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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chili is food... What? Chili, Barnyard style.

So I got super lazy the other day and decided that dinner was going to be chili. Chili is dinner... isn't it? It's cold and gray outside and winter won't go away and it's making me grumpy. When I make chili, it's hearty and thick and sticks to the pot. I have no use for watery chili with no flavor and no substance. Now i know some people like it spicy hot, but this mild girl has to take it easy with the peppers. Feel free to add as much as you like in the form of powder, paste, dried peppers, or just hot sauce. If you gotta kick it up, kick it up. But here is the basic recipe for what I call my 'barnyard chili.'  3 meats, 4 beans, and nice and nommy. The addition of bison or venison really does kick up the depth a little. But use beef if you don't have access to either of those. Enjoy!

1/2 lb each:
   ground turkey (chicken)
   ground pork
   ground bison (venison or beef)
1 large yellow onion, diced (or 1/4 c dried minced onion)
2 tsps minced garlic (or dried minced garlic)
1 can or bottle of your favorite beer (and one more for you!)
1 can each:
   chili beans
   kidney beans
   black beans
   white beans
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground cayenne or ancho
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp onion powder

So here's the thing, this is so easy to make, anyone can do it. Brown the meat, yes, all together, just don't burn it, cook until it's just done. Then, dump everything else into the pot. No, I'm not kidding. Dump it all in there, don't drain the beans or tomatoes, just 'plop' and put the lid on it. Then leave it alone. I mean, stir it up first, but leave it alone after that. On the stove, on low for an hour or two, until you can't stand that amazing smell anymore. Stir it occasionally to make sure that a bunch of stuff isn't sticking to the pot, but it's just about no work. If it starts to get too thick, you can add a little water or tomato juice, but I find this to never be a problem. And that's it. Easy peasy chili, and there will be plenty for leftovers too.
MWWWAH!! Eat up everybody!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birthday Dinner: Meat, Cake, and Irish comfort food....

So when I asked Boyfriend what he wanted me to make him for his birthday dinner, he had very specific things in mind. Initially I balked, because it seemed that these things might not necessarily go together. But in the end, I was quite wrong. I wanted this to be a special occasion, shared by our friends, So I spent all day preparing, cleaning and cooking, so we could sit down to a good meal and enjoy the day. My usual frugality fell a little by the wayside with the lamb but, for him, anything is worth it. So perhaps the "dime" portion of my title was a bit ignored, but for the most part, the rest of the ingredients were inexpensive or already in my kitchen. I had to buy very little to make this dinner a success. Here is what the menu turned out to be:

Curried Carrot Soup
Mixed Salad
Roasted Herbed Leg of Lamb
Carrot Cake

So I found recipes, looked at them, and, satisfied with the selections, tweaked a few of them to my liking. Here are the revised recipes that I used.

Curried Carrot Soup

2 1/2 lbs carrots, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped (I used 2 small ones)
5 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp salt
Sour cream for serving

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion until tender and translucent. Stir in the curry powder. Add the chopped carrots, and stir until the carrots are coated. Pour in the vegetable broth, and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes
Transfer the carrots and broth to a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot, and thin with water to your preferred consistency.
 Top with a dollop of sour cream.


This recipe I doubled, to feed 9 people, It worked out pretty well, though I was very skeptical at first. It did need a lot of salt and pepper.

1 pound cabbage
1 pound potatoes
2 large leeks
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
In a large saucepan, steam potatoes until tender; remove and chop or blend well. Set aside and keep warm. Steam cabbage until tender, chop in food processor.
Chop leeks, green parts as well as white, and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft.
Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the kale or cabbage and heat until the whole is a pale green fluff. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter. Mix well. 

 Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary 

1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Juice from the lemon you zested
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers 
1 tablespoon balalmic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
5-7 pounds whole leg of lamb
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

 In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the honey, mustard, rosemary, ground black pepper, lemon zest, juice, soy, and vinegar, and minced garlic. Blend/chop until well mixed. Stick slivered garlic into the lamb meat with a knife. (Stab a hole with the knife and slip the garlic into the meat) Apply marinade to the lamb with a basting brush. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (I just wrapped mine in plastic wrap and stuck it back into the fridge.)
Next day, place lamb on roasting pan, sprinkle with salt. Preheat oven to 425. Roast for 20 min, then turn temp down to 350. Roast for 20 min/lb or until thermometer reads 135. You may have to tent it with foil to keep it from burning on the bone ends. 
Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving

Light Carrot Cake

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 egg white
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple in fruit juice
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 large bag pre-shredded carrots (or about 3 cups)
cream cheese frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, ginger and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, egg white, brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the pineapple and applesauce and mix until thoroughly incorporated into the batter, about another minute.
Add the dry ingredients in thirds and mix until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Use the toothpick test. Let the cake cool completely before flipping out of the pan and removing the parchment paper. Top with the cream cheese frosting.

This was the final result: