Thursday, September 29, 2011

{recipe} skinny chicken taco chili

What is a girl to do when the current season is officially fall? Make chili of course!

I'm a chili-a-holic. Spicy chili, turkey chili, Mexican chili, sweet chili, etc., etc. It's one of my favorite comfort foods.


Never mind the fact that it is still 93 degrees outside by day and 80 degrees by night. Let's get it together Florida! I'm ready to whip out my boots and leggings.

I'm not going to lie, I was sweating profusely while eating this chili... while sitting under a fan, nonetheless. It was so completely worth it. While I may have been a wee bit overheated while eating this dish, I didn't have to worry about my kitchen getting overly hot while cooking it. I whipped out our brand new handy dandy crockpot! I'm not sure how I have survived three years of college without one of these. I literally threw everything into the pot at around 11 AM, then ran errands, did homework, and studied for class. I didn't even have to check up on it until 30 minutes before I wanted to dig in. It was perfection! This chili is cheap, easy, has minimal cleanup, and is perfect for roommates with different schedules. Just throw it in before you go to work or class and keep it on the "keep warm" setting so stragglers with late meetings can have a hot meal as soon as they get home.


Did I mention that this chili is pretty healthy too?

I'm not one to count calories or calculate grams of fiber but I found this recipe on a blog that does, Gina's Skinny Recipes. If you haven't ever heard of her blog, you should definitely check it out. She has a ton of great lightened up recipes to share.

So want to hear the goods?

This chili only has 203.7 calories, 1.4 fat grams, and 33.3 carbohydrate grams per serving. On top of that there are 10 grams of fiber and 16.9 grams of protein per serving! Healthy comfort food is the best kind of food.

Easy, easy, easy.

Skinny Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
Recipe credit to Gina's Skinny Recipes
Ingredients: 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce (I used no sodium added tomato sauce)
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili peppers, chopped (optional)
  • Nonfat sour cream, reduced fat shredded cheese, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish.
Directions:
  1. Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. 
  2. Place chicken on top and cover. 
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. (I ended up cooking the chili on low for 5 hours and high for two hours and the chicken was completely cooked through!)
  4. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. (Click here for a chicken shredding tutorial! Your chicken from this recipe will literally be falling apart from simmering in the broth for so long.)
  5. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro. Also try it with low fat cheese and sour cream.
I think you could make this chili without a crock pot too. I would just make sure to cook the chicken and shred it prior to putting it into the chili to prevent any sort of contamination. You could probably just simmer the chili for about an hour in a big pot and then stir in the shredded chicken.

Also, this recipe makes quite a bit so my roommates and I decided to freeze half of the chili in a tupperware container. It freezes well. Just stick it in the refrigerator in the morning before you head off to class or work. It should be defrosted by the time you get home for dinner.


Here's to eating chili until the weather finally decides to cool down!

I'm a stubborn one after all.

xo, Jen

Monday, September 26, 2011

{recipe} oatmeal raisin cookies + a surprise visit!


I'm not sure what is getting into me. Do you see these cookies???  And don't forget about these and these.

This is not normal.

I have always claimed I am not a baker. I don't like to measure things and would much prefer to just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and call it a day than deal with the oven and exact measurements. Lately though, I have been CRAVING baking. Like, I get home and all I want to do is heat up the oven and bake some homemade cookies. 

Who am I anymore?!?

I have been wanting to bake oatmeal raisin cookies for the past few weeks. I'm not quite sure what this craving grew out of but I knew that as soon as I got home from the GRE it was going to be oatmeal raisin cookie baking time. The recipe I used seemed to be the champion recipe of the blog world. Every recipe I found seemed to link back to one source, the fabulous Smitten Kitchen. I had all of the ingredients to bake these cookies by some miraculous instance so as soon as I got home from the GRE I poured myself a glass of wine and got baking.

Click on the picture to view the recipe larger, or click here for the original recipe link.

On a completely unrelated topic, it is almost Monday. AKA, update you on my weekend time. :)


Remember how I said I couldn't tell you where I was traveling to this weekend before?  Wellll, it is because two of my best friends from home happen to read my blog and I was about to leave Tallahassee to surprise them for their 22nd birthdays.I  have NEVER been able to make it to Orlando for their birthdays before because I have always had either a home football game or some mandatory Phi Mu event going on. I told them that I couldn't come again this year but decided to surprise them. 

We went to City Walk in Universal and got a pass to go to all of the different bars. The drinks were mighty expensive but it was still a really fun night! There were sing-a-longs to dueling pianos, karaoke, salsa dancing, a little bit of reggae, and lots of fruity drinks. City Walk has a little bit of everything to offer.


We completely slacked on taking pictures this weekend but the picture above is of the birthday girls, Chelsea and Krista, with one of the dueling piano players at the replica version of Pat O'Brien's in Universal's City Walk.

Below is a picture of all of the girls at the karaoke place, Rising Star. There was a live band but the rule was that you had to sing alone. I was way too intimidated to karaoke alone but it was definitely entertaining.


The rest of my weekend was pretty low key. I watched my poor, poor team lose to Clemson. 

