Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chili Con Carne

Ahh yes. Finally. A savory dish. This is the Chili Con Carne from the January/February issue of The Food Network Magazine.Which I love.

I will openly admit that up until recently I was not really a chili fan. I am a picky meat eater, I wasn't a huge fan of kidney beans, and I found that one could taste so drastically different from the next that I found it hard to trust. This recipe tastes pretty much exactly like what I think chili should taste like.


6 slices of bacon
2 lbs of ground beef chuck
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt
1/4 c chili powder
1 T ground cumin
2 t paprika
2 t dried oregano
2 T tomato paste
1 12-ounce amber beer
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 1/2 c low sodium beef broth, plus more if needed
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 T hot sauce
Shredded cheddar, sliced scallions, and sour cream for topping (optional)

1. Cook the bacon in a large sauce pan until crisp. Drain on a paper towel until cool and then crumble and set aside.
2. Pour off all but 1 T bacon drippings from the pan (but don't throw it out, save it for later).
3. Increase the heat to med-high and add the beef. Break it up and cook until browned.
4. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, wipe out the pot.
5. Heat 1 T of the reserved drippings in the pan/pot over med-high heat, add the onion and green pepper, cook until soft.
6. Add the garlic and salt, cook 2 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste is brick red, about 6 minutes, stirring.
7. Add the beer and simmer until almost completely reduced.
8. Stir in the beef and any juices from the plate.
9. Add the cocoa powder, tomatoes, beef broth, and beans. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chili thickens, about 1- 1 1/2 hour.
10. Ladle into bowls and cover with desired toppings.

Now time for all the (not so) pretty pictures. Let's go!

Ingredients. I tried and tried but there was no way to get these to stand up pretty for a picture. Besides, I had worked all day and gone grocery shopping for the week prior to this.
Bacon goes into the pan. I am honestly not a fan of bacon. I may have mentioned it here before, I may not have. Point is, I am in the minority when it comes to bacon.

Cooking it up. Don't get too enthusiastic as I did. It is kind of hilarious to watch my stove top get more and more filthy through out this process. Or not, since I will have to clean it.
See? Way too enthusiastic here. It all turns out alrght in the end.

Now chop up that lovely green pepper and onion. Viola.

Ahh the second batch came out better.

Oh garlic, my dear friend. I can seriously eat bulb after bulb of roasted garlic. Literally.

Crumble that bacon into little bits like this.

Last year there was an amazing sale at Whole Foods on organic grass fed ground beef. So I bought a whole bunch of it. At home I portioned it into pound sized packages, foodsavered it, and popped them in the freezer. This is the last one, so much sadness. Yes, I made foodsavered a brand new verb. Let's celebrate it. A foodsaver is a necessity if you ever buy in bulk. That is the plastic mystery looking bag of beef you see in the ingredients line up.

Toss the meat into the pan, be confused at the difference in color. I know. The darker is the organic grass fed, the lighter is the basic ground beef sold at Whole Foods.

Brown until you get this, at which point you will put it on a "plate". Or not, because it was a delicate operation to get the beef on this plate, an oversized plate even! Just slap it into a bowl. And eww, I need to clean my toaster oven.

Toss the onion and green pepper into the pan after you have heated more bacon drippings in it.

Stir until soft like so:

Add the garlic, chili powder (confession here, I used cayenne, only a T but it was plenty), cumin, paprika (which I did not use at all because I didn't know I didn't have any until I got back home after a full day. FOODIE FAIL), oregano (I used Italian seasoning another foodie fail), and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is brick red.

During all this I have drained and rinsed the beans. I did not use all black beans, I thought a good chili needs kidney beans. Kidney beans I happen to love now.

This is what I would consider brick red.

Look at that steamy goodness...

Now add the beer. Can you guess where I live? Haha.

Add the glorious beer of your choice to the pot.

It will bubble and steam and make mouth watering bubbly noises.

Then go ahead and add the beef, stir to combine.

