May 30, 2012

Basic Chili Recipe

Chili

I get a big craving for homemade chili once or twice per year, and thanks to various sources, I've developed a recipe (aka scrawled notes on a stained piece of paper) that is super basic and alterable. Sometimes I add cooked ground meat and beef broth to the pot, or sometimes I use fresh tomatoes from the garden instead of the canned variety. No matter how I alter it, it always turns out well.

Dinner

Of course, my favorite thing about chili is the toppings. We like to make our own tortilla chips, and load our bowls with cilantro, avocado, sour cream, cheese, and chopped green onion. If it's cold outside, I'll dig up my favorite recipe for cornbread and serve that alongside the chili with some honey and butter. And one of the best things about homemade chili is that it freezes well for quick meals later in the month.

Basic Chili Recipe

1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
2 onions, sliced
Pinch of salt
3 15 oz cans beans (pinto, kidney, or black beans)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
3 or 4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
10 oz frozen corn
2 cups water or broth
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onions for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the caramelized onions with the rest of the ingredients, and stir until combined. Bring contents to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

(Alternately, you can combine the caramelized onions with the rest of the ingredients in a crockpot and let cook for 4-6 hours before serving.)

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Serve with toppings such as tortilla chips, diced avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar, chopped green onion, or cornbread. Drink with a nice cold beer (optional). Enjoy!

May 25, 2012

Weekend To-Do's

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Experiment with pasta machine. Try this recipe.
Watch Star Trek: Voyager, Season 4.
Finish knitting my folded poncho (while watching Voyager).
Pinochle with friends.
Long walks in the sunshine.
Kitty cuddles.

Have a happy weekend!

May 23, 2012

Red Rice Salad

Red Rice

During one of our trips to a nearby Asian food market, Matt and I picked up a gigantic bag of red rice. It was an impulse purchase that decorated our kitchen shelf for a year before I decided I needed to figure out how to use it. I'm not sure what took me so long, but I cook with it all the time nowadays. It has a nice, nutty flavor, and can be prepared just like brown rice.

Red Rice Salad

About a month ago, I ran across a recipe on 101 Cookbooks for a Red Rice Salad that looked simple enough to try at home. I tweaked the ingredients a bit to make it more accessible to me, and was blown away by the flavor. It's delicious, texturally interesting, and can be made in a large batch to eat throughout the week. Matt says it's one of his favorite foods to take to work, and that he likes it cold just as much as he likes it warm.

Red Rice Salad 
2 cups water
1 cup red rice
2 tablespoons oil
1 red onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red chili, seeded and chopped
1-2 inches ginger root, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon molasses
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Pour the rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Combine the rice and the 2 cups of water into a saucepan over high heat until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes until the rice is done. Remove from heat and let cool with lid on until room temperature.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile, ginger, carrot and peas. Continue sauteing until they start to get tender, and add the coconut milk, soy sauce, and molasses. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the contents of the saute pan with the rice, and mix gently. Squeeze the lime juice into the mixture and garnish with fresh basil and nuts. Delicious served warm or cold.

Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

May 22, 2012

Gone Fishin'

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Matt and I met up with my dad and step-mom this Sunday for some troll fishing on Detroit Lake. It was a little rainy here and there, but otherwise perfect weather. And, of course, there was a solar eclipse while we were rummaging around in the middle of the lake. We couldn't see much of it, but it was still pretty neat.

We didn't catch much fish this time around, but I really enjoyed it. This is the first time I've gone fishing in years - maybe even since high school. I'd like to go more often.

May 18, 2012

Rhubarb Chutney

Rhubarb Chutney

Yet another amazing recipe idea from Marisa, and something delicious to do with all of that extra rhubarb you've got lying around. 

And a few more favorites:
This amazing shawl. I'm going to knit myself one in the exact same colors.
This backpack.
This chili. I'll share the recipe with you soon.
Homemade Ice Cream.
And Guacamole.

Have a happy weekend!

May 16, 2012

In the Garden

Thyme

Oregano and Rosemary

Chives

Cilantro

The weather has been warm and sunny all week, and our herbs are shooting up fast, so we're trying to incorporate them into our meals as much as possible. I'm especially excited about the cilantro. It's one of my favorites herbs, so it's nice to have a growing supply just out the back door.

