Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creamy White Chicken Chili

I first had this chili at a little church in Burbank, WA.  When we go to eastern WA we like to visit our friends (the Cagles) and go to their church if we can.  The husband, Dan, is the pastor there.  Anyway, last time we picked a good time to visit, as it was their annual chili cook-off!  This was the winning chili, and me and several other people asked the lady who made it for the recipe.

I just made it for the first time, and I was reminded why it won!  It starts as a regular white chicken chili, but then it gets some magical ingredients added at the end- sour cream and heavy cream!  They make it so creamy and good!  It also helps balance out the spiciness from the cayenne pepper.  I reduced the amounts of these two things a little bit, and you can certainly play with the amounts, too (what's written below is the amount I used).  I used light sour cream and heavy cream, but you could also try it with fat free sour cream and maybe even half & half instead.  If I try those sometime, I'll update here!  

[Update- last time I made it I used fat free sour cream and half & half, and it was still delicious and creamy! Good to know!]

Creamy White Chicken Chili
Printable version here

1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 pound boneless chicken cut into 1/2 inch cubes*
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (or 1 can) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream or half & half

(*or you may substitute 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add chicken and onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.

2. Add beans, broth, seasonings, and chilies (and shredded chicken if using).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in sour cream and heavy cream and serve.  Serves: 4-6

[I haven't tried this yet, but this chili should freeze just fine, as long as you set aside the portion to freeze before adding the sour cream & cream. Those ingredients don't freeze very well, but you could just add them in after thawing and heating the frozen chili.]

Why I love it? It tastes fantastic- it's a little spicy, creamy, flavorful, and dense! It's chock-full of protein and fiber!  It's also a reasonably quick dinner, as it takes an hour start to finish (and half that time is just simmering). 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Quick Vanilla Buttercream

My search for the perfect chocolate cupcake AND vanilla frosting recipes are over, thanks to these little gems!  Recently I needed to bring cupcakes to my sister-in-law's baby shower, and I was fretting because I didn't know which recipe to use.  Of course there is store-bought, or from a mix, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that.  I took a risk on trying two new recipes, but seeing as how I trusted their source (Mel's Kitchen Cafe), I figured it would work out.  

This was at the book-themed baby shower- I tried to make the cupcakes match!
They were a huge success!  Everyone at the shower loved the cupcakes, even those who normally don't like cake!  And my husband doesn't like normal frosting, but he liked this kind.  It really is a cross between buttercream and cream cheese frosting.  It held its shape well when I was piping it.  I will most definitely make both of these recipes over & over again! 

Chocolate Cupcakes
Printable version here

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper liners. In a glass liquid measuring cup, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat (or using a bowl & a microwave), combine the butter and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer (or to a stand-alone bowl, using a handheld electric mixer) and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated. So basically you’ll add 1/3 of the flour, mix, then add 1/2 of the sour cream, mix, add another 1/3 of the flour, mix, add the rest of the sour cream, and finish with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling no more than 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes (I used a slightly rounded large [3 tbsp.] cookie scoop, and baked for 17 minutes). Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.   

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Mini Cupcakes: This will make approximately 96 mini cupcakes, using a 1 tbsp. scoop of batter for each one.  Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2012/04/perfect-chocolate-cupcakes.html

Quick Vanilla Buttercream
Printable version here

*Makes about 3 cups of frosting (enough for 24 cupcakes)

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
16 oz. powdered sugar (about 3 ½ cups)
¼ cup heavy cream*
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until it is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla (and food coloring, if desired). Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix in fully after each addition. Cream at low speed until well blended and creamy. Pour in the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. 

*Note: you can substitute milk for the heavy cream but the frosting will be missing an element of silky creaminess.   

[I recommend keeping this frosting refrigerated, because of the dairy and because it melts a little when it gets too warm.  I frosted my cupcakes using a piping bag, and after a few minutes I needed to put the bag in the fridge to bring down the temperature because it was starting to melt.  Also, it worked fine to make the day before I needed it.  I took it out of the fridge a few hours before I needed it, and I rewhipped it with a hand mixer.]

Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/01/vanilla-buttermilk-cupcakes-and-fantastic-easy-buttercream-frosting.html

Why I love it? This is the BEST tasting chocolate cupcake & vanilla frosting I have ever made!  They're as good as any cupcake I've had, either from a store or from a box.  They are not very difficult to make, and they don't require any hard-to-find ingredients.  I promise, you won't regret making (or eating!) them!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Last week when I was making my menu/shopping list, I was feeling bored with my normal recipes (not sure how that's possible!), so I found a few new ones to try.  This one, Crockpot Beef Stroganoff, was an instant hit!  It was easy and turned out PERFECTLY!  I will most definitely make it again!

I found it on my most trusted food blog, Mel's Kitchen Cafe! :) The only things I changed were to reduce the recipe size a little (I only used about 1 1/2 pounds of stew meat, and a little less of the other ingredients), and omit the mushrooms.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Printable version here

2-3 pounds stew meat (or a chuck roast, cubed)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp. garlic salt (or garlic powder)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp. ketchup
1/3 cup flour
6 tbsp. water (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp.)
4-8 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup light or regular sour cream

1. Place beef, salt, pepper, onion, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, broth, and ketchup into a slow cooker.  Stir to combine.  Cook for 7-9 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

2. About 30 minutes before serving, combine the flour and water in a small bowl, whisking vigorously to combine well.  The roux should be thick but still pourable, so add a tablespoon of water at a time to thin, if needed.  Pour the flour mixture into the slow cooker, whisking quickly to mix in the roux with the stew meat and juices to avoid lumps.  Add the mushrooms (if using) and stir.  Cook on high for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream right before serving.  Serve over pasta, rice or baked potatoes.

*Freezable Meal: (I haven't tried this, but the original source from the recipe lists these instructions) The leftovers of the stroganoff can be frozen.  Store the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and then thaw in the refrigerator (usually takes about a day) and reheat over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

Why I love it? It was SUPER easy and delicious!  The meat was tender and the sauce turns out perfectly!  It is flavorful, creamy, and nicely thickened.  The fact that it is freezable is an added bonus!