Chili Potpie with Cheddar Biscuits

Baby, it’s cold outside!  Yesterday was our coldest day yet and I was so thankful to have a warm, comforting dinner at the end of the day.  I’m also thankful that Big Guy is “home for the holidays.”  Of course he’ll still be working, but no more travels for 2017.  This dinner makes use of a smoky beef and poblano chili that I made for friends with a new baby at home.  I love when Cooking Light features “cook once, eat 3 times” but this time I changed it up a bit – making the chili for a friend and then transforming the leftovers into chili potpie with cheddar biscuits for us last night.  The good news is that you can really use any chili (you’ll need 5 cups for this recipe) but I highly recommend making the chili one Sunday and then using the leftovers in new ways all week long.  Instead of making the third recipe in the trio, I decided to give our friends a little extra chili.

For the potpie, butternut squash is added to the mix and then thickened with a little flour.  And then everything is topped with easy cheddar biscuits before being baked until golden brown.

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So hearty and comforting!  I absolutely adored the flaky, cheesy biscuits on top and how the chili thickened up.  I didn’t feel like I was eating another bowl of chili – though the chili was quite delicious.

The perfect dinner on a bone-chilling night.

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Chicken Tetrazzini

I’ve made it my “third trimester goal” to prepare something each week to place in the freezer for us to enjoy after Baby Girl arrives.  And while casseroles aren’t always the prettiest, this one in particular is delicious and was perfect for the freezer.  We enjoyed this dinner a couple of weeks ago and we’ll enjoy it again come 2018.

Tetrazzini makes me think of my childhood and week night dinners.  It’s a simple yet “all in one” meal that’s full of protein and vegetables.  By making it from scratch, you limit the excess calories and pre-packaged ingredients.  For this particular recipe, I decided to use chicken instead of turkey and used a gluten-free pasta.  The casserole itself is loaded with bites of chicken, onion, celery and mushrooms.  I just love mushrooms.  There’s also some green peas thrown in the mix that give a pop of color to the casserole as well as little tender “pops” as you eat.  Cream cheese, parmesan cheese and fontina make this the ultimate comfort food.  The entire casserole is topped with bread crumbs and more parmesan for added texture before baking.

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And if you’re not into freezing meals, you can bake it all at once in a larger casserole dish to feed a larger family or this would make a great “meal baby” dinner for a new mama.

 

Slow Cooker Beef-and-Sweet Potato Chili

The slow cooker worked overtime in this household over the weekend.  On Sunday, I knew that I wanted to come home after my baby shower to dinner in the crock-pot for us to enjoy.  I ultimately decided to cook this chili because I had some ground beef in the freezer and we also have a couple of buckets of homegrown sweet potatoes that are ready to cook.  I really never have high expectations for chili because, well, chili is chili.  But this chili was incredible.  It was rich and hearty and I loved all the elements that went into the chili.  This is more than just a bowl of meat and beans.

To make the chili, brown your beef first.  I used a 96/4 blend and it worked perfectly – you won’t miss the fat in this dinner.  You don’t have to stress over cooking the beef all the way through but by cooking it on the stovetop you’ll ensure that the beef will be crumbled in the chili.  Then you just dump the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker.  Chop the sweet potatoes and make sure to leave the skin on – it will prevent the potatoes from completely falling apart.  Oh, and don’t chop them too small.  Add in chopped bell pepper and onion.  You’ll also add in beef stock, tomato paste and lots of garlic.  The seasonings include chili powder, salt, cumin, and ground red pepper.  Finally add in diced tomatoes (canned – and I went with fire roasted for extra flavor).  All of this cooks low and slow for 7 hours.

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Serve this bowl of chili with a hearty sprinkle of cilantro for a little freshness and shredded cheddar cheese.

We all really loved this chili recipe and I think it might be my new favorite go-to when I’m craving a warm bowl of chili.

 

Italian Braised Pork with Polenta

Pull out a delicious bottle of pinot noir, because this dinner deserves it.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy a glass on Saturday evening, however, I froze the leftovers for after BG arrives and I plan on cracking open a bottle when we reach for this dinner in the freezer in February or March.

Despite there being a little prep work, the slow cooker does most of the hard labor.  To start the Italian Braised Pork, sear a pork shoulder (I doubled the recipe because in the south, small pork shoulders are tough to find) that has been seasoned with salt and pepper until browned on all sides.  Add the pork to your crock pot and sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the same pan until tender.  Transfer the veggies to the crock pot with the pork.  Additionally, add in the diced tomatoes, rosemary and thyme.  Let the slow cooker do it’s thing on LOW for about 7 1/2 hours.  Then add in the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook UNCOVERED for 30 more minutes.

The pork is served over polenta that is cooked with two parts water, one part milk until thickened.  The polenta also has a little bit of parmesan stirred in along with plenty of salt and pepper.

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Hearty and warm – perfect to come home to after a long day.

Teriyaki Salmon Rice Bowl

The first book I read in preparation for Baby Watson was “Real Food for Mother and Baby.”    The book essentially breaks down the key nutrients you need during each trimester without overwhelming you.  Interestingly enough, the book only stresses one key nutrient during the third trimester:  omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 is critical for brain development (most happens in the last trimester and the first two years of a child’s life) as well as necessary building blocks for the retina and nervous system.  And while I’ve been taking a DHA supplement all along, I’ve tried to really amp up my intake these past few weeks.  I’ve been adding chia seeds to my yogurt every morning and eggs are a steady staple in my diet.  But I’ve also been trying to eat more salmon.  Big Guy isn’t a fan of salmon so I order it a lot when we’re out at a restaurant but I also try to cook it at home if we’re doing separate things for dinner.

A few weeks back I made this super simple salmon rice bowl.

salmonricebowl

The salmon bowl starts by first sautéing bell pepper strips in a little bit of EVOO.  Once cooked, the bell pepper is removed from the pan and the salmon is then cooked for three minutes on each side, basting with the teriyaki sauce.

Fill your bowl with rice, top with the salmon and bell peppers and a little extra drizzle of sauce before sprinkling with green onions.

Like I said – super simple – and SO healthy.  Especially for Baby Watson’s brain.

Classic Beef Pot Roast

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite days of the year since getting married and it’s because we’ve turned it into a “holiday” for us.  We both take the day off work (I use that loosely since I set my own work schedule and Big Guy is never “off work”) and we spend the day decorating for Christmas.  The evening is spent enjoying a cozy dinner and decorating the Christmas tree after exchanging ornaments.  Usually we open a nice bottle of wine – but alas, that didn’t happen this year.

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For dinner this past Monday, I decided to give Cooking Light’s “Most Popular Recipe” a try.  It’s a classic recipe for beef pot roast and I have to say, it’s a winner.  I ingredient list isn’t long and I think the trick to the deliciousness is quality ingredients and searing the meat before cooking in the oven.  This recipe would be perfect for entertaining!  The only change I would make would be to cook the potatoes a little less – they started falling apart on me – or cut the potatoes into bigger hunks.  Oh, and I’d add a sprinkle of parsley so the meal doesn’t look so…so…so…brown.

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This dinner is so warm and comforting and the perfect way to end the day by the Christmas tree.  This time of year can be SO crazy – and even more so this year with a baby on the way and house renovations going on – but these small moments in time are the ones that mean the most to us.

 

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Hummus Soup

One of my favorite dips in soup form!  Y’all know I’m not a soup fan…until it gets cold.  And well this week it’s been quite chilly, especially with workers in and out of the house – I feel like I can’t keep the house warm.  But a warm bowl of soup can make even the chilliest of evenings a little bit cozier.

The soup is garlicky and smooth and seriously tastes likes your favorite brand of garlic hummus.  Onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil before adding in stock and water, the base of the soup.  Bring that to a simmer and add in your chickpeas – the main ingredient in hummus.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  The mixture is then pureed in a blender until silky, smooth before adding in the tahini (I think Trader Joe’s makes the best) and lemon juice.  Whirl a few more times in the blender to mix everything up.

The soup is topped with feta cheese for a little saltiness as well as crunchy chickpeas.  I loved the contrast of texture that the chickpeas brought to the bowl of soup.  To make the crunchy chickpeas, simply cook a cup of chickpeas in a tablespoon of olive oil until crispy and browned.

hummussoup

I absolutely love this soup.  It’s garlicky, silky and absolutely warming to your soul on a chilly fall evening.