Wednesday, January 30, 2008

try again

so OBVIOUSLY the daily thing isn't happening. Oh well. I had good intentions. I'm making a black bean chili for dinner tonight. I like this stuff, but my mom didn't. So if you try it and don't like it I'm sorry. I'm going to try it with avocados on it tonight and see how it goes :) Just realized it's another chili recipe. Can you tell it's cold here???

Fantastic Black Bean Chili
· 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
· 1 onion, diced
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
· 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, undrained
· 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
· 1 tablespoon chili powder
· 2 teaspoons dried oregano
· 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
· 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat; cook onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add turkey and cook, stirring, until meat is brown. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano, basil and vinegar. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 60 minutes or more, until flavors are well blended.

Also, I tried Ashlee's Dijon Basil Chicken and cooked it on the grill pan instead of the broiler, and it was AWESOME-and I'm not usually a huge basil or dijon fan, so that's saying a lot. I halved it and I made it with 5 chicken tenders (see previous post for reasons why). Here it is (hope you don't mind me sharing!):

Dijon Basil Chicken
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 TBS. chopped FRESH basil(if you use dry basil use 1-2 tsp.)i recommend fresh.
1 TBS. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Mix all ingredients together (set aside some sauce before adding chicken, to spoon over chicken when serving!) Add chicken breasts, marinade for at least 1/2 hour or for several hours. In case you didn't know, you can throw the sauce and chicken in a freezer bag to marinade it. Broil 5 minutes on each side. It is very tasty! Enjoy

We're ALMOST finished with our kitchen. Baseboards are up, window moulding is up, curtain is up (and the adjoining bathroom is finished!). We just need to add the crown mouldings and sand and paint the bottoms of the door mouldings that we had to saw out for the floor. Oh ya, and we have to find some sort of wood valance for over the sink...they don't sell 'em at home depot, which makes me somewhat angry. So the moulding can't go up until we find one. But there is an end in sight! I'll post pics when it's done.

I haven't had much time for crafts lately. I made a ton of bows for my sister and a couple for Emma (Bree doesn't get any...that's what happens when you're bald) and with kitchen stuff I just haven't had time. So for your "craft" viewing pleasure, here's a link to one of my new favorite sites for ideas (since all I do is copy other people). There are 2 crafts--the mailboxes and the nugget tins--that are on my agenda. Oh ya, and I'm gonna try those beaded pens she makes. I already do the notebooks that are in the kits that the pens go with. So I've gotta do those pens too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So, ya, I know I haven't been very good at "reporting" on my food and exercise. I've been working like a mad woman trying to get the kitchen and bathroom finished. It doesn't work very well with crying, teething babies. But I got a lot accomplished today! I made the curtains for the kitchen and bathroom, and tried a few accessory ideas also. When everything is complete, I'll post pictures.

As for dinner tonight. Dave was at work and I had, like I previously mentioned, a crying, teething child. I made the girls easy mac and pulled together this:

Let me tell you, it was delicious. Just what I needed to keep me from searching out any junk food in the house and devouring it. I just took a couple chicken tenders and grilled them in my grill pan (FABULOUS-moist and yummy-might do that every night from now on). Chicken tenders might cost a little more, but they cut down on defrost and cooking time, and I'm never able to eat a whole chicken breast anyway(which are way too big for a portion size anyway). So they are worth the cost to me. While they were grilling I cut up some cilantro, tomatoes, garlic and onions, added a little olive oil and lime juice, and had myself some yummy quick salsa ready. Cut up some avocadoes, and shredded a little bit of cotija cheese, and YUMMY! Wrap the corn tortillas in a wet paper towel and heat in the microwave for soft tortillas. Probably even more healthy without the tortilla, but oh well.

So, cotija heard of it? It's like a mexican parmesan. SO GREAT. If you live in the west, you can usually find it at your grocery store. It comes in a white, hard, circle. When you grate it, it crumbles. And it makes your hands stinky. :) But you don't need much and it tastes so dang good on everything, especially mexican food. AND it lasts forever in your fridge. I really mean forever.

