Sunday, January 30, 2011

Black Bean, Chicken, and Red Pepper Stoup

When I first stumbled across this recipe I liked the looks of the ingredient list (all things I love), but I was a little leary that it would be anything more than ordinary.  I was expecting it to be 'just another stew'.  Instead, I was surprised by how easy it was to throw together and how much flavor it had.  The cayenne gave it just enough heat without scaring me away, and the cumin added an earthy, warming feeling that I found perfect for a cold winter day. 

Black Bean, Chicken, Red Pepper Stoup


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 (12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, chopped

  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles

  • 2 tbsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (use more or less to adjust the "heat")

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (optional)

  • 1/2 cup mexican cheddar (or other mild cheese)


  1. In in a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink.

  2. Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl or plate.

  3. In the same pot, heat another tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion and cook 5 minutes or until tender.

  4. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

  5. Next, add the chicken broth, black beans, diced tomatoes, chopped red peppers, green chiles, cumin, and cayenne and mix together.

  6. Add the cooked chicken back into the mix and bring the pot to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes uncovered.

  7. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro (optional).

Note:  If you'd like this dish to be more of a soup, just add more chicken broth (say 3 to 4 cups instead of 2).

*Original recipe adapted from one of my favorite food blogs - Annie's Eats.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Green Smoothies

I've always been a big fan of white and yellow foods - mac and cheese, white bread, mashed potatoes, string cheese, pudding, you get the idea.  So when I was pregnant with my son, I knew I needed to start eating healthier.  I've never been a big fan of veggies; I'll eat them here and there, but I certainly wasn't getting 5 servings a day.  My solution?  Green Smoothies.  Okay, well mine aren't typically green, they're usually more of a purple-ish hue once I add the berries, but hey - they have more greens in them than I usually would eat in any given meal.  So to me, it's green!

I think I gulped these down almost daily for a good portion of my pregnancy (they're great for breakfast, lunch, or a snack), and I've since continued to eat them at least 3 times a week as they are quick, surprisingly delicious, nutritious, and better yet - easy to eat (drink) while chasing after a 9 month old who can't sit still.  I can't wait to introduce my son to these when he's a little older as a way to sneak in all sorts of nutritious veggies...without him knowing of course.  Sometimes moms have to be sneaky like that.

I don't really have a "recipe" for these (I never measure), but below is a rough estimate of what I use when I make them.  If you want yours to be a true green (as in the color green) smoothie, then add more veggies and fewer berries.  I'll say the best part about these smoothies is that they can be varied to include whatever fruits and veggies you want.  As long as you use about a cup of frozen berries, they will overpower any greens or other veggies you (or your picky eater kids) might not normally be craving.   If you're interested in finding more ideas and suggestions for variations on green smoothies, check out The Green Monster Movement

Mrs. T's Green(ish) Smoothie


  • 1 cup non-fat greek vanilla yogurt (any yogurt will do)

  • 1 heaping cup of frozen berries (I use a blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry blend)

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach (I've also used kale and arugula with excellent results)

  • 1 banana

  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk (I use vanilla almond milk, but any milk will work, or water if you want a thinner consistency)

***The above ingredients would be a great base recipe for green smoothie newbies, but I've since started adding even more to mine:

  • 1/4 english cucumber, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (you can find it in the baking aisle)

  • 1-2 tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter)

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 almost thawed cube of wheatgrass juice (I know what you're thinking - "Huh?"  Well read this.)


  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth. 

  2. Pour into a glass, drink it, and feel good because you've just eaten something both delicious and incredibly nutritious. 


I've found that putting the spinach, flaxseed, and milk in first (leaving the heaviest ingredients on top) helps weigh everything down and makes blending faster.  Be sure to vary it up and try different veggies, different fruits, anything you have on hand.

If you're wondering where to get WheatGrass juice, I found mine in the freezer section at Whole Foods, right below all the bags of frozen berries and other fruits.  Here's a picture of what to look for (next to it is the ground flaxseed, which you can easily find in most baking aisles):

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Bourguignon

Who doesn't love the crock pot?  As they say, "Set it, and forget it!"  Well not this one.  About an hour into cooking this one pot meal and your whole house will be filled with the aroma of this glorious beef stew look alike, making it next to impossible to forget what you'll be eating for dinner that night.  Best of all, this recipe only takes 5 minutes to prep, yet it will taste like you slaved in the kitchen for hours.  Perfect for a cold winter day served with egg noodles or a loaf of crusty french bread to soak up all the yummy goodness.

Crock Pot Beef Bourguignon


  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed Cream of Mushroom soup

  • ½ cup dry red wine

  • 1 package (1.25 oz.) Beefy Onion Soup Mix

  • ½ tsp dried thyme

  • 1.5 lbs. lean beef chuck, cut in chunks

  • 2 cups baby carrots

  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms (any kind)

  • Pepper to taste

  • Egg noodles (optional)


  1. Combine the cream of mushroom soup, red wine, soup mix, and dried thyme in a 3 qt. slow cooker and stir until blended.

  2. Add the beef, baby carrots, and sliced mushrooms to the pot and stir until coated.

  3. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low 8-10 hours. 

  4. Season with fresh ground pepper and a sprinkling of thyme. 

  5. Serve alone with a crusty loaf of french bread or with egg noodles.

Something to try:  Next time I make this recipe I’d like to try adding halved small potatoes and a small bag of frozen peas for even more of a beef stew feel.

Serves 4

*Recipe courtesy of one of the many yummy food blogs I follow, Tasty Kitchen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cheddar Risotto

If you're intimidated by risotto:  

#1 - Don't be.

#2 - Try this recipe.   

This is one of my family's favorite risotto dishes and meets two of my requirements for a "weeknight keeper recipe" - simple and delicious!  It's pure comfort food that is easy to whip up from ingredients you might already have on hand.  It only serves 2, so I usually double the recipe since the leftovers are just as delicious!

Cheddar Risotto

  • 1 T  butter

  • 1 T  vegetable oil

  • 2 fat scallions, finely chopped

  • 1.5 cups risotto rice (arborio)

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (we like whole grain dijon mustard)

  • 4 cups hot vegetable stock (chicken stock works fine too)

  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • 2 T chopped chives (optional)



  1. Melt butter and oil in a large pan. Add scallions and cook until softened.

  2. Add the rice and keep stirring for a minute. Then turn up the heat, add the wine and mustard, and stir until the wine is absorbed.

  3. Start ladling in the hot stock, 1 ladle at a time. After each ladleful, stir until it is absorbed by the rice before adding the next.

  4. Keep stirring and ladling until the rice is al dente (about 18 minutes). 

  5. Next, add the sharp cheddar to the rice, mixing until it melts.

  6. Take the pan off the heat and immediately spoon into serving dishes.  Sprinkle with chopped chives if you wish.

Serves 2

*Original recipe can be found in the cookbook, Nigella Express, by Food Network's Nigella Lawson. 

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