Breakfast: Eat This Not That


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Mango – Jalapeno Popsicles

A spicy-sweet way to cool the heat of a sizzling summer day!

mangojalpop

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Poolside Valentine’s Day BBQ

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Happy Valentine’s Day From Sunny Southern California

The threats and warnings of the “Fury” and strength of the approaching El Nino has, so far, failed to materialize in Southern California.  A week and a half ago we were seeing colder than normal temperatures in the mid-50’s followed by last weekend’s mid to high 70’s and then this week’s high 80’s to mid 90’s.  I had barely gotten the dust off of my boots & sweaters and had to dig my spring clothes back out to keep from sweating my ass off while visiting customers this week!

I am neither gloating or complaining, I would just really like the weather to make a decision.  I have a great fireplace in the living room (and another one out by the BBQ island), but it just hasn’t been cold enough to justify lighting them.  In fact, it’s been so warm and sunny that I turned the heater back on in the pool and invited a single girlfriend & her kids over to catch some rays and barbeque by the pool for Valentine’s Day.

Instead of making reservations for brunch we put together a menu that would need minimal prep, have no gluten and be able to be cooked & served in the backyard.

Backyard Bloody Marys:

  • Pour 1 1/2 to 2 ounces Tito’s or Smirnoff 21 Vodka (both are Gluten Free) into a glass (or in this case, red Solo cup) filled with ice
  • Fill the rest of the cup up with a homemade mix comprised of: Low Sodium V-8, a splash or two of juice from a jar of martini olives, a dash of your favorite hot sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot), a dash or two of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, a bit of fresh-full strength horseradish, an a dash of A-1 Steak Sauce.
  • Garnished with a slice of crisp bacon, a stalk of celery, a peeled mini carrot, a thick ring of red bell pepper, and a skewer with sweet peppers, onions, and pepperocini

The BBQ was kept busy with:

Two simple side dishes allowed us to spend a couple of hours absorbing some natural Vitamin D, courtesy of our friend The Sun!

  • A salad of sliced English cucumber, halved plum tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, 2 TBLS light sour cream, a dash or two red wine vinegar, freshly ground pepper and some garlic salt
  • Chunks of cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple, thinly sliced Kiwi, fresh blueberries and a few whole strawberries

All in all a great day!

Weather forecasters promise that we will still be seeing the long promised “Godzilla” rain storms of El Nino, the storms are just taking their sweet time.  Weather experts are “expecting a conveyor belt of squalls to enter stage left in late February and continue through March, possibly into April. This is a month or so later than original predictions for heavy rains.”  In the meantime I will enjoy a few more days with the top down on my car and the ability to tan myself back from the brink of pale-dom before I have to hunker down in sweaters and rain boots.

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Rainy Day Delight

It’s such a rare occasion in Orange County, California to have a cold, rainy, stormy day that I was excited to see a wet patio outside my window when I got up this morning.  WOO HOO!  I am SO getting the slow cooker out and making some chili!

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Not my usual rip-off of Mom’s XLNT Brick of Chili Con Carne based chili with ground beef, cubes of left over steak, canned crushed tomatoes and red beans.  Nope!  Today’s a White Bean Chicken Chili day.

It’s a ridiculously easy recipe and practically cooks itself.

Rainy Day White Bean Chicken Chili

  • 1 Can Diced Ortega Chilis (Mild or Hot – your choice)
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – about 1 1/2 lbs (Frozen or Thawed)
  • 16 oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 – 16 oz Bag of Dry Great White Northern Beans
  • 2 tsp Dried Cilantro Flakes
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Devil’s Dust (or any Smoked Chili seasoning you use)
  • Sour Cream and Chopped Fresh Cilantro to serve (if desired)
  • 1 Ripe Avocado Chopped (if you have one)

In a large stock pot, 6 to 8 cups water on to boil.

Using a large colander, rinse and drain the white beans.  Pick out any icky ones and then add to the boiling water.  Boil the beans for about an hour then turn off the heat, cover and let stand for another hour.

While the beans are soaking get the other ingredients going in the slow cooker set on low heat.

  • Empty the can of diced green chilis (undrained) into the bottom of the slow cooker
  • Put the frozen chicken breasts on top of the chilis
  • Pour the chicken broth over the breasts
  • Dust the tops of the breasts with the spices (ending with the cilantro)

When the beans have finished soaking, empty them into a colander and then transfer them to the slow cooker.  Stir just enough to mix everything together and leave it the chili to cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.

About 4 hours into the cooking time, shred the chicken beasts with  forks and mix the chicken back into the chili.

When the cooking time has completed taste the chili, adjust the spices and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro on top.  If you’re lucky enough to have a ripe avocado on hand, do yourself a “flavor” and chop it up to put on top of your bowl of chili!

You can speed this recipe up, making it one you can throw together in 10 minutes or less when you are leaving for work so it can cook all day, by substituting 3 cans of white beans from the grocery store.

I can’t wait for dinner time!

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Leftovers Last Stand

As much as I love Thanksgiving and all of the comfort foods and carbs that bring on the need for a long nap and the fat pants, after about 3 days I get tired of the leftovers.

So far we’ve re-worked our Thanksgiving Leftovers into:

  • Day After Turkey Sandwiches filled with stuffing, cranberries, potatoes and gravy on decadent white bread
  • Turkey and Creamed Spinach Omelettes
  • Turkey Soup with leftover crudité vegetables, some chopped potato and whatever stock and store bought broth remains
  • White Bean Turkey Chili

greenmeatloafThe last of the Bacon Creamed Spinach, Creamed Corn, Green Bean Casserole and Gingersnap Sweet Potatoes will be serving as very colorful side dishes for tonight’s creation:

Green Meatloaf

In my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, with the dough hook attached, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.

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I don’t make a packed loaf, instead scooping and mounding the combined ingredients into a large loaf pan, smoothing the top into a loaf shape and then taking a rubber spatula and creating a little trough of space around the edges for the minimal amount of fat that will collect from the very lean beef.  I squirt about another 1/4 Cup of the Hunt’s Ketchup on top of the loaf and then slide it, uncovered, into a preheated 350 degree oven.

Cook for about an hour and twenty minutes.  I put a meat thermometer into the center of the loaf to make sure that I have passed the medium point and am nearing medium well.  The loaf continues to cook a bit when it comes out.

Let the loaf set for about 5 minutes to retain the juices inside when slicing.  The meatloaf is juicy, surprisingly light (not dense), flavorful and goes well with just about any side dishes you may have left.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. If so, visit my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood