Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

★★★★★

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Crock Pot/Slow Cooker, Mexican

INGREDIENTS

4 medium, (about 6 oz each) sweet potatoes, skin on

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon garlic power

1 cup enchilada sauce, I recommend my homemade (recipe below)

chopped scallions, for serving

1/4 cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped scallions and/or cilantro, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Wrap the potatoes individually in foil.

Season the chicken with salt and garlic powder and place on one end of the slow cooker, cover with 1/4 cup enchilada sauce.

Place the potatoes on the other end, stacking 2 on top of 2.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until potatoes are tender.

When done, remove the potatoes and chicken.

Transfer chicken to a small bowl and roughly shred with 2 forks and add the remaining enchilada sauce.

Split open the sweet potatoes, then top with 2/3 cup of the enchilada chicken.

Drizzle each half with 1 tablespoon cheese and place under the broiler 2 to 3 minutes, or until melted.

Garnish each potato with 1 tablespoon sour cream and scallions or cilantro.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1potato, Calories: 413kcal, Carbohydrates: 47g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4.4g, Cholesterol: 101.5mg, Sodium: 809.5mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 9g Blue Smart Points: 8 Green Smart Points: 10 Purple Smart Points: 3

The Best Homemade Enchilada Sauce

★★★★★

Mexican, Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 -1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth

3 cups canned tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, chopped (to taste)

1 tsp Mexican hot chili powder, or more to taste

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

fresh black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and garlic; sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, chipotle chiles, hot chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 7-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. Makes 4 cups.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1/4 cup, Calories: 21kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 355mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g Blue Smart Points: 0 Green Smart Points: 0 Purple Smart Points: 0 Points +: 1

Marcella Hazan’s Famously Quick & Easy Tomato 🍅 Sauce

Bon appetite

★★★★★

Italian, Main Dish, Pasta, Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1, 28-ounce canned tomatoes, puréed or hand crushed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved

Kosher salt

1 pound dried pasta of your choice, but for extra saucy goodness 8oz. fills the bill

Parmesan cheese, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Simply toss the tomatoes, butter and onion in a saucepan over medium low heat. Season with salt and bring to a steady simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, making sure to scrape the sides of the pot. Adjust the seasoning and remove the onion (although I’m told it’s pretty delicious in its own right.)

Boil the pasta according to the package instructions, drain and toss the pasta into the hot sauce. Keep tossing until every strand is well coated. Serve among two warm bowls and scatter with Parmesan cheese.

Don’t Toss That Gift 🌸Orchid Out – It’s probably still VERY much ALIVE

You know the drill. Orchids are irresistibly gorgeous and yet, you kill them off in record time.

I’m good with houseplants too, so it’s a double embarrassment. It wasn’t until I noted a friend’s post on Facebook. She was showing the progression of NEW growth. The blooms lasted so long I just assumed the Orchid was a goner when they dropped.

The gal that looks after our home when we travel south, had left the bare plant in our east facing kitchen window. When we returned those weeks later I recognized the signs of life. THRILLED. I’ve since gone through two more cycles of blooms dropping, followed by new growth.

I thought I might not be the only one whose orchids were winding up in the compost heap, so I decided to write this post.

Buds showing the color of the blooms to be
Won’t be long now …
SO worth the wait 🌸🤗
anticipation …
Oh happy day🌱

Hearty Ham and Navy Bean Soup

Honey Baked Ham and Navy Bean Soup

My parents loved this recipe. It’s the perfect supper served with a side of homemade cornbread.

I’d visit a Honey Baked Ham store just to purchase a few ham bones for our freezer.

Freezes beautifully and recipe is easily doubled (or in my case tripled) by doubling or tripling ALL ingredients, save for the ham bone.

Hearty Ham & Bean Soup

★★★★★

Soups & Stews

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound navy beans

Ham bone and any leftover ham

1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed

3/4 cup shredded raw potatoes

3/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup celery leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup fresh green onion tops

1 cup chopped tomato (fresh or canned)

DIRECTIONS

Wash beans well, then cover with 6 cups warm water. Let stand overnight. Next day pour beans and water in which they were soaked into a large saucepan.

