Friday, February 5, 2010

Er... Food-related. Sort Of. Plus Bonus Snowy Digression!

Hoo boy.

I got nothin', Girls.

My roasting pan is empty. The pilot light on my stove is out. The microwave is unplugged.

Recipes. Recipes... I know I've heard that word before... isn't that the term used for the series of numbers one punches into a telephone to make food appear at one's front door?


I made "sloppy joes" once. They turned out pretty good, I seem to recall. I could really kind of go for one right about now, actually...

I know there was ground beef and a can of chicken gumbo soup involved in the process. Also dry mustard. And Lipton's onion soup mix. There might have been a dash of ketchup and some Worcestershire Sauce. Or maybe HP. I'm hazy on that detail. Maybe garlic powder.

And buns.

And I think I probably had to call my mom on the other side of the country to avert some sort of disaster mid-way through.

It's sad really. I missed last week's topic becaue I killed my laptop in the middle of Book 3 revisions - why yes, I was freaking out, thanks for asking! - and that was actually something I could have impressed y'all with.

Winter activities.

I skate. I ski. I pack a mean snowball. In university I took a weekend workshop and somehow wound up competing in the Senior Women's open catagory in Naturbahn Luge - yes, that's right, LUGE! - in the Alberta Wintersport Championship and, after only a couple of weeks of training, came in 7/10ths of a second away from a bronze medal.

Yup. I'm a demon on the slopes.

But I can't boil an egg without setting off the smoke detector.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Dad's Foolproof Chili

Recipes and I are not good friends. In fact, you may remember my post a while back about my continual mishaps with trying to make a pineapple upside down cake for my husband’s birthday. (This past year, by the way, I ordered a fabulous one from a bakery!)

I do like to cook, but I’m a big fan of raw foods (fruit and vegetable salads) and things that require very little ingredients to be good (roasting chicken, baked salmon). I have problems following recipes with a lot of ingredients and actually measuring it all out, and quite often I’ll make up my own recipes. I recently invented an eggplant parmagiana casserole that caused my husband to look for the takeout pizza menu as I was preparing it, but then, it turned out delicious, (and thus, he apologized and skeptically praised my culinary skills!)

So, like I said, there are very few recipes that I actually follow, but I do have my dad’s recipe for chili printed out and in the drawer in my kitchen, and whenever it’s chilly out, this is my favorite dish to make. (I’ve modified it, of course, and I approximate on the spices!). But here you go:

--2 lbs ground chicken or turkey (You could also use ground beef as the original recipes calls for, but I don’t eat ground beef, so I usually make it with the chicken.)
--1 large yellow onion, sliced or chopped
--3 cloves garlic, chopped (I usually cheat and substitute a few sprinkles of garlic powder.)
--2 15.5 oz cans kidney beans, drained
--1 28.5 oz can of whole tomatoes
--1 6 oz can tomato paste
--1/4 t Tabasco sauce (I’ve been leaving this out lately so my kids don’t complain it’s too spicy.)
--2 T Worcesteshire sauce
--2 t chili powder (I’ve been halving this lately to cut down on the spiciness)
--3 t cumin (I sometimes halve this as well.)
--2 T pickapepper sauce (This ingredient is extremely hard to find, but it makes the whole dish!)
--1 bottle dark beer or ale (I’ve been leaving this out since my kids have started eating it. I think the alcohol burns off, but still, the last thing I need is my toddler getting a beer buzz from the chili! Without the beer I sometimes add about a half cup of water so it doesn’t get too thick.)
--1/4 t black pepper
--1/2 t red pepper flakes
--1 bag corn chips
--1 16 oz bag grated chedder
--1 8 oz container of sour cream

Brown chicken (or meat) in a large pot with a small amount of oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, approx. 10 mins. Meanwhile remove tomatoes from can and cut into small pieces, reserve liquid. Add all other ingredients; the last two should be to add the juice from the tomatoes and then blend in tomato paste. Cover and bring to slow boil and cook for at least 30 mins. Serve with chips, sour cream, and sharp cheese.

This chili recipe has been in our family for as long as I can remember, and I have to say, the best part about it is that even if you mess around with the ingredients, it always comes out tasting good – and those are really the only kinds of recipes I can live with!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'd Rather Eat Fun Food

I love to cook fun food. I think that's been one of my biggest cooking issues over the years. I'd rather cook a fun appetizer or a dessert than a main course. Probably because I prefer that kind of food. So here's a couple of my favorite "fun foods"! Hope you enjoy . . .

The first recipe is for a very delicious CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE! My children beg for these all year long.

In a Large Bowl or Mixer

1 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Cream all the above ingredients together and sit aside.

Mix in separate bowl
2 cups flour
2 eggs room temp
2 1/2 cups oats (powdered in the blender)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 T vanilla

Mix the 2 bowls of ingredients together. I use my hands.

Stir in 4 oz melted Hershey bar
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
12 oz. chocolate chips

Roll batter into small balls the size of golf balls.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 10 - 13 minutes depending on degree of crispiness you desire and your oven.

