Sunday, January 11, 2015

Crock Pot White Chicken Chile

I think Crock Pot meals were invented to help ease the 'witching hour'. That time between about 4 and 6 PM when life falls apart. Kids are cranky, (not just pre schoolers), everyone is hungry and Mom is franticly scanning thru Pintrest looking for easy dinner ideas.
 Welcome the Crock Pot. Dinner is slowly cooking, the house smells wonderful. Family members know dinner is near because they can smell it. Mother can play games with toddlers or help youngsters with homework, because she already knows what's for dinner. Yes, the Crock Pot is a wonderful invention, maybe a life changer.
 Valyn Baker served this White Chicken Chile at the Ward Christmas Party, people begged for the recipe. She directed the droves to this link in the LDS Living Magazine. Here is my take on this recipe, I have served it several times with positive reviews.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chile
10 frozen chicken tenders
1 cup Salsa Verde--I used Herdez brand
I tried to find the difference between Salsa Verde and Green Enchilada Sauce. I have both sitting in front of me. I went with the Salsa Verde because it has less ingredients I can't pronounce. They look similar, I think either could be used in this recipe. Anyone know more on the subject?
2 cans chicken broth
1 onion diced
2-3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced cilantro
Put frozen chicken tenders in crock pot add Salsa, chicken broth, beans and seasonings. I know the purpose of a crock pot meal is quick cooking. So if you want to just put the onion in I'm sure the cooking police will not come for you. However, I have found that onion sometimes takes forever to soften in a crock pot. I sauté the onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes and then add it to the crock pot. It smells great and adds a deeper flavor to the soup.
We use the crock pot for long slow unattended cooking. I did just that for years and tried to develop a palate for dried out chicken. This recipe cooks for about 2-3 hours on high. Chicken is done at 165 degrees. It will be flavorful and juicy. Remove chicken from the crock pot, shred it with 2 forks and return. Add sour cream and stir till combined. Top with cilantro and serve with corn bread, tortilla chips or strips.
 All crock pots cook differently, adjust. Chicken tenders cook quicker than chicken breasts. Thawed chicken cooks quicker than frozen. So many variables. The only truth in crock pot cooking is that chicken should not have the same texture as jerky! Enjoy. This really is a simple, delicious recipe.
Printable Recipe

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

I have never really been a breakfast person. I like a glass of juice and a piece of toast.
But I do like Brunch. A meal served at 10, when one is fully awake and moving is my kind of meal. There are so many available options for brunch. A light brunch may just be juice, muffins and a fruit tray. When my sons are in town if I mention the word, 'brunch' I better have bacon, sausage links and sliced ham. Other great brunch choices are Sunshine CasseroleDenver Omelet, Breakfast Pizza or a breakfast burrito. These also are great for dinner.
Now back to the blog post--I'm talking the most delicious Almond Poppy Seed Muffins, these gems are chuck full of flavor and texture.
I found this delicious recipe on Life Made Simple.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cake flour--to make cake flour put 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a half cup measure, fill with all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
9 tablespoons butter--softened
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
slivered or sliced almonds for the top
Sift together flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt three times. Set aside. Yes, I really did this. Beat the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add extracts and poppy seeds. Add the flour alternating with the sour cream. Mix gently.
Either spray muffin pan with Pam or put in cupcake liners. I found some darling liners at Gygi's. Using a large scoop fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Sprinkle almonds on top of batter. This recipe made 12 regular size muffins and 12 mini muffins. Bake at 375. 20-23 for regular size muffins, 10-12 minutes for mini muffins. Toothpick should come out clean. Don't over bake.
Printable Recipe

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Book List

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I read books on my phone and kindle. I love audible books and I always have a stack of books by my favorite chair. I often read 3 or 4 books at the same time. Which is my favorite method to read? Depends on the day. It is good to have options!

Here is a list of the books I have read this year. I decided to grade the books I have read--just like school grades. If I like an author I might binge read several of her books. I enjoy historical fiction. I like a good romance but I do stick to clean romances. I want to be able to give the books I read to my mother or my daughter.

 I enjoy learning about civil rights--I grew up in the 60's in a sheltered little town in Utah. I had no idea what was going on just a little to the south. I like self-help books and religious books. I like books that make me laugh and cry--in the same chapter. In choosing a book I always come back to something I memorized in my teens. '....If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy. We seek after these things.'

I enjoy being part of a book group. I have read so many good books that I might not have chosen on my own. Here are the books I have enjoyed and a rating. I do a lot of research on the books I read. That way I am not often blind sighted by language or content.

A Lion and a Lamb by Rand Packer--An incredible book about Mormon history. A young couple embarks on a 25 year mission. This true story begins in the early 1900's. It is a story of trust, friendship and persecution. I passed this short book to several family members. All learned from it.
It is a solid A

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--A book club read that provided a lively discussion. Narrated by Death, what an interesting concept. This book used colors to describe feelings and events. A WW II book set in Germany. This book took me quite awhile to read. It is heavy and filled with emotion. I read a few pages and then had to digest it. I easily give this an A. It does have language but it is in German so it was easy for me to pass by. I also enjoyed the movie.

Wonder--RJ Palacio--This was my pick for book club this year. It is young adult fiction. I think it should be read by everyone--every year! The story of a teen, Auggie Pullman,who was born with a severe facial deformity. Told from the perspective of the Auggie, his sister, her friend etc. It provided great discussion at book club. Enjoyed by my 10 year old granddaughter and my 86 year old mother. It is an A.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper--I was reading Wonder while at the beauty salon. Another lady with foils in her hair saw what I was reading. She suggested I read Out of My Mind another YA book. This is about a girl with a disability. She is confined to a wheelchair but her mind is very sharp. No one knows it because she can't communicate. Made me rethink the way I treat those with special needs. B+, this would be a great book to read out loud to your children. Background for some great discussion.

