White Chicken Chili

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A few weeks ago there was a chili tasting on campus, at the university near by and the white chili was the first to go empty. Ever since missing my chance to try some there, I have been craving white chicken chili. I found a crock pot recipe and made a few alterations to fit my family’s tastes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15oz) cans pinto beans
  • 1 (15oz) can white corn, drained
  • 1 (1 1/4oz) packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 (4 1/2oz) can of chopped green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (10 3/4oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • fresh avocado for topping

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All you have to do is mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the sour cream in the crock pot, and let cook for 6-8 hours on low. During the last 30 mins, I added in the sour cream, but it could technically be done just before serving.

It was so delicious and extremely easy. I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, and this recipe made me feel like I cooked a good quality meal without slaving away in the kitchen all afternoon. Give it a try this week!

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Strawberry Pancakes (gluten free!)

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All last week Sophie begged me for strawberry pancakes. This was prompted by a popular Daniel Tiger episode, where HE eats strawberry pancakes for breakfast after going to the community garden to pick perfect, fresh strawberries. “Land of make believe,” INDEED.

I opened the cabinet over the stove to find bugs — yes, BUGS — in our bisquick. I discovered this only after I had announced to Sophie that today would be the day I would finally make her the strawberry pancakes. Luckily for her, I still had this gluten free recipe in my repertoire of cooking knowledge.

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  • 1-1/3 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup Milk or dairy alternative
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp agave syrup

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Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Heat a skillet and spray with coconut oil [or any oil of choice, to prevent sticking]. Pour 1 pancake in the pan at a time, and flip when the batter begins to bubble. Top with whipped cream and more strawberries!

I let Sophie help mix the batter, as she always eats more at meals when she is involved in the preparation.

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Getting Your Kids to Eat Spinach

So I’m blaming this recipe hunt on my kids, when in reality I should have titled this post “Getting YOURSELF to Eat Spinach.” If you’re like me, you buy baby spinach in bulk with good intentions of starting a healthy lifestyle, and then when morning comes and you’re faced with making a healthy smoothie or eating cookies with your cup of coffee you always,  ALWAYS pick cookies.

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This week I went to the store and got, you guessed it… SPINACH. After a trip to the doctor [and their scale] I decided I really do need to commit to eating more vegetables. So, how to make them appealing? Chocolate, of course! I have had success tricking both myself and Sophie with spinach hidden in chocolate this week and now I am passing the success on to you, my readers.

Recipe #1 : Predominantly Paleo’s Chocolate Spinach Cake. 
I wanted to barf the first time I read the title of that recipe. It was close to my reaction for “Black Bean Brownies” WHY?! But, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a shot. Wow, I totally underestimated the power of cocoa. This cake was moist, chocolaty, and contained 2 full cups of spinach. I served it up with strawberries and a tablespoon of whipped cream. Sophie, my husband and I all loved it. I wouldn’t recommend making it for Thanksgiving or any other event where you really want to impress people with dessert, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, and simply MUST eat dessert every night, then this is a recipe for you! It cures your sweet tooth while still giving you an antioxidant punch.

Recipe #2: Chocolate Spinach Protein Shake
We invested in a Nutribullet a few years back and I love it. I filled the smaller sized cup with a handful of spinach, ice, and chocolate walnut milk. You could use chocolate almond milk as well, that is just what I had on hand. Blend it up, pour it in a cute cup with characters on it, and your kid will love it.

What does everyone love besides chocolate? Cheese! Martha Steward has a really delicious, home made Mac N Cheese recipe, but you can add spinach to any boxed version as well. Just make sure you chop it up finely, so you aren’t getting an entire soggy leaf on your fork when you dig in.

Back in the Kitchen

 

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Unfortunately, it had been a couple weeks since I cooked an entire meal from scratch. This week we ended up with apples, onions, and pork chops that needed to be used, so what a perfect storm for Martha Stewart’s Pork chop recipe with apples and onions! I’ve posted the recipe before, so I won’t waste your time with a repeat post… but as I was cooking in the kitchen, I genuinely felt happy.

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For most people, cooking is a chore and some thing to dread at the end of a day. It seems for me, that the more exhausted I am, the more I seek solace in the kitchen. In a lot of ways it is a creative outlet, as well as being an opportunity for me to provide some thing for my family. Plus, I love cooking infinitely more in my new, gorgeous kitchen. I am particularly fond of my ovens [now that I learned how to use them]. I mean, check out these beautiful golden-brown potatoes… Thank you, broil! 13567395_10153734747861239_721275762438517242_n

It has been an exhausting week. I started taking Zumba classes, I have been running errands with the girls, going to doctors appointments, and every thing else life throws at us on any given week. Cooking and working out have really helped me from feeling overwhelmed. Photography has helped, too, especially when I have such an adorable model. J surprised me with tickets to see The Shallows tonight, so I have an unexpected date to look forward too. Yes, this week has been tough but also rewarding in so many little ways. I hope yours has been too!

