Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Take Out Shmake Out

Hey! Guess what?  Today is Food Day.  In my world pretty much every day is food day but this Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.  I wish these things were better publicized, so how about a recipe to celebrate food day?   Today we're talking Light Chicken Enchiladas, we're talking easy, yummy, whole foods made into something just as good (or way better and less salty/processed tasting) than your local Mexican take out joint.  These were delish and we did make a double batch because we do like having leftovers for another day.
 I've said it before and I'll say it again, it never hurts to do a little prep in advance.  So preheat your oven to 450 and chop up some jalapeno, garlic, onion and fresh thyme.
It also never hurts to have some fresh salsa on hand.  Just chop tomatoes, red onion and cilantro.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Sometimes a dash of garlic powder and a dash of chili powder are a great addition if you have them on hand.
And fresh lime juice.  If you're cooking anything remotely Mexican, add lime.  That's what I do anyway.  Anyway, back to the enchiladas.  So you heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and over medium high heat.  Add the jalapeno, garlic, thyme and half of the onion.
Once the veggies have softened, add the chicken, a little salt and 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender.  This will take 6-10 min depending on how thick your chicken is.
While the chicken is cooking, get about a pound and a half of tomatoes chopped and ready for the blender.
When the chicken is done, remove to a plate and add the cooking liquid and vegetables to the blender with the tomatoes and a little allspice.
Puree those suckers until nice and smooth. 
Wipe out the skillet (if you feel the need) and add a tablespoon of olive oil and place over medium high heat.  Add the tomato sauce and cook until slightly reduced.
While the sauce is reducing, shred your chicken, shred some cheese and warm up your corn tortillas in the oven.
Next you spoon some sauce into the bottom of the dish and fill your tortillas with cheese and chicken (and we all prefer ours with a little plop of refried beans in there too).  Roll them up and pack them in the pan.
Top with the remainder of the cheese and sauce and bake until the cheese melts (and it browns up a tad~yum).
 We like ours topped with cilantro and avocado and a little fresh salsa.  The recipe says to add the onion to your topping but if you're not a fan of raw onion, just leave it out.
Yup, tastes as good as it looks!

Light Chicken Enchiladas (Food TV Magazine)

2 Tbs olive oil
1to2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon dried thyme or 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 medium white onion, minced
1/2 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt
3 to 4 tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs) cored and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground allspice
8 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded muenster cheese (about 6oz)
1 cup mixed fresh parsley and cilantro chopped

Preheat the oven to 450.  Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add jalapeno, garlic thyme and half the onion.  Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 min.  Add the chicken, 1 tsp salt and 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 6 min.

Remove the chicken to a plate.  Transfer the cooking liquid and veggies to a blender; add the tomatoes and allspice and puree with the lid ajar.  Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and place over medium-high heat.  Add the tomato mixture and cook until slightly reduced, 6 min.  Pour part of it into a baking dish.

Brush the tortillas with olive oil and put on a baking sheet; bake 5 min.  Shred chicken.  Top each tortilla with chicken and cheese (and beans if you choose!), roll up and arrange in baking dish, seam side down, spooning the sauce over the top.  Top with any remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts about 4-6 min.  Toss the herbs, remaining onion and salt to taste.  Sprinkle on top an enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Que Bueno!

I think it's time for another quick, easy, weeknight dinner.  Well, it's pretty much always time for one of those!  I made this last night for the second time and everyone loved it just as much as the first time.  Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew can be a one pot meal, or if you're like us and have an abundance of produce in your fridge at all times, a nice leafy green makes a lovely side dish.  We had steamed chard with ours last night. So let's get to it~
If you're someone that is just starting to cook or doesn't do it often, I can't stress to you enough the advantage of reading the recipe all the way through before you get started.  I sometimes forget my own advice on this and it really makes cooking WAY more stressful than it needs to be.  I also recommend doing most of your prep (especially for a quick meal like this) before you start to cook to move things along smoothly.  So, get your garlic and your onions out.
Chop your onions and mince your garlic.  Then get some olive oil into a warm pan. 
Then you toss your onions and garlic and a pinch of salt in the pan and cook until they have softened.
While those are cooking (about 6 min) you can slice up some carrots....
and chop up some fresh parsley.
Once the onions are soft, you will remove half of them to a large bowl.  The other half stay in the pan and you will add the carrots, paprika and some salt and cook for 1 min while mixing it together. 
Next you add a can of chick peas (always drain and rinse, there's alot of sodium added to canned beans!), a can of low-sodium chicken broth and two cans of diced fire roasted (the flavor of these is fantastic) tomatoes.
 Bring this to a rapid simmer and cook for about 6 min or sauce until thickened slightly.
While the sauce is simmering, add the ground turkey, parsley and a tsp of salt to the onion mixture that you put in the bowl.  Mix well.
Roll the meat into 20 meatballs.  I'll confess, I only had 19 because one of them was a little on the large side.
Plop those meatballs right in the sauce and continue to simmer for about 7 min, turning them over about half way through.
The meatballs will cook, sauce will thicken some and your house will smell fantastic.
And there you have it.  A yummy, satisfying meal in 35 min.  Not bad my friends, not bad.

Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew (Food Network Magazine)

2 TBS olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 cup sliced small carrots
2 14oz cans low-sodium fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 1/4lb ground turkey
3/4 cup loose packed fresh parsley, chopped
fresh ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 min.  Transfer half of the mixture to a large bowl.

Add the paprika and carrots to the remaining onion mixture in the skillet and cook 1 min.  Add the tomatoes, chick peas and chicken broth; bring to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 min.

Meanwhile, add the turkey, parsley, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to the bowl with reserved onion mixture and mix with your hands.  Form meat mixture into 20 meatballs.  Place meatballs in the skillet with the sauce and simmer, turning once, until cooked through, about 7 min.  Serve with more pepper and fresh parsley.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Jingle All the Way!

I'm excited to share with you the the latest and greatest of my food group activities.  Like many people, when my friends and I get together it usually revolves around food.  This time, we're going to take part in a Jingle Bell 5k before we eat our food.  I've written previously about trying to convince my friends to do this but it never really worked before.  That's because it was my idea and not theirs.  This time the girls are really working towards their goal of running a 5k (for some it's their first time, others a second time and for one it's been many years).  Most of them are using the C25K app on their cell phones and finding it very manageable.  I'm so excited and proud of them for their efforts and decided I would host a nice healthy brunch for all us that do the race and our families after we finish.  I think it will be great to see that we can have fun doing something that's good for us and enjoy a brunch that's good for us too. 
The post seems a little naked without a photo in it.  This is me (the Amazon woman, towering over her friends even in flip flops) and some of the girls that will be running next month.  We have at least a couple of husbands getting in on the action too (not mine though, I designated him as the event historian, i.e. photographer so that when I tell you all how great everyone did I'll have pictures to share too).

So the goal is different for everyone, Melanie and I will likely try to beat our own best times, some will work at running the whole thing without stopping, while others have a goal of just getting across the finish line, period.  And that's a great start.  The point is everyone has been working at it for at least 6 weeks and we have a few more to go.  Heather is surprising herself every time she gets on her treadmill and I think she's really digging it.  We may just start a new trend amongst ourselves.

I can't wait to follow up on this after November 18th with our little (and big) successes and of course some new brunch recipes (let's not get carried away here!).  Maybe you and your food group might just think this was a really cool idea and give it a try.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Something to Stew Over

I'm not sure that it qualified as snow, but I did get caught in some hail this afternoon in the grocery store parking lot.  I wasn't super excited about it since it's the second week of October and I feel the twinges of a cold coming on.  Seems like the perfect time to share with you my favorite Beef Stew recipe.  Many people don't use a recipe for beef stew, I never did either but since I found this one in the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution cookbook, I know it will come out great every time and I love that you don't have to brown the meat first.  I hate browning the meat first.
So here's how it goes.  Get yourself some carrots (in various colors like our crazy garden variety, or your standard orange), onion and celery.  (The photos I took were of a double batch, we like leftovers.)
Generally I don't use celery in my stew but the recipe calls for it and I like the flavor it adds.  Sometimes I go lighter on the actual stalks but chop up the leaves and throw them in.  They are great in all kinds of soups (especially chowders) so don't toss them when you're cooking!
Roughly chop all the veggies and grab a couple of bay leaves while you heat a little olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
Toss it all in the pot and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes.
Next your going to add some flour and stew beef to the pot and mix it up good.
Next you'll add some dark beer.  This was good but a stout (Guinness) or porter will give it a little heartier flavor. 
Pour in the beer along with some canned diced tomatoes.
After bringing to a boil, cover and simmer on the stove or in a 350 oven for 3 hrs.  I add peeled diced potatoes in for the last 1/2 hour of cooking. 
And there you have it.  A nice hearty bowl of beef stew to warm your bones on a chilly October weekend. 

Basic Beef Stew (Jamie Oliver)

2 stalks celery
2 medium onions
2 carrots (I always go heavy on the carrots, usually twice as many)
olive oil
1 heaped TBS all-purpose flour
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
1 lb stew beef diced
2 cups brown ale, Guinness or stout

If using the oven, pre-heat to 350.  Trim and roughly chop the onion, carrots and celery.  Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add 2 Tbs olive oil and the veggies.  Cook for 10 min stirring occasionally.  Add meat and flour and stir.  Pour in beer and canned tomatoes.  Give it a stir and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on stove top or in the oven for 3 hours.  Remove the lid for the last half hour of cooking.  If adding potatoes, peel and dice 2 large or a few medium potatoes.  Throw them in the pot for the last 30-40 min.  Remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper as needed before serving.  (Serves 4-6)