White Chicken Chili | Instant Pot

Hey Everyone!  I’m still alive 🙂  Just took a long pause to continue my photography and teach 4th grade full-time for a few months.  Next month I will be a full-time student at the University of Missouri and possibly part or full-time teacher as well… we’ll see how this goes.  🙂

But hey, we are here for the recipes, not my opinion on the last presidential election that we missed on the blog.  Whew!  Maybe that’s a good thing we missed it….

Book Review: 

Rosalind Wiseman has written a comprehensive guide to helping girls through the teenage years and even the tweens. This is a must read for any parent that has a daughter! The author delivers in a conversational tone a plethora of advice from years of clinical experience. Quotations from teenage girls are scattered throughout the book giving firsthand knowledge of the world of “queen bees.”

The first section is about friendships, groups of friends and the roles friends play. Next, parents and parenting styles are discussed. Then, anger management and what to do about parties. Online communication and boys are included in the chapters as well. The book is lengthy… which is a blessing and a curse. “Queen Bees and Wannabes” has so many scenarios that it will probably have what you are dealing with or what you will be dealing with in years to come. All 412 pages will not apply to everyone. But I can guarantee that some of this book will apply to all parents and help them – and their daughters – through whatever physical or emotional hurdles they may have to face and guide them through facing it together.

I received a sample of this book to read from Blogging for books so i can give my honest and unbiased opinion/review.

Recipe:

My Instant Pot is still my new favorite toy!   Check out this blog post with more things to do with the Instant Pot like:  make yogurt from just milk, make a 10 hour roast in 1 hour, cook chicken without drying it out, make chili in 10 minutes, hard-boiled eggs where the shell comes off in one piece, make perfectly cooked brown or white rice.

Now to the chili… we have tons of deer meat and been eating chili like crazy the past few months.  To shake things up a bit, I made white chicken chili.  I have tried several ways and finally came across some ingredients that help a lot:  Trader Joe’s fire roasted diced green chiles.  YUM!  Try to find them if you can.  If not, that’s okay and find the Mexican food aisle in your store and they will have canned green chilies.

*If you want to use dried beans – that works too!  1/2 cup dried beans = 1 can of beans.  So, I used my Instant Pot the previous day to pressure cook the soaked beans.  They were done in 12 minutes on high pressure using natural release.

White Chicken Chili (and Instant Pot Option)
 
Prep time
Total time
 
:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 and ½ cups diced chicken breasts or tenderloin (with tendon removed)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tb. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • 4 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium preferred)
  • 2 cans (3 cups) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces canned green chiles, diced
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. For regular pot: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink - about 8 minutes. Add garlic with the spices and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Once the garlic and spices are fragrant, add the broth, beans, chiles and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. For Instant Pot: Turn on the Instant Pot to "Saute" on Normal/Medium. Add oil and once hot add the chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink - about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook those another 30 seconds. Turn Instant Pot off.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the Instant Pot back on to Manual mode and set for 10 minutes. Or press "Chili" and reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes. Make sure the vent is sealed of course!
  5. Release the pressure and your chili is finished! If you want it thicker, put the Instant Pot on saute with the lid off to reduce the chili.

 

 

Chicken Melts

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat

Good morning everyone!  It has been for- EV- UH!  I wish I could post more 🙁

I have been working 50-60 hours per week between substitute teaching and photography while the hubby looks for a new job.  The cleaning and cooking still need done… so the blog was put on the back burner.  Currently, I will be working toward applying for a full-time job when the new school year 2017-2018 opens up.

I am still reading Ron Chernow’s Washington and it is STILL one of the best biographies.  Which probably explains that little Pulitzer Prize that it won.  The most recent tidbit I did not know is that Washington really wanted to go back to Mount Vernon and be home after the Revolutionary War.  He was happy to help with the Constitutional Convention and get the new government on its feet.  From his personal letters, it can be deduced that he only really expected to be president a couple of years.  He was there to get the ball rolling so to speak.  If Washington had known he was going to remain president for 8 years, he may never have volunteered in the first place.

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat

Recipe:

This recipe has a short story!  So, about 6 months ago the kids and I discovered these delicious Chicken Melts at Costco.  “Really….Really Tasty Sandwiches” is their motto and they are right!  For the price and time, they are really good and really tasty.  There are 15 chicken melts in one box and all 4 of us really like them.  Plus, they are so tasty and low in calories that we want to eat one or two!!  A box of 15 of them goes super fast!

