Sunday, October 21, 2007

Miller Lite Chili

Let me preface this post by saying I never make chili the same twice. Today's happened to include lite beer, thus the name. :) I also use varying amounts of spices, these all hinge on your own tastes. So, I'll just list out the basics of what I included. Chili's pretty forgiving, so shake it up and get creative! :)

Bella's Miller Lite Chili

1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 28 oz can crushed tomatos
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bottle beer (dark beer makes for yummy flavor as well, today I used Miller lite b/c that's what was in the fridge!)
1 small can diced tomatos w/juice
4 cans beans of your choice (I used black and pinto today)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tspn Chipotle Chili powder (or I would use 1 chopped chile in adobo and 1 tbsp adobo sauce)
Chili powder
Garlic Powder
Crushed Red Pepper
2 tspn Cumin
Fresh chopped parsley

Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese
Sliced scallions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in dutch oven. Add onions and garlic, sweat until translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add ground poultry, cook 'til done, add S&P and a few spices while cooking.

Add beer, let simmer for a minute or two. Then, add tomatos, paste, beans & rest of spices. Bring to a boil, cut to a simmer. Leave lid on for thinner chili, lid off for thicker. Stew on low as long as you like (on Sundays I leave it for a few hours w/the lid on, weeknites, 1/2 an hour w/the lid off).

Leftovers always taste better! :)

PS-- I'm also serving with a side of beer bread today. I'd love to share the recipe, but it was a mix a friend made and gave me. All I had to do was add beer, stir and top with butter! Gotta love that! :)

The Queen's Beans....

With the holidays around the corner, inevitably there will be miles of green bean casserole at the ready. And I must confess, I absolutely hate this dish. With a passion. Anything with cream of mushroom in it is on my "Do Not Eat" list, actually.

So, I was thrilled to see this recipe in the latest copy of Saveur, promoting a fresh made green bean casserole. I haven't tried it yet, but wanted to put it out there for anyone looking for a fresher alternative. This seems like something I would actually eat! :)

Here's the accompanying article:

Green Bean Casserole
SERVES 6 – 8
This recipe is an adaptation of the one developed in the 1950s by the Campbell's Soup Company.

3 cups Chicken Stock
1⁄2 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
Kosher salt, to taste
2 lbs. green beans, cut into 2" pieces
Canola oil
1 1⁄4 cups flour
2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
5 tbsp. butter
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring stock to a boil in a small pot. Remove from heat; add mushrooms. Cover; let soften for 20 minutes. Strain; reserve broth. Thinly slice mushrooms; set aside. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans; cook until tender, 6–7 minutes. Chill beans in an ice bath; drain and pat dry.
2. Pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 2". Heat over medium-high heat until oil registers 350° on a deep-fry thermometer. Put 1 cup flour into a bowl. Working in batches, toss onions in flour; shake off excess and fry until golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt.
3. Heat oven to 375°. Grease an 8" × 8" casserole with 1 tbsp. butter; set aside. Melt remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in remaining flour; cook for 1 minute. Pour in reserved broth while whisking; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 15–20 minutes. Whisk in cream and combine with beans, half the onions, and salt and pepper in a bowl; transfer to casserole. Top with remaining onions; bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
First published in Saveur, Issue #106

Chicken Tetrazzini

Whenever I'm sick, feeling blue or there's a rainy day, nothing is better than homemade chicken or turkey tetrazzini. I used to pick some up from a little deli, but now since I've moved, I can't find anyone who makes it how I like it. So, I was forced to find the "Perfect" Tetrazzini recipe :) I really love this one b/c it's healthy without sacrificing any flavour. Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe, March 2003.

Chicken Tetrazzini
This classic dish, created and named for 19th-century opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, is a great way to use leftover cooked chicken or turkey. The thin pasta soaks up the sauce, forming a casserole that you can cut with a fork. To make it easier to toss the pasta and sauce, break the vermicelli in half before cooking.

