Family Ski Meal – Chili and Citrus Cornbread Muffins

We went skiing (finally) last weekend.  As usual I brought my vegetarian chili.  The great thing about this dish is that I make it the day before and freeze it.  Then we bring the frozen chili in the car on the drive to Tahoe.  By the time we get there it may or may not be totally thawed (depending on traffic).  Then we have a sure fire meal for the evening and can go out play without worrying about making dinner.

And while my family likes the chili, they really like what I make on the side even better…Citrus Corn Bread Muffins.   These muffins are a favorite from The Petit Appetit Cookbook, and are a little sweet and a little savory.  They’re made moist by the addition of banana.  Happily this recipe makes 12 – 15 full size or 36 mini muffins so we have lots to share or save.  My kids think it’s the perfect snack for packing for school or on the go – like heading to the snow.  These can be made and stored in a air tight container for about 3 – 4 days.

Citrus Corn Muffins

1 tablespoon grated orange zest (about 2 medium oranges)

2 cups unbleached flour

½ cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 large, cage free, organic eggs

½ cup organic light brown sugar, packed

½ cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana)

 

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly grease 12 cup standard muffin tin or 24 cup mini muffin tin with vegetable oil.  Using a small knife or zester, remove 1 tablespoon on zest from oranges.  In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, powder and salt and whisk to mix.  In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, banana and zest.  Mix well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold wet ingredients into dry mixture.  Be careful not to over mix, as muffins will be tough.  Spoon batter into muffin tin cups, ¾ full.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until muffins are brown on top and test pick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

 

Get Picky!  Keep toothpicks or small wooden skewers on hand to check muffins and other baked goods for doneness.  Simply insert pick in center, and when comes out clean, muffins are done.

 

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Snow or Bust

snowman

We made it to the snow!  Every year we have plans to go, but someone gets sick or we’re not brave enough to make the drive in a storm (my husband and I have many stories of getting stuck in the snow).  My six year old was excited from the get go.  He was up for it all sledding, learning to ski, eating icicles, catching snowflakes, etc.  My daughter, age three had never seen snow.  I thought it would be quite interesting.  She only wears ballet clothes (whether it’s dance day or not) and does not like long sleeves, outerwear and cold.  I had a feeling I’d be inside with her while my husband and son snow enjoy the great outdoors.  

 

I planned on a game marathon with her and cooking some hearty slow foods.  Whenever I think of snow I think of chili and soups.  Yum!  However, she proved me wrong.  She loved the snow – after the initial shock that it is cold and turtlenecks and snow suits are made for a reason.  She even wanted to go to ski school like big brother.  And we all had too many hot chocolates in the lodge not to have fun.  I have a feeling we’ll be heading up again soon. 

 

I made and brought my white bean and chicken chili for this trip.  It’s an easy make ahead dish for transporting in an ice chest and makes enough for hungry people for lunch or dinner after snow play.  You can make this without the chicken too for the vegetarian skiiers.

 

White Bean and Chicken Chili (from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

The origin of this recipe is from San Francisco Flavors, by the San Francisco Junior League. The original is great, but not many parents with small children have two hours to allow a stew to cook, let alone remember to soak dried beans overnight. The prep time is reduced in this recipe by using canned beans and sautéing the cooked chicken in the spices to soak up additional flavor that would come out from the slow-cooking process. You can reduce your time further if you have leftover chicken on-hand or buy pre-cooked chicken and pre-shredded cheese. This version for busy families takes only 35 to 40 minutes from start to finish.

 Makes 12 cups

 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ (4-ounce) can chopped mild green chilies, or 2 fresh chilies, roasted, seeded, and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds cooked boneless, skinless, organic free-range chicken (can be left over or purchased pre-cooked)

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

2 cups shredded Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese (rBGH free)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Mix in chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add beans and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

 Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a small bowl and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture back into pot, cover, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring, to thicken.

 Add 1 cup of the cheese to the pot and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with remaining cheese.

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