You all know how I love meals that are healthy, but quick and easy to get on the table, right? Between running Newt to her classes and activities, homeschooling and spending extra hours in front of my laptop, I’m finding it more important than ever. This dish is nearly perfect. It takes only minutes to make but tastes amazing. Pair it with a quick salad and some bread and you’ve got a meal. If only everything good was this easy.
This chili is great for busy nights. It comes together in a hurry, but has a flavor that no one will think you skimped on.
2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth (homemade or canned)
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies , undrained
1½ - 2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3-4 Tablespoons lime juice
Salt to taste (will vary depending on homemade or canned broth)
Shredded Cheddar or Monterey-Jack cheese
Combine all ingredients except cheese in soup-pot.
Cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until desired thickness.
Garnish with shredded cheese.
This can also be cooked in the crockpot, but it will be more souplike (as pictured).
Dump all ingredients in crockpot and cook on high 1 hour or low 2-3 hours (or longer - it won't hurt).
Garnish with cheese.
one Happy third day of spring! This is the view from my living room window: I am fully disgusted. Except for the part where we cancelled school because of snow and spent the day reading and watching episodes of PBS’s Colonial House. Sounds a lot like a school day, doesn’t it? Shhh… don’t tell Newt.
two Cookies are over. Can I get an amen! To thank me for my service as cookie mom, I was victim to the sweetest act of vandalism ever. Loved it. It actually made me cry a little. In a good way. Especially when I saw the one signed by Newt: Since her facination with Dr. Who (especially the 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant) has become a full-blown obsession, I was truly flattered.
two-point-five So, uh, Heidi, if cookies are over, what’s up with the sparse posting on ye old blogge? Oh, that. Well, I’ve got a couple of other projects up my sleeve. First of all: homeschool. We’ve buckled down, at Newt’s request. Another Amen would not be inappropriate here. We are finishing up our first 12 weeks of Ambleside Online’s Charlotte Mason-style curriculum. Non-homeschoolers, just smile and nod. This part will be over soon. Can I just say that I love this curriculum? Of course I can. 1) I just did and 2) it’s my blog. I can say whatever I like. Anyway, AO has breathed some new life into our school day. Very exciting stuff. However, as such, I am trying ever-so-hard to block out larger portions of my day for this oh-such-important stuff. Even though I still check in with social media far more than I probably should. I’m looking at you Facebook and Pinterest. Second of all: I’ve been writing a middle-grade children’s book. My book is about Captain Hook’s daughter. She’s stuck in a stuffy finishing school and desparate for adventure, but she may get more than she can handle when she is charged with hunting down the crocodile that killed her father. Want a tiny sample?
Let me see, how to describe the girl… Ah, I have it! Have you ever been privy to witness a great disaster, such as the burning of a circus? Picture it: a great trumpeting of elephants and snarling of tigers. Ladies, both beaded and bearded, fainting of terror. A mighty bucket brigade made of midgets and clowns, sword-swallowers and finely dressed dandies, all shouting and sweating as they passed bucketsful of water up the line to the source of the flames. Now look to it, the great and tragic circus tent aflame, its colors more vivid than life, and all the more beautiful wrapped in disaster… If you can imagine that, you will have a pretty good sense of young Jocelyn Hook.
Since I have been spending more time in that world, I’ve had less time for this one. However, I still intend to keep touch with y’all at least once a week. [note: Heidi is not from the South, but the occasional ya’ll still slips into her writing. In addition, she also called the library today to see how late they were open and asked about it with a fake southern accent: “Yes Ma’am, how late are ya’ll open tonight?” Heidi is weird like that sometimes.]
three I have the best friends. Earlier this week, several of us got together to learn all the insider tricks to cutting up a whole chicken. After we cut them up, we did this: Which, as you know, is not exactly a health food, but sometimes a girl needs some fried chicken. And, like I’ve said before, at least it was homemade. We ate the chicken with a potluck of potato salad, deviled eggs, buttermilk biscuits and collard greens, while watching The Help. Come to think of it, no wonder I’m ya’llin’ y’all today…
four It’s been nearly 24 hours and it’s still snowing. Ya’ll better send over a St. Bernard with a barrel of brandy herbal tea on it’s collar. We may need it to dig us out.
What’s the weather like where you are? And if it’s nice, how do you feel about house guests?