1 tablespoon butter(Smart Balance)
Cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion (I use the food processor to make it really fine)
2/3 cup finely chopped celery(Also in FP)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 3 (8-ounce) packages presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked whole grain linguini (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread
Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir until blended. Pour pasta mixture in 9x13 baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 350º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.

Chicken Pomodoro

I have been busy reorganizing my recipe stores and wanted to post a few favorites that have come back into my line of sight lately. One of these being Chicken Pomodoro. So easy, yet amazingly delicious.

Chicken Pomodoro
4 boneless chicken breasts. pounded evenly thin(or use scallopini)
2 T. oil
1/4 c. vodka
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 c chopped tomatos
2 T. heavy cream
1/3 c scallions

Season chicken w S&P, then dust with flour.
Saute chicken in oil, tranfer to a plate and pour fat off from pan.
Away from heat, pour in vodka to deglaze pan and cook until vodka is nearly gone. Add broth and lemon juice, return chicken to pan and cook each side for 1 minute.
Transfer chicken back to plate.
Finish sauce w/tomatos, cream and scallions.
Heat through and pour over cutlets.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

This is a great recipe to "play by ear" as far as ingredients.
For instance, you could add mushrooms, carrots etc. in with the broccoli.

1/3 c. Tamari/soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tspn fresh chopped ginger
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 c water
1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut in small pieces
1 tbsp oil (I use canola)
1 bunch fresh broccoli, chopped into small florets
4-6 scallion, chopped

1 can water chestnuts

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.
Marinate for approx 10 minutes or longer.

Drain chicken, reserve marinade.
Heat oil in wok or large skillet.
Add 1/2 the chicken, stir fry until cooked thru.
Add second batch, cook thru as well.

Add broccoli, scallions and water chestnuts to hot wok/skillet.
Stir fry for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes or until veggies are tender-crisp.

Return chicken to wok/skillet, adding marinade, heat through, stirring constantly. Serve over Rice.

4 servings
Tip of the Day:

Rice- We typically stick with brown rice b/c we consider it a healthy alternative to white.
Combine 1 1/3 cups of veggie broth, a tbsp of olive oil and 1 cup of brown rice in a deep pot. Bring it all to a boil, cover, turn heat on low and cook for approx 30 minutes (Uncle Ben's long grain). The veggie broth gives it great flavor and the olive oil keeps the rice moist.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Virginia Garlic & Wine Fest 2007

Garlic Fest 2007 has come and gone in a blur. This year, the weather was incredibly perfect, sunny and cool. Saturday, when we attended, there was a flurry of activity and a mad crush of people. It's nice to know that it's caught on after all of these years. Rebec really deserves more love & accolades than it seems to get for hosting such a wonderful event.

If you're looking at this wondering how you get in on the action next year-- just bookmark You can actually buy your tickets in advance online when next year's festival rolls around.

We went strolling around the booths to check all of the crafts, food vendors and jewelry. There was a quite a variety as far as home grown herbs and garlic for sale. Food varied from crabcake sandwiches to egg rolls. They pretty much had anything you could want including BBQ and philly cheese steak sandwiches.

The overall theme this year, we thought, was the "cowboy" hat. :) Either tons of vendors were selling them or folks showed up with their own! I blame Bret Michaels and the Rock of Love for this sudden resurgance of the rock-n-roll cowboy hat which I thought died (or should've died) 3 years ago! :)

I have a top three for you from the day:
1. Rebec's Reisling-- light, crisp, lovely polished finish
2. Red Rocker Cashew Brittle-- I could've eaten my weight's worth! They're not lying on the label when they say, "It's really, really good!" LOL!
You can order yours online at
3. Cornerstone Farm's Garlic Powder-- I buy a ton every year and somehow always manage to run out. I seriously can NOT make chili without it. And not to mention the family that runs this farm are nicest folk you'd want to meet. They have a website, but it's not set up for e-commerce:

But, I found out this year you can call and they will ship you more! :)
1249 Tate Road, Reidsville, NC 27320

We had a prime spot this year in front of the sumo wrestling mat(
Between the reisling and the wrestling, I had perma-grin. So, in all, it was a great day. But, I do recommend going on Sunday if you can help it-- it's always much more lowkey and relaxed than Saturday.

