Best Damn Chili, Ever. Seriously, So Good You’ll Make More!

As anyone who knows me will tell you I hate Fall. The reasons are obvious: leaves fall off trees, the world turns brown, I have to start wearing socks and sweatshirts, and the world is inundated with all things brown, gold, orange and PUMPKIN. Yes, cinnamon is awesome but come on people, do we have to put it in EVERYTHING? I’m a black coffee drinker, the thought of bastardizing my coffee with sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin is ludicrous. This year has been especially bad for me and I’m uncertain why that is the case. I get mad every time I see a pumpkin, jack-o-lantern or anything slightly “fall-like”. I may need professional assistance.

Anywho … there are a few good things about this time of year. One, my daisies bloom and since they are the happiest of flowers I get a few moments of pure joy just seeing them. Two: Honeycrisp apples are in season and they are like candy so I eat as many as freaking possible. And three: Soup is on the menu regularly. My husband is not a huge fan of soup unless it’s mostly meat. I prefer mine with little or no meat but I cater to his palate because, well, I love him and want to make him happy. Geezsh, what’s the world coming to?

FallDaisyRMJW

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HoneyCrisp Apples

Chili

Random photo of chili. I did not make this bowl. Mine was prettier and tastier … I just didn’t take a picture of it because it tasted too good to stop and take a pic.

So soup. I make a few and usually I’m not a huge fan of chili. It’s usually too meaty or beanie or chili-y. A few bites do and then I’m done. But last weekend I made some so good we couldn’t stop eating it and I’ve decided to make another batch this weekend and post the recipe here to share the love. I blame it on the beer and chocolate. RIGHT?

If you make this chili the way I have, you will be amazed. I could win a contest with this stuff I’m sure! So, here goes: write this down, print this out and do it. You won’t be sorry.

Chili a’laRachel – aka Chocolate Bourbon Chili

Ingredients:

1 lb. – lean ground beef
1 lb. – ground pork
1 – medium onion, chopped
3 – small to medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2-4  cups – beef broth
1 cup – dark beer I used this stuff and WOW it’s good!

So good!

So good!

2 – fresh chili peppers (I used jalapeño peppers grown on my patio), minced
2 cans – diced tomatoes
2 cans – kidney beans
1 tsp – ground cumin
1 tsp – grown coriander
2 tbs – cocoa powder
2 tbs – paprika
2 tbs – chili powder (I used 2-Alarm)
1 tbs – masa powder (from 2-Alarm box)*
1 tsp – ancho chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

How to do this:

Get out your big dutch oven or soup cooking pan. Brown the pork then drain off the fat. Brown onions, peppers and ground beef in a bit of the remaining pork fat, throwing in the garlic at the end of browning process so it doesn’t get bitter. Add the dry spices and let it all kind of cook together so the aromas start to come out. Clear a space in the dutch oven and pour in the beer, letting it bubble off the alcohol a bit, then add the tomatoes, beans, and beef broth (as much as you like depending upon how soupy you want it). Let this stuff cook for NO LESS than an hour.

Now my peppers were pretty spicy. Depending upon your tastes, adjust accordingly. I like to sweat a little bit when I eat chili. Garnish with your favorites. I like cilantro and lime chili tortilla chips with a HUGE helping of pepper/jack cheese and sour cream. Do what you like and please let me know if you make this chili and what you think of it.

Note: I like the 2-Alarm Chili mix because it has no artificial ingredients or chemicals to keep it from clumping together. Real food is good food!

Hmmm … musings of a newly wed. Oh, and Eggplant Experiments.

I was single until the age 43. Most of my adult life I lived alone or with female roommates. It has been 20 plus years since I lived with a man and even though I dated a lot, as anyone will tell you, it’s not the same as living with a man 24/7. D and I have lived together for nearly two years now and I still find myself amazed by the differences between us and more specifically I’m mesmerized by the male anatomy. Now I have to be delicate in my discussing “male anatomy” because even though D doesn’t read my blog he would not be thrilled to know that I am discussing his body in a public forum. That being said, I love my husband and everything that entails. It’s just that I marvel at his body and the fact that I live with a man. Sometimes when I see him in all his nakedness I am transfixed. I find myself staring which he thinks is funny and weird. I just love having a beautiful man at my disposal, all the time. Simply put, it’s fun and I find myself giggling just thinking about it. We live in our bodies without really giving them much thought. I am a woman and it’s just who I am. The fact that I live with a man now is amazing to me.

Aw ... love!

Aw … love!

Okay, okay … enough already, I’m supposed to be writing about food and teaching people how to cook not bragging about my handsome hubby.