News on the house: our offer was accepted! We're going through the inspection period right now, and we've found some major issues with the foundation, but the seller has agreed to make the necessary repairs. Please wish us luck! We really love this home, and we're hoping everything works out.

May 11, 2012

Turtle Cape Set

Turtle Cape Set

Turtle Cape Set

I finished a little crochet project last week for a friend who has a new baby in the family. Kinda cute, eh? I'm really fond of the tail.

It's supposed to be super warm this weekend - 85°F and higher. I think it's time to whip out our kiddie pool, and prep the grill for some heavy usage. I'm looking forward to it.

May 8, 2012

Orangettes

Orangettes

I've been in the mood to experiment in the kitchen lately. Mostly so I can get my mind off the anxiety surrounding all of the house hunting we've been doing. I'm itching to pack our things and get a move on, especially now that the weather is warm, but I can't do that until we find the perfect place.

Right now, we're waiting to hear back on an offer we made just this morning. The problem is that the market is crazy competitive right now, especially in our price range, so it's really hard to get a lock on anything good. We know ours is not the only offer on this home, so we have to hold our breath and wait. Unfortunately, no matter how much I prepare myself, I can't hide from the fact that I want this house, and that I'll be bummed if our offer isn't accepted.

Honestly, I was prepared for the stress involved with this process, but I wasn't anticipating how attached I'd become to certain homes that we've seen. Some homes seem perfect on paper, but fail to capture me for whatever reason. And then there are others I love almost immediately, despite their flaws.

No matter what happens, we'll be okay. As I said before, I'm trying to take my days one moment at a time, to enjoy my present situation, and to keep my creativity flowing.

So, taking this conversation back to the here and now, I decided to experiment with making my own orangettes last week. I first heard about Orangettes a couple years ago from Molly Wizenberg's aptly named blog, and put them on my abstract mental to-do list.

As I said, it's been a couple years since then, but I finally got around it it. I probably would've made these much sooner if we were the type of people to regularly stock our kitchen with oranges, but we aren't. We've always had lemons and limes on hand, but oranges rarely make an appearance. I'm not sure why that is, either. I only occasionally buy them for the zest, which I scrape off and freeze for later use.

Anyway, I decided to make a special effort this time, and bought a few oranges specifically for this recipe. We already had tons of chocolate (thanks to Trader Joe's dark chocolate pound plus bars), and plenty of sugar, so once I had the oranges, I got straight to work on the orangettes.

It's a week later now, and I'm almost completely out of my new favorite snack! Looks like we'll be adding oranges to our grocery list from now on.

Orangettes
2-3 oranges
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
Your favorite bar of dark chocolate (we like Trader Joe's)

Wash and scrub your oranges. Slice off the top (navel) and the bottom. Using your knife, gently slice the peel away from the orange in long, flat strips, leaving as much of the pith on the fruit as you can. Once you have cut all of peels, slice them into thin strips and set aside.

Oranges Orangettes Orangettes

Heat up 1 quart of water in a saucepan until boiling. Add the sliced orange peels to the boiling water, and let cook for 10 minutes. Remove peels, rinse, and drain.

In another saucepan, pour in the sugar and the water, and bring to a simmer. Add the peels, and let cook for 30-45 minutes, checking frequently until the liquid is syrupy, and the peels are soft and translucent. Remove the peels from the syrup and place them on a wire rack to cool and dry off a bit.

At this point you can roll the peel in sugar and serve as is, or you can continue forth to make orangettes:

Chop up your chocolate and melt it over a double broiler. Prepare two or three sheets of wax paper. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat, and dip the orange slices into the chocolate. You can either dip the whole slice, or only one of the tips. Either way, remove immediately and place on the wax paper to set. Serve as soon as the chocolate has hardened, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Adapted from this recipe.

May 1, 2012

May Favorites

I'm loving spring this year. Especially all of the extra daylight, the warmer weather, and the drizzly days. To celebrate May, I thought I'd share some of my current favorites:

Favorite Wrapping Paper
This wrapping paper from World Market.

Favorite Chocolate Favorite Chocolate
This amazing chocolate from Trader Joe's.

New Favorite Black Tea
This black tea.

Favorite Beer Cucumber Water
These beverages.

Otsu