Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who Needs Girl Scouts?

I really can't get enough cookies. And since I have more cocoa powder and candy canes left over from the holidays than I know what to do with, I decided to take to the kitchen and create some peppermint-chocolate goodies. These are actually less like cookies, and more like small cakes. The taste is very similar to a Girl Scout's Thin Mint cookie, except it's a soft, fudge-y Fat Mint cookie.

Recipe for Fat Mints (makes about 30 small cookies):
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) of butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract

For the glaze/topping:

  • 2-3 candy canes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of water

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until it becomes a paste. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract until combined with the butter and sugar mixture. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Shape the dough into rounded teaspoon-sized balls, spread out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and water to make the glaze. When the cookies are cooling, spread a little chocolate glaze on top and garnish with the crushed candy canes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nuts About New Year's Eve

If you're planning on hosting a posh New Year's get-together, champagne is key, but don't forget the finger foods. Whether you prefer a festive buffet, or a smattering of various appetizers placed throughout your house, small bowls of roasted nuts will compliment your snacking layout nicely. When I worked at Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis, I became addicted to the honey roasted almonds that we would put out for the (ahem) customers. They make a great holiday munch.

How to make the Salty-Sweet Honey Roasted Almonds:
  • 2 cups of whole raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt

Don't heat the oven - first, spread out the almonds on an ungreased baking sheet. Place the sheet in the oven, then turn the oven to 350 degrees and take out the sheet after about 15 minutes and set aside. Toss once about halfway through cooking. Meanwhile, stir together the honey, water and oil in a medium saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir in the roasted almonds and cook, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and salt. Transfer the nuts to the bowl and toss until coated. Spread the nuts out on a sheet of wax or parchment paper to cool.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New York Brunch

The origin of Eggs Benedict is unclear, but its popularity is undisputed. Each weekend, the residents of New York collectively sit down for brunch. Nearly every restaurant in the city offers a special weekend brunch, and nearly every one includes some form of Eggs Benedict on the menu. There's traditional (english muffin, a slice of ham, and a poached egg with hollandaise), nontraditional (with smoked salmon, bacon, spinach, or tomato; the list is endless), and even McTraditional (the Egg McMuffin was inspired by Eggs Benedict - a slice of cheese sheepishly substitutes for the hollandaise).

How to make Eggs Benedict:

Toast an english muffin, and cover it with a piece of canadian bacon. Place a poached egg on top and cover with hollandaise sauce. I like to serve it with roasted asparagus on the side, which taste great swept up in the overflowing egg yolk and hollandaise sauce.

How to poach an egg:

In a shallow saucepan, bring a couple inches of water and a splash of vinegar to a very gentle simmer. The small amount of vinegar will help keep the egg together. With a slotted spoon, swirl the water and crack the egg right into the water. Keep swirling gently so that the yolk becomes encased by the white, and so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Be careful to keep the simmer and swirl gentle enough so as much of the egg stays together as possible without scrambling. Cook for a few minutes until the egg has somewhat solidified, but the yolk is still soft. Remove the egg from the water with the slotted spoon and transfer to a lint-free tea towel so the egg can dry off until you're ready to build your Eggs Benedict.

Make the hollandaise sauce:

(Note: I do not make hollandaise according to tradition... I use more egg yolks. And non-clarified butter.)

In a medium saucepan (or use a double boiler if you have one) bring a couple inches of water to a simmer over very low heat. In a stainless steel bowl set over the steaming water, whisk 4 egg yolks with the juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus a pinch of salt. Whisk continuously until the yolks become thick and light in color, and have increased in volume. This will take several patient minutes. Keep a hand on the side of the stainless steel bowl - if it gets too hot to touch, you may want to turn the heat down a little, or remove the bowl for a minute to prevent the egg from cooking too fast and getting chunky. Once the yolks have thickened, whisk in 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time. Spoon the warm sauce over the poached eggs, and garnish with snipped chives. This will be enough sauce for at least 6 Eggs Benedicts.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yule Tide Carol

Merry Christmas! I wish you comfort and joy, and lots of good food, through the holidays and into the new year.

If you could please allow me the pleasure... to serenade you with some merry measure... it would be this rendition of Deck the Halls.