I don’t watch a lot of Food Network but one show I do enjoy is “Chopped”. I love to see what the chefs will do with the crazy ingredients they are given. It inspires me to try new things, to stretch my palate and to take chances. Yesterday I got my cook on. It’s been a long time since I felt inspired enough to actually experiment in the kitchen. I suppose I’m not much of a planner which would explain why this blog is so sporadic. In my defense, having only half a kitchen does make it challenging to come up with inspired food and then take pictures of it.

Anyway … last night I made Spicy Pork Loin with Mushroomy Rice Pilaf and broiled Sun-dried Tomato and Balsamic Eggplant and I took a fuzzy picture of it, Yay!

Spicy Pork, Mushroomy Rice Pilaf, Sun-Dried Tomato & Balsamic Eggplant

Spicy Pork, Mushroomy Rice Pilaf, Sun-Dried Tomato & Balsamic Eggplant

As you may recall, I love to prepare meats with rubs. I find they infuse flavor much better than a marinade in much less time. I have also learned to let meat rest before serving. Two simple things that will make your cooking life so much easier and rewarding. With this in mind I figured why wouldn’t it work with Eggplant? I don’t have a lot of experience cooking Aubergine. ( Which is also my favorite color)

My favorite color!

My favorite color!

So I dusted the slices with a mixture of onion flakes, powdered sun-dried tomato, garlic powder, salt, red & black pepper and just a tiny pinch of sugar; then I threw them under the broiler for 10 minutes. After they were finished I drizzled balsamic vinegar and a pinch of parmesan cheese. Yummy! D didn’t even hate it.

Rice Pilaf is my go to starch. It’s easy with Jasmine rice, onions and baby portabellas. I used the same spices as the eggplant to tie the two dishes together. For the pork loin I used a combination of chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and onion flakes with dried cheddar powder. I pan seared them on each side for about four minutes then finished them in the warm oven for another five minutes.

Dinner was a success! D ate two servings and I vowed to actually blog about it. Woo hoo!

Monday Meatloaf – the Recipe.

I’ve had a few requests for the recipe so here goes. Sadly, I just winged it when putting this together so … I hope I remember what I did.

1 lb ground beef (I used 80/20)

1 lb ground veal

1/2 medium onion, minced

1 large clove of garlic, minced.

1 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp (Aldi country herbs)

2 eggs

1 cup quick oats

Mix all of the ingredients together as gently as possible (over mixing will make it tough). Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let set for 10 or 15 minutes before cutting. About 40 minutes before it’s done drain off the grease if you’re not using a pan that does it for you.

When the husband is away …

… I eat soup. He doesn’t understand soup. To him it’s just broth with too many vegetables and not enough meat. For me, soup is warmth, comfort and a healthy way to eat. Oh sure, there are unhealthy soups but I tend to make broth-based soups not creamy ones. Yesterday it was raining and cold so I broke out the stock left over from the baked chicken from last week. It took all day to make, which wasn’t exactly necessary but I wasn’t in a hurry and it seemed the prudent way to do it. The end result was a spicy Chicken Chili. Mmmm.

Spicy Chicken Chili

I’m excited about this particular batch of soup because I grew the tomatoes that went into it and I finally figured out how to use dried beans instead of canned. In fact, all of the ingredients were fresh in this and it is so very good!  The other tasty treat I made yesterday was a cheese crisp. I have been searching for a cracker recipe and finally found a cheesy recipe that sounded good. I used whole wheat flour and two different cheeses for a salty and crunchy cracker. Yum!

Here’s how I did the soup. First the ingredients:

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper (roasted and diced)
2 carrots, chopped
14 oz diced tomatoes
2 medium jalapeño peppers, minced
2 large stalks of celery, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup dried white beans
1 bone in chicken breast
4-5 bone in chicken drumsticks (legs)
2 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tsp chipotle chili pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

First things first: get your beans soaking. (see instructions above or read package instructions) OR use canned, there’s no rule here. Except remember the best rule of cooking: FRESH IS BEST!

1. In a large dutch oven (or soup pot) heat olive oil on medium.
2. Add chopped onions, carrots, celery, jalapeño peppers and cook until translucent.(apps. 10 min)
3. Add minced garlic and roasted bell pepper, cook until fragrant (appx. 30 seconds)
4. Add tomatoes, spices (cumin, chili, taco seasoning, paprika) and chicken stock stirring until spices are well mixed.
5. Add chicken pieces, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
6. By now your beans should be par-cooked so throw them into the soup and cover. Let cook at a rolling simmer for another hour. Taste to see if you need salt and the “doneness” of the beans.
7. Once the beans are done, shred your chicken and add back to the soup and let simmer on low for another 30 minutes to hour.
8. Taste. Season accordingly.

