Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ground beef chili - a lazy daisy favorite

It's always a big deal in our house.  Around mid-September I can be found watching the weather closely for that first day it's predicted to drop low enough.  Once spotted, I anxiously visit the store and, in a flurry, quickly gather tomatoes, beans, ground beef, onion...  We open the doors and windows to bring down the temps a bit more, and then crank up the stove with my big, red stockpot happily sitting on top.

I'm talking chili-makin' time, if you can't guess. 

Last Saturday was one of those days that everyone should have.  Flag football on a crisp Saturday morning, an afternoon of knocking out chores, a walk on the greenway with the faithful dog, and an evening of simmering goodness resulting in the best bowl of chili while watching college football.  How in the world do people live in regions that don't have seasons?!?  I don't know what I'd do without Fall!

In my humble, humble opinion, this is the best chili recipe.  Not that I'm any connoisseur, but it was a staple in my house growing up, and I loved the way Mom made it.  Hers never had too many beans, it was chocked full of beef, and the soup itself had the perfect blend of flavorful tomato tang with a slight sweetness.  Come the first fall of our marriage, I searched for a recipe I thought would take me back to my childhood, and this one hit the nail on the head.  We've been enjoying it now for 15 years. 

As you take a look at the recipe, its length might be initially overwhelming.  Don't let it keep you from following through.  It is worth every second.  The only adaptation I make is adding a little brown sugar at the end.  

I wish I had a way of photographing this to do it justice.  I'm just not great at the picture-taking part of blogging yet.  So, you're gonna have to trust me.  And the next time the weather forecast is calling for a high in the upper 60's, low 70's, you have a plan… use it.

Ground Beef Chili - makes 16 servings  
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato puree
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed beef broth, undiluted
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. steak sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. browning sauce, optional
  • Additional chopped onion, shredded cheese, and sour cream, optional

~ In a stockpot, cook the beef, onion, green pepper and celery over medium heat until meat 

    is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain.

~ Stir in the beans, tomato puree, salsa, tomatoes, broth, water, seasonings and browning 

    sauce if desired. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until 
    chili reaches desired thickness. 

~ Garnish with chopped onion, shredded cheese, and sour cream, if desired. 

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home.


Monday, September 24, 2012

jen's italian gnocchi and chicken supper

I am a huge fan of all things Italian, though I would be hard-pressed to come up with my favorite dish.  I enjoy a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil, and I love more involved recipes as well.  Flipping through a cookbook or magazine, I'm always drawn to the pasta... always.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon Gnocchi, a potato-based dumpling, and immediately was drawn to its versatility.  One night, I had several ingredients on hand and decided to throw them all together to see how it would fare.  I ended up liking it enough to include in a friend's recipe book, put together by her family as a wedding gift, and we have made it several times since.

My next endeavor is to try my hand at homemade Gnocchi.  From what I have learned, it's not hard, just a little time consuming... but, then again, isn't everything that's worth having?

It's only Monday, so add this recipe to the week's menu line-up  - a healthy meat and veggie, one-skillet dinner... easy-peasy and oh-so-good!

Jen's Italian Gnocchi and Chicken Supper - 
makes 6 servings  
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 7-8 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 4-5 tbsp. pesto
  • 1 pkg. potato gnocchi
  • fresh parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
~ Follow package directions for gnocchi.
~ Salt chicken pieces and set aside.
~ While pasta cooks, in large saute' pan, heat oil over medium heat. 
~ Add garlic, and cook about 30 seconds until golden.  
~ Add onion and zucchini, cooking until onion is translucent and zucchini is softened.
~ Add peppers, tomatoes, and chicken, stirring frequently until chicken is no longer pink.  
~ Add pesto (more, if preferred) to pan and stir to coat.
~ Drain pasta, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
~ Add pasta to pan, and thoroughly combine allowing pasta to heat through.  Add a bit of 
    pasta water, if needed, to help coat.
~ Serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.

Friday, September 21, 2012

orange-cinnamon french toast

Is there anything better than a warm and comforting breakfast, especially on the first cool days of Fall?  (And all of you who are particulars, I know it's not officially Fall until tomorrow, but I figure why not get a jump-start.)

I have always loved all things pancakes and french toast.  My family has joked, more than once, how as a little girl I smelled like a walking syrup bottle.  Our Luke has turned out to be the same!  "The apple doesn't fall far...," as the saying goes. 

