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Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day!  It was the best 4th of July of my whole life, and hands-down the best day Joshua’s ever had period. I want to share some photos but will be doing that tomorrow.

Today I have a simple crockpot meal that is great any time of year, because in summer, it doesn’t heat the kitchen, and in winter, it’s just nice to have something hot and ready at the end of a cold day.  I got this recipe from my friend, Holly, who actually had posted it in response to a mutual friend’s request for crockpot recipes on Facebook. I nabbed it and made it soon after because I’d just made my own apricot jam.  These were very satisfying and tasty.  Hope you enjoy, and stay cool!

Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (26 oz) bag frozen meatballs
3 bell peppers in different colors, sliced (optional)
1 (24 oz) jar salsa
1 (18 oz) jar apricot preserves

Place the meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker and layer the bell peppers over, if you’re using them.  Whisk the salsa and apricot preserves together in a bowl, and pour over the top.  Cover and cook on low until heated through, 6-8 hours. Holly suggests serving over rice or with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Recipe source: adapted from Holly W.

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Lemongrass Chicken with Peppers

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Secret Recipe Club

It’s that time again! Secret Recipe Club time!  This is my sixth month with the club, and still having a ball.  My favorite part is getting my assignment and then stalking my assigned blog, bookmarking all the recipes I want to try.  I really love the secrecy and wonder how far the other members take it.  I take it so far as to not even pin the recipes I want to try on Pinterest (how I usually keep track of recipes), for fear that the blog owner will find my bajillion pins and figure out I have their blog this month.  That would ruin the surprise.  I also don’t subscribe to the blog I’m assigned to, just in case they keep track of their subscribers, and I don’t leave comments.  Nothing to let on that I’m the one that has their blog!  The secrecy is pretty fun and makes me feel super sneaky. :)

This month, I was assigned to Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, and boy did I have fun scouring Anne’s archives.  Although you may not be able to tell  it from the amount of buttery, sugary treats I post, I really love healthy food, especially if it’s easy to prepare (kinda helps balance out all the time and calories in my desserts), so this blog was perfect for me!  I counted the recipes I bookmarked and know this has got to be a personal record: 44.  No joke.  Um, Amanda (Amanda started the club), is there a reward for “most recipes bookmarked in a SRC assignment?” ;)

But when I came across Anne’s Lemongrass Chicken, there was little doubt that it was the winning recipe.  The grocery store closest to us started carrying lemongrass a couple years ago, and was really happy to have an excuse to buy some!  Of course, when I went to buy it, they were out. Of course!  So off I went to my trusty Asian market, and I found a big bucket of lemongrass stalks, bundled in bunches of 3 for $1.  Can’t beat that!

My friend, Pia, mailed me some vegetable cutters for Christmas and while I was trying to think of what veggies I could add to the chicken (I bulk up most of our meals with as many veggies as I can), I thought of those cutters and knew I’d be adding in some pretty peppers.  I know most people will not have these special cutters (I believe you can buy them at Asian markets, though), so just slice your peppers if you don’t–it will still make a very colorful and pretty dish!

Thanks, Anne, for sharing this wonderful recipe!  It was the MOST delicious dish I’ve ever made with SRC, hands down.  I’ve never had lemongrass before, and I was surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) that it smelled exactly like the lemongrass soap that my sister makes!  It has a bright & fresh slightly lemony smell and flavor.  It looks like a green onion, and has a fibrous texture similar to ginger.  It is very good and I hope that you have an Asian market near you so you can make this chicken.

I do want to mention that I made this sweet, almost as sweet as the sauces you get on Americanized Chinese fare, so if you want a more subtle sweetness, halve the honey.  I started with 1/4 cup, which was good but barely sweet.  I wanted it sweeter and my recipe reflect the change I made to 1/2 cup honey, but you might want to start with less and taste it once the chicken is cooked. You can always add more!

Lemongrass Chicken with Peppers

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
½ cup honey
½ cup soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon (1 clove) minced garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup (about 1 large stalk) minced fresh lemongrass
3 green onions, chopped
½ of a red pepper, cut into strips or shapes
½ of a green pepper, cut into strips or shapes
½ of a yellow pepper, cut into strips or shapes
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or in a large bowl, combine chicken, honey, ¼ cup of the soy sauce, and garlic, and allow to marinate 10-15 minutes (this is a good time to prep your veggies). Mix the remaining ¼ cup soy sauce with the cornstarch and set aside.

