First of all…the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to post TWO DAYS IN A ROW…is madness. Complete and utter MADNESS!!I love my baby girl, but boooooooooydo I love nap time. Muhuhahahaha.
Not only am I sharing another NEW recipe today, but this is another super simple crock pot recipe! Just in time for fall, amiright? I have never loved my crock pot as much as I do now that I am a mom. The faster I can get something done, the more likely I am to eat it without having a baby on my boob! Though, I can’t lie, I’ve gotten pretty great at doing things with one hand because I have a baby in the other…or balancing her perfectly on the Boppy while I eat OVER her. I prefer to avoid that if I can, though, heh.
I posted a photo of the finished product on Instagram last night and had a few requests for the recipe. So here it is, my friends.
Words cannot describe how easy this chili is to make. You literally just stir everything together in the crock pot, add the chicken breasts, pop on the lid and BAM. You are a mere 5 hours from delicious!
Chipotle Chicken Chili
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can white beans
1 can pinto beans
2 red bell peppers
1 chipotle in adobo, minced (add more or less … depending on your spice tolerance. 1 gives it a nice kick, but you won’t be sweating)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons oregano
salt to taste
In the base of your crock pot, add the can of tomatoes. Fill the empty can halfway with water and add it to the crock pot. Add the beans, peppers, onions, and spices. Stir well to combine. Nestle the chicken breasts into the tomato mixture. Cover and cook on high 4-6 hours or until the chicken shreds easily with two forks. Shred up the chicken and serve your chili with cheese, avocado, and whatever else you fancy…just make sure you have plenty of tortilla chips for scooping!
Also, because I can’t keep this cuteness all to myself…check out my little happy bear!! EEEEEEEEEEEE. I just can’t.
Ello’ loves!! (Yup, when I typed that I said it out loud with a British accent. Don’t judge me.)
I ‘ope you’re all splendid t’day! (Still British. Only more like Hagrid this time.)
I’m just chugging along this week looking forward to the weekend!! Sometimes, I can’t decided whether it’s good to always look forward to the weekend … or if it’s bad to not try and enjoy the present moment. I do what I can to enjoy the 40 hours a week I spend at work…but ya know…I’d rather be doing yoga… or eating. 😀
Oh well! At least we all always have What I Ate Wednesday to get us over the hump, right?! RIGHT!! [Shout out to Miss Jen at Peas and Crayons! Word up, chikadeee!]
I thought about doing what I ate Sunday this week…and I even started taking pictures of all my food. Theeeeeen I forgot. Oopsies!! So, instead, today you shall be observing my Monday. More specifically, my MEATLESS Monday. I love that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I go days without eating meat and I don’t even notice it until I gather all of the photographic evidence together. Heh. It’s certainly not a bad habbit, amiright?!
Mmkkay enough jibber jabber. On to the food!!
Breakfast: Behold my latest breakfast obsession!! It’s glorious, I tell you. I take two Wegmans brand organic blueberry waffles and toast em up. I smear a tablespoon of peanut butter onto waffle number one right out of the toaster so that it gets all melty when you spread it. Then, I smother it all with a cup of frozen berries that I microwave for 45 seconds to warm through and turn into a delicious berry sauce. I top it with waffle number two and devour. It’s perfect. I love everything about it. Except for when I finish it…because all I want to do is keep eating it!!
Snack: 1 oz of 2% pepperjack with 6 triscuits. It’s my go to morning snack lately.
Lunch: A huuuge delicious salad of spinach, cherry tomatoes, carrots, red onion, yellow bell pepper, avocado, and two sliced hard boiled eggs. I drizzled it with some balsamic vinegar and just a tiny bit of evoo. This is probably one of the simplest salads I make and every time I do I’m just like “BEST SALAD EVER WHY DON’T I MAKE THIS MORE.” Then I forget about it. Not this time, Jen. At least I hope!
