smoky chicken chili.

March 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I thought maybe I’d waited too long to share this recipe.  I thought, yesterday, Spring is here.  No one wants any more cold weather comfort food.  But then, I saw the forecast for Wednesday.  Five to eight inches of snow.  And I may have cried.  But then I thought…



I know I shared a recipe for a white bean chicken chili last month.  (It’s excellent.)  This recipe for smoky chicken chili has a completely different flavor profile.  It has a deep, smoky, lingering spiciness, the result of slow cooking the onions and allowing the chicken to absorb the spices.  It takes just a little extra time, but it’s definitely worth it.  Also, if you don’t have smoked paprika, I highly suggest you get some to use for this recipe.  (I know they sell it at Trader Joe’s!) It really makes the difference, and I don’t believe that regular paprika will have the same effect.

Smoky Chicken Chili

Recipe from How Sweet Eats, on the Tasty Kitchen blog

What you need:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 14.5-ounce cans white beans (use cannellini or Great Northern or both)
  • 2 4-ounce cans of diced green chilis
  • 1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese (for topping)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (for topping)

What to do:

In a large stockpot, cook the chopped bacon for 3 minutes.  Add the chopped onion and garlic to the bacon and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.  The onions should begin to caramelize and brown.

Now, add the shredded chicken, smoky paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring and pressing the spices into the chicken with a wooden spoon.  This helps to infuse the chicken with flavor.

Finally, stir in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, beans, and green chilis.  Allow the chili to come to a slow, rolling boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the liquid reduces.

Top bowls with some shredded mozzarella and fresh cilantro, if you like.  I liked this chili just as well without any extra toppings.  Enjoy!


I hope this makes you feel better about this never-ending winter.  It makes me feel better.


simple grilled fish tacos.

March 5, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’m not sure if many people crave fish tacos in the winter, but I did.  Granted, I have only had fish tacos once, and the fish was lightly battered and fried (let’s be real: that’s my preferred fish preparation).   I was mostly craving something light and flavorful.  I also wanted to experiment for the first time with tilapia, a mild white fish.

I did a lot of research (on Pinterest) and put together this quick grilled fish taco recipe.  I think this is a great option for nights when you don’t have much time to cook, but want something delicious and healthy.  The sauce is key!

ImageSimple Grilled Fish Tacos

What you need:

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (optional)

For the fish:

  • 1.25 pounds tilapia filets
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For serving:

  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

What to do:

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Put the tilapia filets in a dish or bowl and season both sides with black pepper and salt, then pour the marinade over the fish.  Let the fish marinate for at least 15 minutes in the fridge.


Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.  In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, cumin, dill, and oregano.  If you want an extra kick of spice, add one teaspoon of adobo sauce (taken from a can or jar of adobo peppers).

After the fish has marinated, heat a grill pan over high heat.  Grill the tilapia for 2-3 minutes, then flip, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.


Tilapia cooks very quickly.  I broke the fish apart with a spatula to ensure it cooked through.


Once the fish is cooked, you just need to assemble your tacos!  Warm the tortillas in a skillet until they begin to brown.  Top with a scoop of the sauce, then fish, then green onions and cabbage.

This recipe produces 6 tacos: enough for 2 hungry people!


Stay tuned for future fish taco experimentation: perhaps battered cod!


golden mashed potato bake.

February 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

I’m rather unapologetic when it comes to my love of french fried onions.  These unassuming little crispy bits are so super satisfying.  I have been known to accidentally, ahem, scoop them off the top of casseroles, leaving other servings sadly onion free.  Oops!  My bad!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the joy of cooking for yourself.  You can scoop up ALL the french fried onions from this potato bake!  Muahahaha.


Anyways.  They aren’t the only reason I made this dish.  But they played a major role.

This is a classic, feel good, warm and fuzzy recipe from Taste of Home.  Kudos to my Mom for finding it, and making it for me the first time.

I love the combination of Russet and sweet potatoes.


