White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

There’s nothing more comforting, as far as food goes, than a big bowl of chili on a cool day after a hard days’ work. And this White Chicken Chili is a wonderful more “Springy” version of your red winter chili with ground beef. This one is a little lighter and is perfect for these Spring days when the evenings are still chilly. It uses fresh ingredients that keep it light, yet full of flavor.

This recipe serves 6 people, is relatively quick to make (about 30 minutes), and makes great left-overs.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (15 1/2 oz. each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups cubed chicken cooked

Directions:
1. In a large saucepan saute the cubed chicken with a little oil, salt and pepper. Remove chicken when cooked and set aside.
2. In the same saucepan cook onion, jalapeno and garlic in oil until tender.
3. Stir in broth, beans, parsley, lime juice and cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into chili. Add chicken. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve and Enjoy!

This White Chicken Chili is great served with gluten free bread toasted with butter of gluten free cornbread with melted butter. You might also try this one with fresh cilantro rather than the parsley.

*Recipe source: Indianapolis Star, Joanie Fuson adapted from Taste of Home’s Big Book of Soup, Reiman Media Group

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

Spring is slowly making its way north. So, I thought I’d share some photos of Spring from Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago. I experienced Spring in St. Louis about a month ago and Spring in Indy last weekend. Come on Spring in Chicago!

From crocuses to blue bells to crab apples to hyacinth to magnolias these beautiful blossoms are sure signs of Spring.
Get outside and enjoy the beauty!

Quinoa, Mango, and Black Bean Salad

Quinoa, Mango, and Black Bean Salad

I’m always looking for dishes to make for lunch that are quick and easy to eat on the go. I have to say turkey sandwiches just don’t call my name at lunch time anymore. This Quinoa Salad is packed with so many flavors that blend together into this delicious lunch medley.

Need a meal that gives you a break from meat? Packed with protein and fiber? Full of flavor? That doesn’t have to be heated when you’re ready to eat it?

If you said yes, then this Quinoa Salad is for you! Just make it the night before and pack individual serving sizes into containers in your fridge and grab it as you head off to work in the morning. Store in the fridge and enjoy for lunch!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 small mango, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:
1. Toast quinoa in small dry saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it crackles and becomes aromatic, 4 to 6 minutes. Careful not to burn.
2. Transfer to fine sieve and rinse thoroughly. Return quinoa to the pot and add water.
3. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until quinoa is tender and the liquid has been all absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Whisk orange juice, cilantro, vinegar, oil, ginger, salt, salt and cayenne in medium bowl.

5. Add mango, bell pepper, beans, scallions; toss to coat.
6. When quinoa is finished cooking, add mango mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled and Enjoy!

*Makes 2 servings, approximately 2 cups each
* Recipe Source: www.eatingwell.com

* Per serving: 422 Calories, 9 g total fat, 15 g protein, 74 g carbohydrates, 0 g cholesterol, 19 g fiber

Laugh Today

Laugh Today

I thought I’d start the week off with something to make you Laugh Today. Matt and I recently took a trip down to St. Louis with some college friends to visit other friends. We stopped at this gas station in the middle of nowhere and saw this sign on the side of the gas station. Now I love the south. I mean I have a lot of family that lives there, but I just had to laugh at this one. We decided this was one of those…”You know you’re in the south when…”

We thought it was great that this gas station not only serves Champs Chicken, hot pretzels and chili, but just in case you had a craving during your long drive you can also purchase gizzards, liver and catfish while you your pump gas here. Sorry, I can’t remember exactly where this station is, so you’ll just have to find somewhere else to buy your gizzards, liver, and catfish along the highway! LOL!

Frozen Coconut Macaroon Bonbons

Frozen Coconut Macaroon Bonbons

With Good Friday today and Easter approaching this weekend, it’s really such a wonderful weekend of reverence and celebration that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, died and rose again for our salvation! What a wonderful celebration!

I’m always looking for desserts that are extra special to make for such celebrations as important holidays and birthdays. A treat that really wows and says “Now this is a celebration!” Even those of us with restricted diets love a decadent dessert to celebrate special events. Restricted diet or not, these Frozen Coconut Macaroon Bonbons are a mouth watering dessert to have at your Easter dinner this weekend or at a birthday bash! If you gave up sweets for Lent this year, what a better way to end your sweet fast than with these delicious little treats?

