Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Super EASY *SPICY" Turkey Taco Chili (Slow Cooker)


Super EASY *SPICY" Turkey Taco Chili (Slow Cooker)

I liked the looks of a recipe I saw on the "Skinny Taste" blog but I knew I wanted to make a few changes so my husband and I would both like it.  The recipe called for chicken breasts; I used cooked, crumbled ground turkey instead.  The recipe also calls for two cans of Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies) and one can of green chilies.  We were wanting some HOT & SPICY chili, so I selected one can of Ro-tel "Original" and one can of Ro-tel "Hot".  The canned green chilies I used were also the "hot" variety.  Finally, the recipe called for frozen corn; we left out the corn.  

Yowza, our chili is HOT & SPICY.  Ro-tel comes in so many varieties which you can see HERE.  If you are sensitive to spice or don't like things too spicy, I recommend the "Mild" Ro-tel.  And I recommend you use mild green chilies as well.  You could substitute canned diced tomatoes or canned fire roasted tomatoes if you'd like. There is plenty of seasoning in this chili without the green chilies. 

Aside from browning/cooking/crumbling the ground turkey and chopping up an onion, this is a dish you can assemble in just a few minutes.  I had this simmering in the slow cooker first thing this morning before we headed out the door to walk the dogs.


Super EASY *SPICY* Turkey Taco Chili (Slow Cooker)

Ingredients:

1 small onion, chopped
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (I used 1 can Ro-Tel "Hot" with habanero peppers and 1 can Ro-Tel "Original" with green chilies)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies (I used Ortega brand "Hot" green chilies)
1 pound ground turkey (browned/cooked/crumbled)
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, stir, cover with lid, and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Adapted from www.skinnytaste.com/LINK:
http://www.skinnytaste.com/crock-pot-chicken-taco-chili-4-pts/



Friday, September 1, 2017

Easy Tangy Salad Dressing


You can see from my photo above that I take my salad making very seriously!  Ha, ha!  If I were to make a salad for myself (just one portion for lunch for example), I would never bother to wash, dry, and chop such a variety of vegetables, but I make what I am calling "Assembly Line Salads".  If I am making 4 to 6 salads all at one time, it is totally worth the effort to wash, dry, and chop a lot of ingredients.  I usually make up these salads on the day I do my grocery shopping. 

For these salads, which are all identical, I used the following ingredients:

1 bag of Kroger "Tender Spinach" (comes triple washed/ready to eat)
1 can of Kroger garbanzo beans, rinsed/drained/spread out on a paper towel to dry
1 small container of grape tomatoes
1 small container of sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, diced or grated
about 3/4 cup of finely chopped red cabbage
1 small cucumber, chopped (this is an Armenian cucumber from my neighbor's garden)

My salads vary just a bit each time I make them. I love a prepackaged/prewashed salad from Walmart which contains a blend of baby kale and spinach, but really use all kinds of greens for the base. Then I just divide up the ingredients among the containers so my salads are ready.  I often add chopped hard boiled egg to my salads. I guess the most important tip I have it to not place any very wet ingredient in the salads or they will spoil more quickly.  This is why I use grape or cherry tomatoes instead of diced tomato as an example.

My "go to salad dressing" has been a homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette.  You can find the recipe HERE.   But I do love to try new dressings.  I was resistant to make salad dressing at home for awhile. The big draw back is that sometimes the salad dressings gets "gloopy" in the refrigerator as a result of the oil solidifying.  When this happens, I shake the dressing like mad and then measure out about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of dressing and then microwave it for about 5 seconds on high. Works like a charm.  Of course, if you prefer, you can let your salad dressing sit out at room temperature for awhile and the oil in the dressing will become less "gloopy" as the oil warms up.

The dressing I am using this week is called "Tangy Dressing".  I found it on Facebook and I took a screen shot of the recipe so I only know the ingredients, but not the source of the recipe. Sorry!  It looks like it's a dressing for a broccoli salad with apple, walnuts, carrots, goji or cranberries, and a little red onion.  Sounds amazing!  I am using the dressing on my veggie salads and I really like it.  The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes; that had me a bit worried... that sounds mighty spicy.  I just used a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes.  In addition, I used dried parsley in place of fresh parsley since I did not have any on hand.

