Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

I recently subscribed to Cooking Light magazine, and I just got my first issue this month. The cover featured a delicious-looking bowl of hearty chili, and the timing coincided perfectly with the near-zero temps we have had here lately.

We usually make Josh's White Chicken Chili, but I thought the beef would be a nice change since I don't often buy red meat. The recipe called for beef chunks, which is a little different from other recipes that call for ground beef. There was a lot of depth to the flavor of this chili, without it being too spicy. Overall it was quite yummy!

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili
from Cooking Light
makes 6 servings

cooking spray
1 pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil (I used olive oil)
4 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup minced jalapeño peppers (about 2 large, use ribs for more heat)
10 garlic cloves, minced (yes, we used that many!)
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (I omitted)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth (I used ~2 cups and 1 cup water)
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced radish (for garnish, I omitted)
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped (for garnish)
6 tablespoons small cilantro leaves (for garnish, I omitted)
6 tablespoons sour cream
6 lime wedges (I omitted)

Heat a stock pot (or Dutch oven) over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeño; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer (uncovered) 1 1/2 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls. Divide radish and avocado evenly among bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1 tablespoon sour cream. Serve with lime wedges.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crockpot Apricot Chicken

Its been kind of a slow month on the posting front. Josh and I have been sticking with some old favorites, and making lots of quick chicken dishes that don't often deserve their own post.

And here we are with another crockpot recipe. I haven't been good about menu planning lately, and I find the best plan for frozen chicken is to throw it the crockpot. This recipe is great because of the few ingredients required. I happened to have a jar of apricot preserves in the pantry, so all I had to get was the onion soup mix - everything else I had on hand. I served with rice and microwave-steamed broccoli for an easy, complete meal.

**Picture from, because I forgot to take one**
Crockpot Apricot Chicken
adapted from
serves 4 as written

4 frozen chicken breast halves (4-6 oz each)
1 c. apricot preserves (I used a jar of the sugar free kind)
1 package dry onion soup mix
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste


Place chicken breasts (frozen is ok) in 3-4 quart slow cooker. Mix all other ingredients and pour over chicken, turning chicken to coat.

Cover crockpot and cook 8 hours on low (less if your chicken was thawed), or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender.

If you like you can thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch before serving. Combine 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. chicken stock and mix until smooth. Stir into crockpot juices, turn to high for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice or pasta. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crockpot Honey Chicken and Dried Fruit

It was noon on a Saturday, and we didn't have anything planned for dinner. Working with frozen chicken breasts, I decided I had enough time to toss something in the crockpot. We adapted this recipe slightly to work with what we had on hand.

I really like chicken in the crockpot - it stays so moist! This recipe had some great flavor to it - I used a cup of mixed dried berries, and I think the cranberries really made the dish work well. Since the fruit is in the crockpot all day, it plumps up from the moisture. I started with frozen chicken, so the sauce was quite watery near the end. I scooped out about 1/4 cup of the juices, and mixed it with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch, and then added this back to the crockpot for the last 20 minutes of cooking. The sauce with nice and thick, and it was great served over whole grain rice. (Yeah, the picture isn't so great. But some dishes are just so hard to photograph!)

Crockpot Honey Chicken with Dried Fruit
adapted from; serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (frozen is ok!)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup mixed dried fruit pieces
1/4 c. honey
1/3 c. chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped

Place all ingredients in 4-5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours until chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. Thicken sauce with a little cornstarch if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice or egg noodles.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

While looking for a healthy chicken recipe I came across Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken. And I thought, no way - it has "sugar" in the title! But as long as you don't go crazy on the brown sugar, this recipe isn't too bad. Everything in moderation...

We really liked this - a little brown sugar goes a long way and adds a tinge of sweetness to the dish without making it "sweet." And the best part - I had dinner ready in 20 minutes, which included making rice and steaming a veggie!

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken
adapted from Spark Recipes
makes 2 filling portions

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, approx 6 oz each
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce, reduced sodium recommended
4 tsp brown sugar, unpacked

Pound chicken breasts to approx 3/8 inch thickness. Don't flatten them too much, you are simply trying to make them a uniform thickness so they cook faster and more evenly. Season both sides with some salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Brown the garlic in the butter.

Add chicken breasts to garlic and butter and cook thoroughly, about 5 minutes on each side. About halfway through cooking, add a few splashes of soy sauce to the pan.

When chicken is fully cooked, turn off heat and sprinkle 2 tsp. of brown sugar on top of each breast. Allow the brown sugar to melt into the chicken (about 3-5 minutes).

I served over brown rice with steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pepperoni Chicken Roll-ups

Josh found this recipe and cooked it up for dinner one night. It was actually pretty darn good! I had him go light on the pepperoni and cheese on mine, and the sauce was a nice addition of flavor (even though we used the jarred kind and not homemade).

Pepperoni Chicken Roll-Ups
adapted from Brenda on All-recipes
serves 4 as written, we easily halved the recipe for the 2 of us

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12 slices pepperoni
4 slices (or 1 cup shredded) mozzarella cheese
1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 pinch garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian-style seasoning
1-2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Pound chicken breasts flat with a meat mallet. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, pepper and Italian style seasoning.

Place 3 slices pepperoni on each chicken breast and top each with a slice of cheese. Roll up breasts and fasten with toothpicks.

Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in a small fry pan. Brown chicken rolls in oil about 5 minutes each side. Place chicken in a baking dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over chicken, and top with a little extra cheese if desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
These were pretty tasty. They were a tad greasy from the pepperoni, but you could sub turkey pepperoni if you can find it. We used fat free mozzarella, and it would also be a little healthier if we used our homemade spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip

There are a lot of versions of "Buffalo Crack Dip" around the interwebs, and every version I have tried is just as addicting! Josh and I snacked on this while watching football on New Years Day. I really like the creaminess, and we add lots of chicken so it is quite filling. My only issue with this recipe is the color - the Franks Red Hot sauce is diluted with cream cheese and dressing, leaving a slightly pink-hued dish. But its the taste that counts, and Josh didn't seem to mind. Beware, this dip has quite a kick!
Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip
adapted slightly from Frank's
makes 3 cups

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened (I use fat free)
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/2 c. blue cheese OR ranch dressing
1/2 c. Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce or Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 c. cooked chicken
Tortilla chips for serving

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Shred chicken or chop into small pieces. (You can use canned, but we just boil 2 chicken breast halves and then shred it - we had closer to 3 cups.)

Mix cream cheese, blue cheese, dressing, and red hot sauce together in a bowl with a spoon or fork. Clumps of cream cheese is ok. Add chicken and stir to combine.

Transfer mixture to a pie plate or 6-9" baking dish. Bake at 350 deg F for 20 min or until hot and bubbly. (Alternatively, you could heat in a crockpot until hot, about 60-90 min, and turn down to warm to serve at a party.)

Stir and serve, we like it with tortilla chips.

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Dip

My mom made Spinach Artichoke Dip as an appetizer for our family Christmas dinner, and it was so yummy! She made it in the crockpot, and kept it warm in a bowl on a heating plate.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
from my mom's friend Renay

1/2 c. mayo (Hellman's recommended)
1/2 c. light sour cream
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 can artichokes (bottoms are fine)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. crushed garlic

Combine all ingredients and heat until melted and warm. It is easiest to do this in the crockpot and set it on low for 1-2 hours, but you could also place a small baking dish in a 350 deg F oven until heated through.