Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bean and Beef Chili

I decided to make chili tonight and I tried a new recipe I found in the Food Network magazine.  I didn't have any beef chuck, but I used the same amount of ground beef and it worked out well.  I also didn't have any pinto beans, so I used one can of black beans and one can of kidney beans.  I also couldn't find any regular chili powder in the house, so I used a combination of a bunch of different chiles my mom had; it was a combination of cayenne pepper, red pepper chili flakes, adobo chile, and some others.  I used much less than called for, but it still had plenty of heat from the hotter chiles.  I also ended up cooking it on a low simmer for about six hours rather than the two it originally called for.  That really let the flavors marry!

Bean and Beef Chili with a piece of Cornbread!
Bean and Beef Chili

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 pounds ground beef
Salt and Pepper
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. adobo chile
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can low-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
Topping: Shredded cheese, sour cream

Heat 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Season beef with salt and pepper.  Brown in batches, about 4 minutes, adding more oil as needed (especially if you're using lean ground beef), about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil to pot.  Add garlic and onions, and cook, stirring, about 6 minutes.  Add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, adobo chile, chili powder, oregano, and tomato paste, cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.

Return the meat to the pot and stir in the tomatoes with their juices, broth, coffee, and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, about 4-6 hours.
Top with whatever you like.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Monday, December 19, 2011

Twix Cupcakes

Today my sister and I made a joint effort to make Twix cupcakes.  My sister, Alyssa, is much better at baking than I am, so I decided to consult her on this post.  First, we whipped up the batter; we cheated a little bit and used box chocolate cake mix, but we made the frosting so it's okay.

First cupcake going in!
 Then we baked the cupcakes; they turned out super moist!

So many cupcakes!
While we were baking the cupcakes, we made the frosting, salted caramel!  It turned out really yummy, but next time I would add a little bit more caramel and a dash more salt.  It ended up tasting like a very good, slightly salty, slightly caramely buttercream.
The cupcake recipe also called for a chocolate ganache, so we figured we might as well make that too!  After we frosted the cupcakes, we started by spooning the ganache on top of the cupcakes, but it was kind  of going everywhere.  Alyssa suggested we dip the cupcakes into the ganache as they do on all the baking shows, and that worked perfectly!  After the ganache, we topped each cupcake with a mini Twix bar.  Yum!

Twix Cupcakes
Twix Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix, or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
24 fun size Twix bars, unwrapped
Salted Caramel Frosting
2 sticks room-temperature salted butter
5 cups powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3-5 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup caramel syrup topping
Chocolate Ganache
9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

In a small pan, heat one cup cream over medium heat until it reaches a simmer.
Remove from heat and add semi-sweet chocolate and corn syrup.
Whisk until smooth.
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, or until it is completely cooled.
Prepare according to directions on the box.
Beat butter on medium speed until it is fluffy.
Beat in powdered sugar, salt, 3 Tbsp. heavy cream, and caramel syrup.  If frosting is too thick, add more whipping cream.

Once cupcakes are cool, top with caramel frosting.
Dip each cupcake into bowl of chocolate ganache.
Place one Twix bar on top of ganache.

Recipe adapted from Mini Baker

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slow Cooked Chicken

A couple weeks ago, chickens were on sale at the grocery store for super cheap, so obviously I bought one.  I have never cooked an entire chicken before, so I thought this would be a good experiment.  I looked up a bunch of recipes of what to do, but I didn't have all of the ingredients for any of them, so I made up my own.
I got up early so I could put this in the crock pot before work and let it cook all day.  First, I chopped up one onion and about ten cloves of garlic. Then it was time for the chicken.  I read one blog that said she took off all of the skin before roasting it, but I decided I wanted the skin in there for flavor, even if I wasn't going to eat it.  (Also, I started taking it off and it grossed me out.)  I put the chicken in the crock pot, threw in the onions and garlic, and some broth.  I had used about half a can of chicken broth earlier in the week so I put that in and then had to improvise with about half a can of beef broth.  I ultimately liked that combo of flavors, the beef gave it an almost wine-like flavor.  Then I added some sage, garlic, salt, and pepper and started cooking it on low.

Slow Cooked Chicken!
 I had actually only meant to cook it for about eight hours, but I ended up staying at work later so I cooked it for about ten.  I think all of the flavors married nicely and it was a successful dish!

Chicken and Rice
As a side note, I didn't feel like putting it away in tupperware when I was done, so I just put the entire crockpot in the fridge.  Then I took it out the next day and all of the fat and broth had congealed into a nasty jelly.  I recommend just taking care of it the night you cook it, don't wait!