I actually made these Bonbons for my birthday last fall and lost the recipe…sad day! To my wonderful surprise I received a card from my Mom yesterday with a copy of the recipe I had made for her inside! So, thanks to my Mom for saving the recipe!

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups (one 7 oz. bag) sweetened, flaked coconut
1/4 cup well-shaken, unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
2 tablespoons organic, refined coconut oil (get it in your health food section of your grocery or at Whole Foods)(try to liquify the oil before measuring)
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup gluten free, dairy free semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Directions:
1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut, coconut milk, oil, agave syrup, vanilla and salt.
3. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet, then roll into balls, and freeze for at least 1 hour.
4. Remove bonbons from freezer and dip bottoms into cooled, melted chocolate. Return bonbons to the freezer for at least 20 minutes and remove them from the freezer 15 minutes before ready to serve. Enjoy!
5. Store completely hardened bonbons in an air tight container and keep frozen for up to 2 weeks.

*Recipe Source: Allergy-Free Desserts by Elizabeth Gordon, 2010
*25 minutes prep time plus freeze time
*Makes 16 bonbons
*Per serving: 97 Calories, 2 g Protein, 8 g Carbs, 1 g Fiber, 7 g Total Fat, 41 mg sodium

Start Gardening Part 2

Start Gardening Part 2

Even though this week is feeling more than winter than spring temperature wise, flowers are still budding and my gardening efforts continue. So, did my seeds I planted in small containers indoors a week and a half ago ever sprout and push through the soil? Should you even try to plant seeds to start them indoors? Does it actually work?

I’m excited to say YES! Its only been a week and a half and my zinnias (flowers) are growing quite nicely.

My tomato seeds are springing up from their little egg carton cups, bending to reach for the sun. I was most skeptical about the tomato seeds because I’ve never grown tomatoes from seeds, but so far they’re working really well.

My cucumber and squash seeds are poking their little sprout heads through the soil and growing more each day.
All I’ve done with my potted seeds is to plant them in well drained containers in a mixture of potting mix and seed starting soil. I’ve placed them in well lit windows inside my home and watered them with warm water as needed and Voila!

Matt and I started planting in our garden over the weekend as well. But, first we had to create our garden plot. So, how did we do it and how can you start a garden of your own? Keep on reading.

Plotted out our the garden area by spray painting where the perimeter would be. Then we dug out the sod and set it aside. Make sure to get all the grass roots out of the garden area so you don’t get grass growing up in your garden. Then we shook and scraped all the soil off of the clumps of sod, so we still had enough soil in the garden bed. Then we tilled and raked the soil, adding about 5 bags of top soil into the mix.

Then we took twine and sticks to plot out the planting areas within the plot. We decided to divide our large plot into 2 smaller plots with a walkway down the center so we could get into the middle of the garden to weed without stepping on the plants. We decided to plant our seeds in short rows going from the outer long edges toward the center. We marked each row with a small stick stuck int he ground along the outer perimeter of the garden.  I then drew out the garden on a piece of paper, writing down where each item went and will go.

We laid out the seed packet of each thing we are planning to plant so we could plan out where everything was going to go. And then we planted the seeds of the vegetables that could be planted this early in the year. Plants like radishes, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and peas can be planted while its still chilly outside. We made sure to plant all the seeds leaving a 5 to 6 inch border around the edges for timbers we will later place around the edges to keep the grass and weeds out. Water the garden really well right after planting.

Because our garden plot sits on a slightly graded area I was a bit concerned that when I watered it or it rained really hard the soil would all wash toward the lowest area. So to help prevent the soil from washing away I lined the center pathway through the garden with stones that actually did help block the soil from running down the grade.

I hope this inspires you to start your own garden this year too!

