Monday, December 31, 2007

Red Chicken Chili

The following recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.

I love chili. I love how hearty it is and all the beans and vegetables. I tend to make it every few months in the fall and winter because it makes an easy lunch to bring to work.

I saw this recipe and had to try it. It looked easy enough.

Red Chicken Chili, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1999

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups chopped onion

1/4 cup chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 16 ounce can black beans, drained
1 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat-extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup low fat sour cream

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add onion; saute 5 minutes.

Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients (powder through garlic); saute 30 seconds. Add Chicken Stock, beans, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in chicken; simmer 15 minutes.

Serve with cheese and sour cream.

8 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili, 1 tablespoon cheese, and 1 tablespoon sour cream)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 280(30% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 24.5g; CHOLESTEROL 54mg; CALCIUM 150mg; SODIUM 743mg; FIBER 5.4g; IRON 3.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.6g

Cook's modifications:
1. I assumed I had both oregano and cumin in my spice collection. Not so much. Instead I substituted 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning. I figured there was oregano in it.
2. The chili powder. 1/4 cup seems like an awful lot. I put in more like 1/8 plus a couple of shakes.
3. I did not add salt. I figured the sodium from the stock and beans was enough.
4. I added 4 cups of chicken stock because that was the size of the container I bought. Also, I used a low sodium chicken broth after I read the label and discovered that one cup of broth had like a zillion mg of sodium in it.
5. Since I added an extra cup of broth, I threw in an extra can of black beans.
6. Just for kicks (and because the chili was lacking veggies) I added some frozen bell peppers to the onions.

7. I thought the whole buy a can of whole tomatoes, then chop them idea was dumb. It seemed like too much work, and you know how lazy I am. Instead I bought a can of diced tomatoes and they worked fine.
8. Again, because I am lazy, there was no way I was going to cook chicken and then dice it, so I shelled out some extra cash to buy the already cooked and diced chicken. It was not 3 cups worth, but I didn't care.

1. This wasn't spicy enough, probably because I didn't have cumin. It needed a little bit of cayenne pepper.
2. I ate this for dinner last night and I was surprised at how full it made me. I couldn't even finish my bowl.
3. I wonder if we could make this vegetarian/vegan by switching to vegetable stock and cooked, diced tofu? And of course soy cheese and tofutti sour cream (which I actually used in place of real sour cream).

My dinner date:

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yep, It's Vegetiarian: Savory Butternut Squash Gratin

I found the following recipe in a fall edition of Shape (or Health) Magazine. It looked good, plus it had cheese and squash, two of my favorite foods. And I love potatoes au gratin, so I figured this would rock my world.


But here it is for all you squash lovers out there.

1 large butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds); peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated Gruyere Cheese (or any type of Swiss)


1. Heat the oven to 350

2. Prepare the squash: Cut off and discard the stem of the squash. Divide the squash into two pieces by slicing through it horizontally. Peel each half with a sharp knife. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Then cut squash into 3/4 inch pieces, using knife or a food processor fitted with the slicing blade.

3. Place Squash slices in a large saucepan, cover them with water, and bring to a boil.

Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, then drain into a colander/

4. Pour a thin layer of vegetable stock on the bottom of a 9" x 12" baking dish and alternate layers of squash and Gruyere, saving some cheese for the top. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Top with remaining vegetable stock and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and add remaining cheese. Continue baking until cheese melts and is slightly browned (about 10 minutes).

Serves 2

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (totally not true. More like 40 minutes)

Per serving:
285 calories
7 grams fiber
13 grams protein

"A single serving provides half your calcium needs for the day."

Cook's notes:

I don't know what planet the writers were from, but this seriously made at least 4 servings. Also, 1/2 cup of cheese is not enough. I used at least a cup. Also, ignore the part about a cup of broth. It was too much and turned my gratin into soup, so I had to drain it after it cooked the first 30 minutes.

As it turns out, I don't like the taste of squash and cheese together, at least not swish.

It did however taste slightly better the next day, but I still wouldn't make it again.

Perhaps my problem was that I was expecting it to taste more like potato au gratin and the squash threw me off. Or perhaps it's just plain gross to begin with.

Totally unrelated: James while I was trying to wrap presents.

Grandma's Hot Mulled Cider

My grandmother served the following recipe for cider on Christmas. She made it last year only using apple cider, but the addition of cran-apple juice this year put it over the top. I practically had to fight everyone off with the soup ladle so that I could enjoy the half dozen or so cups I consumed.

This drink will be a fixture in my future holidays. It's garunteed to make family gatherings even more enjoyable.

I had to beg her for the recipe. Here it is:

"Heat half gallon apple or cran-apple juice in a crock pot. I used cran-apple this year, but apple was very good last year too.

