Saturday, March 31, 2012

Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Chili

I SWEAR I am using Pinterest to do good. So far my "how to bust out a super-clean house", "fix something all McGyver-style" and "make dinner in the crock pot all the time" pins are coming in REALLY handy...and I mean it. I've got a good weekly and  monthly cleaning schedule that has actually stuck for most of 2012, we've had green smoothies for breakfast 5-6 days a week since January- and I have made dinner in the crock pot nearly once a week- which for a small family like ours usually makes 2 dinners or sometimes 2 dinners AND a freezer meal bonus!!
For some reason we started talking chili in the car and I figured it had been a while since I'd made corn bread too- so for this weeks crock-pot dinner, chili it was.
I have a go-to beef chili that I'm sure could win a contest (a contest where there are allowed to be beans in the chili- sorry, I love beans, that's how I roll.)
Since we had LOADED BOWLS for dinner Monday & Tuesday night I wanted to keep our light & healthy theme going and use as much of the items I already had on hand as possible.
Meanwhile, I am trying my darnedest to see if I can get Logan to nap longer than 30 minutes...basically when I put him down for a nap the clock starts tickin and in 29:59 he's up and ready for action so I have to assume that's all the time I've got to get naptime chores done.
During this nap I did the following-
Switched laundry loads
Prepared the chili 100% (had not done ANY prep beforehand like washed & chopped the veggies)
loaded and ran the dishwasher
vacuumed the living room

This should give you an idea of how quick and easy it is to make the chili- the cornbread will have to happen during the afternoon nap!

Here's how I threw it together..
(makes 8-10 servings)

1lb ground lean turkey
1 1lb can diced tomatoes & liquid
1 15oz can tomato sauce
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion chopped
3 bell peppers chopped
1 jalapeno chopped
(I eyeball the spices, go a little lighter than whats here the first time out and then tweak it to your liking..)
1/2 to 1 tsp cyanne pepper*
1/2 to 1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
4-6 tablespoons chili powder
1/2-1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
Salt & pepper
4 T flour (any oat, rice or whole wheat!)
If you want MORE HEAT- you can always double the jalapeno or add dried chili flakes- this chili's definitely got a good kick as it is, really,  try making it once and you can always turn it up a notch or more next time!
 *start w a 1/2 the first time you make this- it's got FIRE when you go full tilt

Put everything in the crock pot except the flour.
Use a wooden spoon to stir & break up all the meat, get it really well mixed
Sprinkle a light dusting of flour over the top.
Stir again.
Cover cook 7-8 hours on low.
When you're finished cooking, turn off the crock pot and let the chili stand for 15-20 minutes.
If it needs thickening (everybody is down with a different thickness in their chili- and you can go for a stand-the-fork-in-it version if you want), dust again with flour- (once or twice) stir in & let rest another 15 minutes.
Serve with your favorite chili toppin's

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kathy's Delicious Whole Slow Cooker Chicken

Ok, so I don't know Kathy, but I am very familiar with her crock pot whole chicken recipe- I make it ALL THE TIME. It is AWESOME.
I came across this recipe on All Recipes a while back click HERE to check it out in it's O.G. form- this blog post will also cover the basics, with my own modifications, some of which came from the helpful reviewers of this crock pot creation on the All Recipes post.

This is great because you get a delicious, whole, roasted chicken that takes minutes to prep and that you can leave the house and do all that needs doing while dinner is making itself on your counter at home! LOVE THAT.
Added bonus, if you keep an eye on the sale prices at your local market you can sometimes make this meal so cheap it's ridiculous! I got a whole chicken for $2.99 once and the only other thing I had to buy was a lemon!

This is the Beth version of Kathy's masterpiece:

1 Whole Chicken (generally when I buy them at Trader Joe's they're around 5lbs)- you are welcome to remove the skin if you prefer- I kept it on this time, and then we remove it after it was cooked. This was purely to save prep time- I have made it with the skin removed before and recommend that option when ever you have the time!
2/3 cup chicken broth (I recommend organic, low sodium if you can find one that is one or both of those things)
1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup honey (local, if you can, get it at a farmers market!)
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
the juice of 1 1/2 to 2 lemons
2 tsp sesame oil
4-6 cloves minced garlic
(optional- cracked black pepper, pinch of cayenne pepper OR a dash of red chili flakes)
(optional-stuff chicken cavity with chopped onion & garlic- yummmmm)

Rinse the chicken & pat dry- remove skin if you wish/have time.
In a large measuring cup (a 4 cup'er will do) whisk together all the other ingredients until completely incorporated.
Add chicken to crock pot, BREAST DOWN (this will keep the best part of the chicken moist and delicious)- pour measuring cup full of goodness over chicken.
8 hours on low
4 hours on high

Serve with/over rice or any other yummy grain (cous cous, quinoa, etc) and a big giant salad or huge serving of steamed veggies!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner- TACO Stuffed Shells

I know this; I love stuffed shells, and I love anything why not get those two concepts hitched up into a delicious, easy weeknight dinner that is a total crowd-pleaser!?!

