Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beefy Black Bean Chili with Spicy Corn Muffins

Sad, rainy, grey day? Check!
Temperatures in the 60s on lower? Check!
Delicious hot bowl of chili with spicy corn muffins? CHECK!

There is nothing as simply satisfying as a comfort laden bowl of home-made chili. And I can't bear a rainy, sad day without a little comfort food. A Deb needs her comforting.

Now, as with any chili recipe, you can certainly feel free to make this one your own. Don't like beans? Leave 'em out. Vegetarian? Substitute kidney beans and a chopped red bell pepper for the beef, making a Dual Bean, meatless chili. Like it HOT? Crank up the spices! You can make this on the stove top (takes about 1 1/2 hour, including prep time) or toss everything in the crock pot that morning, at first sign of a thundery rumble!
Oh, and did I mention that 1 cup of this, topped with my delicious flavored cheesy crumble (below), is only 6 pts on WW? It comes in just under 300 calories, with 7 g. of fat and 6 grams of fiber, ya'll. This is comfort food that is good FOR you! So snuggle in for some Deb style goodness.

Debtastic Beefy Chili

You'll need:
Cook spray
1/4 lb. spicy chicken sausage (I used Buffalo style! But you can substitute sweet sausage in this if you don't like the heat)
2 C. chopped onion (this sounds like a lot, but it really adds tons of sweet flavor in the background!)
3 minced garlic cloves
1 lb. lean sirloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. tomato paste
2 C. chicken broth (use the low-sodium kind, it's better for you)
1 C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 C. water (You can also use beer, instead of the water, gives it a hearty, yeasty taste)
1 C. brown rice, prepared (optional -- if you add rice to any chili, it thickens it, ultimately. Play with your proportions to figure out how liquidy you like your chili; you can always add more water)
2 T. chili powder -- more or less to taste
1 T. hot peppers (omit if you don't like your chili to set your tongue a little on fire)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed (saltless, again, is better for you! Also, if you're not fond of beans, you can certainly substitute a chopped red bell pepper or another vegetable that you like!)

For Topping:
Cheesy Crumble (see below)
Fat Free sour cream
Crumbled Spicy Corn muffins (also below)

Remove any casings from your sausage. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high and coat with spray. Add in sausage, garlic and onion. Let the onion get soft, about 5 minutes. Add in your beef, cook until just browned, about another 5 minutes. Stir in paste, and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add broth, tomatoes, water, rice, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer about an hour, until meat is tender and broth has reduced to preferred consistency. Stir in your beans (if using), cook until warmed through, maybe 5 more minutes. Top each serving with Cheesy Crumble, serve with corn muffins and plain, steamed green beans with just a little butter and salt.

This makes 4 servings, and you'll thank me next rainy day. It's particularly good with beer, if you have a favorite kind to pair with it. I like this with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, but it might not be worth the extra calories to you! Besides, you definitely don't need alcohol to enjoy the meal.

Flavored Cheesy Crumble

1 oz. Cabot's 75% fat free white cheddar, shredded
2 T. shredded parmesan
1 cube Laughing Cow cheese wedges, diced -- pick any flavor you like! I used Garlic Herb
1/2 t. cajun seasoning
1/4 t. garlic salt

Mix together until crumbly! Use to top anything from soups to salads to chili -- melt this on an English muffin in the morning for breakfast, even. Or make a big batch and top some otherwise plain muffins with this, just before baking.

Spicy Corn Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350, and spray a muffin tin. These are 3 pts. each on WW.

1 C. flour
1 C. corn meal
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 T. Mrs. Dash, any flavor (I like the Italian medley)
1 T. Old Bay or Cajun seasoning (for mild or spicy flavor!)
1/2 T. garlic powder
dash of black pepper

Combine these dry ingredients in a medium bowl and create a well in the center. Then move on (using a new bowl) with the wet ingredients:

1/3 C. corn oil
3 T. honey
1 large beaten egg
1 C. 2% milk (I've also used half-and-half, we won't discuss why or how... It was fine, though!)
1 T. hot peppers (omit this if you want plain corn muffins)

Combine all and pour into the well. Mix into a dough, then stir in:

1/2 C. corn kernels, either fresh or frozen and thawed
2 T. chopped chives
Also, if you have any fresh parsley, oregano or basil from your garden, chop up a tablespoon or two and add in for extra flavor.

