Monday, January 30, 2012

Crockpot Split Pea Soup

Greetings! This one is a special request from a coworker. She wanted a split pea soup recipe, so a split pea soup recipe she gets! And really, what better on a cold day than a hot bowl of this? (Okay, it's supposed to be in the 60s today, but everyone thinks Colorado winters are wretched. Don't tell! I'm sure it will snow again soon enough)

What you need:
-a bag of split peas
-a ham bone or ham hock-just omit to make vegetarian
-a small onion
-at least a cup of cut up carrots
-a couple celery stalks
-4 cups broth/stock of your choosing-I used beef
-2 bay leaves
-garlic: a spoonful of the pre-diced things, or at least 3 chopped cloves
-salt & pepper

What to do:
-Chop the veggies, dump them and all other ingredients into the crock. Eyeball it and make sure everything is well covered by liquid. I was worried and dumped in an extra cup of water, but I think the ham hock also had a lot of liquid in it and it didn't turn out to be necessary. If you'll be out of the house for a long time, go with a little more liquid, if not, go with less but check on it! If it's too thick, stir in a little water-or milk if right before serving.
-Cook on high for 4-6 hours, low for 8-10. Mine cooked for about 9 hours and was still a little watery so I propped the lid open and let it cook for another hour or so, allowing some liquid to cook off.
-Use a slotted spoon to pull out the ham hock and cut the meat off the bone. The meat is really fatty so I cut most of it away, and put the meat that passed my test back in! There were some other bones in there too-I guess it sort of fell apart-so I made sure to pull them out too.
-If you are serving the type of people (like very small people) who will not know not to eat the bay leaves, you'll want to fish those out too. Most adults can handle it.
-If you like a really smooth soup you could use an immersible blender or blend up small batches in a blender. Mine cooked so long, and I don't mind some lumps, so I didn't bother.
-Serve and enjoy!

Leftovers are great but can be very thick. I like to stir a little milk in with them when I reheat!

How it was/what I'd change:
I was happy with how this turned out, and since I didn't need to eat immediately, the extra liquid wasn't a problem. I'd still rather be on the side of a little extra liquid than not enough since there are dry beans in this one!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

White Chicken Chili

 This is a good cold day chili when you are looking for something other than the same old, same old chili. It does not require much prep in the morning either, if you like to dump and go! I managed to get it going the morning of a staff meeting and that is saying something.

What you need:
-1-1.5 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
-3 cans white beans
-2 cans green chilis
-1 onion, diced
-several cloves of garlic, diced
-1-3 cups chicken stock or broth *see note at end
-1 T. cumin
-1/2 t. white pepper
-1/2 t. mustard powder
-salt and pepper to taste
-tortilla chips, grated cheese, and sour cream or Greek yogurt for garnishing

What to do:
Dump all ingredients except garnishes in the crockpot.
Go to work.
Allow to cook on low 8-10 hours. (After 8 hours the onions were still a little crunchy but everything was cooked. 10 hours was better for my crock)
Come home and feel smart. Dinner is ready.

Seriously. The only thing you need to do is dice up the onion & garlic. No precooking. No slimy chicken early in the morning. You could even toss it in frozen if you'll be gone for a long time. I was extra lazy and didn't drain the beans either-just dumped those all in and used about a cup of stock.

How it was/what I'd change:
I liked this, and it was a little spicy but not too-so up the cumin or dump in some tabasco or jalepenos if you like more heat. However, I probably would've lightly drained the beans and used more chicken broth. If you're detail oriented, you will notice that there are 2 cans of beans pictured, and 3 in the ingredients. I decided at the last minute that 2 cans wasn't enough. *Helpful hint* When crockpot cooking, it's best if the crockpot is about 3/4 full, so I just use things like broth to "top off" until it looks right!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Egg Muffins: Sausage, broccoli & peppers (this time)

These are the best for those of you, like me, who LIKE eggs and breakfast, but aren't so good about the whole waking-up-and-cooking thing. Delicious and good for you. I recommend making a bunch on Sunday night and having breakfast made for the week! This is the type of recipe you adapt to whatever is in the fridge.

Egg Muffins 
(inspired by Kalyn's Kitchen,

Here's what you need:
-eggs (I used 8 for a dozen muffins, depends on how much other stuff you cram in there!)
-meat-optional-I used some turkey sausage
-shredded cheese-I used spicy pepper jack
-veggies-I used leftover broccoli and diced bell peppers
-1 4-oz can diced green chilis

-spike seasoning, about 1 T.

What to do:
-preheat oven to 375
-spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray
-layer ingredients in tin: meat, cheese, veggies
-scramble eggs and green chilis and seasoning together. I hate scrambling eggs so I use the magic bullet thing, which is also easy to pour out of!
-pour eggs into tins. They should really only be about 3/4 full. My eggs were really frothy, and I probably could've gotten away with only 7!
-Cook for 25-35 minutes until set.

-If you make them the night before, allow to cool and then pack up in little bags for the fridge (or freezer, if you won't be eating them within the week) I find 2 muffins to be a delicious breakfast! If I wasn't bringing them to work, I'd probably top with a spoonful of salsa and a blob of sour cream.

How they turned out: I loved these, and I love that I have a healthy breakfast for the whole week! Every time I make them they are a bit different, so I don't get sick of them. Try them out!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers with a Southwestern Twist

There are a lot of recipes for stuffed bell peppers out there, but I wanted to create one without rice. If you like rice of course you could mix some in.

Don't you hate it when you stuff the peppers and they tip over and spill all over everything? Check out this nifty tip: carefully slice off the bottoms of the peppers to make them flatter on the bottom! (The red pepper is an example of a not-so-carefully sliced bottom!)

What you  need:

(serves 4 with lots of stuffing leftover...probably could stuff 7-8 peppers)
4 bell peppers, any color
1 lb. ground turkey
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained (or equivalent fresh!)
several large mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry quinoa (rinse it very well in a fine strainer if not pre-rinsed!!)
a handful frozen corn
several cloves fresh garlic (I used 2 heaping spoonfuls of the already diced kind)
1 T. chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
1 T. cumin
1-2 carrots and 1-2 celery stalks, chopped, optional but good
shredded cheese

What to do:
Start the quinoa first. Don't be scared if you've never used it before-it's easy and mild. Do make sure you rinse it if it doesn't say pre-rinsed on the box, or if you get it in bulk. It can taste kind of soapy otherwise! So combine 1 C. chicken broth and 1/2 C quinoa in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. You'll know when it's done, it kind of pops and is round with a little ring around it. P.S. Quinoa is about the most impossible thing to photograph, ever!

Prepare the peppers, as shown. Keep the tops and bottoms and dice them up.

While the quinoa is cooking, brown the ground turkey and drain off fat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms until slightly softened. Add everything else but shredded cheese and heat til warm. When the quinoa is done, stir it in too. Oh, by the way, use a BIG pan!

Place peppers into sprayed baking dish. Fill with filling, add more filling around the peppers, and top with cheese. Bake, covered lightly with foil, at 350 for about 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for a few more minutes.

Since everything is already cooked, all the baking really does is soften the peppers and melt the cheese. If you like really soft peppers, you can pre-bake them (empty) or boil for a few minutes. I like mine a little more crisp!

Take out, let cool, decide there isn't enough cheese and add a bit more, and enjoy!

Unless you make 6-8 peppers, you'll have tons of leftovers. Fear not! It's great heated over some lettuce as a salad, or on its own!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Salmon topped with Pesto and Bell Peppers Wrapped in Foil

This is healthy and tasty! It was inspired by Kalyn's Kitchen.

What You Need:
-2 fillets of salmon (I have issues with fish scales so I love the individually packed, scale-free ones from Costco!)
-2 T. jarred or homemade pesto
-1-2 t. olive oil
-bell peppers: I prepared mine like this, but you could probably just saute some for a few minutes to soften them up a bit. I think raw might be a little too crisp, but let me know if you try it!
-parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)
-aluminum foil

What To Do:
 -Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 450, and put a baking sheet in to preheat. Lay 2 pieces of aluminum foil on top of each other and drizzle with olive oil.

