Sunday food prep – what went down in my kitchen (5)

Hello, hello!

I finally got back on my Sunday food prep program.  Now I feel so much more prepared for the week!

And, it’s going to be a busy one.

But, that’s good, right? It should make the week fly by!

But then, it also makes Christmas get here a little sooner and I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.

Pssst…..there are only 86 more sleeps until Christmas……


And, moving on.

So, what went down in my kitchen yesterday?

Well, I started off my day by making some Crockpot Steel Cut Oats – the apples and cinnamon variety.

I used this recipe from The Yummy Life – used lite coconut milk instead of fat free. I also added the butter (cuz butter is awesome).


Trust me.

It made four servings, perfect for quick reheating in the morning or as my 2nd breakfast at work. 🙂

Add in your toppings of choice.


Continuing on the scents of Fall theme, I decided I needed to make enough chili to feed a small village.


I found this recipe from Perry’s Plate and decided to give it a try.

I only made a couple of changes to fit our preferences – I went with a full teaspoon of the cayenne, I added 1/2 teaspoon of this fancy new Ghost Pepper sauce (um, ghost pepper is seriously hot) I got, and at the 3 hour mark, I added in 1/2 cup of pumpkin.

Yes, that’s random but you’ll understand further down in the post. 🙂

My only complaint is that the chili was not as thick as we would prefer.  When I was transferring it to containers, I ended up using a slotted spoon so I could get the goods and I left a lot of the soupiness behind.

It was really tasty – and, no, you won’t be a fire breathing dragon even with my additions – and the meat literally falls apart.

This will serve as lunches and dinners through the week. 🙂

And finally, ever since the Pumpkin Spice Latte made its way back to the Starbucks® menu, it seems the whole world is on a massive pumpkin kick.

So, I’ve been thinking about something different I could do with pumpkin.

I’ve made pumpkin brownies before (another kind here) but I didn’t just want to do that again.

What about brownie cookies?!



These little things are all soft and chocolately and pumpkin spicy and delicious! I couldn’t be happier with the way they came out!

And on the first try, even!!

I’ll share the recipe in tomorrow’s Tasty Tuesday post.

You’ll be okay. You can wait. I promise. 🙂

Finally, crockpots of yumminess bubbling away and neither one is dinner?


OH! The extra pumpkin! Well, I had a 1/2 cup left and that chili recipe said to stir occasionally and I’ve made Pumpkin Chili before so……yeah!

Variety is the spice of life and I decided to make a double recipe of my Chana ma-Chicken for dinner and give us an additional leftover option this week.

*side note: my sailor has taken to calling this china man chicken. He thinks he’s funny.


Even though I followed my own recipe, this turned out a little spicier than the last time.

That’s fine for us but if you don’t do spicy, ease back on the cayenne.

Serve over rice or couscous or with naan to mop up all the delicious juices!


Random Spam Comment: “What a material of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable familiarity concerning unexpected emotions.” This was in reply to my Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing post.

Talk to me: Did you food prep this weekend? What did you make? Have you jumped aboard the pumpkin train?

– jennifer

Wine Wednesday – 2012 Bonterra Viognier


Hip, hip hooray, it’s Wine Wednesday!



Rule #17a – wine makes pretty much ANY DAY wonderful! 🙂

Especially when you find a delightful Viognier that pairs perfectly with what you’re serving for dinner!

I had to swing by the grocery store the other night to find a bottle of wine to accompany the Chicken Adobo I was planning on making.

That’s right – I stopped at a grocery store and I didn’t buy any food. Hey, it happens. 🙂

Anyway, I was looking for a Viognier, a Gewürtztraminer, or maybe a Riesling – something that wouldn’t do battle with the vinegar and the garlic in the dish.

(FYI: Viognier is pronounced vee-yo-kneeyay (basically) and Gewürtztraminer is pronounced yummy German wine. Ha! Just kidding. It’s a little more difficult to pronounce. It’s like Guh-VERTS-tra-mee-ner.)



If you remember from my review of the Bonterra Merlot, Bonterra is a winery in California that uses organic grapes.

I enjoyed the Merlot so I figured I would give the Viognier a try – especially since it was $10 off!


