Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Chili

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!  As we look at the New Year, people all over are making that change they make every year.  It has something to do with food.  Usually.  No red meat.  A meatless meal once a week.  No chocolate. chocolate?!

Just wanted to see if you were paying attention there.

Well, no matter what your plan for the New Year is pertaining to what you consume, I hope you do strive to eat healthier -- whatever that means for you.  These are the only bodies we've been given and we need to take care of them.

To get you off on the right foot, if you'd like, I have here this simple and delicious winter chili.  It's easy to put together even if it takes a little longer than other meals on this blog, but it'll make your home smell comfy-cozy and all you'll need is a hearty loaf of bread to make this a complete meal!

Enjoy!  (I used quinoa because  go figure, all I had was 1/2 cup millet, but next time, I'm totally using millet, it would have been great in this!)  Oh, and I got the recipe here and tweaked it a little.  It also freezes beautifully!

Winter Chili
feeds 8

  • 1 lg red onion, chopped
  • 3 lg carrots cut into thin rounds
  • 2 bell peppers, I used a red and a yellow. I wouldn't use a green pepper if you can help it
  • 4 ribs of celery, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t cumin
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t basil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/4 c red wine (like a Merlot)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 15 oz cans kidney beans, rinse and drain
  • 4 15 oz  cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry millet or quinoa
  • salt and pepper to taste
--In a LARGE pot or dutch oven, saute onion, carrots, bell peppers and celery for about 10 minutes or until soft (help things along with keeping the pot covered and stirring occasionally)
-- Add garlic and spices and saute another minute or two
-- Add paste and wine and stir for a few minutes
-- Add remaining ingredients, simmer and cover for 30 minutes until grain is cooked (the grain, once cooked, will make the chili nice and thick!)
-- Taste and season with salt and pepper (if you use full sodium broth, consider not adding any more salt as the tomatoes and celery carry a lot themselves!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Soup

I had this soup saved to grace my Christmas table.  When I got down to actually planning out what I wanted, I realized it would be a little redundant, and I also really just wanted my creamy sweet potato soup instead.  Something about the tradition of it always being there each and every year.

With that being said this is the last post until after Christmas, ya'll!! It's all about family and our traditions and while we'll still be eating healthy, I'm not going to update this little blog for a couple weeks. Hope you understand!!  And I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!!  I'll have a delicious winter chili recipe coming your way right before the New Year, but until then, I have this delicious soup for you!

So even this didn't make it onto the Christmas dinner menu, the soup still sounded really good, so I made it. Let me tell you all -- it takes a little longer from start to finish than most of my other soups, but it was worth it.  Most of the extra time was just simmering anyway, so it's not like it was labor intensive.

I got the recipe over here, and except for the amount of broth I used, I followed the directions pretty close.  (Amazing for me, right?)  I served this with a good crusty bread and called it good.  Because the soup is a little on the special side, it worked well.

Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 t powdered ginger
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1/2 c dry lentils, rinsed well
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T tomatoe paste
  • 3 cups peeled/chopped butternut squash
  • 1 large apple, unpeeled, and chopped
  • 5 oz spinach
-- In a large pot, saute the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes.  Add in the garlic and spices and saute another 2 to 3 minutes.
-- Stir in the lentils, broth, and paste and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes.
-- Add in squash and apple, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer another 25 minutes until the squash and apple are soft.
-- Add in the spinach and stir until wilted.

Monday, December 10, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark

Disclaimer: there is nothing healthy about these babies.  They are delicious and we're all about moderation over here, so a little indulgence is just wonderful!  Also, it's a very easy treat to whip up to add to any cookie plate you may be handing out to neighbors.

I made the entire thing in under 10 minutes while talking on the I mean it when I say it's easy!  I liked the idea of white chocolate dipped pretzels and then dipped in candy cane shards, but I realized that would be too labor intensive with 2 little boys running around, so I thought this up.  I'm sure it's not original with me, I just figured if you can do peppermint bark, why not add broken up pretzels?  I'm glad it worked!

I used all white chocolate because, for this, I think it's prettier, but I think it would look good with layers, too.  You would just have an extra step thrown in there and it would take longer, though just as easy.

Anyway, here's the simple "recipe".  Have fun and enjoy!

White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Bark

12 oz almond bark
12 oz white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups broken small pretzels
1 cup (or more!) broken candy canes (I used the mini ones.  more unwrapping, but easier smashing.  I could have used the food processor, I guess, but I was having fun smashing...)

--In a large microwave safe bowl, follow direction for melting the chocolate and almond bark.  I put mine together in for 2 minutes.  Stirred, and then popped it in for one more minute.
-- Stir in the pretzel pieces and candy cane shards until everything is evenly coated
-- Spread evenly onto a lightly greased, or non-stick, tin foil and flatten to your liking.
-- Chill for 20-30 minutes until firm and ready to crack.

If you want it extra pepperminty, add a teaspoon or two of peppermint extract.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup

This soup was a nice change from our usual pureed vegetable or lentil soups.  It also doesn't have curry or chickpeas in it.  Like I said, it was a nice change for us.  Usually, I tend to shy away from "Tortilla" soups due to the spice they tend bring along.  But this one had pumpkin in it, and I'm a sucker for pumpkin.

I got the recipe over here, and I tweaked it a lot.  After I got done making it, I realized there was no protein component.  So I added black beans and corn, and I'm so glad I did.  Some of the bites with avocado in it make me think of Texas Caviar.

A definite do-over!  I would, though, say tortilla chips are a must.  There was just something missing and I think that's what it was.  I also made a big pot of Spanish rice to go with this, and we ended up mixing the leftover soup with the leftover rice to stretch it a little bit and that was absolutely delicious.

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup
Serves 8-10

What You'll Need:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TBLS oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 4 oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 15oz can 100% pumpkin puree
  • 2, 15 oz, cans diced tomatoes, with juice (for a fuller flavor, make sure one can is fire roasted)
  • 5 c vegetable broth
  • 2 can black beans, rinsed and drained (can you red kidney as well)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 TBLS lime juice
  • S & P to taste
  • 1-2 ripe avocados, cut into chunks, for garnish
  • cilantro
  • corn chips
What You'll Do
  • Saute the onion and pepper for about 5-7 minutes.  Add in garlic and spices and saute another 2 minutes.
  • Add everything else (minus lime juice), stir, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice before serving -- season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top each bowl with chunks of avocados, tortilla chips, and cilantro.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Curried Chickpeas

Another super snappy dinner for you.  And incredibly tasty, too!  I got the recipe here, and while I made it with the creamy coconut quinoa, I don't think I will again.  I didn't taste the coconut in the quinoa, and it just added unnecessary fat to the dish.  So next time I'll just skip it, and make sure to add a little coconut extract if I think it needs something.

If you make the quinoa ahead of time, this dinner comes together in about 15 minutes.  What's not to love about that?!  Also, it's a great meal to make ahead of time and have waiting for you.

Next time, I think I'll double this, though.  It fed us just fine, but the boys don't eat a full portion yet, and I had a good sized side to go with it, but we barely had enough for Scot to take to lunch the following day.  So it feeds 4 if you have a good side to go with it, or 3 hungry men.

Curried Chickpeas
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1/4 t tumeric
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/4 t ginger

  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry quinoa + 2.5 cups water/broth
-- Cook your quinoa like you would rice on the stove top or in a rice cooker
-- Meanwhile, saute the onion, pepper and garlic until onion and peppers are nice and soft.
-- Add in remaining ingredients, stir, and heat through.

To plate: Scoop quinoa onto bowl or plate and top with curried chickpeas!