apple chicken chili

this is another one of those i make this every year recipes. and it's true. and go good, sometimes i make it twice. and yes, it's another one from rachael ray (only this time from her magazine, so it was developed by someone on her staff). and i think stephanie's right - i don't really care for her much anymore. one day, ten (!!!) years ago, she was this sweet, plain, every day kind of girl, looking to make dinner a little easier on all of us. now, she's a mega empire, with a scratchy voice (seriously, does she ever sleep?!), referring to her friends rocco dispirito and jamie oliver - you know, because we all have celebrity friends. but what gets to me the most are her recipes. they either don't look very appetizing or they are a variation on another recipe she developed years ago. needless to say i didn't renew my subscription to her magazine last year and never looked back.

anyway, on to the chili, which i ripped out of her magazine a few years ago, before the talk show and line of cookware. jason and i went on our apple trek again this year, picking around 40 pounds of apples. first thing on the list (after applesauce) was this chili.

i'll be honest, the first time i saw it, i wasn't sure how much i'd like hunks of apples mixed in with spiced up chicken and beans, but it works surprisingly well. the apples don't taste so much like apples, but more like a slightly sweet crunch. and the apples take on the chili powder and cumin perfectly.

apple chicken chili
adapted from everyday with rachael ray
1hr, serves 8

2 pounds of chicken, cut into bite size pieces
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 apples cut into bite size cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup 2% or whole milk
15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
15 ounce can white beans, rinsed
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded monterey jack cheese
tortillas or crusty bread for serving
  1. coat the bottom of a large sauce pan or dutch oven with olive oil and place over medium heat. add the chicken, chili powder, and cumin and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  2. in the same pot, coat the bottom with olive oil again. add the apple and onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. add the apple onion mixture to the chicken and set aside.
  3. in the same pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. when melted, whisk in the flour and cook a couple minutes until the flour browns. add the chicken stock and milk, whisking continuously, and cook until thickened, a few minutes.
  4. stir the apple chicken mixture and the beans to the stock mixture and bring to a simmer. stir in the cheese. serve with tortillas or crusty bread. and it makes great leftovers.


gingerbread apple upside down cake

i love a good cake, but i always need an excuse to make one. it seems pretty silly to bake a whole cake for two people. silly, simply because i'll end up eating cake for dinner while jason looks on in awe.

is cake/cookies/pie/pick-your-favorite-dessert for dinner a woman thing? every woman i know has, at some point in her life, eaten a piece of cake for dinner and not thought twice about it. do men do that too? or think we're crazy?

lucky for me, chris whipped up some tacos for dinner and i brought dessert! i had been eying this cake on deb's blog for a while and since we had fresh picked apples, it was the perfect time to make it. i followed her recipe exactly, but instead of the 45 minutes hers took to bake, mine took an hour and fifteen minutes, so make sure you keep an eye on it.

and the leftovers? perfect for breakfast.

gingerbread apple upside down cake
click the link to get the recipe at smittenkitchen


vanilla strawberry & vanilla peach risotto

i don't know about you, but i love vanilla. it's warm and comforting. and perfectly sweet. i also love a good risotto - so why not put them together??


baby tomato & spinach risotto

that's it. it's over. no more tomatoes.

actually, i should have said that about three weeks ago when i finally gave up and pulled up my tomato plants, chock full of green tomatoes. what a waste. i don't know about you, but i didn't have very good luck this year. sure, i had a good crop earlier in the summer, but it seems like the majority of them came just in time for the cold. stinks. especially after last year - the first year in our house and thus the first year with a garden - when something ate my tomato plants down to 6 inch stubs. needless to say, i haven't had the best luck with tomatoes.

this meal was the celebration of the end. end of tomatoes. end of the summer. there's no better way to usher in the cold than with a nice warm bowl of pasta.

baby tomato & spinach risotto

45 minutes, serves 2-4

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry sherry
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup finely diced baby cherry tomatoes
2 cups loosely packed spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced fontina cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
olive oil, salt & pepper
  1. heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat. add 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil to the pan and add the onion and garlic. saute until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. in a separate saucepan, heat the vegetable stock to a simmer.
  3. when the onion and garlic are translucent, add the rice, and stir to coat, about 30 seconds. add the sherry and cook until the sherry is mostly absorbed.
  4. add about a half cup of vegetable stock and cook until absorbed, about 4 minutes. continue adding the stock and cooking until absorbed, until about half the stock has been used.
  5. add the tomatoes to the rice and continue adding stock, until about a cup remains.
  6. add the spinach and continue adding stock until it is all absorbed.
  7. stir in 1 tablespoon butter, the cheeses, and season with salt & pepper. mix to melt the fontina and parmesan. serve with crusty bread.


portobello sandwich

we eat a lot of mushrooms around here. in goulash, paninis, as the perfect ravioli filling, my all time favorite soup, and as a perfect meatless version of stuffed shells. it's no surprise that this take on a philly cheesesteak gone vegetarian is now added to my regular mushroom line up.

no, it doesn't taste exactly the same as a beef sandwich, but what do you expect from a vegetable? let's just say it filled the two of us up perfectly on its own. and it's quick and foolproof. the perfect weeknight dinner.

portobello sandwich
adapted from eating well
20 minutes, makes 2 sandwiches

1 onion, sliced
2 large portobello mushrooms
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 loaf of soft italian bread
olive oil, salt & pepper
  1. coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and place over medium high heat. add the onion and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. while the onion is cooking, prep the mushrooms by removing the gills on the underside of the mushroom with a spoon and then slice them.
  2. add the mushrooms, bell pepper, and oregano to the onions and season with salt and pepper. cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. reduce heat to low and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. stir well to coat.
  4. add the broth and soy sauce and mix well. continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens.
  5. turn the heat down to low and lay the cheese over the vegetables. cover until the cheese melts.
  6. using a spatula, scoop the vegetable mixture onto the italian bread.


mini baked chocolate cake donuts

growing up, donuts were for special occasions.

when i was little and spent the night at grandma's, she always had a box of mini chocolate covered donuts. always. and when mom came downstairs in the morning, we always got the look for not eating something with a but less sugar.

then for the really special days - thanksgiving, christmas, easter, memorial day - my uncle would get up before all of us and pick up a box of dunkin donuts.

when i was older and slept in way past noon (as i suspect all teenagers do), every once and a while when i rolled out of bed, there would be a box from the corner bakery with two lonely donuts. long johns, slit down the middle, filled with fresh whipped cream and raspberry jam. one for me, one for kristy. and every once in a while, only half of one would be left. dad found the box.

maybe that's why it's taken me so long to make them from scratch. and the fact that i don't have a donut pan. which i found out, you definitely don't need. i mean, sure, my baked donuts are missing the hole in the middle, but does that really matter? the flavor is still the same. chocolately, sweet, and nice and light.

nutmeg sounds weird, i know. but don't skip it, or you'll have a chocolate muffin. nutmeg is the characteristic donut flavor.

mini baked chocolate cake donuts
adapted from lara ferroni
30 minutes, makes 15 mini donuts

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
  1. lightly grease a muffin tin (or mini donut pan, if you're so lucky). preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda together (be sure to sift it and not just whisk it, to break up the lumps of cocoa). whisk in the sugar, nutmeg and salt. use your fingers to add the butter. crumble it together with the other dry ingredients until it resembles coarse sand. set aside.
  3. in another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and egg. add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  4. fill each muffin tin (or donut mold) 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full. bake for about 8 minutes, until they spring back when touched. turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. dip the entire donut in glaze (whisk milk & powdered sugar until it's the consistency you want) or dip the top in caramel sauce.
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