Golden Mashed Potato Bake

Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (not yams), peeled and cubed
  • 1 8-oz package of reduced fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 2.8-oz can french fried onions

What to do:

Peel and cube your potatoes.

Place them in a very large stockpot and add enough water to cover.  Bring the potatoes to a boil.  Reduce heat, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Test potatoes with a fork to see if they are tender.  Drain.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl or in the stockpot, blend the cubed cream cheese into the potatoes until smooth.  Then beat in the eggs, flour, parsley, chives, salt and pepper.  I used a potato masher and easily mixed everything by hand.

Transfer the potatoes to a nonstick or greased 3-qt baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Carefully remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle the potatoes with the French fried onions.  Bake for 5-10 more minutes, until top begins to brown.


Note:  This makes 8-10 generous servings.  My mom also noted that this recipe freezes well – just leave out the French fried onions until you are ready to reheat and serve.


P.S. When in doubt, just add more french fried onions.


carrot coconut soup.

February 25, 2014 § 2 Comments

News flash:  It’s still winter.

Maybe it was a dream, but this past Saturday I took a long walk with my Mom in near-60 degree sunshine.  The strange, glorious warmth was a reminder that Spring is coming.  And also that I am really, really pale.  It happens.

For now, I’m still meandering around the house moaning about how cold I am (“Toughen up!” says Ty), snuggling up in fleece blankets, sipping the occasional (nightly) glass of wine, and making pot fulls of soup and chili.

Like this Carrot Coconut Soup!  Quick soups like this are the best.


For such a simple soup, it packs a lot of flavor and spicy kick.  Also, I love a bright, orange soup!

Carrot Coconut Soup

Recipe directly from Shutterbean (with just the teensiest of modifications)

I found this serves 2-3 generously – double if you want leftovers!

What you need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
  • 1 pound of carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth (fat-free & low sodium)
  • 1  14 oz. can low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (found in the Thai section of your grocery)
  • sriracha sauce
  • fresh cilantro (optional for topping)

What to do:

As always, prep work first!  Peel and chop your carrots.  Peel and chop your onion.  Done!

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and let it melt.  Once butter has melted, add the chopped carrots and onion.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Continue to stir until carrots are softened.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Now, stir in the chicken broth and coconut milk.  Also add the tablespoon of sambal oelek, if desired.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Vegetables should become very soft.

Remove the soup from heat, then puree with an immersion blender.  Serve the soup with a dash of sriracha and cilantro.


Note:  If you don’t want the soup to be too spicy, but still want some kick, eliminate the sambal oelek.  If you want a mild, sweet carrot soup, skip the sambal oelek and sriracha altogether.



white bean and chicken chili.

February 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’ve been living in Northeast Ohio now for a little over five months.  In the late summer and early fall, I worried a lot about what winter would be like in the snow belt, especially considering I drive a little (cute) Honda Fit.  So far, I’ve only had one or two truly scary commutes to work and my car’s doing better than I expected.  The constant brutal cold temps and the seemingly constant snow showers have started to wear on me, but I kinda think that about half our country is in the same boat.

In the past, I’ve struggled to stay positive through winter.  I miss the sunshine and being about to jog and hike outdoors without freezing my nose and toes.  I have to say, I’ve surprised myself this winter.  I do have a strong partner in Ty; I guess I’ll give him some (tons) of the credit for keeping my spirits up.  As much as I loved living in Columbus, I also love living here.  It really is a beautiful place, even snow-covered.


I took these photos on the coldest day in Cleveland in 20 years.  Wind chills reached -35 below.

(-35 is not beautiful.  In case you were wondering.)


Needless to say, this is optimal time for chili cooking.  I’ve been churning through a list of different recipes to figure out which ones we like the best.  This was one of the first I made:  quick white bean and chicken chili.  I have a clipping of this recipe that my mom gave me from The Columbus Dispatch a few years ago.  The article is titled, “Quick chili stands out as gift,” and says the chili is ready in “20 minutes flat.”  I agree: This is a perfect recipe to double and serve to family and friends.  It also comes together really fast.


