Daddy had to carry her around in his arms all night. (We kept it to less than 10 houses and she still fell asleep).

20131112-204151.jpg

By the way, I feel like I owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog and has stuck by me through a challenging postpartum period (is there any other kind?) Even though I’ve only managed to post every other week (at best) since having Georgia, my readers have hung around, and the blog has had high traffic and plenty of new comments and visitors. In fact, I’ve recently started to get as many as 500 visitors a day, which is so much more than I ever thought would happen when I started OrganicGlory and hoped that anyone beside my mom would read it. My dream is to keep writing, trying new recipes, and sharing my life with you, and I’m honored that people I’ve never met have taken the time to visit my site and share it with others. That so many have stayed and shared some of themselves in return is truly amazing.

#blessed

Recipes

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

What’s the best thing about mashed potatoes? How fluffy, buttery and delicious they are, right? But there’s a dark side — all that peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing by hand the morning of a big meal, which almost makes you dread having them. Well, not anymore.

Photo Dec 24, 3 01 59 PM

As I mentioned in my Christmas Dinner post, I used a new recipe (new to me, anyway) from the Pioneer Woman, which calls for baking the potatoes the day before (I KNOW) and then popping them in the oven just half an hour before you eat. I had to try it. I love, love, LOVE buttery mashed potatoes, and yet they are such a pain when you’re trying to time the rest of a big meal to be ready all at once. Well, this make-ahead tip 100% worked for me, so I am posting it here in the hopes it’ll save you some time down the line. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-lb. bag of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8-oz. container of plain cream cheese
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Peel and cut the potatoes evenly into halves or quarters. Set a large pot of water on to boil, and when the water is simmering rapidly, add the potatoes. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them in a large colander. When they are done draining, place them back into the dry cooking pot on the stove over low heat. Mash by hand with a potato masher over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.

Turn off the stove and add the softened butter, starting with one stick and adding more to your taste. Then add the cream cheese and half a cup of the half-and-half or heavy cream, again adding more to your taste. Mash until there are no more lumps.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, taking care not to under-salt.

Stir well and add to a medium sized baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and put it in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to bake it.

If you’re eating it right away, just bake at 350 until the butter on top is melted and the potatoes are warmed through. If you’re making ahead of time, take it out of the fridge an hour or two before your meal and heat for 25 to 30 minutes at the same temperature.

Photo Dec 24, 12 52 02 PM

Chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces hastens the cooking time. Half or at the most quartered should do it, otherwise they’ll fall apart in the water.

Photo Dec 24, 2 18 32 PM

Photo Dec 24, 2 21 43 PM

Using a hand-held potato masher is the only way to go. An electric mixer sometimes makes the potatoes glue-y.

Photo Dec 24, 2 24 58 PM

Photo Dec 24, 2 25 07 PM

Make sure you’ve set the butter out to soften for a bit before mixing it into the potatoes. I also like to leave the half-and-half and cream cheese out for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before using.

Photo Dec 24, 2 45 04 PM

Make sure you taste before putting the potatoes into your baking dish to make sure they’ve been salted enough!

Photo Dec 24, 3 01 55 PM

Yum.

Recipes

Traditional Shepherd’s Pie

It’s getting cooler, which makes me think about Fall recipes again. This comforting, home-style Shepherd’s Pie has lean ground beef, chopped onions, creamed corn, sweet corn and mashed potatoes — that’s it. Simple, stick-to-your-ribs fare. I made it last weekend before a visit to Mark’s 90-year-old grandfather, who gets Meals on Wheels because he is legally blind. How depressing! Whenever I can, I bring him a home-cooked meal to enjoy.

Shepherd's_Pie copy

This is an easy one to pull together. The only time-consuming part is the 45 minutes it spends in the oven; if you make it on the weekend or in the evening before bed, it’s ready to go for the next few days. This is one of Mark’s favorites, and has been ever since my Mom taught me how to make it (in miniature ceramic baking dishes) for lunches when I had my first job out of college. By the way, you could do the same thing — just buy those handy single-serving bakers or ramekins and adjust the cooking time as needed.

Start off by coarsely chopping a small onion and cooking it over medium heat in a medium sized skillet until translucent, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. (Is it me, or do my fingers look REALLY pudgy here? Sigh.)

Then you are going to add the pound of lean ground beef into the pan, breaking it up with your spoon and stirring until the meat is just browning. Don’t overcook it, because it will continue to cook through in the oven.

Remove the cooked beef and onions from the heat and get out a large glass baking dish. I like my Anchor Hocking bake n’ take set because it comes with a matching cover and carrying case, which is great for transporting and storing in the fridge (it’s especially handy around the holidays).

Pour the ground beef into the baking dish, spreading out in a very thin, even layer. Don’t be concerned if it just barely covers the bottom of the dish. It’s supposed to be that way.

This is a redundant picture. A certain fuzzy assistant photo-bombed me.

Add the creamed corn next……..

…………followed by the sweet corn.

Now you’re ready to add the mashed potatoes. Full disclosure: I used to make the mashed potatoes from scratch, but one time I cheated, and Mark said “you HAVE to make it this way from now on.” Well…I’m not going to complain about a shortcut tasting better. So from then on, boxed potatoes it is.

Either way you do the potatoes, make sure you add a lot of butter and milk so it stays moist. I find it’s easier to spread the potatoes onto the Shepherd’s Pie in big blobs that you push outward with two forks to cover the whole surface. If you try to drop the whole mess of potatoes into the center and spread outward, you’ll just end up dragging up loose corn and making a mess.

Then, take your hand and just pat it down all over so the potatoes are roughly even in the pan. Anything sticking up will just burn, and you don’t want that.

Cover with foil, pop it in the oven at 350 for about half an hour, then check on it. If it hasn’t browned yet, continue cooking uncovered for about 10 more minutes, checking back frequently so that you take it out when it’s just starting to brown at the edges and bubble up. You don’t, obviously, want to burn it.

If it needs more than 10 minutes, so be it! Just keep an eye on it, and the browning potatoes will tell you when it’s done for your oven. Once it’s not boiling hot anymore, it’s ready to eat! I like it warm, not steaming hot, and it makes unbelievable leftovers. Enjoy.

Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • About 1 lb. of ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 can of creamed corn
  • 1 box of instant mashed potatoes, prepared
  • Milk and butter for the mashed potatoes
  • Olive Oil for sauteeing the beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Chop the onion and saute in a skillet over medium heat until translucent. Season with salt and pepper and add the ground beef. Cook, stirring, until just browned.

Pour the onion-beef mixture into a large glass baking dish. Pour in one can of creamed corn and spread into a thin layer on top of the beef.

Add the can of sweet corn and distribute evenly over the creamed corn layer.

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your instant mashed potatoes if not done already.

Top the corn with the potatoes, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with foil and place in the oven.

Cook for half an hour, remove foil and cook 10 minutes uncovered or until the top is browned and bubbling. Enjoy!

Tip: If you are going to reheat this, I would suggest adding a dollop of butter to the top before you put the cooked pie in the fridge. That way, when you pop it in the microwave, the butter will melt and re-energize the potatoes a bit. I highly suggest setting some aside for leftovers if you can — it’s honestly even better the second day.