So – I decided to try and make a copycat recipe.  It would taste almost exactly the same, but perhaps have more chicken so that it felt more like a meal than a snack.

The kids gave them 4 thumbs up!!

Woo hoo!  Eureka!

What do we do with this recipe??

  1.  You can freeze them like the Sandwich Bros. do!  Just seal in plastic and reheat in the microwave (out of the plastic bag of course!).  Start at 60 seconds per sandwich and wrap in a paper towel first with the cheese side UP.  Or you will have a cheesy microwave!
  2. Eat them for lunch!  The kids are in school and cannot heat up their own meal.  So, I send the sandwich cold to school and they still love it.  More like a deli type feel.
  3. Eat them for dinner!  Yum!
  4. Have the fixin’s stashed in the fridge for any time.  I make a large batch and then keep the chicken with cheese in a large container in the fridge.  If someone wants to make a chicken melt, they just have to add the cooked chicken to the pita pocket.
  5. Easy and cheap and tasty!  My favorite triad 🙂

Here is a photo of the whole wheat pita pockets that I purchased for making the chicken melts.  You can purchase pita pockets almost everywhere now!  Since Trader Joe’s avoids preservatives and such, I try there first.  **IMPORTANT** When opening up their pita pockets, heat them first a little.  I store my bread in the fridge and the pockets would tear when I opened them up.  BUT, they won’t tear if you heat them up for like 15 seconds in the microwave!

trader-joes-pita-pockets

This recipe is a new staple in our household and I hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Melts
 
:
Serves: 16 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 1-2 Tb. olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • (about) 1 tsp. garlic powder (add to taste, we like it and I cover the flour with a layer of garlic powder)
  • (about) 1 Tb. paprika (I used smoked paprika and increase or decrease based on how fresh it is)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices of American Cheese
  • 8 round pita pockets
Instructions
  1. To start, I heat up my large 12" cast iron skillet on medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. I add more if it doesn't cover the bottom of the skillet.
  2. While that heats up, slice the chicken in half LENGTHwise. You now have 8 chicken breasts. Now, cut those to fit you pita pocket. I cut mine in half again the other way to fit into the pita pocket. Now, I have 16 pieces of chicken.
  3. In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken through the flour mixture on both sides until coated. Repeat on all the chicken.
  4. Add chicken to the skillet one layer at a time. Mine holds 4-5 pieces of chicken. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Flip. Cook another 3 minutes and make sure the chicken is cooking nicely. About 2 minutes before it is done, add the cheese. Melt the cheese for 2-3 minutes and remove the chicken from the skillet onto a wire cooling rack over paper towels. This will keep the chicken crispy on the bottom and the top.
  5. Repeat by adding a little more oil to the skillet if necessary and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Heat up the pita pockets for about 15 seconds in the microwave. This will allow them to open easier.
  7. Slice the pita pocket circle in half to get two half circles. Fill the pita pocket with the cooked chicken and eat while hot!
  8. Or assemble and freeze in the freezer. To reheat from frozen, wrap in a paper towel and place in the microwave with the cheese side on top. Heat for 60 seconds and check to see if it is done. If not, add a few more seconds until heated thoroughly.
  9. Or keep separated in the fridge and assemble any time you are hungry.

 

 

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Detox Lentil Soup

What’s so awesome about lentils?

Lentils are cheap.

Lentils can be stored a long time because they are dried.

Lentils are a great source of potassium, calcium, niacin, zinc and Vitamin K.

Lentils are rich in fiber and lean protein.

Lentils are a super food!  We love our super foods here on Whisk Together!  🙂

Lentils are like chicken… they take on the flavor of whatever ingredients they are cooked with.

Detox Lentil Soup 3

 

This soup is great for those of you trying to lose weight!  Lots of protein, fiber and veggies.  Or trying to maintain weight.  Or just need a nice warm bowl of soup.  It is a nice blank canvas for anything you would like to add to it.  Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon infused grapeseed or olive oil, red wine vinegar, etc. all taste great as a finishing touch.  If you are trying to add a “Meatless Monday” to the dinner menu, this soup would definitely fit the bill!  Simply add a side salad or whole grain bread.

Detox Lentil Soup 2

To keep the week going smoothly, I try to get a few things done on Sunday.  One of those is making a big batch of soup and one large bowl of salad.  That way I always have something to grab for lunch or a back up for dinner.  Especially since these soups and most of my salads don’t contain meat or dairy mixed in, then I don’t feel like it is going to turn bad in 6-7 days.

Crockpot Lentil Soup
 
:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash (peeled and cut into ½" cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (peeled and cut into ½" silces)
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes (Yukon Gold works well) or sweet potatoes (peel if you prefer and chop into ½" cubes)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced (more garlic for more garlic flavor)
  • 1 and ¾ cup dried green lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach or kale chopped into 1" pieces, optional
  • 1 lemon, squeeze the juice into the soup
  • Optional garnishes: fresh parsley, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Into a large slow cooker, add all of the ingredients from butternut squash through ground pepper.
  2. Cook on high 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  3. Add baby spinach and squeeze lemon juice into soup. Allow to wilt about 5 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste! I added quite a bit of salt and pepper. I also added Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute because it tastes great on everything.
  5. Add 1-2 cups of additional broth for a thinner soup. I like my soups on the thick side.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Grace and Salt
http://graceandsalt.net/lentil-vegetable-crockpot-soup/

 

 

Homemade Baguettes

Quick Baguette-4527 on Whisk Together

Okay, I should call these “Quick Baguettes” because true French baguettes require a very long overnight rise time.  If you have that kind of time, here is a good French Baguette recipe.  Great for sandwiches, side dishes and soups!

As for me and my house…. we will be making fast baguettes.  🙂  These are super delicious and super easy – especially when you have a bread machine.  You can make them without a bread machine as well!  The kids and hubby LOVED these baguettes.  They didn’t have a super hard crust on them like some baguettes do.  They were nice and soft and chewy.  Plus…. there is the fact that all-purpose flour tastes like CANDY after eating 100% whole wheat for the past 7 years.

Why make your own?  There are only 4 ingredients.   No preservatives, no caramel color, no polysorbate 60, no anything but flour, water, yeast and salt.  If you have those things in your pantry, then you CAN make these.  This is a great yeast recipe to start out on.

Quick Baguette-4528 on Whisk Together

Tips for Yeast Bread Making (or any baking!):

1.  Preheat the oven 25 degrees higher than baking temperature.  This is because once you open the oven, it will reduce in temperature anyway.  Preheating higher allows for more initial “spring” in the baking process.

2.  Test your yeast if you aren’t 100% positive it is alive.  It is a bummer to wait 2 hours and find out right before dinner that the yeast was dead.  To test the yeast, I use active dry yeast.  I add the yeast, water and a little bit of sugar if the recipe calls for no sugar.  If the recipe does call for sugar, like a pizza dough, then simply add the sugary substance to the water and yeast.  After 5 minutes, you should see a little foam on top telling you the yeast is burping carbon dioxide and alive!

3.  Weigh your flour.  On a scale.  And pay attention to the author of the recipe.  King Arthur Flour thinks that AP flour weighs 4.25 ounces per cup and scales their recipes based on that.  America’s Test Kitchen think s that AP flour weighs 5 ounces per cup.  Most places and most recipes will yield 5 ounces per cup of all purpose flour.  King Arthur Flour weighs and scoops their flour differently.

4.  For a shiny crust, brush a mixture of 1 egg and 1 Tb. of water on top before baking.  It will be a little crisper, too.

5.  Pay attention to the bread more than the time!  Sometimes bread can get a little crazy and proof too fast.  Just look at it once in a while.

6.  I like active dry yeast.  I’m not patient and neither is this yeast.  It is fast and great for bread machines or bread that you need made in 2 hours or less.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4521 on Whisk Together Label

Ok, really….  The reason I made my own baguettes is because I was too lazy to go to the store and buy sandwich bread for the Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

Homemade Baguettes
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 and ¼ tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 cups (15 oz.) all purpose flour (plus more on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. For bread machine: Throw everything into the machine per the machine's directions and hit "dough cycle". Shape the resulting dough into 2 or 4 logs. Make shallow diagonal slashes on the top. Cover with plastic and preheat the oven to 400. Once up to temperature - reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake the bread for 15-25 minutes.
  2. For by hand: Add yeast to the water and let sit for 5 minutes. I would recommend adding a pinch of sugar too if you are not sure that the yeast is alive. If bubbles form on the surface because they ate the sugar, the yeast is alive.
  3. Add flour and salt. Mix together by hand or in a mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. When combined, switch to a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. (or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Rise 1 hour or until doubled.
  5. Punch down the dough and break into 2 or 4 pieces. Roll into a log about 6" long for 4 baguettes. Use a serrated knife to slash 2 to 4 shallow slices on the top diagonally.
  6. Place baguettes on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or silicone. Or on a baking stone. Cover back up with plastic wrap and rise another 20-30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while the bread rises.
  8. Remove the plastic wrap and REDUCE THE OVEN to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on if you made 4 small ones or 2 big ones).
Notes
*If the dough is not coming together, add a little more flour.

*For a pretty and shiny crust, brush the top right before baking with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 Tb. water.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4521 on Whisk Together Label

I made these on homemade baguettes.  That recipe will be next!  Why homemade baguettes?  Because I’m too lazy to run to the store when I can dump the ingredients into my bread machine.

Quick Baguette-4528 on Whisk Together

These sandwiches are awesome and you DON’T need to make your own baguettes!  You DO need to make these sandwiches.  Please, pretty please.  They are delicious, and easy and great for leftovers.  Add the chicken to soup, or a tortilla or keep making sandwiches!  Freeze the contents and always have sandwich fixin’s on hand.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4522 on Whisk Together
(I forgot to add the cheese before taking the photo!)

This recipe will easily feed a crowd as well – just increase the cooking time and add more of everything.  Slow cookers are great to serve from since they keep things hot.  Serve with fries, slaw, chips, veggie sticks, salad or with a soup.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp. paprika (regular or smoked, I like smoked)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. coriander
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy)
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow or white onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • ½ cup water or chicken broth
  • sliced provolone
  • baguettes or hoagie buns
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
  2. Add the peppers and onion to the slow cooker. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on top.
  3. Add the chicken onto the peppers and onion. Sprinkle the rest of the spices on top.
  4. Pour the water or broth into the slow cooker on the side so that the spices don't come off the chicken.
  5. Cook chicken breasts for 3-4 hours on low. Cook chicken thighs for 4-5 hours on low.
  6. Towards the end of cooking time, slice the buns or baguette in half lengthwise. Shred the chicken in the slow cooker with some tongs and place on top of the bun. Add cheese. Top with a bun, or broil it with the cheese and then place the top on.
Notes
Recipe slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

 

 

 

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper on Whisk Together

Books I’ve read:  Since the move, I really haven’t had the time to read many books.  I did just finish “Wonder” by RJ Palacio.  It has nearly 4,000 five star reviews and with good reason.  The characters are great, the plot is moving and the message is one that every adult and child should hear.  Unless I find something better, this will be my pick for book club.  Here are some favorite quotes below:

“When given the choice between being right and being kind. Choose kind.”
“Jack, sometimes you don’t have to be mean to hurt someone.”
“…your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of stone.”
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Homemade Hamburger Helper on Whisk Together 2

*RECIPE*

This recipe was a hit with kids and adults.  Easy, fast and delicious.  I really think it tastes better than the box Hamburger Helper.  Is it an exact match?  No – the ingredients are real here and not chemical lab concoctions.  But, I agree with other commentators on the recipe that it does taste better than the box mix.  And, of course, it is much cheaper, too!  Bonus!  Plus those allergic to yellow #5 can eat this version!  The box version includes artificial colors like yellow # 5 and #6.  Oh, did I mention the box version contains MSG and partially hydrogenated soybean oil?  Hmmmm… yeah, let’s stick with the real stuff that tastes better.  If you need to actually make this mix ahead of time, please do!  Simply mix all the seasonings up yourself ahead of time, add a baggie of pasta and you have your own “box mix” version.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2-1 cup water (I like mine thick and use 1/2 cup water)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. oregano
  • 3/4 tsp. parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. In a great big skillet (12" or so), heat to medium heat. Cook onion and meat together until the meat is brown. Drain on paper towels if desired.
  2. Add the meat back to the pan with the milk, water, pasta and seasonings.
  3. Cook just like the box mix does: bring the whole thing up to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat to medium low and simmer until the pasta is cooked. Usually about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Take the skillet off of the burner. Add the cheese and gently stir until melted through. Eat immediately or keep warm in a covered skillet on low.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/05/10/homemade-hamburger-helper/

 

Recipe from Divas Can Cook

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