Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I'm taking my New Year's resolutions/goals to heart. At least when it comes to using my crockpot more. I've even rearranged some of my kitchen cabinets to make the crockpot more accessible. That's like giving it its own drawer in a relationship, I'm in it for the long haul.

I made a similar tortilla soup last year but on the stove top instead. This year, I don't have a giant soup pot anymore (#moving) and the crockpot is the largest bowl I have to seemed worth some Googling to find a good recipe. I'm learning that it's really easy to make things up to cook in the crockpot, especially with soup where as long as you have enough liquid, you're good. Also, I know this is called chicken tortilla soup but I didn't add tortilla this time and chicken soup is already a thing so it's just chicken tortilla soup, sans tortilla.

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Her recipe came up at the top of my Google search and I used to watch her show back when I had serious cable and the Food Network. Now I just follow her on Instagram and check for recipes.

As always, all of the ingredients go into the pot: chicken, black beans (drained), diced tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, onion, jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, spices and all of the broth. The chicken came out so tender, I was in awe. Even trying to spear a piece with a fork to shred, it literally just fell right off. If there were bones to chicken breasts, I would say the meat fell right off the bone (in this case, it fell right off the fork).

You can garnish this any which way you choose: crispy tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, avocado. I stuck with just avocado, another kitchen love affair in the making.

adapted from The Pioneer Woman
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 1 14.5oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn (I used frozen but you can use canned if you drain it first)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  1. Add all ingredients to the crockpot, making sure everything is covered with broth. You can use more broth if you want more of a soup, less if you want more of a stew.
  2. Stir to combine the spices and tomato paste.
  3. Set to high and cook for 3-4 hours (or low for 7-8). Cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  4. Using two forks, shred the chicken.
  5. Serve hot with avocado (or cheese or sour cream or tortilla chips).

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Let me tell you a story about bananas. It's bananas. When I was a kid, I ate a banana and it turned my front teeth grey. And then I didn't want to eat bananas for a really long time. This was like preschool age, very impressionable. I eventually accepted that bananas aren't too bad and I buy them now but wouldn't say I really enjoy them. Deep down I know I only buy bananas and hope they aren't eaten in time so I can make banana bread.

But really, there must be more than just banana bread and smoothies for mushy bananas to be good for. And so we make breakfast bars with bananas as the glue to hold all the oaty goodness together. This also requires very little prep or cleanup--perfect.

In a food processor, combine bananas, oats,nuts, honey, vegetable (or coconut) oil, protein powder and spices. All of this will get blended together until smooth. My food processor had to woooork so it might take a few minutes and a few stirs to get it all blended.

The mix is then poured into a prepared 9x9 (or 8x8, let's be real) pan lined and greased with parchment paper. This will make it super easy to remove the final bars from the pan. While the base is cooking, more oats, nuts and spices are mixed together with almond milk and blueberries (or whatever fruit you prefer). This will be the topping.

Once the base has cooked for 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and add the topping. Gently press the topping into the base so everything sticks together. I forgot this step and it was still tasty but a little messy. Bake for another 15 minutes.

I cut these into squares and wrapped them up as a quick grab and go snack or breakfast during the week. So simple, so tasty.


Bar Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 ripened bananas
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (vanilla works too)
Topping Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Line a square pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the edges. Lightly grease the parchment paper (the side where the batter will go).
  3. In a food processor, blend together all of the ingredients for the bar. 
  4. Pour mix into the prepared pan and smooth to fill all corners.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients.
  7. Add the topping to the pan with the bars. Gently press topping into the solid mixture.
  8. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from pan by lifting on the sides of parchment paper. Cut into individual squares for a snack on the go!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chicken and Chickpea Curry with Cauliflower Rice

In my humble opinion, I was a good eater as a child. I ate my vegetables but only certain ones like broccoli and carrots. That was pretty much it, actually, but my tastes have evolved to include most vegetables like peppers and zucchini. Some things, however, never change. I still despise brussel sprouts, I don't care how much bacon you waste on them, and asparagus. Cauliflower is also not a favorite but I've been able to hide cauliflower in other foods instead.