White Bean and Chicken Chili

Adapted from The Columbus Dispatch editors

What you need:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 can (15 oz.) great northern beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) green chilies (mild or hot, depending on your taste)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz.) fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1/2 C shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (optional garnish)
  • 1/4 C reduced-fat sour cream (optional garnish)


What to do:

When I make this chili, I prepare all my ingredients first.  Peel and chop the onion.  Peel and mince the garlic.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Rinse and drain all of your beans, and drain the chiles.  Ready?

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large nonstick soup pot.  Add your chopped onion to the pot, and stir to prevent sticking.  Now add the chicken and garlic.  Stir occasionally and allow the chicken to cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add your corn, beans, and chilies to the pot.  Then add the chicken broth, cumin, and cayenne pepper.  Increase the heat to high.  Cover the pot, and allow the chili to come to a boil.

While the chili is cooking, mix the cornstarch and water in a small plastic container with a lid.  Shake well!

Add the cornstarch mixture to the chili a scoop at a time, stirring constantly to blend it in.  Continue to let the chili boil until it reaches the thickness you prefer.  Remove the chili from heat when you’re ready to serve.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of cheese.


Easy, satisfying chili!


Some notes:

This recipe will serve 2-3 very hungry people.  I would double or triple the recipe for company, particularly if you want leftovers.

The chili freezes well.

If you prefer, you could cook your chicken breasts in the oven ahead of time and shred for the soup.  Other options would be to use frozen chicken strips, like Tyson makes, or a rotisserie chicken.


I love stirring in the sour cream and cheese.  So yummy.

cauliflower rice burrito bowls.

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last week, I posted a photo of my “delicious, healthy mess” of a dinner on Facebook, and several people were interested in the recipe.  Well, here it is, except this time, I think it’s a little bit prettier.  (That could be because I haven’t added three huge dollops of guacamole and mashed it all together… yet.)


I’m talking about cauliflower rice burrito bowls!  Cauliflower is kind of underrated, in my opinion.  Because it doesn’t have a strong taste on its own, it’s perfect for using in a dish like this.  Now, I don’t want to pretend that cauliflower “rice” tastes like actual rice.  It doesn’t.  It tastes like cauliflower.  But on those occasions when you want to go heavy on the veggies, and lighter on carbs, this cauliflower rice works perfectly.

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo

Recipe slightly adapted from The Roasted Root

What you need:

For the cauliflower rice–

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed, stems removed, and grated
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of sea salt and black pepper

For the guacamole–

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 package seasoning mix or your own seasoning blend
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For the pico de gallo–

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

To complete the bowls–

  • 1 14-oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C corn (can use frozen or canned)
  • Optional toppings, such as fresh cilantro, cheese, sour cream, etc.

What to do:

I made my guacamole and pico de gallo first, then let both chill in the fridge while I cooked my cauliflower rice.

To make your guacamole, halve and pit your avocados.  Scoop the flesh into a small bowl and mash well, with a fork or potato masher.  Add your seasoning, per your preference.  I sometimes use the McCormick Mild Guacamole packet.  After you blend the avocado and seasoning well, add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice.

To make your pico de gallo, begin by seeding and dicing the Roma tomatoes.  Peel and dice the white onion.  Put both the tomatoes and onion in a small bowl.  Add the juice of 1 lime, plus 1 cup of fresh chopped cilantro.  Blend well, then season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Now–to make our cauliflower rice!

Rinse your head of cauliflower.  Remove the greens and stem.  Grate the florets, either in a food processor or by hand.  I only have a small cheese grater, so that’s what I used!  I suggest grating the cauliflower over a cookie sheet to catch the small pieces.


Once the cauliflower is grated, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add two tablespoons olive oil.  Once the skillet is warm, add your grated cauliflower, the juice of one lime, and your seasonings.  Cook the rice over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cook until the cauliflower becomes soft and browned.  Taste, and add more sea salt and pepper as needed.

Your “rice” will look something like this:


Now, it’s time to prep the rest of the ingredients for our bowls!  Rinse and drain your can of garbanzo beans, and warm the beans over medium heat in a small saucepan or skillet.  I like to saute the beans until they begin to crisp and brown.

