White Bean Chicken Chili

Sometimes, trying new recipes can be exhausting.  Sometimes, after a tedious, never-ending day of work and chores, you just want to come home and cook something reliable. Something that you know will turn out delicious and requires minimal work.

Those are totally the kind of days weeks I’ve been having.  This white bean chicken chili is one of our all time favorite recipes for a few years now.  It is filling, healthy, oh-so-tasty, makes enough for about 6-7 meals, inexpensive, and not terribly time consuming.  This chili is essentially the ‘total package’ of dinners.

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I found it a few years ago on AllRecipes, and have adapted it over time based on personal tastes and reviewers suggestions.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Adapted from this AllRecipes recipe (I promise my changes are better- they have been years and 30 batches in the making)

You Will Need:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 large can salsa verde
  • 2 (16 oz) cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted or basil flavors are great)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken meat (rotisserie saves time, not money)
  • 1/2 large bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • crunchy bread to serve along side is “optional”

Directions

  1. Heat oil on medium-high heat, and cook onion and garlic until soft
  2. Stir in broth, salsa verde, diced tomatoes, and spices.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 10 minutes
  4. Add corn, chicken, and beans, and simmer for as long as possible to allow flavors to come together (20 minutes or more ideal)

This chili is SO good and very filling as well.  Despite how filling it is, I always go back for seconds.  And you will too.  Trust me.

So much has happened this week, I cannot wait to blog about it all.  Many exciting and scary changes ahead.  But for now… chili.

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Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sandwich on Focaccia Bread- A Meatless Monday Recipe

Roasted eggplant.  Roasted tomatos.  Fresh mozzarella.   Smothered in pesto and rosemary infused olive oil on focaccia bread.  Not missing the meat as much as you thought, huh?

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This recipe was adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe (I was unable to find it online- it’s from one of her cookbooks), but I added some of my own twists to it.  The simplicity of ingredients and the ease of the recipe enticed me to make this easy weeknight meal.  I wanted to share the recipe with you guys as well as my ideas for perfecting it.

Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Sandwich

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s “Look and Cook” Cookbook

Yield: 3-4 sandwiches

You will need:

  • One large eggplant, skin on, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2-3 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into thick pieces
  • One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • One loaf focaccia bread, or 3-4 hoagie rolls
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Rosemary (fresh preferred, dried fine as well), 1 tsp
  • 3-4 TBS pre-made pesto (bonus points to make your own)
  • 1 can low-fat tomato soup (optional side, highly recommend Amy’s brand)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Put 2 TBS olive oil in a pan and heat over low-medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes, crushed garlic, & rosemary and allow the flavors to infuse on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.  IMG_0623
  4. Arrange the sliced eggplant on one baking sheet and the sliced tomatoes on the other.  Season both the eggplant and the tomato with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set the baking sheet with the tomatoes aside.
  5. Using a pastry brush or a spoon, lightly coat the eggplant slices with the infused olive oil on both sides.
  6. Place the eggplant in the oven and allow to roast for 10-15 min minutes, until lightly brown and just beginning to shrivel.  About half way into the cooking time, add the baking sheet with the sliced tomatoes.  [Note: when I originally made this, I added the eggplant and the tomatoes at the same time and the tomatoes were overcooked, so I highly recommend separating them and baking them half way in]

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7.  While the vegetables roast, slice up the fresh mozzarella and cut the bread (if in loaf form).  At this point feel free to toast the bread by sticking it in the hot oven or in a toaster, if this is your preference.  We did not do this for the focaccia bread and wish we had.

8.Spread bread with a nice helping of prepared pesto.  Remove vegetables from the oven, layer on the bread, top with fresh mozzarella slices, and enjoy!

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This recipe was very tasty!  Overall, I don’t think focaccia bread was the best choice- I think crusty rolls would have been more appropriate.  Not to throw anyone under the bus here, but the focaccia bread was my boyfriend’s idea ;)

The original recipe involves making a pistachio pesto with arugula, and topping the sammy with more arugala.  For times sake, we did not do this, but I do feel it could add a very interesting bite.

Also, I highly recommend more than just one layer of eggplant on the sandwich to make it more substantial.  Feel free to add more roasted veggies, as desired.  I think zucchini or roasted red peppers could add an interesting touch.

I am so proud of myself that for almost 2 months now I have been following meatless monday.  It’s such a fun twist on meals that I feel good about.

What are your favorite types of meals for Meatless Monday?

Cornbread Panzanella Salad w/ Blackened Shrimp

Tonight for dinner I accomplished many things: 1) I tried a new restaurant 2) ordered something unique 3) ordered something healthy 4) ordered something delicious.  These 4 simple goals are not easy to come by, believe me!  This cornbread panzanella salad with shrimp from The Floridian in St. Augustine served all my purposes and left me one happy camper.

For those of you not familiar with Florida geography, St. Augustine is about 4.5 hours north of where I live.  I am here [by myself] for one night to attend a Board of Pharmacy conference tomorrow morning.  What is a girl to do who is alone in a new city with only a few hours to spare?  Three things come to my mind: eat delicious local food, explore, and shop.  Shopping was out of the question because besides the fact that I am broke, I have no interest in buying “colonial” hats, I <3 St. Augustine t-shirts, or magnets with a lighthouse on them.  I explored as much of the historic town as I could, but I arrived at 4:30 and was limited to the few sites still open.  By 7 pm, I was left with one option and one option only: EAT!