-Set your salmon pieces on one side of the foil (so you can fold it over top when you're done). Spread pesto on the fillets, then put the peppers on top.

-Wrap the foil into a tight packet.

-Put on a preheated pan into the oven
-Let cook at 450 for 15-20 minutes. (The original recipe called for 15, but it still looked a little too pink, so I let it go for a few more!) Let it sit for a couple minutes and be careful unwrapping!
-Sprinkle with parmesan, gobble up!

Serves 2.

How it was/what I'd change:

I really love how the pesto and salmon tasted together! I might try it with sliced tomatoes on top when they're in season. I also love cooking in foil packets: easy cleanup and the house doesn't smell too fishy! This was a piece of cake! It goes great with some steamed veggies or a fresh salad.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cooking for one: tips

I live by myself and work full-time, and often my coworkers are surprised that I take the time to cook when it's just me. So I've decided to share a few tips for making it a little easier to cook for 1.

1. Make the full recipe instead of halving-leftovers are a good thing! Pretty self-explanatory. If you get sick of eating the same thing for several days in a row, most leftovers freeze well, and a few weeks later you will be glad for something different without having to cook!

2. When you make something that requires a little bit of time and effort-make extras and freeze! This is what I did with the bell peppers AND pesto in the next recipe. I made them a couple weeks ago for the breakfast I linked, and I needed to use up a bunch of peppers anyway! Now I can just grab the snack-sized bags out of the freezer. Wallah!

3. Ice cube trays are the best. I use them for pesto, tomato sauce, green chile sauce...pretty much any liquid that won't stay good in the fridge forever. Spray a little Pam into them first, fill with whatever you have (each filled cube is about 2 T.), freeze, then pop them out with a butter knife. I wrap the cubes in plastic, put in a zip-top baggie, and throw them in the freezer for later!

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Other tasty stuff I made (just links)

Since I am also using this blog as a place to safely store and share links to good recipes I find, here are a couple I made this week. Unless I dramatically change a recipe, I don't see much point in rewriting another blog/person's recipe (even if I give them credit). That takes a long time!

1. What's New Years Day without some black-eyed peas?

2. My favorite things (chicken, pesto, goat cheese):

These are both excellent food blogs and an inspiration for this one! The first, A Year of Slow Cooking, is a year's worth of crockpot recipes, written with great voice and humor (not to mention fun recipes!). The second, Kalyn's Kitchen is a collection of great recipes. I don't know Kalyn but we like a lot of the same foods! She also has most of her recipes labeled for the South Beach Diet phases, if you're into that. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Taco mix, Also makes great salads!

This is one of my favorite things to make on a Sunday night: I'll have tacos on Sunday night and leftovers for tasty salads for much of the week! It's also quick, healthy, made with ingredients I always have on hand, and only dirties one pan! What more could you want?

What you need:
-1.25 lb. ground turkey
-1 can diced tomatoes, drained
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-3/4 cup frozen corn
-1 4 oz. can diced green chilis
-taco seasoning 1/4 C or more to taste (not pictured! I forgot!)
If you're making tacos: taco shells, cheese, chopped lettuce
If you're making salads: salad greens of your choosing. I also make a "dressing" for it by mixing salsa with Greek yogurt.

What to do:
Use a big frying pan. Brown the meat, drain the fat. My taco seasoning says to add 1/4 C seasoning and 3/4 C water so that's what I do! Allow the seasoning to thicken.

Dump in the beans, tomatoes, green chili, and corn. Cook to heat through and cook off most liquid. Taste and adjust spices if needed.

Assemble your tacos or put a big scoop on top of some salad greens! That's it! This makes great leftovers: I always pack greens in one container, about a cup of topping in another, and some salsa/yogurt to dress. Then I heat up the toppings and dump it on-delish! I get a LOT of comments in the lunch room on this one!

How it turned out
I had thirds. And I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow.