Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Leftover Chicken Chili

Last night I baked an extra bone-in chicken breast for our supper - intentionally for leftovers.  There are so many versatile uses for leftover chicken that I usually try to cook an extra bone-in breast when I can. (e.g. casseroles, salad, chicken salad sandwiches, soups, and stews)

I used my extra chicken tonight for a simple version of partially homemade chili.  I know you're thinking "partially homemade?".  Many of the ingredients are canned, jarred, or previously prepared, so it's not a homemade dish, but it's good for cleaning out some of the pantry items!

Ingredients (for tonight anyway...)

2 cans of navy beans (drain & rinse)
2 jars of picante sauce (medium, mild or mixed)
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (peeled & chopped)
2 jalapenos (seeded, chopped)
1 can of chicken broth
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
Shredded cheese, chopped green onions for topping


Heat a heavy bottom pot, or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions, and jalapeno and saute until softened. (4-5 minutes)

Next, add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Serve with toppings and tortilla chips or corn bread.


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Black Bean and Turkey Sausage Stew

A wonderfully delicious and easy low calorie stew that simmers in a crock-pot throughout the day.  It also makes the house smell delightful.  This base for this recipe an old magazine for Crock-Pot recipes. 


3 cans black beans (rinsed & drained)
1 onion(chopped)
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
¼ cup frozen corn
2 jalapeno, finely diced
1½ cups chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp dried oregano
1½ tsp cumin (or more to taste)
¼ tsp red pepper
6oz cooked turkey sausage, thinly sliced


First, spray the inside of your crock with a non-stick spray.  Next, combine all ingredients except for the sausage in the crock-pot. Give it all a good stir, then cover.  Cook on low for 7 hours. 

Finally, add the sausage and allow to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve with toppings of your choice: sour cream, green onions, shredded cheese, or all of the above.

Basic White Bread

After playing with several recipes and techniques, I think I have found my favorite basic white bread recipe for our home at this point. Although, I'm still a very novice baker, I am learning and improving each time I bake.  I have noticed that the recipes work better when weighing out the flour versus measuring cups.  One of the European bread recipes I tried explained that different flours result in variable weight per cup.  Taking that advice, about 5oo grams of flour works well for bread and all-purpose flours per loaf.  This recipe is a combining of a couple of those and a touch of my own development added. 

It's simple.  It's very basic in that it only has four ingredients.  Most importantly, it tastes wonderful.

Ingredients- (yields 1 loaf)

500g    bread flour  (I have used bread flour and all-purpose and both work)
7g         instant yeast
1½       cups warm water (distilled works best at 100-110 degrees)
1            tsp salt  (fine sea salt)

2            Tbsp butter (melted to brush the top for the last five minutes of baking)


Weigh out your flour.  Add it and the salt into mixing bowl.  In a small bowl add the warm water and then the yeast.  Allow to sit for a few minutes to activate.  Create a hole in the flour and add the liquid.

Begin incorporating the flour and liquid.  As it starts to come together, I put it under my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook and allow it to do all the kneading.  If you don't have a mixer, place on a lightly floured surface and begin kneading the dough thoroughly.  

When blended smooth, place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea cloth and allow to proof for 2 hours of until it doubles in size.  

Once doubled, dump onto a lightly floured surface again.  Stretch and pull a few times to shape into a football shape, and place into a greased bread tin.  

Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and allow to rise again for about thirty minutes.

Place into a preheated oven (350F) for one hour.  Remove, and brush top with melted butter and return to oven for five minutes.  

Remove from oven and tin.  Place on a wire rack until completely cooled.   Store in an airtight container. (I save store bought bags for my own bread.)

*** As an alternative to traditional bread tins, pull and stretch the dough into a ball.  Spread some rolled oats onto a baking stone, and place the ball over the oats.  Allow to proof for thirty minutes then slash with a sharp knife and bake at 450F for thirty minutes.  (butter the top and bake for five more minutes)


Friday, January 18, 2019

Mediterranean Salmon

Although I don't know where I first heard it, I've often used the phrase, "Those that don't like seafood have never had seafood that is properly cooked." 

I know. I know.  That's my opinion, and I understand there are many people that just do not LIKE seafood.  Yet.. one still has to ask, "How was it prepared?"  😀😀

Growing up, salmon was not a highly requested meal.  It's probably because the only way I'd ever eaten salmon was from a can. (Think Pink)  My dad would eat it on crackers, and my mom would usually shape it into salmon patties, then fried them in a cast-iron skillet.  My brother and I would covered these "seafood burgers" with creamed corn. Although this wasn't too terrible, I don't consider it to be truly a seafood experience, and can understand why some people could say, salmon is not a favorite. 

However, I found that fresh salmon is a whole other story! 

I came across this recipe as I was looking for a healthy way to cook the salmon filets my sweet bride had purchased.  This base recipe comes from the American Heart Association's Low-Fat, Low Cholesterol cook book.  The original recipe calls for discarding the marinade and grilling the fish.  Although that is certainly a valid, tasty way to prepare it, I went with keeping the marinade and baking it along with the fish.

Marinade Ingredients - enough for 3 to 4 salmon filet (4oz each)

1 or 2  Roma or Campari tomato, chopped fine  (I used two small Romas)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary, chopped  (or 1 tsp dried, crushed)
1 Tbsp fresh Sage, chopped  (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon zest
¼ tsp pepper  (or more to your liking)
¼ tsp kosher salt

Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork or spoon.

Prepare your salmon.  Rinse the fish, and pat dry with paper towels.   ** If my salmon has been frozen, I often press the filet, wrapped in the paper towel,
between my hands.

In a Ziploc bag, place your salmon, then pour in the marinade. Toss, and move the fish around to fully coat with the marinade, then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425F on BAKE.  Spray a glass baking dish or pan with PAM or other non-stick spray.  Remove the salmon from the bag and place in the dish/pan, then pour the marinade over the tops of the salmon.
Ready for the oven!
Place in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet.  When the timer goes off, flip the oven from BAKE to BROIL.  Prop the oven door open so you can keep an eye on the fish.  The aroma could result in a bit of drool, use towels appropriately.

After a minute or two on broil, turn off the oven and remove the dish.  Serve with your favorite sides.


Nutritional Info per serving:
Calories 144
Fat 4.5g
Cholesterol 65mg
Protein 25g

Monday, January 14, 2019

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey Sausage

Split pea soup is a family favorite, and there are many variations that we enjoy.  Tonight we tried our first using smoked turkey sausage, and it too is a big hit.  It's a wonderful meal on a cold night with a bit of homemade bread.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped to your liking
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into slices
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1lb bag of dried split peas
12 oz. smoked turkey sausage, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
6 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp. pepper (or more to taste)
2 Bay leaves

In a heavy bottomed pot, or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add sausage and brown for 5 minutes or so.  Remove sausage and set aside. 

Add onions, carrots, celery, and cook until tender - about 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, peas, salt, pepper, and bay leaves and bring to a boil over the medium high heat.  

Once boiling, add sausage and reduce heat to medium-low.  Allow soup to simmer, stirring occasionally until peas are tender. (40-50 minutes) 

Remove and discard bay leaves.  

Serve with bread or cornbread.