Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Five: Game Day Food

Get ready for game day with these cheering-from-the-couch friendly recipes.

Rumor has it there's a big game on Sunday? Truth be told, my interest quickly waned when the Packers lost in the NFC Championship game; although I guess if I had to choose I'd root for the Falcons.

But, really? I'm just in it for the food. Here are a few recipe ideas to amp up your game-day feast.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What's Baking: Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

Trying times call for comforting food, and these Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins fit the bill perfectly. 

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins || A Less Processed Life

It typically takes me a little longer to get back into the blogging groove after the holidays, but this year it's been harder than usual.

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins || A Less Processed Life

Let's just say that when you're worried about the potential end of democracy in your country, whether or not you should be stockpiling food, and the general loss of decency and civility in both politics and everyday life, writing a little post about something I cooked seems just a tad inconsequential.

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins || A Less Processed Life

I spent the day after the inauguration at the Women's March On Chicago. It felt good to be part of such a large group of like-minded people. I nearly cried at the sight of so many people streaming in to gather together to fight the disastrous policies of this administration. Some signs were funny; others were poignant. I left the march feeling uplifted that we were not alone, and there are plenty of decent people left in this world who care about the future of this country.

And then Monday happened.
And Tuesday.
And fast forward to Friday.

It seriously frightens me to think where this country is headed and who is pulling all the strings. I prefer the America that is inclusive. That cares about the environment. That has empathy. That is open to immigrants and the diversity of experience they bring to this country. That supports the marriages of my gay and lesbian friends. That doesn't discriminate based on religion or ethnicity or gender identity or sexual orientation. That doesn't mock others. That gives a woman the right to control her own reproductive organs. That makes everyone's ability to exercise their right to vote easier, not harder. That worries over gun violence in this country. That wants to help people rather than hurt people. That upholds the separation between church and state. That doesn't value money over human life. That provides healthcare to those who need it. That values science. That values public education. That rewards people for the skills they have, not the people they know. That thinks for the future and not just the present. I want the America I grew up in and has provided me with so much.

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins || A Less Processed Life

The long and short of it is, I'm worried. And I'm not sure what to do about it, other than resist and protest in whatever way I can, whether small or large. 

And in the meantime, I can't let myself drown in fear. And that's where I hope this blog can come in this year. I've always retreated to the kitchen when I need a break from the stresses of life. The meditation of baking is often my solace when I'm overcome with emotion or feeling stagnated. So, today, I return to the kitchen to bake. And roast. And mix. And stir. And find a way to have hope for the future.

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins (printer-friendly version)
makes 12 muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray each cup generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add together the cornmeal and buttermilk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and sugar. 
4. Add the egg and olive oil to the bowl with the cornmeal and buttermilk. Stir to combine. 
5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the frozen corn kernels. Distribute the batter evenly into the 12 prepped muffin cups. (Each cup should be about 3/4 full.)
6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the tin. Serve warm or re-heat before serving.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What's For Dinner: Tomato Orzo Soup

In less than an hour, you can take this hearty Tomato Orzo Soup from the stovetop to your dinner table. Grilled cheese sandwiches optional. (But highly recommended.)

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

It always seems to take me a couple of weeks to get back into my normal blogging schedule once the calendar rolls over to January. Perhaps it's burnout from all the baking and cooking that goes into celebrating back-to-back holidays in November and December. That or all the indulgent food I've likely ingested over the same time period. Or maybe it's the perfect-for-hibernation weather that typically hits at the beginning of the year. Whatever the case, I like to take my Januarys slow.

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

But, I finally found some inspiration this past weekend and made a large pot of soup to enjoy for a few days during the week. This recipe comes from the inimitable Ina Garten, so of course it's a keeper. I made a few changes here and there, and in lieu of making grilled cheese croutons (which sound oh-so-good, and I'll have to make someday), we instead enjoyed our soup with a perfectly-melty grilled cheese sandwich on the side.

Tomato Orzo Soup || A Less Processed Life

While Ina seasons her soup with saffron, I went the slightly less expensive route and flavored my version with smoked paprika. Just a pinch will do, and it lends the soup a delicious smoky sweet flavor. And the addition of orzo gives is just the right amount of heartiness and bite. The soup is finished with heavy cream which helps to smooth out the flavor and texture and adds the perfect amount of decadence to what is otherwise a rather humble soup.

Tomato Orzo Soup (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
large pinch smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute until very soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in the vegetable stock, both cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Increase the heat to medium, add the orzo and cook at a low boil for seven minutes. Then reduce the heat back to low, stir in the heavy cream, and simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve immediately.

(adapted from this Barefoot Contessa recipe)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What's For Dinner: Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken

A few minutes of prep time and a couple of hours in the slow cooker is all it takes to make this delicious recipe for Honey Soy Chicken. 

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken || A Less Processed LifeSlow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken

And then it was 2017. Oof! Question: Am I the only person in the world that didn't start a Whole 30 on January 2nd? Because by the looks of my instagram and blog feeds, I appear to be the only one.

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to start the year off with a post about healthy salads or green juices, but I'm more of an ease-into-the-healthy-eating-in-the-new-year kind of girl. Even if I'm totally in the oy-I-ate-too-much-over-the-holidays camp. After a week spent out of town visiting family in Georgia and Michigan, I was definitely ready to hit up large plates of greens for several meals upon our return to Northern Wisconsin. (I may not have been as excited to trade Georgia's 65+ degree temperatures for our sub-freezing weather, though there's a chance I also may have complained about it being too hot the entire time we were down south.)

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken || A Less Processed Life

That's not to say this recipe for slow cooker honey soy chicken is an unhealthy choice ... it's actually quite wholesome and delicious. And perfect for eating on a cold winter's night ... which appears to be in our forecast as I think I spied a high of -2 for this Thursday. Urgh.

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes four servings

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
sesame seeds, for garnish
1 cup cooked rice, for serving

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the diced onion, minced garlic, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, toasted sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.
2. Pat the chicken thighs dry and place in the slow cooker. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Add the honey-soy mixture and gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes or cook on low for 3 hours and 30 minutes. After the chicken is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred. Add the water to the cornstarch and stir to make a slurry. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Place the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and cook on the low setting for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
3. Serve over rice. Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

(adapted from this Damn Delicious recipe)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What Made My List: My Favorite Posts from 2016

On Tuesday I shared the Top Ten most popular posts from the blog this year. Today I'm sharing a few of my favorite recipes from 2016. Several of these recipes have made multiple appearances on our dinner or breakfast table throughout the year; and those brandied cherries sure do come in handy when cocktail hour rolls around and it's time for another Old-Fashioned. 

I'm looking forward to bringing more delicious recipes and plenty of entertaining and informative content to the blog in 2017. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What Made the List: A Less Processed Life's Top Ten Posts of 2016

Oy, this has been some year, hasn't it? I'm not entirely sure what next year will bring, but I'm hoping for the best. I thought as the year draws to an end I'd take a walk down memory lane with a look at this year's most popular posts. Unlike last year's Top Ten, which was full of sweet baked goods, this year's list has a little bit of everything.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

What I'm Wishing You: Happy Holidays

From our family to yours, best wishes this holiday season! And I just have to share the back of our card, too. Can you spot the photobomber in the main photo? Cracks me up Every. Single. Time. I look at it. 

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