Thursday, October 24, 2013

Get Me Out of My Comfy Pants!

I'm still here, promise. I haven't been in the kitchen as much the last couple of weeks. Sorry to say we've eaten quite a bit of takeout, and I'm even more sorry to say that it's starting to catch up with my waistline. Time to reel things in a bit before I have to put on my real big girl panties, aka Spanx. But that doesn't mean the family will be eating rabbit food until Thanksgiving. I've got a couple of comforting dishes up my sleeve, and they'll help me come back from this food-guilt-trip I've been on. Both are delicious - spicy with a hint of sweet - and they're packed with nutrients. The first is my chicken chili, filled with warm spices and a bit of cocoa to mimic the flavor of Mexican molé sauce. The second is my sausage and white bean soup with an autumn spin. They both get better with age, so feel free to make them ahead.

Holy Molé Chicken Chili

1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
nonstick cooking spray
olive oil
1 large portobello mushroom cap, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 pasilla pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 bunch collard greens, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 tbs chili powder OR 1 tsp ancho chile powder + 1 1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander
1 tsp dried oregano or epazote
*1/2 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 tsp ginger
*1/4 tsp cardamom
*1/4 tsp cloves
(*or substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs tomato paste
12 oz dark beer, such as Guinness
1 large can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock/broth
1 small sweet potato, chopped (skin on or off)
2 cans low sodium beans, your favorite variety, such as kidney and/or black beans (I used one of each)
handful of raisins
handful of tortilla chips
1 lime
1/2 cup shredded cheese, your favorite kind (I used a habanero jack)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
chopped scallion for garnish
chopped avocado for garnish

Preheat a soup pot or large, deep skillet to med-high heat. Spray the chicken thighs with nonstick spray and season liberally with salt. Add to the searingly hot pan and cook until deeply browned on both sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Add 1 tbs olive oil to the pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook until they begin to brown, then add the onion, peppers, and a pinch of salt. Cook until they begin to soften and brown on the edges. (A crust will develop on the bottom of the pan - this is a good thing!) Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add the greens. Cook a minute or 2 to wilt them. Add the corn, spices, and cocoa powder. Toast the spices in the pan for about a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate; cook for another minute or so to bring out its flavor. Add the beer. Let it work its magic for a minute, then scrape all the crust off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (the beer will loosen it). Add the tomatoes and their juice, and break them  up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the stock/broth and the sweet potato. Bring the chili to a boil. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add it to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated with it. Reduce the chili to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.

While the chili simmers, add half the beans (and any of their liquid that falls in) to a blender or food processor (1 whole can or 1/2 a can of each if using 2 different kinds). Add the rest of the beans to the simmering chili. Add a handful of raisins and tortilla chips to the blender, and puree the mixture completely. Add the raisin/bean/chip puree to the chili and stir to incorporate. If the chili is too thick, add a bit of water to your preferred consistency. Taste for salt and season as needed. If the chili is too thin, simmer uncovered until it reduces to your liking (or remove some of the chili and puree it in the blender and add it back to the pot to thicken it).

Squeeze half the lime into the chili, and stir in the cilantro. Use the other half of the lime to dress the avocado. Serve garnished with shredded cheese, cilantro, green onion, and avocado (or any combination of those or any other garnish you enjoy).

Serves 6     Prep Time - 10 minutes     Cook Time -  about 45 minutes

And dennnnnnnnnn...


And dennnnnnnnnn...

Feels Like Fall Sausage & White Bean Soup

This soup has a lovely balance of savory, sweet, and spicy thanks to the chicken-apple sausage, butternut squash, crushed red pepper, nutmeg, and the many layers of appley goodness going on in it.

2 tbs canola oil
1 package uncured chicken-apple sausage, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 smallish bunch kale (tough stems removed), chopped
1 cup hard apple cider
1 bay leaf
*sage stems (optional)
3 cups butternut squash, cubed (fresh or frozen and thawed)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup apple juice or cider
3 cups chicken stock or 3 cups water + good quality chicken base
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, and when it shimmers add the sausage. Cook until evenly browned. Add the onion, celery, and apples, season with salt and the crushed pepper, and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add the kale and cook a couple of minutes to wilt it. Add the hard cider to the pot and stir it around, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the squash, bay, sage stems, nutmeg, juice, and stock/broth to the pot. bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the beans. Taste the soup for salt and adjust seasoning as necessary.


Serves 6     Prep time - 10 minutes     Cook time - 30 minutes


  1. I wish my husband was a soup eater. I'd get down in that sausage... soup that is.

    1. You should see all the naughty pics I took of those sausages. Thanks for popping the cherry... sorry it was so hard to enter. tee-hee.

  2. i would eat all of this all the time if it weren't for my soup hating husband and kid.
    chili is one of my all time favorites. it's the midwesterner in me. FUCK CHILI HATERS!
    i'm going to make that soup. tomorrow.

    1. how does one hate chili?! i can understand hating certain kinds of chili, but all chili in general?! chilicism is wrong, and un #merican. glad you are gonna try the soup! so good. i still have some sausage in my meat drawer (that's what she said), i think i need to make it again this week.