Tuesday, November 27, 2012

He Liked It


After a weekend of eating rich foods and eating more food than usual, I thought I'd do something extra healthy last night. This recipe caught my eye when I read that the blog author's teenaged daughter said it was "marvelous." I don't know any teens who use that word, much less use it when referring to a vegetarian chili. Besides the word "marvelous," it also looked like it was very easy to make.

I knew the big test here would be if Daddy-O would eat it. He'a a meat eater. A real meat and potato kind of guy. We live on a farm that raises beef cattle. Black Angus to be exact. He looked at it as it was cooking and asked, "Why can't we have just plain meat and vegetables sometime?"

After we ate dinner, Daddy-O casually commented, "I like that better than the chili you usually make." 
I asked, "Better than the one I've made for years?" 
"Yep." 
"Better than the one that won first prize last year?" 
"Yep." 
"You like it better than the one with meat in it???" 
"This one didn't have meat in it?" 

I was afraid to ask him one more question. I kept waiting for him to say "just kidding" but so far he hasn't. It was very good and it was about the easiest thing to make ever. So give it a try.

I'm going to give you the recipe just as I found it and then tell you how I did it. Didn't change the ingredients--just the cooking method.

SLOW COOKER BLACK BEAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH CHILI

1 medium red onion, chopped
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes (one can had green peppers & onion)
2 15.5-oz. cans black beans (do not drain)
1 10-oz. package frozen butternut squash
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. (There is no need to thaw squash first.)
Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Serve.
      Optional toppings: crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream

I did not find frozen squash, but I did get a bag of peeled and cubed fresh butternut squash. And I did not have hours to use a slow cooker. So I cooked it on the stovetop for about an hour or so. Instead of the frozen squash, I added about 4 cups of cubed squash. That was 16 ounces instead of the 10 ounces called for in the recipe. I only did that because I didn't read the recipe carefully. (More squash is healthier, right? But next time I'll use about 2+ cups of squash.) I also used a can of diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion because that's what I had on hand.

The cocoa and cinnamon combined with the traditional chili spices give this such a rich flavor. Don't be afraid of this recipe!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend's Nearly Over


I'm already missing our little curly headed baby. They headed home this afternoon. It was fun to have everyone here for a short while. Much of the time they were here, Mommy, Daddy and Big Sister were busy--out and about visiting and shopping. And Baby Sister got to stay home with us. Worked out well for everyone.

It was fun for a couple of days to hear her looking for her "sweep" (broom) and asking Jessica for some "stick" (tape) and wanting more "crumbs" (cookie), which she doesn't get to eat at home. Yes, Mommy--she was at Mimi's house, so she did get to taste! All total, her "crumbs" wouldn't have made one good bite but they still got an "yummm..." And first thing each morning she wanted to go out with Daddy-O and see the tractors. The blue one and the orange one. Nothing like practicing learning her colors with farm equipment. We will miss all of that in the morning.

On the cheery side, Jessica made us this wonderful appetizer tonight before the big game started. Glad we get to keep her a little longer. She had made this for me a few weeks ago, but it's worth a repeat here. I've requested it again for Christmas Eve.


SWEET POTATO CROSTINI with GOAT CHEESE and GRAPE SALSA

20 large frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup quartered seedless red grapes
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely diced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Bake potatoes in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet 12 minutes; turn potatoes, and bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together pepper jelly and lime juice in a small bowl; stir in grapes and next 3 ingredients.
3. Arrange potatoes on a serving platter; sprinkle with goat cheese. Top with grape mixture, using a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Season Of Thanksgiving


This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
Psalm 118:24


In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; 
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:3


Great is His faithfulness; 
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:23

Someone asked recently, "Where are you standing when you make your barn photos?" My kitchen is so open to the morning sky that I get to watch each day unfold. And if it's a particularly colorful sky, I grab my little point-and-shoot camera from the kitchen counter and take one step out of my back door. How blessed I am to live here. Just one blessing of so very many. So much to be thankful for. Take a  minute or two over the weekend to look around you for your own blessings.







Monday, November 19, 2012

Back In The Saddle (Oops, Kitchen) Again


Hello, kitchen. Remember me? It's my first time cooking in over two weeks. Thankfully I remembered a recipe I saw recently on another blog. Three ingredients. Slow cooker. No peeling. No chopping. Sounded exactly right for a cook on the mend.

Turns out it was perfect. Daddy-O's comment: "Great!" And then he had seconds. And thirds.


TERIYAKI BEEF with PINEAPPLE

2 lbs. stew beef
15-20 oz. jar Teriyaki sauce (I used Archer Farms Teriyaki grilling sauce)
20-oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained

Put beef in slow cooker. (I used a 3-1/2 qt. size cooker)
Pour sauce over beef and stir.
Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.
Add pineapple during last 20-30 minutes of cooking.


I used a Teriyaki grilling sauce from Target (Archer Farms brand.) This is not just the basic teriyaki sauce that I've used for years as a marinade. This is thicker. According to the photo, the recipe on the first blog used a specialty Kikkoman Teriyaki glaze. I was very happy with the Target brand.

Boil-in-the-bag brown rice and steamed broccoli were easy sides to finish this meal. Yeah me! I actually cooked a whole meal. A good one.


Just had to share a photo of this sweet face. Baby Sister went on her first field trip today. To Krispie Kreme, no less! Sweets for the sweet. Can't wait to see her (and the rest of her family) soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Simply Soup


From now until January, things are going to be a little hectic for many of us. It's nice to have a few quick and easy recipes to fall back on for busy days. This potato soup is just a very simple soup, but it has been a favorite of everyone in our family since our girls were little. Now the grandchildren like it just as much. 

Mommy emailed me a photo of the soup she made yesterday and said that Big Sister was the "food stylist" for the photo. She added a little cheese and parsley for some color. If you can peel and dice, you'll have this ready in no time. And you can feel good that you skipped that drive-through window one more time. 

OLD-FASHIONED POTATO SOUP

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
1 ¼ cup water
3 cups milk (use whole or 2% for a richer soup)
1 or 2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Combine potatoes, onion, celery and water.  Cover and simmer about 45 minutes, or until done (really soft.)  Mash vegetables with a potato masher. Add milk, salt and pepper.  Reheat, without bringing to a boil.





I got a nice surprise when the doorbell rang a couple of days ago. Daddy-O answered it and in a few minutes walked in with this beautiful vase of "get well" flowers. I am truly on the mend--as long as there is a nap somewhere during the day--but it surely does make me feel good to know that people care.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Down For The Count


I have been under the weather for a while. The kind of sick that means days under a blanket on the sofa, not even wanting to read or knit or anything else I usually enjoy. No cooking, for sure. But we did have plenty to eat. I have such good friends. And my friends are excellent cooks. They brought me assorted soups, complete meals, desserts and even things for my freezer for this week. We have been thankful for every bite of every dish. We have been blessed.

The first phone call I got was, "I'll be there in 30 minutes. I'm bringing you a pot of soup." Then she added, "I'm worried that Daddy-O doesn't have anything to eat!" I love my friends.

I've made white chicken chili and I've eaten it other places, but hers was different. Thick and creamy. She said I could share her recipe. (She did tell me she only added a small amount of the green chilies since I probably needed something plain. It was good like that. So adjust to suit your taste.) She also brought corn muffins and told me to crumble one into my soup. Comfort food when I really needed it.  Thankfully, I am on the mend. Still moving slowly--but moving.


WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

3 to 4 chicken breasts, with skin & bones
salt & pepper
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil (for sauteing)
1 small can diced green chilies with juice
1 (8-oz) block of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cans condensed cream of celery soup
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cans white Northern beans or navy beans, drained & rinsed

Boil chicken breast with skin and bones, salt and pepper until falling apart.

Discard skin and bones, shred chicken with fork, set aside and save broth.

In a separate large pot, saute onion and minced garlic in olive oil. To this pot, add the shredded chicken, and all remaining ingredients.

Stir everything together and add in chicken broth until you reach the right thickness. Simmer to let flavors mix.



Friday, November 9, 2012

"Brinner"

Thanks to Mommy for another post while I recover.

Occasionally when Daddy (not to be confused with Daddy-O) can't make it home for supper, the girls and I enjoy breakfast-for-dinner -- a.k.a. "brinner."



Sometimes the main course is pancakes, other times it's scrambled eggs, but on election night it was french toast. French toast is quick, easy, and kid-friendly. Here is how I made it... 

FRENCH TOAST

4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
loaf of day-old French bread
butter (to grease griddle)
powdered sugar (optional) to taste
maple syrup

In a shallow bowl, beat eggs; add the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Soak bread for about 30 seconds on each side. Cook on a buttered hot griddle until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Sprinkle powdered sugar over French toast. Serve with maple syrup.


This was ready in less than 15 minutes. It was easy enough that I could successfully multitask watching the election results roll in while I cooked. As for the taste... I lost count after the girls' fourth piece each, so this brinner was declared a winner!





Thursday, November 8, 2012

Words From West Of Here


The doctor said, "Lots of fluids. Stay in bed." I'm taking her advice seriously. So Mommy is the blogger for now. It's nice to know that they are adjusting well to their new location.


Mimi asked me to do a guest post while she is under the weather. Read on to see what is happening west of the farm...


We're basking in fall and taking advantage of all it offers. 
Baby Sister has created fall-inspired art like apple prints and leaf rubbings.


We've enjoyed bonfires, roasting marshmallows, and carving pumpkins


Big Sister had her debut performance in the church's youth choir


Baby Sister got to wear her Halloween finest to church. 


Later in the week, we enjoyed trick-or-treating in our new neighborhood


We are happy to report that Baby Sister had a good check-up. 
Her favorite part of the visit was the examination table


Baby Sister FINALLY got to try one of my favorite foods -- peanut butter. 
She loved it! 


Last, but certainly not least, Big Sister received her first report card -- all A's. 
Not only did she earn Principal's Honor Roll, 
she received awards for the highest average in English, Math, and Art. 
We are so proud of her.

We wish everyone well at home and in blog land. 
The countdown is on until we see you at Thanksgiving!