Snowmageddon Chicken Stew and Other Snow Adventures

We have another snow day here in Richmond!  In anticipation of the snow, which started yesterday around 4 PM, I felt compelled to cook a lot of food.  (If that sounds familiar, yes, I did the same thing a few weeks ago.  It must be a primal survival instinct.)

IMG_4096

For dinner–and what will be dinner for at least two more days–I made a big pot of Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew.  What makes it Snowmageddon stew rather than regular chicken stew?  The chicken is only from drumsticks because when I went to the grocery store in all the storm preparation craziness yesterday, there was no chicken remaining except drumsticks.  I am not exaggerating.  The poultry case was empty except for a few packages of chicken legs.  Chicken legs it is. 🙂

IMG_4053

Snowmageddon Chicken & Rice Stew
10 drumsticks (~3 lb)
8 whole carrots
4 large celery sticks
8 oz green beans
8 oz mushrooms
5 large kale leaves
2 cloves garlic
1.5 c brown rice
2 qts chicken broth
Salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika, rosemary, onion powder
Olive oil

1.  Chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces.  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown; add garlic and saute for about a minute.  3.  Add all remaining ingredients, including whole, raw chicken legs.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  4. Check chicken in about 15 minutes.  When it’s cooked through, take all drumsticks out of pot.  Remove chicken from each leg (yes, this is very tedious), discarding the bones and putting meat back in the pot.  5.  Continue to let simmer, partially covered, until rice is cooked through (or longer).

IMG_4061

Best if eaten while sitting under blankets on the couch 🙂

The legs definitely give the stew more flavor than we would have gotten using breasts, so that’s a plus!

While the stew was simmering, Andrew and I tag-teamed a batch of banana muffins.  We used a recipe from a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook we have, and they turned out pretty great:

IMG_4066

We added a cinnamon-brown sugar crumble on top…not the prettiest, but they taste wonderful!

After dinner and dessert, we suited-up and played in the still-falling snow.  We took our sleds and found the best sledding hills in the neighborhood, threw a few snowballs, and give our inner-children free reign for an hour or so. 😀

IMG_4085 IMG_4080

Eating snow + Snyoga

We warmed up and capped the night with two mugs of green chai tea:

IMG_4092

Andrew and I are both home from work today and have one snow adventure planned so far: making an igloo.  🙂  Have a great snow day, everyone!  Stay safe and warm!

-Do you have a snow day today?
-When was the last time you went sledding?
Do you cook way more food than you actually need when it’s about to snow?

Advertisements

Spinach, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Lasagna (Gluten-Free)

Sometimes you decide to cook a certain meal for dinner because you are craving a specific flavor.  You can’t get your mind off that one meal, and any other meal will not bring you the same satisfaction.  It’s decided: you will have that for dinner.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

And sometimes you decide to cook a certain meal because your husband opened the wrong can for a recipe earlier in the week, and now you have to use its contents before it goes bad.  We fell into this category this week. 😉

IMG_3899

Doh!

On Saturday Andrew opened a can of tomato sauce rather than diced tomatoes when we were making our Brunswick stew, so we decided to use it with some kind of pasta dish this week.  I didn’t feel like making plain ol’ spaghetti, and I recently found gluten-free brown rice lasagna noodles on manager’s special at Kroger, so I thought I’d give it a try!

We only used ingredients we had on hand, so you can tweak it depending on what’s in your refrigerator.  It’s not technically dairy-free, but if you are like Andrew and can tolerate goat cheese but not cow cheese, this may be a great recipe for you!

Spinach, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

1 lb ground bison (or beef)
2 15-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c fresh spinach
5-6 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper, onion powder to taste
Olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
Almond milk (splash)
9 GF lasagna noodles

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown.  Remove mushrooms from pot.  2.  Add more olive oil if needed, then add ground bison to the pot, and cook until brown.  3. Make room in center of pot, and add garlic.  Cook until fragrant.  4.  Stir and add tomato sauce, mushrooms, basil, and spices.  5.  Reduce heat, and let simmer.  6.  Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions.  Preheat oven to 350.  Add a splash of almond milk to goat cheese and mix well to give goat cheese a creamier consistency.  7. Add spinach to sauce and stir.  8.  In a glass baking dish (9×13) layer sauce, noodles, cheese.  Repeat for 3 layers and finish with sauce on top. 9.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes.

IMG_3903

Oh man.  This tasted so good.  I am not ashamed to say that we ate half the pan that night!  I’m a huge fan of brown rice noodles too–I like that they are whole grain but taste exponentially better than whole wheat noodles.  The texture is way better than regular pasta too.  So good.

IMG_3914

Mmm 🙂

While I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having pasta when Andrew opened that can Saturday, it did push me to try a new recipe–and the end result was fantastic!  We will be making this dish more often!

Have a great Thursday!

-What are you cooking tonight?
-Have you ever been forced to cook something because you accidentally opened a can/package?  😀
-Do you prefer brown rice, whole wheat, or regular noodles?

