Friday, January 30, 2015

Chili Cook-Off

The Chili Cook-Off was a success!

We had eleven hot items to feast on - 9 chilis, 1 soup, and a sweet & sour chicken dish - along with three cornbreads, two salads, cole slaw and brownies. We had an awesome turn out of people who came to eat, and we voted and had prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Alas, I didn't win anything, but I did receive several compliments on what I brought.

Creamy White Chili

So I'm going overboard, but I love it! My final chili for the Chili Cook-Off was a Creamy White Chili which had chicken in it.

Creamy White Chili

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. In a large saucepan, saute the chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and cream.
Yield: 7 servings.

Chili Verde

In the past few days, while deciding on a chili to make for the Chili Cook-Off, I heard about chili being red, white or green. I've never heard of green chili before, so I thought I'd throw one into the selection of what I was bringing. What I ended up deciding on was a Chili Verde with pork.

Chili Verde

  • 2 lbs. pork, diced (I used boneless pork ribs)
  • 1 c. onion, chopped
  • 14 oz. chicken broth
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. jalapeno
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • ½ Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. green Tabasco sauce
  • 10 oz. green enchilada sauce
  • 27 oz. canned green chiles, chopped or diced
  • 8 oz. canned green chiles, pureed
  • 1-2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  1. Brown pork and drain. Add onion & chicken broth (will not cover meat). Simmer 1 hour, stirring often. Combine garlic powder, chicken stock, celery salt, cornstarch, oregano, cumin, jalapeno, cilantro, chili powder, and green Tabasco sauce. Simmer 1 hour stirring often to avoid sticking.
  2. Add green enchilada sauce and stir. Simmer ½ hour. Add chopped green chiles and cook for 15 minutes. Add pureed green chiles, white beans and salt to taste (about ½ tsp).
  3. Serve with cheese, sour cream, chips and/or flour tortillas.
  4. SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS: Brown pork and drain. Saute onion and add to slow cooker with meat. Add chicken broth and cook on low heat for 3 hours. Add remaining ingredients and cook additional 2 hours on low heat.

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

For the Chili Cook-Off at work today, I had decided I wanted to make cornbread, too. I decided upon a recipe by Martha Stewart.

Cheddar-Jalapeno Cornbread

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup chopped drained pickled jalapenos
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until combined (do not overmix). Stir 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar, corn kernels, and jalapenos into batter. Transfer batter to pan and smooth top. Top with 1/4 cup grated cheddar.
  2. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 15 minutes, before serving.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Honey Chili

We're having a Chili Cook-Off at work tomorrow, and I decided to make a couple of different chilis, just in case some people weren't able to make the chili that they had planned. I got the first one out of the Marlboro Chili Roundup book that I got in 2002.

Sweet and Spicy Honey Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • ½ cup red or green peppers
  • 1 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chili peppers
  • 2 15-oz. cans chili beans
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup honey
In a large pan brown the ground beef. Add the onion, garlic and green peppers; continue cooking until the onion is browned. Drain the grease from the pan. Add the tomatoes, chili peppers, chili beans, chili powder, cumin, thyme, salt and cinnamon. Mix well in the pan, and place a lid on the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes. Add honey and stir well. Serve. Addd cheese, crackers, etc. as desired. Excellent with cornbread.
Makes 8-12 servings

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sewing Swap

Well, I've gone and done it. With Wanda's encouragement, I've joined a Sewing Swap.

You provide 20 of each of the following: jewelry themed pieces of jewelry, ATC's and 6"x6" sewing themed fabric. That shouldn't be too hard to pull together, especially with Pinterest for inspiration. There are a few spots left, so join in!

Monday, January 26, 2015

One-Pot Creamy Beef Stroganoff

For tonight's dinner, I made two items, one for me and one for Tom. His item was a One-Pot Creamy Beef Stroganoff.

One-Pot Creamy Beef Stroganoff

  • 1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 2 packages (8 oz each) sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 lb uncooked medium egg noodles
  • 1 container (12 oz) chive and onion sour cream
  1. In nonstick 5-quart Dutch oven, cook beef over high heat, stirring frequently, until brown. Do not drain.
  2. Add mushrooms and salt to taste. Cook about 5 minutes or until browned.
  3. Add evaporated milk, 4 1/2 cups hot water and the noodles. Noodles will not be completely covered at first. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, just until noodles are tender. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.
This dish was easier to make than it was to purchase ingredients for! Because it's mainly for Tom, I only got one package of mushrooms, I could only find 12 ounce packages of egg noodles, and who the hell makes flavored sour cream? They certainly don't sell it at my supermarket! I ended up using an 8 ounce package of chive and onion cream cheese. Besides being a little bland, I think it turned out well. I will definitely add more salt when I eat the leftovers, and maybe look into other recipes to see what other seasoning are typical for this type of dish.

