Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Chicken Chili

I can not believe I haven’t already posted this recipe! This is one that I make several times a year. Maybe that’s why I didn’t post it, I just took it for granted that I’d put it up lol.

This recipe comes from my bestie Susan B. who lives in Kansas. She got it from HER friend, also named Susan. Then she and I put our heads together and tweaked it a bit. We both agree that OUR version is the best. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do!

Recipe

4 cups onion, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup garlic, minced
2 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ long pieces
18 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (Penzeys Chili 9000, see note below)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cans plum tomato, whole (28 oz cans)
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
4 chicken breasts, cooked (or a small rotisserie chicken, deboned)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over medium heat until translucent and tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute, just long enough to release the aroma. Add the mushrooms and cook just long enough to start to release the liquid. Add the asparagus, bell peppers and spices. Cook for one minute. (This is one of my favorite parts.) Smoosh each plum tomato in your hand as you add it to the pot. You want some bigger pieces and some smaller pieces. Add all the liquid. Stir in the chicken and basil, let simmer for 30 minutes until veggies are just tender. I like mine still with a bit of crunch but this part is personal preference. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and chips, as desired.

For those of you who don’t like asparagus and/or mushrooms, leave them out. The original recipe didn’t call for them at all. We just added them because they’re favorites 😀 Tonight’s batch didn’t have the asparagus because I didn’t buy any lol.

Note: The name of Penzeys chili seasoning, Chili 9000, might scare some of you. The number has NOTHING to do with the heat level. It is more in reference to the number of ingredients (there are over 20) and it is very mild. I love this chili blend. It’s got a really nice depth of flavor and is perfect with the sweetness of the veggies and blandness of the chicken.

 

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Sauteed Mixed Greens with Lemon-Parmesan Cream Sauce (and some bacon)

Every week Jene and I get a box of organic produce from Full Circle. They’re a company that delivers locally sourced, in season produce each week. You can go on their website and pick from a selection of things you want in your box each week and shop for extras as well. The best part is that it’s delivered to your front door early in the morning and you wake up to a box full of yummyness. I say “produce” but they also offer dairy products and meats. The offerings vary based on the season and what’s available. I love it and highly recommend trying it if it’s available in your location.

So.. anyway… Last week I got a couple of nice bunches of rainbow chard. I decided I’d just saute them with some bacon and onions, then toss in some heavy cream and parmesan cheese to finish it off. It came out quite good. This week I took the recipe a bit farther.

Recipe

1/2 lb bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 bunches of chard

1 bunch of kale

1 small bag of baby spinach

2 lemons, juiced

1/3 cup heavy cream

3/4-1 cup grated parmesan (if you’re using pre-grated you will want to use a bit less because fresh grated is fluffy)

1 TB dried dill

1/2 tsp white pepper (you can use black)

salt to taste

In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the bacon until crispy-ish. Add the onions and continue to cook until translucent.

Meanwhile, rinse the greens thoroughly but don’t dry them completely. The water will help cook them. Roughly chop the card and kale, removing the tough center stem from the kale.

When the onions are tender, add the kale to the pot first, then the chard. Add the lemon juice, pepper and dill. Don’t add the spinach yet. Let the greens cook, stirring them frequently until they appear to be softening. NOW you can add the spinach. Cook just long enough to wilt the spinach a bit.

Pour the cream into the post and stir well. Finally stir in the parmesan a bit at a time. If you add it all at once it can make a big clump that is slow to melt. Taste and season with salt if desired. The bacon and parmesan make it fairly salty on its own.

There you have it… the fancy version. If you want it even simpler, use bacon, onion, any of the three types of greens, salt and pepper and cream with parmesan. The steps are the same, just fewer ingredients. 🙂

 

 

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Pickled Eggs

Up until a few months ago, I thought pickled eggs where probably something the devil invented. I’d only seen them in big jars at room temperature at bars. The liquid was cloudy and the whole idea of a room temp egg just plain frightened me. I was SO not going there.

However, my NRA Instructor Counselor, Dave Matthews, made a batch of pickled eggs. Since I knew the province of them, I decided I probably wouldn’t die. Not only didn’t I die, but they were completely awesome! So I’ve been meaning to make a batch of my own for the last few weeks. I finally go around to it tonight.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a website that lists six different recipes for pickled eggs. I picked the Dilled Eggs recipe to try. And of course made a few changes lol.

Recipe

12 eggs, hard boiled and peeled.

1 1/2 cups of white vinegar

1 cup of water (from other projects, I advise not using tap water)

3/4 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1/4  teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon onion juice or minced onion

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or 1 peeled garlic clove

 

Bring all the ingredients except the eggs to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pack no more than one dozen peeled, hard-cooked eggs loosely into a warm, pre-sterilized quart jar. There needs to be plenty of pickling solution,  enough to completely cover the eggs. Pour the hot pickling solution over the eggs in the jar, cover, and refrigerate immediately.

