Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Who doesn’t like a nice warm bowl of chili in the winter? Better yet, slow cooker chili. To me that means little effort and big flavor. I may be one of the few who isn’t fond of beef chili swimming in red sauce. I was looking for a “Different” Chili to make and this recipe caught my attention because it has sweet potato in it. Wha?  I began to read the rest of the ingredients and it’s a pretty solid chili. It has all the standard chili mandatory adjectives including: spicy, meaty, beanie and cheesy. Can I get an Amen!? The best part, in my opinion, was the addition of sweet potato and chicken thighs. The sweet potato holds its shape in the chili. However, becomes butter when you bite into it….drool. Finally, the chicken thighs add A LOT of flavor, way more than breasts. I’ve gotta find a chili cook-off because this baby could bring home the gold.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 3 tbs. chili powder, plus 2 tsp.
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (28 oz) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 10 oz), peeled and shredded
  • 1 (15 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce with seeds, chopped
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • ½ to ¾ cup lager-style beer, optional
  • Toppings: shredded cheddar, chopped scallions, and chopped jalapenos

Directions

  1. Put the chicken into the slow cooker.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of the chili powder and all the rest of the ingredients, except the beer.
  3. Stir everything together, cover, and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of chili powder, the beer.
  5. Divide the chili among warm bowls. Serve with the topping of your choice.

(NOTE: This makes A LOT of chili…we have a large slow cooker and it was filled to the brim. Feel free to half this recipe if it seems it wont fit in your slow cooker.)

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Mango Chicken Curry

We have successfully created and completely consumed our second Indian dish! Yes, we may have eaten it all…in one sitting. Whoops! Well, that means you know this recipe is gunna be good right?! We love our Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. However, we wanted to create an Indian dish that’ sweeter and little less spicy. We found this recipe and absolutely love it. We tweaked it a bit for our tastes but we know you’ll love it too. Like most Indian food, it’s a warm comforting dish. Though the sauce is warm to the touch, it’s actually quite a cool taste. The Mango-Coconut sauce is such a contrast to the spices on the chicken it just makes you want to smile. Then add the cool crunch of a cucumber on top …it’s just got so many great things going on.

Ingredients:

  • 2  medium mangoes, peeled and sliced (NOTE: you can also use pineapple or papaya)
  • 1 (10 oz) can coconut milk
  • 4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp. spicy curry paste (NOTE: You can add more kick if you’d like)
  • 3 boneless chicken breast halves – cut into cubes
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • ½ green pepper
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced

Directions:

  1. Place half of the mango slices into the bowl of a blender with the coconut milk. Blend until smooth and set aside until later.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Stir in the curry paste, and cook until fragrant. (NOTE: about 1 minute)
  4. Add the chicken, onion and green peppers; cook until the chicken is done and the onions have softened. (NOTE: about 5 minutes)
  5. Pour in the mango puree and cook until heated through.
  6. Stir in the remaining mango slices and cucumber
  7. Serve over rice with Naan on the side.

Light my Fire…place

Finally, a home project that we can share. We’ve actually been doing a few home updates but they are all in various stages of progress.  But, today I am so happy to tell you that we’ve finished painting our fireplace. As soon as we toured the house I knew that a simple coat of paint would really freshen up the room. Since the fireplace is in the center of a long wall your eye is naturally drawn towards it.  This could be a good thing if the fireplace was a custom piece; however, our standard brick-red fireplace is rather plain. Don’t get me wrong I love our fireplace…I just want it to become less of a statement in the room. So, I thought a coat of white paint would make the fireplace feel fresh, modern, and let other pieces shine.

Before I started I read “How to paint a brick fireplace” on the Younghouselove blog. These two are notorious for painting their fireplaces so I knew I was in good hands. The whole process is pretty straight forward but you know the Mr. and I had some fun along the way.

  • Step 1: Clean your fireplace with light soap and water. Yes, clean. I thought cleaning a fireplace was ridiculous too… but it was FILTHY!
  • Step 2: Gather/buy supplies: painters tape, plastic sheeting, 2 hand brushes, roller, paint tray, oil primer, paint-thinner and semi-gloss paint. (NOTE: if your fireplace doesn’t have soot on it you can skip the oil primer and use regular primer.)
  • Step 3: Tape around the fire place and mantle. The good news for us is that everything on our mantle is white so we really couldn’t mess up too badly.
  • Step 4: Apply 1-2 coats of oil based primer onto the fireplace and allow to dry. (NOTE: painting in the winter with the windows open is quite a thrill.)
  • Step 5: Apply 1-2 coats of semi-gloss paint.

