Crockpot Southwestern Chicken Chili

I made the yummiest crockpot dinner.  A chicken chili that is perfect for fall.  It is my favorite crockpot recipe to-date.  It is also the best chili I’ve made.

The chili has southwestern flavors, shredded chicken, and some added protein by way of quinoa.  No shame in saying I (and my husband) went back for seconds (edit: thirds for husband).  We are looking forward to the leftovers already.

Also, there is no prep work (unless you count draining liquid).  So obviously, it is crazy easy.

Crockpot Southwestern Chicken Chili – from Queen Bee Coupons

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 16 oz cans of black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 15 oz can of corn, drained
  • 3 cups chicken stock (I used broth, which worked fine)
  • 2 large chicken breasts, frozen or thawed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder

Put all ingredients into slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 4-7 hours on high.  For frozen chicken, it will be on the higher end of time.  Shred the chicken with two forks (if it does shred easily, you will know it is done).

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Serve your chili  with your fave toppings – cheese, sour cream, etc…

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Enjoy!

Spicy Orange Pork Stir Fry

When I’m looking to cook something healthy with what I have on hand, I almost invariably cook Chinese food.  I have found the yummiest light Chinese recipes on Cooking Light’s website.  My favorite is the orange shrimp stir fry.  Well, I didn’t have shrimp or green onion for it, so I subbed it with pork and chopped onion, and it was still delicious.  I do think I prefer the shrimp, though.

Everyone is crazy about Sriracha now, but I love chile paste with garlic, which is like a concentrated version of Sriracha with red pepper flakes in it.  If you keep that, honey, ginger (which can be frozen), garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil on hand, you will always have the makings for a delish stir fry.

Spicy Orange Pork Stir Fry

  • 1 1/2 pounds of pork tenderloin or deboned pork chop, sliced into strips
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh juice from orange
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Sprinkle pork with cornstarch and toss well to coat. Set aside.

Combine juice, zest, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and chile paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.  Add your pork, ginger, and minced garlic and saute around 6 minutes or until your pork is cooked through.  Add your juice mixture and cook around 2 minutes until the sauce thickens up.

Serve over rice or noodles!

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Lightened Chicken Nuggets and Roasted Butternut Squash Fries

So Geoffrey and I are attempting to eat healthier (some of the time).  We have both gotten carried away eating whatever we want here. Hey, I dieted for a wedding – I deserved the break.  Anyway, despite my attempt to eat healthier, I kept thinking of yummy fried food.  So I went in search of a healthy alternative.  For dinner, we had nuggets and fries, healthified!  Sometimes, you just wanna eat like a kid.  It was delicious and easy, and it felt like we splurged.  This is a super kid-friendly meal.

The squash fries really blew us away.  I’ve tried baking different kinds of fries before – regular potato, sweet potato, etc…  These butternut squash ones were my favorite at-home fries yet!!  Your kids will NOT miss the more starchy alternative and or the fried-ness.

We served both with low-sugar ketchup spiked with Tabasco.

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Lightened Chicken Nuggets – from skinny taste (if you want to eat healthy food, but not gross diet food, check out her website! It’s one of my go-to sites.)

Serves 2-3. Ingredients:

  • 16 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even, bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.  Put the breadcrumbs, panko and parmesan cheese in a bowl and stir to combine.

Season your chicken with salt and pepper as desired and add your olive oil to chicken – mix thoroughly.

Add your oiled and seasoned chicken, a few chunks at a time, into your breadcrumb mixture.  Toss to coat.  Then put your chicken on your sprayed baking sheet.  Lightly spray the top of your chicken with olive oil spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Then, flip your chicken and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes – or until cooked through.

Roasted Butternut Squash Fries – found on Pinterest at this site

Serves 2-3.  Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 pounds fresh whole butternut squash (approximately 2 small whole squash)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (we substituted with cayenne pepper for some spice)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan or two with parchment paper.

With a potato peeler, carefully peel the entire whole butternut squash of its skin.  Cut the top and bottom off of the squash, and then cut in half length wise.  Scoop out any and all seeds from inside and discard.

Cut squash into 1/3″ thick french fry pieces and add to a bowl.  The secret is to make them uniform so they cook evenly!! I cut them thin to cut down on cooking time.  Add your oil, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder and mix to combine.

Spread fries on your sheet pans in one layer and bake 50-55 minutes, flipping the fries over half way through cooking to evenly brown. Check every 15-20 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning.  But to crisp these up, they should be neeeear burnt, so they aren’t soft.  The fries are done with they have crisped up and browned along the sides.  Serve immediately!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I used to make this recipe a good bit some years back, and I forgot about it for awhile.  My husband’s favorite foods are wings and pizza, so making this for him should have been a no-brainer.  But you have to hold out some of your tricks til later, amIright?  When I got some pizza dough at the farmer’s market, I knew immediately what I would make.  And it was deeelicious.  Perfect Friday night dinner date with a movie.   My husband turned to me and said, “I have the best wife EVER.”  Is there a better compliment than that?

Buffalo Chicken Pizza – found on Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound chicken breast cutlets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 teaspoons grill seasoning, (recommended: McCormick Montreal Seasoning) eyeball it
  • 1 pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria.  If you want to make your own dough, here is a very easy recipe. http://gottalittlespacetofill.blogspot.com/2009/09/roasted-garlic-pizza.html
  • Cornmeal or flour, to handle dough
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, medium to spicy heat
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup favorite shredded cheese, a few generous handfuls – I used a mix from Trader Joe’s of mozz, monterey jack, and cheddar
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (if you aren’t a fan – gasp – feta goes very well in this recipe, too)
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 stalks of celery

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Preheat grill pan to high.  Place chicken on a plate and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the chicken then season with grill seasoning.  When grill is hot, add chicken and cook about 3 minutes on each side.

