Friday, September 16, 2011

Janel's Chile Verde

Why start this post with sunflowers? My sister Janel and I picked some up at the Sunflower Market grocery store earlier this summer after kicking around at the downtown Salt Lake farmers market where we shared Sudanese food, sipped blueberry lemonade and I bought a tomato that was too expensive. And so sunflowers... time with my sister... and we arrive at... her recipe for Chile Verde.

Wait for it... wait for it... "even though..." the original recipe sounded do-able, there was one step I was like "There's no way." ... "You want me to boil it down, how many times?" ... "Really?!?Janel has been mentioned around these parts before for making The Columbia Restaurant 1905 Salad for me after I'd had surgery. She's a nice kind of gal like that. Even though her recipe was already the cat's meow, I didn't think I could handle boiling down a roast as called for so I started thinking... "I wonder if this would work in the Crock-Pot."And then "I wonder if pork chops would work as well as a roast?" And the answer is: "Yes." I've made it twice and I think I've got the Cock Pot version down pat!
The beginning of the Crock-Pot phase below. Everybody into the pool!
And "poof" it's done!

Chile Verde
1 medium size jar of chile verde salsa (verde = green)
2 cans diced chiles (mild)
1 yellow onion
Black pepper (fresh cracked)
1-2 packages of pork chops
1 can of vegetarian refried beans

Add the chile verde salsa to the Crock-Pot. Rinse the jar with about 1/4-1/2 C of water and add the water and the chiles to the Crock-Pot. Next brown the meat, crack fresh pepper on the pork chops while cooking. Cut up the onion in large chunks and add both the meat and the onion to the Crock-Pot. Deglaze the frying pan with water (about 1/4-1/2 C) and add the sauce this creates to the Crock-Pot too. Cook on high for approximately 5 hours. You'll know it's done because the meat will easily come apart with a fork. Add the can of refried beans and stir. Using two forks pull the meat apart into bite sized pieces (or smaller). Allow to cook for 15-30 minutes and serve. 

Serving Suggestions: At our house we serve the Chile Verde as single servings in a bowl, as a hot dip with corn chips. Optional: embellish with fat free grated cheddar, and fat free sour cream.

Source: Janel, my sister (Gracias seƱorita!), with edits from me.

P.S. A little bit of trivia here, my Crock-Pot will be turning 22 next week.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookbook Bites: Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gluten free chocolate chip cookies
I'd like to tell you about some chocolate chip cookies I made this week. The cookies went with us on an urban hike to the new "The Commons, City Creek Center" area in downtown Salt Lake City. These cookies are not your everyday chocolate chip cookie. We're doing an elimination diet at our house, dietician led, trying to track down possible allergies that are triggering migraines. First up? Gluten.

My first few tries at gluten free baking has delivered muffins that puff up in the oven then fall to about 1/2 the size. These chocolate chip cookies puff up too, but after they settle they still look and taste reasonably like the real thing (make sure you have a cup of milk when you eat them, they're kind of dry - but if you like a "crisp" chocolate chip cookie, you'll probably like these.) Here are a couple of tips for along the way, then the recipe and a few photos from the morning around town.
Use your favorite vanilla. For me that means Mexican Vanilla Extract. I don't know where to get more of this. I went to their online store and they don't sell it there. (Am I going to need to drive to Minnesota where we bought it? Or Mexico?)
 Cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla, just like regular chocolate chip cookies.
 Mix the dry ingredients. Some people sift, I fluff the ingredients together with a fork.
Important Read This PartNext mix the wet and dry ingredients and add 3/4-1 bag of mini chocolate chips. Based on comments I read at All Recipes I did a test cookie at first, and my first cookie (even though the dough looked like normal cookie dough) spread into a lace-cookie. So I added more gluten free flour until I couldn't get any more to mix into the dough, then I tried it again, and it worked! I made little round cookies and pressed them down just a little with a spoon before baking, but it looks like they would have spread anyway.
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract (Mexican Vanilla)
1 egg (the original recipe called for egg substitute)
2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour (Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 bag mini semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 and butter your cookie sheet. Mix butter, sugar(s) and egg. (I mixed this by hand with a wooden spoon. The dietician mentioned if you use your regular mixer the wheat flour dust from earlier baking projects could get into the gluten free dough.) In a separate bowl add gluten free flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork. Combine the butter and flour mixtures and add the chocolate chips. If you're worried about the cookies spreading to much, bake a test cookie so you can see how it'll come out. If it spreads too much add a spoonful or two more gluten free flour. I added more flour until the dough just didn't allow me to add any more (like 1/2 C) you don't want the dough to be in crumbles. Drop cookies by the spoonful (you may need to sort-of help shape them by hand) onto a buttered cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool 2-5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

*A Note About Ingredients: To really make sure what you're baking is gluten free check the ingredient lists for the items called for in the recipe.

Recipe Source: All Recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free) by Barbara Arnold

We took some of the chocolate chip cookies with us downtown for a Saturday morning photography trip; homework for my daughters digital photography class. Not all of us are on a gluten free diet, but the cookies are family friendly! Here are some pics I took while she was doing homework.
 We've got a fancy new skywalk right in the middle of downtown. Very metro.
 Urban forest and parking.
 Fountain at the "City Creek Commons."
 Another very cool fountain.

Good luck with the cookies!



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