Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken Chili Taco Soup

Do you ever see a recipe and know you will like it? Not just think it looks good, but know, from the picture, title, recipe, whatever, that it will undoubtedly be something you will like? That’s what happened to me with this recipe for Chicken Chili Taco Soup. I’m sure it had something to do with the name of the recipe. I like chili. I like tacos. I like soup. It was kind of a no-brainer. I also think I knew the recipe would be a winner because of its similarity to the Taco Soup recipe I told you about way back in the beginning of this blog. (If you click to check out the recipe, please don’t judge me on the photo quality.  I hadn’t figured out the whole lighting thing yet.)

After having tried the recipe, I can tell you that what I like best about it (besides being quick and easy) is its adaptability. The original recipe calls for ground turkey. I substituted ground chicken breast, and I’m sure ground beef would be great too (though I’d drain the beef before adding the soup ingredients to avoid having greasy soup). The recipe also calls for kidney beans, which add to the chili-ness of it. Kidney beans worked great, but black or pinto beans would work just as well. If you want to heft up the veggie content, you could easily add in some chopped zucchini, carrots or spinach. If you don’t have the can of Ro-tel, you can substitute salsa or regular diced tomatoes. You get where I’m going with this.  This recipe is flexible.

It’s also really good.  And ridiculously easy.  All you have to do is brown up the meat, add the veggies and then add everything else.  A 15 minute simmer is all you need to bring all the flavors together.  What you end up with is a chunky, meaty, protein-packed soup full of sweet corn, tender-crisp peppers, creamy beans, and zesty spices (how zesty is up to you).  You can serve it topped with any number of things – basically whatever you like on your chili and/or tacos.  We went for the fairly straight forward combo of shredded cheese and Greek yogurt (subbed for sour cream).  Stan also added enough tortilla chips to his to make it more like chip soup.  I was aiming for something a little healthier, but he assured me his version was delicious.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet and Sour Pork

It is not often that I try a new recipe and tell you about it the same day.  I also don’t often post two similarly themed recipes in a row. Tonight however, I’m breaking with tradition.  Partly because I finished cooking and cleaning up early enough to tell you about what I made for dinner tonight.  Mostly because it was just that good.  And easy.  And perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

This recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork was an unexpected winner.  I don’t normally like sweet meat, but I had most of the ingredients for this recipe on hand, and I needed to figure out what to do with the pork tenderloin taking up space in my freezer.  I found this recipe in TakeOut Tonight!, one of my current favorite cookbooks, and the source of my recipes for Broccoli with Garlic Sauce and Szechuan Chicken with Peanuts.  Since I love those recipes, I figured it was worth giving this one a try.

And I have to say, I’m glad I did.  This recipe comes together very quickly using everyday ingredients.  The pork (or you could use chicken) is lean and tender.  The sauce is sweet and savory and has a nice zing from the rice vinegar.  The bell peppers give the dish a nice crunch, and the pineapple chunks add juicy pops of sweetness.  Served up with some rice and a vegetable (and maybe an egg roll), you’ve got a fantastic dinner for any night of the week.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Broccoli with Garlic Sauce

When I was growing up, broccoli was the go-to vegetable in our house. Sure we ate plenty of other vegetables, but broccoli was our standby.  When in doubt about what to serve as the vegetable part of a meal, broccoli was usually the answer – even if conventional culinary wisdom would dictate otherwise.  Need a side dish for spaghetti?  Broccoli works.  Can’t figure out what vegetable to serve with tacos?  How about broccoli?  More often than not, broccoli did, in fact, go pretty well with whatever we were eating.  To this day, it is still a running joke in our family.  Can’t decide what vegetable to serve for dinner?  Go with broccoli.

Despite having eaten so much broccoli growing up, it’s still a favorite vegetable of mine.  Especially if it’s been stir-fried and coated in a delicious sauce – like today’s recipe for Broccoli with Garlic Sauce.  I tried this recipe for the first time a few days ago, and it is sure to be a repeat player in our kitchen.  All you have to do is whisk together a few ingredients for the sauce, then quickly cook your garlic and broccoli.  You can have the whole thing on the table in less than 15 minutes.  That alone would make this recipe a winner in my book, but the flavor sends it over the top.  The broccoli is crisp-tender and bathed in a savory sauce studded with garlic and full of mouthwatering Asian flavors.  The recipe make four servings, but Stan and I devoured it all in one sitting.  I served it with an Asian-inspired meal, but I think you could easily serve it with any number of things.  After all, broccoli goes with everything.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Feta Walnut Dip

Dips are one of those things that I think pretty much everyone likes.  Sure, you may not love them all, but I’m betting you have a favorite.  Spinach artichoke?  Sour cream and onion?  Black bean?  There are just so many good choices – which would explain why I have about 20 different dip recipes waiting to be tried.  And to tell you the truth, there should be several more dip posts on this site.  I’ve made some delicious recipes that I couldn’t wait to tell you about – only I didn’t take the pictures fast enough, and the dips disappeared before I could get the final shots.  I’m going to have to work on that.  It’s all in the planning… and in the hiding of the dip until the pictures have been taken.

When we lived in Cleveland a few years back, this Feta Walnut Dip was my favorite.  It was kind of my signature dip, if you can have such a thing.  I made it when people came over, and I was often asked to bring it to other people’s houses for parties and dinners.  It was my thing.  I made it so often I kind of got tired of it, and I haven’t made it for a few years.  However, I decided it was time to bring it back for New Year’s.  And I’m glad I did, because it went over big.