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes and green onion tops. These two ingredients may be omitted, but they add much color to the dish. Add them the last 10 minutes to retain color. Cook soup in a covered saucepan slowly about 3 hours or until beans are very soft. When done, taste and season further if necessary. If soup appears too thick toward end, add a little water or stock. If it appears too thin, cook uncovered a few minutes. Add tomatoes and onions last 10 minutes, and cook slowly uncovered.

Can easily double the amount of soup made by duplicating all ingredients EXCEPT for the ham bone 🙂

InstaPot Beef and Barley Soup

An hour’s time start to finish makes me VERY impressed with this recipe.

Beef and Barley Soup

★★★★★

Beef & Barley Soup

Healthy, INSTAPOT/Pressure Cooking, Kid-Friendly, Soups & Stews

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp oil

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or diced stew beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup water

4 small carrots, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 14-oz can whole or diced tomatoes, with juice

6 cups beef broth

1/2 tsp thyme or rosemary

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 – 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup pearl or pot barley

DIRECTIONS

Hit Saute and add the oil to the pot, swirling to coat the bottom. When it’s shimmering, add the beef and brown it well, breaking it up with a spoon. Drain off excess fat and add the onions. Continue sauteing for a couple of minutes.

Add the water and thoroughly deglaze the pan: scrape every bit of the brown off the bottom into the water. Hit Cancel and add all other ingredients.

Close the lid and make sure the valve is set to Sealing. Hit Pressure Cook (or Manual) and adjust the time using the + and – buttons to 24 minutes. When it beeps that it’s done, flip the valve to Venting for a quick release. When the pin drops, open the pot.

Remove the bay leaf and taste and add salt and pepper to taste. This is one of those “even better the second day” recipes. And it freezes beautifully.

The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese 🧀

This recipe looks long but is really simple and quick. Three steps: cook the pasta, make the sauce and, optional, bake in the oven with the crumb topping. The recipe is only long because I detail each step for novices. It’s a delicious and saucy served as soon as you combine pasta and sauce, but for true level deliciousness add the buttered crumbs and bake it a few minutes. Okay. Here we go … Preheat the oven to 375.

Instapot Mac and Cheese

★★★★★

INSTAPOT/Pressure Cooking, Kid-Friendly, Pasta, Quick & Easy

INGREDIENTS

The Pasta:

2 cups macaroni or other small pasta 

2 1/2 cups cold water

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp butter

The Sauce:

2 1/4 cups milk

2 1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp ground dry mustard or 1 tsp Dijon*

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

8 oz cheddar or other cheese**

The Butter Crumb Topping: (option but, oh … do it!)

1/2 cup Panko or crushed saltines

3 Tbsp melted butter

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

* MUSTARD NOTE: You cannot actually taste the mustard in this dish; it just enchances the cheese flavor. Use dry or Dijon.

**CHEESE NOTE: I usually use aged or sharp cheddar but I also like a Swiss or a combination of the two. Almost any combination of cheeses will work so feel free to use your favorites.

DIRECTIONS

FOR THE PASTA: Put the macaroni, water, butter and salt in the Instant Pot and give it a stir. Close the lid and make sure the valve is set to Sealing. Push the Pressure Cook (or Manual) button. Adjust the time using the + and – buttons to get to 4 minutes.

While it’s cooking, grate about 3/4 of the cheese in one pile and dice the remaining 1/4 cubes into another pile. Heat the milk in the microwave but do not boil.

When it beeps that it’s done, flip the valve to Venting for a quick release. Pour the pasta into a strainer and cover with a plate to keep it warm.

FOR THE SAUCE: Put the 2 1/2 Tbsp butter in the Instant Pot and hit the Sauté button a couple times to get to the “Normal” heat of the sauté setting. (Pressing Sauté a few times on the DUO models toggles through Saute’s three heat settings: Less, Normal and More).

When the butter is melted, add the flour and dry mustard, if using. Stir constantly with a whisk for a couple minutes to cook this roux. Keep it moving. Then add the hot milk all at once and whisk vigorously. (Add the Dijon mustard here, if you’re using that.). Keep stirring until it comes back to a boil and thickens. It can scorch if you leave it. The sauce should be the consistency of unwhipped heavy cream at this point. The cheese and pasta will thicken it, so if it’s any thicker than heavy cream, whisk in a little milk, a tablespoon at a time to thin it a bit.