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Steak Secrets

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Now that we’re heading into summer, I feel like cooking some steaks out on the grill will become more common place. I prefer to cook mine in a skillet though, and while J has said time and time again that he doesn’t really care for steak, he has given me the highest compliments the last few times I’ve prepared it for him. Steak is one of my favorite foods (yes, my parents would take me to Black Angus on my birthday…) and as I’ve grown older, my techniques have become a little more involved, but they are still simple enough for the novice to pick up and create a delicious meal with.

My obsession with the Food network actually became useful. I never thought about letting the meat “rest” and when Bobby Flay told “Worst Cooks in America” contestant that you’re supposed to just leave the steak alone while it cooks, I was shocked. Anyway, as silly as it sounds I have adopted some of these techniques and they have improved my cooking. Now, here’s what you need:

-A good, quality steak. I’ve become a little more choosey when it comes to steak shopping. I usually go for organic grass fed beef that doesn’t have a ton of fat that will need to be rendered down.
-a meat thermometer. I used to just go off of time (ex. 3 minutes on each side) but the meat thermometer ensures that the meat is cooked without hacking it into little pieces.
quality spices. sea salt or [my personal fave] black truffle salt are great alternatives to traditional table salt.
– letting the meat rest. I usually take my steak out of the fridge, pat off the extra juices, season it with salt and pepper, and ten leave it to rest for 30 mins before cooking it. this helps take the chill from the refrigerator off of the meat. After I’m done cooking, I let the meat rest in the pan for 10 minutes before serving it. To me, this makes for a more tender and juicy steak.

Here’s how I normally cook:
Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over steaks, then heat a large  skillet over high heat. Add some olive oil to the pan; swirl to coat. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned, checking with the thermometer to see if they’ve reached 155 degrees. Reduce heat to medium-low; add butter and garlic (maybe 1 clove) to pan. Carefully grasp pan handle using an oven mitt or folded dish towel. Tilt pan toward you so butter pools; cook 1 1/2 minutes, basting steaks with butter constantly. Remove steaks from pan; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 minutes.

What are your cooking secrets?

{image source: aminerecipes.com}

Honey Garlic Chicken

 

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This is the easiest dinner ever, yintz! I put all the ingredients in a bag ahead of time, before Cora was born, so that I had it on hand for a night when I didn’t know what to cook. The best part of this recipe, is that it actually doesn’t require you to do any cooking. You dump these chicken thighs into a crock pot for 6 hours, and you’re ready to go!

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It has been tough trying to narrow down Cora’s allergy, and while I think it’s mostly a sensitivity to dairy that upsets her tummy, I have been eating meals free of: wheat, dairy, eggs, fish, soy , and peanuts. It has really limited my options of meal helpers and other processed foods that I used to be able to quickly throw in the microwave as a side to a meal. Luckily, this meal met all my requirements and was also delicious! I paired it with “fried rice” only I substituted the actual rice with quinoa I had leftover from another meal that was in danger of expiring. This chicken is also fantastic with green beans, and while it can be made in the crock pot, it’s also a fantastic stove top recipe.

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So, here’s what you need:

Spray your crock pot with non-stick spray (I used Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray) and lay the chicken thighs on the bottom. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Put the crock pot on high and cook for 6 hours. SO EASY. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can cook the chicken in a skillet on the stove, and pour the sauce over it once the chicken has cooked thoroughly. This is also a tasty variation!

So tender… ENJOY!

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Egg Muffins

Most mornings, I can hardly roll out of bed. Sophie ends up stealing a few bites of her Dad’s cereal before he leaves for work, and then I come downstairs and hand her whatever is most easily accessible to me. Maybe a nutrigrain bar, maybe more cereal, some times an apple… either way, I’m all about a minimal amount of effort when it comes to my kids’ breakfast in the morning.

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A little lightbulb went off in my head a few mornings ago, and I’m so happy it did because I actually have some thing to hand Sophie in the morning that is healthy and quick.

Now I have 2 ways to make these little egg muffins. One is easy and a recipe you [the parent] can eat as well. The other one is geared more specifically toward toddlers as it requires either whole milk or breast milk [need that calcium!].

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Version 1:
-6 eggs
-1/2 cup of spinach chopped
-1/4 shredded cheese [I used pepper jack]

Version 2:
-6 eggs
-1/2 cup of spinach chopped
-1/4 shredded cheese
-3 oz. milk [whole or breast]
-1 Tbs. of ground flax or flour

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients, and pour into a muffin tin. Bake for 10-14 minutes.

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See? SO easy! I made 8, which obviously gives us breakfast for at least a week. I store these in the fridge and pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds in the morning before I give one to Sophie. Easy, healthy, and delicious. You’re welcome.

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