Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turkey & White Bean Chili

Happy Fall!!  We've been teased a few times with cooler temps, only to have the upper 90-degree weather come barreling back 24 hours later.  This week, though, I've embraced fall.  The second I saw our weather report, I started thinking about soups...and stews...and chilis.  I love fall - the cooler temperatures, October baseball (well...sometimes), football season.  I love the holidays and celebrating with friends and family.  But I really, really, love the fall food.

When I saw this recipe, it moved right to the top of the list.  I usually like my chili the way my parents always made it.  I don't really have a recipe, I just know how it should taste.  I've tried chicken chili before, but it just wasn't right.  But this recipe had potential!  I did adjust it a bit, adding some extra broth to thin it out and pouring in a can of diced tomatoes because, well, chili isn't chili for me without tomatoes.  Next time I may throw in a jalapeno for a little extra kick, but overall this is a keeper.  That's saying a lot considering I usually don't want beans anywhere close to my chili!

Turkey & White Bean Chili adapted from Skinny Taste
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder, I went with a little more
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cans white northern beans, drained & rinsed
  • 32 oz chicken broth, low sodium
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 4.5 oz can diced green chilis
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the turkey until done, season to taste with salt & pepper and add to a crock pot.  Using the same skillet, saute the onions for about 4-5 minutes, or until they start to brown.  Add in the garlic and saute for an additional minute.  Add the onions & garlic to the crock pot.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Serve with diced green onion, sour cream, chips...or whatever you usually like with your chili!  Tomorrow night, we're having the leftovers with a little rice.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Green Bean & Tomato Salad

We had a crazy hot summer this year.  Like 100* for a very long time.  Most of our meals consisted of something that could either be cooked in the crock pot, on the grill, or not at all.  I'd like to say that the weeks of grilled meat & salad meals helped me lose weight...but I'd be lying.  I think it had to do with the ice cold beers that were consumed to help keep us cool.

I think I also developed a new love for fresh green beans.  I've always been a fan of green beans, although we don't eat them often since Cooper won't even look at them.  During the fall I love to steam them and toss with a little bit of bacon or lemon zest.  But summer, especially a hot summer, begs for them to be served in a cold salad.  I added a little bit of pasta to this salad to beef it up a bit, and so that I could cook a little extra pasta for Cooper.  The dressing was very easy to make and I was a fan - although it did break the "no oven during the summer" rule.

Green Bean & Tomato Salad with Roasted Tomato Dressing from Cooking Light

  • 1 large ripe tomato, halved
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Romaine lettuce, torn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked bow-tie pasta
Heat the broiler.  Place the tomato halves on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and broil for about 10 minutes, or until blackened.  Let the tomato cool for about 10, peel and core discarding the peel & seeds. Combine the tomato, basil and next 6 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  

Cook pasta according to directions on the package in salted boiling water.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Steam the green beans until tender, about 7 minutes.  Rinse with cold water, drain.  Combine the Romaine, tomatoes, pasta & green beans in a large bowl.  Serve dressing over each salad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creamy Two Cheese Linguine

I haven't fully subscribed to the whole "Meatless Monday" thing.  It's a good idea in theory, but what if my week gets wonky and I need to move my menu around?  Or what if I just want a hamburger on a Monday?

Truth is, I grew up thinking that meals had to include a meat, vegetable and a starch.  Daily.  I'm not talking deep South fried chicken, butter beans & mashed potatoes, but it is a hard habit to break.  My family owned a meat processing plant, so going vegetarian wasn't exactly good for the bank account.  These days, I like the idea of a meal that can be thrown together quickly - and the easiest ones don't include meat.  Plus, some days I may or may not indulge at lunch and having a lighter dinner just fits.

I decided on this dish because I had some Asiago cheese that I wanted to use.  I also had some spinach that we were not going to eat before the weekend, so I stirred that in.  But the best part was that Cooper even liked this dish, so that moves it up pretty high on the list these days.

Creamy Two Cheese Linguine from The Novice Chef
  • 8oz linguine
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped & divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2oz shaved Asiago cheese, divided
  • 2oz fat free cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, according to the package.  While the pasta cooks, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Pour the olive oil into the pan, turning to coat.  Add in the flour and whisk constantly, for about 3-4 minutes or until the mixture begins to brown.  Whisk in the milk, 2 tablespoons of basil and salt & pepper.  Continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes.  Add in 1 1/2 oz of Asiago cheese & the cream cheese, stir until the cheese melts.  Reduce heat to low and set aside until the pasta cooks.

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and add in the spinach.  Stir for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach wilts.  Combine the pasta & sauce in a large bowl, tossing well to coat the pasta.  Serve garnished with the remaining cheese and basil. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Green Bean & Tomato Pasta Salad

We've had a hot summer this year.  A really long, really hot summer.  I've tried to avoid using the oven at all costs to keep the house from turning into my own personal oven.  Thankfully, we started the summer with a new grill and a freezer full of beef, so this wasn't difficult.  We've spent quite a few weekends with steaks on the grill and some sort of salad on the side.