Beefy Nacho Soup

Tonight marks the first night of my two-week "vacation" from the restaurant. For dinner, I decided to make something I'd want to eat, as well as something for Tom. For me, I made Beefy Nacho Soup.

Beefy Nacho Soup

  • 1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Old El Paso™ 40% less sodium taco seasoning mix (from 1 oz package)
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed nacho cheese soup
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (1 oz)
  • 1/2 cup crushed corn tortilla chips
  1. In 2-quart saucepan, cook ground beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in remaining ingredients except shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Cook 8 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Top individual servings with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
The only change I made to this recipe was using cheddar cheese soup instead of nacho cheese soup, I couldn't find any at the grocery store. I liked the soup. I think it needed to be more soupy, so if I make it again, I'll cut back on the ground beef, maybe to 0.75 lbs. I might even change up the taco seasoning to the hot and spicy variety - for a little bit more zing!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tartar Sauce

The restaurant is closing down for two weeks after tonight, and we had run out of our lemon-caper mayonnaise, which we normally serve with crab cakes. I found a recipe for what appeared to be a quick and easy Tartar Sauce, that we could whip together with available ingredients, just in case customers wanted something other that cocktail sauce.
Tartar Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise or 1 1/4 cups Miracle Whip
  • 1 medium dill pickle (or 1/4 cup dill relish)
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes (or fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  1. Mix all together in the food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds until finely chopped, but not smooth.
  2. Best if refrigerated for an hour before use.
  3. Note: Can be made without the food processor, using dill relish or finely minced pickle.
  4. Lasts quite a while in the refrigerator.
The flavor was good, but I didn't get to try out the "aged" version, so that may have been better. The quantity was good, too, we won't have to throw out a whole bunch at the end of the night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Cheddar Toasts

My plans for tonight were ruined by the snow, the band was supposed to have a pizza party to celebrate the end of the season, but now its been rescheduled for next week. Because of that, I had the night off, and had to figure out what to make for dinner. I thought it would be a nice night for soup, and I had a few recipes that I'd saved from various Pillsbury e-newsletters that I've wanted to try. I ran the selection by Tom, and he chose the Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Cheddar Toasts

  • 1 package Pillsbury™ refrigerated crusty French loaf
  • 20 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 package (8 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 pouch (8.8 oz) cooked long grain & wild rice
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 11/2 cups Progresso™ reduced sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Place loaf on cookie sheet; make three diagonal cuts with serrated knife. Bake 26 to 30 minutes or until browned.
  2. Meanwhile, spray 5-quart Dutch oven with cooking spray. Cook chicken in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to plate, and set aside.
  3. Add mushrooms to Dutch oven; cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until deep brown.
  4. Heat rice as directed on pouch.
  5. Add chicken, rice, half-and-half and broth to Dutch oven; heat to simmering. Reduce heat to low; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Cover and keep warm over low heat while bread finishes baking.
  6. When bread is cool enough to handle, cut into 12 slices, and return to cookie sheet. Divide 1/2 cup of the cheese among the slices. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
  7. Remove soup from heat, and stir in remaining cheese until melted. Divide soup among 4 large bowls. Top each with 3 slices of the cheesy bread.
Well, Tom didn't try it. He said he'd eat some at a later date, but I thought it was tasty. Unfortunately, I'd left it on the stove for too long, and it wasn't very soupy, but the flavor was still there. If I get any of the leftovers, I'll add some more chicken stock and half-and half before warming it up, just to juice it up!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese

After my misdirection for dinner on Sunday, I decided that tonight would be macaroni and cheese night! Luckily, Linda sent me a link to this recipe yesterday, so it was like karma.

Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat elbow pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup lightly packed shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed shredded low-fat Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed grated Parmesan
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach (about 6 heaping cups)
  • One 9-ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Special equipment: a broiler-safe 2-quart baking dish
  1. Position an oven rack at the center of the oven, and preheat the broiler.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water; strain the pasta.
  3. Wipe out the pot. Add the butter, and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and whisk constantly until it begins to toast, about 2 minutes. (The flour will form a thick paste, but that's okay; just keep it moving in the pot.) Whisk in the milk and the reserved pasta water, and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick like gravy, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the sour cream, 2/3 cup of the mozzarella, the Swiss cheese and 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan. Once the cheeses have melted, add the spinach, and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the artichoke hearts, pasta, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a broiler-safe 2-quart baking dish.
  4. Stir together the remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pasta. Broil until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
Well, even though Tom wouldn't try it, I thought it was delicious! I just adore the combination of spinach and artichokes!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Slow Baked Potatoes and Chicken Skillet

I was looking through Pinterest for an interesting soup or macaroni and cheese recipe to try out tonight, and I saw the recipe for a Slow Baked Potatoes and Chicken Skillet, and thought I'd try that out instead.

