Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rainy Day Chili

Next time I will put the bowl on a different-colored surface. See, I'm learnin' me some pho-to-graffy, slowly but surely.

I've tried several versions of homemade chili, but didn't find a winner until today. My last version was delicious but extremely spicy, even with cheese and sour cream added in to tone it down. As the hubs said, "It's good in a burn-your-face-off kind of way." And usually he adores face-burning food, but after a few bites it just really got to be too much.

This one, however, has a very slight burn to it while still managing to be really flavorful. Plus, you can just chuck it all in the crock pot early in the day and have a wonderful meal waiting for you come dinnertime. You can eat it with chips, crackers, cornbread, or over baked potatoes (which is what we did, since my mom sent me home from our 4th of July celebration with about fifty of them). Happy tummies!

Rainy Day Chili

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed*
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb lean ground beef, cooked and crumbled**
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. water
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1 1/2 t. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
several dashes Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours. Serve with jack or cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. Enjoy with your favorite starchy accompaniment. :)

*Really you can use any kinds of beans you want; I just prefer to have three different kinds. But you must drain and rinse. Bean juice is gross, man. And one of my least favorite smells ever!

**You can use more meat if you feel so inclined, but I freeze and use all of my ground beef in half-pound increments, because I'm cheap. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pizza Pasta Salad

Let me just say from the beginning...I am not usually a huge fan of pasta salad. But when my niece was baptized last summer, one of the guests brought this little gem along and I was hooked! I love the pepperoni, the cheese cubes, all of it really, but I think what makes the difference is the dressing. It's Bernstein's Cheese and Garlic Italian, the empty, forsaken bottle of which is pictured below.

Somebody buy me more Bernstein's so I can make this again next week! :)

Incidentally, I went to a baby shower last week and found a different pasta salad that I liked, so I asked the hostess for the recipe and guess what the dressing was? Yup. Bernstein's! I guess it's possible that I am a huge fan of pasta salad, as long as it's made with my beloved Cheese and Garlic Italian!

Pizza Pasta Salad

tri-color pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
cheddar cheese cubes
white cheese cubes (such as mozzarella, jack, etc)
pepperoni, cut into bite-size pieces
grape tomatoes, halved
black olives, sliced
Bernstein's Cheese and Garlic Italian dressing
McCormick's Salad Supreme (found in the spice aisle)

Toss first six ingredients together, using whatever proportions you like. Then add the dressing and Salad Supreme to taste and toss again. Just make sure that you put in enough dressing so that the pasta is well-coated. Dry pasta salad = more sad face. You could also add any other chopped veggies that strike your fancy, but I prefer to keep this salad in it's purer form. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

This was so good. So, so good. I found this recipe over on Good Life Eats and knew I had to try it. Key Lime Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts, and I'd been wanting to try making homemade ice cream for a while. I followed her recommendation to use David Lebovitz's method for making ice cream without a machine, and it worked great! It produced creamy, dreamy ice cream with not a whole lot of effort. Just look at that glossy gloriousness!

The only change I made was to add some crushed graham crackers to the actual ice cream when it was nearly set, instead of just putting them on top at the end. I thought this made for some nice texture and sweetness, which it needed. I guess I also added sweetened whipped cream, because that was my one complaint with this recipe: it had a bitter aftertaste. I'm not sure if this is because I got too much of the rind flavor in with the juice (I microwaved my key limes to get more juice out of them, and I think this might have done that) or if it was because some of my limes weren't the proper ripeness or whatever. Next time, I think I will use bottled key lime juice as the recipe suggests, both for saving time and effort and to hopefully cut back on the bitterness.

Even with that complaint, this ice cream was truly heavenly and I plan on replicating it again soon! Here's Katie's (of Good Life Eats) ingredients incorporated with David's steps, which is how I made it.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

1 1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. bottled Key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe's)
1/2 c. heavy cream
dash of salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 graham crackers (1 1/2 cookie sheets), coarsely crushed, divided

Prepare your ice cream mixture, then chill it over an ice bath (I skipped the chilling, since this was not a custard-based recipe). Put a deep baking dish, or bowl made of plastic, stainless steel or something durable in the freezer, and pour your mixture into it.

After forty-five minutes, open the door and check it. As it starts to freeze near the edges, remove it from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a spatula or whisk. Really beat it up and break up any frozen sections. Return to freezer.

Continue to check the mixture every 30 minutes, stirring vigorously as it’s freezing. If you have one, you can use a hand-held mixer for best results (I did this), or use a stick-blender. Keep checking periodically and stirring while it freezes (by hand or with the electric mixer) until the ice cream is frozen. It will likely take 2-3 hours to be ready. (I added the crushed graham crackers when the mixture was starting to solidify but wasn't quite there yet---probably when there was about an hour left to go).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

CPK's BBQ Chicken Salad

CPK = California Pizza Kitchen. California Pizza Kitchen = Heaven.