Add two cups good quality red wine. I used a Red Rose because I like a sweeter wine.

Steep two heaping teaspoons of Williams-Sonoma Mulling Spices placed in a tea ball. I left mine in the pot even while serving the Mulled Wine. I had a very decorative tea ball that came with the Mulling Spices that Danielle had given me for Christmas several years ago. It had a little snowman on the end of the chain and I thought he looked cute hanging out of the crock pot. I may be peculiar, oh, well.

Also add one half cup of Savannah Cinnamon Mix. This mix comes in a bottle and is made and distributed by Savannah Cinnamon Co., Savannah, Ga. The company was founded by the Manning family in their own home. I found the mix in Blue Ridge, Georgia at their Farmer's Market Harvest Festival. "

Note: there are no photos because I drank it all before it occured to me to take them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Betty Crocker's Sugar Cookies

I have very little experience when it comes to baking cookies. Truth be told, I was a big fan of the fake and bake packages in the grocery dairy case or instant mixes until I saw they were full of trans fat and other gross things.

Since it is the holidays, and I did promise coworkers cookies, I set out to make some "easy" sugar cookies to decorate and give as gifts.

Easy my ass (sorry grandma)!

A quick scan of the ingridients led me to believe I had everything at home except for baking soda which I tossed after an unfortunate snickerdoodle incident last Saturday. I stopped at a 7-11 outside of my subway stop and paid $2.99 for a tiny box (it's like 50 cents at the market!). I was being lazy because it was 25 degrees and windy and my face was freezing off.

I got home and opened the fridge. Much to my horror I only had 1 stick of butter and the recipe calls for 2. I didn't want to leave my house (I was wearing flannel pjs), so I looked in every cookbook I owned to see if any had a different recipe, perhaps one that let me use canola oil. Nope. They all said the same thing: 1 cup butter.

So on went the coat and the snow boots and I trudged up the block to the corner market (I knew if I walked down the hill to whole foods I'd never make it back) to buy a package of $5 margarine.

On my way back I saw a rat the size of my cats running down the street and was horrified. I seriously hope rats haven't moved into my building. This guy was big enough he probably has a set of keys. Plus, I don't think my cats could defend my honor if faced with the giant rat. Josie would have to give it come hither looks while James wacked it on the head with a frying pan (I would be standing on the counter screaming). It was seriously gross.

Sorry if I ruined your appetite. I had to share. But before you think I live in a crack den or cardboard box, I should tell you I live on the crappiest street in the fanciest neighborhood in the city. A certain senator lives 2 blocks over. But considering how the hill is right next to the river and the houses are close to 150 years old, rodents like to try an move in.

But I digress.

Now the directions say the margarine has to be softened, so I left two sticks on the counter while I went and wrapped Christmas Presents and ate dinner. Then it was time for magic.

1 cup butter or margarine, softended
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soad
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and egg with electirc mixeron medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar. (note, by stir, does Betty mean by hand? I did it, but it was pretty tough)


Are they serious?

2. Heat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured cloth-covered surface, roll each half 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter. On ungreased cookie sheet place cutouts 2 inches apart.

Here is where I ran into trouble (2 1/2 hours later). My dough was crumbly and did not want to flatten. I basically had to beat it. Why did it do this? Too much flour?

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until delicately golden. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.

By the time I got to the last step it was 11pm at night and I was tired. I said the heck with it and went to bed, leaving the cookies naked.

They turned out okay, but kind of hard, not soft and gooey like I wanted. I decided this is my trial run, I'll do the real baking this weekend when I make and decorate them using a top secret icing. You'll get photos once it's complete.

Wicked Good (and Easy) Veggie Stew

You'll notice this is quite similar to the beef and barley stew I previously posted.

I realized the other day that I had nothing to bring for lunch at work (well nothing I didn't have to fully cook first like pasta). On my way home from work I stopped at the store and picked up a bag of mixed veggies, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of chickpeas. Later that night, I dumped a bunch of things in my crockpot and set it to low and went to sleep for 8 hours. I woke up to the most delicious smell!

For all you vegans and vegetarians and crunchy granolla people out there, I give you "Wicked Good Veggie Stew"


4 potatoes (I used red), cubed 1/2 inch or smallish (note: leave the skin on)
1 yellow onion chopped
1 bag mixed veggies (carrots, corn, lima beans, green beans)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
1 cup uncooked barley
garlic (lots!)
8 cups of water with the appropriate amount of vegetable boullion cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning (a couple of shakes)

Throw everything in the crockpot or slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.


This seriously tastes like classic vegetable soup. This is my new winter staple.