Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

I have had a serious chili craving recently. Really serious. The kind that sits atop a mountain of buttered noodles and is crowned with cheddar cheese and sour cream.

So, where do I turn when serious cravings strike? Smitten Kitchen, of course. But (and I’m certain Deb would understand this) I HAD to play with the recipe. There were simply things that I needed. Craved. Loved in my chili. And I skipped the biscuits in favor of pasta and toppings.

So, without further ado, here is my version of the recipe.

Entirely Non-Texan Beef Chili with Veggies

about 3 cups of diced onions (I used 6 small onions)

1/4 cup + 1 T chili powder (this is what I had left in the bottle – and I added more ingredients, so it made sense to add more)

3 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 T ground cumin

2 T paprika

1 T fresh oregano, minced

1T fresh flat leaf parsley, minced

1 t dried red pepper flakes

1 jar of Classico Fire Roasted Tomato and garlic pasta sauce (I don’t like using canned tomatoes – the cans are lined with plastic containing BPA. I use pasta sauce in place of canned tomato sauce. It’s fantastic!)

2 8-ounce cartons of chicken broth (I use Pacific)

3 T apple cider vinegar

1 large can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

1 can of black beans

1 can of corn (I use Greenwise organic corn to avoid GMOs.)

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 t salt

1 t black pepper


In a very large pot (I used my huge Le Creuset), heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for one minute more. Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, parsley, and pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth and vinegar and simmer the chili, covered, for 40 minutes. Add the cannellini beans, black beans, corn, bell peppers, salt & pepper. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes, until the bell peppers are tender.

Serve over buttered spaghetti, top with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.


Enjoy! Try not to eat it all in one sitting. =09




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Defeating Bread

Today, stuck between a rock and a paycheck, I decided to conquer my fear of baking bread. I mean, we had all the ingredients in the cabinet, after all. What was to stop me? I even have a Bosch mixer collecting dust in the back of the cabinet. Sacrilege, I know. There’s a NutriMill in there, too. O_o

So after apologizing to my long-neglected Bosch, I cleaned it up and put it to work. I found several different recipes that I thought would work based on what I had. This one fit the bill – simple and practical.

I don’t have a good history with bread baking. I have always killed the yeast and never had much success with rise. Ok, none. But, clearly, I had good intentions when I purchased my mixer/grinder set years ago. Imagine my delight to see bubbles in my mixer!

It worked! It really worked! I took the advice of Crystal at The Family Homestead and didn’t use a thermometer like I’d always done before. I just heated two of the three cups of water a bit – to where it was not-quite-too-hot – then added the third cup of water in at room temperature. I put the sugar in the mixer with the water, whizzed it around a bit, then added the yeast. Imagine that! All these years I’ve just been too anal for my own good.

Yes, it’s white bread. No, it’s not particularly healthy. It is, though, unbleached King Arthur bread flour, so it’s not too completely bad. Shush. Let me justify my lack of whole wheat flour in peace. I did modify the recipe a bit and used melted butter instead of oil. I was pleased with the results. I’m looking forward to substituting half of the flour for whole wheat next time.

Then…the fun part. Monitoring the rodeo that is the Bosch mixer at work. This is the mixer operating in second gear, bucking and jumping on my counter, threatening to do a swan dive to the floor. I’m surprised this photo came out as clear as it did, seeing a I had to briefly take my hand off the mixer to snap it quickly before grabbing it again.

The thing that I have come to adore about the Bosch is that I do not have to knead the dough. Really. Five minutes of yeehaw and out pops a perfect round of dough, ready to cut and place into my motley crew of loaf pans. One rise time is all that is needed. No punching down. Does it get any better than that? I think not.

I’ve never had bread play this nicely before! What a feeling! But then, they hadn’t been baked yet. Fingers firmly crossed, I entrusted their care to my oven for half an hour. The smell was torture. Kaitie was convinced that I was making coconut bread – apparently yeast smells like coconut to her. Derrick was waxing poetic about the fact that he had never had homemade bread before and was excited to try it. Gracie kept sneaking into the kitchen, her little button nose poking around at counter level, hoping to be there when it first came out of the oven.

She was rewarded with a first sniff of the amazing results!

I’m still in awe that I beat my yeasty demon. Three loaves survived the evening to be made into grilled cheeses and pb&js this week.

Happy, happy day. 🙂

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I imagine some of you are still drooling over the chocolate chip cookies from my recent post. Here’s an update on the goings on in the cookie department…

On the day after, the cookies lost some of their appeal to me. The texture was still chewy and dreamy, but the flavor had become far to one-dimensional. Now, seeing as these lovelies will probably be sold on the day after, that just won’t do. So after a careful evaluation of the flavor profiles, I edited the recipe and got back on the chocolate chip cookie horse.