Heat an extra-large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add lemongrass and stir-fry for about 15 seconds, until fragrant but not brown. Add the chicken, and continue to stir-fry until the pieces are cooked through, about ten minutes. Stir the soy sauce & cornstarch mixture, and add it to the skillet along with the green onions and peppers. Stir-fry until sauce is thickened and serve hot over rice, topped with a sprinkle of cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings

I have to pimp my Tupperware lady, Stacy, because I just got a rice maker from her and used it to prepare my brown rice for this dish.  There are only instructions for white rice and a few other quick-cooking grains on the insert, so here’s how I did mine if you get one and want to make brown rice (the insert does say it can be used for brown rice, but doesn’t give instructions): 1 cup brown rice, 2 1/4 cups water.  5 minutes on high, 30 minutes on 50% power in a 1000 watt microwave.  (The rice cooker is BPA-free, in case you are worried about cooking your rice in plastic.)  Perfect brown rice, and a little faster than it takes on the stove!  Get your own rice cooker here.


Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans


If you’re looking for the usual fried “chicken” pieces (is that grisly stuff really chicken? It seems rather suspicious to me!) served with scary hot pinkish-red sauce, you’re in the wrong place! What I have instead is a wonderful version that does not involve frying, but does involve real chicken, with the only red in it coming from the peppers.  It’s real.  It’s healthy.  It’s bright & colorful.  It’s delicious!  For reals.

Although I found this recipe unique and refreshing, I balked a little at the green beans.  They just seem so random!  I considered subbing green peppers, but I went with it and it all worked great, plus they made for a some nice visual variety amidst the square-ish chunks of chicken and peppers.  I’d recommend following the directions, however, and cutting the green beans in half, because I discovered that forgetting to do so makes serving and eating them kind of tricky. Oh well, it was still delicious and there’s always next time!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bell peppers (any color) seeded and diced large
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Cook rice according to package directions. Heat oil over high in wok. Add chicken, peppers, green beans and cook until softened, 5 min. Add scallions, ginger garlic and cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 4 min. Whisk soy sauce mixture, add to skillet, and cook until sauce is thickened, 3 min.

Serves 4. Per serving: 470 calories; 7 g fat; 63 g carb; 7 g fiber; 39 g protein

Recipe source: Everyday Food January/February 2011

This post is linked with Cupcake Muffins for this week’s BSI: green beans!

Black Bean and Pepper Salad with Cilantro & Lime

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I think this is the most beautiful salad I’ve ever made. I’m big on color in my food and this salad definitely delivers! Not only that, but it is incredibly healthy and flavorful. It all comes together really well with the creamy beans & sweet peppers balancing the heat in the dressing (which isn’t too hot, just hot enough) and the lime and cilantro add a flavorful punch. And you know what I really love about it? It calls for an entire bunch of cilantro, so I don’t have to leave 9/10 of a bunch sitting in the fridge, wondering what I’ll make with it until I forget about it and clean out the fridge a month later to discover a produce bag filled with green-brown muck. Woo-hoo! And no, it isn’t too much cilantro. It’s perfect. And since it’s so healthy, I felt justified using salty tortilla chips to eat it with, turning it into a sort of bean & pepper pico de gallo. Fabulous!

Black Bean and Pepper Salad with Cilantro and Lime
Printable Version

Dressing:
1 lime
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 t salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Salad:
1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
(could use any combination of colors for the pepper, or use 2 red peppers)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Grate the zest from the lime into a small bowl, then juice the lime and add 2 tablespoons of it to the zest. Stir in the remaining ingredients; set aside.

Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl. Pour the dressing over and stir. Serve immediately or store in the fridge, giving another stir before serving. 

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Information (per serving): 214 cal; 8 g fat (1.2 g saturated, 1.4 polyunsaturated, 5.1 monounsaturated); 149 mg sodium; 591 mg potassium; 30 g carb; 10 g fiber; 9.1 g protein

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

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