Later on in the evening, we found ourselves at Bull Branch for dinner. It's a local, eclectic dining spot that seems to be popular with the 30-something, hipster crowd in Lynchburg, VA. I swear they read my blog and stole my goat cheese/marinara dip! They also make a killer hummus. It was here that I found my second Reisling/wine gem of the day-- Dr. Loosens Reisling. ( It's excellent and I highly recommend you getting your hands on some! It's everything I want a Reisling to be-- slightly on the dry side, with a fruity bouquet/smell and a nice, well-rounded finish. Don't worry if you didn't follow all of that, all you need to know is that you'll be nodding your head in agreement once you have some of this.That's our trip in a nutshell. Wanted to leave you with a picture of the most gorgeous and catlike of Whippets on the planet, Zell. She is part of the lovely family that hosted us for Garlic Fest and introduced us to Bull Branch. You know who you are, we love you guys!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Salmon en Papillote with Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Tonite's dinner was an exercise in restraint and discipline. After the week and specifically the day I've had today, all I wanted was a big fat Dijourno frozen pepperoni pizza with a side of Cheetos. You girls know where I'm at, right? ;)

But, alas, I had already taken out Salmon to thaw, so I forged ahead with our healthy meal. Plus, I figured if we ate like this tonite, it gives us a few more "free calories" for the Garlic Fest this weekend.

So, here we go, one more Salmon recipe for you:

Salmon en Papillote with Dill-Yogurt Sauce
Use a dry white wine if you don't have vermouth on hand. (which I did)
Serve with a salad. (which I did as well as wild/brown rice)

Yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup grated seeded peeled cucumber
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Remaining ingredients:
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 small)
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Chopped fresh dill (optional)

To prepare yogurt sauce, place grated cucumber on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Combine cucumber, yogurt, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cut 4 (15 x 24-inch) pieces of parchment paper.
Fold in half crosswise.
Draw a large heart half on each piece, with the fold of the paper being the center of the heart. Cut out the heart, and open.
Place about 1/2 cup fennel near fold of each piece of parchment.
Top each serving with 2 tablespoons leek and 1/2 teaspoon oil.
Sprinkle salmon evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Place 1 fillet on each serving.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon vermouth over each serving.
Starting at the top of the heart, fold edges of parchment, sealing edges with narrow folds.
Twist the end tip to secure tightly.
Place packets on a baking sheet.
Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and let stand 5 minutes.
Place on plates; cut open.
Garnish with chopped fresh dill, if desired.
Serve immediately with yogurt sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 packet and about 1/3 cup yogurt sauce)CALORIES 358 (41% from fat); FAT 16.2g (sat 3.9g,mono 7.5g,poly 3.4g); PROTEIN 39.7g; CHOLESTEROL 90mg; CALCIUM 144mg; SODIUM 675mg; FIBER 2.2g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9.9g Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Ok, you're gonna love this story. Inspired by the recipe below, I melted approx 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute (stirring at 30 seconds). I then mixed it w/2 oz fresh goat cheese that had recently been gifted to me by dear, thoughtful friends. I squeezed barely a drop or two of fresh lemon juice and mixed it all together with a spoon.

I proceeded to use a small scoop to make the truffles. Rolled them in cocoa powder and stuck them in the freezer while I ran to the gym. Yes, you read that right.....they set up and were ready and waiting for me after a hard workout :)

I'm sure the actual recipe below is even better, but these tonite were pretty darn tasty!

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Gourmet October 1993
Makes about 25 truffles.

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, for coating the truffles

In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate, stirring until it is smooth, remove the bowl from the pan, and let the chocolate cool slightly. In a bowl whisk together the goat cheese, the confectioners' sugar, the vanilla, and the lemon extract until the mixture is light and fluffy, whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is combined well, and chill the mixture, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is firm. Form heaping teaspoons of the mixture into balls and roll the balls in the cocoa powder. Chill the truffles on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper for 30 minutes, or until they are firm. The truffles keep in an airtight container, chilled, for 3 days.