The results are chilling in the fridge for the night…

What’s that? Escargot Candy? Oh, yes. I’m getting to that.

So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the extra egg whites that are available post-chocolate chip cookie dough creation. Then I remembered my true candy love – Escargot. No, no, no. There are no snails harmed in the making of this sweet treat. The final candy is just shaped like one. 🙂

The first layer is fluffy, sweet, homemade marshmallow. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! =09

The second layer is a dark, rich, salty caramel. It really is irresistible. I can still taste it…chewy and satisfyingly carame…..oh. Sorry. I’m teasing you, aren’t I?


So the caramel gets spread across the top of the marshmallow, and they set up together in the chill chest.

Tomorrow, it will be cut, shaped, and dipped into dark chocolate.

Yes, really. You’ll see! I’ll put some pics up tomorrow. 🙂

Sweet dreams!



To make the escargot, layer a batch of homemade caramel on a parchment lined half sheet pan.

Then, after the caramel has cooled, layer a batch of homemade marshmallow right on top. I use Alton Brown’s recipe.

Once everything has cooled enough to touch, cut strips of candy and roll them. Then dip in melted chocolate. YUM! NOTE: If the rolling is too complicated, just cut the candy into squares and dip. It’s just as good!

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This morning, we tested the cookie quality at room temperature. Purely for research, of course. Scientific and all that…

Chewy, cakey texture inside. LOTS of chocolate. Crispy, buttery edges. Lovely floral notes of real vanilla. Oh. My. Goodness. That is a seriously good cookie. If only I could figure out what Caroline did with my SD card so that I could take a picture with something other than my iPhone!

You know you want some…taking orders now. 😉

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Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey, by Jill O’Conner


I recently tried making my first homemade almond milk. The almonds I bought wanted nothing to do with becoming nakey, however, even after soaking them for a full 48 hours. I had to peel the skins off like too-fresh boiled eggs. It took forever, but the almond milk itself was a delicious success. Until I ruined it with too much honey. Typical. Note to self: measure next time, and use simple syrup.

Anyway, I kept the leftover almond meal in the fridge with the ultimate goal of finding something yummy to bake it into. Then, last night karma was kind. My friend and I were looking for something yummy to make for dessert, so I pulled this cookbook off the shelf and we started drooling through the recipes. Imagine my delight when I turned to the recipe for Almond Brown Sugar Pound Cake, AND I had all the ingredients!

This morning, after saying good morning to my little plant babies in the garden, I assembled the ingredients and set to work.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
…all got sifted together into a medium bowl and set aside. Then…

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened

…were creamed together until whipped and fluffy. Then…

2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla extract

…were gradually added and whipped again until fluffy. Yes the double addition of vanilla is thoroughly decadent, but the recipe called for 1 tablespoon each of vanilla and almond extracts. I don’t have almond extract, and I didn’t want my cake to feel slighted in any way. And it IS homemade extract, after all. So there. Then…

6 eggs, at room temperature

…were added one at a time and each addition was mixed thoroughly for at least a minute. Then…

…I folded in the flour mixture by hand with a rubber spatula until all the almond flour was completely mixed in. I then poured the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and baked in a preheated 325° oven for 65 minutes.

I let it cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turned it out onto the rack. I used my doneness-testing-wooden-skewer to poke holes in the cake for the glaze. To make the glaze, I added…

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

…and 2 teaspoons homemade vanilla extract to a small saucepan. That part wasn’t in the original recipe, but what kind of butterscotch glaze doesn’t have vanilla in it? Seriously? The situation had to be remedied. (Yes, Jill O’Conner, there is such a thing as a vanillaholic.)

The recipe suggests boiling the glaze for about five minutes, but I like my glaze thicker, so it boiled for about 10 minutes.

I moved the cake from the rack over to its final resting place on my cake server. In retrospect, I’d have left it on the cooling rack and put parchment underneath it to catch the glaze as it poured over (then reuse the glaze). I had to use a silicone pastry brush to thoroughly glaze this lovely cake. It worked, but I think the other method would be less messy. On the other hand, I got to scoop the excess glaze off the edges of the cake server and give them the required taste testing.

Oh. my. goodness. This cake is amazing! I found the cake itself to be a tad sweet (not that that is a crime, by any means), but hubby disagreed. The butterscotch glaze is amazing, and I love the texture that the almond meal adds to the cake. I was also pleased to discover that this cake has that crunchy-sweet bottom that is essential to any good pound cake.

This will definitely be making routine appearances in our kitchen.

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