The Fault in Our Stars--came with great recommendations but I didn't love it. I read it at the same time as Wonder and Out of My Mind. I just wasn't impressed. It has some language that I like to avoid. I have not seen the movie. It was a C.

Orphan Train by Christian Bakerkline--This book popped up on my Amazon account. If you like this book you will like this etc. YA fiction about a troubled teen in foster care that gets to know an older woman that was also an orphan. They helped each other. Not a bad book but I wouldn't read it again. I will give it a B-. I often wonder why an author will throw in the 'bad' word once or twice. It is a PG 13 book--read it before you give it to your teen.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes--Another book with just enough language that I can't pass it to my mother. It has received some good press.  A girl helps a guy that is paralyzed. How about that for a quick summary. B-

29 Gifts by Cami Walker--simply put a lady changes her life by giving. Not a bad concept at all. but, I had to plow through a lot of stuff I didn't care about to get to the 'giving' concept. I threw the book away, I guess that means it gets a D-.

Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin--Historical fiction at it's best! The story of Anne Marrow Lindberg and her famous husband Charles Lindberg. There are plenty of facts in this book woven together with the authors vision of how things may have happened. This was a book club read. We had a lively discussion about marriage in the early 1900's. Great book, it is an A. After reading this book I had to skim one of my favorite books Gift From the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindberg another A.

Sycamore Row by John Grisham--Grisham's first book was published in 1989. That means I have enjoyed his writing style for 25 years. If you like Grisham you will like Sycamore Row. A

The Help by Kathryn Sockett--This is a re-read or in this case a re-listen.  Audible brings The Help to life with great narration. I also had to watch the movie version again too. I thought the movie was very well done, it did the book justice. A+

The All Girls Filling Station by Fannie Flagg--This is one of Flagg's best. I don't know if this book is considered Historical Fiction but it has plenty of facts about life during WW II. I passed it to mom and she enjoyed it. Brought back memories from years ago.
 Fannie Flagg writes about life in the south. Her works are filled with quirky characters that just may sound familiar. This is light reading, probably not life changing but enjoyable. B+
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven--B
I Still Dream About You--B
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man--C+
Red Bird Christmas--B
All books by Fannie Flagg.  Keep one on you phone, it will make waiting at the Doctor office more enjoyable.

Shannon Guymon-- is an amazing local author. She writes romance that you can share with your mother! Shannon's book are full of real characters. People that have problems--just like you and me. People that are working through life, making decisions both good and bad. Shannon has the ability to make her character's so real that if you saw them at the mall you would immediately recognize them. Her books may have a good guy, a bad guy, a crazy Mother-In -Law and everything in-between. There are cops and robbers and maybe a little mystery.
Shannon believes in happy endings. I do to. Her books are perfect to load on you kindle for vacation reads. I like her writing because it makes my elliptical time go quickly. Shannon is an A. She has many books. Check Amazon.

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas--I have read several books by this author and have really enjoyed them. Easy fiction about women helping each other. Quilting is a background theme for many of her books. Problems are solved, people understood and friendships are made around the quilting frames. This book is set in rural Kansas about 1930. Life is hard, crops are burning, jobs are non-existent. A highlight of each week is a quilting bee of The Persian Pickle Club. Dallas has the ability to develop interesting characters. This is a fun book, I was surprised to come upon one bad word. Really--was it needed?? B+, Dallas really is a fun author.

A Distant Prayer--Miracles of the 49th Combat Mission by Joseph Banks--I enjoy reading books about WW II, this was excellent. This is the true story of Joseph Banks. At the time of his service one could go home after 50 missions. His plane was shot down on his 49th mission, Joseph was the only survivor. He was captured by the enemy. This is the amazing story of his miraculous escape and return to his wife and son. Miracles do happen. There is plenty of history packed in this short book. This is an A.

A Higher Call by Adam Makos--Another book about WW II. This was a book club read, several of us have parents that served in WW II so we are always happy to read more about this period of history. This is an interesting story about a American pilot and a German pilot. Their lives collided in a most remarkable way. I passed this book to my 5 brothers, mother and others. Excellent read. A.

My Story by Elizabeth Smart--Simply put this is the story of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. This story made national news. Elizabeth gives a full account of her kidnapping, torture and finally her return to her family. This true story is difficult to read but I couldn't put it down. I knew the story as it happened so close to my home. Everywhere I went were posters of Elizabeth Smart. Told simply with much emotion. B+

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth--is a memoir. Worth was a Midwife in 1950's in the East End of London. People were very poor, they had little healthcare and antibiotics had just entered the scene. Midwifes provided prenatal care and delivered babies alongside trained nurses. Worth shares her memories of interesting characters, tough living conditions and miraculous births. This book is graphic in parts, PBS has turned it into an excellent series. B+

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd--I loved this book it could possibly have been my favorite read this year. Kidd is the author of Secret Life of Bees another personal favorite.
This book takes place in 1830's, it is based on the life of Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina. They rebelled so vocally against their family, society, and their religion that they were reviled, pursued, and exiled from their home city of Charleston, South Carolina, under threat of death. Their crime was speaking out in favor of liberty and equality and for African American slaves and women. Their lectures and pamphlets drew thousands. This book is well done on Audible. I love the southern accents of the characters. The authors notes at the end of the story are so interesting. I am amazed at how authors research and actually put the research into an enjoyable read. A+

Well, this turned into a long post. I have a long list of books to read in 2015. I will review books quarterly this year--shorter posts! I realize book choices are very personal--I would love to know what your favorite reads are. Please share. I tried to include links to each book, all books can be found on Amazon or your favorite library.