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Clean the Cupboards Chicken Chili

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Okay, so honestly, I did go to the store and buy all the cans of food I used in my chili, but I spent less money on this meal that will stretch throughout the week than I would have trying to cook meals throughout the week, and my goal was to use as many foods already in my cupboards as possible.  I don’t like that so many of the ingredients were out of a can, especially the tomatoes, but I am rather sick right now, and expending the energy to actually cook the chili from scratch was beyond my grasp last night.  Not to mention that because I didn’t start it earlier in the day, and didn’t use the slow cooker, I needed pre-cooked ingredients to get the chili going in less than 5 hours.

This meal is kind of ironic, because in the states, I never really cooked with beans, but when I got to Korea, and found out they were difficult to get, I actually started craving them.  The first care package from my mom had beans in it, and it actually got caught up in agricultural customs through Fedex or UPS for almost a week because of the beans.

When my local E-mart started carrying beans, and even better black beans in cans, I was so excited!  I have learned to use them pretty well since.  I make killer non re-fried beans, and some pretty good chili!  So last night I was pretty confident I could make a huge pot of chili.  We are a bit strapped for cash at the moment because we have to pay for my husband’s plane ticket home in March, so we need  a few cheaper meals that can stretch throughout the week.  This is the first one, and I am going to use it to make the second one later today.

3 cans of S&W Stewed diced tomatoes with Jalapenos

1 can diced reduced sodium Stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup pickled jalapenos

3 cans of beans, various kinds (I used one can of black beans, one can of kidney beans, and one can of Pinto “Chili” Beans

1 Korean red pepper

1/2 cup of sharp cheddar

a dollop of sour cream (optional but good…I didn’t have any 😦 )

1  can of corn

1 can of tomato paste

2 onions

1-2 tablespoons of pulverized garlic.

4 small chicken breasts

Put all the cans of tomatoes into the pot.  Rinse the black and kidney beans, and add them to the pot.  I put the whole can of “chili” beans into the pot cause they were flavored and I wanted a little starch to help thicken the chili.  I basically put in all of the ingredients into the pot, and let it cook for an hour.  I put four chicken breasts in the pot, and let them cook with the chili, and close to the end, I pulled them out and chopped them up.  I sliced the Korean pepper in half length wise, and took out the seeds.  I pulled it out before serving though.

While the chili was cooking, I baked some jalapeno cheddar corn bread according to the recipe at grouprecipes.com.  I followed the recipe exactly except for a few things…I made my own buttermilk by juicing a lemon, and using a tablespoon of the juice in a cup.  Then I filled the rest of the cup with milk.  I let it sit five minutes, and then used it in the recipe.  Also, I ground up my corn in a spice grinder, and used a little more corn than the recipe suggested.  Then I mixed it by hand with the other wet ingredients.  Other than that I followed the recipe.  It turned out good for the most part, and I have to admit, it tasted better the next day.  However, I used a pan that was a bit small and it was difficult to get the middle done.

Once the bread was done, I served up the chili, and bread together.  I sprinkled some sharp cheddar over the top, and if you have sour cream, that would be good too.  I didn’t need any chili powder, or any other seasonings to make it work…It had some spice, and because of so much tomato paste, it was very thick and hearty

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Purple Pizza-Tortilla Style!

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Purple is my all time favorite color!  Last week I used it in eggplant, this week, I use it in beets!  I cannot wait to go back to America, and use it in blackberry this summer!  Yummmmmmmmmm

I was inspired by several things for this recipe.  Last week a good friend of mine liked a tortilla pizza on Pinterest.  I honestly didn’t even read the recipe, but I LOVED the idea of using a tortilla as crust!  It is close to impossible to get a good thin crust pizza here!

I also had a beet that I needed to use up.  I really had no idea what to do with a beet, as I have never had one that was not pickled out of a can.  So, I decided to oven roast it, and throw it on the pizza.  I looked at several recipes that called for caramelized onions.  This sounded like a good base to me, so I started by roasting the beet.  It took an hour and a half, so I did it last night to have it ready.

