Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls


Short days, long nights, bulky sweaters, and crock pots.  This time of year feels heavy, with it's extra layers, warm blankets, and sturdy boots.  Winter is about comfort foods.  Substantial soups, hearty stews, and casseroles.  Even the salads are denser, full of nuts and grains, and dressed with richer dressings.


Our Crock Pot is seeing so much use, that it's taken up permanent residence on the kitchen counter.  It will likely find it's way back into a cupboard in a few month's time, but for now it's front and centre in the kitchen.


These taco chicken bowls are a favourite in our house.  I was inspired by this recipe.  I've tweaked the spices slightly and used more beans.  Sometimes I'll add an extra chicken breast if I want to ensure leftovers for lunch the next day. 


Have you ever made your own tortilla shells?  I used this recipe.




Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large jar salsa
2 cans black beans
½ lb (8 oz) frozen corn
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
½ - 1 tsp chili pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
½ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup water

Add everything to the crock pot, stir well, making sure chicken is covered.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Roughly chop or shred chicken before serving.

Serve over cooked rice with sour cream, shredded cheddar and avocado.  Or try it with quinoa...or wrap it all up in a tortilla shell!





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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Happy New Year


Well hello there.  Happy New Year.  

I am just now emerging from the madness that was December.






Shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and getting it all done at the last possible minute.




Meals and snacks merged, and became all day food.







Despite the stress and excess that overshadows Christmas, there was cherished family time.










And some much needed time away from work, school, and hockey.


I am desperately feeling the push and pull of time.  The change in seasons and another new year brings on a familiar melancholy.  

Pushing forward, while wistfully looking back.


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas


Slowly but surely, it's happening.  The glitter and greenery are coming out.  The kids have their tree up, and the garland is on the stairs. My morning coffee is coming in holiday cups, and last night there was eggnog in coffee.


Fa la la, it must be December.



Friday, 28 November 2014

Honey Pineapple Chicken


This chicken dish.  Honey Pineapple Chicken...with garlic and sriracha.


This is a share-worthy recipe.  What started out as one recipe became something else altogether as I started substituting ingredients to accomodate what I had in the cupboard.

It's not much to look at, as the photos really don't do it justice.  It's dark outside when I get home from work, and I just haven't figured out the best way to take a decent photo indoors at night... while stirring, and yelling at kids and dogs all at the same time.  I don't much like the short days this time of year... they make me want to put on my pajamas as soon as I get home.

Did you know that 2 packets of soy sauce from Chinese take-out equal one tablespoon exactly?  An empty bottle of soy sauce in the cupboard led me to this discovery.  You're welcome.

This is incredibly tasty, and so very easy.  Brown some chicken breasts, mix up a quick sauce to pour over them, and finish off in the oven.  The addition of red wine vinegar to the sauce results in very tender chicken. Serve over rice.

See?  Easy.  Totally do-able on a work night.


I expected leftovers, but I was out of luck.  And I will likely make this again before the week is over.

Honey Pineapple Chicken


4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned to taste
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Brown chicken breasts in a small amount of oil over medium heat.  I seasoned them lightly with salt, pepper, and quick shake of Montreal Chicken Spice.

Meanwhile, strain crushed pineapple to separate the juice.  You should end up with about a cup of pineapple juice.  Combine the pineapple juice, honey, 1/2 cup of water, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sriracha, and garlic in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat.  Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water to make a slurry, and whisk gradually into the sauce.  Return to heat and bring back to a boil, simmering for a few minutes to thicken.  Stir in crushed pineapple.

Place browned chicken breasts in a casserole dish and cover with prepared sauce.  Bake in a 350°F oven for 25 - 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Cook time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

Serve over hot, cooked rice.  I used jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk, but any plain rice will do... the sauce is the star of the show here!



Gingerbread Biscotti


As promised, the recipe for the Gingerbread Biscotti that was part of our Thanksgiving dessert collection.



Our oldest son's girlfriend made a beautiful batch of this biscotti.  The gingerbread flavour is just right, the texture is perfect, and the white chocolate puts these over the top.



Twice baking the biscotti gives them a crunchy texture, perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee.




They are not overly sweet, and there's just enough heat from the ginger.  They really were amazing!


If you've never made biscotti before, and if you like gingerbread, this is a great recipe to try.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients

1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
3/4 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup white chocolate chips
1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable shortening

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, eggs, and molasses. In another bowl, combine flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; mix into egg mixture to form a stiff dough.

Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll the length of a cookie sheet. Place rolls on cookie sheet, and pat down to flatten the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to touch, cut into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Place sliced biscotti on cookie sheet, and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.

Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. 

Prepare white chocolate for dipping by melting together chips and oil over low heat until smooth.  Here’s a step by step tutorial for melting chocolate.

Dip one half of each biscotti in melted chocolate and allow to harden before serving.




Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Homemade Hot Cocoa


I love cookbooks.  

I have a lot of cookbooks, and recipe magazines, and recipes clipped from magazines.  And we won't even talk about the hundreds of recipes I've pinned on Pinterest.  If I made a new recipe every day for the rest of my life, I would never get through them all.  It's interesting how cookbooks have changed over the years.  The newest ones suck me in with their amazing photography, and the storytelling that accompanies the recipes.  I could sit and read one just for the enjoyment of it.  Older cookbooks were usually just another kitchen tool.  No stories, no photos, just recipes.  It was one of those older cookbooks that I turned to when I needed a good recipe for homemade hot cocoa after my kids spent over an hour outside shovelling snow.


We keep the instant hot cocoa packets in the cupboard, for the kids to make for themselves, but this time I wanted to make a large amount - and I always prefer real ingredients over processed convenience items.


Milk, cream, cocoa, salt, and vanilla.  That's it.


It was a little bit more work than putting on the kettle to boil, but oh so worth it.  This is a very rich and chocolately hot cocoa recipe.



Homemade Hot Cocoa


1 cup cocoa ( I used half regular cocoa and half dark cocoa)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups milk
2 cups half and half cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together cocoa, sugar, and salt over a large pot.  Add water and whisk until smooth, bringing to a boil over medium high heat.  Simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened, whisking constantly.  Slowly stir in milk and cream and continue heating until scalded.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and serve.

Serves 6-8 depending on how big your mugs are!





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