Monday, May 12, 2014

Simple Crock Pot Chicken Chili

 Some days you just want something easy--something that you can throw together before the day begins and then come home to a finished meal. This chicken chili is just what you want! It's creamy, delicious, easy to make, and it can use any left over vegetables you may have lying around.

I know it's summer right now, and really hot out, but hey! Who cares? Soup is good....

This is made creamy by a block of cream cheese that just bakes on top until the end of the cooking period. When you go to stir the soup at the very end, it will just melt into the stock. YUM! It doesn't curdle, but provides an easy, smooth sauce that will feel a lot better on your digestive system than normal tomato-based chili (unless of course you are lactose-intolerant!).


-1 whole chicken--the remains from a previous meal OR 6 cups chicken stock and 2 chicken breasts
-1 can of corn
- 2 cups of black beans (or 1 can)
-2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-a bunch of spring onions, chopped
-1 or 2 chopped bell peppers
-1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
-1 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. cumin
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-8 oz. cream cheese
-shredded cheddar and nacho chips to serve

First things first: I always make soup after I've cooked a whole chicken. This way I get free chicken stock! It's easy. After dinner, toss the chicken carcass (it's great if there's meat still on it, too!) into your crock pot or a pot on the stove, and fill with water until the whole thing is covered. Let simmer overnight, for 6-8 hours. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the stock INTO A RECEPTACLE (Not into the sink--as I have accidentally done a few times!). Sift through the carcass and pinch off any meat--being careful to avoid bones.

To make the soup: Add the leftover chicken or chicken breasts to the crock pot. Then dump in all of your chopped vegetables, then the spices and salt. Place the block of cream cheese on the top of the pile, and pour over your stock. Add water to cover about 1 inch over the vegetables. Place on the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, high for 3-5 hours. When you get home, inhale the juicy smells, and stir the melty cream cheese into the soup. It will all come together beautifully! If you used chicken breasts, shred them and add them back in.

Serve with a sprinkling of cheddar. This is really good with nacho chips dipped in as well!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nova Scotia Donairs

You probably haven't heard of a donair. That's because it's a Nova Scotian food. In other words, it's an east Canadian version of a gyro--and it's amazing. Apparently it originates from some guy who visited a Mediteranean country and then came home to try and replicate the amazing food he ate while abroad in a Canadian way. 

The best part is the sauce. It's a thick, sweet, garlic sauce made with the most unusual ingredients. But don't question, don't judge--just try it. It's amazing.

Donair meat ingredients: 

-2 lb. ground beef
-1.5 tsp. cayenne pepper
-1 tsp. oregano
-2 tsp. paprika
-1 tsp. onion powder
-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper  

 Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor (you may need to do 2 batches). Process until combined into a ball, then a bit more. Form into a log shape, and wrap in plastic wrap. Let sit for a few hours in the fridge. Preheat oven to 300F. Place a sheet of tin foil over a baking sheet, and then lay a cooling rack on the foil--this will allow the drippings to fall away from the meat. Lay the meat on the rack and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool. 

And now for the thing you've been waiting for: the recipe for donair sauce...It may look like a simple white sauce, but you are oh so wrong to think so!

Ingredients for Donair Sauce:

-1 can evaporated milk (the non-low-fat version)
-1 can condensed milk (the fully sweet version)
-1/4 cup white vinegar
-1 tsp. garlic powder

Combine first two ingredients with a whisk. Add in vinegar and garlic powder, stirring until combined. Set in fridge for about a half an hour. This should be a thick sauce. Don't over-stir!

You can make the sauce and cook the meat ahead of time. When you are ready to serve, it's really fast. This is how you put it together:

Putting it all together:

-1 donair meat log, cooked
-4 "naan" or pita breads (I use the so-called "naan" bread from Wal Mart. It's basically an authentic Israeli pita bread anyway...Very soft and delicious)
-mozzarella cheese
-onion, chopped
-tomato, chopped
-donair sauce

Preheat the oven to 450F. Thinly slice the cooled meat and lay along the center of the breads. Be liberal!! Sprinkly mozzarella over the top. Bake in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges are crisp.

Drizzle the donair sauce over the meat. Sprinkle over the lettuce, tomato, and onion--and more cheese! wrap halfway in tin foil, and serve (with more sauce. It's addictive).

Monday, May 5, 2014

Easy No-Bake Turtle Cheesecake

On Sunday I was trying to think of a dessert to bring to a poker night at a friend's  house. It needed to be something I could throw together between church and 5pm. At first cheesecake was entirely off the table, but then I thought up an idea.

This is really fantastic in so many ways....first, it's really fast (none of that horrible water-bath in the oven nonsense), second, it doesn't get a chance to burn, sink, or curdle because it's not baked, and third, it's not made with Cool Whip!!!

It set really well even though it's not baked. It's softer than a cooked cheesecake, firmer than a pudding, but super rich and smooth. It will hold its shape when cut--making life so much easier for those of us who are really bad at cutting cakes and pies.

Overall, this is the best and yummiest no-bake I have ever made. Enjoy.

Ingredients for Crust:

-1 sleeve of graham crackers (9 crackers)
-1 cup of pecans
-1.5 sticks of butter (11 tbsp.)

In a food processor, blend up the cracker and pecans until finely ground. Melt the butter in the microwave and add to the crumbs. Pulse until fully combined.

Pour into a pie dish (this was easiest for me; you can also try a spring-form pan and remove the outer edge to serve), and press the crumbs all around and up the sides so it's all smooth and even. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for half an hour.

Ingredients for Filling:

-2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (not low-fat!!!), at room temperature
-1 14 oz. can of condensed milk (also not low-fat...come on guys, dessert is meant to be like this)
-zest of one lemon
-1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
-1 1/2 tsp. caramel flavoring
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese until smooth with an electric mixer. Slowly drizzle in the condensed milk and beat until fully combined, scraping down the sides. Add in the lemon zest and juice, then the flavorings. Pour into the graham cracker crust and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours. Then, sprinkle more pecans on the top, along with some chocolate chips, and a cross-hatched drizzle of chocolate syrup and caramel syrup (I didn't have any this time).