Seems simple enough right?! In all honesty it really was easy. We only had 2 hang-ups. First, we forgot to buy paint-thinner for the first coat of oil paint, Doh! Yeah, that ruins your brushes for sure. Oh you think water’s gunna help? Silly noob, that just makes it worse. So, we bought brushes (again) and paint-thinner for the second coat. Lastly, it took us forever to paint the fireplace and our living room looked like a Dexter episode for a few weeks. Why? Well we had to move furniture out of the old townhouse (because it sold ,YAY!) during one weekend and the rest of the time we we were just too darn lazy.

But would you look at the end result! Isn’t it nice!? The end result is worth the plastic sheeting and painted hands. Speaking of that:

  • TIP: Use nail polish remover to get oil paint off your skin. It’s way better for your skin than paint remover.

We couldn’t be happier with our newly painted fireplace. I think it actually makes the room look bigger. And maybe it’s just me but don’t the floors look darker? Bonus! We can’t wait to see how the rest of this room comes together!

We Picked a Peck of Perfect Pigments

We’re painting the house…the whole house. We got an AMAZING deal with a local painter who’s going to paint our entire house in 3 days. I know what you’re thinking. “You’re young, why don’t you save some money and paint it yourselves?” I’m glad you asked because I’ve compiled a list:

  1. We don’t like painting
  2. We can afford it – In true Godfather style, he made us an offer we couldn’t refuse
  3. Hastiness – if we did it I wouldn’t be posting this until next year
  4. Quality – if we did it we’d get tired and sloppy
  5. We don’t have any supplies on hand (brushes/drop cloths/rollers etc.
  6. We have better things to do 🙂

I’m glad we’re all on the same page, moving on! I’m real excited about painting the whole house at once. I’ve never done it before and I think it’s a smart move because the whole house will flow. When choosing color palettes I like to think of adjectives that describe how I want the space to feel. We came up with classic, contemporary, and luxurious. Turns out, the colors we chose at Sherwin Williams are from their “Livable Luxe” and “Classic & Contemporary” color palettes, strange!

You’re probably wondering what colors we chose? Well, we decided to go with Sherwin Williams paint because I feel like they have the best color options. All their colors just feel “right” and go well together. Plus, HGTV has their own line and who doesn’t respect and drool over HGTV? So, here’s the breakdown of the colors per room:

Downstairs

  • Living Room & Stairwell – Requisite Gray (SW 7023)
  • Dining Room – Rainstorm (SW 6230) and Simple White (SW 7021)
  • Kitchen – Well-bred Brown (SW 7027)
  • Powder Room – Retreat (SW 6207)

Upstairs

  • Landing & Hallway – Requisite Gray (SW 7023)
  • Master Bedroom – Dovetail (SW 7081)
  • Master Bath – Requisite Gray (SW 7023)
  • Office – Serious Grey (SW 6256)
  • Second Bedroom – Silver Mist (SW 7621)
  • Second Bath – Requisite Gray (SW 7023)

Here’s a mock-up of the colors. The upstairs colors are on top and the downstairs colors on the bottom. (Note: Paint colors never look like themselves on computer screens. So, they look a little off but you get the jist!) We wanted the upstairs to be cool and relaxing and the main floor to be bold and contemporarty. I think we were able to accomplish this by letting the Requisite Gray be the color that ties the floors together.

I’ll be sure to upload some great before/after shots when the rooms get their fresh coat of paint!

It’s A Furniture Party and You’re Invited!

Our house gained 2 new friends recently… it’s like a furniture party over here! We were able to score 2 nice pieces of furniture because we bought them during the end-of-the year sales.  Note to self, if I need expensive pieces of furniture wait until December to buy. They basically give them away during that part of the year. We were able to upgrade our metal bed frame with no head/foot board to this beauty.

Isn’t she gorgeous?! We found her on Amazon…who would have thought? Anyway, this bed is a knock off of a very popular and expensive Pottery Barn bed.  Look at the two of them together. You can’t tell one from the other and we saved at least $600. No brainer.

The color is a wonderful cream color in person; it looks grey in the photo because they are out of stock on the “wheat” cream color. The nail head trim is a dark brass and it pairs well with the tan fabric. The fabric itself is really soft and durable. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with our new bed.

The second piece we purchased was a white, glossy Josephine desk from World Market, on sale. Like, super awesome sale. It was already 20% off when I found a coupon for free shipping…can I get a high-five!? I’ve been eyeing this desk since she appeared on world market years ago. I don’t know if it’s a fact, but it could be inspired by Jonathan Alder’s $1700 Channing desk (which I obviously love and will never own). So, if you think about it I really saved like $1500…what a deal.