After performing a very thorough search of St. Augustine restaurants and eateries, and consulting Yelp, Urbanspoon, and the like, I decided to try this restaurant called The Floridian.  This place was totally my kind of spot: cozy, homey, outdoor seating available, and decorated with local beachy trinkets in the cute, not tacky way.

This place is known for lots of gluten free and vegetarian options, as well as their seafood, but they have plenty of things for everyone on the menu.  Everything here is made with locally grown/raised/made  produce/meats/cheeses, which I find so wonderful.  I had a hard time deciding what to get, but I was in the mood for something on the lighter side, so I opted for the Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

If you are not familiar with a panzanella salad, it is typically made with croutons (preferably home-made), tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and mozzarella cheese with a vinaigrette type dressing.  The main caveat  being that there is no lettuce or leafy vegetable included.  The panzanella salad I got tonight had many twists to it.  They used cornbread to make the croutons, there was fresh arugula included, I opted to add blackened shrimp, and they served it with a homemade basil-buttermilk dressing.  Additionally, the salad included heirloom tomatoes, strips of red bell pepper, and freshly made tomme cheese.

The salad was really great.  Everything, from the produce to the cheese to the bread, tasted so fresh!   The cornbread added such a sweet taste and comforting aspect to the meal.  The only downside to using cornbread is that it naturally does not get as crispy as other bread types.  Not to say that it was soggy, but it was definitely softer than expected.  The shrimp was a bit on the salty side in my opinion, but still tasty.  Lastly, I prefer the traditional vinegerette to the buttermilk dressing they used (and I forgot to ask for it on the side), but that is just my personal preference.

Because this was a “me” night (did I mention the glass of wine I enjoyed?), dessert was a requirement.  I knew from the moment I walked in and spotted the homemade pecan caramel bars that I would be ordering one, and that is exactly what I did.

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

My foodie experience at the Floridian in St. Augustine was wonderful.  It made this undesirable, lonely trip way better.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area, as well as the specific dishes I ordered.

Now, it’s off to bed for an early conference in the morning.  If only the complimentary breakfast were half as exciting as my dinner tonight.  A girl can dream!

XO

The Reset Button: Best Blackened Salmon

Don’t you wish there was just a magic button that you could press that would wipe away all of your excess indulgences from the week (Fresh Market chocolate chunk cookies, I’m talking to you)…

Well, there is no such button but I have found a meal that is so incredibly healthy and delicious that it comes pretty close.  A few bites of this dish and you honestly feel less guilty about those extra few (five) cookies.

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I present blackened salmon with roasted veggies.  For the blackening seasoning on the salmon, I use a mix of brown sugar and blackening seasoning.  Honestly, the first time we made this dish, Ryan was in charge of experimenting with the ratios of brown sugar to blackening seasoning, and he got it SPOT ON.  So, I had to consult him on the “recipe” for this rub.

Blackened Salmon Rub

  • 2 parts Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 parts Blackened Seasoning
  • 1 part Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowel and dust liberally on salmon (skinless side only) before grilling.

This rub is SO flavorful it erases any and all fishy taste and you just get a pop of sweet and spicy.  This salmon dish replaced our Asian glazed salmon as Ryan’s new favorite, a task that has been impossible ever since I convinced him to eat salmon two years ago.  That is how you know its a winner.

To accompany the salmon I had some left over roasted veggies from last night, which were just as great the next day.

This dinner was healthy, tasty, and fresh- what more could you ask for?

Besides a chocolate chunk cookie, which I did in fact have :)

What is your favorite way to prepare salmon?

Veggies Saved The Dinner

So last night I finally made a recipe I have had my eyes on for a while- a lightened up creamy cajun shrimp pasta from the ELR blog.

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Even though it is “lightened up”, it is still relatively heavy since it uses cream and regular pasta.  I prefer to save heavy comforting meals for Sunday because I just feel that Sunday nights are about relaxing and savoring the last bits of the weekend.  So, I figured last night was the perfect time to try what I imagined to be a luscious, decadent, flavorful pasta dish.

Boy was I wrong.  This dish was a huge disappointment.  The sauce was extremely thin and the recipe lacked flavor.  I couldn’t even taste the cream in the dish, and if I am adding almost 50% saturated fat to a meal, it better provide flavor!  I almost never cook with cream so I was looking forward to an indulgence with this meal.  The only thing I kept thinking about was all of the other, better meals I could be eating.  I kept imagining a big plate of fettuccini alfredo, penne alla vodka, or my chicken in a pastry (recipe to come).  Isn’t that the worst?  When you are just so excited for a meal you have been wanting to try and it is a total dud!?

Now, here’s the kicker.  What actually saved this meal were the roasted veggies I made.  Although these are some pretty tasty veggies, what does it say when the side dish (vegetables none the less) is the star of the show?  My point exactly.  Either way, I made roasted potatoes, carrots, and brussel sprouts coated lightly in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sprinkled with some fresh rosemary.  They turned out fantastic- flavorful, tender, and slightly crisp on the outside.  The only mild disappointment here was that the fresh rosemary added slightly less flavor than I thought it would.  Perhaps I will add more next time around.

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And so is another day in the kitchen.  Even though the cajun pasta was a disappointment, I am still glad that I tried it.  Not every dish can be a winner, and now there is more room in my recipe binder for other things.  On to the next!

Im curious, since this was my first time roasting vegetables, what is your favorite combination/method of roasting veggies?