Saturday, March 26, 2016

White Bean Chicken Chili

It's the time of year in DC where you're never sure about the weather. One week it will be 70 degrees and sunny, the next it's back down to 40 with threats of snow during the night. Today is a beautiful 60 degrees and sunny. It was the perfect day to go for a walk along the trail near my house and take in the cherry blossoms there (no need to battle the tourists at the Tidal Basin).

Last week, with the cold weather, I ended up making chili (most likely my last chili until winter rolls back around). This was the Serious Eats recipe for their best white bean chicken chili that used all fresh ingredients, no canned condensed chicken soup or canned Ortega chilies like most of us might be used to seeing. This was a wonderful recipe that was hearty and full of flavor. It's not that much extra work and it creates something that is so much better than it might be if you did it the short way. It's probably too late to make this this year, but keep it in your arsenal for the future. I'm sure it won't disappoint when the first feelings of fall come back.

  • 1lb dry navy beans
  • 3 whole poblano chilis
  • 3 whole Anaheim chilis
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 onion
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 pickled jalapeno plus 2 Tbsp pickling liquid  (or some homemade pickled peppers)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro stems
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup or so greek yogurt
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, pepperjack cheese, limes etc for garnish
  1. Cover beans with 1 gallon of water and 1/4 cup of salt and let soak overnight.
  2. Roast chilis over fire until blackened on all sides. Place in a bag to steam off the skins. Cut onion in half and roast over fire (or under broiler) with garlic until charred and fragrant, but not burned.
  3. Place onion, pickled pepper, cilantro stems and garlic in a blender. Peel peppers in chicken stock, leaving the skins and seeds in the bowl to soak for 10 minutes. Place pepper flesh in the blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Heat a little oil in a dutch oven and add cumin, stirring until fragrant. Add pepper mixture and cook until incorporated. Strain chicken stock into pot, pressing out the seeds and skins.
  5. Drain beans and add to the pot with chicken breasts. Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and continue simmering beans 1 1/2 hours until cooked and tender.
  6. Remove 2 cups of beans and liquid to a blender and blend until smooth. Stir back into the pot and add shredded chicken breasts, picking liquid, lime juice and yogurt. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with appropriate garnishes.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Hot Ham and Cheese Rollups

It's Secret Recipe Club time again. I haven't been updating nearly as much as I've wanted to lately because life has just been out of control. We went on vacation and we've spent the last few weeks just trying to get life back in order. Life is just going to get even crazier over the next few months with moving and grad school starting for my husband, but it's going to be a wonderful new adventure for the both of us.

This month, I had the blog Troyers Loving Life by Kirsten, a wife and mother living in Washington State. Kirsten has a great collection of recipes but also a few wonderful posts on inspiration and living life with intention. This has been a challenging week in my life with family, friends, money, etc. I know it's all in my head mostly (my husband says I worry too much) but I truly needed to read her post about living with intention in 2016 and doing things to take care of myself. The one that struck me the most was:   "Do more things that I love, even if I have to do them alone" I've never been good at doing things alone. My family always told me that going to the movies or going to meals alone was just something you didn't do, so I've never done that. I'm self sufficient, but I've depended on others for so much of my happiness, that I know it's time to start taking care of myself first. I'm normally very good at that, but this week has been more challenging than most.

I opted to make Kirsten's recipe for Hot Ham a Cheese Roll-ups, an easy ham and cheese bread that sweet and savory for either breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. These were very tasty and super easy to make. Her recipe just called for a bread dough that she had leftover after having too much for cinnamon rolls. I wanted something a little more savory, so I used a wheat version of my Garlic Knots, but I suppose you could use any bread you want. I also purchased too little ham and cheese at the store, so I've included the ratios I would use next time.

Thanks for the wonderful recipe Kirsten!

  • 400 grams bread flour
  • 80 grams whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp active yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1/2 lb honey or black forest ham
  • 1/3 lb Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp deli mustard
  • mayonaise
  1. Mix together yeast sugar and 1/4 cup water and let proof for 10 minutes
  2. Combine flours, olive oil, milk, remaining water and salt in a bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir until it comes together. Knead until smooth soft dough forms
  3. Let dough rise about an hour until doubled in size, then roll into a large rectangle.
  4. Spread a little mayonnaise and dijon mustard in a thin layer on the rectangle and layer ham and cheese over the top. Roll up like a cinnamon roll and slice into 12 pieces
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together honey and deli mustard, adding more of either to taste.Brush on the top of the rolls and let rise another 45 minutes
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Salmon Onigiri

Onigiri are one of the things I always loved growing up. My grandmother would make them for my school lunches (I didn't like them as much then because the kids would make fun of me) but it was a great afternoon snack or great to pack for picnics with the family. Now, I'm sure they would be a very popular school lunch item, but they weren't at the time. She usually made them plain or with umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) but I opted to showcase one using teriyaki salmon, which I figured more people would enjoy (and which makes a great main course).

Make this as a great summertime snack if you want something a little different for your next picnic. It also pairs really well with Sunomono, a japanese quick pickle.

Ingredients for Teriyaki Salmon Onigiri
  • 1 part minin
  • 1 part raw sugar
  • 2 parts soy sauce
  • Fresh ginger, grated (at least 1 inch or to taste)
  • 1 salmon filet
  • Cooked sushi rice, unseasoned
  • kosher salt and rice vinegar
  1. Make teriyaki sauce by mixing mirin, sugar, soy and ginger together in a saucepan. Heat until simmering and simmer on low for 5 minutes (less depending on the amount of sauce you are making). Remove from heat
  2. Brush salmon with sauce and cook under the broiler (or on the grill) until done.
  3. Flake salmon apart and stir in a little extra sauce if needed and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Rub your hands with rice vinegar and kosher salt. This will help season the rice and also help it not stick to your hands. Place a large ball of rice in your hand and place salmon in the middle, sealing the rice around it. Form the rice into an onigiri shape (I really can't how you do that, but there are youtube videos to show you).
  5. Let the onigiri rest for an hour or so to develop a slight crust. You can grill them if you want, or eat them as is, but pack them up and enjoy them later.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Spanakopita is one of my husband's favorite foods (and for good reason!) Who doesn't like spinach and cheese in buttery crisp pastry? It is always a favorite for him at weddings. We're the horrible people to stake out the servers with the good trays as they leave the kitchen (though I don't understand why he goes after those as opposed to stuffed mushrooms or crab cakes).

This is a super simple, super delicious recipe that freezes perfectly. I usually make about a dozen and a half at a time and freeze them. That way, he can take one entree sized piece out of the freezer and make them for a quick afternoon snack. Give this recipe a try the next time you need to make some great freezer food.

  • 1 lb filo dough
  • 2-2/12 lbs frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 leek
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2-1lb feta cheese (to your desired taste)
  • unsalted butter
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add minced leek. Cook until soft. Add drained spinach, parsley and dill and cook for a couple minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and all egg and crumbled feta cheese.
  3. Lay out 1 sheet of filo dough. Brush with melted butter and repeat 3 more times (4 sheets total). Cut in half lengthwise and place a large spoonful of spinach mixture in the corner. Fold each piece up into a triangle.
  4. Place triangles parchment of a silpat and freeze. Transfer to a bag or container and freeze until ready to use.
  5. When ready to eat, brush spanakopita with a little melted butter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes until well browned.
Note: if making appetizer sizes, layer only 2 sheets of dough and cut into thirds.

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