Pork Green Chili

Pork Green Chili

I like to make a big pot of chili as an easy dinner that provides plenty of leftovers for multiple meals (lunch included).  I tend to gravitate towards beef chili, but this week I was in the mood for a Pork Green Chili.

Pork Green Chili

I kept it simple by using my crock pot.  A pork loin was cooked until tender and easy to shred, and then creamed corn, green salsa, onions, and beans were added to make a hearty and tasty chili.  The green salsa had a fair amount of kick, providing a great base for the chili.  We ate ours with cheddar cheese grated on top, but a Monterey jack would compliment the dish just as well.

I’m sure I will tinker with this chili the next time I make it. I can never seem to make chili the same way twice.  What is your favorite chili mix in?


Pork Green Chili

4 lb pork loin
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups jarred green salsa
One, 14 ounce can creamed corn
One 15 ounce can northern beans, drained
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin

Cheese for serving (optional) 

Place the pork loin in a crock pot with 2 cups of chicken stock on high for 4-6 hrs. Skim off the fat and shred, then add onion, salsa, corn, beans, cumin, and garlic.  Stir to combine and cook on high for 1 hour longer. Serve; refrigerate any leftovers.

Notes:  Looking for the same amount of kick? I used 505 Southwestern hatch green chili in medium for my chili. I was not sponsored for this post.

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asparagus casserole

Asparagus Casserole

Many Thanksgiving gatherings include a green bean casserole. There is no denying the creamy goodness of such a casserole, but I wanted to test out a version using asparagus (a favorite vegetable in my family) with a homemade sauce. 

Parboiled asparagus, get coated in a generous amount of a cream sauce, and mixed with sauuted onion, garlic, and cheese. Once baked and bubbly, it gets a dusting of crumbled bacon.  I’m sure this dish will be irresistible at our Holiday feast!

asparagus casserole


Asparagus Casserole

2 lbs asparagus
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ tablespoon freshly minced garlic
4 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups ½ and ½
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon

 

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the asparagus and boil for 5minutes; drain and add asparagus to a greased 2.8 Liter casserole dish.

In a non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter.  Once melted, add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, or until translucent and begin to brown.  Add the garlic during the last minute of saute; remove from the heat.  Return the non-stick skillet to the stove and melt the remaining butter over medium heat.  Add the flour to the butter and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the half & half, stirring until smooth and sauce begins to thicken.  Add the salt and pepper, then pour over the asparagus.  Add the onions, garlic, and Monterey jack cheese to the asparagus, and gently toss to evenly coat the asparagus with the sauce and cheese.

Heat oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the bacon and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Serve; refrigerate any leftovers.

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Maple Cashews

Maple Cashews

At family gatherings, my grandfather would always set out a bowl of cashews for a snack.  My guess is that this tradition started my love of cashews, which is why I tend to be the offender who will steal them from the mixed nuts if given the chance.

I use them periodically in my cooking, such as my Cashew Chicken Stuffed Avocados and Asian Salad, but this week I wanted to make a candied cashew for snacking and to serve at this year’s holiday gatherings.  I kept them simple – a mixture of maple syrup, oil, and allspice was all I needed to make a sugary glaze for the nuts.

Maple Cashews

After just 15 minutes of baking the Maple Cashews were ready for snacking.  I have enjoyed this treat throughout the week and I can’t wait to share them with my family.

Maple Cashews


Maple Cashews

¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon allspice
2 cups cashews

Heat oven to 350°F.  In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, olive oil, and allspice. Place the cashews in a medium sized bowl, pour over the maple syrup mixture, and stir to coat. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, then spread the cashews over the sheet. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the oven and cool completely; store in a cool, dry container.

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Sausage and Kale Soup

Sausage & Kale Soup

This week, one of the books my daughter brought home for reading homework was Stone Soup.  If you have never read the book, the story is about an impoverished town that comes together to share the small amounts of food they have to create a large and scrumptious kettle of soup. Reading about a “little bit of meat, a little bit of beans, and a little bit of carrots” got me thinking that a hearty soup was just the ticket for this weekend.  Not only would I get to use the last bit of kale from my garden, but it also would give me a vehicle to get more beans into the kid’s diet. 

 Sausage and Kale Soup

I chose mild Italian sausage as my “little bit of meat” since it would add a lot of flavor.  I rounded out the soup with kale, black beans, carrots, onions, and chicken broth.  The soup was delicious without being too heavy. The kids thought it was a fun way to bring the book to life. Stone soup never tasted so good!