And to all a good night!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Cookie Days

Cookies are the food stars of the holidays. Every food magazine in December features beautiful shots of cookies and their corresponding recipes. Every family has a holiday tradition that revolves around cookies, whether it's leaving freshly baked treats for Santa, or hosting cookie exchange parties with friends. As an annual Yuletide ritual, I make the same ginger-molasses cookie every year. It's not the most popular cookie in my household, but to me it is synonymous with Christmas, and it's one of my favorites. My mother's Grandmother, Veronica Townsend (after whom I was named) used to make these for my mother, who then used to make these for me. Someday, I'll make these for my grandkids.

I made a batch of these yesterday, along with some classic chocolate chip cookies for my husband. I thought I might try to experiment and "Christmas them up" by taking a bit of the dough and adding some peppermint extract and crushed candy canes. Not a good idea. I've never baked candy canes in cookies before, but apparently they become a chewy, sticky, red-and-white-runny mess. So I nixed that operation. I still have a lot of candy canes in my possession for test creations, so maybe I'll try something else (being careful not to add them as garnish until after baking).

Recipe for Grandma Veronica's Ginger-Molasses Cream Cookies:

Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup of butter (softened, but still a little cold)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Stir in:

  • 1 tsp of baking soda, dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water

Sift together these dry ingredients, then mix them into the wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Heat the oven to 400 degrees, and chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Drop rounded teaspoons full about 2" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until set, about 7-8 minutes. While the cookies are still a little warm, frost with icing.

How to make icing: Stir together 3/4 cup of powdered sugar with 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp of cream.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Soothing Oeufs

No matter how upset my stomach is, I can always rely on scrambled eggs to keep me sustained. Gentle, consoling, and easy to make, they stand comfortably alone, or support some hearty sides with modesty.

Recipe for a plate of Fluffy Asiago Scrambled Eggs with Hash Browns and Bacon:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • Shredded asiago cheese
  • Fresh snipped chives to garnish
  • One big yukon gold potato
  • 2 or 3 strips of bacon
  • A small dab of butter
  • Salt and pepper

How to make the eggs: heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream, then add a pinch of salt and one turn of the pepper mill. Pour the eggs into the skillet, and push around with a spatula every 20 seconds or so, until done. When the eggs have almost cooked through, fold in the cheese. Serve hot with the fresh chives sprinkled on top.

How to make the hash browns and bacon: heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon, and cook for a few minutes on each side until they have reached your desired crisp. Remove from skillet, reserving the fat on the bottom. While the bacon cooks, peel the potato. When the all the skin is off, keep peeling until you have a pile of thin potato layers. Gather up the potato pile and drop it onto the hot fat. Use a spatula to shape the pile into a thin cake. Add a small dab of butter (about 1/2 tbsp) to the top of the potatos to melt. Let cook for a few minutes until golden brown on the bottom, and then lift the cake/pile with a spatula and flip, letting the other side get nice and crispy brown. Taste before adding salt.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gifts for Gourmets

I still have a copy of my Christmas wish list to Santa from when I was 8-years-old. It was so well organized, and it had little drawings on it to match the descriptions - just in case Santa couldn't read my writing, I suppose. I did not ask for a Barbie doll, or a Cabbage Patch Kid, or even an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. I asked for a bagel and a pear. Even at 8 I knew I loved food.

If you have a foodie friend in your life that you still need to get a gift for, they might think a pear is a weird gesture (and they'd be right, unless they're 8 and they specifically asked for it by name, and via crude illustration); but I bet if they don't have any of these essential gadgets, they will enjoy adding them to their culinary repertoire.

Of course, certificates for a specialty grocery store, nice restaurant, or a cooking class make great gifts as well. For something sexier than a spaetzel maker (what?? impossible!), I highly endorse the Philosophy line of cosmetic products. Their 3-in-1 shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath concoctions smell delicious (but don't leave a lingering sugary scent on your body) and have equally delectable signatures such as Red Velvet Cake, Cinnamon Bun, Coconut Frosting, Strawberry Milkshake and Raspberry Sorbet. Last year I begged my husband for a bottle of the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and I have been savoring every last bit. The icing on the cake, literally speaking, is that scripted on each bottle is the recipe for which it is named. So you can smell the cake and eat it, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coq au Procrastina-Vin

I somehow got it in my head a while back that I really need to make some Coq au Vin, probably just because I like saying it and pretending I'm Julia Child: Coke oh Vahn. The Coq lost his crow and has been hanging out in my freezer, until finally last night, I thought, "I've got coq. I've got vin. Let's do this thing already."