Viognier is a white grape that is generally known as the main grape to come out of the Rhône region in France.

Viogniers tend to be dry with loads of delicious fruit flavor, but not spicy like a Gewürtztraminer or sweet(ish) like a Riesling.

It should be chilled down to about 58 degrees for perfect serving temperature.

If you’ve just come home with a bottle and dinner is in 30 minutes, you want to pop that baby in the freezer to help it cool down. Otherwise, keep it in the white wine section of your wine cellar. 🙂


On the nose, this wine will greet you with aromas of citrus, apricot, and some peach.

I swirled and sniffed to my heart’s content! 🙂


Your first taste should give you more peach, some spice, and some nuttiness.

The Bonterra Viognier is a medium-bodied wine meaning it has a lot of fruit flavor, feels a little “chewy” in your mouth (imagine just biting a grape or a section of orange – that’s kind of what “chewy” is like – a fresh, vibrant fruit explosion!), and continues to delight even as you swallow.

Some lighter whites are all fruit explosion on the front (right when you sip) but then are completely boring and lacking when you swallow.

A full-bodied wine would be much “larger” and give you the chewiness long after you swallow. You may even experience some good peppery spice in the back of your throat.

Basically, though, this wine was delicious and I’m totally stocking up the next time it goes on sale!

(did you know that many grocery stores offer multiple bottle discounts?!)

In addition to spicy foods (like Thai or Chinese), you could pair this with lighter cheeses (not cheddar), fish, chicken (no heavy sauces), vegetarian dishes (again, not heavy) or a sunset. 🙂


Talk to me: Have you ever planned a meal around a bottle of wine?

– jennifer

Cajun Chicken Stew

Hi there!

Happy first double digit day in December!


That means there are only 14 days until Christmas.

*passes out*

I’m SO not ready.

So, I woke up this morning to this.



8-miler in the freezing rain? Um, no.

I’ll cover those miles tomorrow when it’s JUST freezing.

Yeah, still blech but at least it won’t be wet! It’s the small things, you know. 🙂

Okay, last night I made the most amazing chicken stew.

I’ve had this recipe set aside to make for a couple of weeks now and it finally happened.

O. M. G.

I’ll be honest – this stew is a little labor intensive but I promise you that it’s worth it.

First, you have to cut a whole chicken.

THAT’S an adventure in itself!

But, it’s worth it the work.

See?! Easier than you thought, right? 🙂

(the bonus about that video is the guide to making stock!)

Then, you have to make a roux.

Wait! Don’t run away! Come baaaack!

Okay, phew, that was close. Glad you came back. 🙂

I know, I know – making a roux is HARD and scary!

Believe me, I’ve tried them before and, well, let’s just say they didn’t work out so well … and we ordered pizza.

But, not this time!

It did take some time – about 20 minutes (WORTH IT! Pour a glass a wine, put on some music and make a party out of it!) – but, it turned out fabulously and I’m pretty sure it’s because the directions say to scrape back and forth instead of stirring.

I don’t know WHY that makes a difference but it did.

My roux turned out perfectly! 🙂

Then, once the chicken gets back in the pot, you have to deal with the wonderful smells for about another 30 minutes while the chicken cooks.

I seriously just stood by the stove and sniffed.

So. Amazing.

Make this stew. Make it!

Cajun Chicken Stew
Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, May 2004
makes 6 servings

3 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon but I wanted a little kick)
3/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt. Brown chicken in 4 batches, turning, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring as browned to a large bowl.

2. Add enough of the remaining oil to pot to total 1/4 cup fat, then stir in flour with a flat metal or wooden spatula and cook over moderately low heat, scraping back and forth constantly (not stirring), until roux is the color of milk chocolate, 10 to 20 minutes.


Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, scraping back and forth occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes.


3. Add water to roux mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until roux is incorporated. (Roux will appear curdled initially, but it will come together as it reaches a boil.)


Add chicken and any juices accumulated in bowl, then simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.


Stir in cayenne, scallion greens, and salt to taste and serve over rice.



Question: What’s your favorite food/cooking magazine?

Mine are Cooking Light and Food & Wine. 🙂

– jennifer