Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

I have been trying to figure out how to recreate PF Chang's Chicken with Black Bean sauce for years. I've never been able to find a recipe and have tried mulling things over in my head with little success. A little over a year ago, a recipe blog I've been following posted a recipe for "Slow Cooker Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken". I decided to give it a shot and change it a bit to see if it'd be a good jumping off point...also to see if this could be made WeightWatcher's friendly.  After several attempts to get it right, here's the current iteration that Hubby has deemed "perfected". It's now one of our go-to dishes and something for which I always have ingredients on-hand!

Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Serves 8
Estimated Point Value: 5 pts

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons water
Red pepper flakes, optional/to taste - I just a few shakes, not too much

  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray and lay chicken on the bottom.
  2. Spread black beans over top of the chicken.
  3. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, vinegar, chicken stock, garlic powder, soy sauce, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the chicken and beans, cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).
  5. Remove chicken from the slow cooker, shred and return to the slow cooker.
  6. Combine corn starch and water in a small bowl and then add to the slow cooker, stirring until sauce thickens.
I serve this over 3 pts worth of brown rice with a side of our go-to zero point veggie, broccoli (we buy it in bulk because we're crazy people...who love broccoli.) I've frozen the chicken and sauce mixture and it thaws out nicely too if you aren't able to use the entire batch.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beef Stew with Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Let's just ignore the fact that I haven't posted a new recipe in ages, okay?

I've been wanting to try this recipe since last winter at some point. I'd been searching for beef stew recipes that I felt would be flavorful enough to counteract Hubby's dislike for your standard-issue beef stew and I think I've got it pretty well ironed-out!

I served this with some steamed green beans because I needed something green and it was gone in seconds. I'll definitely be making this again this fall/winter for sure!

Beef Stew with Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Slightly Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 6
Estimated Point Value: 8 pts

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp light butter, (Land O'Lakes Light Butter is my favorite)
1 lb stew beef
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
Worcestershire, to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
1 cup carrots, diced
8 oz mushrooms, small whole or quartered medium sized
~2 lbs red potatoes
5 tsp Ranch Seasoning
1 Tbsp light butter
2 Tbsp light cream cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil and first tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. 
  2. Brown the stew beef and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the beef from the pan and saute onion and garlic until soft in the deliciousness that the beef leaves behind.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, then add in beef stock, sugar, and a few dashes of Worcestershire, to taste.
  5. Add the beef back into the pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. Add in carrots and mushrooms, stirring to combine. Simmer for a half hour, covered.
  7. While the carrots and mushrooms are simmering, prepare mashed potatoes. In a large pot cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil then cook for ~20 minutes or until done.
  8. Drain potatoes and add in butter, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning (I realize making your own Ranch seasoning is way better for you, but I have yet to find a seasoning combination that I think tastes as good as the classic Hidden Valley's my cooking fatal flaw, we eat so much ranch I know I should find a healthier alternative...suggestions welcomed.) 
  9. Mash using extra beef broth for liquid if necessary (yes milk is more delicious, but...broth has zero points and we're in diet mode people!)
  10. Serve one serving of the beef stew over one serving of the mashed potatoes in a shallow bowl.
Also this is totally one of my 30-by-30 items so I'm counting it as a double-win!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

30 by 30: The Final Tally

Well, the time has come. I turned 30 yesterday and here's the fall out from my 30-by-30 list:
  1. In Process! Bake a cheesecake in my spring-form pan, not from a box mix. - I have the perfect recipe, and made a cheesecake bar that was delicious to try a less intimidating cheesecake situation before I went all in.
  2. In Process! Create a Beef Stew recipe that Hubby will eat. - I have the recipe and the ingredients and it's on the menu for this week!
  3. DONE! Scour the Internet for a Chicken with Black Bean Sauce recipe reminiscent of the dish at PF Changs. (Hubby's request)
  4. DONE! Perfect Snickerdoodles (since they have eluded me thus far!) - Abandoned for delicious Snickerdoodle Blondies and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.
  5. DONE! Bake bread made with yeast.
  6. Attempt one Julia Child recipe. - I borrowed a cookbook from the library and went to the Smithsonian to see her kitchen exhibit, does that count for anything?
  7. DONE! Bake a Martha Stewart cupcake successfully. - Counting this as done since I made two cupcakes only slightly adapted from Momma Martha.
  8. DONE! Reorganize/redesign pantry storage situation (okay, so this will mostly be Hubby, but I can help!) - working with what I have, but moving things around seems to be helping...we'll see if we go for a more long-term solution or not...right now life is good in the pantry...I bought a label maker and as you have probably guessed, I labeled all the things. LOVE.
  9. DONE! Discover a delicious beef brisket recipe...smoker or no smoker I need to figure out how to get some tasty brisket into my belly! - This was delicious and most definitely something that has happened more than once!
  10. DONE! Get a decent understanding of the book of Revelation. - Last spring I participated in a Beth Moore study on Revelation through our women's ministry at church and it was amazing!
  11. In Process! Scripture Memory - complete at least one year of the Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore's) Scripture Memory Challenge. - I did really well at the beginning of the 2011...I did memorize several verses or have go-to verses that have stuck over the past few years. I think this shall always be (and should always be) a work in progress!
  12. DONE and In Process! See Beth Moore live, or attend another women's conference. - I attended a women's conference in the fall, am planning on attending one in March, AND have plans to go see Beth live with my college gals in the fall!
  13. DONE! Reacquaint ourselves with a young couples' ministry. - We gave the new group at church a shot, but it didn't work out for us...we are blessed to be surrounded by lots of other young couples who walk with us daily and really, that's what we want/need.
  14. In Process! Read through the Bible chronologically...still working on this one, not as quickly as I would have liked. I always seem to pause when I do a more intensive Bible study with my women's group...
  15. Watch the Godfather Movies.
  16. Eh? Do one of the Oscar days at the movie theater where you watch all the best picture nominations in one day/weekend. - Due to the fact that I finally let myself own the fact that I don't really like movie theaters, this isn't happening. I'd just rather wait and watch movies in our home theater with Hubby and Kitty.
  17. DONE! Read more...a lot more. Granted this isn't measurable, so let's say (realistically) 15 books. - My totals are: 2011 27 books, 2012 24 books...I even guest blogged for a friend over at Hooked to Books for a while...AND joined a book club which is having it's one year anniversary next month!
  18. DONE! Get a library card to assist in accomplishing #17.
  19. DONE! Be better about having Date Nights and actually taking advantage of babysitting offers. - We're definitely less shy than we used to be about asking for help which is a win =)
  20. Eh? Become a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, just like Hubby. - we've found classes this spring that would be convenient should we have a place to stick our 3 year old...we'll see if that materializes.
  21. Complete wedding scrapbook.
  22. Dine at one of the Top Chef contestants' restaurants...or more ;-) - I have a friend that wants to do this with me, maybe we'll hit it for her 30th later this year!
  23. Attempt a Top Chef contestant recipe.
  24. In Process! Attain a reasonable/healthy weight and maintain so I can go through my closet and actually get rid of some clothes that are never going to happen again. - I've done really well, lost over 15 pounds since making this list and really only have 5 more to go. Really excited and our BFF is getting married in the spring so I totally have motivation to knock out those last 5 lbs after all the birthday food has subsided ;-)
  25. Figure out a plan for the master bath (our master suite is structurally confusing and slowly we're working on it.)
  26. DONE! Take a vacation... preferably one that does not require me to cook or clean house although a rental situation requiring such things would be an acceptable second vacation ;-) - in 2012 we hit both Disneyworld AND a kid-free anniversary vacation to Lake Louise in Banff National Park which was heavenly.
  27. DONE! WVU Girls Weekend =) Maybe two of them ;-) Or three 0=) - We've gotten together several times and have a date on the books to celebrate our collective 30ths this summer!
  28. In Process! Swimming lessons, namely for LJ, but it couldn't hurt me either to become more comfortable in the water. - she turns 3 in exactly one week, so she'll be of age and ready to go! (Yes, I'm 30, she'll be 3, and guess what...Hubby turns 33 this year...2013, ha!)
  29. In Process! Go to the eye doctor, probably should happen since it's been since my 2002 Lasik surgery. - We've undergone several insurance changes in the past few years, BUT I finally got some eye doctor recommendations and this spring should finally get myself there! I did pass my eye exam to renew my driver's license which I had to do this month, so...sort of a win?
  30. In Process! Figure out what I want to be when I'm not a stay-at-home-mom anymore =P - Are you really ever done with this one?
The Final Tally
14 - DONE!
8 - In Process
2 - Eh? (Abandoned)
6 - Incomplete

So, who wants to come over, make some Beef Stew, watch The Godfather movies, then eat some Cheesecake (preferably a recipe from Julia Child or a Top Chef contestant)?

All in all I'm more satisfied with this list than I originally thought I would be when I set out to update it for my birthday. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all! Maybe I'll finish these WHILE I'm 30 =)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Happy 30th to ME!

For my birthday, go do something nice for someone. Pay for the folks behind you in the drive thru. Pick up some litter. Make a kid giggle instead of scream in the Target check-out line. Or my personal favorite, take stickers and a $5 Starbucks card to the market...find a mom with an unruly toddler, give the toddler some stickers and the mom the giftcard. Smile and tell her "My friend Rachael wants you to treat yourself today, you're worth it!"

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 
~1 John 4:11 
(How perfect is it that this is my "verse of the day" today =)

Report back to me by leaving a comment here on the blog. Let's see how many we can get today, okay?

And thanks for all the birthday wishes, I may not have finished my 30-by-30 list (more on that later) but I had a good time trying and took some fun diversions along the way!