Steamed Trout/Flounder w/Chive-Tarragon Butter

I don't know about you, but in anticipation of pigging out at the holidays, we're trying to take it light right about now. And this is a great recipe to help us on the lighter side of things.

Steamed Trout with Chive-Tarragon Butter
Substitute fresh thyme or rosemary for the tarragon, if you wish.
(I used Flounder in place of the Trout)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter (I use Smart Balance)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 (8-ounce) dressed whole trout fillets
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir to combine. Set aside.

Cut 4 (15 x 24-inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each piece, with the fold of the paper being the center of the heart. Cut out the heart, and open. Place 1 fillet near the fold of each piece of parchment. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over each fillet. Brush butter mixture evenly over fillets; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Starting at the top of the heart, fold edges of parchment, sealing edges with narrow folds.
Twist the end tip to secure tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Place on plates; cut open. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 packet)CALORIES 358 (34% from fat); FAT 13.6g (sat 7g,mono 3.6g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 58.4g; CHOLESTEROL 143mg; CALCIUM 34mg; SODIUM 436mg; FIBER 0.1g; IRON 4.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 0.9g Cooking Light, APRIL 2007

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tomato & Garlic Stuffed Chicken

If you want something simple for your weeknight dinner to rock your socks that's also good enough for company, this recipe is it! Clipped it out of the most recent Gourmet on a whim and boy am I glad I did!

Tomato & Garlic Stuffed Chicken

1 large garlic clove, minced & mashed (I pressed)
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
1/4 c. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4, 1/4 lb pieces chicken scallopini(flattened to 1/4"-- I sliced 2 fat chicken breasts in half for this)
1 large plum tomato (I used a vine ripe b/c that's what I had handy)cut crosswise into 8 slices, discarding ends

1. Stir together garlic, anchovy paste, parsley, 1/2 tbsp oil and 1/4 tspn pepper.

2. Pat chicken dry, spread with parsley mixture. Fold chicken in half crosswise and insert 2 slices of tomato into each "pocket." Season outside of pockets with 1/4 tspn pepper and 1/4 tspn salt (total-- don't salt too much anchovy paste is already salty)

3. Heat remaining tbsp of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and brown 2 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet. Then, cook until chicken is just cooked through, 3-5 minutes more. Serve w/pan juices.

The way we eat, this just serves 2 ;)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tomato Soup

I'm in complete denial that it's 97 degrees outside today.
It's October! It should be chilly and I should be tending enormous, steaming pots of soup. Which is exactly what I did today. Had a craving for tomato soup and grilled cheese.
Is there anything better? (Ok, maybe chicken pot pie.......)
This is a nice recipe when fresh tomato's aren't available. (Who am I kidding, I love Ina Garten's guts when she says, "Life is too short to peel a tomato!" Amen, sister!)

Tomato Soup-

1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (same size as onion)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (same size)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 28 oz can crushed tomatos
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatos
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1-2 c. heavy cream (I used 1 c. 1% milk and 1 c. 1/2 and 1/2 b/c that's what I had in the fridge-- I would encourage you to use all 2 c. of cream if you like a sweeter tomato soup vs. an acidic soup)

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add onion, celery and carrot. Cook until tender, approx 5 minutes.

Add both cans of tomato, tomato paste, broth and bay leave. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, add desired amount of cream. Pulse w/hand mixer until pureed or puree batches in blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade until smooth.

Serve topped w/creme fraiche and chives as a garnish or grilled cheese "croutons."

Makes 8 generous servings.


I hate to waste anything, that even goes for the little bit of tomato paste left at the bottom of the can from this recipe. So, I scoop it out in tablespoonfuls, put it in a baggie, date it and throw it in the freezer. I'll probably use it the next time I make chili.