Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Tomatoes for Me, Please

I have a bit of a thing against tomatoes.  I don't eat them uncooked and I don't like big, chunky, mushy tomatoes in my cooked food either.  Spaghetti sauce is about the only exception and even then I have standards.  Because of my avoidance of tomatoes, chili is not one of my favorite foods.  There are some great recipes out there that make it less tomato-y but, usually, if it has red broth I'm a bit wary.

So imagine how delighted I was when one of my favorite bloggers posted the recipe for what she calls "Southwest White Bean & Chicken Chili."  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it.  Not simply because I idolize Kate at Centsational Girl as the goddess of all things blog and diy related, although that was a huge factor, but because it has no tomatoes!  None, nada, zilch.

Pop on over to her blog to check out the recipe.

I did make a couple of changes.  Changing recipes, especially when I'm making something for the first time, is always risky for me but I can't seem to help myself.  Probably because I was raised by the queen of ingredient substitution, which is not a bad thing at all.  It means I'm flexible and very resourceful, right?

So to cut on costs, I used a green pepper instead of a yellow one.  Sweet onions were on sale so no yellow for me.  I accidentally let my green onions get a bit wilted so there aren't as many in there as the recipe calls for.  I love love love black beans so I added half a can of those to make up for the fact that I'd already eaten some of my two chicken breasts.  I also skipped both the garnishes.

Despite all the changes, I thought the results were absolutely delicious!  Kate was totally right that it's not too heavy.  It didn't even feel like it had to be served on a cold day!

So here are my veggies in my beautiful new (thrift-store) soup pot:

I've never washed beans before so I kind of winged it by putting them in a colander and rinsing.  Is it normal for them to get foamy like that?

And the final product!  Next time, I'd like to try the pop of yellow or red pepper but the green was quite good.

It's a good thing I like this recipe because now I have a ton of leftovers.  I've been halving all the new recipes I'm trying but when I was shopping for this one, I accidently bought the full 32 oz of chicken broth.  So there will definitely be a lot in my freezer.  I'm no sure how many servings it is, but after I ate two medium bowls, I still have enough to fill 2-3 of my 4-cup tupperwares.

So now I've officially made soup and it was delicious.  Thanks, Kate!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Safety First

Well, they say that when you move into a new apartment, you should always test your smoke alarm.  One more thing checked off my list, conveniently done while I was cooking dinner, of course.

There was simply a small incident involving some burned-to-a-crisp sweet potato fries.  I was determined I would make them myself instead of buying frozen ones.  Healthier and cheaper, right?  Somehow I missed the warning that you really should make sure all your wedges, discs, sticks, whatever, are about the same size.  Maybe this is a common sense thing, but I blithely put an array of fries in the oven and then began to wonder why I started to smell something burning.  I turned on a fan and pointed it at the open window.  I turned on the over-the-range exhaust.  What I didn't think to do was check in the oven and see that the cause of the problem was just a couple of the super thin fries.  So the smoke alarm went off.  I panicked, wondering what my neighbors must be thinking.  When I pulled the pan out of the oven, I had an uh-oh/ah-ha moment.  Most of the fries were just blackened around the edges but two truly were little black crisps.  So those went in the trash and I put the fish sticks on the tray.  I was scared to cook them for too much longer because the edges of the fries had looked decidedly blackened and I didn't want to set off the smoke alarm again.

Here's the recipe I used.  It had a great tip about putting the a baking/cooling rack in your pan and putting the fries on top of that so you don't have to flip them.  Oh, how I hate the flipping process.  So I'll remember that for next time, but I think I'll be cutting my sweet potatoes more like this recipe from Our Best Bites.  Hopefully that will eliminate the blackened edges. Plus, I can't wait to try the honey-lime dip.

The Time Seems Right

Honestly, I've wanted a blog for quite some time.  I'm an avid follower of other blogs and have often thought about what it would be like to have my own.  The problem is that I had no idea what I would write about or when I would have the time to do it.  So I read and I dreamed and that was it.

It's funny how life changes sometimes.  Everything is completely different now and suddenly my heart and my mind were both chanting "blog blog blog."  When you have that sort of accord, there's no way to say no.  So here's my new blog, to go with tons of new changes I'm making in my life- new city, new apartment, new job, new everything.  With so much going on, I think I'll find plenty to write about.  I've got tons of diy projects planned and now is the right time to do them.  Somehow, planning to write about diy, cooking, and adventuring makes me think I'll do more of the things I really like.  So often, fun seems to get pushed down to the bottom of the priorities list.  Sometimes that's necessary, but part of this new life that I'm carving for myself is about making time for happiness.

So here's a toast to everything that's new in my life.

Mary Catherine