Beverage: Johnny and I snagged some beverages on our lunch break on Monday. Sometimes we’ll just eat at our desks so we can get out of the office for an hour or so. I had one of the most bizarre hot chocolates of my life. I ordered a nonfat hot chocolate and the woman making it was like “would you like to try it with our sugar free syrup” and I was all “Yes, please.” Then I got it, and sipped it, and well…have you ever had like…a chocolate flavored hard candy? Where you’re like…this tastes kind of like chocolate…but it doesn’t really feel like I’m eating chocolate. Anyone? Bueller? Yeah – well that’s kind of what this tasted like. Definitely not something I would get again. But I enjoyed it while I had it. At least the foam on top was perrrfect!!
Snack: Gosh I’m dying for warm weather so I can eat cold snacks all the time!! I’m loving that it’s warm out now, but dreading that there is supposed to be snow again tonight. Come on, man! Sigh. Over the weekend, Johnny and I were discussing my recovery from baby this summer and I’ve officially decided that I’m really not worried about it. I always have a much easier time eating clean in the summer when I can grill everything and live off of fresh fruits and veggies and other delicious healthy things meant to be consumed cold! Liiiike icy cold greek yogurt mixed with a touch of peanut butter and honey to dip fresh, crisp apples in! (This apple – not the best. C’est la vie.)
Dinner: Melinda and I had a dinner date on Monday! We caught up on all of her weddding planning and all of my baby planning at Neato Burrito. It’s a Central PA Burrito place with a few locations. Personally – I like it waaaaaaaaaaay more than Chipotle. The hubby does not. Thus why I get it with Melinda. There loads of options for just about anyone. Melinda pretty much got a bowl of nachos with a little chicken and lots of veggies on top. I went with a burrito, which is rare for me, but I was in the mood for the wrap and not so much the rice. I had a jalapeno cheese wrap with their amazinggggg vegan Troegs three bean chili, just the tinnnnnniest bit of brown rice (just so it didn’t get too soggy from the chili), a wee bit of cheese, cilantro pesto, smoked chipotle salsa, lettuce, tomato, onion, and guacamole. Oh yeah, and I had them throw in a handful of crushed tortilla chips!! That’s kind of their thing. And it’s brilliant. Man. Everything about this burrito was perfect. I pretty much housed the whole thing, minus the last little bit of tortilla at the bottom that gets all folded up and actually contains no filling at all. (The worst part of burritos!!)
Well, I certainly loved my veggies on Monday! I’ve actually been loving them all week, like a boss. Salads for lunch. Stir fry for dinner. Tonight I’m making some chipotle chicken sausage wraps with my southwest slaw salad.
Have you been loving your veggies this month?!
What’s your latest breakfast obsession??
Do you ever have meatless days without even realizing it??
Like I could eat soup every day and be totally happy with my life.
Although there are many soups I am quite fond of, for as long as I can remember, Matzo Ball Soup has always been one of my most favorites!. If you’re not familiar with Matzo Ball Soup, it’s essentially like a delicious chicken noodle soup, minus the noodles, plus matzo balls. Matzo, if you’re not familiar with it (which ,if you’re a child of the Rugrats generation, I find hard to believe – but ya never know) is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the week of Passover among other holidays, like Hanukkah!
Now, I don’t talk much about religion or faith – particularly on my blog. It’s just one of those things, ya know? But, in sum, although some of my family is Jewish and actively practices the religion, I wasn’t raised to follow any particular religion. I was just raised with faith. We celebrated Christmas… and sometimes I lit a menorah. I participated in a few Passover Sedars in my time, I learned to write my name in Hebrew, and I know what L’shanah tovah means.
My husband is Catholic, our wedding was Catholic, our children will be Catholic, and I’m confident when I say that there will come a day where I will be Catholic. Regardless of my choice of religion, I’m proud of my Jewish heritage. (Some people have a hard time separating those two and understand the difference. That’s pretty much why I don’t talk about it.) Ultimately, though, the extent of my Judaism is my constant use of Oy Vey in everyday conversation, letting my friends know if they’ve got a schmutz on their face, and my ability to make a perfect pot of Matzoh Ball Soup.
