Monday, March 22, 2010

Chili Powder = Delicious

We love chili in our house. We make a giant pot of it at least twice a month. It's so easy after a long day at work to throw everything in one pot and let it simmer away. I worked up this vegetarian version when my brother was visiting. It has 4 different beans and some great vegetables, all simmered away with lots of chili powder. Hope you like it!

Vegetarian Chili

3 Stalks of Celery, Diced
3 Carrots, Grated
3 Bell Peppers, Diced
1 Onion, Diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Can of White Beans, Strained
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), Strained
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Kidney Beans
1 Large Can (or 2 regular cans) of Crushed Tomatoes
4 Tablespoons of Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon of Cumin
1/2 Tablespoon of Salt
1/2 Tablespoon of Onion Powder
1/2 Tablespoon of Paprika
Cayenne Pepper to Your Level of Spicy
Optional Ingredient: 1/4 Cup of Amaranth Seed

Saute the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil until soft on medium-high heat. Once softened, dump in the spices. Stir until spices coat vegetables. Add all the canned ingredients.
I add the Amaranth at this point for extra grain and protein. I also like the texture it adds. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Simmer on low for 40 minutes and serve. I love mine topped with some cheese or sour cream!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Southern Comforts

I've been sick this week, with the worst cold. I'm not a good sick patient, so it's pretty excellent that I am rarely taken ill. However, when a bug does strike me, it always makes me nostalgic.
In 4th grade, I had the worst teacher (I didn't know at age 9 that she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.) I would constantly call my grandmother to come and pick me up from school because, "I wasn't feeling well." Nothing could make my troubles go away faster than my grandmother's recipe for an upset stomach: a good book, rest, saltine crackers and a Red Rock Ginger Ale.
Red Rock Ginger Ale has been bottled in Atlanta since 1885. The slogan is "just the right bite," and they're not kidding! I love the way the first sip takes your breath away and makes you almost cough! It's good stuff. Babe Ruth even endorsed the soda in 1939. The cola is also delicious, both sodas are sweetened with cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and the flavor is so much richer than mass marketed sodas.
Red Rock Ginger Ale is one southern comfort that I hope lasts for a very long time!

Friday, March 5, 2010

God Save the Queen!

I LOVE English food, and English chefs, and England. That British accent gets me every time, and I should add, that this love extends to all the British Isles, so I should really say that I love Great Britain. One of my favorite, very famous British chefs, Gordon Ramsay, featured Shephard's Pie on one of his shows, and I wanted to share my take on his version. This recipe is not complicated, and only requires 2 pans. You can modify the recipe to include a lot of different vegetables, or less of the different vegetables. (For example, when I cooked the recipe tonight, I added Swiss Chard, but it's not a standard.) I've gotten very good reviews, so I hope you try this simple recipe and let me know your thoughts.

Delicious Shephard's Pie

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb of Your Favorite Ground Meat (Beef is usually my choice, but I've also made it with turkey and chicken, all of them great.)
3 Carrots, very finely chopped
3 Stalks of Celery, very finely chopped
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon of Fresh or Dried Thyme (I prefer the fresh when I have it, but dried works just fine)
2 Tablespoons of Flour
1 Cup of Red Wine (Substitute stock if you don't have any red wine, it will also taste delicious)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes (see recipe below)
1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar

Saute the ground beef on medium-high heat until it is cooked through. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and thyme. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and flour. Continue cooking until there is a lovely brown coating on the bottom of the pan. Add your red wine (or stock) and deglaze the pan (which means scrape up all that lovely brown coating.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and spread evenly in the pan. Add the Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes, and spread around until the filling is covered. Spread the cheese over the top of the potatoes and place in a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts. To acheive that bubbly brown crust, turn the oven to Broil on High, and monitor very carefully. It can burn in 2 minutes, so keep a constant eye on it. Remove and scoop into bowls!

Delicious Cheesy Creamy Potatoes

10-15 Yellow or Red New Potatoes
1 Cup of Half and Half
1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Boil the new potatoes (I like the skins left on) in salted water until very tender, usually about 12 minutes. Strain and add the potatoes to a mixer bowl. Begin mixing with an electric blender, and add in the half and half and butter. Once the potatoes are creamy, add the cheese and salt and pepper.