(Speaking of Clemson, they were SO underrated in the preseason. They are absolutely killing it this season!) I'm glad the Noles have a by-week before the next game. Hopefully they will practice hard and make us proud next time.

After the game, my friends and I met Krista at her work after she got off and we drank lots of wine and talked for hours. It was great catching up with everyone. I'm so glad I actually had a free weekend and could make it down for their birthdays this year.

Okay, story time is over.

All I have left to say is, please make these cookies very soon?
They are chewy and yummy and perfect and just pretty much everything good in life.
Pinky promise.


How were your weekends?!

Friday, September 23, 2011

{life} happy weekend!

"It's FRIDAY, FRIDAY, gotta get down on Friday."
-Only the best lyrics ever written, duh.

HAPPY WEEKEND FRIENDS!

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I am going somewhere. Can't write about it here yet.

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I have lots of fun blog posts coming up next week.

I just wanted to say for now that I hope you have a fabulous weekend.
May your hours tonight be the happiest. ;)

xo, Jen

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{blog love} oh how pinteresting wednesday


google

I'm linking up with The Vintage Apple for her weekly Pinterest post.


I'm feeling this way after completing the GRE today. Freedom, sweet freedom.
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I pinned this from A Longenecker Short Story the other day.
I am in love with this outfit.
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This picture is so sweet. It makes me wish even more that I lived somewhere the leaves actually changed colors.
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I've been craving oatmeal raisin cookies for some time now. I'm baking these right now. :)
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I love this bucket list. I am totally going to check stuff off of it this fall.
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I could do a whole post on fall fashion. I love all of the inspirations on Pinterest!
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No... but really. Ha!
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This kitchen is perfect.
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Do you have a Pinterest? Follow me on it!
& make sure to link up with Michelle at The Vintage Apple. :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{recipe} the pumpkin chronicles


I already talked about my obsession with pumpkin here. Something I am not obsessed with is that fact that most pumpkin recipes only call for one cup of pumpkin puree. A can of pumpkin puree has more than one cup in it. What is a girl to do?! Stick it in a tupperware and put it in my refrigerator? Um, sure but I know that I will forget about it and that it will inevitably end up being pushed to the back (aka the pit of icy no return.)  I had to think of something and I couldn't bring myself to bake any more sweets..... yet.

When my mom worked at Williams-Sonoma she always bought a million jars of pumpkin butter with her discount. We would have it sitting in our pantry for months past pumpkin season. I did not complain. I would spread that stuff on toast, english muffins, normal muffins, etc. every morning before I left for school. 

In short, pumpkin butter is my jam.
(Ha. Get it?! Yeah, I'm hilarious.)

Since I live in the middle of nowhere (yay for Tallahassee), I am not fortunate enough to have a Williams-Sonoma nearby (which is a complete crime BTW). I decided to go ahead and try to make pumpkin butter with that random tupperware of pumpkin puree sitting on the top shelf of my refrigerator.


Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • Drizzle of honey
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 T pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 t salt

Directions:
  1. Put all ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer for 45 minutes on very low heat. Stir frequently.
  2. Refrigerate immediately. It will last for about a week or so in an airtight container.

This recipe filled half of a regular size mason jar. I will definitely double the recipe next time! Also, don't let your brown sugar caramelize like mine did. It won't taste bad but it will look like your pumpkin butter burned a little. Oops. 

Spread a little lot on your toast and then sprinkle some cinnamon on top.


Enjoy!

Oh, and I take the GRE tomorrow at 1 pm. Ah. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

{life} weekend recap + confetti pasta salad

Oh my. This weekend was fabulous.

First came the Corey Smith and Tyler Reeve concert.

Roommates. <3
Old roomies, kinda.
COREY.
This video is horrible quality, but you can see how close to the stage I was. :)

video

Then it was time for some FSU FOOTBALL!

I ran into my great grand-big & Jacki at the Unconquered statue!!
Tailgating fun!
84,000 strong.
Student section craziness:
video

The game was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. I will definitely remember attending that game for the rest of my life. It was the loudest I have ever heard the stadium.. even louder than the FSU v. UF game last year.

“It was just loud, I couldn’t hear anything, especially down there when we were in their student section,” Jones said. “I called some plays six or seven times, and I still don’t think the guys heard me.” 
ESPN article.

Mission accomplished student section. :)

We may have lost but it was a hard fight. I couldn't be any prouder of my team.

Oh and want a really easy pasta salad recipe? I made it for the tailgate an hour before I left for campus.

Confetti Pasta Salad
Adapted from MyRecipes.com
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Ingredients:
  • 8 oz medium pasta shells; cooked according to the box instructions.
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half.
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 4 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 8 oz. package crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup vinaigrette of choice - I used a Greek vinaigrette I had in my fridge already.
Directions:
  1. Cook pasta, drain and cool.
  2. Toss pasta with remaining ingredients. Leave out feta until just before serving.
  3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before serving.
Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

{life} the best weekend ever.

Hi lovelies! I am soooooooo excited for this weekend. EEK!

My weekend began last night.

My roommate and I last night all dressed up for American + Redneck 21st waltzes!

It is about to get even better.

Corey Smith is in town and he is playing a free concert tonight!

If you don't know who that is yet, then you really need to look him up. Be prepared to fall in love.

He is quintessentially college.

 



I just love him so much!!!

Tomorrow is the day Nole fans have been waiting for all year.


SCALP 'EM SEMINOLES!


Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

{recipe} if you decide to make just one recipe from my blog, let it be this one

A lovely Fall-spiration photo with Amanda from a sisterhood retreat in GA last year.

 My roommate Rima is absolutely convinced that my main squeeze currently is pumpkin in a can.

 She is quite possibly correct.

I go pumpkin crazy as soon September comes around each year. 

Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Check.
Pumpkin bread? Check.
Pumpkin beer? Check.
Pumpkin butter? Check.
(Pumpkin butter is cooking on my stove as I type this. Recipe coming sooon!) 

I can't wait until it actually cools down enough to make roasted pumpkin soup. In the meantime, go pick up a cinnamon broom from the store and be prepared to crank down your air and turn your fans on full blast while you eat the best Fall-inspired pasta dish EVER. 


I'm not sure how this recipe never quite made it on my blog before. I have requests from friends and roommates every year to make it for them once Fall rolls around. Before I was cooking it in my kitchen in Tallahassee, I was eating it every year in Tampa - courtesy of my lovely parents.

This originally is a Rachael Ray recipe, but I have come to think of it as a Smith family recipe instead. As my roomie Amanda says, I will definitely be making this every year for years to come. It is that awesome. :)

Don't get scared with the seemingly long list of grocery items or if something is foreign to you.
You really can adjust it to fit your needs!

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage, taken out of its casing and crumbled in the pan.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried - (I bought a container of dried bay leaves in the spice section for like $2.50)
  • 4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons- (I omitted this last night because I don't like to buy fresh  herbs if I know I can't use them all. It was fine!)
  • 1 cup dry white wine **
  • 1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container **
  • 1 cup canned pureed pumpkin (you can find this in the canned fruits or vegetable aisle)
  • 1/2 cup half & half (original recipe calls for heavy cream, do what you want!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste (I didn't need to add salt at all!)
  • 1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente. (I used whole wheat Penne.)
  • Top with freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese. 
  • Serve with pumpernickel or whole grain bread.
**If you are under 21 and have no access to dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay) you can still make this dish! This happened to me my sophomore year of college when I made it. I called up my momma and she told me to substitute the one cup of white wine with another cup of chicken stock.**

Directions:
  • Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet (DO NOT POUR THIS DOWN YOUR SINK DRAIN. BAD. - Pour it into a glass container and take care of it later.) and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.
  • Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. (If you are substituting chicken stock for the wine, add one cup of it now and let it reduce some as well.)
  • Add chicken stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer mixture for 5 to 10 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.
  • Serve pasta on a plate and spoon sauce over it. Grate Parmesan cheese on top and serve with toasted pumpernickel bread. ENJOY!

It tastes better than it photographs, I promise!

And here is some more Fall-spiration. :)

Me, my grand-little, & my little at Stone Mountain in GA last year.

Now, go and get your pumpkin on.

Monday, September 12, 2011

{recipe} nutella swirl chocolate chip cookies


They were totally as good as they sound!

I baked these cookies for my roommate's 21st birthday celebration this weekend.

She invited a bunch of her sorority sisters and my other roommate and I invited ours for a little appetizer & martini party at our apartment.

We threw together some spinach balls (yum, yum, yum, yum - these were a HUGE hit. Pick marinara sauce as the dip, you won't be sorry.), Parmesan baked artichokes (served these with sliced Italian bread), and a Mediterranean chickpea salad. Our friends brought over guacamole, pasta salad, and a delish brie with apples appetizer. Rima loves to travel, so the theme for the night was Around the World!

My roommate Amanda & I surprised Rima with a 21st birthday sign.
After a few martinis it was off to our favorite karaoke bar!

Birthday girl was not prepared!

"Now I'm FREEEEEE, FREEEE FALLLLLIN!"

It was so much fun and Rima had the absolute time of her life!

Now, back to the cookies. :)

Click on the picture to view the recipe bigger! Or click here to see the original recipe at Kirbie's Cravings.

I also added a bit of sea salt on top.


Because of the Nutella, the cookie dough was SUPER sticky. I totally recommend using two spoons and plopping the dough down on the parchment paper instead of your hands.... unless you enjoy crazy cookie dough monster hands?

Don't put so many cookies on one sheet at a time or else your cookies will end up like this:
MONSTER COOKIES.

Some more pictures from Friday night - 


I was the DD / Paparazzi extraordinaire for the night.
I was quite pleased with myself when I captured this picture of Rima with her sorority sisters. :) 

Two of my pledge sisters - friends since 2008. :)
Roommates <3 <3 <3

Let me know if you try these cookies!!!

PS. I found a super fun Instagram-like website for PCs. 
I used it to edit all of my pictures for this post. Check it out! 
It is called Pixlr-o-Matic. 
(For all of you stuck-in-the-dark-ages non-iPhone-users like me.)