Slow baked potatoes and chicken skillet

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lb potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4-6 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 thick cut bacon slices, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 300F. Grease an 11" cast iron skillet with olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Scrub the potatoes. I love keeping the skin on but if that’s not your thing, you can peel them.
  3. Using a mandoline, a food processor or a very sharp knife , thinly slice the potatoes and onions. Mince the garlic and finely chop the thyme and rosemary.
  4. In a large bowl combine the sliced potatoes, onions, minced garlic, fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and arrange layers of the potatoes in the prepared skillet.
  5. Place the chicken drumsticks on top of the potatoes and finish with pieces of roughly chopped bacon.
  6. Pour the chicken stock in the skillet and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the heated oven. Bake for 2 hours without opening the oven.
  8. After two hours, open the oven and remove the aluminum foil.
  9. Turn he broiler on and cook for few more minutes until the potatoes slices and chicken get a little brown color.
  10. Turn the oven off and serve warm.
It turned out well. I ended up making two pans full, one with onions and garlic for me, one without those items for Tom. He enjoyed his, and I liked mine, but I didn't like it enough to make it again. Sorry, Roxanne!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Awesome Clam Chowder

Tom and I recently ate at Red Robin, and tried their clam chowder. We both thought it was fabulous, so I attempted to find a clone on-line. My search returned a recipe for Awesome Clam Chowder.

Awesome Clam Chowder

  • 6-7 pieces bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 (5 ounce) cans baby clams, with juice reserved
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2" chunks
  • 2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 Tb butter
  • 1 tsp dried dill weed (if you don't have dill weed, use thyme)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Add bacon to dutch oven and cook on medium heat until crispy. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add clam juice from both cans of clams plus bottle of clam juice. Add potatoes, bring to a simmer, and cover until potatoes are fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Stir occasionally so potatoes won't stick.
  2. Add *clams*, soup, cream, milk, dill weed and stir together. Add butter and let melt into the chowder, then add pepper. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally and add salt to taste.
*clams are going to toughen --- add 5 min. before done.
I added too much salt, so the soup was too salty for me to enjoy, but Tom liked it. When I tried to imagine the flavor without the extra salt, I think it was okay, but not what I was hoping for. For the time being, I'll stick with my normal recipe for clam chowder.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash

I was looking for something new to try out with vegetables, and since Tom and I were at Aldi's getting milk, I was checking out the vegetables, and the spaghetti squash jumped out at me. After looking at Pinterest, I found a recipe for a Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash.

Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash

  • 2 small spaghetti squash or 1 large
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 slices Provolone cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds. Bake 60 to 90 minutes, depending on size of squash. They should be quite tender and squeeze easily.
  3. Scoop flesh into a large bowl and reserve squash skins. Add butter and let melt, then add Parmesan, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss until well combined.
  4. Divide mixture among reserved skins and top with sliced Provolone. Return to oven and bake another 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Much to my surprise, it was actually really easy to cook (after the initial cutting in half), and quite tasty, too. Tom wasn't sure if he liked it, probably because of the garlic in the dish. I will definitely find another recipe for spaghetti squash to try again.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Divisional Purple Friday Fuel Up

The Purple Friday Fuel Up at Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium was similar to last week's. We played inside and out, at approximate hour intervals, but this week, we were there long enough to see Rise and Conquer!

That's me and Tressie, the other person in my section at this gig.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 New Year's Resolutions

Now that I've had a chance to think about it, I would like to solidify some New Year's resolutions for 2015.
  1. Lose Weight/Eat Healthier - I had started to watch what I was eating at the end of June, and ended up losing almost 20 pounds in three months. Then, I got tired of trying, and I've gained it all back since then. I would like to try again - for real, this time.
  2. Try 52 New Recipes - This has been a long standing goal, ever since 2012. It equates to approximately one new recipe a week, and it gives me a reason to try new things.
  3. "Read" 42 Books - Goodreads gave me the option to set a goal for this year, and I decided to "read" one more book than last year. Of course, this includes audiobooks, so I won't actually read all of them.
  4. Learn How to Knit - I tried to teach myself how back in November 2013, and it wasn't bad, but for some reason I didn't continue with it. Now, I have this fabulous pattern for a double-knit scarf that I just have to make for my brother-in-law, and have to learn it all over again.
Since my list is out there now, I think I'll try to hold myself accountable. Perhaps a quarterly update? It sounds good to me, I'll give it a try.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Wild Card Purple Friday Fuel Up

We had a Pep Band gig this morning at Hightopps Backstage Grille for the Purple Friday Fuel Up!

We played outside for about an hour, then inside for another hour. It was a relatively short gig - we had planned on being there until 10 - but it was great to see people who were excited to see the band!