Hit Cancel. (You do NOT want the sauce to boil once the cheese is in; it can curdle.) Whisk in the salt, pepper and sugar. Add the grated cheese but keep the cubes for later. Stir until the cheese melts. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if you like. (Incidentally, the sauce at this stage is what I use on steamed broccoli or cauliflower.). Stir in the cubed cheese and the pasta. If you like, you can heat it a little with the Sauté function, but don’t let it boil. You don’t want the cheese cubes to melt into the sauce – they are a great little cheesy burst of flavor.

FOR THE TOPPING: mix the crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan cheese with a fork. Spread this evenly over the pasta and cheese sauce and bake at 375 for 10-20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. 

Fall is in the air …🍁

I’m always sad to see summer go, but Fall is truly a beautiful season. Here’s a link to an interactive map, for all the leaf peepers out there.

Fall Foliage Map

🍂🍃🍁

The 2020 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While not perfect, it’s meant to help travelers better time their trips, to have the best opportunity to view peak colors each year.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Baked goods, Breads

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-process

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1 3/4 ounces

2 cups grated zucchini, from 1 large (squeezed well with a dishcloth)

Baking spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spray two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate in another large bowl until blended.

Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Fold in zucchini and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the loaves 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool completely.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 190.5kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 8g, Sodium: 147mg, Fiber: 2.5g, Sugar: 14.5g Blue Smart Points: 7 Green Smart Points: 8 Purple Smart Points: 7 Points +: 4

Caprese Chicken Skillet

A great way to use up your summer tomatoes 🍅

Caprese Chicken Skillet

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, divided

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey, divided

4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (24 oz)

 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)

4 cups sliced tomatoes: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, (2 pints) or ½- inch- diced peak season plum or other garden tomatoes

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

4 ounces part- skim mozzarella pearls, (scant 1 cup) or 4 ounces block- style part- skim mozzarella cheese cut into bite-sized cubes

¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup of the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the honey. Gently simmer over medium- low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by a little more than half, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the balsamic reduces, arrange the chicken on a cutting board and stretch a large sheet of plastic wrap over the top. Lightly pound the chicken breasts into an even ½- inch thickness. Discard the plastic, then sprinkle the chicken with ¾ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, seasoning both sides.

In a large, heavy- bottomed skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium- high heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken breasts top- sides down, being careful of oil that may splatter. Let cook undisturbed for 4 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Flip and cook an additional 3 minutes. Check for doneness. The chicken should reach 165 degrees F at the thickest part when tested with an instant- read thermometer, and when sliced, the juices should run clear.

If it needs additional time, flip again and continue cooking for a few minutes on each side, until done. The total cooking time will vary depending upon the size of your chicken. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Without wiping out the pan, reduce the skillet heat to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, swirl to coat the pan, then add the red onion and let cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan as it cooks.

Add the garlic and let cook 30 seconds, just until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, thyme, and remaining 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat back to medium high and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the tomatoes, and scatter the mozzarella throughout.

Cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the mozzarella to become soft and melty.

Uncover, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top, and sprinkle with the fresh basil. Serve warm.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1piece chicken, 1/4 veggies and cheese, Calories: 419kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 47.5g, Fat: 16.5g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 141mg, Sodium: 585mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 7g Blue Smart Points: 7 Green Smart Points: 10 Purple Smart Points: 7

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

★★★★★

Mexican, Sauce, TO TRY

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lb tomatillos

1/2 cup chopped white onion

2 cloves (or more) garlic (optional)

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well.

2a Oven Roasting Method Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add a few garlic cloves in their skin (if using) Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skins of the tomatillos.

2b Pan Roasting Method Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little vegetable oil. Heat on high heat. Place the tomatillos in the pan and sear on one side, then flip over and brown on the other side. Remove from heat.

2c Boiling Method Place tomatillos in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove tomatillos with a slotted spoon.

3 Pulse in blender: Place the cooked tomatillos, lime juice, onions, garlic (if using), cilantro, chili peppers in a blender or food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.

4 Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes.