Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3-Bean Garden Chili

Recipe #102: http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/diet-fitness/Moroccan+chickpea+stew+three+bean+garden+chili+easy/7985185/story.html#ixzz2LedYZJgi

Since newspaper websites tend to change more quickly than some others, here's the recipe written out:

[Serves 8]
15 mL (1 tbsp) canola oil
500 mL (2 cups) chopped onion (I used 1 medium yellow and 1 small yellow which equaled 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (I minced, poorly)
375 mL (1.5 cups) diced red bell pepper (I just diced 1 red pepper)
375 mL (1.5 cups) diced green bell pepper (I diced 1 yellow one. Yellow is prettier than green. I'm not making Christmas chili here, people.)
2 cans (each 796 mL/28 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used 1 can regular diced and 1 can diced with Italian spices)
1 can (540 mL/19 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can (540 mL/19 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can (540 mL/19 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed well (I substituted white beans to increase the odds of the Meatatarian eating this vegetarian recipe. He suffers through the carrots, but refuses to eat chickpeas.)
250 mL (1 cup) chopped carrot
125 mL (1/2 cup) corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I used a 341 mL/12 oz can of peaches and cream corn, drained. Fresh corn is NOT in season here at the moment.)
30-45 mL (2-3 tbsp) chili powder (I used 2, not 3, and my chili has a bit of kick)
30 mL (2 tbsp) unsweetened cocoa (I used some organic stuff we have)
2 mL (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
1 mL (1/4 tsp) cayenne pepper, or to taste (turns out they don't mean you should taste the cayenne straight up. They mean taste it in your chili.)
30 mL (2 tbsp) tomato paste (I used 2 heaping tablespoons)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or grind until you feel like stopping)
Fill me up, buttercup!
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. When pan is hot, add onion and saute for 8-10 minutes (if you are using our stove, you will notice the onion starting to turn brown and smoke at about the 7 minute mark so you'll turn the heat down a little - or shrug and carry on). Add garlic and bell peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas (or whatever you substituted in the bean selections), carrot, corn, chili powder, cinnamon, cocoa, cayenne pepper and tomato paste (I don't understand why they don't just write "add everything else except the black pepper"). Stir to combine. Season with black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes (at which point your carrots will still be kind of crunchy even though you sliced them very small and thinly so next time, you will saute/cook them with the onions or the peppers, at the beginning of the recipe.)

This fibre-rich recipe will fill you up for any meal. In fact, after eating a LOT of it recently, I wrote a haiku about it today:
Fibre overdose
I will pay for this later
Exploding colon

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore Pronto

Recipe #101: http://www.kraftcanada.com/en/recipes/chicken-cacciatore-pronto-108121.aspx?cm_mmc=eml-_-rbecaen-_-20130306-_-2085&cm_lm=ECBBCAE26A9EBFC4D6C4C17426109BFA

What to do when you dig forgotten chicken pieces out of the back of the freezer and need a saucy (sauce-y?) recipe to go with them? Check your inbox for Kraft's weekly recipe idea email! That's how I found this one. When I read that I was supposed to make spaghetti to go with the chicken, I decided to make the Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Basil recipe (#100) instead. Whoa - 2 recipes in 1 meal!

I don't really know how much the chicken that I used in this recipe weighed because I forgot to check before I cooked it, but we estimated it at about 1.5 lbs when it was served. Instead of the 2 small red peppers, I used 1 orange pepper, diced instead of chopped, because neither of us is in love with peppers. I figured it would be more palatable in teeny, cheerful orange form. I can still taste it faintly when I eat the finished product, but it's not a peppery punch in the palate like I feared. As for the tomato paste, I think I measured roughly 3 tablespoons (slightly on the more "heaping" side), and neither of the cheeses I used were "light" versions.
Breakfast so good!
Given that I was following 2 different recipes for the same meal, I'm pretty impressed with myself for having them both ready within about 7 minutes of each other. If you know me or have watched me in the kitchen, it's a big deal. Like the web address of my blog says, I'm still learning to cook (and manage my time... but that`s a different story for a different day). Once the chicken was simmering in the pot, I was able to focus on the spaghetti squash for a while.

Speaking of which, I was delighted that my impulsive idea to substitute squash for pasta (say what?!) turned out REALLY well. The Meatatarian made himself rice instead of squash, but we both agreed that the chicken was really good. The gooey cheese on top was a nice touch and he didn't even mention the orange pepper I snuck in - maybe he didn't even notice? When I piled the finished versions of these two recipes one on top of the other, I had a pile of food that was so delicious (have I said that enough already? No.) that I ate it again for breakfast this morning. Score one for me!

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe #100: http://www.steamykitchen.com/19385-microwave-spaghetti-squash-with-tomatoes-and-basil.html

I think I should rename this recipe as "Dinner so good you'll eat it for breakfast the next day, too". And I don't even like squash.

I think this might be the first time in conscious memory that I've chosen to eat spaghetti squash. As we know from my Apple Squash Soup post (Recipe #98), I tend to avoid squash. However, now that I have made two recipes of two different kinds of squash and loved them both, it's much more likely that squashy recipes will show up on the stove more often. The Meatatarian will not be as happy about this...

This recipe was SO easy to make. A few words to the wise: Stab the squash with gusto but CAUTION. That sucker rolls around very easily and the knife may slip. Also, I nuked mine on a plate so that any of the gooey juices that came out would not require me to clean the microwave. Did I mention I hate cleaning? Be sure to wear oven mitts or some kind of thermal hand protection to handle the squash once you've started nuking it because it'll be RIDICULOUSLY hot. I found that the trickiest parts of this recipe were trying to get the seeds out after cutting the cooked squash open, then trying to "toss with tongs" once the squash was in the pan. This was probably partially due to the fact that I only used 1 fork to scrape the squash out of the hulking skin.

Spaghetti squash - my new amore
I don't know what size of spaghetti squash I had - average, if I had to guess. I didn't have fresh basil so I used 2 enthusiastic squeezes of my squeeze tube basil instead. Our parmesan cheese was the regular Kraft kind and I did not add salt, just some grinds of pepper.

I was amazed at how "delicious and Italian" this recipe smelled before I even tasted it. Did I mention that Italian food is my second love after fresh fruit? I served it (to myself because he refused to try it) as a bed for the Chicken Cacciatore (recipe #101) in lieu of the spaghetti that it called for and the only difference was the texture - spaghetti squash is crunchier than pasta spaghetti. My mouth was in heaven from the combination of garlic, tomato and basil.