Sunday, January 22, 2012

Internal Inferno: Chili Kitchenista Style

I know, I know - EVERYONE and their Uncle Jeb have a fantabulous chili recipe, and the awards to prove it. I'm not out to prove anything to anyone, except that a great chili, full of robust flavor and a nice heat does not require the entire kitchen sink to make it successful. It's all in the mix.

Nothing says *ahhh* like Chili!

If you want meat, fine. If you don't leave it out. That's simple, yes? Your chili meat can be anything from the homemade sausage you just ground up, to the elk in your freezer. I've been known to use leftover filet, ribeye, hamburger, and chicken. Start your chili off with the meat you want to put in it. Brown this meat and then:

1 chopped Onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one (or two) chopped fresh jalapeno peppers, salt & pepper to taste.  You may want to mix in a bit of olive oil if your meat isn't at all fatty. Once the onion is a bit translucent,  you will want to:

1 can beef broth
1 can drained, rinsed Northern Beans (or kidney beans, or white beans... or NO beans. Just make sure you rinse and drain whatever you're adding).
1 can diced tomatoes flavored with Southwest Seasonings
1 can hominy, drained rinsed (totally optional)
1 package frozen corn, thawed (totally optional)

Let this cook down a bit, about 20 minutes, then blend in:

Lime zest of one lime, and fresh squeezed lime juice of that zested lime
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder

Let this cook down until it all smells wonderful and it looks pretty thick. It's ready to serve. I believe it's ready to serve in about 2 hours.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Herbed Quinoa

A Combination of Basil and Lemon Zest make this Quinoa Special

About a year ago I caught onto the buzz about Quinoa. Ok, so call me the Decade Behind Girl, the fact that I managed to actually go buy some is a relatively huge thing for me. I got a couple of boxes at my local health food store, brought it home and I'm not sure what I was expecting. Something similar to Couscous, I think. 

After boiling it and then trying it, I wondered what all the hype was. Ok, so it was supposed to be great for you and it's been around for centuries. Maybe it's been around for centuries because no one wanted it and there was an obvious excess?

However, I got a bunch of fresh basil and wondered what can I do with this? I discovered this recipe, and am sharing it with you. I LOVE the flavors of it, and finally I understand what all the *Hype* is about Quinoa!

boil 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth and the juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon. Let this simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a prep bowl, mix up the dressing. You will need:

2 springs of fresh thyme, leaves chopped
2 springs of flat leaf parsley, chopped
3/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
Lemon zest from a whole lemon
Juice of that whole lemon
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Transfer your Quinoa to a salad bowl, and empty the dressing on it. Let it sit just a minute as it soaks up all these wonderful flavors. 

One option that I exercised: a drizzle of truffle oil over it. What a blast of flavor that gave!

Note: I feel that the freshness of the ingredients are critical to the flavor of this recipe. However, if you don't have fresh, then use what you can. I also believe the reason my Quinoa flopped in the past is because it truly needs chicken broth to cook in, not water. (duh!).  The fresh lemon juice in the broth really brought this alive for me. 

Happy Eating!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Great Zukes!

All the fabulous flavors without the fattening calories

This is a vegetable dish I made up to satisfy my need for Italian flavors without all the calories. It's that New Year Resolution garbage that is sticking in my mind and I'm really psyched up to stay on track. This recipe has loads of room for your own creativity, so feel free to infuse your own special seasonings and tricks to it. If I had an eggplant, I probably would have used it instead of Zucchini and Yellow Squash. Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees.


1 Zucchini sliced THIN length wise
1 yellow squash sliced THIN length wise
1 cup chopped spinach
1 can diced Italian-style tomatoes

In PREP bowl, combine:

4 diced green onions
1 clove Elephant garlic, sliced paper thin
4 large mushrooms sliced

Blend this with:
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
dash Italian Seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Save for topping:
1/3 cup shredded low moisture/part skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Spray butter

Haul out your Pyrex baking dish, and spray some Pam on it. I use olive oil spray. First, place some of the  slices of zucchini and yellow squash in the bottom. Add spinach on top of the squash, and cover with some of the tomatoes. Repeat this "layering" with the rest of the squash and spinach, using the remainder of the tomatoes.

Add the ingredients from the prep bowl (green onions, sliced garlic, mushrooms) on top of it all, and Sprinkle top with 1/3 cup of the cheese and 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs. 

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes (or maybe a bit longer). If you want that nice brown crunch affect, about 12 minutes into baking, spritz the Panko with some spray butter. Continue to bake for the remainder of time. 

While I realize this isn't that gooey pasta loaded with yummily tomato sauce and a boatload of cheese, it IS a LOT of fabulous flavor into an EXTREMELY LOW point value for those of you on Weight Watchers. (can you say ONE per serving??) As a bonus, it's pretty filling. If you want to make it a main dish meal, add more cheese to it! I must say those slices of Elephant Garlic get oh so toasty and tasty! Another bonus: no need to worry about Vampires!

Happy (and healthy) Eating!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Chicken & Noodles

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken & Noodles

First, if you do not own a Presto Kitchen Kettle, drop everything right now and go get one! Seriously, it is perfect for making soups, stews, and chili in about 30 minutes. NO JOKE! It's also a steamer and a *gasp* deep fat fryer all rolled into one. Ok, enough of the Presto Plug.....

It's cold up here in the Arizona Mountains. Even though warmth and sunshine are only a short drive away, I am one to like winter. Well, not Chicago-style winter - but Arizona Mountain Winter is just the right amount of chilly. Since it was Sunday and also cold, I decided to make chicken & noodles. These are very easy to do, and quite warming to the innards. 

2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
4 cups water
Garlic (use what you want, I mashed up a couple of cloves)
1 chopped leek
1/2 onion
4 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, diced
some fresh flat-leaf parsley
a couple of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

Add all these ingredients into your pot and let it cook for about 30 minutes. When it's good and boiling, you can add egg noodles to it...OR, if you're really adventurous, you can make your own. I'm adventurous. Yes, I made my own. I did herbed noodles using Giadia's Pasta Recipe from I like her recipe because it's made in a food processor so there's just one thing to clean up. 

Additionally, the video she made is a pleasure to watch. She talks about how making Pasta is a lot of work, but it means who you're making it for should feel special. I consider this to be a major guilt trip weapon for later use. (Hey, I made YOU *FRESH* pasta!)

Giadia's Pasta
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

Blend all the above in a food processor. As it starts to stick together, add water a drizzle at a time while pulsing. (about 1/4 cup) When it gets all good and bunched together, remove the dough and place on a well-floured surface. Kneed this into a nice ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.  Take the ball out and quarter it, working with 1/4 at a time.

Per Alton Brown of "Good Eats" an Ironing Board makes
a FABULOUS work space for Pasta Rolling

After the pasta has been rolled and flattened, I slice it and drop the noodles into the pot with the chicken as they are cut. I don't let them dry out. I don't know, call me impatient, but the texture of them is wonderful. Of course the noodles are the last ingredient to add to the pot. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes. 

For the ULTIMATE comfort food experience, serve your chicken & noodles over mashed potatoes. Yes, you may feel like this will send your system into starch overdrive, but it won't. I like those Betty Crocker mashed potatoes in a packet. The recipe of "Just add 2 Cups of Water" is quite appealing, especially after making the noodles and chicken stock, etc. 

Happy Eating & Stay Warm!