Tag Archives: chili

Recipe review: White Bean Chicken Chili

white-bean-chicken-chili
I saw a yummy-looking recipe for White Bean Chicken Chili pinned on Pinterest the other day and thought it sounded like great food for a snow day. But when I looked up the recipe, it didn’t sound so great. The recipe was scaled to feed a crowd, and used very little actual chicken.
I still loved the idea, though, so I hit AllRecipes and found this one there.
White Bean Chicken Chili
Photo from AllRecipes.

I made a couple minor tweaks: I only used one can of beans, and skipped the cayenne. I also used already-roasted chicken breasts from Dillon’s deli to cut down on some time and effort. (The secret to getting juicy roasted chicken at the grocery store? Pick it up at 3:30 or 4 pm. By 5 or later, they’ve been sitting under heat lamps too long and have become nasty-dry.)

This was a hit with my husband — and that’s sayin’ something, because he is an avowed soup-hater! And he even commented on how good the chicken was. He’s not really a huge fan of chicken, either.

I liked it because it was fairly simple to throw together. And yes, yummy! (A tiny bit too spicy for me, but then, I’m a spice wimp.)

If you’ve already made traditional chili in the last week but you’re not out of snow days yet, this is great cold-weather food! White Bean Chicken Chili, via AllRecipes. Husband and wife approved.

Herb-crusted salmon

herb-crusted-salmon-cookbook
Herb-crusted salmon - the original recipe

This recipe evolved from a similar dish in one of my favorite cookbooks, Weber’s Art of the Grill. (Which is now out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.) You can grill it if you like, or broil it in the oven. The herbs get nice and crispy as they cook, and marry together in a wonderful, savory complement to the flavor of the salmon. Over the years, I’ve come to just throw it together by memory, and I tend to put in quite a bit more herbs than the original called for. (The recipe that follows is my version.)

It involves a little bit of herb chopping, but if you want, you can let your food processor do that. Then, it’s just stir, spread, and broil or grill. So easy!

Recipe: Herb-crusted salmon

Serves 2.

1 lb. salmon fillet
1 handful of fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley, ditto
1 handful of fresh basil, ditto (or about a tablespoon of dried)
2 T. olive oil
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. chili powder (or ancho chili powder)
1/4 t. kosher salt
pepper to taste

Preheat your grill or broiler (whichever you’re using). If using the oven, place the top rack about 6″ from the heat.

If using a broiler, coat a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray, a generous brushing of canola oil, or line the bottom with foil.

Chop all of the herbs coarsely and put them in a small bowl. They don’t need to be finely minced, because they will shrink some and get crispy as they cook. Here’s the cilantro, before and after.

chopped cilantro

Add in the 2 T. olive oil, the soy sauce, and chili powder, and stir till everything is well combined.

Lay your salmon skin side down in the baking pan (or on whatever surface you’ll use to transfer it to the grill). Scoop the herb mixture on top of the salmon, and spread it around into a thick, fairly consistent layer. There will be bits of salmon showing through here and there; that’s okay.

Herb-crusted salmon, in the making

Once the herb mixture is on, sprinkle it lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to your liking. You don’t need much salt, because the chunks are big and will be the first thing to hit your tongue. (I highly recommend kosher salt, but if you’re using regular salt, use half as much.)

Herb-crusted salmon close-up

For the grill: Place the fish herb side down on the grate. I know, it seems wrong! You think all the herbs will fall off, but trust me. A few may fall off, but most of them don’t! Our propane grill instructions say to turn the three burners to medium/off/medium. Do what works best on your particular grill. Close grill and cook that side for half the total cooking time. When it’s half through, flip it herb side up, and cook until it’s done.

For the broiler: Place the baking pan — with the fish herb side up — in the oven. Bake it there for five minutes, then move the rack down one row to complete cooking.

Herb-crusted salmon

Your total cooking time should be 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part.

When is it done? I’ll repeat an earlier posting… “A minute or two before the recommended time, check your fish. Just poke a fork gently into the side at a thick place, and pull it up a bit to see if it flakes easily. You can also pull up just enough to see the interior of the fish, and see if it’s done to your liking. Some people like their salmon a bit rare, so that it’s orangey-er on the inside. Not me: I like it just done all the way through, but just so — not overdone and dry.”

Then remove from the heat, slide a spatula between the skin and the fish, and slip it onto your serving plate, herb side up.

Once you’ve tried this, feel free to experiment with your choice of herbs and spices. Let me know how it comes out!

You might also like:
Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema
Slightly spicy slaw
Green beans and pine nuts

Lower carb chili

lower carb chili; Paleo notes, too.
 On a cold, grey winter day in Kansas, sitting down to a bowl of chili for dinner just feels right. But now that we’re trying to lower our carb intake, I needed to rework our favorite chili recipe.