After making the eggs, the eggs require some time to season (i.e., pick up the flavors from the pickling brine). Keep them refrigerated at all times. If small eggs are used, 1 to 2 weeks are usually allowed for seasoning to occur.  Medium or large eggs may require 2 to 4 weeks to become well seasoned.  Use the eggs within 3 to 4 months for best quality.

My changes… instead of using onion juice or minced onion, I used very thinly sliced shallot, about 1 small shallot. Then I added three shishito peppers that I had cleaned. They’re a VERY milk pepper so you could use a spicier pepper if you wanted some heat. I also doubled the amount of garlic.
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Here’s what they look like in the jar. My apologies for the blurriness but my hands have been really shaky lately. At some point I suppose I should invest in a standard camera and tripod lol.

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Sauerkraut Take 2 – Update and a recipe, sort of

I’ve had a couple of friends on Facebook ask me what recipe I used to make my second batch of kraut. I figured I’d better share it here too so I don’t forget what I did in the future.

I basically read several recipes online and combined them. The current batch is 9 lbs of thinly sliced cabbage, 5 oz of kosher salt (DO NOT USE TABLE SALT. The iodine and anti clumping agents can kill the ferment), 2 red onions, 1 lb of grated carrots and a big bunch of fresh dill.

I have a 5 gallon ceramic pickling crock that I got from my mom. I had a piece of food grade plastic custom cut to fit inside so that I could use that to press down on the kraut rather than a plate which didn’t fit quite right. You can buy crocks online or find them at hardware stores with the canning supplies. According to what I’ve read online you can also use a plastic container or a mason jar.

This is the primary website I used. http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sauerkraut-2/

So I sliced up the cabbage and put it in a large bowl and then tossed it with the salt. I also sliced up the onions and grated the carrots but kept them separate from the cabbage. I sprinkled some salt on the onions and carrots too.

Then I started layering it all into the crock. I put some sprigs of dill in the bottom, then a third of the cabbage. I tamped it down firmly using a potato masher. Then I put in half the onion, half the carrot and more dill. Cabbage, onion, carrot, dill, cabbage, dill. I tamped down each layer firmly. The reason for this is to help break down the cell walls to release the juice faster.

After I had everything in the crock I let it sit for 24 hours to let it release the juices. Then I put the piece of plastic in the crock and a heavy weight on top. In my case, I’m using a half gallon mason jar full of honey lol. You want the juice/brine to cover the plate/plastic disc by at least 1 inch. If not, you can dissolved 1.5 TB of salt in water and add that brine to the crock. DO NOT USE TAP WATER!! It has chlorine that can kill the fermentation process.

Cover it and let it sit at room temperature. After a few days you will start to see a white scum form on top of the brine. THIS IS OKAY! You just skim it off. A yeasty smell is OKAY. That just means it’s fermenting. In fact, right now, my kraut smells like the onion/dill bread I like to make lol.

This is a quote from the webpage I linked above talking about the scum that forms…

“Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes.”

Some of the reading I’ve done says that Kraut should ferment for 6-8 weeks because that’s how long it takes to form the really good probiotics. I stopped my first batch at 3 weeks because that’s when I thought it tasted good. I might let this second batch go longer.

Once you decide it’s gone long enough, you can scoop it into clean quart mason jars and put it in the fridge. It will last many months in the fridge and will also keep fermenting at a slow pace.

So that’s what I’ve done. I used a bit more salt than the recipe at wildfermentation suggests but that’s because it’s summer and it needs extra salinity to protect against bad molds.

 

 

 

This picture shows the bloom on top of the brine.                                                          This picture shows it after I’ve skimmed the bloom.
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Sauerkraut – Take 2

Well, after roughly three weeks of fermenting, I pulled the sauerkraut out of the crock. I got about 3 quarts out of the two heads of cabbage I used. Tane stopped by last night and I asked her if she wanted some. I had her taste it first to make sure it was ok. After sealing the jar back up to send home with her, I turned my back and when I looked at her again she was eating another big bit of it. I took this to mean that it was good lol.

So I had acquired another three heads of cabbage and decided to make another batch last night. I also decided to jazz it up a bit. The cabbage is layered with red onion, carrots and dill. I put a layer of dill on the bottom, cabbage, onion, carrot, dill, cabbage, onion, carrot, dill and a last layer of cabbage. Slightly less than 24 hours later it already smells good.

Now, I have an OLD fermenting crock. Unlike some of the newer crocks, it doesn’t have a lid or weights. The last batch, I used a plate with a half gallon jar of honey on top for the weight. The problem was that the plate wasn’t quite big enough. Fortunately, we have a business called TAP plastics nearby. I had Jene get me a 9″ diameter circle of food grade plastic cut. It fits in the crock perfectly and then I can use my jar of honey for the weight. Now I just get to wait for 2-3 weeks before it’s done.

