Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Perfect Chili


Great weather for a big bowl of soup?

Even better weather for a bowl of chili!


I was watching Ree's show, the Pioneer Woman, on the Food Network the other day and she was making everyone some chili.  It looked so good that I promptly copied the recipe and headed to my pantry to gather up all the items.  It's a simple chili with everyday ingredients that you most likely have on hand.


So I made a big pot for our dinner that night.  MGG loved it, and I must say that it was really good.  It's a thicker chili than I am used to.  I think I might add a little more sauce or some tomatoes next time around.  It's quick to make, and the only substitution I made was to use all black beans instead of pinto and kidney ( that's what I had on hand!)  and to add some minced onion with the ground beef.  


This is a perfect meal for any game day, or the up coming supper bowl.  Great for a party, or a nice family dinner as well.  Serve it with some cornbread or a side salad, and you are good to go!  Doesn't get much better than a bowl of chili.


Here are some of my step by step pics to help you along.  Ree's recipe is located below as depicted on the Food Network site.










Simple Perfect Chili
2011 Ree Drummond, All Rights Reserved
Prep Time:15 min
Cook Time:1 hr 20 min
Level:Easy
Serves:6 to 8 servings
Ingredients
·         2 pounds ground beef
·         2 cloves garlic, chopped
·         One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
·         2 tablespoons chili powder
·         1 teaspoon ground cumin
·         1 teaspoon ground oregano
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·         1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
·         One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
·         One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
·         Shredded Cheddar, for serving
·         Chopped onions, for serving
·         Tortilla chips, for serving
·         Lime wedges, for serving
Directions
Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips and lime wedges.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Swiss Cheese and Oregano Scrambled Eggs





These have to be the best scrambled eggs I've tasted in quite a while.


I'm not really an eggs fan.  I eat them, but I wouldn't say I LOVE them...they are okay.  So when I whipped these babies up this morning I caught myself saying "Mmmnn Mmmnn"  while I was eating them!  I even looked around to make sure that sound came from my mouth.  Wow, that is curious. I actually really, I mean really, like these eggs!  These are my Swiss Cheese and Oregano Scrambled Eggs.


The flavors of the Swiss cheese and the oregano compliment each other so well, and blend terrifically with the eggs.


Light, fluffy, herby, cheesy, buttery eggs.  Great for breakfast, brunch, or a breakfast for dinner meal!


Simple to make, you can't go wrong.  Serve up a batch for your Sunday breakfast today!



Try these, try these, try these!!!





How do you like your eggs?

Swiss Cheese and Oregano Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2


4 eggs
3 T milk
1 T butter
1/2 shredded Swiss cheese
1 t dried oregano


Beat eggs and milk in a medium bowl.  Heat non stick skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and melt.  Add the whisk eggs and allow to cook low and slow without stirring until eggs begin to set.  Sprinkle in cheese and oregano.  Stir eggs, allowing the runny part of the eggs to flow to the bottom of the pan while breaking up the curds.  Cook until desired doneness.  Serve immediately.




Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry in a Szechwan Sauce



Today we are going to explore the cooking technique call stir frying.


Stir frys are a healthy and quick way to pull together a meal.  Most stir frys consist of a protein and vegetables, using a small amount of oil, and topping with a stir fry sauce.


Variations of this basic plan are abundant.  Swap beef, for chicken, or pork, or shrimp.  Swap vegetables for different varieties.  Using fresh or frozen works well.  


The key is cooking over high heat, and cooking quickly.  So it's essential that you have everything prepared ahead of the cooking time so that you accomplish the dish with ease.  Stopping to put together the stir fry sauce at the end could lead to over cooked dishes.


This recipe for Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry in a Szechwan Sauce is an excellent dish.  We both love this dish and it's complex flavors.  It's a little spicy so adjust the amount of the chili sauce if you like it more mild.    We eat it often, and as I mentioned I use this sauce and switch up the other ingredients based upon our desires that day.  There's your variety!


Here are some step by step photos to help you along.


Prep work






Cooking the beef






Cooking the vegetables






Adding the aromatics, beef, and stir fry sauce




And now for the finish product...serve with some great brown rice.  Doesn't get better than this, and this is tastier, and cheaper than take out!










Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry in a Szechwan Sauce


Serves 4


3/4 lb. sirloin steak, cut into small strips
1 T lite soy sauce
1 T dry sherry
Sauce:
3 T dry sherry
1 T lite soy sauce
1 T toasted sesame oil
2 T chili sauce (such as Siracha)
1/4 Szechwan pepper
1/4 t sugar


2 T canola oil
1 bag fresh stir fry vegetables (carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas)
1 T minced garlic
1 T fresh ginger


In a bowl combine strips of beef with 1 T lite soy sauce and 1 T dry sherry.  Allow to sit while you prepare the stir fry sauce.


Make the sauce:  Combine sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, szechwan pepper, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine and set aside.


To a wok or a large skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil to coat bottom of pan.  When oil is hot add meat to the skillet.  Stir fry until seared and almost cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan.


Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan.  Add vegetables to the pan, starting in batches with the ones that need the longest cooking time.  Broccoli and carrots require longer cooking times than snap peas.  Cook vegetables until crisp tender, about 3 minutes.  Add remainder of the vegetables and continue to cook until all vegetables are crisp tender.  


Move the vegetables to the side of the pan and clear the center.  Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a few seconds and then mix into the vegetables.


Add cooked meat back to the pan.  Add the stir fry sauce and mix until meat and vegetables are thoroughly coated and meat is hot.  Serve with rice.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Magic of Disneyland



One of my favorite places, since I was a little girl, is Disneyland.

I can't fully express how it makes me feel.  The atmosphere is truly unlike anywhere else.  It really is "the happiest place on earth".


When I met MGG he had only been to Disneyland once before.  And, he didn't really like it...or he didn't "get" it.  So it took me many years of bargaining with him to get him to go with me.  But I finally got him to go during the Halloween season last year.  Let me tell you...the magic of Disneyland won him over.  He is in LOVE with the atmosphere, the happiness, the rides, food, and history of Disney.  I knew he would be!


Now he wants to go all the time...


So we were fortunate enough to go during the Christmas season.  I wanted him to see the park all decorated.  I love it at that time of year.  So I've been lax in posting this but, better late than never, I say!









One of the best things about this trip was that it was the spot where MGG proposed to me, under the castle.  So romantic!  It just made the whole day like a fairytale, and a wonderful memory to last a lifetime!







But, this is a food blog you know.  I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little about that.  The food at Disneyland has changed over the years.  They offer much more healthy options than just the fast food fare.  That's why we headed over there early to enjoy a healthy (not!) breakfast at the River Belle Cafe.  I love the mickey shaped pancakes.




And a mass production of pancakes.






And look at this mondo cinnamon roll.  While I was expressing my surprise that how large it was the girl next to me grabbed and and said...I think I'll share this!  Not me...I would have eaten that right up.



Here's my breakfast of potatoes, eggs, sausage, and a biscuit.  So delicious.



Here's MGGs breakfast, he wanted some of those tender pancakes!  I think I snuck a bite when he wasn't looking...and he did the same with my potatoes!


And the funniest food novelty we saw all day was this!  I want one of these.




Hope you get to go to Disneyland soon and experience the Magic for yourself!  Or, if you come to LA, make this one of your destinations, it is a wonderful place.  




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Simple Mornay Sauce





Sometimes you just need a good sauce.

I was in that dilemma not so long ago when I cooked up some nice Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner but wanted to jazz it up a bit with a white sauce.

So I whipped up this simple Mornay Sauce.

Mornay Sauce is a cream sauce, or bechamel of sorts that uses a roux as the base (flour and butter), plus has added cheese.  Typically two cheeses are used, such as a combination of Parmesan and Gruyere.  To keep it simple I just used Parmesan cheese.  

This is a light sauce, perfect for topping all kinds of foods such as, fish, vegetables, chicken, an can be used as a sort of alternative to Alfredo sauce for a different spin on pasta.

So next time you need a little something something...to top a dish...turn to this sauce, and give it a try.

Here are some step by step pics to get you started.

- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- Melting the butter
- Add the flour to make a roux


- Bring the mixture to a bubble
- Add the milk
- Turn up the heat and add the cheese and seasonings....stir, stir, stir, until it thickens.  About 3-4 minutes or until the consistency you desire is reached.


Serve!


Mornay Sauce 

Serves 4

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

In small pan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour. When mixture bubbles, add milk all at once, stirring with a whisk to avoid lumps. 

Turn heat up to medium high, stir in cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly until it's thick about 3-4 minutes.  Serve over desired foods such as steamed vegetables, or on seafood and poultry dishes.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pie Dough Cookies



Who loves Pie Dough Cookies?


I do...I do!


This is a throwback from my childhood.  Whenever mom made a pie (and she made a lot of pies, cause she's the queen of pies!) she would use the leftover pie dough and bake cookies for me.  Nothing fancy, just simple little strips with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.


