Monday, March 24, 2014

Jalapeno Popper White Bean Chili

Spring is such a tease.  I may not be very familiar with the concept of 'teasing' because I am not the most flirtatious person (unlike a certain, smiling spaghetti squash-sized baby flirting through the sonogram screen) but I can tell when I'm being teased with and spring is not being very subtle about it.  With just a couple 55+ degree days in the past month, and a high of 38 tomorrow (on March 25th), and the constant restoring/unstoring of my snow boots . . . I get it.  Spring is not to be trusted.  I only hope that in a month she will have proven me wrong and shown what a wonderful, magical season she can be before she hands the days off to the heat of summer.

Parallel these irritations with Duke's unfortunate early exit from the NCAA tournament on Friday (before 2:30 pm), and I am seeking comfort in some more hearty fare.  This chili is easy, full of fiber and protein, and incredibly filling.  I made this for a couple friends and their two-year-old son.  Everyone enjoyed it -- even the toddler.  He is a budding chef, I believe, because he took the chips and salsa I had put out as appetizers and dipped the chips in the chili.  Genius.  Future leftovers will be ladled profusely over a plate of tortilla chips, topped with crumbled bacon and sour cream -- then devoured in that manner.  

As with most slow cooker recipes, it makes a ton so hopefully, once you finish the leftovers, the temperatures outside will finally be a glimpse of the warmer months ahead.  

Jalapeno Popper White Bean Chili
Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 yellow onion, medium, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 bell pepper, diced
1 pound chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces dry white beans, picked through to remove any bad beans/stones and rinsed (I used white kidney beans -- very important to rinse these!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces light cream cheese, cubed
1 cup frozen corn kernels

In a slow cooker, add all ingredients except the cream cheese and corn.  Cook on low for 7 - 9 hours (I actually ended up cooking mine for about ten - eleven hours and it was fine).  Remove the chicken and shred into pieces.  Return chicken to the slow cooker and stir in the cubed cream cheese and the corn. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the cream cheese is melted and the corn is cooked through.  Stir to make sure everything is incorporated.  Serve with desired toppings like sour cream, cheese, crumbled bacon, salsa, tortilla chips, etc.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Honey Chipotle Spiced Glazed Almonds

Now that Baby Girl Samuel is half-way baked (as of tomorrow), Robbie and I are busy thinking of things we want to teach her, show her and basically force upon her so she turns into the perfect combination of the two of us.  These things include a love for food, diabetic cats, and most importantly, a love for Duke University.  Particularly a deep and abiding support of its athletics department and specifically its basketball team.  Some of our friends realize this and are showering her with gifts, quickly falling into first place for godparent (just kidding, Alexis). 

Nonetheless, we live and breathe Duke basketball in this apartment.  Robbie, for example, would like to name the baby Jabari-a Parker Samuel.  Unfortunately for him, I am holding the lead in the name race with Mary Jordan Samuel, Jr.   We’ll see who wins out. I hope for her sake, neither of us do.

This weekend is a big game for Duke.  We play that other school down the road (bless their hearts) in what should be an emotional and action-packed game.  We are coming off of a loss and UNC is coming off of a somewhat mediocre season (although they beat Duke in Chapel Hill) and some pretty serious fraudulent academic allegations, which have been an absolute delight to follow in the news.

So Saturday night should be fun.  I imagine a lot of friends back in North Carolina will be watching it and should they be looking for some munchies to enjoy during the game, I recommend these almonds.  They are sweet and spicy (but not too spicy) and incredibly easy to make.  I used to think fancy nuts were something I had to spend $5.00/ounce on but nope, hit up the bulk bin at your local grocery store and make some fancy ones yourself.  At least you can enjoy some good snacks during the game no matter the outcome for your team.   

Honey Chipotle Spiced Glazed Almonds
Adapted slightly from A Southern Fairytale

1 lb raw almonds
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
Kosher Salt (optional)

Preheat your oven to 325°F and prepare rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium saucepan, heat the honey, butter and salt until melted.  Once the mixture is melted and starts to simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat and add almonds, stirring with a rubber spatula until all almonds have been coated with the mixture.  Dump the almonds onto your prepared baking sheet and spread them evenly.  Bake almonds for 10 minutes then stir them once.  Bake the almonds for another five minutes and stir them once more.  Bake for five more minutes and remove them from the oven.  While the almonds are baking, mix your spices together – the chipotle chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder and sugars.  Once you’ve removed the almonds from the oven, sprinkle the mixed spices onto the nuts and toss them on the baking sheet with a spatula until fully coated. (NOTE: The original recipe recommends you line a counter or additional baking sheet with parchment to do this step but I was too lazy and didn’t want to dirty another baking sheet.  Also, what New York City apartment has extra counter space?  Certainly not this one.) Sprinkle with kosher salt to add an extra bite of saltiness.  Let them cool on the sheet and periodically stir them to keep them from sticking together.   You may have to do some declumping as they cool but that just gives you an excuse to eat a mixture of hardened butter, honey, salt and spices.