I got your mouth watering there, didn’t I? I’m pretty sure it was the bacon that did it, right? Bacon is boss. Since I tried my hand at Sourdough English Muffins, and shared how easy they were to make, I’ve had a couple of friends express an interest in sourdough. I was more than happy to oblige with some starter and a few tips, but you know… that’s just not good enough. If I was really a good friend I’d share this waffle recipe, because even without adding bacon, these are hands-down the best waffles I’ve ever had. If I was an even better friend, I’d share some of my homemade apple-butter to top the waffles. So… um, here’s the recipe! I make a big batch a couple of times a month so I can freeze the extras. Freezer waffles have never been better.
These waffles are amazing. So light and crispy, you'd be right to proclaim yourself a kitchen alchemist. See notes for add-in ideas (like bacon!).
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups warm water or milk
2 cups flour (wheat, white, rye or combination)
¼ cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
The night before you wish to make waffles, prepare a basic sourdough batter by combining 1 cup of starter, 2 cups warm water or milk and 2 cups of flour in a large non-metallic bowl. Stir well, cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place.
The next morning, remove approximately 1 cup of batter (or whatever will leave about 4 cups batter in your bowl) to use as your starter for next time.
Plug in your waffle iron to get it heating.
To your 4 cups of batter add egg, oil and milk. Stir well.
If you want to add any mix-ins, do so now.
Sprinkle salt and baking soda over mixture and stir gently. Allow to sit for five minutes. You should be able to see the soda reacting with the sourdough. The batter will grow before your eyes.
If mixture appears too thick add a bit more milk.
Ladle onto hot waffle iron and prepare as usual.
Add one or more of the following to the basic recipe for tasty variations:
3 - 4 pieces of chopped cooked bacon
1-2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
¼ coconut flakes
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
2 - 3 Tbs ground flax seeds
Remember when I said something about how I wanted the smell of homebaked bread to transform my dreary February rain into something cozy and lovely? Well, I baked (sort of) and the rain? It stopped. It was a February miracle! You voted for what yummy bread product I should try and it was a three-way tie between Whole-Wheat Bagels, Sourdough English Muffins and Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. Since I have made both rosemary bread and bagels before, since “sourdough” is one of Newt’s spelling words this week, and since she and I both like British classic novels and television shows, the Sourdough English Muffins win. And since they were delicious and easy to make, I win too! My inspiration recipe is from Cake Walk, who in turn was inspired by GNOWFGLINS. (Incidentally, can anyone tell me how that is pronounced? I love their work with natural foods, but I can’t tell anyone because I don’t know how. Now-fig-lins? Nofe-flins? G’nowf-glines? Please help me say the word so I can spread the word.) I didn’t change the recipe itself, but I did tweak the technique just a bit to make things go a little smoother.
Sourdough English Muffins (Printable version at bottom of page.)
1/2 cup sourdough starter 1 cup liquid: water, whey, milk, yogurt, coconut milk – I made a batch on Saturday with water and another on Sunday (they are that good) with half water and half raw cream. Both were tasty. 2 cups flour, any kind or combination – I used 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat and 1/2 cup regular white 1 Tbs honey 3/4 tsp sea salt 1 tsp baking soda
12-24 hours before you plan to make your muffins, mix starter, liquid and flour. I prepare mine the night before. Cover with a clean towel and let it rest, undisturbed at room temperature. In the morning, or whenever you are ready, sprinkle honey, salt and soda over batter. Wet your hands and knead dough in the bowl to combine ingredients well. If it starts to stick, wet your hands again. Cover with your towel again and allow to rest for one hour. This will allow all those lovely bubbles to form. Here is what mine looked like when I was ready to cook. Yup, cook. These are not really baked, they are cooked on a griddle, like pancakes. If you have an electric griddle, set it to about 300°. If you are using a stove top griddle or cast iron pan, you may need to play around to see what the best temperature is. Start with a medium/medium-low heat. If they are browning too fast, turn it down and vise-versa. While your griddle is heating, fill a bowl with warm water and place it close by. Then grease your fancy English muffin rings with butter. See mine: Fancy, right? They are just quart sized canning rings. Place rings, right-side up, on your griddle and put a little pat of butter inside each one to melt. Take a 1/4 cup measuring cup and dip it in your warm water. This will keep your dough from sticking to it. Scoop up a scant 1/4 cup and place inside a ring. Don’t overfill or it will puff up over the top of your ring and stick. Wet your fingers and smooth/lightly pat down the dough a bit. Be gentle or you’ll squish out all the bubbles. Cook for about five minutes. Bottom will be a nice golden brown. Slide your spatula under muffin, lift it up a little, and using wet fingers, push it out of your ring. Carefully remove hot rings from griddle. Flip muffins and cook for another five minutes or so. You can finish the muffins for another 10 minutes or so in a 350° oven, but I didn’t bother since we planned to toast them all anyway. The muffins have a natural ridge, making them easy to split (use a fork, not a knife). Toast and serve with butter and jam or honey. This recipe makes 10-12 and is easily doubled. I hear they will last for a week or so, but since we gobbled them up so fast, I can’t attest to it. I also hear they freeze well.