Next time you are having a salad at home or buying salad dressing at the store, look at the ingredients in pre-made salad dressing and see how many ingredients are in there.  You might wonder what some of the ingredients are.  For the homemade "Tangy Dressing", I had all of the ingredients on hand and I love that there are no weird additives.  My diet is far from perfect, but making salad dressings at home is a change I feel really good about. 


*** I used just a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes; 2 teaspoons sounds like a LOT! Also, I used dried parsley (about 1 teaspoon or less) instead of fresh since dried is what I had on hand.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Zucchini Soup with Curry Spice


HELP! My neighbor keeps bringing me zucchini after I told her I LOVE zucchini!  I can't use it as fast as she is bringing it to me. Yesterday, I made some blender muffins with oats, banana, chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut, and zucchini.  A weird combination but I love these muffins and they freeze well.  I also made some Double Chocolate Zucchini muffins.  Seriously, these muffins taste like chocolate cupcakes.  So good!  After all the baking was done, I decided to try a new zucchini recipe... Cream of Zucchini Soup from one of my very favorite food blogs www.skinnytaste.com.

I read many reviews of this recipe before making the soup. A few folks felt the soup was kind of bland so they mentioned some alterations they made to make the soup a bit more to their liking.  I took a few ideas and ran with it. The original recipe calls for zucchini, chicken broth, onion, garlic, and a little light sour cream.  I left out the sour cream but am swirling a little Greek yogurt into my soup when I eat it.  I also added carrots, curry powder, and honey to my soup.  In addition, I sautéed my veggies a little while in a bit of extra virgin olive oil before adding in the chicken broth. The original recipe calls for throwing all ingredients in a pot, simmering, and blending. I thought the sautéing might make the soup a bit more flavorful.  I also read that some folks enjoy this soup cold. I just tried a bite of cold soup and it is quite flavorful; I am just not sure if I am a fan of cold soup or not.  Finally, I read in the reviews that this soup freezes well.  Maybe I can make up a bunch of this soup and freeze it so this zucchini does NOT go to waste!

Zucchini Soup with Curry Spice
Adapted from www.skinnytaste.com
Original Recipe Link is HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium zucchini, skin on cut in large chunks
  • 2 to 3 small to medium sized carrots, chopped
  • 32 oz.  Swanson chicken broth (or vegetable)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (or a little more if desired)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • optional: plain Greek yogurt to stir into each bowl of soup

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil.  Add in the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions will begin to soften.  Add in the zucchini, garlic, and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  3. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender.  Add in the curry powder and honey.  Blend in with the immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can blend your soup in a traditional blender; just be very careful, as hot soup can make the lid fly off resulting in burns. If using a traditional blender, you may wish to just blend your soup in batches (a little soup at a time).
  5. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste. If soup seems bitter, add in a bit more honey. Serve hot.  If desired, stir about 1 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt into each bowl of soup.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chipotle, Black Bean, and Red Pepper Soup


Chipotle, Black Bean, and Red Pepper Soup




We went to our favorite restaurant again the other day.  Jake and Telly's Greek Taverna is about an hour from us and is located in Old Colorado City, Colorado.  We like to get a Hummus Platter for an appetizer and our lunch entrees are often a Gyro Sandwich for my husband and a Spinach and Beet Salad for me.  Good stuff.  Ron's sandwich comes with a choice of sides and he got the Chipotle Vegetable Soup.  Ron is not a very adventurous eater; he's kind of picky.  He did not like that fact that the soup had mushrooms and zucchini in it but he was inspired by the soup. He asked that we try to make the soup at home using ingredients (veggies) he likes better. He was so anxious about it that he drove me to the little market near us to get a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce so I make the soup that afternoon.

The soup turned out great and I loved that Ron had the idea for it.  I had him hang out in the kitchen while I made it so he could have input.