DSC_0250I got a big cut of tin foil and folded it in half.  DSC_0251I took the beet, and put it in the foil.  I

covered it with a little olive oil  and wrapped it up like a package.   I then put it in the oven for an hour and a half, until it was soft.

After it cooled a bit, I just put the package in the fridge until I needed the beet today.  The color had changed from a dark wine, to a deep purple, and it was very soft and juicy.  I used a peeler and gently peeled off the skin, and diced the beet.

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Next I began to caramelize two onions.  I sliced them thin, and put some olive oil in the pan over very low heat.  You cannot rush this process.  The onions do not get seared,  they turn brown, but this can take a long time.  One time I made French onion soup, and it took two hours to properly caramelize all of the onions. Tonight, I gave it about 20 minutes, and as you can see, they were not done before I pulled them off…I was just impatient.

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Then I used the same pan to cook up some chopped up bacon, then two chicken breasts.

Once I had drained the bacon, and let the chicken rest, I sliced up the chicken as well.

I also washed up some spinach to put on my pizza.

To assemble the pizza I put a taco sized flour tortilla on a pan.  I put three tablespoons of Classico Italian Sausage pasta sauce on it (you can use, red sauce, white sauce, or even the oil that has been infused with the beet as you roasted as your sauce.

Next I put on some chicken, bacon, beets, garlic, onions, and spinach on the pizza.

I measured out one ounce of partly skim Mozzarella cheese, and put it over the top.

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I was surprised with one ounce of cheese, it was enough, but using a microplane grater to make a very fine grate, it worked out beautifully!  Even better, part skim mozzarella is only two points per serving instead of three of most other cheese that we eat!  Great news!

I baked it in the oven on a cookie sheet for 12 minutes, then I put it under the broiler only for about three more just to get the cheese bubbly.

Next I removed it to a cutting board, ran a pizza cutter through it, and slide it onto a plate.

13 weight watchers points per pizza, and to be honest, I ate two of them!  Yummy!

I love that this is one of those empty out the fridge and use whatever veggies you have kind of dishes.  I used beets cause it was what I had, but you could use bell peppers or even zucchini if you have it.  Heck, if I had made it last week, I would have thrown on an eggplant!

I think the biggest shocker of all with me working with beets, is that I didn’t dye my entire kitchen, much less my skin purple along with dinner!  😀

Anyway, enjoy!

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Roasted Vegetable Soup with Grilled Cheese

Hi there everyone!  This week at  Costco, my husband freaked out when we got to the  cheese aisle.  They had our absolute favorite cheddar cheese from home that they have never had there before!  They had Bandon Cheddar Cheese!  This cheese is made in Oregon by the Tillamook Cheese Comapany.  However, When I was growing up near Bandon, Oregon, the cheese factory was there, and I remember going and trying fresh cheese curds or “squeeky cheese” and having ice cream cones the size of my head.  I don’t know what is so different between Bandon brand cheddar or any other cheddar, but it is incredible!  While at the store, we usually grab a few different kinds of cheese, however this week, after I hugged it and drooled over it a little, my husband and I decided to buy two blocks of cheddar instead of any other kind of cheese.  It is a harder cheddar than say Kirkland cheddar, and does not crumble as easily.  It also has a bit more cheddar flavor than what I have been used to in Korea.

I am just a little excited…HOME!

Since I had some incredible cheese, I had to take on the challange of planning an entire meal around this taste of home, that would not be too many weight watchers points.