Moroccan-Style Stewed Chicken

Moroccan-Style Stewed Chicken

Well, the weather where I live decided to resort back to winter for a few days. So, I thought this warm stew would be an appropriate recipe to share today. I tried this recipe for the first time last week and both Matt and I really enjoyed it. It only took me a total of 20 minutes to prepare and then cooked in my slow cooker for a while and voila!..a warm, healthy meal that was ready when we were ready to eat it.

The Moroccan style dishes that I’ve had seem to combine savory and sweet flavors to create a whole new flavor. This one is really great for people with restricted diets, as the ingredients are very basic and it’s really light on your stomach. It also makes really great left-overs, so start cookin’!

Ingredients:
4 cups gluten free chicken broth
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (14.5 oz. can) diced tomatoes (I had whole can tomatoes, so that’s what I used)
1 large green pepper, cut into 2 inch strips
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
8 (2 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Hot cooked quinoa, rice, or orzo (whatever you like to serve with it)

Directions:
1. Stir in stock, honey, cumin, cinnamon, tomatoes, green pepper, onion, and raisins in to your slow cooker. Add chicken and turn to coat.
2. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste if you like.

3. In serving bowls lay a layer of cumin, rice, or orzo and then dish the stew on top of it. Enjoy!

Fabulous Spaces: Shelly & Andy’s Urban Revival

Fabulous Spaces: Shelly & Andy’s Urban Revival

Today I’m featuring the home of some of my closest friends, Shelly and Andy. Shelly and I were room mates in college and are still best buds. Shelly and Andy have their own wedding photography business and Andy is an electrician, so needless to say they have a perfect balance of creativity and the know-how to really create a beautiful home. They’ve added their own personality and design style to their home while really respecting the historic nature of the space. They’ve done and are continuing to do a lot of work on their home themselves. With its southern urban charm Shelly and Andy’s home is a real beauty.

Meet Shelly & Andy with the rest of their family Colby (the little black poodle) and Norman (the adopted gray alley cat). They all currently reside in this mid 19th century row house in the area called South City in St. Louis. They moved into this historic beauty, built by a Civil War doctor, in this up and coming area of the city a couple years ago.

We’ll start with the exterior of their home. Upon approaching the front of their home this beautiful magnolia tree greets with a certain southern charm. These bright blossoms always remind me of the movie Steel Magnolias. I guess that’s why I always think southern charm when seeing them.

When walking to their front door the details of their home really start to make a bold impression. The brick archway opens to a covered entrance boldly displaying this is the entrance to the home.

This brickwork is definitely from a time past. The design, care and attention given to these beautiful details is something very rarely seen in homes built today. The magic is really in the details in these historic homes.

The doorway is not the only emphasis on the front elevation. This large window is built with a carefully crafted brick arch surround giving it both prominence and unity across the front of the home.

The simple stained glass piece hung in the window adds an updated touch of texture and color. It also provides some privacy for the living room from the street view without having to add draperies to the interior space.

The tall ceilings are an added benefit of this 19th century home, making each room feel even larger. Traditional details like the casings and mantle stand in wonderful contrast to the updated furnishings with whimsical fabrics and a variety of textures.

The brick from the fireplace carries over to the the adjacent walls adding scale and texture to the great height of the walls.

The transoms over the door ways are another element that helps to break down the scale of the tall ceilings and allow light to be borrowed from room to room.

Shelly and Andy have added a little modern twist to the very traditional spaces in their home by selecting bold colors like these bright red walls in the dining room. The moroccan patterned rug and the rustic table and chairs with a more modern silhouette add a little cultural flair to the space.

The stairway in Shelly and Andy’s home is off the kitchen and although its a steep flight, the stained wood stairs and rail stand in nice contrast to the white beadboard on the wall.

Shelly and Andy have pulled together their master bedroom with a serene Spring green color on the walls. With no room for end tables with lamps because of the symmetrically flanking closets, Andy wired some adjustable wall sconces. A great solution and the ability for them to adjust and move around makes for great reading lights. A team effort, Shelly and Andy made their upholstered headboard themselves as well.

They’ve pulled together the space by letting the green walls stand as the main color in the room and selecting all neutral colored bedding with varying textures that really make the space look warm and rich.

