Monday, July 30, 2012

Mr. T's favorite Spicy Two-Bean Chili

Mr. T loves chili.  He could probably eat it every day.  This is the recipe I use when I'm making a pot of chili just for him.  He likes things much spicier than I do.

I'm lucky to have a farmer close by that makes a spicy ground sausage.  It's delicious and really adds a lot to the chili pot.

Everyone makes chili differently but this method works well for me. 

Mr. T's favorite Spicy Two-Bean Chili:

1 pound spicy ground sausage
1 large can chili beans
1 large can black beans
2 cans tomatoes with green chilies
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 large white onion, diced
2-3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the diced onion and cook until soft.  Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.

While the onions are cooking add the cans of black beans, pinto beans, and canned tomatoes to a crock pot.  Add the cooked onions and garlic to the crock pot and add the ground sausage to the hot skillet.  Stir and cook until brown. 

Add the sausage and all of the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Fun Fact:

Peppers are all over the Farmer's Market right now and I stocked up on these 'Chocolate Jalapenos'.  They're much smaller than the traditional green peppers but are just as spicy.  I'd recommend trying them out if peppers are your thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peach Jam

Peaches have been on mega sale recently and since all of my hobbies come right out of Little House on the Prairie I decided that the good deal meant that I needed to can these babies.  I made so much jam.  It was totally worth it, this might be my favorite batch of jam to date.

I got this recipe off of a wonderful blog called Food in Jars.  I've been reading Marisa's blog for years, way before Mr. T hooked me up with a sweet canning set, and I can't wait to really get into it and make more of the deliciousness that she has on there.

Note to the world... read the recipe all the way before you start cooking.  This calls for liquid pectin.  I missed that memo.  Learn from my mistakes.

Peach Jam:
(Food In Jars)

10 cups of peaches, peeled and chopped
6 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 packets (1 box) liquid pectin

Fill your canning pot with water and begin to bring it to temperature. Wash your jars and rings in warm soapy water and set aside. Put your lids in a small pot of water and heat (but do not boil) in order to soften the sealing compound.

Add peaches and sugar to a large, non-reactive pot. Stir so that the peaches begin to release their juice and mingle with the sugar. Bring to a boil and add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juice and let jam continue to cook for about fifteen minutes. If the fruit hasn’t broken down much after that time is up, use a potato masher or immersion blender (taking care not to burn yourself with hot jam) to break down the chunks. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes.

Turn off the heat under the jam and fill jars. Wipe rims and apply lids. Screw on the bands and lower into the water. Process in the hot water bath 10 minutes. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. When the jars are cooled, check the seal by pressing on the top of the jar. If there’s no movement, the jar has sealed. Store up to one year in a cool, dark place.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread

I got the baking itch on Saturday.  I was also trying to use up a couple of things in the house so they wouldn't go bad... like buttermilk.  (I swear, I'm always trying to use up some buttermilk)

I did some "googling" and came across this recipe from Bread Basket Case.  I had everything at the house already and a free afternoon, so away I went!!

I had some issues with the dough.  It was really sticky and I felt like it took me a lot of flour to get it to a workable dough.  Let's be honest though... it could be user error.  Oh well.  It was still seriously delicious and after I tried it I went ahead and made another batch to put in the freezer.

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread:
(adapted from Bread Basket Case)

5 1/2 cup bread flour 
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 cups water
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons honey
5 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
3 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package instant dry yeast

Place the oats in a mixing bowl. Add the water, and let stand for 15 or 20 minutes to soften. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Using a dough hook, mix on low speed for 3 minutes until thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixer to medium-low and mix for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Let rise for one hour. Fold the dough once during this rising, using a letter-style fold.

Divide the dough in half and shape into loaf pans. Brush the tops of the bread lightly with water, and press oatmeal gently onto the tops of the loaves. Cover the loaves, and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, using a pizza stone if possible, and preheating the stone as well. Put 1/2 cup ice cubes on a preheated tray or pan in the oven, and put the loaves on the stone (or on the oven rack). After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My First 'Canning Friday'

Now that I'm diving into canning more and more I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I'm learning with others.  Canning is scary to many people and the safety of it is why a lot of people stay away from it.  I was one of those people for a long time.

The truth of the matter is that there are some issues that can pop up if bacteria is introduced into the preserving environment but once you crack the code it really isn't that scary.  

I'm going to start sharing some of the canning knowledge I have (as little as it is) and what I'm learning from other people and books as well.  My hope is that even if people don't want to can anything they will at least learn something and be able to answer that final question in Jeopardy when it comes around.

The Ball Canning Company is a GREAT resource!  They were my first stop when I started researching the whole canning thing.  This link goes to their step by step guide.

This Friday we are going to talk about preparing the jars to be canned.  This is the first step in keeping bacteria away.

Before I start my canning process I fill up my waterbath canner.  It takes my poor still electric stove forever to heat it up.  So technically I guess this is step 1.

Step 1: Look over your jars to make sure there are no cracks or chips in the glass.

Step 2: Wash your jars, lids, and bands with warm, soapy water.  I like to wash mine in the dishwasher because it gets much hotter than hand washing does.