So now I get to what this post is really about:

My post today is primarily about this amazing oven roasted veggie soup that I made tonight to go with some killer grilled cheese sandwiches.  I did make some incredible bread as well for the sandwiches, however, I did not get any photos of the bread because I have made it before in my Whole Wheat Hoagies post.  The big difference in my bread today, was that I actually baked it into two loafs (took about 45 minutes to turn golden brown in a loaf pan).  I added garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and some basil to the recipe as well, and took out some of the sugar.   Anyway, the hoagie recipe I used is found on food.com.  I change the recipe by using all whole wheat flour and a tablespoon of yeast.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Anyway, back to my soup:

When I got home from work tonight, I chopped up some veggies.  I chopped up two bell peppers into 8 strips, 2 small onions, and 2 small carrots.  I spread them over two cooking sheets (one big one would work if your oven is big enough or an average sized cookie sheet).  I sprayed just a tiny bit of olive oil on them, and one pan at a time I roasted them.  The peppers I roasted until they were charred, broiling them for about 15 minutes, then turning the pan and letting it go for another 15 minutes, until they looked like this:

The yellow peppers were a bit more done than the red by the end of this.

then I threw in a pan of thinly sliced onions and carrots.  In hind site, I perhaps should have cut the carrot into sticks instead of madallions so they did not loose so much moisture and flavor. I cooked them the same way under the broiler for about another half hour, turning the pan and stirring a little half way through.

Next I opened two cans of S&W ready-cut diced tomatoes and dumped them into my soup pot.  While my roasted veggies were cooling a bit, I took the time to mix the bread together, and plan for it to raise while the soup was cooking.  so I let the veggies cool a bit, and then peeled the peppers by hand.  Charring them the way that I did releases the skins, and they practically slide right off.

After I added the tomatoes, I peeled the peppers, and

Here is the package of tofu, it comes in a tube and you just cut the tip and squeeze it out.

threw them into the pot with the onions, carrots, tomatoes, about a tablespoon and a half of garlic, and here is the kicker…a cup of silken tofu.  This was an experiment for me, but I actually looked forward to giving it a try.  I added two cups of water, then another half cup with about a tablespoon of beef bouillon mixed in with it.  I threw in some dried thyme, and let it simmer on low while the bread was raising.

After it simmered for maybe an hour while the dough was raising, I scooped the hot soup carefully into a blender and pureed it until it was smooth.  The tofu gave it the creamy look and feel of having dairy and the flavor was really intense .  It was a little overwhelming however, and I added 1/2 a cup of sour cream just to cool down the flavors just a touch.  I was pleased to see it did not add any extra weight watchers points to a serving, which is what I was trying to avoid.


I sliced enough bread for two sandwiches, and measured out two ounces each of Bandon cheese.  I planned this entire meal around the cheese after all…Therefore, I was not about to skimp on it!

I grilled them up in a little butter, on the smallest flame I can get.  My bread was cut kinda thick, so I wanted to give the cheese time to melt while the bread was grilling.  The flame was on so low, that it probably took 5-8 minutes per side to get it golden brown on each side.  I prefer to grill my sandwiches like this, because otherwise the bread is done long before the cheese is ooey gooey and melted.

When it was ready, I served my husbands plate, then went back to cut my sandwich, take some photos and serve up my own.  When I came to sit down, my husband was already oohing and awwing over the incredible flavor.  I knew the soup tasted good, but when I sat down, and dipped the sandwich into the soup, oh my gosh that was pure heaven!  This meal was super filling with the hearty whole wheat bread, and the thick soup.  And best of all, the soup serving four generous helping was only three points a bowl!

Oven Roasted Veggie Soup:

2 cans of tomatoes (because this soup is pureed, this can be any kind of canned tomatoes)

1 cup silken tofu

1/2 cup sour cream (optional with the tofu)

2 onions

2 carrots

a few cloves of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

dried thyme

2 bell peppers, any color

olive oil spray

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon beef bouillon (use what you have, I have used chicken before as well. Veggie could also work)

First de-rib and slice into strips two bell peppers.  thickly slice 2 onions and two carrots and spread all out on a cookie sheet with a light spraying of olive oil.  Broil on the highest temperate and the closest to the top heating element for 15 minutes, and turn the pan around.  Cook or another 15 minutes, or until the peppers are well charred and the onions are starting to caramelize or brown.  Dump 2 cans of tomatoes into the soup pan.  Peel the skin off of the roasted peppers, and add them and the onions to the soup.  Add the garlic, thyme, and tofu. Let this simmer for at least a half hour.  when it has cooked down just a little, and is sufficiently hot, carefully scoop or pour the contents of the soup pot into the blender, and blend until the entire soup has a smooth consistency   You can add the sour cream now, or after you pour the soup back into the pot.  Mix well, salt and pepper to taste.

One bowl of this soup is very thick and filling, and is only 3 weight watchers points!

Leave me a comment if you want more details on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

Triple B (Beef, Barley, Bread ~ Hello Winter!)

Winter is in the air, and the first thing that comes to my mind is soup.  I love soup! It could be 100 degrees outside, and what I would want to eat is soup.  Recently found pressed barley at my local grocery store. (Well in all honesty I had bought it before, but I actually thought it was oatmeal!)  My husband came grocery shopping with me this past weekend, and as we stopped by the deli counter so I could get some ground beef, he saw some stew meat that he commented sounded good.  He was thinking I could fry it up and throw it in sandwiches or stir fry or something, not realizing that stew meat is usually rather tough, which is why it is for stews…they cook a long time.  Anyway, we got the meat, and I got the barley, and I new that this week  I would be making beef barley stew.

I started out by sauteing the beef with maybe a tablespoon of olive oil, and throwing some chopped up onion in the pan with it.  I cooked the meat and onions until the meat was just about done, and a little brown.

While that was cooking, I chopped up two carrots, opened and drained a small can of corn, and got out some frozen garlic.  I threw about a tablespoon of garlic in with the meat, and another one in the crock pot with the vegetables.

When the meat was done, I poured the entire pan, drippings and all into the crock pot with the vegetables and mixed it all up a bit.  I added 5 cups of water, a tablespoon of dried thyme, and some salt and pepper to the pot as well.  I also used a little chicken bouillon for flavor, as I don’t have any beef.  I then gave the entire pot a good stir.

I put a lid on the pot, turned it on low, and

I set aside 1 1/2 cups of barley, for my husband to add after he got home from work, after it had been cooking for over three hours.

When I came home I checked the soup, and the barley had expanded to the point there was almost no water in it the pot, and it was almost overflowing.  (Note to self * Your crock pot cannot handle 1.5 cups of barley for a soup…try less next time!)

I didn’t take a photo as I was more concerned with adding some liquid to the pot than taking pictures….I added another cup to the pot, and this made the texture very stewy, and not so much thick clumpy gooey oatmealy if you know what I mean.

This photo was actually taken after two bowls of soup had been dispensed…the barley BLEW UP in the pot, and it was amazing the lid did not overflow!

Since the soup was pretty much done, I did’t have to do anything but add water once I got home. However, a good winter soup does not seem right without some bread to go with it.  I made some quick rise bread sticks with rosemary sprinkled over the top of the dough, and garlic butter painted over the top.

I will be honest, the soup was pretty bland.  Both my husband and I added some salt to our bowls, as well as a sprinkle or 4 of tobasco sauce.  Then, this tasted great!

 I found the recipe for the bread sticks on food.com.  Here is the recipe that I used and is in my photographs.

1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
3 cups bread flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (I used a tablespoon since I was using whole wheat)
Directions:

1
Make dough using your favorite method- bread machine, mixer or by hand.
2
Roll out into a 10×12 inch rectangle.
3
Cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide.
4
Give each strip a twist and place on a greased cookie sheet.
5
Let rise for at least 20 minutes or more if you have time.
6
Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. (Mine took 8-10 minutes)
7
Brush with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese.  (I melted butter and garlic and brushed on the garlic butter)

The soup serves about 10 helpings, and is 5 weight watchers points a bowl.  The bread sticks with the garlic butter are 3 points each.  All in all, a healthy meal, that you can fill up on!