Yum Peaceful Cooking: October 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taco Salad and Del Real Foods #Giveaway

Some dinners just hit the spot. In more ways than one. Whether it's just what your taste buds were craving, or it's exactly what your crazy, unpredictable life needed.

Taco salads have always been a quick and tasty solution for crazy day dinners. Toss together some taco-like veggies and cook up some ground beef....

Oh wait..ground beef....that takes a bit more time to prepare. And what if you're like me and rarely have ground beef on hand, let alone defrosted? Although just about any kind of leftover meat works wonderfully in a taco salad. If you have any leftover.

I received a wonderful cooler full of Del Real Foods that saved the day more than once this week. Actually more than twice. The past 2 weeks have been challenging on many levels. Least of all, I had taken the October Unprocessed challenge, which I'm totally loving. But sometimes, something has to give and so often it's our food. We tend to cave into the fast, convenient foods.

Well, let me tell you a little something about Del Real Foods. A lot of the products are just pure, typical kitchen found ingredients (just read the labels). They contain no preservatives. There are gluten free choices, dairy free choice, and zero trans fat. They use family traditional recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Each product is cooked in small batches over an open kettle. (Man...I want to be in that kitchen!)

Knowing this made me feel much better about not making dinner from scratch. But you know what? It certainly tasted like I had! My favorite? The cartinas. Tender, fall apart, juicy. Just the way it's suppose to be. And with fantastic flavor!!

Makes great taco salads! And simple nachos....

And let me tell you about their tamales!

Well, the photo should speak for itself. These aren't your typically grocery store bought tamales. They aren't skimpy in flavor OR size. I mean, these bad boys are loaded with tender, juicy meat! Great for on-the-go dinner or lunch.

One last thing. You will not find any of their products in the freezer.

Want a chance to give it a try for yourself? How cool would it be to win a 
Del Real Foods Party in a Box! 
This will give you a chance to either try several meals at home....or you can invite your family and friends over for a party, with fantastic food at a minimal effort. 

Hang on just a minute more....lets get back to the Taco Salad I started off talking about. For some reason it had been quite a while since I made a taco salad. I remember my mom making them when I was a kid but I think taco salads have grown up since then and I'm totally loving the more authentic foods that are available to us now.

This recipe is very loose and subject to change based on tastes and preference, not to mention quantities.

I used the Del Real Carnitas, however, any of their meats would be fantastic.

Chop up the following:
Roma tomatoes
Green onions
(jicama would be great as well)

Toss it all together then drain and rinse some black beans, grab a handful of pepitas, shred some cheese and throw that in, along with the carnitas.

Cover a plate with tortilla chips, top with the salad then pour on your favorite dressing (I happen to love cilantro and pepita dressing) and garnish with some queso fresco and a few lime wedges.

Poof...dinner is served! And now I want some for breakfast.

And now...the moment you've been waiting for... Del Real Foods is offering a "Party in a Box" to one of you. One lucky winner will receive delicious Mexican refrigerated food, such as carnitas, tamales and the newest addition of pork al pastor pupusas, a Del Real Foods cooler roller bag and a water bottle!

To enter, you must first leave a comment. There are more options for entries to increase your chances of winning. Good luck!!

This giveaway is open to US residents only. This giveaway will run from Wednesday, October 22, 2014 through Tuesday, October 28, 2014 (11:59 pm PT). Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the close of the contest and given 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 

I was not compensated for this post, however Del Real Foods supplied me with samples of their product and will be providing the product for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili #SundaySupper

The holidays are approaching fast and if you're budget is anything like mine, things get tight. Or should I say....tighter. Sales, coupons, making meals stretch, all become more focused for the next couple of months. If a meal can be made by only spending a few bucks....and makes enough for lots of leftovers...I'm one happy camper. When said meal tastes wonderfully delicious and is comforting and filling....I'm doing the happy dance. (probably something you don't really want to witness)

A while back I won Erin Chase's cookbook, The $5 Dinner Mom. It's a great cookbook in many ways. The recipes are good, quick and easy to prepare. I don't know if this meal is actually a $5 dinner as prices have gone up since it was published back in 2009. But the key is to purchase on sale, use your coupons and make things from scratch whenever possible. Foods that have been prepared and processed for convenience are pricey, but they lure us in because we all know how busy our lives are. And saving time appeals to us all. Funny thing is....a lot of those processed foods don't really take that much time to make. Especially if you plan accordingly and make it ahead of time.