Man oh man, I would wait in anticipation for those cookies!  Finally they would come out of the oven and I would get my first bite...ah...the tender flaky crust, with just a hint of cinnamon and sugar!  Fabulous!  I still love them.


So in keeping with mom's tradition, whenever I make a pie I make pie dough cookies too.  


Take a look at these pies....








and here are the pie dough cookies....so tasty!






So use your left over pie dough (if you're not making fancy leaves to decorate with... of course) to make your kids...or yourself...hehe! some simple cookies.



Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Verde Tacos




Ready for some Game Day food?


These have to be the best tasting chicken tacos...ever!  They are also some of the easiest to make.  


Perfect for feeding a crowd, and who doesn't love tacos?  They are a satisfying dish that your kids, husbands, friends, and neighbors are sure to love!


To add to the convenience I use a crock pot for easy, hands-off cooking so you can enjoy the game as well!


The best part?  The flavor.


These Chicken Verde Tacos, have a mild sweet and spicy flavor from the cooking liquid.  It's loaded with vegetables and spices, and they are so moist.  Now don't be put off by the celery...it lends the best mild "green" flavor and texture to the cooking liquid.  


I tell you now...be prepared...they will be coming back for more!


Here are some pics to help you along.


 - Place chicken breasts in a slow cooker
 - In a food processor, or a blender, mix ingredients to make the cooking liquid.  This is actually thick like a paste to begin with.  Blend all ingredients until smooth.




 - Cook for 6-7 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
 - Remove chicken and discard the bay leaf.  Shred chicken and return to the pot, stirring with the remaining cooking liquid.



Serve with corn tortillas and your favorite toppings.  I made homemade taco shells. (Tutorial coming soon!) and used shredded cabbage, cheese and some salsa verde for toppings.

Believe me...these are the BEST chicken tacos ever!  Try them.





Chicken Verde Tacos

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2  ½ lb Boneless skinless chicken breasts
½  onion, peeled and quartered 
2 stalks celery, cut in thirds         
1 Jalapeno, seeded and cut into quarters         
¼  cup water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp oregano                              
¼ tsp black pepper
1 ½ cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf                                       
Corn Tortillas
Salsa verde, shredded Cabbage, shredded cheese, and lime wedges (optional)
                                                       
                                                       
Directions:

Place meat in a 5 quart slow cooker.  In a food processor or blender combine onion, celery, jalapeno pepper, water, salt, chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, oregano, black pepper, and garlic. Process until almost smooth.

Pour over meat in cooker. Add bay leaves.  Cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.  Remove meat from cooker; discard bay leaf.  Shred pork by pulling two forks through the meat.  Return meat to the cooker; and stir in with the cooking liquid. 

Serve with taco shells, and desired toppings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baked Chicken Taquitos



I'm back on the Mexican food again.
Sorry...I can't help myself!

This time I'm taking a favorite dish, taquitos, and lightening it up!  How do you do that, you say?  Well, taquitos are usually fried....so why not BAKE them?  

Baking doesn't give you that extra fat (that we all don't need) that frying does.  But, you still end up with some tasty, crispy taquitos!

These are Baked Chicken Taquitos, but you could certainly swap out the chicken for some lean shredded beef.  They would be equally delicious.

These are accomplished in a matter of minutes.  They are kid and adult friendly.  Great for lunch or dinner (add some rice or beans and a salad).  They would even be excellent as an appetizer if you cut them in half.

Come on, you gotta try these...pretty please?

Simple to make:

In a medium bowl add shredded chicken, taco seasoning, salsa, and cheese.  Mix together.


Take two damp paper towels and place the tortillas in between.  Place them in a microwave for 1 minutes to soften them up and make them easy to handle.



Place about 2 tablespoons of filing at the bottom of the tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.



Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until crispy.



Allow to cool and then serve with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream for dipping.



So easy...so very tasty!



Baked Chicken Taquitos

Serves: 2

1 c of shredded, cooked chicken breast
1/4 c salsa
1/4 c Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon taco seasoning
4 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas
Sour cream, salsa, or guacamole, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken and salsa, taco seasoning, cheese and taco seasoning.  Mix to combine.

Dampen 2 paper towels, and place tortillas between them. Microwave 1 minute, until tortillas are warm and soft.

Place one tortilla flat on a clean dry surface and spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the bottom portion of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly.  Place in pan seam side down.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. 

Bake 15 minutes or until crispy. 

Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with desired topping for dipping.

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