Steamy Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans with Chicken
I love elaborate recipes. I really do.

But 90% of the time, I’ll look at an elaborate recipe with 20 ingredients and think, “Yeah right! Not tonight, my friend.”

Which is a pity, because ingredient lists can be deceiving as far as effort involved.

On the other hand, if I come across a recipe with only 3 or 4 ingredients, I’ll probably dismiss that one too. “Not exciting. Probably has ‘boxed something’ as an ingredient.”

Sometimes I’m too judgmental.

While this list looks medium-longish, just look at the process:
Rice and Beans with Chicken
Rice

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Sauce

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Beans

Rice and Beans with Chicken
Broth and chicken

Cover and cook. Eat.

And don’t get a steam burn!

No seriously, DON’T get a steam burn. I went to pull off the aluminum foil, and my hand got in the way of the escaping steam. It was one of those burns that actually took a second to reach my brain. At first it was like, “oh that was kind of hot,” and a second later I was jumping around the kitchen waving my hand in the air like I just didn’t care. Then I remembered to run it under cold water.

I’m quick like that.

Hours later, I was STILL icing my fingers because they felt like my skin was melting off. Unwrap with caution, folks.

Steamy Rice and Beans
Serves 4-6
Adapted from eat, live, run

2 chicken breasts, diced (or leave out the chicken!)
1 cup dry rice (I used Jasmine rice)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
14 oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne, depending on how much kick you’re looking for.
guacamole for topping (I’m kind of obsessed with the Wholly Guacamole from Costco. Best ingredients list I’ve seen on store-bought guacamole.)

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a 9×13″ dish, pour in the rice, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Add the spices to the broth and whisk together. Pour the broth over the rice and beans, and give the pan a little stir. Add the chicken, and then cover the pan very tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 90 minutes with the foil on.

CAREFULLY remove the aluminum foil, top the casserole with guacamole, and serve.

Yours truly with peeling fingers,
Jo

Curry Chicken Chili

Curry Chili
I’ve been making this chili a couple times a month for awhile now.

Curry Chili
(Though this is the first time I’ve made it with chicken. I’ve been using ground beef, and it’s been amazing. But I only had chicken, and it was equally amazing.)

It was so simple to come up with the first time. I was making chili, and I decided that curry powder would be fun to try instead of chili powder. And then of course I had to add coconut milk.

I do have to admit that I was pretty nervous about how this would turn out, and how it would be received, but it remains the most requested meal to date.

Curry Chili

Curry Chili

Curry Chili

I make this exactly the same way as I make regular chili, but the difference in flavor couldn’t be bigger!

Curry Chili

Curry Chili
When you add the coconut milk, the diced tomatoes turn everything pink.

Curry Chili
But don’t worry, the curry powder fixes that right up.

Curry Chili

Curry Chili
I’m not a huge fan of pink…

Curry Chili
I am a huge fan of this though.

Curry Chili
Under 30 minutes from start to plate.

Curry Chicken Chili
Serves 6-8

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 14 oz can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Black Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz can of Coconut Milk
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne

Saute the diced chicken until almost cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes (including the liquid), followed by all the beans. Add the coconut milk, curry and cayenne. Salt to taste. Stir until everything is combined, and allow to simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.

You can also make this with 1 pound of ground beef, or no meat at all!

Well, if this isn’t inspiration

Then I don’t know what is.
New Oven!

I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.

I took some time to take photos just for fun. And because I wasn’t trying to get any kind of photo in particular, it helped me improve my skills a little.
Hellooooooo F stop!
Dandelions
Exhibit A

My Bubble
Exhibit B

And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.

I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.

Or an epic failure.

And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)

But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.

Dude, we got a new oven!

New Oven!
It bakes! (And doesn’t take 40 minutes to preheat)

New Oven!
It cooks! (Well, I guess technically I cook, but that’s beside the point)

I’m in love.

Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.

Watch out world!

Dreamboat

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you My KitchenAid Stand Mixer:
Homemade Raviolis
(The folks at KitchenAid have no idea I exist, and I’m not getting paid or perked in any way. I’m just seriously in love with my mixer, and my amazing husband who gave it to me. This is a total gush post.)

Remember last Christmas when I yelled at family? This year was stunned silence. Speechless awe.

Yeah, Nick gets me. He knows what’s what.

And this mixer is what, let me tell you!

‘Cause it has attachments, you see.
Homemade Raviolis
Like pasta rollers.

And my talented husband knows how to work that roller.

Sure, the filling tasted amazing. And balsamic brown butter sauce is epic. But paper thin pasta rolled to perfection just can’t be beaten. Or competed with, really.

And making cookies with this mixer? No sweat.

Literally! I don’t have to mix the chocolate chips in by hand anymore!

You know how some people choose a certain car or shoe designer to fall head over heels for?

For me, it’s this mixer. And I anticipate we’ll spend many happy years together.

Now it just needs a name…

When the holidays are over

Pork Roast
You put away the decorations. Take down the lights.

Pork Roast
Pack up the tree shaped cookie cutters,

Pork Roast
and tuck away the red sprinkles.

Pork Roast
It’s kind of sad.
More than kind of.

Pork Roast
Just taking down all the Christmas lights leaves me feeling a bit dim.

Pork Roast
It’s important to find something warm and comforting to look forward to.

Pork Roast
Something to make your spirits bright, even as you stack the last of the storage boxes in the garage.

