Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bison Cincinnati Chili

I never had heard of Cincinnati Chili until I rented the first season of Cook's Country from Netflix. Honestly, I probably never would have tried it unless my mother had begged me to make it for dinner. Of course I made some modifications to the recipe, but it was very spicy (not hot spicy, just lots of spices) and really filling.

The ingredient list is long, but the recipe is really easy to put together. The recipe makes 6 generous servings. What distinguishes this chili from others is that

  • the meat isn't browned, it's cooked in liquid
  • you serve it over spaghetti (awe-some!)

1 lb. ground bison (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs. of 80% lean ground chuck*)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 medium onions, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (I went a little shy on this)
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (original recipe calls for cider vinegar, but I couldn't find any in the house)
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1-15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Hot sauce-optional (I didn't put any in)

Spaghetti (you can add butter to it)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped white onion

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are soft and brown on the edges (this takes about 10 minutes). Add the garlic to the onions and cook for about one minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.

Then, add the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir stir stir :-) until the spices are fragrant, only about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar and sugar to the pot and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the bison meat (*see the note at the bottom of this page if using beef. This is where I deviated from the recipe-- I thought bison meat would be lean enough not to make the chili greasy. It was pretty lean, but I still had to skim some fat off the top. Next time I'll blanch it). Increase the heat to high, and once the mixture starts to boil, kick the heat back down to a simmer. Stir the mixture occasionally until the chili has thickened (it took about 1 1/2 hours).

Here is another deviation from the Cook's Country instructions: the kidney beans are traditionally a topping, but I just added them into the chili for about 30 minutes before serving. (Everybody at our house wanted beans, so why not throw them in the mix?)

Season with the salt (and hot sauce) to suit your taste.

Serve over spaghetti and top with the cheese and onion (and beans if you don't want them in the chili).

*If using ground beef, you need to get rid of some of the fat so the chili isn't greasy. Boil 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a pot. Then add the meat, and stir stir stir until the meat separates into strands. When the foam from the meat rises to the top of the water, drain the meat in a strainer and set it aside*

Monday, May 24, 2010

5-Fruit Salad

Here is a really easy recipe for fruit salad and it's called (drum roll, please): 5-Fruit Salad. You'll never guess why-- oh oh, yes, yes that's right, there are 5 fruits in it.

This is simple to make, but it takes about 20 minutes of prep work.

1 pint of blueberries
2 pints of strawberries, quartered or sliced
3 kiwis, quartered then sliced
1 cup of grapes (red or green)
2 apples (I used Pink Lady), cut into 8 wedges, cored and thinly sliced *You can also use nectarines instead of the apples*
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar or Splenda

Start with a large bowl- pour in the OJ and mix in the sugar or Splenda until dissolved. Then get to slicing those apples, kiwi, and strawberries. Add each fruit into the juice as you get it sliced (I start with the apples since they turn brown quickly-- plus, the apples really soak up the juice).

This salad is great as a healthy dessert and it's good to make for a crowd.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Warm Spinach Salad

Tonight this Warm Spinach Salad served as a side dish. It's really simple to throw together, and doesn't take too many ingredients.

This recipe is adapted from Food Network Magazine.

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
10 ounces baby spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup feta cheese

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until golden brown.

Once the onions are browned, add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown, and then season with salt and pepper.

Turn the heat off and add the parsley, spinach, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine (the spinach will wilt down slowly). Top with the crumbled feta cheese.

This would also be fabulous with some bacon :-).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two-Tomato Arrabbiata Pesto Pasta

This is a pretty easy recipe and yields delicious results. I think this recipe came out of the Food Network Magazine, but can't be sure since my mom photocopied the page and then cut out the recipe. This is a good summer dish since the only thing you have to cook on the stove top is the pasta.

This recipe makes 8 servings (although the original recipe reads it serves 4). When I make this again, I would cut this recipe in half to get 4 servings.

