Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ensayo Chili

I love New Years. It's one of my most favorite holidays. Probably my second favorite. Thanksgiving is my favorite,obviously. It is all about the food. None of this stressful decorating/present wrapping nonsense. If you couldn't have gotten that right on a quiz about me you haven't been paying attention. I love the promise that a new year brings, the potential for anything to happen. I love new lists and goals- I love new starts. This year one of my resolutions was to branch out in my cooking more from Italian, which is my go to. I could experiment with pasta sauces for the next fifteen years. On January 1st I made a stuffed pork loin. Not worth the effort at all. On January 2nd, I made this chili. It was super fun to concoct and delicious! Don't be freaked out by the number of ingredients, it's not overly difficult. If the adobo pepper process freaks you out, I'll give you an alternate because that's a silly thing to stop you from eating this deliciousness.

If you are kind of a rookie, maybe do this adobo prep the day before to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up. It isn't hard but it is a little time consuming. I did the whole can at once so I don't have pictures, because in January I wasn't blogging. I know. Can all 5 of you imagine not being able to read this blog?? Your poor, sad lives. BUT it was soooo nice today to just pull the ziploc bag out of the freezer and do zero work. I should have put this paragraph below my explanation but I was afraid my less adventurous ones would just give up and stop reading. DON'T.

Buy one can of chipotle chiles in adobo. Wear gloves. Pull out the chiles, slice them open, and get the seeds out. If I remember correctly (keep in mind this was 10 months ago) I used a paper towel to kind of wipe the seeds out. Put all the sauce and seeded chiles in a food processor and puree. Done! Now just freeze in a ziploc bag and you can break off chunks of your icey chile peppers whenever you need it! If this absolutely freaks you out I GUESS just use some dried crushed red pepper but just don't freak out okay?? You can handle this. It's just not that big of a deal. And later you can just all casual to a friend be like, "yeah I just keep my chipotle chiles pureed in the freezer for when I need them" and sound like a total foodie. 

Now. Time for the ACTUAL recipe. This is a big big batch. You could half it for a small crowd. But why? Just freeze the leftovers for next time you're tired. 

2 tbsp chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 jalepeno, pretty finely chopped
6 cups beef stock (I use bullion cubes. I made 6 cups like the instructions say, but then add one extra cube to make it richer)
2 tbsp oil (corn, vegetable, olive, it doesn't matter)
12 oz bacon, chopped
4 lb of ground beef
1/2 c Worcestershire

8 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 small onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp cumin
3 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 dashes of cinnamon

24 oz Negra Modelo beer or some other dark beer

28-30oz diced tomatoes, not drained
6 tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp lime juice

Chop EVERYTHING before you start. In a saucepot, heat the beef stock, jalepeno and chipotle puree until it starts to simmer. Turn down to low and let it do its thing while you work.
Simmering peppers in beef stock

Note: I am the world's biggest baby about spicy food and scary movies. If you love spicy, this is not the recipe for you. Increase your chipotle if you're one of those weirdos who likes their lips to feel like they've been pricked by a thousand tiny needles.

In your biggest soup pot, heat the oil over medium and once it's hot, add the chopped bacon. You don't need it to get crispy, just done, because it's kind of going to disappear in the chili anyway. Just get it cooked through. Next, add the ground beef, salt and pepper to taste, and Worcestershire at the same time. Cook it through. You may have to drain it, you may not. It just depends on how much grease is in it. Use your judgement.
Making meat look not gross is impossible.

I'm sorry.
Turn your heat down to medium low, add everything from garlic to cinnamon. See how I conveniently grouped the ingredients for you? I'm so thoughtful. Cook everything until the onions get soft.
Chopped onions and garlic.
I am absolutely immune to the smell of raw onions. But I promise you, this one blew my mind. Eyes burning as if I'd been sprayed with pepper spray. I was turning my head away and making faces as if I was being operated on with no anesthesia. And I know you love the embarrassing pictures. I mean who wouldn't want to see my hair like this? Sorry you can't see how much eyes are watering but this was my face of pure pain. This is how I appear any given Saturday. #blessed

Next, add the beer and turn up the heat to medium high. Let it reduce down a little. There is no science to this, you could skip reducing altogether and it would be fine.
Kroger is not paying me to advertise their honey.

After reducing, add everything in the last set of ingredients. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes.

My Aunt Pam taught me a super cool trick for measuring honey.Spray the measuring spoon with cooking spray. I really wanted to make a pun with Pam since it's my aunt's name but I'll spare you. The honey just slides right out! I was amazed. But I'm pretty easily amazed. I like to think of it as endearing and not silly.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, or serve over chips. Get crazy. Go with your gut.  I prefer just cheese but you can eat whatever makes you happy.