Making this chili is easy, inexpensive, and doesn't use any processed foods. You're going to have some minor prep work, but trust me...it's simple and worth the few minutes it takes. Not only will you be saving money, but you'll be avoiding a lot of unnecessary ingredients that come with packaged foods.

I did most of the prep work the night before (my time is very limited in the morning and I didn't want to get up any earlier that I had to...5:30am just isn't an option). All I had to do before going to work was toss it all in the slow cooker, turn it on...and bam! Dinner was in the making.

I'm going to be giving you 2 recipes here. One for the chili and one for the homemade basic white sauce. The basic white sauce is one of the major things I made the night before in order to save time in the morning (and it's a big money saver).

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Inspired by The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cup into bite sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 recipe for Homemade Basic White Sauce (recipe below)
6 oz green chilies (either canned or fresh) chopped
4 oz jalapenos (either canned or fresh) chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dried Great Northern beans
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 zucchini, chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or water)
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Avocado and cilantro to garnish (optional)

Note: I used about a pound of veggies. Keep this in mind when swapping with other preferred or less expensive veggies.

Combine all of the ingredients into your slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 8 hrs. Garnish if desired and serve.

Homemade Basic White Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the butter until a paste is formed and it bubbles.

Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the butter and flour have dissolved. Cook and stir for about 5 or 6 minutes, being sure that nothing sticks to the bottom or sides. The sauce will thicken a bit as it cools.

Tips: If chicken thighs are less expensive than breast...use them. If you find other veggies that you prefer, or are on sale....use them.

For more wonderful budget friendly meals, check out what the rest of the Sunday Supper team has in store for you!

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Slow Cooker Lime Garlic Chicken #SundaySupper

Welcome to Sunday Supper's Slow Cooker edition.

The days are getting shorter but our schedules sure aren't, which is the perfect reason to use your slow cooker and why I'm going to keep this short and sweet!

We have a fantastic line up ranging from breakfast to dessert and everything in between, all made in that fantastic little counter top cooker that we all love and know as a slow cooker (or crock pot if you're old school like me).

If your days are as busy as mine (and maybe even more so) there's no reason you still can't enjoy a good home cooked meal with your family. So let's get started.

Slow Cooker Lime Garlic Chicken

Printable Version

1 1/2 lbs bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon summer savory or thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked brown rice

Place the chicken in a 3-4 quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients except for the rice. Cover and cook on low for about 8-10 hrs. During the last hour of cooking, stir in the rice. Turn the heat to high and continue cooking for another hour or until rice is done.

Remove the chicken. Place the rice on a serving platter and top with the chicken, pouring any remaining juices over the chicken. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetables.

Simple, and delish! Of course the chicken falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. The broth and juices make for an amazing rice. The prep is minimal but the results are major!

Satiating Soups
Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Scintillating Sweets
Savory Baking
Sips and Spreads

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

There are a lot of recipes out there that call for cream of chicken soup. I mean....a lot! But I'd cringe whenever I used it. I mean....from the can. It's loaded with all sorts of ingredients that I don't recognize. Plus several that I do recognize as totally not.....food. They certainly aren't ingredients I have in my pantry.

Guess what.....cream of chicken soup in a can is sooooo not necessary. It's incredibly easy ....as in SIMPLE.....to make. What do you think our great-great-grandmothers use to do? They made it! If you want to get real here...it starts out as a simple rue and then you add a bit of cream and stock.

Basically, that's it.

Hardly any time at all to make and it's totally cheap! And.....no junk added. No preservatives. No chemicals. Just wholesome ingredients found in just about any kitchen.

I have some seasonings listed and of course they can be adjusted based on personal taste. Whether you change the quantity or the seasoning all together. Make it the way it tastes best to you. For example, the summer savory can be swapped with thyme. The poultry seasoning can be omitted or swapped with herbs de province, etc. etc. You get the picture.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

Inspired by: Gimme Some Oven
Makes about 2 cups

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp summer savory
1/4 cup chopped chicken

In a sauce pan, over medium low heat, melt butter and add flour, stirring to combine. Stir and simmer for about a minute or so, being careful that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Slowly stir in the chicken broth, mixing until smooth. Add in the milk and the seasoning; salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning and savory.  Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Add in the chopped chicken. Reduce heat and continue simmering, stirring often, until thickened. It will thicken even more as it cools. Especially once refrigerated.

Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Remove from heat, allow to cool.

Either use right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Use like you would any other condensed creamy soup.

What did I do with it? I made a really nice......

Roasted Hatch Chili Creamy Chicken Soup. 

You see, I had tossed some chicken in my slow cooker, along with some roasted hatch chilies (or any chili your little heart desires).

I then sauteed carrots, onion, and celery in a bit of olive oil. (this is what's so great about making soup. You just eyeball it, season it to taste and eat. It's all good).

I took out my condensed cream of chicken soup from the fridge, admired it for a second...loving how nice and thick it was

Added about a cup to my mirepoix (fancy name for the carrots, onion and celery combo)

I stirred in about 1 cup of chicken broth and added in my hatch chilies and chicken. Heated through....buttered up some bread, poured myself a glass of wine and prepared for a relaxing evening watching T.V.

The soup tasted as if it had been cooking all day long...complex flavors in such a short amount of time.

All due to a wonderfully easy, and way better tasting, condensed cream of chicken soup.

Makes me wonder why we allowed the food industry to talk us out of making it ourselves to begin with. Honestly...if you're putting together a casserole, take the extra 10 minutes or so to make your own soup base. I bet your family will be highly impressed with the flavor improvement.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Whole Grain, No-Knead Sourdough Bread #SundaySupper

When it comes to the term "unprocessed", people have various ideas of what that means. I'm not here to tell you what's right or what's wrong. All that matters is what's right for you.

Do you take the term literally? 'unaltered from an original or natural state'. Or do you look at it from a food standard point of view by judging the food as being unprocessed or not, based on the ingredients?

To process means to perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations in order to change or preserve something. Technically, we do this in our kitchens at some level, every time we cook or bake.

My view of "unprocessed" when it comes to food, is all about the ingredients. Bottom line. For example....flour. It goes through a process from it's original state as a grain in order to become the fine powder we bake with. Because I can, and do, buy flour from the store that is unbleached and NOT enriched, even though the grain has gone through a 'process' in order to become flour (and will again when it becomes bread), from a food standard point of view, it is "unprocessed'.

Now let's talk bread! Sourdough bread comes from a sourdough starter, also known as wild yeast. It doesn't like to be kneaded so basically all sourdough breads are no-knead. They're also slow rising.

If you want to make your own sourdough starter (it really is fun and if you have kids, the process could be fun for them too), here's a link to my post about how to make your own Sourdough Starter.

This loaf of bread almost became just a sourdough whole wheat bread. I couldn't find anything that said "whole grain" on the shelves with all the flours. So I went to the bulk bin section (I love stores that sell things in bulk out of bins!) and found some wheat berries. Now I was excited!!! Not that I have a grain mill or anything...but I do have a food processor. And it worked just fine for my purposes. It didn't grind it down as smoothly as a grain mill would, but I love the texture that I ended up with.

Of course, if you don't want to go through this or you can't find wheat berries, just use all whole wheat flour instead.

Another optional addition for this bread is adding Vital Wheat Gluten. Although it is processed it could be an exception that you allow in order to have a lighter loaf of bread. I made one loaf without and one with it. There was a difference in the crumb of course....the vital wheat gluten created a crumb that wasn't as dense, which might be preferable for sandwiches. The flavor was the same in both. I will include it in the ingredients. You choose whether or not you want to add it. Pictured is the loaf with vital wheat gluten added.

Note: If you grind any grains for your bread, I highly recommend weighing the flours rather than using a measuring cup. Flour from a bag has settled and will be more "packed" when measuring as opposed to freshly ground flours which have a lot more air fluff to them. This will result in an inaccurate measuring when using measuring cups. As a guide, 1 cup of whole wheat flour weighs 130 grams or 5 oz. This loaf of bread contains a total or 455 grams of flour. (various kinds of flours have a different weight)

Whole Grain, No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Inspired by: Nourished Kitchen

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole grain wheat flour (ground wheat berries) You can substitute whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten (optional)
1/4 vigorous sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups luke warm water (room temperature)
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a stand mixer, with a dough hook, combine all of the ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until a ball forms and sides of the bowl are clean, about 3 or 4 minutes (this can be done by hand but will take longer).

