Monday, January 30, 2012

white bean chicken chili

I rarely get excited about a soup. They never leave me feeling as satisfied as I had hoped and then I'm left eating ten cookies to make up for the fact that dinner was far from delicious. But this white chicken chili is one of my favorite soups because it is packed with flavor and doesn't take long to throw together. I love making a batch of soup because it's easy to pack for lunch to take to work and the best part, this soup is super healthy but doesn't taste like it! Usually I am hesitant to make soups that come together in less than three hours because I feel like that's not enough time for all the flavors to... meld? come together? whatever, this soup proves me wrong.  I topped my soup with a little extra cheese and tortilla strips but there are so many more options like avocado slices, sour cream or salsa. You can also adjust the spiciness of the dish by using more or less green chilies. 

White Bean Chicken Chili
serves 5

1 pound dried Great Northern beans (or 3 cans)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 (4.5 oz) cans of chopped green chiles, undrained
3 cloves of garlic
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
6 cups chicken broth
5 cups cooked chicken breast
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Rinse beans and place in a large pot and cover with water, about 2 inches above beans. Let beans soak overnight. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and saute onion until tender. Add green chiles, garlic, cumin and oregano and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and beans. If you are using canned beans instead of dried beans, add the beans an hour into simmering so the beans don't turn to mush. 

Bring to a boil then cover pot and reduce heat. Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Add chicken, 2 cups of cheese, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Sprinkle individual bowls of soup with cilantro. 

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

Monday, January 23, 2012

caramel pecan cheesecake cookie bars

Cheesecake is rarely my go-to dessert of choice because it's so rich that I end up only wanting a few bites. Which may be a good thing for some of you but I feel so guilty leaving a delicious dessert behind, it pretty much never happens. If anything, I eat my dessert and help finish off everyone else's too. I love these bars because they are the perfect balance of cheesecake and cookie, I wanted to eat every single one. Luckily I didn't get a chance because I took them to the Charlotte food blogger meet-up this past week to share with the group. These bars have a chewy sugar cookie crust, smooth caramel cream cheese filling with a sugar cookie crumble, pecan, caramel topping that make them hard to resist. I'm not sure how I managed to only eat a few but I know next time I make them, I will be stock piling a batch in the freezer.

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Cookie Bars 

1 pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 c. cold butter
3/4 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. toffee bits
2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 c. caramel topping
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Spray or line a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray or parchment paper. Place cookie mix in bowl and using your hands or a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Set 1 1/2 cups of the sugar cookie/butter mixture aside. Spread the remaining amount in the bottom of the pan and press down evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes. 

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, 1/4 cup of caramel topping, vanilla and egg with an electric mixer until smooth. Evenly spread this mixture over the cooled partially baked cookie dough base. Then sprinkle the reserved sugar cookie/butter mixture, pecans and toffee bits on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes then refrigerate for 2 hours or until cooled completely. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 c. caramel topping. Store covered in the refrigerator. 

Recipe adapted from: Betty Crocker

Friday, January 20, 2012

breakfast mac & cheese

Today is National Cheese Lover's Day

I love cheese almost as much as I love sugar so when the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board asked me if I would be interested in creating a unique mac and cheese recipe to share on their 30 Ways in 30 Days Macaroni & Cheese blog to celebrate National Cheese Lover's Day, I could not have been happier. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to eat mac and cheese for breakfast, not leftover mac and cheese but fresh from the oven mac and cheese that tastes like breakfast. This recipe combines all my favorite breakfast add-ins into a delicious mac and cheese. I decided to go with Wisconsin Colby Jack, a mild cheese that would be perfect in a savory breakfast dish. I used all the usual ingredients you would find in an omelette like sausage, onions, peppers, cheese and eggs and then combined them with pasta and crumbled biscuit pieces. The sweet breakfast sausage, creamy Colby Jack and spice from the jalapeno and Pepper Jack Cheese seriously makes this dish taste like the best breakfast casserole you have ever had. You might even eat mac and cheese for breakfast instead of dinner from now on. Or both, I won't judge! 

Check out the Macaroni & Cheese blog for the next 29 days to see what mac and cheese creations other participating food bloggers came up with! 