Enjoy your deliciousness. Freeze your leftovers if there are any.

So this particular resolution yielded an awesome recipe. Only two more months until we get to make them all again! What's a resolution you've kept??

Friday, October 10, 2014

Guest Post Friday: Ode to Basil by the wickedly funny Robin Cochran

Robin is back for Guest Post Friday!! I can't explain to y'all how accurately she is portraying our delusional dreams of being adorably southern on TV. We are absolutely insane. And also, THAT BOOK. I bought it after staring at hers for multiple hours and have given it to my other favorite foodie, my Uncle Sid. You need it. Everyone with a refrigerator needs it.

After I got married a million years ago, I suddenly became responsible for providing meals on a daily basis for my husband, and I had to learn how to cook. There was a time in our early marriage when I would brown ground beef and add a box of Hamburger Helper and feel like I had really accomplished something in the kitchen. And let’s be real - I HAD. I successfully fed myself and my husband. I followed directions on a box and combined ingredients. And no one got sick people rarely got sick in the aftermath of my cooking. 

My cooking has come a long way since then. I don’t know what prompted it, other than me just being tired of cooking the same stuff every single week (“Thursday is frozen pizza night!”). But somewhere along the way, I started loving to cook. I guess it became a way that I could be creative. I obsessively watched the Food Network and tried to remember all of the tricks and tips that I saw the professional TV chefs show me. I tried to pay attention to what ingredients “paired nicely.” I was constantly looking for new recipes to try. I would think for days about my menu plan for the coming week. I was always on the lookout for a great new cookbook. I geeked out so hard on food and cooking that for my birthday one year, I asked my husband for this book:

This book. A friend from Huntsville who is a chef recommended this book to me when I sat beside him during Wednesday night dinner at church and asked him a thousand questions about being a chef and culinary school and what great recipes he was using…this book is what he calls the “Culinary Bible” - and IT. IS. AWESOME.

When I met Whitney and we discovered our mutual love of food/cooking, we immediately clicked because we could always discuss our plans for dinner, what recipes we had tried that worked/didn’t work, bounce ideas off of one another, etc. Whitney and I even invented this thing called “Cook-Along” where we get together and one of us teaches the other our “go to” recipes. (Let’s be honest, we both have this daydream that we are actually on the Food Network, displaying our cute southern charm as well as our best kitchen secrets as people in our live studio audience smile at each other and whisper, “aren’t they adorable?” as we teach them how to properly season their oven roasted chicken. But, I digress.)

Through the course of my cooking experiences, I have fallen completely in love with certain ingredients. Whitney talks about her love for ingredients, specifically, almond extract here. Well, this is mine: 

Hello, Beautiful. I bought this locally grown basil from the Farmer's Market that is a few blocks from our house.

That’s it: fresh basil. I love everything about fresh basil. I wish that I could have a basil-scented air freshener for my whole house. Every single chance I get, I use it in cooking. I use basil propaganda to get other friends to use it when they cook. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. I use it when I make marinara sauce; I put it in Alfredo sauce (the recipe I use calls for parsley but YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME); and don’t even get me started on how many different uses I can find for fresh basil pesto (homemade pizza, italian sub sandwiches, toothpaste…ok, maybe not that last one). This ingredient is so versatile and flavorful, it is almost guaranteed to take an average dish to the next level. 

So what about ya’ll? What ingredients are you crazy for? Which ones do you spread propaganda about? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cherry Pork Chili

This chili is one of the things I made during my Freezer Meals adventure. I just ate a giant bowl of it and it was AH-mazing. I will absolutely make it again. Also, not hard at all. You can either assemble all of the ingredients into a Ziploc bag and freeze, or make it right away.

3 cups ground pork, browned
1 large red onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
16 oz frozen cherries
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1 cup enchilada sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Whether you freeze it or not, cook it in the crockpot on low for 8 hours. I didn't have to add ANYTHING at the end of the day. DELICIOUS. Don't get freaked out the cherries aren't THAT prevalent of a flavor. The recipe serves 8 so I put half in one bag and half in another. I will FOR SURE make this again. I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy stuffing my face.
In conclusion, easy, fast, delicious, no clean up.

Have I told you about crock pot liners yet? If I have just ignore this part. Listen, if you don't use a crock pot liner I can't understand you. Go directly to the store and buy them. If these items didn't exist I would just throw my crock pot away. They are THAT critical. Imagine if after every time you cooked, you just threw the pots and pans away and had nothing to clean up..THAT'S WHAT A CROCK POT LINER ACCOMPLISHES. If you aren't sold by that description you are beyond help.

I can't even think of a good question to end with because I'm just wondering why anyone on earth wouldn't use a crock pot liner. This may keep me up tonight.