Although the fireplace in the bedroom is not functioning, it adds a nice focal point on the main wall seen when entering the bedroom. Above the mantle is a beautifully over sized print of Shelly and Andy’s wedding photo. I love the large scale of the print with an elegant matte and frame.

I hope this tour through Shelly and Andy’s Urban Revival inspires you to add your own personal style and taste to complement your home’s architecture. Thanks to Shelly and Andy for sharing their lovely home with us as well! Have a great weekend!

Easy Spiced Lentil Spring Soup

Easy Spiced Lentil Spring Soup

This recipe is simple to make, can be made in a slow cooker, and includes 2 types of meat, 2 types of legumes, and plenty of Spring veggies (spinach, parsley, and onions).

I’m all about healthy homemade meals, but I have to say, the recipes I make again and again are those that are not only healthy and satisfy my taste buds, but those that are quick and easy to make. From all the recipes I post it may look like all I do is cook, but I generally prefer recipes that are low maintenance (those that I can let cook in my slow cooker are the best).

This Spiced Lentil Soup serves 10 people, so if you want less serving portions decrease all the amounts by half, or have left-overs and freeze portions. The creator of this recipe said that her kids loved this one too.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound gluten free Italian sausage (casings removed, crumbled)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup brown rice (uncooked)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 quarts gluten free chicken stock
1 cup lentils (uncooked)
1 chicken breast (uncooked)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans
1/2 to 1 pound fresh or frozen spinach
1 jar (12 oz.) salsa, mild or medium

Directions:
1. Brown sausage, onion, rice, and garlic in a skillet. Transfer to the slow cooker or large stock pot (whatever you want to cook the soup in).
2. Add the chicken stock, lentils, chicken breast and parsley. (I added a little less stock, as my slow cooker got a little too full). Simmer for as long as you desire or until lentils are tender. (I simmered mine on high in my slow cooker for a few hours while I ran errands).
3. Stir soup breaking chicken apart. Add beans, spinach, and salsa and heat through. (I cooked it on high for about another 1/2 hour). Enjoy!

*Recipe Source: The Country Cooking Recipe Collection: Prize-Winning Soups & Sandwhiches, (1993 publication) recipe submitted by Marty Rummel, Trout Lake, Washington

Nacho Appetizer Tray

Nacho Appetizer Tray

Like I’ve said before, one of the toughest food scenarios I face with my restricted diet is appetizers and finger foods.
What to eat or bring to get-togethers and parties that doesn’t have dairy, eggs, gluten, or any of my other random no no foods. All the frozen appetizers you can buy and heat up in the oven are breaded, fried and have cheese. Most dips have cream or cheese. Dessert? Forget it if its not homemade with specialty flours and egg replacers.

So what’s a quick appetizer you can throw together last minute that will be a hit?

Try a Nacho Appetizer Tray! I got this idea when I was walking through the grocery store looking for something to make last minute for a get-together. I saw this pre-made layered nacho dip (layered refried beans, sour cream, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, olives and green onions). A small tray of this dip ran about $16. Expensive for what it was if you ask me.

I couldn’t eat this dip tray because it had cheese and sour cream mixed in with it.
So, I thought why not serve a disassembled version of this?

I decided to serve the chips and salsa in a typical chip and dip tray and then served the remaining toppings in small glass bowls on glass trays. I put a spoon in each and set out small plates so everyone could pick and choose their own nacho toppings. It turned out to be very inexpensive, easy to do, and had a lot less preservatives than the pre-made tray. The only real prep work included taking the salsa, beans, cheese and chips out of their containers and into the serving trays. I cut up the green onions, olives and tomatoes and put them in their serving trays. Voila!

Here’s a list of what I included in my Nacho Appetizer Tray, but you can pick and choose what you want to include in yours.

Corn chips
Salsa
Diced tomatoes
Sliced green onions
Refried beans
Sliced black olives
Shredded cheese

Other toppings you could include:
Sour cream
Fresh cilantro
Melted nacho cheese
Pico de gallo
Black beans
Seasoned ground beef or turkey

I hope this gives you another option of something to served for your next party!
With the left overs I made a meal of taco salads, which turned out really tasty. Enjoy your next party even on a restricted diet!