As much as I wish this idea was my own, I always prefer to give credit where due- and this innovative yumminess comes from the Building Food Storage Blog (click the link for original recipe and photos).

This is my version of that awesome dish- I've had a husband and 6-month old battling the flu over here this week so I didn't have a moment to check the recipe and had to go from memory of seeing it once and using the ingredients I had here. That alone should give you a concept of how EASY this is to make.

What you'll need to make Taco Stuffed Shells:

1 lb lean ground turkey (you can also use beef, of course or a substitute of Veggie Taco Meat * if you are vegetarian or making this dish for a Lenten Friday dinner)
1 15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno, finely chopped**
1/2 a red bell, finely chopped**
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese (this is the 1/3 less fat "cream cheese"- if you read the package on the Philly brand, or buy generic, you'll see it's actually Neufchatel- go figure!)
1 box of large pasta shells
1 can of large olives, drained & sliced (or buy em sliced to save more time!)
4 chopped green onions
a few handfuls of shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack cheese
Taco Seasoning***
Sour cream or Greek yogurt, avocado and a little extra chopped green onion for garnish
A jar of salsa- or about 1-2 cups fresh salsa
hot sauce

*you can skip the taco seasoning step and also choose yay or nay on the additional veggies if you make the vegetarian taco meat recipe above...
**the jalapeno and bell pepper are completely optional, I threw em in because I had them in the fridge and didn't want them to go to waste...
***You can ALWAYS just buy the packet from the store or follow the instructions on THIS LINK to make your own. I eyeballed a combo of  chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, sea salt & black pepper to taste.

In a large skillet cook the ground meat thoroughly, add the seasoning as the meat cooks, or according to package directions, if using a packet. (if you use extra lean meat you shouldn't have to drain the meat after cooking- especially if you go the turkey route)
Add the onion, beans, jalapeno & bell pepper and stir over medium heat about 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile start a large sauce pot full of water boiling on another burner for the shells.
Add the Neufchatel or cream cheese to the meat skillet, reduce heat to low and stir until cheese melts in.
Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool.
Boil the shells according to package directions- about 9-12 minutes, you want them to be "aldente" because they will finish cooking once filled & baked.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water- set aside. (skip if prepping a freezer meal- see below)
Drain the shells and spread out on a sheet of wax paper to cool- so they don't cool all nestled into one another and stick together.
Pre heat the oven to 375
Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with foil.
Pour a little of the pasta water in the bottom of the baking dish- just enough so the bottom is covered completely in a VERY THIN layer of the water. (again, skip if freezing- see below)
Dot the bottom of the pan with salsa.
Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to stuff each shell with the meat/bean mix and line them up in the pan until you've used all the filling.
Pour salsa over the stuffed shells in the pan.
Sprinkle the shells with shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack cheese.
Sprinkle the cheese covered shells with green onion.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Top with sliced olives, sour cream (or non fat Greek yogurt), green onions, avocado and hot sauce.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Leek Mashed Taters

As mentioned in THIS POST we signed up for Farm Fresh to You organic produce delivery and couldn't be happier!! I promise to try and post recipes for everything we make using the contents of each package- so far you've seen the Soup Noodles we made first, and next week I'll post the green  smoothie breakfast I made using the rest of the chard...this is a Nate creation- he made us a delicious dinner of steak, mashed taters and I made a kale salad for the side.
We still had some of our "pound of red potatoes" and 1 of the "2 bunches of leeks" - these were easy peasy and DELICIOUS. We made them WITH the steak, as you'll see in my description- but of course I'll include a side note on how to make these solo and with out the steak involved~

Here's what we did:

In a medium pot boil 4-6 cups of water, add in about 1/2 to 1 whole pound of small red potatoes- cut in quarters (we did 1/2 a pound- which is enough for 2 people and a portion for lunch the next day).
Check the potatoes after about 5 minutes in boiling water- poke em with a fork- you want them cooked all the way through so you can mash em up. They should be done and ready to drain after about 7-9 minutes.
When the potatoes are all cooked- drain the water all away and put the potatoes back in the pot. Set aside, off of the heat.
Heat 1 T butter & 1T olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet, over medium heat- add 1 bunch of leeks (chopped & rinsed WELL), 3 cloves of garlic (chopped), 1/2 a shallot (chopped) stir/cook for about 5 minutes.
Two options here- you can just simmer/sautee the above goodness, set it aside in a bowl to mash into the potatoes OR at this point add some seasoned/marinated steak (or even chicken!) to the pan- sear on both sides then finish in the oven- use a meat thermometer to be sure it's cooked through in the case of the chicken, and cooked to your preferred "done-ness" in the case of the steak- remove meat from pan onto a plate to rest.
NOW, take the leak-y goodness that is also all mixed up in the meat-cooking goodness and add to the potatoes. Add in about 1/4-1/3 cup milk and mash up using a potato masher.
IF you didn't involve the meat step- season with salt and pepper and maybe even a pinch of red chili flake- to your liking...if you involved the meat your potatoes should be totally well seasoned from the juices.

Our next farm box delivery comes TODAY and I can't wait to see what's inside!!!