Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Winter Warmers

So... apparently it's still winter.

To warm up last night I fixed up some chili-mac with cornbread. Delicious!

The chili is a recipe my good friend, Libby, and I made up in high school. I use it all the time and I haven't found another chili recipe I like as much. (Though I say it myself...) We also made up a Chili-Brulee song to go along with it, but I will spare you the torture of hearing it, partially because it would be hard to put it on the blog, and partially because it's just scary.

The cornbread recipe is from a family cookbook compiled some years ago for my Mom's side of the family. I can't vouch for its authenticity, but I can certainly vouch for its deliciousness. It is seriously heavenly stuff. Don't skip the buttermilk. It's important. (Okay, you can certainly substitute plain milk for the buttermilk, but trust me when I tell you that buttermilk takes it to a whole different level.)


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 lb. ground beef
1, 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. chili powder (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
a couple good turns of black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. basil
1 cube beef bullion
2, 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2, 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
1, 15 oz. can black beans, drained

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for a minute or two. Add ground beef and cook until browned through. (At this point you can drain the drippings from the ground beef. I don't because I'm lazy like that.) Add in tomato sauce and spices. Add diced tomatoes and let simmer for 5 or 10 minutes. (Longer is better, but who has that kind of time?) Add all beans, and let simmer another 10 or 15 minutes.

You can finish this any number of ways: you can eat it as-is with your favorite toppings; you can serve it with elbow macaroni or shell pasta and a generous handful of cheese to make chili-mac like we did last night; or you can make it truly "brulee" by dishing it into oven-safe stoneware bowls, topping with cheddar cheese and broiling until the cheese is brown and bubbly. (The way Libby and I originally intended.)

"Marie Callendar's" Corn Bread
(This recipe has never failed me!)

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. + 2. Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. margarine, melted
3 lg. eggs, beaten

Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, combine milk, margarine and eggs. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in milk mixture. Mix until moist but lumpy (don't over-mix). Pour into a greased 9x9" pan. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.
Don't forget the honey butter!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Aunt Sonja's Cherry Squares

2 cubes butter, softened
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 lg. can cherry pie filling

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in flour and extracts. Pour and/or spread 3/4 of the batter in the bottom of a greased 9"x13" pan. Scoop cherry pie filling over batter in pan. Drop remaining batter by spoonfuls over the cherries. Bake at 375 for 45 min. Let cool before serving.

Black Bean Burritos with Avocado

I originally got this recipe from Cooking Light magazine, so it's pretty darn healthy, but it all depends on what you put on your burrito.

1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. cumin
2, 15 oz. cans black beans, drained of excess liquid
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. diced avocado
1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
flour tortillas
burrito fixings of your choice
(We like cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and lettuce)

Combine avocado with citrus juice to coat. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute about 1 min. Stir in water, cumin and beans. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 3 min. or until beans just begin to burst. (It will be paste-like - sort of like refried beans, but better for you!) Taste and add salt and/or pepper to your taste. Assemble burritos as desired.

Note: This is also fantastic with chicken, but makes a great vegetarian dish on its own.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Perfect Pancakes

Even people who aren't fond of pancakes have raved about this recipe!

1 1/2 c. flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs, then add in the milk and vanilla. Pour in the melted butter and add mixture to dry ingredients immediately. Whisk until batter is just formed (in other words, be careful not to over-mix so the pancakes will be as tender and fluffy as possible).

Heat a skillet over medium heat and pour on about 1/4 c. batter. Cook on first side until bubbles begin to break the surface and the undersides are golden-brown (about 2 minutes). Flip and cook about 1 minute more.

If you like blueberry pancakes, this is a great recipe to use. Just add the blueberries right before you flip the pancakes (when bubbles break the surface of the pancake). Same goes for chocolate chips!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cube butter
2 Tbsp. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. corn starch
1 c. heavy cream (or evaporated milk)
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts. Saute in pan or grill until cooked through. Set aside in oven-safe dish.
Dissolve corn starch in cream. Set aside. Melt butter in skillet, add chicken broth, and lemon juice. Slowly add cornstarch and cream to pan, stirring constantly. Let sauce simmer until thickened, continuing to stir.
Pour over chicken and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Broil until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve over rice.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pretty Kitten

Welcome to my blog about food.

I used to think I was a baker and that cooking was too challenging. I felt confined to the recipe.

Now I know better. While I have yet to master some things, like scrambled eggs, chocolate chip cookies, and rice (teasingly difficult, if you can make these things you are smart!), other things have come easily, like angel food cake, chocolate souffle, balsamic roasted pork, and excellent beef pot roast.

I'm enjoying the journey!