Sausage and Kale Soup


Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb mild Italian sausage, without casing
12 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onions
3 cups kale
One 15 ounce can or black beans, drained

 

Add the sausage to a large pot and brown and crumble over medium heat.  When the sausage is cooked through, add the stock, carrots, and onions.  Bring to a boil and add the kale and black beans.  Cook for until the kale is wilted, then serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

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spooky sandwich

Spooky Sandwiches

 Two months in to the school year and my daughter is bored with lunches.  To spice up her lunch box AND do something fun for Halloween, I decided to make an easy Spooky Sandwich.

 spooky sandwich

I bought a set of food markers (I found mine at Walmart, but a craft store would also be a good source) to decorate some lunch items.  It is best to draw on a more solid surface, such as royal icing, or in this case a tortilla.  Soft items like bread or oily/crumbly items don’t work well.

I drew skeletons onto one half of the tortilla before filling them with cheese to make quesadillas.  I also drew on sandwich rolls, just make sure to roll the sandwich first so that you don’t hide some of the image. 

This is such an easy way to bring a smile to your kiddos face without much effort.  Every now and then I plan on surprising my daughter with flowers or faces on her sandwiches!

spooky sandwich


Spooky Sandwiches

Food markers
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar cheese or cheese slices and lunch meat

 

Use food marker to draw on tortilla, then build quesadilla (or sandwich), and serve.

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Food & Nostalgia

When I was little, my parents would throw a Christmas party that was the highlight of the year (in a child’s eyes).  The house was decorated with trees galore and Santa was sure to make an appearance. Of course there was also the thrill of a banquet of food, treats, and dessert.  One year in particular sticks in my mind though. My parents packed us in the car, drove to downtown Chicago, and visited a soda shop. The shop sold soda in all sorts of flavors, which you could sample before purchase.  We settled on strawberry flavored and peppermint flavored pop for our party.  Pop was an infrequent treat, so to go to a specialty shop was extra special.

Unfortunately the store we visited is no longer in business, but a store recently opened in my neighborhood that specializes in soda.  Seeing the store refreshed my holiday memory, so of course I had to take a peek at their flavors.  The flavors range from unique to wacky and are too numerous to list here.  However, here are a few that sounded interesting enough to try:

 

Perhaps I will have to see if they have a peppermint flavored version I could sample over Christmas.  Do you have any fun, food related memories?

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Cape Gooseberry

Gooseberry Salsa

I had mentioned that I went a little bit nuts with the purchase of exotic fruits a few weeks ago. This is my third, and final exotic fruits post for a while. The feature of today’s post is cape gooseberries. The gooseberries of my childhood were of the green variety, which grew in my grandmother’s backyard. I had never see orange gooseberries that resembled tomatillos in packaging, meaning a paper thin husk that surrounds the fruit.

Cape Gooseberry
Cape gooseberries, which are also referred to as ground cherries, have a unique and hard to describe flavor. It is a combination of a bunch of sweet and tart fruits rolled into one, such that I can only suggest you give it a try to see what I mean.
To showcase the flavor I chose to make a simple salsa. I mixed diced cape gooseberries with red onion, green onion, lime juice, and honey, which served as a topping for roasted chicken.

Cape Gooseberry
OK, so cape gooseberries might be hard to find, but I still like trying new things. What unique fruit do you want to recommend?


Gooseberry Salsa

20 cape gooseberries, quartered (~3-4 ounces)
2 tablespoons diced red onions
2 tablespoons diced green onions
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon honey

 

Mix together the gooseberries, red onion, green onion, lime juice, and honey.  Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

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Smoked Salmon Alfredo

Smoked Salmon Alfredo

This week I had a taste for lox and all of the typical accompaniments – tomatoes, cream cheese, onions, etc.  But instead of making a breakfast spread, I turned it into a Smoked Salmon Alfredo. 

Smoked Salmon Alfredo

The cream cheese was blended into a smooth sauce for spaghetti, which served as the base for my other mix-ins.  The star of the entree is the smoked salmon, which is broken into chunks and scattered through the dish. Even my husband (who isn’t super fond of a pasta-seafood combo) loved it. I hope you enjoy this spin on a classic just as much!

smoked salmon alfredo


Smoked Salmon Alfredo

8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounce half and half
1 lb spaghetti
8 ounces baby tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup diced green onions
½ cup diced red onion
6 ounces smoked salmon, broken into chunks

 

In a small sauce pan, place the cream cheese and half and half and simmer over medium heat until the cream cheese is melt; stirring frequently.  While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to package directions. During the last minute of pasta cooking, add the tomatoes to the water with the pasta.  Drain the pasta and tomatoes and add to a large bowl.  Stir the salt and pepper in to the cream sauce, and pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat.  Add the green onions, red onions, and smoked salmon to the pasta, stir to evenly mix and serve.

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Fall Favorites Trail Mix

Fall Favorites Trail Mix

These days it seems that the arrival of fall is announced with pumpkin everything.  Yet when thanksgiving rolls around, people are divided between pumpkin pie and pecan pie. This Fall Favorites Trail Mix allows you to stop the bickering.

