Category Archives: Cooking

Tomatillo Chicken Chili

Hi there, it has been a couple of years (it’s true, I checked).

I made a tomatillo chicken chili thing in my Instant Pot pressure cooker last week that turned out great so had to share on Instagram. (The #VVAcooks hashtag on Instagram is getting some action again!) So when a friend asked for the recipe, I had to think about what I did, and where I was going to type it out, and oh hey I have a little blog! I have been thinking about writing recipe posts, so decided to renew the site and here we are.

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Tomatillo chicken chili packed in jars for the office.

This is a recipe for one of the laziest meals I have ever made. Everything was in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. The base was a tomatillo and jalapeño salsa that I made and froze over the summer. I used dried beans, but added an option for canned beans which significantly reduces the cooking time. I thought about chopping a carrot and an onion, but like I said, this is the LAZIEST meal. You can add whatever is in the fridge, honestly. I think a little frozen corn would have been great. Next time.

tomatillo-chicken-chili

Tomatillo Chicken Chili
Makes 5-6 servings
Times listed are for an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless chicken breasts cubed or cut into large pieces (to be shredded)
2 cups tomatillo salsa (made with tomatillos, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic)
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup kale, chopped
1/2 cup dried Great Northern Beans rinsed (or a can of beans*)
1/2 tbsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken with cumin, salt, and pepper.

Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot/pressure cooker and press the sauté function button.

Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and sear. Turn and sear on all sides.

Add the salsa, chicken stock, water, and dried beans (do not add canned beans at this point) to the pot. Lock the lid, close the valve, and press the Cancel/Keep Warm button.

Press the Manual button and set to cook at high pressure for 40 minutes (12 minutes if using canned beans).

When the time is done and the Instant Pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Open the lid and taste the stew. Add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the kale (and canned beans, if using*). Put the lid back on and let sit for 5 minutes.

Open the lid, give the chili a stir, and use the spoon to shred large pieces of chicken. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!

* Add 1 minute of manual high pressure cooking time if using canned beans.

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Raclette at Home – Interactive Cheese!

Have you had raclette yet? Do you know what it is?

In my experience, not many people have had it or are familiar with it so I’m here to help! Raclette is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland which melts easily and is also a dish that originated in the Alps. The traditional cheese meal is served with boiled potatoes, cornichons, pickled pearl onions (cocktail onions) and white pepper. It’s a simple and delicious meal that is best enjoyed in the company of others with lots of wine.

Raclette meal

I first had raclette in a restaurant in Switzerland, then at a friend’s house shortly after our return. Both experiences were fun and delicious, though the serving style was very different. I loved the home version because it was participatory and an event. We bought a raclette grill a couple of years later and love hosting dinner at our house during the winter months. If you enjoy fondue or anything  that encourages playing with food, this is for you.

Even though I love to cook, I will tell you this is my favorite dinner to host because: 1. It’s fun to introduce people to new foods 2. It’s EASY to pull off (opening jars and pre-sliced meats and cheeses for the win!) 3. Lots of wine (it helps with digestion!) 4. It’s INTERACTIVE CHEESE!

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Farmers Market Find: Turkish Eggplant

Last week’s visit to the Minneapolis Farmers Market felt like cheating when I came home with bagfuls of produce. I loaded up on so many fresh (and dried) items which is a bit rare this late in the season, but this warm Minnesota fall has treated us well. I picked up carrots, kale, Brussels spouts, lettuce, potatoes, onions, herbs galore, and more!

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Turkish Eggplants hanging out at the farmers market.

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Volunteering at Open Arms of Minnesota

Photo from Open Arms of Minnesota's website.

Photo from Open Arms of Minnesota’s website.

Volunteer work has become a part of my life in one form or another since I moved to Minnesota, a very important one for that matter. I’ve recently become more active with Open Arms of Minnesota in Minneapolis, “the only non-profit organization in Minnesota that cooks and delivers free meals specifically tailored to meet the nutrition needs of individuals living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, MS, and ALS.” Helping to nourish others while they are sick (and their families) is a cause I care about and am glad to be able to support. Continue reading

The Best Chicken Is Berbere Roasted Chicken

1-IMG_6886 Berbere spice is an aromatic and flavorful spice blend from Ethiopia that I love to cook with. You can add it to anything; meats, vegetables, rice, lentils, etc. It was so good I bought some immediately after trying it for the first time. Berbere is available online, specialty food markets, spice stores or you can make your own. I’m not that ambitious (yet!) so have my trusty jar.

I roast a chicken every other week because it provides so many meals beyond a single chicken dinner. I had the butcher remove the backbone on this one which I will save to make stock later. Continue reading

Hummus with Parsley Recipe

1-IMG_6665Hummus is one of the most delicious and healthy snacks you can have on hand and is extremely easy to make.  Use it as a dip with pitas or veggies, as a spread for sandwiches or on a salad, it is a great staple to have around. Here’s my go-to recipe. Continue reading

Lamb Patties with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce Recipe

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Lamb is a favorite protein of mine that I don’t make often enough. My local co-op had ground lamb on sale so it was a no-brainer as to what I would be making for dinner. The sauce is my attempt at tzatziki without using a recipe – remember I am an off the top of my head cook sometimes! I did go back to check on tzatziki recipes before writing this post to see if I was close and noticed several called for the peeling and seeding of cucumbers. I think that is a waste of perfectly good produce. I am all about nose-to-tail vegetable cooking, or something in that vein. Continue reading

Easy Chicken Stock

I try to always have chicken stock in the freezer because it’s so easy to make and makes everything better. Everything.IMG_6617-0

Here’s my tip – keep a gallon size Ziploc bag or two in the freezer and add vegetable scraps and chicken parts/bones when you have them. Once the bag is full, make stock. Continue reading

Everyday Vegetable Soup

When Rich and I started cooking together, my soup technique freaked him out because I never used a recipe (he likes rules). I use recipes as guidelines and wing it most of the time because it’s fun. These are the reasons I don’t (can’t) bake. Soups are especially fun to wing it with because the possibilities are endless, I doubt I’ve made the same one twice. I like to throw in whatever veggies need to be used and voila! Soup! I am happy to say that Rich is now soup recipe-free and we can make fast and delicious soups anytime.

So here is my standard brothy tomato based veggie soup, the ingredients may change a little, sometimes it’s vegetarian, sometimes it’s not,  but whichever way you look at it, it’s a go-to healthy soup. I’ll share with you the one I made yesterday because I finally remembered to take pictures. If you choose to make this with meat, brown your protein, drain, then add the onions. I like to make this with cut up chicken breast so it’s like a chicken chili of sorts.

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Bitter Melon – What is that thing?

IMG_4828Yesterday’s chilly weather called for oven-dried tomatoes, so I popped into the Minneapolis Farmers Market for a bucket of Romas. “Just ONE bucket of tomatoes!” I told myself.  Of course I wandered around and ended up purchasing a bunch more produce. I really can’t help myself.

The most exciting find was bitter melon, that bumpy, cucumber looking, vegetable thing that is actually a gourd. In researching recipes, I learned that bitter melon is used widely in Asian cooking, including beverages. The most surprising detail was that it is used in beer as a bittering agent in place of hops in China and Japan. Not surprising, after tasting a raw piece. Continue reading