Oil a large glass bowl, to prevent sticking, and put the dough ball inside.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter until it has doubled in size. This could take 6 to 8 hours.

Place a dutch oven or bean pot that is oven safe into the oven and preheat to 450' F.

While your oven is preheating, remove the dough from the bowl, onto a well floured surface. Form into a ball.

Cover it with the bowl and let set for 30 minutes.

Remove the bowl (reshape into a ball if the dough has spread) and carefully place into your preheated dutch oven. Cover with a lid (or foil if you don't have an oven safe lid) and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes or until it's a nice deep brown.

Remove from the oven and let the bread cool on a cooling rack before slicing.

Now let me tell you about a little handy trick I've learned over the years. If you have an electric carving knife....they are perfect for slicing bread!

This will not be anything like your typical store-bought wheat bread. Not only will the flavor be so much better and pure, but the texture will be very different. Because this is a sourdough bread, it will have that slight tang and chewy, 'toothy' texture.

Today's Sunday Supper is all about unprocessed. Enjoy the wholesome recipes below and feel good about what you're eating.

Alluring Appetizers and Stunning Sides
Enticing Entre├ęs
Decadent Desserts
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Easy Homemade Cream of Mushroom Sauce for October #Unprocessed

Today is the 1st of October. For me, it's a meaningful day this year. I'm taking a challenge by participating in October Unprocessed 2014

I am going to try to stay on track and not eat processed foods for the whole month. This is a challenge that's been going on every October since 2010. Andrew Wilder is the brains behind this wonderful madness. You too can participate in October Unprocessed 2014. Just visit Eating Rules and join in....the experience. I have a feeling your body will thank you.

What does unprocessed mean? I think people have a wide range of how far unprocessed can and cannot go. I personally like Andrew's definition....

"Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients"

A lot of foods undergo some level of processing. It's just a matter of whether or not it can be done without all of the added junk. Not that you have to do it yourself (unless you want to) but you can eat things like cheese and pasta that you buy, just pay attention to the ingredients. You can use flour, just make sure it's not bleached and that it's not enriched.

Stuff like that is totally fine.

This isn't meant to make your life crazy. No one expects you to churn your own butter...just be mindful of the products you buy. Of course if churning your own butter is a life long dream of yours, and this gives you the perfect 'excuse' to do it....then go for it!

Before I keep going on and on....just visit the Frequently Asked Questions at Eating Rules and you'll see some wonderful posts that will give you some very valuable information about our foods.

With all that said, one of the things I pretty much try and avoid in my cooking in general, are those canned cream soups. There are a gazillion recipes out there that call for them, but they contain so many ingredients that I can't pronounce, identify and don't want in my body.

This recipe is NOT a condensed version. It makes just over 2 cups. If you're going to use it to replace condensed cream of mushroom soup, take into account that 1 cup of broth or milk that you'd be adding to the recipe as well and adjust accordingly.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Sauce

Printable Version
makes about 2 cups

8 oz mushrooms, chopped or sliced (use whatever variety you choose)
1/2 large onion, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons light olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
Splash of vermouth, white wine or chicken broth
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and onions until tender, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and saute for an additional minute. You'll know by the magnificent aroma when everything is ready for the next step.

Stir in the flour, and continue stirring for about a minute. Pour in a splash of vermouth, white wine or chicken broth. Stir to deglaze, getting up all that flavor off the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken broth and then slowly stir in the milk. Season with nutmeg and then the salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to medium low and continue to stir until it begins to thicken. Make sure to keep it moving so nothing adheres to the bottom and sides of the pan, scraping as needed.

Reduce heat to low and let simmer until desired thickness, stirring frequently.

Now it's ready to add to whatever your heart desires. Like I said early, this makes over 2 cups...maybe 2 1/2?

I use this when making green bean casserole for the holidays. It's great in soup, casseroles or as is, poured over mashed potatoes or even roasted chicken

However you decide to use it, you'll feel so much better about what you're putting in your body. You'll appreciate the natural flavor of the mushrooms that shine in a way that does not happen from a can.

Let's just say...unprocessed just tastes right.