Every good Jewish girl (or lover of Matzo Ball Soup) knows the key…is schmaltz. Schmaltz is chicken fat. Yuppers! Chicken fat. You cannot make a perfect pot of Matzo Ball Soup in a day. You make the stock ahead of time, chill it, and remove the fat from the top of the chilled stock. That fat is what makes Matzo Ball perfection. Here is my recipe for Matzo Ball Soup.
Matzo Ball Soup
For The Stock
1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs, giblets removed
4 cups of low sodium chicken broth (I always use part chicken broth and part water when I make my stock for soups. I think it gives it a much richer quality. If you’re ambitious and confident in your stock making abilities, you can use all water)
4 cups of water
2 yellow onions, quartered
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 carrots, quartered
4 stalks of celery, quartered
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
A big handful of fresh parsely
2 tablespoons of salt, or to taste
10-12 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Put everything in a large stock pot and bring it up to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer gently for about an hour and a half to two hours – until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork.
CAREFULLY remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a large cutting board (or something like it) to cool. Once cool, remove and discard the skin. Shred the meat with two forks and place in a container.
Strain the stock into a separate large stock pot. Let your stock cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator to chill completely overnight. TIP: To cool your stock as quickly as possible to avoid the risk of any food born illnesses, one of my favorite tricks is to take an empty 2 liter bottle and fill it 3/4 with water and freeze it. Use the frozen bottle to stir the stock to cool it faster from the inside, out!
For the Soup
4 cups of chicken stock
1 yellow onion, diced
5 carrots, sliced into coins
5 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded
Add all of the ingredients except the chicken to a large stock pot. Bring the heat up to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the chicken during the last ten minutes of cook time to heat through.
For The Matzo Balls
1 box Manischewitz® Reduced Sodium Matzo Ball mix (both packets) (yes, I use mix and not just Matzo Meal – it’s pretty much the same the mix just already has salt and baking soda added it it)
4 tablespoons schmaltz (skimmed from the top of the chilled stock. it’s solid when chilled, so heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to liquify)
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon of onion, grated fine on a microplane
Whisk the eggs, schmaltz, parsley, and onion together until combined. Add both packets of matzo ball mix and mix until just combined. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 minutes, but up to an hour is kosher (heh…get it…nevermind).
To cook the matzoh balls, bring a pot a chicken stock up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slight simmer.
Moisten your hands with a bit of cold water (I like to keep a little bowl of it handy to keep the matzo mixture from sticking to me) and gently form the matzo balls in your hand. They are deceiving and get much bigger once they start to soak up all of the liquid they are cooked in, so only make them about the size of a golf ball.
As you complete them, gently place the formed matzo balls into the simmering stock. Once all of the matzo balls are added cover the pot and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
To serve, ladle the soup into soup bowl and top with matzo balls. I like to start with 3. Sprinkle with a little fresh parsley.
Saturday is the best day of the week if you ask me! I know that during Football season many folks may disagree… buuuut I don’t care… because I love Saturday!! You can use it to do whatever you want. You can sleep as long (or as little) as you like. You can stay up however late you want (ya know…eleven…if you’re me) You can use the whole day to do whatever you please knowing that if you don’t get everything done you want to, there’s always Sunday!
Take today for example. Today was a particularly wonderful Saturday (and it’s not over yet!) After an evening of snuggling with the hubs and watching some season four of Archer I woke up fabulously rested right at 8:00am. I peeped out the window and I saw that it snowed last night. It was just a tiny dusting, but it was perfectly untouched and still flurrying a bit when I looked outside and it was a beautiful morning. I made myself one of my favorite weekend breakfasts – a big bowl of banana oats with peanut butter and chocolate chips! While my oats cooked away on the stove top I woke up the hubs with a cup of coffee and made him his weekend scrambled eggs and toast. We enjoyed breakfast together before heading out to conquer the day! What is your favorite weekend breakfast?
