Thursday, March 21, 2013

White Chipotle Chicken Chili

Did everyone enjoy their St. Patrick's Day?

Last year, Mr. Vittles and I took the train into New York City for a party, and even though we left NJ early in the morning, the train was already filled with crazy drunks.

This year.... was a little more low-key for us.  The highlight was probably dressing up Mini Smalls in her St. Patty's Day outfit from my dad & stepmom, which later included some ridiculous green sunglasses.

And while most people were probably making corned beef & cabbage, I was making white chipotle chicken chili.  I do have some Irish in me, but not enough I guess!

The Mini and I have been recovering from a cold so chicken soup probably would've been a better choice for me, but Mr. Vittles and I are really not soup people.  So I figured chicken chili was the next best thing.

Not much other news to report.  As my friend from work (who has a son 2 months older than the Mini) pointed out - every day is like Groundhog Day, and we are probably living parallel lives in separate households.  Get up, take care of the baby, rush to work, rush home, take care of the baby, wash bottles, try to figure out what to eat for dinner, hang out for an hour or so, feed the baby again, and go to bed.

Not exactly setting the world on fire over here!  But I do have some good news.  For one, I did well on my promotional exam at work (that I mentioned I was "preparing" for a few weeks ago).  It turns out I got the highest score of the 70+ people that took it, so I should hopefully be in a good position whenever they announce the openings for my title.

And two - the Mini rolled over from her back to her tummy today!  Mr. V and I were your stereotypical kooky parents on Monday night - we actually sat watching her with the video camera for about 15 minutes because we were sure she would do it then.  (My mother-in-law told us she had been incredibly close at her house, numerous times that day).  But... nothing.  Then today I put the Mini down on a rug in our bedroom, while I made the bed.  I looked away for maybe 10 seconds, looked back and there she was on her tummy!  Go figure.  So no one witnessed it, but it seems she reached a milestone nonetheless.

She will be 5 months old on Monday, I can't believe how times flies.  Everyone said it would, but it still surprises me.  In the meantime, I'm wondering if I should have doubled this chili.  Then we could have eaten it four nights this week, and it would really feel like Groundhog Day :)

White Chipotle Chicken Chili

  • 2 C. reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 15-oz. cans canellini beans, drained, rinsed & divided
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 t. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/4 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1 4.5-oz can green chiles
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked & shredded
  • 1/4 C. half & half
  • 1/4 C. fresh cilantro, minced

In a food processor or blender, puree 1/2 C. of chicken broth with 1 can of drained & rinsed canellini beans until mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

In large dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions & cook, stirring until softened (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add remaining 1 1/2 C. chicken broth & can of canellini beans along with chili powder, cumin, salt, green chiles, and chicken.  Bring mixture to a boil (increasing heat slightly if needed) and simmer 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add reserved bean puree and half & half.  Reduce heat to medium low & cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is heated through.  Stir in cilantro & adjust seasonings to taste.  Serve topped with sour cream and/or cheese, if desired.  Serves 4.

Recipe Adapted from Organic Gardening

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

So as I recently said on Facebook... time flies when you're having fun.

(And sometimes even when you're not?)

Four months ago Monday, I was a pregnosaurus, scrubbing our shower and wondering why on earth my stomach hurt so badly.

Fast forward to today, and I have the cutest, wiggliest little munchkin on the planet (though I may be just a tad biased ;)).

I had all intentions of posting this yesterday, but as usual the day got away from me.  I had to bring the Mini to the pediatrician for her 4-month check-up, and then I spent the afternoon 'studying' for a promotional Civil Service test at my job.  (Which, as it turned out, was pointless because the majority of questions were not like a typical Civil Service test... all the exercises I practiced were nothing like the ones on our exam.  Go figure!)

In any event, the Mini & I had quite an adventure at the pediatrician.  We arrived in good spirits (see exhibits A & B below) but the longer we waited, the more antsy in the pantsy we became.

the calm before the storm ... in the pediatrician's waiting room

By the time the doctor arrived, the wheels had fallen completely off.

She screamed through almost the entire check-up, so much so that I could barely hear the doctor.  And THEN, just when I thought I had her calmed down, they gave my little love an oral vaccine... which she proceeded to throw up (along with the contents of her stomach) all over herself and the exam table.

(Words no parent wants to hear: "Hmm... I'll have to ask the doctor what we do now.  I've never had a child do that before.")


So, Rotavirus... whatever you are... you better stand down, buddy.  We have enough issues to deal with around here.

In other news, I went back to work on February 8, so that's been a bit of an adjustment for the Vittles family... but it seems we're starting to settle into our new routine.  My mother-in-law is the BEST for offering to watch the Mini on her two days off.  I think they've been having some fun, which, let's face it, is what grandmas are famous for.  Gigi knits her adorable sweaters, and they go for walks around the house & listen to 2 Chainz.

(Ok fine, the last part isn't true... but wouldn't it be funny if it was?)

Then the Mini goes to my neighbor two days a week, and I stay home an extra weekday until the end of April.  At that point, she will go to my neighbor 3 days a week.

Amidst all this, umm, excitement, it's been pretty hard to find time to try out any new recipes (let alone take pictures and write.)  But for a while now I've been wanting to create an ice cream that tastes like Thai iced tea, and I decided it was time to finally cross that idea off the list.

I'm happy with the way it came out - the tea flavor is not super intense, but I didn't want it to be overpowering.  Also, the neat thing about this recipe is that you do NOT need an ice cream maker - just a way to whip heavy cream!

But before I leave you, I want to tell you guys about something that happened to me recently (relating to my statement above about finding time to blog) that I think is important to bring up.

A couple weeks ago, I got several emails from other bloggers telling me that fan page on Facebook was posting things from V&B, presumably without permission.  When I went to the Facebook page, I saw they had posted a "status" with a picture from one of my recipes and the entire recipe copied & pasted underneath.  However there was also a link to the original post I wrote, crediting the source as V&B.

They were apparently doing this with a lot of recipes, and bloggers were complaining - so eventually the page was shut down by Facebook and only allowed back up if the page administrator(s) took these things down.

Other bloggers were apparently outraged that their content was being "stolen" (although many of their comments to this effect were apparently removed by the page administrators).  Conversely, fans of the site were blasting bloggers for being oversensitive & thinking that their ideas were new.  They claimed that recipes can't be copyrighted, and anyway there is no harm in sharing recipes.

Now I'll be honest.  I don't know whether or not recipes can be copyrighted, and quite frankly I don't care.  I'm not the blog police, or the internet police.  I do this as a hobby, this is not my job.  In fact, I've probably (unknowingly) broken a few of rules from the Blogger Code of Conduct myself.  And whether it's right, wrong, or otherwise - I do not personally consider someone posting my recipe & photo to be stealing as long as they credit V&B somewhere (which these people did do).

I also understand the point that most "new" ideas are actually recycled.  Someone else has probably already thought of it.  A few times I've been sure I've thought of a totally new combination of flavors, only to do a Google search and find out it's already been done.

Furthermore, 'sharing' is great, and as a blogger I encourage it wholeheartedly.  Pinterest is one of my favorite sites, and that's all about the sharing!

But the thing that really bothered me about this whole situation was that the fans of this Facebook page didn't seem to get the fact that food bloggers spend hours thinking of ideas, testing & tweaking recipes, taking photographs, & writing posts.

Like, I don't just read a recipe somewhere and slap it up on V&B, word for word, with someone else's photo.  As tough as it is to find the time, I still try to blog when I can because I like it... and I take some element of pride in what I post.  Mr. Vittles teases me all the time for using the backspace button too much, but that's because I really do think about what I write.

Yes, blogging is a choice, certainly no one is making me do it.  I made the decision to put my ideas and words out there for others to potentially take.  I also earn a small amount of money from advertisements on the blog (though that was not the case until just about a year ago, and I've been writing almost 3 years).

But in my opinion, none of those things mean that I & V&B don't deserve to be treated with a little respect.

Before the aforementioned fan page was 'reconfigured' to adhere to Facebook's policies, I saw that the post with the V&B recipe had been shared almost 1500 times.  Which means waaay more people than that actually saw it, because not everyone who saw it would bother to share it.  And then you have all the people who in turn saw the shares.  But at the bare minimum... 1500 people got a recipe I wrote & photographed without ever having to take so much as a 5-second look at my blog.

Was this recipe some amazing feat of culinary wonder?  No, absolutely not.  I'm a government worker (as you now know) not a chef.  But since I took the time to make it & put it out there, I just think it would be nice for people to drop by V&B to get it.

And in my mind, that's what it comes down to - being nice.  Having courtesy and respect.  I was sad to see some really nasty comments from fans of the Facebook page, about how bloggers need to "get a life," "stop hiding behind their computers," "stop ruining a good thing," and "realize that everything they post is public property."

Well if I could say anything to those people, it's this:  I do have a life, and it's actually pretty busy.  Yet I still spend my precious free time making & posting recipes so people like you will visit my site.  And while you're here, maybe you'll see something else you'd like to make.  Maybe you'll leave a comment that will brighten my day.  But I can almost guarantee you won't do either of those things if the whole recipe is posted somewhere else, and you already got what you wanted.

(And by the way - if bloggers like me never posted our recipes, you'd have a lot less "old" ideas to share with each other.  Just sayin'.)

But... since it seems the people who made those comments could care less where a recipe comes from, it's unlikely I will ever have the chance to tell them much of anything!

So, my wonderful readers, I instead ask a favor of you -- when you find a recipe on ANY blog, that you like and want to share, please just think before you copy & paste the entire thing on Facebook or in a Pinterest pin.  Instead, consider posting a link so they can visit us.  Maybe we'll get a new friend.  To me, that's what blogging is all about!

As always, thanks for reading & for your support!

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream
  • 1 5-oz. can evaporated milk (2/3 C.)
  • 8 black tea bags
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream (2 C.)
  • a few drops each of red & yellow food coloring (optional - this will give it an orange hue like Thai Iced Tea)
Place evaporated milk in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup.  In 30-second intervals, heat in microwave until steaming, stirring after each.

Place tea bags in hot evaporated milk and steep 5 minutes.  Squeeze out excess milk from tea bags as best you can, and discard bags.

Empty tea mixture into a medium bowl, and mix with sweetened condensed milk until combined.  Add food coloring if desired, and stir until evenly mixed.

In separate large bowl, whip heavy cream until soft-medium peaks form.  Pour tea/milk mixture onto whipped cream, and fold in until mixture is combined & uniform color.

Pour into freezer-safe container, and freeze at least 6 hours or until firm.  Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.

Recipe Adapted from Eagle Brand 


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