Using an ice-cream scoop, evenly fill your 12 muffin spots. The ice-cream scoop make your muffins perfectly measured, for one thing (nice to know your proportions for those os us counting our calories!), and also for a neatly domed top, for those of us with more severe OCD.

Bake until tops are golden brown, about 20 -- 25 minutes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yummy Spanish Paprika Chicken

Thank goodness that there will always be new things to do with chicken! This recipe was originally found, I believe, in Cooking Light or Redbook though it was called something nicer (aren't they always called something nicer in the magazines?).

This is an easy, quick recipe to spice up that pound of chicken you've got in the freezer. It's great for an evening when you just don't even feel like pre-heating the oven. Serve this with a little brown rice and some corn or another nice veggie, and you've got a really simple, hearty meal. The heat this dish gets from the paprika isn't spicy hot, but you can certainly heat things up by using extra seasonings! Otherwise, serve as is.

Spanish Paprika Chicken

You'll need:
1 t. paprika
black pepper (to taste); crushed red pepper (for spicy)
4 -- 5 bone/skinless chicken breasts, about 3 oz. each
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 C. chopped green olives
14 oz. can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
3 slices proscuitto, finely chopped (about 1/4 C.)
2 T. fresh chopped parsley (I like this with the flat leaf kind)
2 T . grated parmesan

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add your proscuitto. Heat until just barely brown and crispy, then remove to a plate and add in the parsley and parmesan cheese. Keep warm. Meanwhile, keep your skillet over medium heat and add the 2 t. of oil.

Combine your paprika and pepper and sprinkle all over both sides of chicken. I usually sprinkle one side, toss it face-down in the pan and then do the other side. This seems to make better use of the spices. Add the seasoned chicken to your pan and cook about 4 minutes, flipping once. Add your garlic and cook another minute, flip your chicken again. Add olives and tomatoes, bringing the whole mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and then simmer for 6 -- 10 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked through.

Place a chicken breast on each plate, top with 1/2 C. of the sauce, then sprinkle with about 2 T. of the proscuitto/parsley/cheese mixture. Declicious! I usually cut mine up into my rice, and it feel like a ridiculous load of food, but so good! This makes about 4 servings, and you can easily adjust that by just including fewer or more chicken breasts and topping the breasts with a little more/less sauce as necessary. Each serving is 6 pts on WW, or about 310 calories.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Beefy Potato Casserole!

Well, ya'll, the temperatures here in Dixie just dropped below 50 this morning, so I know that Fall is good and here. I don't think I'm the only one that craves warm comfort casseroles and soups when the cold weather hits! This recipe is great for using up some stock items in your friedge, like that frozen pound of beef and those last few potatoes in the bag. It's just simple and homey, but really warm and filling on a cool fall evening. It's 8 pts on WW (370 calories, 14 g. of fat and 5 grams of fiber). I was inspired by the Greek moussaka casserole, but I toned it down and used ultra lean beef as my meat. Serve it with hot bread and some green beans and you've got a great meal.

Potato Beef Moussaka

Preheat your oven to 350 and coat a 13 x 9 pan with cook spray.

You'll need:
2 lbs baking potatoes, cut into 1/4 " slices (about 4 medium potatoes), peeled or not as preferred
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 8 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
8 oz. no-salt tomato sauce
1 t. salt, pepper to taste
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon (this is what makes this recipe so good! It brings a wonderful heat and fall spiciness to your mouth with each bite)
1/2 C. finely chopped parsley (I like flat-leaf in this recipe)
1 C. 1% milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
garlic salt, to taste
2 oz. feta cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium and coat with cook spray. Add potato slices in batches of thirds until they've all been browned, about 4 -- 5 minutes per batch. Keep warm.

Recoat the skillet with spray and then add onion, carrot, garlic, and beef to your pan. Cook about 4 minutes until beef is browned, then add pimentos, sauce, seasonings and parsley. Cook until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Arrange half the potatoes at the bottom of the pan, then cover with the meat sauce and about 1 oz. of the feta. Cover with the remaining potatoes, then the rest of the feta. Next, combine your eggs with the milk and garlic salt. When lightly mixed, pour over entire casserole evenly. Bake for 30 minutes until feta is lightly bronwed and filling has set. Let it settle about 10 minutes before serving.

This makes 6 servings and is great as leftovers for the rest of the week! If you have a lot leftover, you can freeze it for later.