We hit the gym at 10:30 and I enjoyed the launch of the newest BodyFlow class. We haven’t been members at this new gym for very long, but the I’m really loving this class! The two BodyFlow instructors are both fabulous!! I let them know I was pregnant and I just love that they both remembered and happily present me with the few modifications I need during class. (Mostly the stuff where you’re flat on your belly. I pretty much officially cannot do any of those poses any more. If I lift my arms and legs I feel like a weeble wobble!)
Johnny and I just ran a bunch of errands after the gym. We grabbed some lunch at Chipotle (RANDOM ASIDE: I really enjoy the food at Chipotle, and I love that’s it convenient and fairly healthy as well, but I really hate how it’s almost never hot!! Today I got a brown rice bowl with black beans, pinto beans, grilled veggies, and corn salsa and it was hardly warm at all! Does anyone else have this problem?), I finallllllllllly changed my name over on our bank account (1 year and 4 months after we got married), Johnny got a haircut and a new pair of glasses, we snagged a few things at Target (Like Divergent!! For only $8.00! I finished reading Orange is the New Black and decided it was about time I hopped onto the next big book train) and scoped out some baby gear before we start our registry, I bought some Turbie Twists at Bed Beth and Beyond because I love them and haven’t had them in forever, and finally we came home. (P.S. If you actually read all of that…HIGH FIVE! You rock!! I hadn’t intended for this to be such a marathon post. I hope the prospect of bacon kept you chugging along!) Time for dinner!!!
Now I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always been pretty iffy about Spaghetti Carbonara. Not iffy in the way most people are. I’ve never doubted that it would be delicious. Bacon, eggs, pasta, cheese. What is there NOT to like about it, right?? It’s not the technique that’s kept me away, though I know it’s intimidating to some. I love a good kitchen challenge.
Restaurants are what make this dish iffy for me. I can honestly say that I have never ordered it off of a restaurant menu and I probably never will. So often it’s described as spaghetti in a “Parmesan cream sauce” with bacon or pancetta and either peas or tomatoes or…well…you get the idea.
Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder? Parmesan cream sauce…isn’t that Alfredo sauce?? You are not serving me Spaghetti Carbonara. You are serving me Spaghetti Alfredo with bacon. If you like Alfredo sauce then, by all means, dig in and enjoy. Me? I’ll pass thank you. I decided it was time to make myself a delicious plate of Spaghetti Carbonara. One that I can trust and one that I can devour!
My version of Spaghetti Carbonara…is it “traditional” Spaghetti Carbonara.
Purists believe that true, authentic Spaghetti Carbonara is just spaghetti with guanciale, eggs, and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.
Most folks aren’t able to get their hands on cured pork jowls. Bacon – that’s realistic. Pancetta is delicious and perfectly acceptable, too. Authentic Carbonara wouldn’t have any veggies in it (mine does) because it was a peasant dish and they used what little they had to prepare it. I had bell peppers and spinach and I deem it necessary to never not have veggies with my dinner.
So no, this is NOT authentic Spaghetti Carbonara. But it’s certainly closer to traditional than any Carbonara with cream sauce you’ll ever come across!! And it’s effing delicious. So please, enjoy. 😀
Sorta Spaghetti Carbonara
1/2 box spaghetti
4 strips of bacon, diced
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more to taste
1/2 of a small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Black pepper to taste
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions until just shy of al dente. (While the pasta is cooking, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve it for later.)
Meanwhile, cook the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan and allow it to drain on some paper towels.
Remove all but about 1/2 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onions, garlic, and red bell pepper and let saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and the spinach to the pan and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, adding some reserved pasta water if it seems dry, and remove the pan from the heat. (This is the most important part!! This is the difference between creamy delicious spaghetti and scrambled eggs!!)
In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and black pepper until very well combined. Add the egg mixture to the pan, tossing the pasta together constantlywith a pair of tongs, until a sauce begins to form, adding more pasta water as necessary if it seems too thick.
Add the reserved bacon to the pan. Serve immediately topped with more Parmesan cheese and black pepper if you so desire…which you should… because they’re delicious.
I had a fabulous Pre-Christmas weekend with my family (I’ll recap it after today’s recipes!!) But good heavens, I can’t wait to get home tomorrow, hunker down with some Wonton Soup and Sesame Chicken from our favorite Chinese take-out place, snuggle up on the couch, and watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town!! We will also be exchanging gifts with my husband’s family – which they do on Christmas Eve. I will also shamelessly prepare a big pan of break-and-bake chocolate chip cookies to enjoy. This is the way I’ve spent every Christmas Even for quite some time now and it’s traditions like these that I love and I think make the holidays so special?? What do you and your family do on Christmas Eve? What is your FAVORITE holiday tradition?
Now last week I promised I would share a recipe with you that, I’m telling you, is the epitome of ridiculous, cheesy, perfection. To cut through the richness of this AMAZING mac & cheese, I served it with a light kale and pomegranate salad. This salad is pretty fabulous, too, I can’t lie to you. It’d be great as a meal all on it’s on with a nice piece of bread to go with it. It’d also be great with a little crumbled feta or goat cheese in the mix. However, I didn’t think 6 cheeses were necessary on the evening I prepared this! I will share that recipe below, too!!
5 Cheese Pancetta Mac & Cheese
2 lbs cavatappi pasta, or pasta of your choice
1 lb white cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
8 oz parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
8 oz diced pancetta
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups fat free milk
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat in a large pot or sauce pan. Add the pancetta and onion and saute until the pancetta is crisp and the onions begin to soften and caramelize, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter and flour and stir well to combine. Let the flour mixture cook for about 3 minutes, until the flour begins to brown. Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of milk and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the cream cheese cubes and continue to whisk until the cream cheese melts into the mixture.
Combine the remaining cheeses in a large bowl, and reserve 1/2 cup for topping.
Add the remaining cheeses to the cream cheese mixture and whisk very well until all of the cheese is melted. This sauce will be on the thicker side. Keep whisking. Add the black pepper and nutmeg. Whisk a bit more.
Drain the pasta just shy of al dente and add it directly to the cheese sauce. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer it to a large baking dish sprayed with a little nonstick spray. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and place in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and brown.
Let sit for about 5 minutes before digging in!!
Kale and Pomegranate Salad
For the Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated or minced fine
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar or a container with a tight fitting lid. Make sure the lid is secure and shake, shake, shake until everything is combined! Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
For the Salad
2 cups kale leaves, cleaned and chopped into bite sized pieces
3/4 cup pomegranate arils
1 large pear, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine all of the ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss well to combine and add as much dressing as you like! This salad is safe to make an hour or two ahead of time, as kale is sturdy enough to hold up to the dressing!!
If you make either of these recipes, please let me know how the come out for you!!!
Now onto my weekend recap!!! We spent Friday night in NYC with Bill and Susan and had a fabulous Italian Dinner at Daniela on 8th Avenue. The muscles were amazing and I ate my fill of them and sopped up the ridiculous creamy tomato broth with the hot, fresh bread they provided. Susan and I went splitsies on Penne al la Vodka, which was perfect – and a linguine dish in a garlic white wine sauce with calamari, muscles, and clams. You couldn’t pick a favorite!!
Of course we stopped by the tree in Rockefeller Center!! The weather was a bit warmer than we anticipated, so there was no snow on the ground. It was lovely to walk around and not freeze, though!!
Here is my obligatory photo with the hubs by the tree!! It’s so pretty. I love it so much.
Saturday, we met up with some of my extended family for dinner at the Palisades Mall and had a fabulous time!! Here are some photos of the action!
A wonderful time was had by all!!! We exchanges cookies and wine (among other gifts) and enjoyed our holiday time together!!
Sunday morning Susan and I met up with our great friend Desirae for breakfast at my most favorite diner. I finally met Desirae’s boyfriend and we discussed our little buns in the oven! I’m afraid I have no photos of that to share, but it’s all good.
Johnny and I ended our weekend meeting up with Melinda and Kyle and our friend Sue, her husband Matt, and their little man Juddah, who is probably the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen!!
Finally, woo this has been a marathon post, I’d like to wish my mother and her best friend Debbie BOTH a very happy birthday!!