My next project will most likely be fermented pickles. I’m excited to be trying all this new stuff with fermentation. 🙂

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Sauerkraut – Take 1

Last year, my mom gave me a beautiful fermentation crock that she used when I was growing up. Since then I’ve been meaning to use it for all sorts of things. I’ve actually managed to use it once to make some short fermentation pickles. BUT! I started a bunch of sauerkraut a couple of weeks. I tasted it last night and it’s coming along beautifully.

The recipe for sauerkraut is pretty easy. Shred the cabbage, toss it with roughly 3TB of salt per 5lbs of cabbage. Then tap it down into the crock. You want to tamp it pretty hard so that it releases more moisture. Cover the crock with a towel and let it sit for a day. Then check it to see how much liquid has been released by the cabbage. Place a weighted ceramic plate on top to press the cabbage down. If the liquid covers the plate by at least an inch, cover the crock with a towel and set it aside. If the water doesn’t cover the plate, add a brine made of 1 tsp salt to 1 cup of water until it covers the plate by one inch.

After you have the cabbage in the brine, you get to be patient and wait. Check it every couple of days and skim off any scum that forms on the top. I’ve done that a couple of times now. Then last night I tasted it. It’s very mellow at this point. According to the reading I’ve been doing, the flavor gets sharper as it continues to ferment. So we’ll let it sit for another couple of weeks.

I have to say… I was actually really nervous about tasting the sauerkraut last night. I’ve never been 100% comfortable with lacto-fermentation. However, I’ve also resolved that I’m not going to NOT do something just because there’s a bit of an ick factor. So far, I’m quite pleased 🙂

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Clam Chowder with Cabbage & Dill

I’ve been wanting some clam chowder for awhile. The weather was finally cool enough the last few days to make it nice to have soup. This started with the idea of a low-carb chowder. Instead of using potatoes, you use cauliflower and a stick blender to make it thick and smooth. Well, it didn’t quite work that way but I liked what I wound up with even better.

The genesis of the recipe goes something like this… Hmm, I’m out of bacon but I have pre-cooked bacon in the fridge. I’ll sautee my onions in butter and bacon fat and then add the pre-cooked bacon with the celery. Add some chicken stock, whoops, that’s a bit much. Realize I didn’t have enough cauliflower but toss it in anyway. After smoothing it out with the stick blender, add the clams and cream, realize that there’s a LOT of broth and a buncha clams. Think about what else would go well in it… Realize that you have a fresh head of organic cabbage in the fridge and think it’s perfect. Throw in a whole bunch of fresh dill to finish it off.

So, that’s how I would up with this recipe. – Makes 6-7 quarts

2 TB butter

2 TB bacon fat and 1/2 cup pre-cooked bacon pieces (or chop up about six slices of bacon)

1 large onion finely chopped

6 ribs celery chopped

4 quarts of chicken stock

20 oz frozen cauliflower

2 cans minced clams

2 cans chopped clams

2 cans whole clams

1 jar clam juice

1 cup heavy cream (you can use less stock and more cream if you want)

1 head green cabbage

5-6 TB chopped, fresh dill

1/2 – 1 tsp white pepper

Garlic seasoning to taste (I use Vik’s Garlic Fix from the Spice & Tea Exchange)

Destructions… I mean instructions:

If you have fresh bacon, toss in into your pot and let the fat render out and the bacon gets crispy-ish. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the celery, chicken stock, cauliflower and garlic seasoning. Bring to a boil and cook until the cauliflower is very soft. Run the stick blender in the pot until the cauliflower is mostly smooth with a few chunks remaining. It will smooth out the bacon and celery too but the flavor is there. Add the clams, cream, cabbage and dill. Return to a boil and cook 5-10 minutes or just until the cabbage is tender. Add the white pepper and taste for seasoning.

I have to say, this was so good that Jene and I both had seconds. The combination of the different size clam pieces really made for a nice texture. Normally, I would have used a lot more cream to make a chowder but I got carried away with the stock. It was in the fridge and very thickly gelled so it kind of glopped into the pot lol. Since it was only an 8 qt stockpot I had to cut back on the cream. If you make this you’re welcome to change the ratio of stock to cream. The cabbage was an especially nice addition. It added a clean flavor without being heavy.

I’ll be really interested to hear what you think. 🙂

 

 

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No-Bake Nibbles

As most of you are aware, I cook when I’m bored. Which for some odd reason usually happens at bedtime. *shrug* Anyway, tonight I wanted something sweet but I’m trying REALLY hard to go back to eating low card. I also didn’t want to spend very much time on it. A couple of weeks ago I ran across a recipe for protein bars that used almond butter. It sounded really good so I picked up some almond butter at Whole Foods. Unfortunately I didn’t remember any of the other ingredients lol. As I was sitting here in bed inspiration hit and I came up with a use for that almond butter. And speaking of inspiration, I’m obviously lacking in that department for the recipe name. Please post suggestions on what you think these should be called!!