Less Meat Monday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

“Less Meat Monday” admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Meatless Monday“, but it’s a huge step for some members of this household (read: Andrew :)).  Last week he acknowledged that he should probably be eating a little less meat and a little more fiber for his overall health, and he gave me the green light to try some new dinner recipes in which meat is not the star.

Naturally, I was thrilled—as Andrew puts it, I always have one foot firmly in the vegetarian camp.  Now, we are not going vegetarian, but I am planning to make Mondays “Less Meat Mondays”, and try new recipes in which I can cut the amount of meat significantly with beans, lentils, or some other form of plant protein.

Here’s what was on the table last night:

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb chicken, cooked and shredded*
2 medium sweet potatoes
½-1 c salsa
olive oil
chili powder
cumin
salt & pepper
mixed greens
lime
cilantro
goat cheese
corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Chop sweet potatoes into ½-inch cubes.  Put in bowl, and toss with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  2. Spread sweet potatoes on a pan, and place in oven for 30 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.  3.  While the potatoes are cooking, combine beans, chicken, and salsa in a pot, and heat on low.  4.  When potatoes are done and beans are hot, place in tortillas with greens, cilantro, lime juice, goat cheese, and/or whatever sounds good :).

(*I actually cooked the chicken in a skillet as soon as I put the potatoes in the oven;  there’s plenty of time to do this and heat the beans, but if you have leftover chicken you want to use, this is a great way to do it!)

IMG_3535 IMG_3539

The tacos were a hit!  Andrew said he did not miss the extra meat—typically we use 1- 1 1/2lb of meat for any given dinner, which will last us two nights, so only using 1/2lb of chicken was a significant drop for us.  You can also leave out the chicken entirely, and I doubt you’d miss it.

Happy eating to all! 🙂

-Do you observe Meatless Monday?
-Any recommendations for high-protein, meatless (or less-meat) dinners that I could try in the coming weeks??

Vegetable Lentil Soup {with Bacon}

I don’t always cook with bacon, but when I do… it’s delicious.  😉  Yesterday we had about 1/2 lb of bacon that we needed to use (leftover from a Thanksgiving dish), and we’d picked up some green lentils at the grocery store this weekend, so I decided to create a new recipe.  The result was fanstastic.  I don’t want to oversell it, but this was a real winner for us. 

Vegetable Lentil Soup {with Bacon}
1 1/2 c green lentils
4 carrots
3 celery ribs
4 Roma tomatoes
2 c spinach
2-3 garlic cloves
6 slices bacon*
6 c chicken broth
Salt, pepper, & red pepper to taste

(*I used a natural, nitrite-free bacon.  When I sliced it, the last 1/2-1 inch was pure fat (as opposed to the other pieces that were half fat, half meat), and I couldn’t justify using it, so I tossed it out.  This recipe is actually 6 slices of bacon minus 1/2-1 inch of fat from each slice. :))

IMG_3510

1.  Chop carrots, celery, tomatoes, and garlic (minced).  Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.  2.  In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon over medium-high heat until cooked through.  3. Add carrots, celery, and tomato, and saute for 3-4 minutes.  4.  Add garlic (move other veggies and make room on the bottom of the pot so it can actually cook), and saute for about 1 minute.  5. Add chicken broth, lentils, and seasoning; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with lid tilted for 25-30 minutes (until lentils are soft).  6.  In the last 5 minutes add spinach. 

IMG_3515

Again, at the risk of overselling it, this was a fist-pump-because-I’m-so-happy-I-made-something-so-tasty meal.  The bacon just gives it so much good flavor!  It worked well for us because there was enough meat that Andrew didn’t feel deprived, but a sufficiently small amount of meat that I wasn’t picking around anything in my bowl (which sometimes happens; chicken is very hit-or-miss for me).  Most of the protein (13g per serving) came from the lentils, which I love.

When we bought the lentils, Andrew noticed the very high fiber content–15g per 1/4 c dry serving.  After we’d tasted and determined how good this soup was, as we were ladeling it into bowls, I had to remind Andrew that eating multiple large servings might have some undesired effects.  😉  He appreciated the reminder and held himself back a bit.

If you don’t have a Stewsday meal planned for tonight, give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!

How often do you cook with bacon?

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup {Stewsday}

Around midday Tuesday, snow flurries landed on my face.

Shortly after that, my Facebook news feed exploded with posts declaring that it was, in fact, snowing in Richmond in November.  We Richmonders poke fun at ourselves for our level of freaking out at the first sight–or suggestion–of snow.  For a single inch of snow, school is often cancelled, the grocery store shelves go bare, people forget how to drive faster than 10 mph… It’s hilarious. 😀  Nothing stuck to the ground this time, but it was still fun. 🙂

With strong gusts of wind and near freezing temperatures (okay, they weren’t that close to freezing… but low 40’s feels cold!), it was a gross day to be outside, but a perfect day for stew.  Conveniently, it also happened to be Stewsday. 😀

Here’s what I threw together last night:

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup

1 lb chicken (cooked & shredded)
Diced tomatoes
Kale (a few large leaves torn into small pieces)
1 can black beans
2 c cooked brown rice
1 qt chicken broth
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp each: cumin, garlic powder, chili powder
salt, pepper, red pepper to taste

I first made a version of this soup after Thanksgiving last year with leftover turkey–if you have leftover poulty you’d like to use, this is a great way to use it.  I did not last night, so I cooked the chicken in a skillet with some olive oil first, then started the rice (1 c dry) in the rice cooker.  We have lots of bags of veggies in our freezer from our garden this summer, so I used a quart-sized bag of sliced tomatoes.  I’m not sure what the canned equivalent would be–one 15 oz can, perhaps?  Either way, they break down and blend in with the broth, so you aren’t eating huge chunks of tomatoes.