And finally, I love GUACAMOLE. Here's a delicious recipe

6 small avocados (don't get the big ones. They have no taste)
1 small red onion chopped fine
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
juice of half lime
juice of 1/4 orange
2-3 garlic cloves minced, depending on taste
1/2 small jalapeno pepper finely chopped (more or less depending on taste)
Salt (I use sea salt) to taste

Mash avocados together. I like to keep them a little chunky.
Add all other ingredients together. Add your favorite tortilla chip and VOILA!!

I'd keep tasting as you add the ingredients, just to make sure you like the taste.

Oh and one more tip. Keep the avocado seed in the bowl. It will keep it from turning brown.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week! See ya next Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comfort Foods for the Long Winter

I thought long and hard about which recipe to post this week. Since we're in the middle of winter, I've been making lots of warm comfort food lately. Last night, we had fake Chipotle burrito bowls that I made with lime-cilantro rice. (Sounds really fancy, but really it's just rice with fresh-squeezed lime juice and some chopped cilantro thrown in.) We usually throw some black beans, jarred green salsa, sour cream, cheese and homemade guacamole into it.

Tonight, I'm making a beef stew. I found some great grass-fed, organic beef stew meat, so I'm going to let of pot of beef, carrots, onions and celery simmer all day on the stove. Yum!

But, I must admit, my favorite winter recipes involve sugar, flour, and chocolate in cupcake form. I just love firing up that Kitchenaid countertop mixer and making my own frosting. There's nothing like enjoying a truly homemade, warm, freshly-frosted cupcake while the snow rages outside.

One of my favorite cupcake recipes comes from The Pioneer Woman. If you guys haven't checked out her blog, definitely give it a look. Her recipes are strictly of the comfort-food variety, although reader be warned--she uses just as much butter as Paula Deen.

Here is the recipe for The Pioneer Woman's Yellow Cupcakes with Sticky Chocolate Icing:
(Recipe can be found on her blog here.)

2 cups Cake Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¾ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 cup Sugar
3 whole Eggs Room Temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla
¾ cups (plus A Tad More) Whole Milk
¾ cups Sweetened, Condensed Milk
6 ounces, weight Semi-sweet Chocolate
2 Tablespoons Butter

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for a few more seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix to combine.
Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk in three batches, mixing for a few seconds after each addition. Scrape sides of bowl, then mix one final time.
Fill paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until poufy but not brown. Cool before icing.

Sticky Chocolate Icing: Mix ingredients together in a small/medium saucepan. Melt ingredients over medium low heat, stirring gently. Icing is ready when all ingredients are melted and combined.
Spoon warm icing over warm cupcakes, stirring icing to smooth after every third cupcake or so. Allow iced cupcakes to sit at least ten minutes before serving.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Like Mother Like Daughter

Nowadays, most of the time I'm rushing to get dinner on the table, which means that a great majority of the meals I serve are of the easy-to-prepare variety. I make use of the slow cooker a lot in the fall and winter, and the grill in the spring and summer. And while a lot of these quick dishes are also tasty, very few of them fall within the category of my favorite recipes.

Most of what I consider my (and my family's) favorites are actually recipes that I grew up with. Dishes my mother made, to be exact. And while none of them are overly difficult, they're also slightly more time consuming than my average get-on-the-table-fast dinners. In fact, a lot of my favorite recipes that originated from my childhood are the same dishes my children choose for their birthday dinners. Isn't that cool?

I thought a lot about which recipe to share with you all, and after talking with my kids, the recipe that everyone loves the most is my mother's version of enchiladas. While this recipe is definitely an Americanized version of enchiladas, they're also the recipe most asked for by my family and friends.

I should point out that I don't really know the precise amount of some of the ingredients, as (with a lot of my mother's recipes) it's a lot of "what looks right," and "what tastes right," but I don't think anyone will have any problems recreating these enchiladas in their here we go: Krystene's Enchilada Recipe:

1 to 1.5 pounds of ground beef (depending how meaty you like your enchiladas)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or more if you really like garlic)
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (this is the what looks/tastes right portion of the recipe)
2 small cans of enchilada sauce (mild, medium, or hot--your choice. We use mild or medium)
1 package of flour tortillas (10 to 12), around six inches in diameter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic on medium heat until the meat is fully cooked. Drain off the fat. In the same skillet, mix in approximately 1 cup of the cheddar cheese (more or less as you prefer) and stir until the cheese is melted and evenly distributed throughout the meat/onion/garlic mixture.

In a 9x15-inch baking dish, spread one can of enchilada sauce along the bottom. Spoon the enchilada filling into the tortillas, roll, and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. Coat with the second can of enchilada sauce, and then sprinkle additional cheddar cheese over the enchiladas (approximately 1/2 cup).

Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!


You can serve the enchiladas with sour cream or as is. Rice and a salad are our normal side dishes for this meal, depending on how many folks we have over for dinner, but honestly--they're a meal in themselves and make excellent leftovers.

Okay, there you have it--one of my family's favorite recipes, and while they're not completely homemade (I have no clue how to make homeade tortillas or enchilada sauce!), these enchiladas have proven to be a crowd pleaser time and time again.

If you decide to make them, let me know how they turn out!