Chipotle, Black Bean, and Red Pepper Soup

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 32 oz. carton chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
2-4 chipotle peppers (*), seeds removed, chopped (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
2-4 tablespoons of the adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
salt, pepper, and granulated sugar to taste

In a large soup pot over medium to medium high heat, cook/brown/crumble the ground turkey until nearly no pink remains.  Add in the diced onion and peppers, and cook, stirring frequently for another 4 to 5 minutes (veggies will begin to soften and turkey will be cooked through).  Add in the chicken broth, black beans, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and spices.  Start with about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.  Cover pot; let soup come to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes (until veggies are desired tenderness). Taste for seasoning and add in more salt/pepper/sugar as desired.


(*) Chipotles are small peppers (often jalapenos), usually 2-3 inches long that have been dried by a smoking process that gives them a dark color and a distinct smoky flavor. The canned variety used in this recipe come in a red sauce that has a fantastic, smoky flavor as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Posole-Inspired Soup with Turkey



po·so·le
[pō sṓ lày]
NOUN

  1. a thick Mexican soup made with hominy, chicken or pork, chilies, and cilantro
  2. a large kernel of white corn

Last week, we went out to dinner with a couple we know.  The Mrs. just retired from her job and the Mr. will be retiring from his job in a few weeks, so we wanted to help them celebrate the transition!  We had gone out to dinner with them before to a local Mexican Restaurant called "El Alazan" and we decided to go there again.  Most the time I go there, I just get a guacamole tostada since I like to go crazy on the chips and pico de gallo before the entrees are served.  This time I decided to be adventurous and I ordered the Posole.  There were things I loved about their Posole and things I really disliked about their Posole.  The broth, you could tell, was basically water and they simmered very cheap cuts of pork in the water.  There was not a whole lot of seasoning in the broth and I also found bones, cartilage, and fat, attached to the pork that had been cooked in the broth.  But what I loved was that, when the brought me the soup, they also brought me a bottle of dried oregano, a bottle of dried crushed red pepper flakes, as well as a pile of fresh chopped green cabbage and pile of finely diced white onion.  I could add in these ingredients to my heart's desire.

When I left the restaurant, I kept thinking how I could make the soup at home, with my priorities being (1) make it healthier and (2) make it even tastier.  I went to the grocery store today to shop for ingredients. I considered a few different options for the protein: shred up a pre-roasted rotisserie chicken from the deli, poach some boneless skinless chicken breasts in the broth, or brown some lean ground turkey. I settled on the latter since I already had ground turkey at home.

This soup is super simple to make and has very few ingredients. I had it made up in just a short time.  My husband was really turned off by the idea of the soup since it contains HOMINY:  that funny looking BIG CORN.  He was about to warm up some other leftovers while I was enjoying a bowl of the soup and I told him, "Try the soup... it's good!  Just ONE bite!"  He had a bite and liked it and made up a big bowl of Posole for himself. 

This soup is spicy, healthy, and lean. I hope you give it a try. For spice, I added in a can of Rotel (diced green chilies and diced tomatoes).  The Rotel "Original" is surprisingly spicy.  Rotel also comes in "Mild" and "Hot" so choose your Rotel according to your liking.

Posole-Inspired Soup with Turkey


Soup Ingredients:

1 pound of ground turkey (lean Jennie-O brand)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (10 ounce) Rotel (I used "Original" and it is quite spicy)
1 can (15.5 ounce) hominy (I used white hominy from Kroger), drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth

Toppings:

finely diced sweet or white onion
finely diced/shredded green cabbage
fresh limes, cut into wedges

Directions:

In a soup pot, brown/cook/crumble the ground turkey.  Add in the spices right away so they spices get mixed in really well and adhere well to the ground turkey.  When the turkey is cooked (no pink remains), add in the Rotel, hominy, and chicken broth.  Cover pot with a lid, bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and allow to simmer on low for about 10 to 15 minutes.

While the soup simmers, assemble the toppings. I used pre-packaged, pre-shredded green cabbage, but you could chop up cabbage from a head of green cabbage.  Finely dice a sweet or white onion and cut a lime into 6 to 8 wedges.  Set aside.

