Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In-a-pinch Black Bean Chili

Over the summer, I decided to order a slow-cooker cookbook after a Barnes and Noble visit where I looked through such a cookbook. I found one that seemed perfect for what I was looking for.

I made a recipe or two from the cookbook over the summer, and recently I pulled it out again to find something I could leave at home all day to cook while Henry and I were at work. We decided that "In-A-Pinch Black Bean Chili" was what we were craving. It was the perfect size for 2 people with just enough for left overs for both of us. This chili does not have any meat, so, if you are vegetarian, this might be something you like. However, it does have chicken broth, but you can substitute vegetable broth.

Cooker: 3 quart
Setting and Cook Time: HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours
(I had it on low for 8 hours)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or 1 teaspoon chipotle chile paste
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained
1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth, canned or homemade
1 1/2 cups medium or hot chunky salsa
Pinch of crumbled dried marjoram
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional) for serving
Chopped cilantro for serving
Saltine crackers or flour tortillas (optional) for serving

In a small saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onion until limp. Add the cumin and chili powder, and stir to heat.

Pour beans and their liquid, chicken broth, salsa, and the spicy cooked onions into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

At the end of the cooking time, stir in the marjoram, lime juice, and lime zest. Serve the chili in bowls, topped with a spoonful of yogurt, if desired, lots of cilantro, and some crackers or warm tortillas, if desired.

We used sour cream and thought it was great! I know the lime sounds weird, but the lime really adds an amazing taste. Also, I used Jardine's Medium Texasalsa for our salsa. It really added some great flavor. Hit the grocery store this weekend and make this one day this week while you are work. You will love it!

I can make steak!!!

I've been so frustrated in the last 5 or 6 years with making steaks; I just can never get that awesome tender juicy steak to come out when I make them. I seem to be really talented at making a chewy "I need some A1 sauce" steak.

That is, until now :) FINALLY I've made a steak that doesn't need ANY sauce to make it go down. Thanks to many Food Network shows and the great advice from friends Rachel and Patrick, I can now make a steak worth sharing. Oh, I suppose it's also thanks to HEB for running Ribeyes on special. That always helps!

I've finally learned that searing our steaks for just 2 or 3 minutes on each side, then placing the steaks on a baking sheet in the oven for 5 or 6 more minutes prepares the perfect steak. This timing prepares a Medium to Medium Well steak. If you want it to be Well or "Burnt and Scraped" like my mom prefers (Love you Mom!), then just sear it longer on each side and cook it longer in the oven. Below is a picture, but it's not my same presentational pictures. I was just so excited about the steak, I wasn't as concerned with the prettiness of the presentation.

Note: This type of preparation is ideal if you don't have an outdoor grill. Obviously, if we had a grill, I'd have Henry cooking the steaks on that rather than my sissy indoor grill. Haha!

Weight Watchers Chicken Fried Rice

When I was living with my ever-so-health-conscious roomates in college, I discovered the healthier ways of eating. Thanks Jordan, Cynthia, Anne, and Carissa! :) Miss you all!!!

Well, I believe Carissa (or was it Cynthia?) had a wonderful Weight Watchers cookbook. I found a great chicken fried rice recipe in there, and I've made it several times in the past few years. Henry has really enjoyed it, so he decided to help me out...A LOT... this time.

If you are having a craving for Chinese but don't want that bloated "I ate a lot of salt" feeling, then you should really make this recipe! It's a wonderful way to satisfy the Chinese food craving.
Per http://www.weightwatchers.com/

2 spray(s) cooking spray
4 large egg white(s)
1/2 cup(s) scallion(s), chopped, green and white parts
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
12 oz uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup(s) carrot(s), diced
2 cup(s) cooked brown rice, regular or instant, kept hot
1/2 cup(s) frozen green peas, thawed
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce


Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add egg whites and cook, until scrambled, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes; remove from pan and set aside.

Offheat, recoat skillet with cooking spray and place back over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add chicken and carrots; sauté until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Stir in reserved cooked egg whites, cooked brown rice, peas and soy sauce; cook until heated through, stirring once or twice, about 1 minute. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Weight Watchers POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 15 min
Cooking Time: 13 min

Milk Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Wow, could I take any longer, right? Well, I have some catching up to do, but, first, I have made these cookies that are just perfect to make you feel at home. These are the perfect chocolate chip cookies that aren't the every day run of the mill chocolate chip cookies.

The first time Henry and I made them, we didn't do so hot. Unfortunately, they weren't something we were keeping around the apartment; no no, we made them for our friends David and Christine. I was so incredibly embarrassed to take those cookies to them. However, we made them again, and they turned out nice and yummy!!!

Back in the day, my Dad brought a Nestle cookbook home to me, and this recipe is from that cookbook. Thanks Dad! Here ya go, and go make these now :) They are delicious!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Milk Chocolate Morsels
1 cup uncooked quick or old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional) (Henry and I did not use these)

Directions:PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture and milk. Stir in morsels, oats and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are crisp but centers are still soft. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


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