Add the cocoa,

then add the tomatoes. I did not remember to get the canned tomatoes even thought they were RIGHT THERE on my grocery list! Am I the only one that does this? Needless to say I got home and was peeved at myself, until I remembered all these beautiful canned tomatoes I had courtesy of my mom and her dear friend who has passed away. Thank you Linda! Give my Oma a hug and a shot of vodka! Okay, that emo stuff put aside look at these beautiful 'maters.

Fantastical tomatoes added here. Of course there are additions to Linda's canned tomatoes. Celery and such. I promise you that it was still delicious at the end, and I am sure it will be if you use regular canned tomatoes for it.

When it came to the beef broth I poured it in the tomato jar, shook it up, and then put it in the chili.

This is the sad sight that will greet you after adding the spices and broth.

Just take my word and get that stuff simmering.

Stir it up every now and then. Prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Notice the stove top getting filthier and filthier.

You want to let it get all bubbly like this before stirrig it around.

This bamboo spoon, and the other four in the set, were purchased from Ross for $5. For all $5. YES.

Toast up some crusty bread to serve along side. Don't get all crazy like I did. Whoops part 2.
All came out alright.

Oh yeah it did. Just look at this.

Make this. Trust me. You will like it.

I certainly do. Seeing as I was raised by a single mother born and raised in Germany, I didn't have a lot of first hand experience with chili. Please tell me about what you think consitutes a good chili. Beans? No beans? What was your favorite chilhood meal?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

This is another part of the fabulous foodie day I had Thursday. I was checking the food blogs, as I do almost daily, when I came across this recipe. I immediately saw that I had all the ingredients and couldn't wait to try it.

I got the recipe from the fabulous Kate's blog:

Check her out, she is amazing. She also happens to have a baby so cute it should be illegal.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
2 T flax + 1/4 c water (this is your flax egg)
1 t vanilla
1 c flour
1/2 c oats
1 t baking soda
1 c chocolate chips

1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T peanut butter
2 T milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until fluffy
3. Beat in the flax egg and vanilla
4. Combine the oats, flour, and baking soda in a bowl
5. Stir it into the creamed mixture and spread it into a greased 9x13 baking dish
6. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and put it in the preheated oven
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, cool for 10 minutes
8. Combine the icing ingredients in a plastic bag, squish it up
9. Cut a hole in the corner and squeeze all over the topof the bars
10. Let them cool completely, then cut them and try not to inhale the whole thing

So, let's get started shall we?

Ingredients, all things I already had as I mentioned above.
Creaming the butters and sugars until fluffy and beautiful.

Add the flax egg. Those tiny little seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They are so incredibly good for you. I love the texture they give to food also.

Add the vanilla.

Comine the dry ingredients,

And dump them in with the creamed mixture.

Mix to blend the ingredients together nicely.

Now spread the mix into a greased 9x13 pan. The layer will be very thin but fear not, it will puff up nicely in the heat of the oven.

Sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Once that is in the oven mix the topping ingredients together in a plastic bag.

See? All golden, puffy, and warm. Pay no attention to the meyer lemon in the back. That was sliced for something completely unrelated, my vodka and club soda to be exact.

Would you take a look at that.

Drizzle the topping on. Gorgeous my friends, GORGEOUS. Well, not as gorgeous as Kate's baby A but still.

The beautiful thing about the icing is that it doesn't soak into the bars making them soggy, it sets up nicely on top and really adds to the experience.

Here is where I am a little ashamed. This dog, Roxy, I promise you is normally really bright. Too smart for her own good actually. But here she is, thinking that little dishtowel is concealing her, giving her the chance to steal one of these bars.

No such luck girl. These are ALL for the humans in the house.

It is two days later and there are only three pieces left. Yes, you can say we enjoyed these.

It is a beautiful Saturday here. Now I am off to do some more research on where I can find a reasonably priced cage for two guinea pigs. Yes, it seems we will be adopting two guinea pigs from the shelter here in the next few weeks. Never, ever tell a 13 year old you will GLADLY get two guinea pigs after you've had a few glasses of wine. They will remember it later and hold you to it. In reality, I have been wanting to open my home to more rescues anyway so I didn't need that much convincing.