SLOW-COOKER CREAM-CHEESE CHICKEN CHILI

My guys went bowling and all I got was…slow-cooker chili that should have fed four. They got bowling alley food. Yeah, I fared well–would have even if the chili hadn’t turned out so good. And now I have leftovers that I may just keep to myself. So, only one thumbs up on this recipe, but it belongs to a professional…um, eater 🙂

1 lb chicken tenderloins, chopped

1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild diced tomatoes and green chiles)

1-1/2 cups corn (I used frozen)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-1/4 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup reduced-fat Ranch dressing

1 tsp cumin

1-1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp sea salt

1-8 oz pkg reduced-fat cream cheese

Optional: shredded Monterey Jack cheese and parsley for topping

1) Set slow cooker to low heat; add  ingredients in order listed (except cream cheese); stir to combine; top with cream cheese

2) Cook 6-8 hours, stirring a few times to incorporate cream cheese; serve with optional cheese and parsley if you like

Serves: 4-6

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TAME HUNTER’S STEW

Why tame? No venison, thank goodness (sorry, too gamy for me). Plus, I couldn’t resist tossing in rotini noodles and cannellini beans to lighten it up a bit–colorwise. Though it’s heating up in Tennessee, I took advantage of a somewhat cooler night to fit in this tummy-warming stew. My guys enjoyed it, as did our guests. Thumbs up!

Tame Hunter's Stew1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground pork sausage

1-13 oz pkg Polska Kielbasa, chopped

1 lb top sirloin steak, chopped (or other steak)

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

10 cups beef broth

8 oz small rigatoni noodles

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 red onion, diced

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)

2-1/2 cups sauerkraut

1) Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat; add pork sausage, Polska Kielbasa, steak, sage, pepper, and salt; cook 7-8 minutes, stirring often, until meats are just cooked

2) To meat mixture, add beef broth, rigatoni noodles, carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, and sauerkraut; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes; serve

Servings: 8

LENTIL-BLACK BEAN-BACON CHILI

I toted this lentil, black bean, and bacon chili to a Super Bowl gathering and served it alongside all manner of tasty fingerfoods. The lentils were a nice addition, adding an extra shot of fiber and protein to a healthy and hearty dish.

Lentil-Bean-Bacon Chili

4 slices bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon)

1 lb ground mild Italian sausage

1 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup matchstick carrots

2-14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes with green chilies

1/2 cup dried lentils

3 cups beef broth

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1-15 oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Optional toppings: mozzarella cheese, sliced green onions, sour cream

1) To large soup pot over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until lightly crisp; add ground sausage and, stirring often, cook until lightly browned

2) Reduce heat to medium and stir in onions and carrots and cook 5 minutes; stir in diced tomatoes, lentils, beef broth, vinegar, chili powder, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and both beans

3) Reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally; serve with toppings of your choice

Servings: 6

PUFF PASTRY-TOPPED BEEF AND BEER STEW

It’s not easy to give stew a look of sophistication, but the puff pastry topping this beef and beer stew dressed it up nicely. On top of that (oh, I made a pun), the puff pastry was a delicious addition to the hearty stew. Thumbs way up!

Puff Pastry-Topped Beef and Beer Stew

spray olive oil

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp water

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 tbsp butter, divided

1-1/2 lb steak (I used London Broil), cut into 1″ cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

1-1/2 cups matchstick carrots

1 celery stalk, sliced thin

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup beef broth

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 cup beer (I used non-alcoholic O’Doul’s)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup grated Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2) Lightly oil cookie sheet with spray olive oil; unfold puff pastry sheet and place on cookie sheet

3) In small bowl, beat egg and water; brush egg wash over puff pastry and bake in oven 12-15 minutes until golden brown; remove from oven, cut into 4 squares, and set aside

4) To large skillet (I used cast iron), add 1 tbsp olive oil (reserving 1 tbsp) and 1 tbsp butter (reserving 1 tbsp); heat to medium

5) Meanwhile, combine flour, salt, and pepper in shallow dish; dredge cubed beef in flour mixture; when skillet is hot, add beef to skillet and cook 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to lightly brown all sides; transfer beef to bowl and set aside

6) Add reserved 1 tbsp olive oil and reserved 1 tbsp butter to skillet; when butter melts, add onion, carrots, celery, thyme, and oregano; stirring occasionally, cook 7-8 minutes until veggies soften

7) Meanwhile, in small bowl dissolve cornstarch in beef broth; pour over vegetables in skillet, followed by beer; stir in Worcestershire sauce; return beef cubes to skillet and stir to combine; cover skillet with lid, reduce heat to low, and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

8) Season stew with salt and pepper to taste and ladle into bowls; sprinkle cheese over each serving and top with a puff pastry square

Makes: 4 hearty entrees (for 6 lighter entrees, cut puff pastry into 6 pieces)

Recipe adapted from: Cast Iron Skillet: Big Flavors

CHICKEN-ZUCCHINI-CANNELLINI BEAN MEDLEY

I’m not big on zucchini unless it’s breaded, fried, and bad news for my waistline, but it was a wonderful addition to this tasty dish. And then there was the cannellini beans and spinach. Many thumbs up!

Chicken Zucchini Cannellini Bean Medley1

Chicken Zucchini Cannellini Bean Medley2

1 tbsp olive oil

4 bone-in chicken thighs

2 cups coarsely chopped red onion

1 peeled and coarsely chopped zucchini

1 cup red bell pepper, sliced

1-15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1-1/2 cup pasta sauce (I used marinara)

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and brown 2-3 minutes each side; transfer chicken to plate and keep warm

2) Add onion to skillet and, stirring often, cook 5 minutes; reduce heat to medium and stir in zucchini, red bell pepper, cannellini beans, and spinach and cook 3 minutes; stir in pasta sauce, wine, basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally

3) Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce over pieces; reduce heat to low and cover skillet with lid; cook 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through; serve chicken smothered in sauce and spinkled with Parmesan

Servings: 4