It's a classic dish, characterized by the Coq (fresh rooster parts, or in many non-French-cottage-in-the-countryside cases, grocery store chicken), braised in the vin (usually red wine), and accompanied by an assortment of other ingredients: lardons (salt pork), mushrooms, pearl onions, mirepoix (carrots/celery/onion combo), thyme, bay leaves, etc, etc. There are endless recipes and variations, since each region of France simply must have their own version, as well as celebrity chefs. I did it my own way as well, partially because I hate following the rules (I thought about throwing in the pearl onions, but I just didn't feel like it), but mostly because I hate extra trips to the store if I don't have any, say, mushrooms, for example.

Recipe for last night's somewhat anti-Traditional Coq au Vin for 2:
  • Two legs of chicken
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 3 pieces of thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • 3/4 cup of chicken stock
  • About 1/2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • A half stick of butter and about a 1/4 cup of flour on hand

In a dutch oven or large heavy pot, cook the bacon on medium-low heat for several minutes until done but not crispy, stirring occasionally. Move the bacon to a plate and set aside, but keep the fat in the pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and brown in the bacon fat until each side is golden, about 8-10 minutes. If the bottom starts looking dry, add some butter. There should be a shiny thin coat of fat across the bottom. Remove the chicken and place on the plate with the bacon. Next, cook the onions and carrots in the pot (adding a little more butter if necessary). Stir occasionally until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add a rounded tablespoon of flour to coat the vegetables, and cook while stirring occasionally, until the flour has browned slightly. Deglaze the pot by pouring in the wine and stirring, scraping the browned bits off the bottom. Stir in the chicken stock, thyme, and add the bay leaf. Transfer the chicken and bacon back to the pot, also pouring any accumulated juices in as well. Increase the heat to high, and stir a few times - when the sauce reaches a rolling boil, turn down the heat for a gentle simmer, and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a potato dish to serve with the chicken. The chicken will be tender and rich, so simple is best. Mashed or roasted potatoes are a good choice. Last night I went a little crazy and did individual gratins of Potatoes Dauphinoise, which is delicious and easy, but a little over-the-top paired with the rustic Coq au Vin.

After the chicken has finished simmering, remove the legs and prepare to serve to your liking. I pulled the meat off the bones so I could just spoon the sauce right over it, and not have to worry about picking it apart as we ate. To finish the sauce, taste it to see if you need to add any salt or pepper. Make a paste from equal parts flour and softened butter, and stir it in a little at a time until the sauce has thickened slightly. It shouldn't be too thick. If you want mushrooms and pearl onions, sautée them together separately in bacon fat and add them towards the end. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over the chicken, garnish with some fresh parsley, and enjoy. Don't forget the side of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Beware of Onion

"No pugs in the kitchen!" I shout, stomping my feet, for the third or fourth time. A favorite pastime of my two dogs is to wait patiently nearby as I chop food, ready to chomp on the fated bits that drop. Since my kitchen has no door (or wall, for that matter) to separate itself from the rest of our tiny New York apartment, I must surrender to the inevitable: no matter how many times I shoo them away, as long as there's food, the pugs will return.

The truth is, I don't mind. One of the many perks of being a dog is the occasional scrap of "people" food falling directly toward you. The problem is, however, that I chop so many onions.

Everyone knows that chopping onions makes you cry. Also fairly common knowledge is the reason behind the tears: the chemical irritants that onions contain, which give it a nice flavor, but also burn your sensitive eyes. So why bother to write about onions? Lately onions have been a root cause of some misery for me, and not just a few tears. Here are a few warnings about this very frequently-used ingredient:
  • Do not let your dogs or cats eat onions or anything with onion - it will make them extremely sick!
  • Although they are neighbors at the grocery store, onions and potatoes should not be stored with each other in the pantry at home. The onions will cause the potatoes to quickly sprout.
  • Fingers are easily sliced while chopping slippery onions. Be sure you have a firm grip on the root, not the skin. Make sure the onion is flat on the surface, and not rolling around, when you cut. A good technique is to first chop off the pointy stem top, then cut the onion in half from top to bottom, so you have half-a-root per half-onion section as your anchor. This will hold the onion layers together. Peel off the skin, then laying each half flat, hold the root with one hand, and make several slices lengthwise, going away from (and not through) the root. Then slice the other direction.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vealing Very Veak

Ugh. Fighting the flu is not what I want to be doing this time of year. My kitchen misses me; saying nothing, but giving me an ingenuous look that says, "Christmas cookies...cinnamon promised."