If you can make pancakes, you can make these, but don't tell anyone. Let them think you have extra special kitchen-ninja skills.
½ cup sourdough starter
1 cup liquid: water, whey, milk, yogurt, coconut milk
2 cups flour, any kind or combination
1 Tbs honey
¾ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
-24 hours before you plan to make your muffins, mix starter, liquid and flour. Cover with a clean towel and let it rest, undisturbed at room temperature.
In the morning, or whenever you are ready, sprinkle honey, salt and soda over batter. Wet your hands and knead dough in the bowl to combine ingredients well. If it starts to stick, wet your hands again.
Cover dough with your towel again and allow to rest for one hour. This will allow all those lovely bubbles to form.
If you have an electric griddle, set it to about 300°. If you are using a stove top griddle or cast iron pan, you may need to play around to see what the best temperature is. Start with a medium/medium-low heat. If they are browning too fast, turn it down and vise-versa.
While your griddle is heating, fill a bowl with warm water and place it close by. Then grease some quart sized canning rings with butter.
Place rings, right-side up, on your griddle and put a little pat of butter inside each one to melt.
Take a ¼ cup measuring cup and dip it in your warm water. This will keep your dough from sticking to it. Scoop up a scant ¼ cup and place inside a ring. Don't overfill or it will puff up over the top of your ring and stick.
Wet your fingers and smooth/lightly pat down the dough a bit. Be gentle or you'll squish out all the bubbles.
Cook for about five minutes. Bottom will be a nice golden brown.
Slide your spatula under muffin, lift it up a little, and using wet fingers, push it out of your ring. Carefully remove hot rings from griddle.
Flip and cook for another five minutes or so.
You can finish the muffins for another 10 minutes or so in a 350° oven, but I didn't bother since we planned to toast them all anyway.
Oh my goodness, that was an incredibly full weekend. After last week’s mini-rant, I am avoiding the word busy. We’re all busy. Who wants to hear my whining? Not even me. The combination of lots of rushing around and Oregon’s February rain (not to be confused with January, March, April, May, June, October, November or December rain) is putting me in the mood for homemade bread. There are few things nothing better than the warm coziness of a home where a lovely loaf of pure goodness has just been baked. I’ve turned to Pinterest for inspiration; now I turn to you to decide. Tell me what to make. I’ll pick the most popular, try it out and let you know how it goes next week.
I was feeling downright domestic this week. Besides all the Valentines I helped Newt with, we had a second round of sugar cookie-ing, this batch dipped in dark chocolate. (And can I just tell you? Yum. The buttery lemony cookies went perfectly with that rich dark chocolate. So good.) These we shared with friends: taking a plate to a party and little care packages to seven(!) houses. And then there was our oh-so lovely Valentine’s evening. Our family invited Grandma over to be our sweetheart for the night. Newt made the salad (her own delicious creation: baby greens, pears, dried cranberries, feta and my maple vinaigrette). Walt made dinner (Fettuccine Alfredo from this recipe, though he accidentally used cilantro instead of parsley – and it was even more wonderful.) And me? Well, since we gave all our cookies away, I made dessert: This delectable creation is called Boccone Dolce and it is modeled on Walt’s favorite dessert from our favorite restaurant. It is made from layers of chocolate coated Swiss Meringue with fresh fruit and lightly sweetened whipped cream. I used this recipe, with minor modifications (whip the meringue as long as you possibly can. The restaurant whips it for a full hour. I whipped for 15 minutes). I was amazed that it turned out so well. Almost perfect. After such a rich meal, I was considering passing out Pepto tabs for after dinner mints… Instead, we put on our jammie-pants (except for grandma who did not bring hers) and curled up in the living room with You’ve Got Mail* on DVD. Lovely. How was your night?
*Oh, the irony. The movie: People enjoying the novelty of the internet while a big-box book store drives the independent companies out of business. Today’s reality: People enjoying the novelty of independent book stores while the internet drives the big-box stores out of business. Who would have thunk it?
Call my hometown bookstore, The Book Bin at 503-361-1235, and place an order!
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