Step 3: Keep the jars warm.  I do this by filling my waterbath canner with simmering water and submerging the jars and lids in it.  Warm jars have a smaller chance of cracking when you fill them with hot liquid.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blueberry Jam

Summer fruits are wonderful.  The farmer's market has tons of berries right now and they are just begging to be made into jam... so that's what I've been doing.

This is a really easy recipe, it tastes fantastic, and doesn't take that long to cook or process.

Blueberry Jam:
(Ball Canning)

4 cups blueberries
4 1/2 tablespoons pectin
3 cups sugar (I used 1 cup lemon sugar and 2 cups regular sugar)

According to the recipe you should be able to get 6 half pint jars of jam.  I was only able to get 5.  If you prepare 6 jars you'll be good to go. 

Prepare boiling water canner. Wash jars, lids and bands in hot soapy water. Heat jars and in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set lids and bands aside.

Combine berries in an 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.

Add all of the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.

Place filled jars in canner ensuring jars are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner. Bring water to gentle, steady boil.

Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken enchiladas with Chili-Yogurt Sauce

It's Mexican night!  It's our favorite night of the week.  This is another Pinterest recipe find.  (I'm so glad that website was invented)

I made some changes to the original recipe to cut a couple of calories and use what I had at home.  The Greek yogurt worked really well in this.  I really didn't feel like I was missing out  

Chicken enchiladas with Chili-Yogurt Sauce:

(inspired from Joyful Momma's Kitchen)

10 soft taco shells (I used whole wheat)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 small onion, diced (or 1/2 a large onion)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 tablespoons hot sauce
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup greek yogurt
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

To make the shredded chicken:

Place a package of chicken breasts in a crock pot.  Add 1 teaspoon cumin, paprika, chili powder, and garlic power.  Cover with water and cook on low for 8+ hours.  Remove chicken from water and shred with a fork or tongs.

To make enchilidas:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with non stick spray.  Mix the shredded chicken, corn, diced jalapeno, onion, hot sauce, and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Fill and roll up in tortillas and place in pan, seam side down.

(I had some extra chicken/corn mixture so I just plopped it on top)

In a sauce pan melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook about 1 minute, until a light golden brown color.  Add the chicken broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally. 

Add the Greek yogurt, chilies, and spices.  Keep stirring until everything has come together and is warm.  Do not let the mixture come to a boil, it will cause the dairy to curdle. 

Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.

Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Happy Meatless Monday!!

This is the recipe that led me to pick up some eggplant at the farmer's market.  I figured that if I was going to try eggplant I should dump a bunch of cheese on it.  How bad can that be?  It was pretty dang good.

The one thing I was missing in this recipe was some different texture.  I think in a traditional Eggplant Parmesan the fried eggplant adds some crispiness to the dish.  Since I don't need to eat fried eggplant covered in cheese I'll stick with this lighter version.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan:
(adapted from Skinnytaste- 8 WW pts)

1 large eggplant (2 lbs)
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz fat free ricotta
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium egg
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella
3 cups tomato sauce
1 yellow tomato, seeded and roughly chopped or a hand full of small tomatoes
1 small white onion, diced

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lightly salt the slices and put in a colander to release excess moisture for about 1/2 hour. Lay on paper towels to soak up any extra moisture.

Preheat oven to 450°. Brush eggplant lightly with olive oil on both sides and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way through until eggplant is golden brown.

In a medium bowl combine ricotta, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

In a 9x12 baking dish, put a little sauce on the bottom of the dish and put a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the dish. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and sauce. Add 1/3 of the chopped tomatoes and onions.  Repeat the process twice with more eggplant, vegetables, and cheese.  Top with sauce and the mozzarella cheese and the remaining grated cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and everything is bubbling, about 30 minutes at 400°. Remove foil and bake an additional 8-10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love chicken and my husband loves buffalo anything.  I found this recipe on the skinny taste blog and thought that it might be a great change from the tacos I make all the time.  Better yet they are only 3 points per serving, without the ranch dressing.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps:


24 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
16 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
6 large lettuce leaves, Bibb or Iceberg
4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 teaspoon ranch or blue cheese dressing per wrap

Season the chicken breast with the onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.  Combine the chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic and broth in a crock pot.  If there isn't enough broth to cover the chicken add some water.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low for 8-ish.

Remove the chicken from pot, reserve 1/2 cup broth and discard the rest. Shred the chicken and return it to the slow cooker with the broth and hot sauce.  Set on high for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups chicken.

To prepare lettuce cups, place 1/2 cup buffalo chicken in each leaf, top with carrots and dressing of your choice.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy 4th of July

The 4th of July is on Wednesday and there will be a million back yard BBQs, Firework Displays, and time at the beach.

Here is my list of fun things that you can serve during this holiday week.


Baked Pita Chips

Buffalo Ranch Hummus

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Chili Con Queso


Southwest Cheddar Steak Fries

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

Turnip Greens

Moroccan Chickpea Salad



Blueberry Pie

Butter Pecan Pound Cake

Pineapple Nut Cake

Key Lime Pie

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Watermelon Granita