Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Chowder

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week.  We did, even if it was crazy...but it always is!  It has decided to get cold lately, so I though it would be the perfect time to try out this new slow cooker recipe. 

Also, for a variety of reasons, we have decided to crack down on the unhealthy eating around here.  Yes, during the holidays.  I'm crazy like that.  In light of that, I used reduced fat dairy products in this, and while I didn't actually figure out what the nutrition facts would be, it is makes for a pretty healthy recipe.

Like many slow cooker recipes, this one came together rather quickly.  I did add an extra step of lightly sauteing the vegetables at the beginning, but that's because I wasn't getting the dish on as early as I'd planned, and I wanted to make sure they were well cooked.  You could most likely omit that step with no problems.

This was mostly a hit all around.  D and I really liked it.  I preferred it with a dollop of sour cream on top, but he liked it better without.  Munchkin fished out some of the chicken to eat, and while he kept blurting out "that's hot!" {spicy} and reaching for his glass, he kept going back for more.  Sprout...well, he wasn't really in an eating mode tonight.  He was in more of a whining mode.  It happens. 

I have a feeling that this recipe will definitely go into the "keeper" file.  Just a warning though, the El Pato sauce makes it rather spicy, so feel free to tone it down by using regular tomato sauce, and making sure to get mild enchilada sauce as well as mild tomatoes and green chilies.  Also, adding sour cream does cut the heat a bit.

And don't worry people.  For Christmas, I'm planning on getting myself an honest-to-goodness light setup so that I can take better pictures.  Well, at least the lighting will be better.  ;)

Chicken Enchilada Chowder
Adapted from Katy's Kitchen (amusing, right?) and Family Circle Quick and Easy Cooking

2 Tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (RO*TEL)
1 (7 3/4 ounce) can El Pato Tomato Sauce (Mexican Hot Style)
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.25 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (12 ounce) package frozen Southwestern corn (or just plain whole kernel corn)
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Optional toppings:
     shredded cheese
     sour cream
     tortilla strips/chips

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Lightly saute the onion and bell pepper just until they begin to get tender.  Add the garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the crock of a slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce and milk.  Stir in the onion mixture, chicken, beans, corn and spices and mix well.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5 hours. 

Divide into bowls and add desired toppings.

Enjoy!  :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 9

Wait, it's Friday?  How did that happen?  Well, I guess since yesterday was Thanksgiving, that would make today Friday.  In light of this revelation, I will be revisiting another past favorite for this week's addition to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies:  Double Shot Mocha Chunks.  They were good.  Very good. 

Sorry for the short post.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Enjoy!  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gobble Gobble!

It's almost Thanksgiving.  Can you believe it?  I thought I'd share what's on our menu this year, and see what everyone else is cooking up.  :)

We are having a hard time deciding what to serve as the main dish this year.  Munchkin is convinced that it's not Thanksgiving if we don't have turkey "it's tradition!"  Actually, tradition around here is to serve something non-traditional.  I'm thinking pork loin.  We shall see.

Here's what else we have cooking up:

Cornbread dressing (family recipe)
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans by Our Best Bites
Sweet Potatoes from Pioneer Woman
Mashed Potatoes also from PW
Cranberry Sauce...ummmm, also from PW
Corn on the Cob (self-explanatory)
Yeast Rolls

Pecan Pie from Southern Plate
Sweet Potato Pie (my recipe)
Chocolate Cupcakes from Martha Stewart
and I'm debating Banana Pudding (my recipe)

That's what we've got so far.  We always make enough to feed an army, I swear.  What's going to be on your menu this year?

Friday, November 19, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 8

For this week's recipe, I am revisiting a cookie from early 2009 -- the Chocolate Fudge Cookie with Toffee and Dried Cherries.  It's a recipe that I received while participating in the Cookie Carnival (it is being hosted by someone different now, but still going on!). 

Anyway, this week has been just too crazy for me to get any baking done, so I thought I'd pull out an old recipe to share.  It was a really good one, and I may be baking it again for a cookie exchange that I'm co-hosting in a couple of weeks (eek!).  When I first got the recipe, I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out, but I liked them a lot! 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Let me just get this out of the way and say that I love coffee.  I do.  I also love fancy coffee drinks.  It's a fact.  And in the winter, that means peppermint mochas. 

But I don't really want to pay upwards of $4 for one every day, so I've come up with own little version to make at home.  I must say that it tastes very good, and is actually quite easy to make. 

I know that several companies make flavored creamers, but I'm not a fan.  I have never liked the non-dairy creamers.  I've even tried the newer ones that are supposed to be made from milk and cream, but they didn't do it for me either. 

This recipe is what works for me.  Feel free to adapt it to your tastes {obviously}.  I don't have an espresso machine of any kind, so I just use strong brewed coffee.  I have a Keurig machine and love that I can make one cup at a time, and each cup can be different from the next.  No, I was not paid by the company to say that.  I just love my machine!  Anyway, I know that I can get some espresso blend cups.  I haven't tried them, but may.