This dip is big on flavor and small on effort.  All you have to do is toast some walnuts and then toss all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor.  A minute or two later, and you are ready to dig in.  The feta is the star of the show, giving the dip a creamy texture, while the toasted walnuts add richness and a subtle nutty flavor.  A few crushed red pepper flakes help make the dip as spicy (or not) as you want, and a few sprigs of fresh parsley keep things light and fresh.  Blended together, the ingredients in this recipe combine to form the perfect dip for pita bread, crackers or veggies.  It would make a great sandwich spread too.  Give it a try.  It might just become your new “signature” dip.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Happy New Year!  I 2012 is off to a great start for you.  We kicked things off in style with some major festivities at our house.  I’m talking tinsel garlands, strands of beads and lots of confetti.  It was classy.  We also had enough food to feed twice the number of people actually at the party.  That seems to me to be just the right amount of food to ensure a nice supply of leftovers, which is key the day after a big party.

Food, drink and friends – what else do you need to ring in the New Year?  Nothing I can think of, except maybe some healthier food to balance out all of that end of the year excess.  And if that healthy food tastes so good you forget it’s good for you?  So much the better.  If you’re like me and you prefer to eat healthy food that doesn’t scream “I’m on a diet!”, you will love today’s recipe.  It has all of the flavor of Buffalo wings and none of the fat.  Actually, this Buffalo Chicken Chili has hardly any fat at all – a fact that I’ve kept secret from Stan since he views fat as one of the most important food groups in his daily diet.  He hasn’t noticed.  He loves this stuff.

Despite its New Year’s resolution friendliness, this chili rocks.  The chicken makes it filling and the little pieces of carrot and celery running through it echo the carrot and celery sticks typically served alongside a basket of wings.  For those of you who aren’t into spicy food, don’t be scared by the amount of hot sauce going on here; it adds a great tang without too much heat.  For those of you who can’t get wings hot enough, add as much hot sauce as your poor stomach can handle.  Either way, top off your bowl with some (low-fat) sour cream, blue cheese crumbles, or whatever you like with your wings.  And don’t forget to smile, because you’ll be back in your skinny jeans in no time.  Unless you stick around to check out my upcoming New Year’s Eve posts… in which case you might want to stick with some comfy elastic waist sweatpants.  Whatever you wear, it’s going to be a tasty year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The 10 Most Popular Recipes of 2011

I can hardly believe that 2011 is winding down so quickly.  In just two days I will have to start writing “2012” on everything. However, if past years are any indication, remembering to actually write 2012 instead of 2011 will probably not happen for at least 3 months.  Am I the only one who has that problem?  Please tell me I’m not.  It’ll make me feel better.

On a more serious note, 2011 has been an eventful year.  It started off with an ER visit in February after I wrapped my hand around a 400 degree skillet handle – serious ouchies.  April brought a new job and the excitement and adjustment that comes with going back to work full-time after a couple of years of part-timing it while going to grad school.  Things settled down for a while after that, but it was back to the hospital again in September for some non-emergency, but definitely needed, surgery.  Between the surgery and an allergic reaction to the antibiotic they gave me at the hospital, I was pretty much out of commission through October. 

I’m back at full speed now, but this has certainly not been a great year for blogging with any regularity. I am so appreciative of those of you who have stuck with me through the posting droughts and kept coming back even when I didn’t have anything new to say.  I’m hoping for a healthier, injury-free 2012 that will be full of new recipes and regular posting.  Most of all, I am hoping for a happy, healthy new year for everyone.  May 2012 be a great year for all of us – and full of great food to boot!

Speaking of great food, 2011 did manage to bring some recipes that you guys loved.  Interestingly, some of the most popular recipes of the past year were actually posted in 2009 and 2010. Thank you to Pinterest for helping get the word out!  Below you will find the 10 most popular recipes of 2011 based on viewer page loads.  Did your favorites make the list?  Let me know!

The 10 Most Popular Recipes of 2011

10.) Chili Mac with Corn and Green Chiles

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Easy No-Peel Apple Cake

Happy holidays!  Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or just the fact that you have a long weekend away from the office, I hope you are enjoying your time off and spending it with family and friends.  Stan and I are in Nashville this weekend, hanging out with my parents, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and having a little Hanukkah celebration. 

One of the many ways we’ve been celebrating is with cake – sweet, delicious, ridiculously moist, crunchy-topped cake.  Cake filled with so many apples there seems to be more apples than batter.  Cake my family cannot stop eating – despite the fact that 50 percent of us are on a diet and 25 percent of us are not supposed to eat gluten.  Oops… but hey, that must mean it’s good, right?

In addition to being good, this apple cake is easy to make.  I had 10 minutes to spare yesterday before my parents got back from an errand, and I wanted to make something sweet.  In terms of the prep work, I’m not sure what I liked better – the fact that you add all of the ingredient to the mixing bowl at one time (no need to measure your dry and wet ingredients separately) or the fact that you do not have to peel the apples.  Ok, that’s a lie. I don’t like peeling apples.  I love that this recipe specifically calls for unpeeled apples. 

Most of all I love this cake because my family loved it – and that’s the most important thing of all.


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