Host The Toast http://hostthetoast.com a Kitchen Kapers blog Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:05:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Caramel Apple Blondies http://hostthetoast.com/caramel-apple-blondies/ http://hostthetoast.com/caramel-apple-blondies/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:05:56 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=3457 If you’ve hung around here long enough, you’ve heard many times from me that “I’m no baker”.  It’s been nearly 2 years of food blogging at this point, and I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve spent the past 600-someodd days cringing at the thought of baked goods.  You know how they say that you should stick to... 

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If you’ve hung around here long enough, you’ve heard many times from me that “I’m no baker”.  It’s been nearly 2 years of food blogging at this point, and I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve spent the past 600-someodd days cringing at the thought of baked goods.  You know how they say that you should stick to what you know?  Well, baking has been a foreign and scary world for me, one that I much preferred to avoid as much as humanly possible while still running a food blog.

Caramel Apple Blondies.  Browned butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts, and caramel come together in this delicious fall dessert! | hostthetoast.com

But that all changes today.

I’ve been seeing a lot of delicious blondie and brownie recipes lately, and one particular recipe called out to me.  “Morgan, stop being such a freakin’ baby and bake me,” it said.  “Use browned butter and walnuts and lots of brown sugar to make it your own!” it begged.

And believe it or not, I did it.  I baked my little (very nervous) heart out and wound up with these Caramel Apple Blondies.

The Caramel Apple Blondies turned out so moist, sweet, flavorful, and fall-ish, I could hardly believe it.  Is fall-ish a word?  It is now.  It was autumn in my mouth.

Caramel Apple Blondies.  Browned butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts, and caramel come together in this delicious fall dessert! | hostthetoast.com

I was so proud of myself (how modest of me to admit) that I brought them into work to share with my coworkers.  This is the first treat that I’ve ever brought in to share with them, which is kind of sad, all things considered, but everyone loved them and gave me the confidence to keep baking.

Caramel Apple Blondies.  Browned butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts, and caramel come together in this delicious fall dessert! | hostthetoast.comCaramel Apple Blondies.  Browned butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts, and caramel come together in this delicious fall dessert! | hostthetoast.com

I don’t mean to get ahead of myself, but I’ve made two kick-butt baked goods since then!  I put sneak peaks up on instagram sometimes, so feel free to follow me and check them out.

I’m getting sidetracked though.  The point is, these Caramel Apple Blondies were so tasty that it gave this baking novice the confidence to really push myself in the desserts department!  Even if you’re not all that savvy with sweets, you can definitely pull these off to impress your guests (or friends, or significant other, or family, or eat the pan to yourself and pat yourself on the back for a job well done).

Caramel Apple Blondies.  Browned butter, brown sugar, apples, walnuts, and caramel come together in this delicious fall dessert! | hostthetoast.com

Caramel Apple Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Adapted from foodiecrush.com
Author:
Serves: 12-16
Ingredients
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus ¼ cup walnut halves
  • 2 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound) peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 20 meltable caramel candies
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, brown the stick of butter. The butter is ready when it is hazelnutty in color and smell. Do not burn the butter! Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. In a large bowl, beat together the cooled browned butter, both sugars, and egg with a hand mixer until creamy and well-combined. Fold the chopped walnuts and apples in to the butter mixture. Then, add in the flour mixture a bit at a time, folding in until just combined.
  4. In your prepared pan, spread the batter evenly. Set aside.
  5. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the caramel candies for 30 seconds. Remove the candies from the microwave, stir, and microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir and then drizzle the melted caramel over the batter. Top with the walnut halves.
  6. Bake the blondies for 40 minutes, or until golden and set in the middle. They will stay moist and soft, but you don't want them to wiggle when removing from the oven. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then lift the blondies out of the pan by gripping the edges of your parchment paper. If you'd like, drizzle additional melted caramel on top before serving. Cut into small bars and serve.