Fall Favorites Trail Mix

  Homemade pumpkin granola, pecan pie M&Ms, caramel pieces, and raisins get tossed together for a sweet treat. It’s such a hit, you will have to make batch after batch to keep it on hand. 

Fall Favorites Trail Mix


Fall Favorites Trail Mix

½ cup canned pureed pumpkin
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups quick cook oats
5 ounces pecan pie M&Ms (1/2 a bag)
2 ounces caramel baking chips
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup pecans

 

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper.  Stir together the pumpkin, honey, oil, maple extract, apple pie spice, and salt.  Fold in the oats until coated evenly.  Spread the oats onto the parchment lined pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes, stir and redistribute and then bake for 20-30 minutes longer until golden brown. Cool completely, than add to a large container.  Add the M&Ms, caramel baking chips, raisins, and pecans and toss gently.

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Prickly Pear Syrup

Prickly Pear Syrup

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I picked up quite a few exotic fruits at my local grocery store.  One was prickly pear, which is also known as cactus fruit.  Once the spines and skin are removed, the pulp inside is typically pureed for recipes for easier removal of the seeds inside.

Prickly Pear Syrup

The fruit is a beautiful ruby color, which I thought would be great as an addition to a yogurt parfait or topper for pancakes. Just a bit of sugar and lime juice was all I needed to add to make the prickly pear syrup.  It was a hit with the whole family – I love trying new things!

Prickly Pear Syrup


Prickly Pear Syrup

2 prickly pears
¼ cup white sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

Remove the skin from the prickly pears, then add the fruit to a food processor and blend until liquefied. Strain the liquid to remove the seeds and add the liquid to a small sauce pan, along with the sugar and lime juice.  Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-8 minutes or until juice begins to coat the back of a spoon.  Place in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.  Use as syrup on yogurt, ice cream, or pancakes.

Note: If harvesting prickly pears yourself, make sure to follow safety tips for handling them with spines

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Bacond-avocado dressing

Bacon-Avocado Vinaigrette

Let it be known that I am not a gardener. I had tried container gardening about a decade ago, which turned out to be a complete disaster.  I vowed to wait until I had more space and could have a raised bed garden.

My husband and I finally got around to making a raised bed this summer.  We planted kale, spinach, green onions, and tomatoes – all mostly from seed.  We planted one seedling tomato plant since that was all that looked decent by the time we bought plants this year (we had extremely late May snow and hail in Colorado this year). We had high hopes and thought the kids would have a lot of fun watering the garden and watching the plants grow.

After a summer of cultivating we netted only a small bowl full of kale and 1 tomato. You may notice that I have two ripening tomatoes on my plant in the picture, but one lost its life to a curious kiddo who “gently squeezed it” and left a hole in its side.

To celebrate our bounty I made a kale and tomato salad with bacon-avocado vinaigrette (recipe below). While the serving shown is small, rest assured that I shared the tomato with the entire family.  We each got two, small slivers and declared that is was the best tasting and most expensive tomato we had ever eaten.

bacon-avocado dressing


Bacon-Avocado Vinaigrette

1 small avocado
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup avocado oil
1 slice of cooked, crisp bacon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon minced onion

 

Place the avocado in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the vinegar, oil, and bacon and process again until smooth.  Stir in the salt, pepper, and minced onion.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

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Star Punch

Shining Star Punch

I have been looking for starfruit for months, with an idea of doing a themed drink.  I have used starfruit in the past to garnish a dessert, with a flare of celebration.  I wanted to do a drink in the same vein, whether it be to celebrate a promotion, school accomplishment or other success.  I had given up hope on seeing a starfruit again when my local grocery store help a bloggers dream this August– a highlight of all things tropical fruit.

Star Punch

 Not only did they have starfruit on display, they also had jackfruit, prickly pear, lychee, and rambutans.  You name it, they had it on the floor. For me this was like being a kid in the candy store, so you can bet you will see some more posts on exotic fruit in the upcoming weeks.

While I made a fuss about starfruit, the recipe is actually simplistic. I use the starfuit to garnish a glass and mix a bit of tropical sorbet (pina colada or lemon) with a sparkling juice (I used lemoncello mocktail, but any sparkling citrus drink will do) for an easy punch.  A quick google search will net a variety of sorbet punches, so feel free to play around with the flavors.  I was more interested in using a natural decoration – the starfruit – to play on the theme of celebration.  If nothing else use this recipe as an excuse to celebrate trying new foods!

Star Punch


Shining Star Punch

Pina colada or lemon sorbet
Sparkling lemonade or Lemoncello mocktail
1 starfruit, cut into star rounds and slit to fit on glass

 

Place 4 melon baller scoops of sorbet in the bottom of a champagne glass.  Fit one wedge of star fruit over the rim of the glass and fill the glass with the lemonade or lemoncello mocktail. Serve.

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