As I was scarfing down this incredible salad, my husband said something like "Weren't you going to put this one on your food blog?" And then I said something like "Crap! Do you think anyone will notice that it's partially eaten?" By then he was too busy chewing, so I just figured it's like when you're selling a house. If it looks "lived in" it's more cozy, right? Here's my cozy salad. :)

I love getting this dish from the restaurant, but it's actually not my most favorite of the salads they serve. That would be the Thai Crunch salad, which I have also replicated at home. It was yummy, but too work intensive and full of obscure ingredients that I wouldn't buy for anything else. I probably ended up spending more to make it at home than I would to get it at the restaurant. The BBQ salad, however, is easy peasy, and the only ingredient I don't buy often is the jicama. We will definitely have this salad again.

CPK's BBQ Chicken Salad

For the chicken:
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
2 t soy sauce
2 t salt (kosher is best, but table salt is fine too)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. barbecue sauce

Stir together the first four ingredients. Turn the chicken in this marinade and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Grill or broil the chicken until cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Chill thoroughly, then shred. Toss with the barbecue sauce until coated.

For the salad:
lettuce (iceberg/romaine mix is good)
jicama, peeled and chopped
Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
canned corn, drained
canned black beans, rinsed and drained
tomatoes, diced
Ranch dressing
fried corn tortilla strips (or crushed corn chips)
*the recipe I used also called for basil and cilantro, but I left them out because I was too lazy to go buy fresh herbs. I'm sure the salad would be superb with them, but it was still wonderful without!

Toss lettuce, jicama, cheese, corn, beans, and dressing together. Transfer the salad to chilled serving plates, and top individual servings with tomatoes, tortilla strips, and chicken.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Never-Fail Chocolate Cake

I know, I know, two chocolate dessert posts in a row. Yes, this does reflect my current eating habits. Moving = stress = sweets. It's a formula that's always worked out for me. :)

Hey look, I moved to a house that has decent lighting in the kitchen! And I finally figured out how to use the macro setting on my camera! Now if I could just figure out how to get my food to actually look as good as it tastes!

This picture was actually my husband's birthday cake, so I put in the layer of raspberry cream that you can see oozing out there. The recipe I'm giving you today, however, is just for the cake---no frosting, no filling, no nothing. Because believe you me, this cake is pretty darn fabulous all on its own. Embellishments are nice, but, as the name states, this cake never fails. As in, it never fails to entice me to eat it all by myself. Ahem.

Never-Fail Chocolate Cake

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. oil
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. boiling hot water

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients except the water. Pour the wet into the dry and mix thoroughly. Add the water and stir until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Grease and flour two loaf pans. Pour in the batter and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 2 loaves. If you want to use a 9" round like I did above, halve the recipe.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

All month, Deals to Meals has been singing the praises of beans. The recipes that have really caught my eye are the ones you wouldn't normally expect to see beans in: cupcakes, pancakes, and brownies. I decided it wouldn't hurt to give it a try, even if it seemed kind of strange. Subbing in pureed black beans for part of the butter to save a little bit of fat and calories and add a few vitamins? Sounds good to me!

Here's the link to the original recipe, and here is my edited version.

Black Bean Brownies

2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 cube butter, softened
1/2 c. pureed black beans (blend beans and some added water in food processor until smooth)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 T. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. + 2 T flour

Cream together the sugar, eggs, butter and black beans until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla and flour and beat until smooth again. Spread batter into a greased 9x13 evenly and then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Let brownies cool and then frost.


1/2 cube butter, softened
1 1/2 to 2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 2 T. milk
2 t. cocoa powder
1/2 t. vanilla
dash of salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add enough milk to make it a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add the cocoa, vanilla, and salt and mix well.

They smelled absolutely delicious cooking, and I couldn't wait until they cooled completely to spread on the frosting and enjoy a piece. Hence the melty gooeyness up there making you drool. :)

The verdict: really good! You really can't even tell there are beans in there, and the brownies were truly yummy. They were a little more cake-like than the fudgy-brownie-lover in me would have preferred, but still great. If you want to make them, I hope you have a very sweet tooth, though. When you eat the brownies, you can really tell that this recipe has more sugar than flour in it. Holy sweetness, Batman! But if you can take it, you may just have found your perfect match.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Simple Egg Drop Soup

While we were in my hometown for Christmas, we visited a favorite Chinese restaurant. Since salad was not an appetizer option, my husband reluctantly ordered soup. And what do you know? "Hey Mikey, he likes it!" I believe his words were "Wow, this is surprisingly good. Do you think you could make this at home?"

Now when I get a soup request from the usual-soup-hater hubs, I take it and run with it! Here is a very basic recipe for this Oriental favorite. Feel free to add other veggies and/or top with crispy chow mein noodles, but even pared down as much as this is, it's still delicious!

Egg Drop Soup

2 c. chicken broth (or water and bouillon cubes, my old standby)
1/2 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. sesame oil
2 t. cornstarch
4 t. cold water
2 eggs
2 t. green onion, chopped

Bring broth, soy sauce, and sesame oil to a rapid boil. Mix cornstarch and water in separate bowl, then quickly stir into the soup. Beat the eggs in a separate dish, and then slowly add them as well. I found the easiest method to do this was to pour just a little bit, then stop, pour just a little bit, and stop. Repeat until you've poured in all the egg. Toss in the green onions and serve.