Serve with Avocado, fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Being spoiled is nice …

. . . and I am very good at spoiling, especially when it comes to food. I have been feeding my husband all his favorites this weekend, not because I want anything but because I have a strong need to be pleasing.

This morning we had biscuits and gravy. Turkey-sausage gravy that is, made with skim milk. It was tasty. I have to say, I make some mean biscuits. Buttermilk biscuits. Yum.

Perfect every time!

Here are the keys to making perfect biscuits every time. You’ll need:

2 cups of unbleached white flour.
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp extremely cold butter
2 tbsp cold Crisco
1 cup buttermilk

Have your oven very hot. 425 is ideal.

First: mix all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Second: Grate your butter into the flour using a large cheese grater and add in the Crisco in little bits. Mix GENTLY with your fingertips until it’s coarsely blended. Grab a rubber spatula and mix in the buttermilk. The dough will be slightly sticky but one cohesive ball.

Third: Flour the countertop and place the dough in the flour and gently knead into a flat disc. Press the dough flat and fold repeat this process no less than four times. Using an empty can (I used a tuna can) cut your biscuits out and bake in a greased (dark metal) baking pan.

Fourth: Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Check them at 15 for brownness.

Fifth: Eat with gravy
or peanut butter and honey
or honey-butter
or lemon curd
or homemade preserves.
or just a shmeer of butter
or what ever trips your trigger.

The real challenge is not eating them all and this is NOT a low calorie biscuit.

I didn’t tell him until after he had a few bites down.

My D is not a fan of veggies. Oh, he’ll eat any veggie I put in front of him . . . if it’s fried.  He will eat broccoli, salad and the occasional green bean without the batter or cheese but that’s about the limit to his culinary range. Needless to say, I cannot be frying veggies every day and quite frankly, to me, that’s kind of a sacrilegious thing to do to a perfect summer vegetable. I, on the other hand, can eat almost all veggies, except for turnips and beets, eww. So last night I thought I’d test his mettle completely with black bean and mushroom burgers.  I researched several different recipes on the internet and most of them were some variation of the same thing. Curiously, my favorite cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated, was completely devoid of any meatless burger, which was highly disappointing. Anyway, I’ve made veggie burgers before with broccoli, carrots, zucchini and they are delicious but very time consuming.  However, I had never attempted a bean version. What I came up with didn’t take long at all. In part, because of my food processor, well actually . . . now that I really think about it, because of my food processor but not everyone has one so if you want to you can do it all by hand. I’m certain this recipe could be tweaked in a million ways depending what tastes you want at the time. I made mine with an Italian bent but they would be wonderful with curry or Spanish flavors. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to go make some curried burgers with goat cheese and mango chutney. I suppose I should use lentils in that case, huh? **Note to self: Add lentils to your grocery list.

So, here’s what I used:

1 small onion
1/2 medium orange bell pepper (any color will do)
1 large garlic clove
1 carton mushrooms (crimini or white)
1 can black beans
1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard (I love Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp chopped parslay
a pinch of salt
black pepper to your taste

The first thing you’ll want to do is rough chop your onions and pepper then throw them in the FP (food processor) with the garlic clove and finely mince. Pour that mixture into a large mixing bowl. Next, put the mushrooms and black beans (rinsed) into the FP and chop until finely minced, then combine with the onion mixture. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined (you may need to use your hands).

Make into patties (about six) and before pan frying them lightly dredge them in flour and Italian breadcrumbs. Cook until browned then place in the oven for 10 minutes with goat cheese on top to melt.

Yum.

I served these with couscous and kale sauteed with bacon, onions and a farm fresh egg (just like Granny used to make). It was so good I may make this every night.

Black Bean and Mushroom Burger with warm goat cheese served on Couscous with Kale sauteed in Bacon and Onions and Egg.

When in doubt … just ask mom!

I’ve been trying to make cole slaw. I’ve gone to my favorite places and the results were, well, less than wonderful. Yesterday I just called mom and finally got what I was looking for. Cole slaw so good I could seriously eat all of it in one setting. In the past I have made my own version of Asian slaw, which is fabulous, but I wanted to branch out and try something different. I’m not sure what the heck I was thinking. I love moms. It’s just the right blend of creamy and tangy without being too mayonnaise-y. I didn’t write down what I did so this is from memory. Just futz with it till it tastes the way you want it to.

Blend together until you get a nice consistency, like say, melted ice cream.
3 tbsp mayo
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

TASTE and modify as you like or need

1/2 of a small cabbage, finely chopped (I use my fancy new food processor!) but you can do it all by hand VERY easily, I promise!
1/4 of a small red cabbage, finely chopped
3 good sized carrots

Put it all in a bowl and stir till it’s all evenly coated. Try not to eat it all in one setting. Good luck.