Also heat your corn, either in a small saucepan or in the microwave.

All that’s left now is to mix it all together!  Put a heaping cup of cauliflower rice in your bowl.  Add a spoonful of corn and a spoonful of garbanzo beans.  Top with pico de gallo and guacamole!


Now is also the time to add any other toppings you choose.  This is really all up to you and what you like!  I like a TON of guacamole.  That’s just me.


This is a fresh, healthy lunch or dinner!Image

Mix it all up and dig in!

Note:  I would say that this recipe will serve two hungry people generously for a main dish, or is enough for 4 smaller lunch servings.  If you wanted to opt for plain mashed avocado or avocado slices instead of guacamole, I think that would be fine.

pineapple fried rice.

February 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

In my effort to become a more  adventurous cook, I’m trying new recipes with foods that I “don’t like.”  Rice is typically one of those foods.  I will eat rice if it’s buried under an order of sweet and sour chicken, but really that’s about it.  Despite that, I bought a bag of brown jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s a while back and its been sitting in my pantry, waiting for its moment.  This recipe for pineapple fried rice from How Sweet Eats caught my eye with all of its color, and I wondered how rice simmered in coconut milk and pineapple juice would taste…

Turns out it tastes really, really good.


Pineapple Fried Rice

Recipe from How Sweet Eats

What you need:

  • 1 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 cups cubed pineapple
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews (optional)

What to do:

Don’t be intimidated!  This comes together quickly.  Keep in mind that you could prepare the rice a day ahead of time.

First: Cook the rice.  Heat a medium pot over high heat.  Add the rice, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and water.  Stir well and bring the rice to a boil.  Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat.  Simmer the rice for 30 minutes until it absorbs all the liquid.  Then, set it aside to completely cool.

Next: Chop your veggies!  Peel and chop your sweet onion.  Mince your garlic and ginger.  Cube your pineapple, if not already cubed.  De-seed and chop your red pepper.  Thinly slice your green onions.  Crack and beat two large eggs into a small bowl, and beat lightly with a fork.  Have everything ready to go!

Heat a large skillet over high heat, and add one tablespoon of coconut oil.  Allow the oil to melt, then add your chopped onions and red pepper.  Stir for 2-3 minutes while the veggies cook.  Then, add the garlic and ginger.  Cook for no more than one minute (so the garlic and ginger doesn’t burn), then scoop the veggies out of the skillet and into a large bowl.  Set the bowl aside.

Add another tablespoon of coconut oil to your now-empty skillet, and add the pineapple.  Stir and cook the pineapple for 5-6 minutes until it begins to brown.  Then, add the sautéed pineapple to your bowl of veggies.  Keep the bowl set aside.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil to your again-empty skillet, and pour in your beaten eggs.  The skillet should be very hot by this point, so the eggs will cook quickly.  Let them cook for 1 minute, stirring them the entire time so they don’t stick to the pan.  Break the cooked egg up into small pieces.  Then, return the cooked egg to the small bowl and set aside.

Now, it’s time to put it all together!  Keeping the heat high, add 2 and a half tablespoons of coconut oil to the skillet.  Once it melts, add your cooked rice and toss to coat.  Let the rice crisp and heat for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.  Add your soy sauce and stir well.  Then, add in your bowl of veggies and pineapple.  Next, add your cooked eggs.  Mix well.  Top with the sliced green onions.  If you want some extra crunch, sprinkle on some crushed cashews.


If you’re so inclined, you could top the rice with grilled chicken or shrimp.


If you have never cooked with coconut oil, or you’re wondering where to buy it, look for it next time you’re in Trader Joe’s.

Also, one note:  I used a bag of frozen pineapple tidbits rather than fresh pineapple.  It worked fine, but I’d suggest using fresh pineapple for the best taste!

  • Archives

  • lately in The Cheesy Kitchen:

  • Follow The Cheesy Kitchen on
  • my foodgawker gallery