Stretch dough to form pizza using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it.  Set pizza on pizza pan or baking sheet.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter and stir in Worcestershire (optional), hot sauce, and tomato sauce.  Taste and add more hot sauce if you want it spicier.

Remove the chicken from grill and thinly slice it.  Also, slice up your green onion and celery, keeping them separate.

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Cover the pizza dough with the sauce, then the sliced chicken, then the cheeses, and, finally, the green onions.

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Bake 18 minutes or until crisp.

After removing the pizza from the oven, top with the sliced celery!!  Enjoy!

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Balsamic and Honey Glazed Pork Chops

So I wanted to make something for dinner that was healthy but not a “low-fat recipe.”  Specifically, my body needed a break from all the starchy food I’d been eating.  Piggly Wiggly had a sale on pork chops, sooo I went from there.  As an aside, this was my first time at a Piggly Wiggly, and it was quite frightening.  Someone (presumably on drugs) kept yelling at us over the loudspeaker – not a pre-recording list of sales and whatnot, just random phrases, only some of which were actually related to  items in the store.  And I mean yelllling.  I was so nervous trying to get out of there, I felt like I was on supermarket sweeps!  I sure hope this was unique to this particular store.

Anyway, back to porkchops.  I found this recipe originally on saveur.com, entitled Sweet and Sour Glazed Pork Chops.  This recipe, so delicious and so very simple, had a misleading name – I think of “sweet and sour” as Chinese food.  The sweet aspect is the honey and the “sour” part is the balsamic.  It also has a little fresh rosemary, which brings a great flavor to the dish.  Whatever you wanna call it, it is a great healthy weekday meal.  I served mine with parmesan peas.  The husband said to “remember this recipe.”

Balsamic and Honey Glazed Pork Chops

  • 4 pork chops (bone-in would be best, as it stays more moist, but I just got the boneless kind since it was on sale)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (the original recipe called for 4 tbsp. butter, but I found that a bit excessive – if you are really skinny, go for 4 tbsp, and I hate you)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, torn into 1″ pieces

Drizzle the pork chops with oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Let pork sit for 30 minutes.  

Meanwhile, combine balsamic vinegar and honey in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to ¼ cup.  This took me about 10 minutes.  You’ll see that the sauce thickens a little when it’s ready.  Stir in butter and rosemary and set sauce aside.

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Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat.  (The original recipe wants you to grill this outside.  I would totally do this if I had a grill and wasn’t so lazy).  Add the pork chops and sear each side quickly to get that nice fake-grilledness.  Then, lower the heat to medium and baste your chops with your yummy sauce until the pork is cooked through.  The amount of time will obviously depend on the thickness of your chops and whether the chops are bone-in or not.  Mine, the cheapo kind, took only a few minutes to cook through.  A google search showed me that pork should have at least an internal temp of around 145 to 160 degrees, if you want to go that route to be sure.

The pork is now done! Make sure you’ve basted all the sauce onto your chops, and remove from heat.  Garnish with rosemary, if desired.

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Chicken and Andouille Rice

I made a yummy Cajun dish last night.  Much to my delight, the local Publix grocery had legit andouille sausage!  Andouille is a spicy pork sausage and really makes this dish.  I wasn’t sure what to call this recipe.  It is not a jambalaya because it is not made in the traditional cast iron pot, which I unfortunately do not have.  But it tastes very similar to a jambalaya.  John Folse calls this recipe “Undefeated Red Beans, Rice and Sausage Casserole.”  That mouthful (PUNNY!) just does not sound very appealing.  Also, I don’t want to jinx the “undefeated” reference as both my teams, LSU and Saints, are currently undefeated!  Yes, I believe in jinxing, much to my husband’s annoyance.  I’m often fussing him over things he says with the reprimand, “You just JINXED us!”

Ok. Here is the recipe originally from, and adapted slightly from http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/vegetables/entree13.htm

Chicken and Andouille Rice

  • 2 pounds cubed chicken meat
  • 1 pound sliced smoked sausage or andouille
  • 1 12-ounce can cooked red kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups rice, raw
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper and cajun seasoning and hot sauce, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add smoked sausage until browned.  Add cubed chicken and saute until the fat has been rendered. Don’t dry it out – it will cook more after this stage.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted.

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Add chicken stock and tomato sauce. Bring mixture to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer, and cook 10 to 15 minutes for seasonings to develop.  Add cooked red beans, green onions, parsley and rice. (Mine did not include the parsley because my darling hubby bought cilantro, thinking it was parsley. Too cute)

Stir well to blend thoroughly. Season stock to taste using salt, pepper, cajun seasoning (I used a little Tony Chachere’s) and Louisiana hot sauce (I used Tabasco).

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Bring mixture to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook approximately 45 minutes stirring only once after 30 minutes of cooking time.  Keep the lid on during this time.  Make sure to check after 30 minutes! Mine was done at this point.  45 minutes would have overcooked my rice.  I also am attempting to adjust to my new gas stove, so I may have had the heat too high.  When I took off the lid at 30 mins, I saw this lovely sight:

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This was really good and feeds a crowd.  The original recipe said this makes 8 servings, but it’s a lot more than that, I think.  After feeding four people, I have a gallon zip lock bag filled to the brim with leftovers.  I really hope Geoff was honest in saying how much he liked this because he will be eating it every day for lunch until it’s gone.

It was really nice to make something that tasted like home.  Cajun food is just so comforting, like a big hug.