Pork Roast
Knowing that dinner’s waiting in the crock pot when you get home is pretty darn comforting.

I know, I know. “Pork roast? Come on, Jo; two weeks ago I was gorging myself on honey glazed ham and pierogies.
Roast is so…not festive.”

I hear ya! I do. But I think what I need now is comfort food. And the added luxury of not having to come up with a full dinner menu is so nice. It makes the transition out of the holiday mindset just a little easier.

So. Merry…happy…Thursday.

Pork Roast in the Crockpot
Serves 4 with leftovers

I have to admit, I did not use a recipe or write down what I was throwing into the crockpot, so this is an estimation to the best of my memory. Feel free to add or subtract whatever spices you prefer.

2 pound pork shoulder (or other cut of meat suitable for roast)
1 quart beef or vegetable stock (enough to cover the meat in the crockpot)
1 medium onion, sliced into big chunks
1 or 2 large turnips, sliced into half-rounds
6-8 red potatoes, cut into evenly sized chunks
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, oregeno and thyme to taste

Pour the stock into your crockpot and add all the seasonings. Stir gently to combine. (If you like a thicker, more gravy-like sauce at the end, add 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch to the stock with the rest of the seasonings.)
Cut the pork in half, or smaller, to ensure that it’s covered almost completely in the stock. Then add the vegetables on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. You just need to make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160F.

Chicken Sausage Calzones

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Calzones are so great for those times when you have a lot of random ingredients that you need to use up.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
For instance, we bought some chicken and apple sausages from Costco. I really liked them, but Nick didn’t care too much for them.

When you buy something at Costco, you don’t just end up with one package. So, the other package of sausages have been sitting in our refrigerator long enough that I was worried we’d have to throw them away if I didn’t come up with something.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Our broccoli was the same deal. We had a lot of it, and although we’d been slowly nibbling on it for awhile, (and adding it to a few dinners) I knew that if I didn’t use up a big portion of it, a big portion of it was going to go in the trash.

Unacceptable!

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And cheese! How did we end up with four different kinds of cheese? There’s no possible way we can eat that much cheese!

Ok, so we totally can, but we needed to use it up faster than nibbling would allow.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
The solution? Roast the sausages and vegetables, add two kinds of cheese…

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Make pizza dough ***and then play with the perfect pillows***

Chicken Sausage Calzones
***I mean*** Roll out the individual portions of dough and then package everything up like so…

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And voila! You’ve just used up a ton of ingredients and made something far fancier than pizza.

Chicken Sausage Calzones
And if you’re going to go, why not go all out and make a lot?

You can freeze what you don’t need right away, thereby not wasting any food, and you have back up dinner or lunches when you’re pressed for time.

And Nick thought the sausage taste was disguised enough that he didn’t even realize it was the same sausage. Win one for me 🙂

Chicken Sausage Calzones
Serves 8

1 pre-made pizza dough (I used my bread machine, but lots of stores have ready made stuff in the freezer aisle)
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup sliced onion
3 sausage links (3 oz each) sliced into rounds. I used these
2/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
cornmeal to sprinkle on the baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 350F
On a cookie sheet, spread the sausage out to create one layer. Roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes (or until done), making sure to move the sausage around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
On a separate cookie sheet, spread the broccoli and the onion out to create one layer. Roast on the top shelf of the oven for about 15-20 minutes, moving everything around on the pan several times to prevent burning.
Set the vegetables and sausage aside to cool slightly before adding the cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir everything together until fully combined.

Increase the oven heat to 400F
Prepare a stone baking pan or cookie sheet by sprinkling cornmeal onto it.
Divide the pizza dough into 8 equal portions, and roll or spread the dough to create little circles. Add a few spoonfuls of the filling onto one side, leaving about 3/4 of an inch edge. Fold the other side of the dough over to create a pocket, and use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a slit or two in the top, and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Cornbread Quiche

Cornbread Quiche
Ah, comfort food.

Cornbread Quiche
You know that scene in Amelie where she reaches her hand into a sack of beans because it’s one of her life’s simple pleasures? That’s how I feel about a bag of cornmeal. I have to resist the urge to dip my fingers into it every time I get it out of the cupboard.

It’s ok. I know I’m an odd duck.

Cornbread Quiche
I don’t have a fancy recipe for cornbread, I just follow the directions on the cornmeal bag. Maybe that will be a future project–fancy cornbread.

Cornbread Quiche
Run of the mill cornbread, baked for about 10 minutes.

Cornbread Quiche
In retrospect, I should have decreased the amount of cornbread and increased the eggs.

Cornbread Quiche
Not that it really mattered a ton, but it would have been a better egg to crust ratio.

Cornbread Quiche
The cheese was perfect though. Just a little will do.

Cornbread Quiche
And in my book, broccoli will always be classified as a comfort food.

Cornbread Quiche
Cornbread Quiche
serves 8

8 eggs
1 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Cornbread**

Preheat the oven to 425F
**Follow your favorite cornbread recipe, omitting most–if not all–the sugar. Add enough batter to an 8 inch round pan to fill the bottom about a half inch. (Use the leftover batter to make cornbread muffins!)
Bake the cornbread for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli.

Pour the egg mixture over the cornbread, top with the cheese, and reduce the oven temperature to 375F. Put the quiche back into the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes. Just until the eggs are firm and everything turns a nice golden brown color. Serve hot.

If you want a little more kick or moisture, feel free to add some salsa as a topping.