Recipe (as always, I forgot to do much measuring so these are approximations)

1 cup nut butter (I used almond butter but peanut, macadamia, sunflower or hazelnut would all work)

2 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for rolling the nibbles in (you can use sweetened coconut but they won’t be low carb and they’ll be much sweeter)

1/2 cup raisins

2-3 TB honey

1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)

 

Put the nut butter in a medium bowl. (You can also use a mixer which is what I’ll do next time.) Add the honey, cinnamon, and coconut. Mix well. At this point the “dough” should have a very thick, almost bread dough like, consistency. I recommend doing this by hand just like adding raisins to bread dough. You can use the mixer but the raisins are likely to get somewhat smooshed. Next form the dough into small balls, about 1/4 ounce each. This is a nice small size that is easy to pop into your mouth. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and place on a plate or baking pan. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen. It depends on how many you eat as you go 😉

NobakeNibbles

 

And that’s it. These are low carb, a little bit sweet, and have a rich combination of flavors to tingle the taste buds. I imagine they’ll make a great breakfast treat too. Lots of protein to keep your body fueled.

The next batch I make I’m going to add more cinnamon. I think I was on the lower end and by the time I had enough raisins in the dough, they overwhelmed the cinnamon. Like a total noob, I didn’t taste again before shaping them.

Another reason I love this recipe is the flexibility. You can use any kind of nut butter, you can add extra spices. I’m going to add some ground cloves to the next batch. I might even try adding some cocoa powder.

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Kris’s Chicken Cacciatore

This is a recipe I made up completely on my own last night. I had a whole buncha boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a hankering for something tomatoey. So here’s what I did. There aren’t any pictures because I was too busy cooking to take them. This also makes a HUGE amount so feel free to scale it down.

12 LARGE boneless skinless chicken thighs

3 TB olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

8-10 marinated sweet cherry peppers, seeded and chopped

1 cup diced celery

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 28 oz canned diced tomatoes

12 smoked green olives

2 TB capers

1 cup red wine

fresh thyme, basil and oregano (dried is fine if you don’t have fresh)

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot. I used my 7 1/4 qt Le Crueset pot. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and brown on each side in the oil. Remove from pot and set aside on a plate. Once the chicken pieces are all browned, pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot. Then add the onions, peppers, celery and garlic. Cook until the onions start to become translucent. Meanwhile, run the olives and capers through a mini food processor for a coarse chop. Or if you want, you can toss them in whole, I just prefer the smaller pieces. Stir in the olives, capers, canned tomatoes and the herbs. I don’t have measurements on the herbs because I just added them until it tasted right. Once you have all the ingredients stirred together, put the chicken thighs back into the pot. Carefully stir them down into the sauce. Cover and simmer over medium-low for 45-60 minutes. When it’s done the chicken meat should shred fairly easily. Serve it over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta. It came out excellent and I served it over the garlic mashed potatoes I posted about. If you skip the taters/rice/pasta this is also an excellent low carb dish. If you want a bit of extra flavor, grate some parmesan cheese on top.

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Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder with Tomato sauce

Welcome to 2014! Now that it’s the start of a new year, it’s time to get back on the “eating less crap” bandwagon again. Jene and I have both been very guilty of eating a lot of junk food and sweets since Thanksgiving. Carbs carbs and more carbs! With this in mind I decided I’d better get back to cooking.

I had a rather large piece of pork shoulder in the freezer that I pulled out to thaw. It was too big to fit all of it into the slow cooker so I cut it in half and made soup with one half and put the other half in the slow cooker.

I did my usual seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Then as I was laying in bed with Mew on my stomach, I got the idea to make up some sauce and put it in with the pork. Apparently Mew’s purring was very inspirational, the dirty look I got when I moved her was less so 😉

Tomato Sauce (rough measurements)

2 14.5 ounce cans of tomato sauce

1/3 cup honey and/or molasses

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup worchestershire sauce

1 TB dried ground mustard

1 TB mixture of cumin and coriander (2 parts coriander to 1 part cumin. this is something I had on hand that I had ground myself. if using preground spices, use 2 teaspoons instead)

salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a pot and stir over medium low heat for a few minutes to let the honey and/or molasses melt and everything is well blended. Pour over the pork in the slow cooker.

Cook on low heat 6-8 hours or until the pork falls apart.

After removing the pork, pour the sauce into a sauce pan and simmer over low heat to reduce and thicken up.

Really easy and really tasty. 😀

 

 

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