Taste the soup for seasoning.  If you used low sodium chicken broth, you may wish to add in additional salt.  Ladle cooked soup into a bowl. Top each bowl of soup with shredded cabbage and diced onion.  Squeeze a lime wedge into the soup. Enjoy!




Saturday, August 26, 2017

So Easy! Crock Pot Applesauce


Crock Pot Applesauce


I will probably never buy applesauce again. I made applesauce in my Crock Pot (slow cooker) yesterday.  It was so easy and it tastes great.  I know exactly what is in it and, frankly, it's way sweeter than the unsweetened applesauce I purchase at the store. I bought a little bag of Gala apples at my Kroger store the other day.  I had a coupon for bagged apples and I think the bag I got was 3 pounds.  The apples were all small and they were not that pretty; apple rejects.  I love to eat applesauce with cottage cheese... great with a sprinkle of chia seeds but even better topped with homemade granola.  Soon I'll try the applesauce, Greek yogurt, and granola combination.  I love to have this kind of thing for breakfast like I did today.


The applesauce couldn't be easier.  Fall, apple season, pumpkin spice season... they will be here soon. I'd like to try making applesauce with a variety of kinds of apples this fall, but the All-Gala-Apple version was great.

Crock Pot Applesauce

3 pounds of apples (peeled, cored, and chopped)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup water
fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used a few teaspoons)

Place all ingredients in a Crock Pot (slow cooker).  Cover with lid and cook on LOW for 2 hours.
Stir and mash the apples (I used a fork); cover and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on LOW.  Cooking time may vary depending upon your slow cooker of course.

Your house will smell great.  I read a few recipes on line which indicate the applesauce freezes well.  I am amazed how much the apples cook down.  This made a lot less applesauce than I thought it would.  I may freeze some but I may gobble it up before it goes bad.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Making a Latte at Home


Lattes at Home

If I go to a fancy coffee shop, I usually just order a cup of black coffee. If the coffee is too strong, sometimes I'll splurge and add in a little half-n-half. 

A few weeks back, I went CRAZY and actually ordered a latte (espresso with steamed/foamy milk).  I asked if they had almond milk and I figured I would give that a try. Mistake! Big MISTAKE!  The almond milk ruined my drink.  It's just my humble opinion, but I just did not like it ONE BIT. 

Fast forward a week or so... my yarn shop moved to a new location. There is a great little coffee place practically across the street so I went in and ordered a small latte with whole cow's milk.  Oh my! It was a very tasty treat but... let me tell you... it was too expensive.  I think it was $3.83 for a little drink.

This got me to thinking... with a kitchen full of awesome gadgets at home, what could I use to make a latte at home to save money? I did not want to get in the habit of spending $4.00 or more each time I went to the yarn shop to knit with friends or teach a class.

My fancy Keurig HOT 2.0 Coffee Brewer allows me to select how many ounces of water I use each time I brew a pod of coffee. I selected 4 ounces of water but I usually use 12 ounces of water. The result with 4 ounces of water... very strong coffee, just like espresso.




Next, I got out my Immersion Blender... AKA:  Stick Blender... AKA: Boat Motor.




I heated up some milk in a microwave safe container. This tall cup is a measuring cup that came with my immersion blender.  You basically need to move the immersion blender in and out of the hot milk... so you want a container that is on the taller side so that the hot milk does not splash out and burn you.  You have to move the immersion blender up and down... in and out of the milk... in order to incorporate some air into the milk to fluff it up and make some foam.


Of course you have to have some specialized gadgets like these to make a latte at home.  But I was pretty tickled to figure out how to make a nice latte at home without purchasing any other tools or equipment.  Truth be told, I ordinarily don't have cow's milk in the house but just happened to have some since Zach has been home from college and he likes it on his cereal.    


So I'll have a few more lattes before the milk runs out... today's latte was good with the Avocado Black Bean Brownies I made yesterday. Did you see that recipe? It was in yesterday's post!