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Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos http://hostthetoast.com/loaded-buffalo-chicken-nachos/ http://hostthetoast.com/loaded-buffalo-chicken-nachos/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 16:02:12 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=3447 The best things in life are meant to be shared.  Please remind me of that this upcoming football Sunday when I am HOARDING these Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos to myself. Don’t be surprised if you find me whispering “my precious” over them and viciously swatting away the hands of friends and family members who are... 

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The best things in life are meant to be shared.  Please remind me of that this upcoming football Sunday when I am HOARDING these Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos to myself.

Don’t be surprised if you find me whispering “my precious” over them and viciously swatting away the hands of friends and family members who are eager to try a bite.

Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos.  Could this be any more perfect for football season?  Shredded buffalo chicken, cheesy ranch queso, blue cheese crumbles, pickled jalapenos, and chopped green onions!  The ultimate appetizer! | hostthetoast.com

Seriously, I will tackle you linebacker-style if you try to grab a nacho in all of its buffalo chicken glory without asking nicely first.  Be warned.

So, it’s football season and I’m all amped up because my team is doing well for a change, and I’m going all-in with the appetizers this year.  And everyone knows that the number one way to do appetizers on game day is to load up on the buffalo sauce.

Note my other buffalo chicken recipes.

Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos.  Could this be any more perfect for football season?  Shredded buffalo chicken, cheesy ranch queso, blue cheese crumbles, pickled jalapenos, and chopped green onions!  The ultimate appetizer! | hostthetoast.comLoaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos.  Could this be any more perfect for football season?  Shredded buffalo chicken, cheesy ranch queso, blue cheese crumbles, pickled jalapenos, and chopped green onions!  The ultimate appetizer! | hostthetoast.com

What makes these Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos so special?

Well, first of all, there’s buffalo chicken, obviously.

Then, it’s smothered in a ranch queso and sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles (or not, if you’re not into that sort of thing).

Next, some chopped green onion and pickled jalapenos are thrown on top before a quick trip to the oven.

Lastly, you let the skillet cool just enough to dive in face-first without hurting yourself, because you might not be prim and proper when there’s nachos in the immediate vicinity but at least you’ve got enough self-restraint to avoid facial burns.  Hopefully.

But don’t let them wait too too long, because nobody likes soggy nachos (I’m tearing up at the thought of it) and you don’t want to sacrifice one drop of queso or buffalo sauce.

Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos.  Could this be any more perfect for football season?  Shredded buffalo chicken, cheesy ranch queso, blue cheese crumbles, pickled jalapenos, and chopped green onions!  The ultimate appetizer! | hostthetoast.com

I don’t think I need to elaborate any more.  You and I both know that you need these, STAT.  Let me hurry up and get you that recipe so you can put the ingredients on your shopping list for this Sunday.

Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos.  Could this be any more perfect for football season?  Shredded buffalo chicken, cheesy ranch queso, blue cheese crumbles, pickled jalapenos, and chopped green onions!  The ultimate appetizer! | hostthetoast.com

Loaded Buffalo Chicken Nachos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ½ bag tortilla chips
For the buffalo chicken:
  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded (you can use rotisserie chicken, prepare in the crock pot, or poach them until cooked through, which is what I did here)
  • Franks buffalo hot sauce, to taste (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ranch seasoning
For the ranch queso:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb white american cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Monterrey or pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered ranch seasoning
Additional toppings:
  • 10 slices pickled jalapenos, or to taste
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Buffalo sauce, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss together the shredded chicken, buffalo sauce, and powdered ranch seasoning in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure the chicken has a good coating of buffalo sauce, but you don't want it to swim in it. You will add a drizzle of buffalo sauce to your nachos in addition to the sauce on the chicken. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream to a simmer. A handful at a time, stir in the cheeses, making sure they've completely melted before adding the next handful. Keep stirring and add in the ranch seasoning.
  4. Put a thick layer of nachos on the bottom of a cast iron skillet, and top with ½ of your buffalo chicken, making sure to get some in the nooks and crannies so all of the chips have a little chicken. Drizzle some of the queso on top.
  5. Add a second thick layer of tortilla chips, top with the remaining buffalo chicken, and drizzle again with queso. You will have queso leftover. Serve this on the side with additional nachos if you'd like, or save it in a refrigerated container.
  6. Add jalapenos, green onions, and blue cheese to taste, and drizzle with a tiny bit more buffalo sauce if you'd like. Remember, you don't want to overdo it and wind up with soggy nachos.
  7. Place the nachos in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the blue cheese crumbles JUST begin to melt and the chicken is heated up. Serve warm.