Put everything except the black beans and rice in a large pot (I used the same one in which I cooked the chicken), bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  Add the black beans and rice (when it’s cooked), and let simmer as long as desired–the longer it all sits together, the better it will taste!

 Kale stew kale stew2

So hearty.  So nutrition-packed.  So delicious.  Perfect for a blustery winter fall day.

 

-Did you celebrate Stewsday this week?
-Kale: do you eat it, and if so, what is your preferred method of consumption?  (I don’t love the stuff raw, so putting it in soup works well for me!)

Spousal Miscommunication and The Resilient Fish Tacos

Have you ever had a meal in which the individual components tasted just okay, but the combined result tasted rather fantastic?  Food synergy.  We had such a meal last night–one that was almost disastrous thanks to a spousal miscommunication (spoiler alert: it was Andrew’s fault).

IMG_3037

Fish tacos.  Simple.  Small pieces of fish, seasoned and baked + coleslaw + mango salsa.  I put Andrew in charge of the fish because he’s good at seasoning food, and I hate working with raw meat; I started the mango salsa, which we typically make with mango, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and a little salt–just something to sweeten the tacos.  We have a lot of tomatillos from our garden in bags in the freezer, which I thought would make a great addition to this salsa.

I mixed all the ingredients, ate a spoonful, and…

“This just does not taste great.”

“Really?

(Andrew takes a bite of the salsa and makes a funny face.)

“Yeah, that’s not good.”

“Right?  I thought the tomatillos would taste so good in this.”

“That’s just not how tomatillos usually taste… Oh.  Uh oh.”

“Uh oh, what?”

“Umm, I think you may have used unripe tomatoes.”

“Why are there unripe tomatoes in our freezer?”

“I didn’t want to waste them!”

That’s right–when we said goodbye to our tomato plants in September, Andrew couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the green tomatoes still on the branches, so he picked and froze them.  Why?  How would we use them?  Friends, I have no idea.  Unripe tomatoes and perfectly ripe tomatillos look dangerously similar, but taste very, very different.

Because couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the mangos and red peppers we’d already put in the salsa (and because I have just a touch of OCD…) I picked out all of the little green tomato pieces, rinsed what was left in a colander, and added actual tomatillos.

IMG_3032

<Sigh.>

The fish was a little bit dry, the salsa tasted okay, but I couldn’t get the memory of the original batch out of my head, and the coleslaw tasted like mayonnaise.  But together?  Together they tasted awesome.  Beautiful food synergy, in which the end result was greater than the sum of the individual components.  They even managed to survive a serious spousal miscommunication.

You go, fish tacos.

-Please tell me any hilarious miscommunications you’ve had with your significant other.
-Now that I know we have unripe tomatoes in my freezer, does anyone know how we can use them (if at all)?

Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup

True story:  This morning I told Andrew I thought our refrigerator was broken because when I opened the door, I didn’t feel the usual rush of cool air.  I quickly realized that the fridge is working fine, but the temperature in our house had dipped into the 50’s, so the difference in temperatures wasn’t that great.  In related news, we turned on our heat this morning.  I’m hoping to be able to remove either the blanket or fleece jacket I am wearing by the time I finish breakfast and this post.  😉

What goes hand-in-hand with the coolness of fall?  Pumpkin everything, apparently.  I like pumpkin-flavored things just fine, but I don’t get crazy about the stuff like many of you do.  Pumpkin seems to be working its way into a lot of food items this season (Exhibit A), but  I’d pick banana bread over pumpkin bread any day, and I’ve never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

However, as one who loves most things containing the word “soup”, I was intrigued when Andrew found a recipe for a Crock-Pot Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup.

Pumpkinsoup

The recipe came from the Slow Cooker Bible, and because I’m feeling a tad lazy, I’m including a picture of the recipe page rather than typing it out myself. 😉

pumpkinsoup2

In place of the heavy cream we used Silk coffee creamer (original, not flavored), and we left out the onion completely (Andrew put the green onions on his at the end).  We also added sliced mushrooms because we had some on hand that needed to be used.

The soup was incredibly flavorful, and as is the case with most things pumpkin, I liked it, but I was not crazy about it.  I think anyone who really enjoys pumpkin would love it though!    It made for a warm, hearty meal over the last two cool nights (and there are still leftovers).  If you are a pumpkin-lover, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Well, you may be pleased to know that the thermostat in our house now reads 61 degrees; I have removed the blanket and am beginning to thaw. 😉

Stay warm, everyone!

Pumpkin-flavored items: Love them or hate them?
What’s the weirdest pumpkin-flavored food you’ve seen in stores or tried?