I think this desk is going to be lovely in our living room. Our fireplace mantle is a very simple glossy white block mounted on the brick and the desk has that basic similar shape. AND when we add the floating bookshelves to the opposite corner I think this desk will really tie that whole wall together! We absolutely love the new desk. It’s really functional, easy to clean, the perfect size and pleasing to the eye. I’m really enjoying this room’s transformation.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my epic pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I discovered these at a work party of all places. A friend made them and my taste-buds have craved nothing else since. These cookies are fluffy, cake-like, lightly pumkiny, spiced mounds of chocolaty heaven. I’ve brought these guys to a lot of events and they are always a hit. They’ve even been requested a few times! As a formality, I do feel the need to apologize for your diet…because these little guys are super addictive. All, fatty goodness aside, I hope you enjoy these glorious nuggets.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter (What, I didn’t say they were good for you!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 12oz bag of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350
  2. Lightly spray your cookie sheets with nonstick spray
  3. Using a mixer beat the butter until it becomes smooth
  4. SUGARS: Mix in the white and brown sugars a little at a time until the mixture is light and fluffy
  5. WET WORKS: Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  6. DRY GOODS: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry goods: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
  7. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture
  8. Stir in the chips
  9. Scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets (Small, large…doesn’t matter what size)
  10. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cookies are browned around the edges
  11. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes then let them cool on paper towels

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burger

I’ve noticed that overtime my taste buds have matured and I’m more daring in my eatable escapades. Those PB&J and chicken nugget days are gone. I remember I used to hate sweet potatoes. But now, I think they are simply delish and I’m constantly trying to add them into our meals. I came across this recipe for a sweet potato/ black bean burger, whaa?! Like the spinach burger, I had some concerns about these non-meat burgers. “Would the texture be weird? Would they be filling? Black beans AND sweet potatoes…what kind of a combo is that? Well, I can say that I don’t crave beef burgers anymore… I crave these.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15oz.) black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3 cups cubed sweet potato, cooked + skin on ( about 1.5lbs)
  • ½ cup corn
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion – (½ medium onion)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 tbs. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbs. sunflower seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • black pepper to taste

Topping Options:

    • Roasted red pepper
    • Tomato
    • Avocado
    • Spicy Mustard
    • Ketchup

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375* (NOTE: Wait till you finish cooking the quinoa + potato)
  2. Mash half of the beans in a bowl until they form a paste
  3. Lightly combine with the rest of the beans (NOTE: This adds texture)
  4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.
  5. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne and olive oil
  6. Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until combined
  7. Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties. (NOTE: This should make 8 medium/large patties)
  8. Place on a lightly greased pan] and bake on each side for 15min, flipping once, half-way through.
  9. Remove from oven + serve!
  10. *To Freeze: Let them cool completely then place into a sealed container/bag. To reheat just heat them in a pan for 3-5 minutes per side.

How To Make Quinoa (I didn’t know either!):

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 2 cups water
  1. Heat a pot over medium
  2. Add quinoa and toast for 1-3 min, stirring a few times.
  3. Add water, turn heat to med-high and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir once, reduce heat to simmer + cover the pot with a lid.
  5. Set your timer to 15min and do not stir or open the lid!!
  6. Turn off the heat and move the pot to another burner for 5 min.
  7. Uncover, and fluff with a fork.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Recently, the cold, misty rain has made North Carolina feel more like Washington.  This weather had me craving something warm and cozy for dinner. The Mr. and I decided that it would be a perfect time to eat Indian food! So, we gathered restaurant recommendations from friends and set out to devour some Naan! We arrived at our restaurant of choice only to find that it’s closed on Mondays. GAH, their delicious menu distracted us from their hours. That night, while eating sub-par food, we did some recipe searching and found a delicious recipe. Neither of us had tried making Indian food because thought it would be too difficult. What kind of excuse is that?! So, that weekend we gathered our ingredients and created a chicken tikka masala that’s to die for.

Ingredients:

Marinade –

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you like it hot!)
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh ginger (or powdered ginger)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • (Note: if you have a TraderJoe’s nearby they have a pre-made sauce that actually has ALL these ingredients in it, and it’s only $3.99. That’s what we used to save some time and money…which we spent on Naan)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (NOTE: the longer it marinades the better the chicken will taste.)
  2. In a medium, lightly-oiled, skillets cook the chicken over medium-high heat until till it’s almost done. Then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, add all sauce ingredients and simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. (NOTE: Or you can heat up the canned sauce mentioned above.)
  4.  Add the chicken and the rest of the marinade into sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over saffron rice and a side of Naan.