Tag Archives: beans

Chicken Chili Mac

18 Sep

Well, its official, fall is here on the east coast, and I don’t think we are going to warm up again for the rest of this year.  This is my favorite time of year because it means getting out cozy sweaters and sweatpants and a season full of comforting soups and stews.  Karl and I will probably make two big pots of chili a month.  Something that we started last year though was really counting our calories and measuring everything that we ate.  It was shocking to see how much you can overeat on a bowl of chili!  You may think that it is difficult to figure out how many calories are in a serving of a food that you prepare, but actually its pretty simple.  So, today’s post will be dedicated to teaching you how to count exactly how many calories go into your favorite dish!

I always start by weighing the pot I will be cooking in and recording this.  Next I start cooking!  For the chili I sauteed an onion and added my ground chicken.  As I have mentioned previously we are trying to cut down on the amount of red meat that we eat, so we wanted to try eating chili with chicken instead of ground beef.  I will just tell you up front that it was great!  You could not even tell there wasn’t ground beef in it.  I think I prefer the moistness of ground chicken to ground turkey, but if you are a turkey person feel free to substitute 1 lb of ground turkey instead.

After the chicken was cooked all the way through I drained the excess fat then added 2/3 can of tomato paste and a can of diced tomatoes with chopped green chiles and about a cup of water.  We do the spices the easy way and buy a seasoning packet!  After letting this simmer for about 20 minutes, I add the beans.  We both like a lot of beans so we usually use 3 cans – 1 of chili beans, 1 of dark red kidney beans, and 1 of light red kidney beans (both cans of kidney beans should be drained and rinsed).  I add these about 15-20 minutes before serving, but before I do, I make sure to do a sample to make sure the seasoning is ok!

While everything is simmering I write down the quantities of ingredients and calculate the total calories in the pot.  At the very end I weigh the whole pot.  Then I subtract the pot weight that I took initially to get the final weight of the food.  Then I just simply divide the total number of calories in the pot by the total number of ounces of the food – and voila!  If you try this method I think you will be really surprised at how much you should be eating versus what you actually eat.  It is really an eye opener, and a great way to keep yourself on a good fitness track.

At the end, you can serve your chili with your favorite toppings – crackers, cheese, onions, etc.  My favorite way to eat chili is as chili mac, on top of elbow macaroni.  Whatever you choose just be sure to also measure out your toppings!  I this recipe helps you enjoy a chilly autumn day just like it did for us!!

Chicken Chili Mac

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2/3 small can tomato paste
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and and green chiles
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 packet Chili-O seasoning mix
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • choice of toppings such as cheese, onions, elbow macaroni, crackers, etc.

Putting it together:

  1. Dice onion and saute until it just beings to soften.  Add chicken and season with  a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Once meat is cooked thoroughly, drain any excess fat or water.
  2. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, water, and seasoning mix.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes so that flavors meld.
  3. About 15 minutes before serving add beans and let simmer.
  4. Serve with toppings of your choice and enjoy!
Advertisements

Soup – no salad, no breadsticks

3 Sep

One of our favorite things places to go and eat for lunch is Olive Garden.  We always get the SSB – Soup, Salad, and Bread sticks.  But did you know that what seems to be a nice light meal can actually be loaded with calories,fat, sodium, and probably cholesterol?  Take the bread sticks – they have to be loaded with butter to taste that good and are at least 100 calories a piece!  And don’t let the salad fool you – they load that baby with cheese, and I think only super high fat and calorie dressing tastes THAT good.  The one good thing about the meal is that the soups are really hearty and not too bad for you.  I wanted to make one of them, the Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans – our favorite) even better though!

I utilized a couple recipes as very broad guides.  The first was Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meal recipe.  I also had a recipe that my mother-in-law had created in an attempt to recreate the OG dish a couple years ago.  Like I said, I wanted to make this dish a little healthier than it’s OG counterpart, so I started with ground chicken.  I honestly just discovered ground chicken in the grocery store last week, and I am in love.  From what I have tried, the ground chicken can be substituted for ground beef in almost any recipe, and it will taste just as good, if not better! So I browned the ground chicken with onion and garlic, then combined it with tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, shredded carrots, a few frozen peas, red and white beans, and pasta and seasonings.

Before adding pasta, beans, or peas

With everything combined in the pot

The beauty of this dish is that it tastes like its been simmering on the stove all day (and you can let it simmer all day if you want to!) but it can be made as a 30-minute meal if that’s all you have time for.

With September comes that awesome fall weather that always has me craving a big warm bowl of soup.  Hopefully wherever you are, when the heat subsides and that bowl of soup is calling you, you will try my Pollo, Pasta e Fagioli!  I promise you won’t know its healthier, and you may even think it beats its sister from OG!  Enjoy!

Pollo, Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with juice drained
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2-3/4 box small whole grain pasta (if you can find it in whole grain I think ditallini works well, but we really liked elbows too)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to make it:

  1. Dice onion and garlic and begin cooking in pot with about 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add chicken and season with salt and pepper.   Break into small pieces and cook until browned.  Drain off any fat or water from onions.
  2. Add in cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and shredded carrots.  Season with red pepper, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves.  Let this simmer as long or as little as you want.  I let mine simmer for 10-15 minutes and it was delicious.
  3. Begin cooking pasta.  Since it will be going into a bunch of liquid in your soup, only cook it until it’s “al dente” so it will not get too soggy.
  4. About 5 minutes before serving add in peas, both cans of beans, and pasta.  Let this simmer until everything is heated all the way through.
  5. Top with freshly grated parmesan, or if you are on a tight budget, Grana Padano, cheese.
  6. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

White Bean Pasta

12 Jul

Tonight I made a new meal that I was really excited to try:  White Bean Pasta.  It seems like a lot of the vegetarian dishes I come across are southwestern/mexican flavored (I guess because black beans are one of the first things people think of when they think about cutting meat), but tonight’s meal was a different story.  I don’t know what this dish would be classified as except fresh and tasty!

The thing that I love about cooking with beans is how quickly the meals come together.  With chicken or beef I would have to pull some meat out of the freezer and wait for it to defrost, and then it would seem to take forever to cook all the way through!  This meal came together in less than 20 minutes and was delicious.  We both had a hard time not helping ourselves to our leftovers!  And, you don’t miss the meat.  This was seriously so good… I’m getting hungry just writing about it!

White Bean Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 box of whole wheat pasta like penne, rotini, or elbows
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups broccoli crowns
  • 4 cups baby spinach (I am just guessing – I put in a lot because I knew it would wilt down)
  • 1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and rained
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Putting it all together:

  • Boil pasta according to instructions on box – be sure to season the water with salt!
  • Once the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan and let the garlic and red pepper cook in the pan for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the broccoli and spinach into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

    Spinach before...

  • Spinach with broccoli after

  • Add beans and sun-dried tomatoes and cook just a couple minutes to heat the beans.
  • Drain the pasta and pour into a large serving bowl.
  • Pour bean and broccoli mixture over the pasta.
  • Top with parmesan cheese and toss.
  • Enjoy!