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Mexican Stuffed Peppers (Chorizo-Stuffed Poblanos), R-R-R-Remix http://hostthetoast.com/mexican-stuffed-peppers-chorizo-stuffed-poblanos-r-r-r-remix/ http://hostthetoast.com/mexican-stuffed-peppers-chorizo-stuffed-poblanos-r-r-r-remix/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:16:28 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=3439 Do you want to know the absolute worst part of being a food blogger? I hope you said yes; I’m going to assume you said yes. The WORST part of food blogging is that you almost never have the time to make a recipe more than once or twice. Think about it– you spend all... 

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Do you want to know the absolute worst part of being a food blogger?

I hope you said yes; I’m going to assume you said yes.

The WORST part of food blogging is that you almost never have the time to make a recipe more than once or twice.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers.  Roasted poblanos stuffed with chorizo, rice, beans, corn, and cheese!  So good, I had to make them again. | hostthetoast.com

Think about it– you spend all this time coming up with something delicious, adjusting it until it sends your tastebuds on a utopic journey of awesomeness, until you’re so proud of it that you can’t wait to share it with the world (or at least the worldwide web), and then you pretty much never make it again because you’re the “kill two birds with one stone” type and can’t bring yourself to cook anything that takes more than 10 minutes unless it can also be featured on the blog.  Seriously, it’s a lot of cooking.

And you can’t feature something on the blog twice.  Or can you?

I bet you know where this is going.

I made Mexican Stuffed Peppers a little over a year ago, but they didn’t really take off because at the time my photography skillz (yes, skillz with a “z”) were… well… lacking.  As time has gone on, I’ve nailed down my photography style a bit more, and I’ve also grown as a cook.  So why not make them again with some tweaks to make them tastier and more appealing?

Mexican Stuffed Peppers.  Roasted poblanos stuffed with chorizo, rice, beans, corn, and cheese!  So good, I had to make them again. | hostthetoast.com

This time, I added in some black beans and corn for a little more flavor and difference in textures, and I peeled off the skins of the peppers because nobody wants to get those stuck in between their teeth.  Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

The first time I made Mexican Stuffed Peppers, I got a huge piece of pepper skin stuck right between my front teeth and didn’t notice it until I was almost ready for bed– after running errands and smiling at people in public, of course.  Very embarrassing, so no more pepper skins for us.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers.  Roasted poblanos stuffed with chorizo, rice, beans, corn, and cheese!  So good, I had to make them again. | hostthetoast.com

These peppers are smoky, a bit spicy, and, of course, cheesy.  (Because what’s a stuffed pepper worth if there’s no melted cheese involved?)  My family loves them, I love them, and it’s going to be hard to convince myself that I can’t get away with featuring them on the blog 3 times!

Give them a try and see for yourself why I just had to make them again.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers (Chorizo-Stuffed Poblanos), R-R-R-Remix
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 large poblano peppers
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 pound raw Mexican-style chorizo, removed from casings
  • 1 cup cooked rice (I used brown rice)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (6 oz) can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium roma tomato, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ¾-1 cup jack cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup cotija cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the peppers on top. Roast them under the broiler until the skin becomes blackened and bubbly, turning every few minutes to char evenly, about 8-10 minutes. After the peppers have roasted, carefully transfer them to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the peppers sit for 20 minutes to cool.
  2. While you wait for the peppers to cool, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo for about 5 minutes, gently breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the onions, black beans, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then, mix in the tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add rice, tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, cotija cheese, and ½ cup of the jack cheese to the bowl with the meat mixture and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Carefully peel the skins off of the roasted peppers, and then slice the peppers lengthwise on one side to create a slit. Gently remove the seeds, and then spoon the mixture into the cavities of the split poblanos and place them on a baking sheet, split side up. Pull the pepper up around the filling and press gently to help it keep its shape. If necessary, use a toothpick to hold the peppers together near the bottom. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Put peppers back under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted. Sprinkle with additional cilantro and serve.

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Cauliflower Fried “Rice” http://hostthetoast.com/cauliflower-fried-rice/ http://hostthetoast.com/cauliflower-fried-rice/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:18:38 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=3422 I remember watching Bride Wars with my old roommate, Jackie, as we sat on our broken, hand-me-down futon, with Chinese food containers nested in our laps and cheap wine on the side in plastic cups like true broke college students. In the movie, two best friends get engaged at the same time and then nearly ruin... 

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I remember watching Bride Wars with my old roommate, Jackie, as we sat on our broken, hand-me-down futon, with Chinese food containers nested in our laps and cheap wine on the side in plastic cups like true broke college students.

Cauliflower Fried "Rice".  Healthy, low-carb, and seriously tasty!  Tastes so much like the Chinese takeout but without the guilt!  Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

In the movie, two best friends get engaged at the same time and then nearly ruin their friendship (and their weddings, and their relationships) because of their “bridezilla”-esque behavior.  It’s generally supposed to be a funny movie, but when Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend proposed to her in the movie as they ate Chinese food and watched TV, Jackie turned to me with a dead serious look on her face.

“That’s how I want to be proposed to,” she said. “Not because I think it’s cute or comfortable.  Just because I really love fried rice that much.”  She shook her nearly-empty white container as a testament.

I don’t think she still feels the same way about the proposal, (don’t get any ideas, Mike!) but as far as fried rice goes?  We both still are fiends.  I mean, I know I could personally eat a whole container before an ounce of self-awareness kicks in.  Luckily, I recently found out about Cauliflower Fried “Rice”, which lets me satisfy those Chinese food cravings without all of the after-gorging guilt.  Seriously, it’s so much healthier that you actually feel good about yourself after eating it, but it tastes so much like the takeout version!

Cauliflower Fried "Rice".  Healthy, low-carb, and seriously tasty!  Tastes so much like the Chinese takeout but without the guilt!  Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

I found recipes all over the web for this stuff– which features chopped up cauliflower instead of rice– but every recipe I found seemed to be missing some key ingredient for quality fried rice.  I would know, as I consider myself an expert with years of taste-testing experience.

That sounds a lot better than “I stuff my face with so much fried rice that I’ve got the recipe down to a science.”

Cauliflower Fried "Rice".  Healthy, low-carb, and seriously tasty!  Tastes so much like the Chinese takeout but without the guilt!  Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

So I made my own version, which my mom and brother could not get enough of as they exclaimed, “I’ll never get takeout again if you make this all the time!” and “I don’t even usually like cauliflower.”  Score and score.

Try it out and feel free to use up any leftover meat or vegetables you have in the fridge by adding them in!  Chopped up chicken, pork, mushrooms, or tofu would be great add-ins!

Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cauliflower (about 1 head)
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • A few drops of soy sauce
  • ½ cup chopped baby carrots
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup light, low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • Salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Cut away the core of the cauliflower and dry off any excess water. Cut the cauliflower into florets, and then put half of the florets in the food processor pulse until the cauliflower is about rice or cous-cous sized. Do not overdo it, bigger pieces are better than too small. If you don't have a food processor, mince by hand. Put the processed cauliflower into a bowl and then repeat with the remaining florets.
  2. Once all of the cauliflower is chopped, heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chopped onion and stir fry until light brown, about 8 minutes. When they've browned, remove the onions from the wok and place in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the egg (1 or 2, depending on how eggy you like your fried rice) and a few drops of sesame oil and soy sauce. Add a ½ tablespoon of oil to the wok and then quickly scramble the egg mixture in it. Remove the egg and add to the bowl with the onion.
  4. Add the last ½ tablespoon of oil to the wok and add in the cauliflower, peas, carrots, green onions, and bean sprouts. Stir fry for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low, mix in the soy sauce, and cover for about 3 more minutes, or until cauliflower is cooked through. Add back in the egg and onion and cook together for one more minute. Season with salt, to taste.
  5. Garnish with additional chopped green onion.