I heard someone at the gym discussing cauliflower rice which is basically just ground and toasted cauliflower. Since rice is typically paired with other more delicious things, I thought it wouldn't be too bad to give it a try with a spicy curry recipe.

I've made fish curry before but this recipe seemed more up my ally, very simple with few ingredients but enough flavor to overpower the cauliflower rice. Originally this recipe was vegan but I added some chicken. You can go either way!

Onion, garlic and peppers are cooked in a skillet until almost soft. Doused in coconut milk and mixed with curry paste (the more the spicier) to finish cooking. Chickpeas and cooked chicken are added to soak up the curry flavors.

Meanwhile, the cauliflower is ground in a food processor. It took me a few rounds in the food processor to get all of the florets to be crumbly. Lightly toast with some olive oil before serving with the curry.

I honestly couldn't taste the cauliflower flavor but boy did my apartment smell like it. I managed to convince some friends that we should get together and watch Bollywood films together. Granted we ordered real Indian food for the occassion but reheating this curry afterwards got me pretending I could bangra--but only in the serious privacy of my apartment with only my cat as my witness.

  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped in food processor
  • 8-10oz chicken, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the chicken until almost cooked through.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chopped pepper to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes more.
  4. Add the drained chickpeas and coconut milk to the skillet. Mix in the curry paste until the coconut milk turns an orange color. 
  5. Simmer over medium heat and add the chicken. Allow everything to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until course. 
  7. Toast the cauliflower in a large skillet with olive oil until fragrant. Some of the cauliflower will toast and turn brown but it's not necessary to get all of it to brown.
  8. Serve the chicken and chickpea curry over the cauliflower rice. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

White Bean and Chorizo Stew

Keeping in line with my resolution to use my crockpot more, I bring you stew! I've officially upgraded the storage location of the slow cooker from the lower cabinet all the way in the back where I can barely reach it to an above the fridge cabinet. Easily accessible and doesn't require contortion to remove.

New this round is also a test of crockpot liners. I've found when using anything tomato-based, the bright white of my crockpot is harder to achieve and takes up my entire sink soaking. So for those occasions when tomato is needed, I think I'll continue using these Reynold's liners.

Super simple: everything is thrown into the crockpot and set to cook on high for 3-4 hours (or low for 6-8). I used chorizo sausage which was already cooked so added that in the last half hour of cooking to warm it up. If you're using raw meat though, brown it first and add to the crockpot at the start of the cooking period.

This is what we call a hearty stew, chopped full of goodies and not as broth-based as soup. Typically I go for buffalo chicken dip for the Super Bowl but this would also make for a great and easy dish to bring to a party. Even if the Patriots aren't playing.

If you're in the market for a new slow cooker (or anything else for your home, for that matter), Wayfair has a great selection with a variety of sizes and features. One lucky reader could win a $100 gift certificate, courtesy of Wayfair to be used towards anything from the site! The contest continues until there's a new Super Bowl champ so plenty of time to enter.

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And while you're surfing the internet, check out these other game day recipes:

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ from Eat.Live.Blog
Buffalo Chicken Empanadas from Appetite for Instruction
DIY Snack Stadium from Wife in Progress
Homemade Pimento Cheese Stuffed Sliders from Aimee Broussard
Taco Dip from Anchors and Bows
Corn "Tamale" with Black Beans and More from Good Cook Doris

  • 13 oz. Chorizo (sliced)
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup broth
  1. Chop the peppers, onion, zucchini and carrots into bite-sized pieces. Add to the slow cooker.
  2. Drain and rinse the Northern beans (or white beans of choice). Add to the slow cooker.
  3. Pour the can of crushed tomatoes and broth over vegetables.
  4. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  5. About 1 hour before the cooking time is over, add the sliced Chorizo. 
  6. Serve warm and cuddled under a blanket watching some football.