Monday, September 30, 2013

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

This is one of my all time favorite recipes, and I am just so excited that the cool weather has arrived and I can share it on the blog! This recipe pairs really well with these firecrackers and I always serve them together. 

I had an Epic Fail today in an attempt to  just grocery shop at Target. I came home with my favorite salsa verde for this recipe, along with festive fall decorations, a Boots #7 night face cream, and adorable leopard flats. Woops! 

Last year, I brought a pot of this chili to a Superbowl party and so many of my colleagues have requested the recipe. This chili would freeze beautifully, though I cannot ever remember having leftovers.

Without further ado...

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili
adapted from allrecipes

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced and seeds removed (can leave this out for less heat)
1 (16 once) can chicken broth
1 jar (24 oz) Salsa Verde (the superstar ingredient!) - buy good quality! I use target Archer Farms Salsa Verde
1 (16 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes (I use Muir Glen organic)
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (if you are a cumin lover like me, double this amount)
1 bag frozen corn (or substitute a can of corn)
3 or 4 chicken breasts 
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed
2 Tbsp corn starch 
1 pinch of salt and ground black pepper

Optional garnishes - sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, lime wedges, avocado, firecrackers, hot sauce

  1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for chicken and stir well.
  2. Layer chicken on top and cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Remove chicken breasts, place on plate, and shred with 2 forks. Return chicken to slow cooker and mix well. 
  4. Serve with desired garnishes. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

by popular demand...

I have listened to requests, and am happy to announce that my blog now has a "happy hour" tab next to recipes! In the next month, I will be posting recipes for the following libations: 

 - the BBC (bailey's banana colada, the official drink of Saint Lucia)
 - Piscot Sour (thank you for sharing the recipe, Tim)
 - Moscow Mule
 - Aperol Spritz (the signature cocktail of Williams Sonoma Creative Director, Anna Last)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

peace of mind

Until now, I could not claim to possess "peace of mind" or knowledge of how to achieve it. I like to stay busy, be creative, and work hard, but I've never been able to sit still for very long.  On a recent attempt to meditate 15 minutes every morning I literally could not do it. 

I loved so many individual experiences from our honeymoon to Saint Lucia, but the best thing that Josh and I did was shut off ALL the devices (no iPad, iPhone, kindle, or TV) and enjoy some real face time together. I read two amazing novels, lounged on a float in the ocean, and found that I could sit still for long periods of time without feeling antsy or uncomfortable. I truly found my zen. I felt calm, happy, and loved, and came home feeling refreshed, recharged, and excited for October fun...pumpkin carving, great beer, bonfires with s'mores, and long rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I told my mom I gained a few pounds of weight (the food was phenomenal) and a hundred pounds of perspective. 

We vowed on the way home to do a relaxing vacation at least once a year, even if on a smaller scale and just on a local beach closer to home. There is magic in escaping your daily life for a week, shutting off the devices,  and living with no plans. Just doing what feels good and right. 

  1. The BBC (Bailey's Banana Colada) - will post recipe shortly
  2. Traditional Creole Chicken 
  3. Ocean doughnuts - literally these ocean floats you crawl into with netting underneath so you can just nap with your bum and arms in the water and look out at the sea
  4. Pat Conroy, his novel The Water is Wide rocked my world
  5. Bacon and eggs for breakfast...every day.
  6. Meeting newlyweds and couples who have been married for 50 years
  7. Watching a crazy fun group of Canadian guys who have been friends since high school celebrate their combined 50th birthday party
  8. Gifting Josh's giant sombrero to Tyler the bartender - and watch every bartender and beach server wear the hat over the next three days
  9. Adventurous eating - we tried escargot, frog legs, and duck at the fancy French restuarant La Toc and loved it all
  10. Sitting with Josh at night in the gazebo and talking about our dreams 

Guacamole Tostadas with Sweet Potatoes and Fried Eggs

 One of the perks of creating a food blog is your friends and family give you their BEST recipes, the ones that they deem "blog-worthy". A few weeks ago, my friend Ryan raved about this very dish after his fiance Brooke surprised him by cooking this for breakfast when he got home from work. He knew I would love it, and he was right!

Guacamole Tostadas with Sweet Potatoes and Fried Eggs
from the sweet life

4 corn tortillas (6 inch size)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet potato, cooked in mashed (I cooked in microwave)
1 cup spinach, finely chopped
2 avocados, pitted and mashed
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
4 eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and brush the tortillas with olive oil on both sides. Place on a baking sheet, and bake, turning once, for 6 minutes or until browned. Remove and set aside.
  2. Cook eggs (over medium was perfect) and season with salt and pepper
  3. Top the tortillas with mashed sweet potato. Sprinkle spinach over potato and top with guacamole and feta. Finish with egg on top, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

wisdom from Skip

I basically won the lottery when I married Josh, because his parents were part of the package. I was honored to take on the family name. My in-laws (Skip and Judi) are simply the best, in so many big and little ways. Most recently,  Skip talked me into submitting a few of my best foodie photos to the local newspaper for a food styling competition, and my photos were not deemed winners. 

Skip just couldn't believe one of my photos was not selected, so he went out and bought me his own prize from the Salem fair. Below is a picture of my prize from Skip. I needed this little reminder, to keep putting myself out there, because even if I never win a competition I love what I'm doing! 

On another happy note, here is a photo of our girls on vacation at Skip and Judi's house, posing on their new Orvis beds from their grandparents. Meet the two winners of the "Spoiled Boxer of the Year" award. I'm not sure who will have more fun on vacation, us or them! 

back in a week!