 

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Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili http://hostthetoast.com/crock-pot-white-bean-chicken-chili/ http://hostthetoast.com/crock-pot-white-bean-chicken-chili/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:35:07 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=3411 We’re half-way through September and we’ve got out feet firmly planted in soup season, which makes me a happy gal.  Is there anything better than slurping up a big bowl of broth-bathed meat, noodles, and veggies? That was a rhetorical question– the answer is yes.  Yes, there is, by a margin.  Her name is Chili. The... 

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We’re half-way through September and we’ve got out feet firmly planted in soup season, which makes me a happy gal.  Is there anything better than slurping up a big bowl of broth-bathed meat, noodles, and veggies?

That was a rhetorical question– the answer is yes.  Yes, there is, by a margin.  Her name is Chili.

Crock Pot White Bean Chili.  This creamy white chili is absolutely delicious and easy to make in the slow cooker.  Also, it doesn't use any canned soups! | hostthetoast.com

The one thing that can make me swoon more than homemade chicken noodle soup is a big batch of chili, preferably with beans (even though I know that’s essentially sacrilege to Texans.  Sorry, I guess.)  If you’re right there with me, giving the “two thumbs up” and drooling over the thought of tender, creamy beans soaking up the spices, then you’ll probably like what I’m about to throw at ya.

Ready for it?  Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili.  BAM.

This chili is made in a crock pot, loaded up with white beans, chicken, and green chiles, and finished off with a creamy sauce and a bit of sour cream mixed in.

And I could probably eat about 50 bowls of it without getting sick of it.

Crock Pot White Bean Chili.  This creamy white chili is absolutely delicious and easy to make in the slow cooker.  Also, it doesn't use any canned soups! | hostthetoast.com

Now, it’s most certainly not your typical chili– the flavor of the Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili is way different, but I like different.  You can never have too many chili recipes to switch things up throughout the chilly season.  This is kind of like a hybrid between chili, bean soup, and cream of chicken soup.  AKA it’s amazing.  Top it with avocado and a bit of cheese and it’s just absolutely lush.

(I learned “absolutely lush” from a Briton, Charlotte, who came to visit the states with my friend Veronica this summer.  I’ve been wanting to say it for months now, and this felt like the opportune time.  AB-solutely LUUUUSH chili.)

Crock Pot White Bean Chili.  This creamy white chili is absolutely delicious and easy to make in the slow cooker.  Also, it doesn't use any canned soups! | hostthetoast.com

Anyway, pop this in your slow cooker on the next cool September day and enjoy it with some tortilla chips or fritos and a big smile on your face.

Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp ground oregano
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 (4.5) oz cans diced green chiles
  • 15 oz can white corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15.5 oz cans white beans (I used Cannellini and Small White beans)
  • 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Lime, for serving
  • Avocado, for serving
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • White cheese, for serving
Directions
  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place them at the bottom of the crock pot. Add in the chili powder, cumin, onion, garlic, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper, green chiles, white corn, white beans, and chicken broth. Stir to combine, cover, and heat on "low' for 6-8 hours, or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  2. An hour before serving, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly, until the flour and butter brown lightly and thicken. Then, slowly whisk in the milk. Add in the chicken bouillon, and continue to whisk as the sauce cooks and thickens and the bouillon cube breaks down, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from heat and mix in the white pepper and salt. Pour into the chicken chili.
  4. Add the sour cream to the chicken chili and stir well to combine. If the chicken hasn't shredded as you stirred, remove the chicken from the chili and shred with forks before returning to the chili. Cook for an additional hour.
  5. Serve with lime, avocado, cilantro, and shredded white cheese.

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