Whenever I'm not feeling well, I tend to crave Italian food. I think it's the mild acidity of the tomato I want. A trait I must have inherited from my mother. Whenever she is sick, she wants something really spicy or acidic. After speaking with her on the phone this afternoon, she gave me a long-distance hug, and told me to take it easy. Chicken noodle soup may be good for the souls and stomachs of the ailing, but moms are usually best.

I stopped at the store to pick up some veal to make meatballs. Go for the lighter-colored veal that is well-marbled with fat.

Recipe for Veal-ly Good Meatballs:

  • 3/4 lb of ground veal
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 tbsp of butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • Fresh thyme leaves, about 1/4 tsp
  • Fresh chopped flat parsley leaves, about 1-2 tsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Mix all the ingredients (except olive oil) together in a large stainless steel bowl with your hands. If it feels too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Roll meatballs, and place on the bottom of the pan to brown. Cook for a few minutes, then turn over. Once the outside of the meatballs look like they've cooked, cover with tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Check a meatball to see if it has cooked through, and then remove the pan from the heat, stirring a final time. Serve over pasta with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a White Chili

I don't know if it's the chill in the air, or the fact that I started talking about it last week, or the sudden nostalgic streak that seems to be affecting me recently, but last night I made more chili. When I was in high school, I worked at a restaurant in Minneapolis that made the most amazing white chicken chili soup. I consumed a small bowl of it during every one of my shifts. I distinctly remember wondering if I should try to get the recipe, but I think every 18-year-old has some genetic quality that makes them think they don't really need to plan for the future - that everything they need will somehow always be there for them - which prevented me from actually asking for it.

Fortunately I think I have duplicated it successfully, to the best of my memory. Even if I am way off on the original ingredients, it sure tastes good anyway.

Recipe for Creamy White Chicken Chili:
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 can of white kidney (cannellini) beans, drained
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced, seeds removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite light-colored beer
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • Fresh chopped cilantro - about 2 tbsp to stir in, plus more for garnish
  • Generous pinch (or about 6 sprinkles) of cumin
  • Generous pinch (or about 6 sprinkles) of paprika
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese for garnish

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Sweat for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken. Pour the lime juice over the chicken and season with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock, cannellini beans, and beer, and stir to combine. Bring the heat to high. When the pot starts to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, and simmer for an additional few minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Check seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve garnished with cheese and cilantro.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fads, Secrets, and More Bacon

The night owls among us recognize the current fad that is the speakeasy. Those certain secret after-hours locations that only a certain select few know about. During the period of prohibition, these often corrupt establishments that covertly sold alcohol were kept secret from the disciplinary wrath of the local police. Today, they are kept secret from the general public to protect (or forge) their aura of cool, not to protect their owners from a raid. Unlisted phone numbers and addresses. Hidden paths and doors. Secret knocks and passwords. Only those deemed decidedly hip are let in on these secrets, by another decidedly hip individual already in-the-know.

I had heard about a mysterious place that only lets you in if you find the secret phone booth, pick up the phone, and say the password. Last night I was out with some decidedly hip friends, walking around the East Village, laughing, distracted - not even realizing that we had paused at a tiny phone booth inside a hole-in-the-wall joint. Suddenly, after Mary had stepped inside and said something into the phone, the false back wall of the booth moved swiftly to the right and a beautiful woman popped her face through: "I'm so sorry, but we're full right now. Try back later?"

It's no secret that "creative gourmet" is a current fad among hot dog lovers. A recent episode of Top Chef featured a challenge where the contestants had to create their own unique take on the hot dog. Luckily, despite being turned away from the secret phone booth speakeasy, the aforementioned hole-in-the-wall joint we landed in served creative gourmet hot dogs. So we feasted instead.

I ordered the "Chihuahua" dog - a classic hot dog wrapped in a crispy strip of bacon and served smothered with avocado, salsa and sour cream. Until last night, I've been eating my hot dogs primarily with a thin drizzle of ketchup and mustard. Sometimes I would get crazy and try onions, relish, or even chili with some cheese, but mostly I would stick with just ketchup and mustard. Oh, what I have been missing out on! Bacon wrapped hot dog = genius. It wasn't the first time a strip of bacon changed my life, and I doubt it will be the last.