Breakfast Mac & Cheese
serves 6-8

1 pound of pasta (I used cavatelli shaped pasta)
1 pound breakfast sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, discard seeds and dice
1/2 tbsp garlic salt
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
4 c. whole milk
5 c. colby jack cheese
1 c. pepper jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
6 toasted breakfast biscuits, crumbled (homemade or the from the refrigerated aisle of the grocery store) 

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until browned. Remove sausage from the pan, drain the fat off and set sausage aside. In the same skillet, add the onion, peppers and garlic salt and cook over medium-high heat until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove onion and pepper mixture from heat and set aside. 

Add butter to the same skillet and stir constantly until melted. Add the flour and stir constantly over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk continuously until it is smooth and has thickened, about 4-6 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in 4 cups of colby jack and 1/2 cup of pepper jack along with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta, cooked sausage, onion/pepper mixture to the cheese mixture and stir until combined. Pour into a large buttered baking dish. 

In a small bowl, whisk all the eggs together. Add in remaining cheese and crumbled biscuits, stir until combined. Pour this mixture over the pasta in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I received compensation for ingredients and my time but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

What's your favorite cheese?

Monday, January 16, 2012

chai snickerdoodles

I don't drink much caffeine but the exceptions to that are always a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato or black tea. Chai tea is a mixture of spices and black tea and is one of my favorite teas so when I saw these cookies on The Novice Chef, I couldn't wait to try them. I've actually never made homemade snickerdoodles and I'm not sure how that is even possible considering snickerdoodles are always perfectly chewy! I'm considering putting cream of tartar in all of my cookies from now on because I swear that's what makes these the perfect texture. I had a store-bought chai tea mix from the grocery store (from the tea aisle) and rolled the cookies in that before baking. I took these to the Charlotte Food Blogger cookie swap last month and everyone seemed to love them, they even got a shout-out from Mary at Fervent Foodie. They didn't last long enough for me to get a picture of them last time I made them so I had to bake up another batch to share.

Chai Snickerdoodles
makes 19 large cookies

2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
powdered chai tea mix

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Pour powdered chai tea mix in a bowl. Then in a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk together. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time and beat well. Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Form uniform dough balls and roll them in the chai tea mix. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake large cookies for 15-17 minutes. Once you pull them out of the oven, let them sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove them to cool. 

Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef

Monday, January 9, 2012

white chocolate s'mores cake bars

I'm back! I didn't know I was taking a blog break until the holidays hit and I felt overwhelmed with so much going on (I know, we all did). I hope everyone had a great holiday and happy New Year! I spent the holidays in California this year visiting my family and could not have been happier. It was the first time my younger brother and I have visited my parents in San Jose since they moved this past August. And they took us on the full Northern California tour, we went to Pebble Beach and did the 17-mile drive of the coast, Monterey, San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa. Here are some of the highlights (thank you, instagram):

Cliff Lede Winery in Napa Valley
Golden Gate Bridge

Bi-Rite Creamery Ricanelas Ice Cream
(cinnamon ice cream with snickerdoodle cookie pieces)
Family time (don't ask where I got the blonde hair)

Cheering NC State on in the Belk Bowl
Never heard of these until I got to San Fran, they are ice
cream sandwiches made with oatmeal cookies, mmm mmm
Ok now we need to talk about these white chocolate s'mores cake bars. They are exactly as described and hopefully exactly like you are imagining! Oooey gooey doughy buttery cake layer topped with graham crackers, white chocolate chips, marshmallows, more cake layer and then drizzled with sweet condensed milk to give the top a slightly crispy, sugary outside. The recipe is easy to put together, the hardest part is waiting for the bars to cool before cutting into them. The best part about these bars, they are good cold, room temp or heat one up in the microwave and scoop some ice cream on top.

White Chocolate S'mores Cake Bars
recipe adapted from: Picky Palate

for the cake mix:
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

4 1/2 full graham crackers
10 oz bag of white chocolate chips
2 cups of marshmallows (I used regular size cut into chunks)
1/ 2 c. sweet condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil, this will save you a lot of clean-up time. Grease the aluminum foil lined pan. 

Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking powder until combined. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add in vanilla and egg and mix until a dough forms. Press half the cake dough into the bottom of the pan. Layer with graham crackers, white chocolate chips then marshmallows. Top with remaining cake dough and press down evenly. Drizzle sweet condensed milk over top and bake for 28-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes and then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sticky marshmallow. Let cool completely and then remove bars from pan with foil edges. Cut into squares and serve.
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