Now, monounsaturated fats. In one of my Prevention magazines there was an article on these. They include 1) olives 2) nuts & seeds 3) avocadoes 4) oils 5) dark chocolate. They did some studies: 2 groups of women eating food...not "dieting" or anything. Both groups doing the same stuff as far as exercise and everything. But one group ate a monounsaturated fat with each meal, and lost more weight than the other group! If you notice, those foods are very similar to the Mediterranean diet. Anyway, I thought, hey I'll give this a try.

For those who know me, you know I'm a sugar junkie. I LOVE anything with sugar. I crave it all day and would love to eat it every second I can. I also love salty stuff. Goldfish crackers? Not JUST for kids. :) So, usually I'm craving bad foods all day. Well, I tried eating a monounsaturated fat with each meal (and snacked on a mix of almonds and semi-sweet chocolate chips, which also count with the dark chocolate category), and I HAD NO CRAVINGS!!! I was completely satisfied the whole day! No wonder those women lost weight! So I'm a firm believer in this information. Give it a try. It really isn't that hard. I keep those Dove dark chocolate squares on hand, and they taste great when you take a bite of one and eat it with a couple almonds. Green olives are better than black. I don't much care for green olives, but I'll try it. I always have almonds around, whether raw or roasted. Avocadoes are awesome on sandwiches, salads, tacos, soups, etc. And if I need to use oil, I usually use olive oil.

So my challenge to you...give it a try! Let me know if it worked for you!

Monday, January 21, 2008

More chicken stuff

k-cooked chicken technically lasts 3-4 days in the fridge. I keep mine a couple days longer if it still smells okay and that's usually when I use it in a way that I'm reheating it (in a soup or other cooked dish).
Brining is where you soak raw meat in a salt water mixture for a long time before cooking it. A lot of people do that with whole chickens and turkeys. It's supposed to help the meat retain its moisture and flavor better. You can find instructions on brining right here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Having cooked chicken on hand...

One of the things that makes meal planning so easy is having cooked chicken already available. My sister inspired me with the rotisserie chicken route. The $5 ones at costco are the cheapest and the best flavored and most moist. I LOVE THEM. I bought 2 of them the other day, came home, and just took all the meat off of them and put it in a gallon size ziploc to keep in the fridge. It is so tasty that throughout the day I reach into the bag and pull out chunks to just eat. But it's great to make chicken sandwiches, salads, quesadillas, soups, enchiladas, casseroles, tacos, fajitas-you name it, it can be made! You could also just bake some chicken at the beginning of the week and do the same thing. I just haven't found a cooking method that I can do in my own home that tastes as good as the ones from costco! However, I DID just get myself a grill pan, so we'll see...
If you're looking for a healthy recipe, here's a chicken chili that you can make in a crockpot (will require some stovetop cooking at first), and the leftovers taste GREAT!
White Chili
Cooked Chicken-about 2 large chicken breasts worth (eyeball it-you can put as much or as little as you want. you could also use turkey breasts or ground chicken or ground turkey)
1 TBSP veg oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves of minced garlic
1-3 tsp. cumin
1 TBSP dried oregano leaves
1-2 jalapenos (optional)
1 tsp each salt and pepper (to taste, fresh pepper tastes better!)
1 28oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
2 cups chicken broth
3 cans beans-pinto, kidney, black, white, whatever you want, drained and rinsed
1-2 green bell peppers, chopped or sliced lengthwise (however you prefer to eat them)
1 4.5 oz. can diced mild green chilies, drained
cheese-your choice (we've discovered Cotija cheese-tastes AWESOME, or monterey jack is good)

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, jalapenos, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. *Note: if you don't have everything pre-measured while you're adding, then add garlic last. Garlic cooks REALLY fast and will burn quickly.
Add tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until liquid is reduced by one third, about 5 minutes.
Put chicken and beans into the crockpot and pour tomato mixture over them. Stir it up, cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Stir in green pepper and green chilies and cook until pepper is tender. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, avocado, or whatever else your heart desires!