1 pound spaghetti
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. hot water
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used a 3 cheese blend of Romano, Asiago, and Parm)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped chives

Now, go ahead and get a big pot of water boiling on the stove and cooke the spaghetti. That way you can get the sauce finished as the pasta is cooking. Make sure to heavily salt the pasta water, and you'll need to reserve at least a cup of the cooking liquid to add t;o the sauce and pasta at the end.

(NOTE: Make sure your food processor is in working order before you being the sauce. Unfortunately, the food processor I was using had a crack in it and one of the parts fell off, so I had to use a mini food processor, which worked well enough.)

Put the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper, and 2 tablespoons of hot water in the food processor, and turn on the machine. Drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil as the mixture is processing. Next, add in the halved tomatoes, salt, and pepper and process until the sauce is smooth.

Transfer the sauce to a big bowl and mix in the cheese, parsley, and chives.

Stir in about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water into the sauce (you can always add more if you need it).

Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl. Toss it with the sauce to coat it well. Garnish with parsley.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Citrus-Marinated Mushrooms

I'm usually not a fan of uncooked mushrooms-- they're dry. I much prefer them sauteed when they turn brown and soft and taste meaty. This recipe for Citrus Marinated Mushrooms changed my mind-- the 'shrooms soak up all the marinade and aren't dry at all. These don't have a strong citrus flavor either-the orange and lime zest give them a fresh flavor.

You'll need to make these a day in advance so they can marinate overnight. This dish would be great to serve at a potluck or barbecue since it can sit out at room temperature. (I suggest doubling the recipe).

You will need:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. grated lime zest
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 lbs. mushrooms, cleaned and halved

To make the marinade:
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, red pepper, salt, and garlic cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. Take the pot off the heat and add the orange zest, lime zest, extra-virgin olive oil, and sesame oil.

Combine the marinade and mushrooms in a large bowl and toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This recipe makes about 6 servings (2/3 cup per serving).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rosemary Potato and Caramelized Onion Frittata with Blue Cheese

Great recipes come from many places: a cookbook, a magazine, a website, a blog, a plant. Yes, you are reading it correctly: a plant. For dinner tonight I made a wonderful Rosemary Potato and Caramelized Onion Frittata with Blue Cheese. My mother found the recipe, and as soon as I took a bite I asked her where she found it. Expecting her to say the Atlanta-Journal Constitution or Cook's Country magazine, I was very surprised when her response was "It came with the rosemary plant." 

This has great flavor and is really filling. 

The first step of the recipe is to caramelize the onions (I love onions so much I used 3 instead of the 2 the recipe calls for). While those are cooking, get the potatoes going. By the time the potatoes are done and sliced, you can transfer the onions to another dish and keep them warm. You can clean out the skillet you used for the onions and cook the frittata in there (and saves you from dirtying another skillet).

The recipe is suppose to make 6 servings, and if you were serving this as a side dish, 6 servings would work. We ate this as our entree, and will end up getting 5 meals out of it.

First of all, gather up the ingredients: 

Caramelized Onions
2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
2 (or 3) large yellow onions, sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

5 medium red potatoes, unpeeled
2 Tbsp.olive oil
1 tsp. salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. freshly minced rosemary
2 ounces of crumbled blue cheese

For the onions, begin by heating your 9-10 inch non-stick (oven-safe) skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and then add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook the onions until they are soft and golden brown (it took me about 20-25 minutes). Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Cook the onions until the vinegar glazes the onions, about 1-2 minutes. (At this point, transfer the onions to another dish and wipe out the skillet and prepare to add your chopped potatoes).

For the frittata's potatoes, you'll need to place the whole potatoes in water, and then bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add a good amount of salt, and boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse them under cool water until you can handle them. Cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.

