White Bean Chicken Chili

I’m a little disappointed that it was cool enough to consider chili a viable option this week. But it is what it is. Chili is such a great one-pot meal. So many ways to change it up, both through the recipe itself and in how you serve it. This version is a perfect example–make it spicier or milder, go all low and slow or work the shortcuts for a busy night. Any way you cut it, you’re going to end up with a potently flavor-rich bowl of hearty, heathy, belly-warming goodness. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 small sweet onions, diced
* 3T olive oil
* 1 4-5oz can mild diced green chilis
* 4t minced garlic
* 32oz low-sodium chicken broth
* meat from 1 storebought roasted rotisserie chicken, sheedded (or if you have enough time, roast your own chicken)
* 2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* juice of 1 large lime
* 1T cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (or more if you want a bit more of a kick)
* 1/3C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

WHAT TO DO
Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat to warm.

Add the onion and diced green chilis. Cook for about 5-7?minutes, or until the onions turn soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and stir to combine. Then sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place 1 cup of the beans into a blender with about 1/2 a cup of water and blend into a paste-like consistency. 

Add that paste, plus the broth, shredded chicken, the rest of the beans, the lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced so that the chili is as thick as you like it. If it gets too thick, add a little more broth or water to thin it out.

Add the cilantro, stir to combine, and cook another 2 minutes. Then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Serve topped with any of your choice of chili garnishes. Some of our favorites: homemade tortilla strips, diced avocado, diced tomato, freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream or Greek yogurt… and so on! Enjoy!

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5 Ingredients: Shortcut Veggie and Chicken Sausage Stir Fry

You do not need to create an original recipe from scratch to make a fresh meal on a busy night. I think it might look like I do that, but I really don’t. Some nights we’re lucky if I can warm up a hot dog, and “cereal for dinner” happens at least once or twice a month. But there are so many ways to prepare a warm, fresh meal without an hour of prep or even a planned and shopped-ahead-of-time ingredient list!

This was one of those nights. My meal plan game was pitiful this weekend, so I’m winging it all week. We had back-to-school/Open House at our kiddo’s new school this afternoon and I knew we’d get home a little later. So it had to be easy and straightforward. Stir fry is a perfect solution. And this shortcut/semi-homemade version makes an already super simple dish even easier. Most grocery stores have pre-packaged chopped stir fry veggies mixed and ready to go, either in the fresh produce aisle or in the freezer. Customize with any additional fresh veggies you love (or your kid will eat) and add a protein of your preference (or don’t). Done. A little oil or soy sauce or squeeze of lime and 15 minutes is all you need. Here’s my version. Note: I received no compensation by any brands or companies. Opinions and mentions are purely my own. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* Fresh, pre-chopped Asian veggie stir fry mix (I used Trader Joe’s)
* 1lb fresh Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered
* 1lb package precooked chicken sausage, sliced
* olive oil
* Soy-Vey teriyaki marinade (original)

WHAT TO DO

Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large wok or high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and brown.

Add the other veggies and chicken sausage and stir to combine. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the teriyaki marinade and mix through. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally (and inhaling frequently!), until the crunchy veggies soften and the sausage slices brown.

Serve over brown rice (I added a tablespoon of coconut oil to mine!) and enjoy, especially because you pulled off a hot fresh meal on a busy weeknight. Whoop!!

Meatless Monday: Individual Zucchini Parmesan

I actually planned to make a Zucchini lasagna for dinner tonight, but only realized when I got home that I’d neglected to pick up ricotta. So I whipped out my best culinary Tim Gunn and I made it work. I looked around and in a moment of clarity decided to make a zucchini parm (of sorts). It came out better than expected. I think I’ll be making it a lot. It’s a bunch of steps, so it’s not the most weeknight friendly meal ever, but it’s worth it! Please let me know if you give it a try! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED 
* 2 large zucchinis, cut lengthwise into about 4, 1/4-1/2-inch strips
* 1/4C flour
* 1 large egg
* 1/2C Panko breadcrumbs
* 1T dried parsley
* 1/4C grated Parmesan cheese
* olive oil
* shredded cheese (mozzarella or a blend)
* marinara sauce
* crushed red pepper flakes for topping (optional)
* additional Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

WHAT TO DO
Slice the zucchini and set aside. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Place the flour in one shallow dish, beat the egg in a second, and mix together the Panko, parsley, and Parmesan in a third.

Heat oil in a large pan (enough to cover the bottom of the pan completely) over medium-low heat.

Working in batches, coat each slice of zucchini first in the flour, then the egg, then the Panko mixture, and then place into the oil and fry 3-4 minutes per side, until just crispy-golden. Remove from the pan and place on the prepared baking sheet.

When you’ve initially fried all of your zucchini, turn off the stovetop and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle each piece of zucchini with a think layer of shredded cheese and then place under the broiler for no more than 30 seconds to let the cheese melt.

Remove the pan from the oven. Spread a layer of sauce over each piece of zucchini, and then another layer of cheese, and place back under the broiler for another 30 seconds, letting the cheese bubble and brown.

Serve with pasta or rice, topped with some fresh Parmesan and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Arugula Pesto

Several months ago we were visiting good friends and had what turned out to be a revelatory conversation with a vegetarian friend who had never considered making pesto out of anything besides the traditional basil. It’s true! Any green (or pink, even!) can be made into a Pesto following essentially the same basic formula, give or take. 

I had A LOT of arugula left over this week and knew I had to use it or waste it (which I refuse to do!), so pesto was a perfect solution. Super easy, and a light, peppery flavor with a lemony undertone sets this variation apart. And you can whip together a batch in no more than 5 minutes.

For the record, I was so smitten with/distracted by the taste outcome that I neglected to take real and pretty pictures. Don’t hate until you make and try this–you’ll understand! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2C (packed) arugula
* 2-3 cloves garlic
* 1/2C almonds (I used sliced, but any would woek, as would other nuts)
* zest of one lemon
* juice of 1/2 a lemon
* 1/4t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/2C olive oil
* 1/3C grated Parmesan cheese
* 1-2t honey

WHAT TO DO
Add all but the olive oil, Parmesan, and honey to a food processor.

Turn food processor on, and while running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Turn off the food processor and add in the Parmesan. Pulse to combine. Turn it off again and add the honey (trust me!). Turn it on again for just a few seconds to really blend everything together.

Taste and add salt or pepper or honey as needed to taste and enjoy on pasta or in a sand which or over grilled veggies or meats or shrimp (or anything!).

Pesto also freezes well, so if you’be got some arugula you need to use, whip up a batch even if you don’t need it now–you’ll be glad you did, I promise!