This recipe is one I've hung on to for quite some time, never having thrown it together.  I knew Cooper would like it, though, since he frequently consumes a pint of grape tomatoes on his own each week.  I try to tell myself it is ok because it is kind of a vegetable.  But it isn't.  And he can totally tell the difference in tomatoes - try anything other than a grape or cherry tomato and he'll refuse.  Kids are funny that way.

In hindsight, the only change I would have made would have been to add some crumbled feta cheese to this.  It was great, but cheese makes everything better.  Plus, the bite from the feta would have added another depth to the dish.  It will definitely be made again, though, with the cheese!

Green Bean & Tomato Pasta Salad from Southern Living
For the salad:
  • 8oz bow tie pasta
  • 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup Basil Garlic Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
In a large Dutch oven, bring salted water to boil and add the pasta.  Cook for 5 minutes and add the green beans.  Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water.

Smash the garlic and salt together to make a paste.  Whisk with the remaining ingredients until well blended.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta, green beans, tomatoes & onion.  Toss with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.  Serve chilled.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

Remember Shake & Bake?  Not the catch phrase from that movie, but the actual cooking stuff?  I'll admit it - I've shake & baked before.  I was in college, ok.  And quite broke for a while after college.  Now I realize that making your own stuff (like shake & bake) is so much better for you and can cost less in the long run.

Even though this didn't call for a box of breadcrumbs & herbs, and a plastic bag, this was very easy to throw together.  I knew that it would taste great - fresh herbs with just a touch of Parmesan cheese.  What I didn't count on was the pork staying so moist.  I'm certain the mustard coating helped with that and I'm itching to try it out on baked chicken as well.  I typically cook a package of chicken tenders on the grill each week for lunch, but I think this will be a fun variation and will still taste great on a bed of spinach.

I did change this up a bit to use what I had in the house.  I only had about a cup of fresh breadcrumbs left, that I'd mixed with Italian herbs.  To make up the rest of the breading, I added Panko breadcrumbs.  I really think the Panko gave it an extra crunch.

Parmesan & Herb Crusted Pork Chops adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1 cup fresh Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 1" thick boneless pork chops
Preheat the oven to 425.  Place a greased rack on a baking sheet.  In a shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and salt & pepper.  Brush the pork with the mustard and coat in the breadcrumbs.  Bake on the greased rack for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dessert for a Year: Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Earlier this month we went to visit my mom for her birthday.  Since we didn't plan on going out for dinner, I wanted to make a dessert for the house.  I knew I wanted to do something with Oreo cookies, since they happen to be my mom's favorite cookie.  I'd saved a few blog posts and ran them past Jason for his suggestion.  As soon as I mentioned these, he was sold.

Thankfully, by mistake, I ended up halving the recipe.  I read the ingredient list, thinking it called for two packages of cream cheese...not two pounds.  It ended up being a good thing.  These were so creamy and rich, that I'm afraid we would have eaten all thirty in one weekend.  For the sake of my waistline, we left them at my mom's house...although Jason has already asked for them again!

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes from Pink Parsley
  • 21 Oreo cookies
  • 1 lb cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Line muffin tins with 15 paper liners, placing an Oreo cooking in the bottom of each one.  Crush the remaining Oreos, set aside.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Gradually beat in the sugar until combined.  Beat in the vanilla, then drizzle in the eggs, beating until combined.  Mix in the Greek Yogurt and salt.  Stir in the crush cookies.

Spoon the batter into each lined muffin tin.  Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely for at least 4 hours.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Grilled Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing

A few weeks ago I got a text from my friend Rachel.  It was something like "they are grilling lettuce on Food Network."  I think I responded with "I've had is pretty good."  While she sent back "Ew.  Something about warm lettuce..."

I get it.  I love a salad.  But put lettuce on my sandwich or hamburger and I probably will just pass all together.  And if it is shredded lettuce, forget it.  At least the large leafs are easy to remove!  But I have had grilled lettuce.  I remember the first attempt - one of my previous jobs.  The chef thought it would be a great idea to serve a Grilled Caesar Salad.  Only we were serving 600 people, and well, that stuff needs to be served right away.  When moved to a "twenty-person only" menu and served fresh, the lettuce is a little warm, slightly charred, and takes on the smoky grill flavor.  Pair with cold, creamy buttermilk dressing and the contrast makes for a great salad.

The first night I made this, I chopped up tomatoes and threw them on top.  But something wasn't right.  The next evening I decided to roast the tomatoes with some garlic & olive oil until they burst, adding something a little more to the salad.  Holy cow...I see us buying a lot more Romaine in the future and firing up the grill.  Plus, Jason and I both hate chopping up the lettuce for salad.  That would be why it usually goes bad before we eat it.  This makes prep super fast and we're both happy with that.

Grilled Romaine with Buttermilk Dressing adapted from Southern Living

  • 2 hearts of Romaine, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add in grape tomatoes, crushed garlic and salt & pepper to taste.  Heat through, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes wilt or burst.  

Heat the grill to a medium-high heat.  Brush the Romaine halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill, cut side down, for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted.  Remove from the grill, top with tomatoes, dressing and Parmesan cheese.  This is best served just after grilling.

Buttermilk Chive Dressing
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I make mine with skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • salt & pepper to taste.
Whisk together all of the ingredients; cover and chill until needed.