Heat the oil over medium heat in the skillet, and add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes uncovered, and turning them occasionally for 15 minutes-- they should be golden brown. Next, spread the potatoes in an even layer in the skillet. Go ahead and get the oven ready: move a rack 6 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together 10 eggs, the rosemary, and salt and pepper until combined. 

Pour the eggs over the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium-low. 

Use a spatula to lift the cooked portion of the eggs up from the pan and let the uncooked egg flow to the bottom of the pan. You will need to do this for about 5 minutes, occasionally lifting up the cooked eggs to allow the raw egg to cook. When the top is almost set, top with the blue cheese and put it under the broiler, Broil the frittata for about 1-2 minutes until the top is puffed and set.

When the frittata comes out of the oven, top it with the caramelized onions and serve. It went great with a simple salad. 

Okay, so the onions don't look that great, but they taste AMAZING!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Super Veggie Salad

Super Veggie Salad with a side of citrus-marinated mushrooms and roasted rosemary potatoes with ketchup.

This is my favorite salad-- hands down! It's loaded with peppers, olives, cheese, and pine nuts and has a balsamic vinegar dressing. Salty and sweet!

It's really easy to put together-- the most labor intensive parts are slicing the peppers and toasting the pine nuts.

1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1/2 lbs. mixed baby lettuce
1 cup broccoli slaw
1 cup shredded carrots
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (I use feta because I like its salty flavor)
1 cup of kalamata olives
1/2 cup of pinenuts, lightly toasted

First, mix up the dressing. I like to do this a few hours before I'm going to serve the salad so the sugar has time to dissolve.

In a very large bowl, combine the ingredients for the salad. Add the dressing and then toss to coat. Serve!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Despite being at my parents house to enjoy their company before I move 800 miles away to Michigan, my mother appointed me cook for the duration of my stay. She wanted to have French onion soup for dinner one night, and wanted a particular recipe for the soup, a slow cooker version from Cook's Country. Since I haven't written a post in awhile, I leapt at the opportunity. 

This soup is pretty good, but you probably want to be alone when you're doing the initial preparation-- slicing five pounds of onions and microwaving beef bones can leave a rather pungent smell wafting through the house, but once the onions get in the slow cooker, you'll be in heaven. 

You start the recipe by microwaving the beef bones on HIGH until they turn brown (it took 8  minutes).

While those are cooking, put the butter in the slow cooker and set it to high, and then start slicing those onions!

Once the onions are all sliced, add them to the slow cooker along with 2 teaspoons of salt, the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and the thyme.

Then it's time to add some unusual ingredients (unusual for French onion soup).

Mix together the flour, apple butter, sherry, and soy sauce until smooth (be patient and use a whisk). Then add the mixture to the onions and toss it all together.

Don't be scared-- you won't taste the apple butter at all.

Now, get those beef bones from the microwave and nestle them under the onions toward the outside edges of the slow cooker. 

Check out that marrow!

Put the cover on the slow cooker and cook the onions on high for 5-7 hours (the original recipe instructs you to cook the onions for 10-12 hours, but the onions turned soft and golden brown after about 5 1/2 hours in my mom's cooker). 

To finish the soup, remove the bones. In a pot on the stove top (or in the microwave) bring the beef broth to a boil, and then add it to the slow cooker. Continue cooking the soup until you're ready to eat. We served this with some good chewy, crusty bread and salad. If you're a traditionalist, feel free to ladle the soup into bowls, top with a slice of bread and some Gruyere cheese, and melt the cheese under the broiler (just make sure your dishes are broiler safe.

I was so excited to eat the soup, I forgot to snap a picture of it in the pretty serving bowls. At least I got a shot of the leftovers in the Gladware container before it went in the freezer!

Slow Cook French Onion Soup adapted from from Cook's Country (serves 6-8)
2 lbs. of beef bones (the bones I used weighed about 1 1/4 pounds)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 lbs. of yellow onions, sliced into 1/4 pieces
1 Tbsp.  brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup apple butter
3/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 cups of beef stock
Salt & pepper