Another product plug:  a few years ago D bought be one of these little gizmos.  It is handy for so many things, including mixing coffee drinks, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, and more.  Put one on your Christmas wish list if you don't already have one.  Seriously.  My kids even fight over who gets to use it. 

Ok, finally, the recipe.  :)  This doesn't have a "punch you in your face" peppermint flavor.  It's a little more subtle.  If you want a stronger flavor, I would suggest doubling the amount of peppermint extract in the syrup.

I am posting this without a picture.  Why?  Because Blogger is giving me problems, and since it's not one of my children, I can't ground it and send it to its room.  In the meantime, imagine how yummy, warm, and inviting a mug of this would look.  Hopefully later I can add the picture.  :)

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

1 heaping Tbsp Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
6 ounces heated milk (I use fat-free half-and-half; it's a contradiction, I know, but good!)
6-10 ounces strong brewed coffee
2-3 Tbsp peppermint simple syrup (recipe follows)
whipped cream (I used Reddi Whip)
crushed peppermint candies (I'm lazy, smart and found a jar of peppermint sprinkles at the store!)

In a very large mug, mix together the chocolate and milk.  Add the coffee and peppermint simple syrup and mix well.  Top with whipped cream and crushed peppermints (optional). 

Peppermint Simple Syrup

3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Mix water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until boiling and sugar is dissolved.  Add extract and let cook a couple more minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  (I use a plastic squeeze bottle with a lid.)

Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco seasoning is something that's used a lot around my kitchen.  I wanted to share my recipe that I use.  One nice thing about making it yourself is that {obviously} you can adjust the seasonings to fit your preferences.  This is what works for us. 

I will usually just make this up as needed, but you could certainly make a larger batch and store it with your spices to have on hand.  I will add this to whatever recipe I'm using it in, and then taste and adjust as needed for that particular use.  Sometimes it needs more salt.  Other times I'm in a garlic or oregano mood.  You get the idea!  :)

I keep the recipe on a little recipe holder thing that I made a few months ago.  How's that for technical?  It allows me to keep it handy, and is easy to clean if things get messy.  You'd think I would have it memorized, but no. 

Taco Seasoning Mix

1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp corn flour or corn starch
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients and use where a packet of taco seasoning mix is called for.

For taco meat:  brown one pound of ground beef or turkey (drain fat if needed).  Add seasoning mix and 1/4-1/2 cup water.  Mix well, and allow to cook on low for 5 minutes to thicken. 

Enjoy!  :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Two Years!

I've been blogging for two years now! It's hard for me to believe it's been that long. I know I haven't been all that consistent with it, but it really has been fun!

This little anniversary actually snuck up on me. I was thinking last night that I needed to see when it was. I checked, and eek! November 6th. Guess maybe I should put it on my calendar or something so I don't forget it. :)

I wanted to do something special on the blog to celebrate. In typical Katy fashion, I'm going to be late to my own party, but I have a couple of things in the works that I will share soon!

I've been doing a lot of thinking (stressing) lately about blogging. I never set out to try to be a big-name blogger, land a book deal, or even make a little money off my blog. I am certainly not knocking those that have those aspirations. I just...don't. I just want to have fun, but I also tend to have a "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" attitude. So I always want to be a better blogger. And I'm in the process of trying to figure out exactly what that means to me! :)

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend! We are (knock on wood) having some beautiful weather right now, even if it is chilly at night.

Oh, if you're curious about the cake in the picture, it is Daddy's Coconut Cake from Southern Plate.  So easy, and soooo good.  I've only recently found the blog, but wish I'd found it sooner.  ;) 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mocha-Toffee Truffle Bars

This week's recipe comes straight from Betty Crocker herself.   Er, well, the Betty Crocker website anyway!  On a side note, I almost thought about trying to be Betty Crocker for Halloween, but ran out of time and didn't.  Maybe next year...

These bars are super rich!  They have a great chocolate flavor though, and the toffee bits blend in nicely.  Don't try one if you have a loose filling though.  Can you say sticky and chewy?  I would suggest cutting them into bite size pieces, especially for gift giving or treat platters.

I sent about half of them to work with D and apparently they disappeared quickly, with lots of requests for the recipe coming soon after!

The original recipe can be found here.  It is quite quick and easy to whip together, since it starts with a packaged sugar cookie mix.  Now, I admit that I don't usually like using mixes, but they can definitely be nice to have on hand, especially when you need to get something baking quickly during the hectic holiday season!

I didn't really make any changes, other than using bittersweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, I only had 1 cup of toffee bits on hand, and I used espresso powder instead of regular instant coffee.  Mine took much longer than 2 hours to cool, but I think that my glass baking dish probably held the heat in longer than a metal one would have. 

Enjoy!  :)