Winter has Arrived

Its true. It’s here. Today was a balmy 7 degrees out.

Walking Beemer, I decided necessitated long underwear. So not only did I have the opportunity to drag my sorry but around my neighborhood in chilly temps, but I also got to feel extremely sexy doing it. Lucky girl.

Sadly I had to pull in the reigns on how much I could bundle up, because I have, ohh about 50 more degrees of freezing coming my way. Last year this is what I wore when it was -40.

I hope all you Lower 48’s are enjoying your weather. And please excuse me when I offer zero sympathy for your “really cold” days. When you have to plug in your car to keep it from freezing, we can talk 🙂

So while the snow has arrived, and the cold temperatures are only beginning their reign of terror, I warmed up my house by baking and busting out my crock pot.

If you’re interested in some yummy cookies, here’s what I did:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by How Sweet It Is

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles by Recipe Girl

(these cookies may or may not make excellent ice cream sandwich cookies. And I may or may not recommend getting the festive Pumpkin ice cream that is currently available!)

But besides stuffing my face with cookies, as I said, I also busted out my crock pot. On the lazy days that the sun isn’t shining (there are many!), and its just to chilly to get the blood moving in my body, the slow cooker will be bearing the weight of dinner entrees.

I decided to figure out an easy Chicken and Dumpling-esque soup. From searching around a little bit I formulated a plan and this is how it went:

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling Soup

4 Boneless Skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Can of Whole Kernel Yellow Corn, drained
2 Tbs Butter
2 Packages of Refigerator biscuits, torn into 1 inch pieces
Chopped Green Onions for garnishing

1. Place the chicken, butter, soup, corn and onion in a slow cooker, and then add enough water to cover.
2. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center. Serve with green onions on top!

This is not a traditional dumpling, obviously since we cut a corner on the whole “homemade” front… but for the lazy days that entitle a slow cooker recipe, I wasn’t the least bit upset about it 🙂

Hope you all have a great weekend! Make some cookies, or enjoy your warm weather… or both if you’re lucky!

Advertisements

Kung POW!

Last night’s dinner was a major success. It was delicious, simple, and there was little to no mess involved. That alone qualifies this recipe to be laminated and used frequently.

I don’t usually make Asian food. I like to order my Thai food and save my house the airing out process. I cook a pretty standard but caucasian stir fry occasionally.. but really I haven’t done much cuisine from that side of the world.

Last night was a test.

Enter Grilled Chicken with Kung Pao Sauce from Shape Magazine. They were touting the recipe with claims like “Good-Bye Takeout” and its only 173 calories per serving… Wait whhhaattt? 173 calories? mmmm I’m interested..

Serves 6 peeps

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1/4c plus 2T low-sodium soy sauce
1T black or red rice vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1T plus 1t water, divided
1/3t sugar
1/4c oyster sauce
1/8t sesame oil
1/2t cornstarch
1/4c unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 scallion, slivered

Grill the chicken over medium heat for about 7 mins on side 1, and 3 mins on side 2. Make sure that baby is cooked through but don’t over do it, you still want moist (eww) chicken 🙂

In a medium saucepan, mix soy sauce, vinegar, 1.5T water, sugar, oyster sauce, and oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and remaining water. Add this to the bubbling sauce pan and simmer for about a minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat and seat aside.

Once you chicken is all done you can brush the sauce on top and top with peanuts and green onion. I obviously made brown rice too!

Super delicious and very flavorful. I know that the oyster sauce and sesame oil aren’t pantry staples but the recipe was good enough for me to say they are worth buying. I’ll definitely be making this again so I think the few bucks to add them to my cabinet is just peachy 🙂

Trevor liked it too…

Clean plate club over here 🙂

Reality Check

Winter is coming.

Its August.

But in Alaska it’s fall. That’s right.. Leaves be a changin

20110825-084623.jpg

I know that the rest of the country is currently blazing in crazy heat or hunkering down preparing for a hurricane… But up here we’re sitting in the 60s and beginning to feel that crisp air that comes with fall.

So guess what I did? I caved. I busted out the fall/winter work horse…

20110825-084909.jpg

Yup I did it. I brought out the big guns and used my crock pot. And I even went a step further…

20110825-085022.jpg

I made white chicken chili.

Boy do I feel weird about making chili in August… But it was yummy and hit the spot on a rainy, cold “autumn” day.

Give it a try if you’re in the same weather boat as me…. Or save the recipe for when the rest of the country catches up with our lower temps 🙂

1c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1c chopped onion (1med onion)
2T all-purpose flour
2t chili powder (I used 3)
1t ground cumin (I used 2)
1/2t salt
1/2t hot sauce (I used almost 2-3t, spiced it up!)
1/8t black pepper
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3(19oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1(15.5oz) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1(4.5oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced

Sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, and tortilla chips for garnishes if you like.

Combine the ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Then reduce to LOW for 4 hours.

Then add your toppings and dig in.

Makes 6 bowls clocking in at a lovely 232 calories, with a fab 22.3G of protein!

Enjoy!!

20110825-090558.jpg

Intermediate Quesadilla

For whatever reason group get-togethers involve Mexican food. Want to have people over? Have a taco night. Want to have a game night? Have guac, salsa, and chips. Want to have a cocktail night? Entice people with margaritas.

See you all want to come up to North Pole, Alaska and visit me right now huh? I knew it.

But seriously, for whatever reason food that involves avocados, salsa, tortillas, and cheese, people are in, they want to hang out with YOU. So I would like to offer you this recipe from the lady herself, Martha Stewart, that is a serious crowd pleaser. Very easy, very delicious, and it reduces in beer. Now you’re hooked:

Here are my results:

Mouth watering right?

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas (10 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer, or 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan. Use the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add beans and beer, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  4. Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until cheese melts, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove side of pan; sprinkle pie with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges.
Here’s what I did:
I bought the wrong tortillas and they were small enough for really any pan (pie dishes work great). I also doubled the recipe which made the reducing part take quite a bit longer. And finally I added chicken and chili powder. I like heat. If you do not, you’re a pansy. Sorry no you’re not (kinda), you don’t have to add heat.
Cumin is esssseeeennntttiiaall for this recipe. Just buy it. Please. Its good in about every Mexican dish, and its time everyone get on board with using more spices.
Oh and here is what Martha’s looks like. Because well she does it better than anyone.
Hope you like it!

Ode to Chipotle

I live in Alaska. I live in a place that has over 20hrs of sunlight in the summer, and less than 2 hrs in the winter. This place is brutal and rugged. The idea of fresh fruit is rather comical. I am a lover of grapes, however, my love for them has diminished in Alaska because they go bad in about 2.5 seconds. Maybe its because everything ends up frozen when it makes its mighty little way up here. Just about everything gets an Alaskan injection of freezing cold and withers into a wrinkly mess. I combat this with moisturizers and anti-aging eye serum. Yes, anti-aging. However drug store remedies don’t seem to have the same rejuvenating effects on fruits and veggies. Tragically this brings me to very saddening announcement: Alaska does not have Chipotle. Not one. Zero. Zilch. If you want a burrito you can go to Taco Bell; a place that had a lawsuit filed against them for their rather loose definition of what constitutes meat. Voommm.

Now for all you Lower 48-ers, you can frolic along to your local Chipotle and sink your teeth into an outrageously large burrito and look like a 16 yr boy as you wolf down the chicken-black beans-pico de gallo-cheese-guac-sour cream- lettuce burrito of ecstasy. I however have to plan a one thousand dollar plus vacation to even start dreaming of the bliss that this Colorado born chain offers. Sooo here’s where things get good… I waste vast amounts of time tooling around the internet searching for the “satisfy me now” dish. Enter Iowa Girl… oh how I love thee. ( I am myself grew up in MN and treasure the true gems of Midwestern people.)

Oh God... Chipotle memories are flooding me

The Rice

Cook 1/2 cup brown rice according to package directions. When done, finish with:

  • Small pat of butter (I skipped the butter and didn’t miss it!)
  • Salt
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Sprinkle of chopped cilantro

The Beans

In a microwave safe bowl, heat up 1 can drained and rinsed black beans with:

  • Splash of chicken broth
  • Dashes of chili powder, cumin, oregano & cayenne pepper

The Chicken

Cook two chicken breasts in a skillet seasoned with:

  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Cumin
  • Oregano

The Pico

Whip up this easy Pico De Gallo with:

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 small red onion
  • Sprinkle of chopped cilantro
  • S&P
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Tomatillos (I added these, and thought it added a nice crunch)
  • 1/2 can yellow corn (I had a left over can and they were a delicious addition)

Thank you Ms. Iowa… you seriously made this Colorado Girl (turned Alaskan 😦 sadly) a happy happy lady

Mango Lime Awesomeness

I made this amazingly easy chicken dish the other week and was entirely won over by the sweet and spicy glaze that corrupted my normally plain grilled chicken. If you can find mangoes that are a good price and are somewhere along the ripe road of their life them most things may be in your pantry. Anytime I find a recipe that has minimal shopping is an overall win for me! Now beware the red pepper and cayenne bring the heat… not kick you in the pants hot but its a nice warm, heat that wants to hang onto your mouth for just a little bit. So, please don’t be scared, it pleasant and delicious!

Honey Lime Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa (via Mrs. Harding Cooks)

4 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup honey
2-3 Tbs lime juice
cayenne pepper to taste {I probably used 1/4 tsp}
salt and pepper to taste
hot cooked rice

For the salsa:
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced red pepper {I used jarred roasted red peppers, fresh would be great though}
1 tsp diced jalapeno {we buy jarred sliced jalapeno so it’s always on hand}
3 Tbs lime juice {I buy mine bottled for convenience}
3 Tbs orange or mango juice

To prepare salsa, mix diced mangoes, onion, pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and 3 Tbs lime juice and orange or mango juice. Set aside to let flavors mix.

Mix honey, lime juice to taste, and cayenne until well blended. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts in oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle honey mixture over chicken while cooking. It will bubble and create a glaze or sauce in pan while cooking.

Serve chicken breasts over rice with mango salsa on top. Drizzle extra sauce from pan over the top as desired.

Serves 4.