My approach to low carb would more accurately be called “balanced carb.” I try (try!) to make sure every meal and every snack has a balance between carbs and proteins. (Did you know that going super-low carb or no carb for too long can mess up your serotonin? Not a good thing, if you have issues with insomnia, depression, etc.)

Most chili recipes have more carbs than protein: some by a small margin, some by a lot. The most popular chili recipe on AllRecipes has almost twice as much carbs as protein — 55g and 31g, respectively. So I set out to see where I could cut out carbs and maybe even sneak in some more protein.

First of all, the beans. Beans are carbs, but most experts consider them healthy carbs. So I kept them in, but cut them back to half a can. A little label-reading taught me that the kind of beans I use can help, too. Look at these labels for red kidney beans — the traditional chili bean — and black beans; check out the ingredient list…

Yep, that’s right: the red beans contain sugar and dextrose (a sneaky way for the manufacturer to avoid listing sugar higher in the list of ingredients), the black beans don’t. Plus, the black beans have about 50% more iron than the red ones. So there’s an easy switch.

Here’s another one: instead of just using tomato sauce and/or diced tomatoes for the liquid, I used a small can of tomato paste (checking to make sure there’s no sugar hiding in there), and used beef stock for the rest of the liquid. The stock brings a bit of protein to the party, plus I like the flavor it adds.

Other healthy-choice change-ups: I added a bit of red bell pepper to bring some fiber and vitamin C, and used turkey sausage instead of hamburger. Mostly for the flavor. And I actually prefer turkey sausage to pork. I just like the leaner flavor. If you don’t, feel free to sub your favorite pork sausage.

I added up all the carbs and protein in my revised dish, using the label info and this handy resource, and guess what! This chili actually has more protein than carbs. 22g of carbs, 25.5 g of protein.

Paleo notes:

You can just leave out the beans to make this Paleo. Diced avocado, added just before serving, makes a nice substitute for beans, texture-wise, and adds some healthy fat. If you love cornbread with your chili like I do, here’s a recipe for gluten-free flourless cornbread and here’s one for Paleo cornbread – with no corn!

Lower Carb Chili (Paleo possible)

3-4 servings (can easily be doubled)

spices:
1 t. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano
3/4 t. ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 t. salt  or 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage
1.5 c. beef stock
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste, no sugar added
1/2  can beans, no sugar added: kidney, black, pinto, or a mix; rinsed and drained
optional: sour cream, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, green onion for garnish

Mix the spices together and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in 4-quart pot. (Larger, if you’re doubling the recipe.) Chop the onion into about 1/2″ pieces and add it to the pot. Chop the bell pepper into about 1/4″ pieces; I cut it into long pieces one way then turn the cutting board 90 degrees and chop them the other way. Add the peppers to the pot, then mince garlic and add it.

Once the onions are translucent and the peppers are fairly tender, push them aside and put the sausage in the center.

I like to let the first side sit there till it’s nicely browned, then turn the whole thing over. Then as the second side cooks, stir and chop it to break it up. Cook, stirring occasionally, till no more pink shows. Once the sausage is browned, drain most of the fat from the pan.

Return the pan to the heat and add all of the spices. Stir until sausage is well coated with spices; simmer one minute more. Add in the broth and tomato paste and stir till well combined. Turn heat to med-high. Once it comes to a boil, add the beans and turn it down to a simmer.

Cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes to 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add broth. Just before serving, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with sour cream (or Greek yogurt), shredded cheese, and green onions, if desired.

DIY taco seasoning (sugar-free, gluten-free)

taco-mix-montage

Did you know that the packaged taco seasoning you buy may contain milk solids, sugar, maltodextrin, corn starch or potato starch? The labels pictured here are from a name-brand seasoning mix and the store brand of a major grocery chain. The latter has more salt in it than it does chili powder!


Whether you’re trying to avoid salt, sugar, or allergens, the great thing about making your own seasoning mixes is that you can control exactly what goes in it.

Here’s a taco seasoning mix I make and keep on hand. It works great in ground beef tacos and shredded chicken tacos. I also use it mixed in with the sour cream layer in my seven layer dip.

It does contain salt, but if that’s an issue in your house, you can leave it out or sub a lower-sodium alternative.

I’ve included two versions: The first will generously season 1 lb. of hamburger; the second gives you plenty to keep on hand.

Taco seasoning mix, single use

1 T. chili powder
1-1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. kosher salt    (if using table salt, use half this amount)
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
1/4 t. dried oregano

Taco seasoning mix, big batch

1/4 c. chili powder
2 Tb. ground cumin
4 t.  black pepper
2 t.  kosher salt    (if using table salt, use half this amount)
2 t.  paprika
1 t.  garlic powder
1 t.  onion powder
1 t.  crushed red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
1 t.  dried oregano