I took a picture of the essentials for our Sandals vacation - cute swim suit, sunglasses, pretty new lipstick (Mac Viva Glam 5) and a coral polish (Essie Haute as Hello). I've downloaded good music and kindle books, and am ready to hit the sand! 

LIFE IS GOOD!! See y'all back in a week for lots of new FALL recipes...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I laugh at phrases like "sleep is the new sex" and "30s are the new 20s". I mean, seriously? I don't think so. Here a few more I would like to believe: "spaghetti squash is the new pasta", "pesto is the new ranch" and "lettuce wraps are the new egg roll".

Soooo...maybe lettuce wraps are not the new egg roll, but they are delicous, crunchy, healthy, and satisfying, so that's why t I decided to make them for dinner tonight. We are obsessed with the lettuce wraps at PF Changs, but since there is not one here, why not just make them at home!

Asian Lettuce Wraps
adapted from all recipes
makes 16 lettuce cups

1 pound ground chicken
16 bibb (butter) lettuce leaves
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can (8oz) water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 Tbsp chile paste (I used 2 Tbsp sriracha)

3 scallions, thinly chopped
dry roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground chicken in 1 Tbsp of oil, stirring often. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same skillet. Add the water chestnuts and mix together.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chile pepper sauce, and sesame oil. Then add the cooked chicken and mix together.
  4. Place meat mixture in a bowl with lettuce leaves and garnish on the side for serving, or place 1 to 2 Tbsp of meat mixture into each piece of lettuce, and top with peanuts and scallions.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

the habit of gratitude

I missed my sunset hike tonight to Tinker Cliffs.  I slept straight through my alarm clock after working a slew of night shifts. I initially had that frantic moment of "jump out of bed and hit the door" feeling, and then realized it probably was not so smart to schedule a hike on my first night off. I was disappointed because I haven't used my camera all week and was looking forward to the challenge of sunset photos.  

I regrouped, and spent the evening sitting on the grass taking pictures of my sweet girls. I watched them frolic in the grass, sprint around the yard, and just lounge. I sipped on my first pumpkin beer of the season on a cool fresh night. In the lounging, I realized how blessed and lucky I am. It's a real tragedy that the human mind so easily focuses on the little negatives instead of the overwhelming positives.

The quote goes, "gratitude turns what we have into enough".

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What I'm Reading Now

If you are looking for a new book, and you don't mind a "weeper" (I spent the last 2 nights reading with a box of tissues beside the couch) this book is brilliant.  Brilliant.  After finishing this story, I feel a burning energy to get out there in the world and really live, and to not take a single day for granted.  

Summary from goodreads - 

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

Any good book recommendations for me? 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Loaded Baked Sweet Potato with Mexican Slow Cooker Chili

I offer a loving testimony to my slow cooker. I came home from work this morning after a stretch of night shifts at the hospital, and wanted to cook a nice date night dinner. I spent all of 10 minutes throwing these ingredients in the slow cooker, and slept like a baby all afternoon. I managed to serve up a delicious dinner, no sweat. It may be a small victory, but it felt like a big one today!

I will warn that Josh and I LOVE spicy food, and this chili packs a punch from the chipotle in adobo and the rotel tomatoes. For a less spicy version, use regular diced tomatoes and half the can of chipotle chiles.  As always, Bon Appetit!
Slow Cooker Mexican Chili
1.5 pounds lean ground turkey
3 cups canned diced tomatoes (*I used original rotel, substitue for less heat)
15 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
15 ounces canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
7 ounce can chipotle chile in adobo (*use half can for less heat)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprike
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

  1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Set slow cooker to low and cook for eight hours (or high for four hours)
  3. After set time, serve chili over baked potato or sweet potato, t0rtilla chips, rice, or on it's own. 

Loaded Baked Sweet Potato
1 batch mexican chili
2 sweet potatoes (I buy the kind you can cook in the microwave)
Mexican cheese, shredded
Sour cream or plain greek yogurt
Avocado, diced
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

  1. Cook sweet potatoes according to package instructions. Top with chili, cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mac & Cheese

The first time I made this recipe was back in 2010 when we hosted Thanksgiving here at the house for Josh's family. I did not have my fancy food processor at the time, and spent an hour just grating cheese (OK it felt like an hour). It seemed like a lot of work at the time, until I tried the best mac & cheese I'd ever tasted.  The cavatappi pasta, gruyere cheese, and nutmeg push it over the top. That's when the dish was nicknamed "Holy Macaroni" - it will make you a believer! 

My friend Aaron requested that we bring mac & cheese to his college football party today, and if Michigan wins, then clearly it was due to this divine dish.  If not, then he can drown his sorrows in comfort food at it's best...

Holy Macaroni & Cheese 
from Ina Garten 

kosher salt
vegetable oil
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 small fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups white bread crumbs or Panko

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4 quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Met the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs or Panko and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. 

Ramen Coleslaw

My mom makes a variation of this Asian coleslaw, and it's perfect for picnics or camping trips. You can even throw the cabbage and green onions in a big ziplock bag, make the dressing, and combine and toss right before serving. I love the crunch of the almonds and ramen.  After you taste this version, I promise you will not miss the thick mayonnaise based Southern coleslaw. 
Ramen Coleslaw
from allrecipes

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 (3 counce) package chicken flavored ramen noodles, crushed, seasoning packet reserved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 medium head cabbage, shredded) - I combined a bag of white and red cabbage
5 green onions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, ramen noodle spice mix, salt and pepper to create a dressing
  3. Place the sesame seeds and almonds in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly brown.
  4. In a large salad bowl, combine the cabbage, green onions, and crushed ramen noodles. Pour dressing over the cabbage, and toss to coat evenly. Top with the toasted sesame seeds and almonds.