Slow-Cooked Chicken

1 4-5 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed
1 onion, roughly chopped
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. parlsey
Salt and Pepper

Place onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place chicken on top.
In a small bowl, combine chicken broth, wine, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Stir.
Pour broth mixture on top of chicken.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Turkey Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

When Matt and I were on our road trip, Matt had a version of turkey sausage, potato, and kale soup and since then I have wanted to make it.  I looked at a bunch of recipes for similar soups, but ulitmately decided to make up my own recipe.  I threw an onion and four cloves of garlic into a big pot with some olive oil.  I accidently had the heat up too high and burned a little bit of the garlic, but it tasted fine.
After I cooked that down, I put in the potatoes and cooked those down for a few minutes.  After that I put in the sausage and kale.  I should have put the kale in in batches because it practically overflowed out of the pot I had so much!

There's soup under there!
After the kale cooked down for a minute or so, I added two cans of low sodium chicken broth and added some salt and pepper.  Then, I let that simmer for about an hour.

Simmering Soup!
I tasted it and added some more seasoning and it was ready to serve!

Turkey Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

Turkey Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 lb. turkey sausage, removed from casing
1 bunch kale, ribs removed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and Pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When hot, add onion and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft, about three minutes.  Add potatoes.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sausage and kale.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until kale has cooked down for the most part.  Add broth and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Taco Salad

I wish I could have been so cool as to have made bowls out of tortillas, but alas, I was not.  Matt and I have been trying harder to eat healthier lately, so we decided to have taco salads for dinner... that and avocados were on sale.  I cheated a little bit and had previously bought ground turkey already taco seasoned, so all I had to do with that was brown the meat.

Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey
Normally when I make taco salad, all I do is throw in fresh vegetables, but Matt recently had a taco salad with cooked peppers and onions in it and it was delicious, so I decided to follow suit. I cooked down a red pepper, a green pepper, and half an onion.  I seasoned them with some pepper, a tiny bit of salt, and some adobo seasoning.

Peppers and Onions
I also decided to add in some black beans, because who doesn't love black beans?!  I threw those in with the meat for a couple of minutes, just to heat them up.
Turkey and Black Beans

Finally it was time to assemble!  We didn't have lettuce, so we used fresh spinach as our base, then came the cooked vegetables, the turkey and bean mixture, one avocado apiece (YUM!), some lite sour cream, and a garnish of some cilantro and scallions.

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. ground turkey
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
8 oz. spinach
2 stalks celery
1 avocado, pitted
1/4 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro

Add avocado, onion, garlic, tomato, and cilantro to a small bowl.
Cut the lime in half and add the juice.
Add salt to taste.
Set aside.
Place a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 Tbsp. oil.  Add turkey to skillet.  Add cumin and garlic powder.
Cook until turkey is almost cooked through.
Add black beans.
Cook until heated through.
Set aside.
Add additional oil, if needed. Add peppers and onion to skillet.  Cook until onions and peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.
Place spinach in bowls.
Add turkey and bean mixture on top.  Add peppers.  Top with guacamole.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spaghetti con Pomedoro e Tonno

I know it's been a long time since I posted anything, but it's because it's been a long time since I've cooked anything!  I was home for the whole week of Thanksgiving and I also took all of the leftovers so I didn't cook for the week after either!  I'm glad to be back in the kitchen this week though and will be trying out a bunch of new recipes!
Obviously I love my fancy-sounding recipes on here, but mostly I'm all about cheap and easy.  This recipe may sound pretentious, but it's really just some spaghetti with tuna fish in it.  I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but I figured I may as well try it, especially when it cost about four dollars to make four meals!
First I cooked down some onions and garlic in a big sauce pan.  I accidently burned some of the garlic because I had the oil too hot, but the final product didn't taste burnt, thank goodness!
Onions, Garlic, and Oil.  (You can see the little burnt garlics!)
After that, I added a can of stewed tomatoes.  That was supposed to be enough sauce, but it wasn't, so I also added some jarred tomato sauce. I also seasoned it with some added garlic (one can never have too much garlic).
The sauce!
After that, I flaked in a can of tuna fish and let that cook while I waited for the water to boil for the pasta.

It took forever for the water to boil because I didn't have
another medium saucepan!
Then I added the pasta and sauce together and it turned out great!  I also was supposed to use linguini, but I had two half used open boxes of pasta, so I used those.

Spaghetti con Pomdedoro e Tonno
Spaghetti con Pomedoro e Tonno

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 (6 oz.) can tuna, drained
1 lb. spaghetti

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Flake the tuna into the tomato sauce.  Cover and simmer until heated through, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large salted pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook al dente, according to the package directions.  Drain, then toss pasta with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.  Add about 3 ladlesful of sauce and continue to toss.  Distribute evenly, then ladle remaining sauce on top.

Recipe adapted from Food Network