Here are some other creations I can't wait to try:
  • The "Chang" - a dog wrapped in bacon and topped with kimchee
  • The "BLT" - a dog wrapped in bacon and topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo
  • The "Tsunami" - a dog wrapped in bacon with teriyaki sauce, pineapple and green onions
  • The "Good Morning" - a dog wrapped in (yup, you guessed it!) bacon and covered with melted cheese and a fried egg

We didn't end up in the arcane room behind the moving wall. It didn't matter; I discovered a better secret. A place, not hidden, that I can get an awesome-tasting New York hot dog, loaded with goodies, for much less than the cost of a New York night spot cover charge.

Tell me about the best hot dog you've ever tried!

Museum of Modern Art

Do you ever look at a piece of modern art and think to yourself,
I could totally do that? Me too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What's Shakin', Bacon?

Last weekend we went to see my favorite comedian, Jim Gaffigan, perform live. One of the things I like best about him is how much he loves food. Most of his material revolves around food and eating, and his famous bit about Hot Pockets launched him into fame. We also share similar thoughts on salad.

On his new tour, he had a lot to say about one of my favorite foods: bacon!

"...When you cook bacon, you know you're getting something great because it sounds like a round of applause is coming from the stove - sssssssssss, ahhhhhhh!"

"...Salad with bacon bits always turns into a treasure hunt to find the bacon."

"...Would you like to join our religion?" "Sure, sounds good." "You can't eat bacon." "Oh? Nevermind."

Recipe for Veronica's Favorite Bacon Sandwich:
  • 6 strips of thick-cut bacon
  • 1/2 avocado, thin slices
  • 1/2 mango, thin slices
  • 1 leaf of lettuce
  • 2 slices of good bread
  • 2-3 tbsp of chili-lime mayonnaise (recipe below)

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Prepare the chili-lime sauce, spread on both slices of bread, and stack your sandwich!

Recipe for Chili-Lime Mayonnaise:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few drops of Sriracha (Thai chili sauce)
  • Zest of 1 lime

Whisk the yolks (a mixer helps) with the lemon juice, lime juice and salt. Whisk in the oil a few drops at a time and continue to whisk until thick. After about 1/3 of the oil has been added, start to whisk it in more steadily. Make sure all your oil is getting absorbed. Stir in a few drops of the Sriracha and lime zest. The sauce will keep in the fridge for two days.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tis the Season to do Good

According to this recent news article, more Americans are relying on food stamps than ever before. And due to the increase in demand, food banks are struggling to meet requests.

As you know, these are tough economic times for everyone. If you have the means to donate food or time to a local food bank this holiday season, it is much needed, and will be appreciated by someone. Tis the season to volunteer. Tis the season to give!

Regardless of the season, always give thanks for food.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Baby it's Chili Outside

If you still have leftover turkey at this point, you have a problem. You might want to just call it quits to play it safe (unless you froze it), or hurry up and make turkey chili.

Our thanksgiving leftovers made it to Sunday. We lazily heated up turkey bits piled on slices of French bread (bruschetta style) with stuffing and dressing for 3 days before I had to come up with a new plan with new food. Yesterday, I decided to make chili. There are so many chili recipes I have been wanting to try out (especially this one from Mollie Katzen) and I am hoping to invent a recipe of my own. One of my goals is to
someday win the Hannibal Annual Chili Cookoff with my very own Budweiser-inspired chili.

But since yesterday was stressful, and I only had about 5 minutes to run through the store before I had to get home to let the dogs out (who each defecated on the floor regardless of my best efforts to reach them as fast as possible), I decided to go with the easy chili recipe my mom taught me.

Recipe for Can-do Beef Chili:
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • Generous sprinkles of chili powder
  • (Optional - I like to add a little hot sauce, garlic salt, and chipotle powder - but definitely add salt and cracked black pepper)
  • One can diced tomatoes
  • One can kindey beans
  • One can Campbells tomato soup
  • Cheese, sour cream, Fritos - toppings of your choice
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the onion and green pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook until brown. Add the chili powder and seasonings and stir as the meat cooks. I usually end up using between 1-2 tbsp of chili powder. Add the diced tomatoes and juices, drain the kidney beans and add, then pour in the concentrated tomato soup. Stir and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft. Serve in a bowl with chosen toppings.