This dish is so easy and just downright good.  It is dressy enough for guests but simple enough for a run-of-the-mill Saturday morning.  For us, a side of bacon and bowl of mixed fruit rounded out this meal beautifully.

Orange and cinnamon along with a drizzling of honey...  Really.  Need I say more?

Orange-Cinnamon French Toastmakes 6 servings  

  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled works fine)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 6 slices firm bread (day-old french works well, but any will do)            
~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Combine butter, honey, and cinnamon and pour in the bottom of ungreased 9x13 baking 
    dish.  Set aside.
~ Blend eggs, juice, and salt together, dipping bread slices in mixture and coating both 
~ Arrange slices in pan and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.
~ Top with pan juices, honey, or syrup and orange zest.

Recipe adapted from Gooseberry Patch Flavors of Fall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

popie's jalapeño poppers

I know, I know...  I have totally dropped the ball.  You'd probably given up on me.  I did exactly what I can't stand for other bloggers to do ~ keep cranking out fun and interesting recipes just to fall off the face of the earth.  I'm sure you're not at all interested in my excuses, but it makes me feel better to explain, and so I'll tell you anyway.

A little over two weeks ago, I was planning for a trip to Dallas.  I did some pre-cooking and photos, and I even uploaded what I knew I'd need to do posts for the time I'd be gone.  I got to Dallas, got to my hotel room late the first night, sat down with my laptop, only to find the hotel was VERY proud of their internet service... $16-per-day-proud.

I love and appreciate my readers, I really do.  I... just... well...

I promise I really love my readers. :)

So, I got back into town with every intention of getting back into the groove, and found that every night was booked with something, which then took me to an unexpected family situation, which took me out of town, which now brings me to tonight.  I haven't been home one evening since I got back from Dallas nine days ago.

Waa, waa, waa...

I know.  I'll stop.

So... now you know and now on to why we're really here; FOOD!  This is actually a great post in honor of Dallas.  I didn't have any jalapeño poppers there, but it's definitely a southwest kind of thing and screams for a pair of cowboy boots and two-steppin'.  Texas is written all over these things.

I have named these after my sweet, sweet grandfather, Popie.  He loves spice, and he loves bacon, and, well, I love him more than life, so that's a good reason, right?  I made these for him a couple of Christmases ago, and he actually asked for more when I visited home the next time.  He never asks for anything, because he never wants to put anyone out.  So I knew he really liked them, and now I try not to go back north without taking a few I've put together and frozen for him to pull out as needed.

I've taken a couple of pictures to show you how to seed the jalapeños.  It's really easy to push the end of the spoon straight into the rib of the pepper and lift up as you can see below:

Beware that working with these things can be slightly uncomfortable.  Make sure to not rub eyes (or nose, or anything else for that matter) after getting the potent oil on your fingers.  It has been suggested to wear gloves, but I don't.  Just take precaution, and you should be fine.

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience.  I would love to say a hiatus won't happen again, but one never knows.  In the meantime, stay tuned regularly for some of my favorites.  Fall has begun, and in the Green household, that means the kitchen goes into overdrive.

Wanna go for a ride?!?

Popie's Jalapeño Poppersmakes 20 
  • 10 jalapeños, halved, seeds and ribs removed 
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 slices bacon, halved
  • favorite BBQ sauce
  • toothpicks            
~ Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
~ Halve jalapeños, trying to keep stems intact (they're so pretty, if you can).
~ Remove seeds and ribs, as shown above.
~ Mix together cheeses and seasonings, and fill the peppers with cream cheese filling.  
    (think "spackling")
~ Wrap one-half piece of bacon around each filled pepper and secure with toothpick.
~ Brush wrapped peppers with sauce.
~ Place peppers on baking sheet in oven and cook until bacon is cooked and cheese is

Tips and Tricks
  • This is a GREAT way to use up extra pimento cheese.  I just add the seasonings and fill as usual.

  • Line your baking sheet with foil.  The filling really oozes, which is wonderful, but messy and tough to clean.

  • As mentioned, I sometimes will freeze these once assembled.  Remove from freezer and cook at lower temp, about 225 degrees, to slowly heat up.  Then turn up heat to crisp up bacon.  I slowly heat so that the cheese doesn't cook too quickly before the bacon and pepper.

  • Take these to your next football party and be a total rock star!

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

love people; cook them tasty old-fashioned cobbler

By now, you probably know that anything with the words, "old-fashioned," is going to grab my attention.  I really love old things - houses, furniture, clothes, recipes, people... :)

I grew up watching "Little House on the Prairie" every week.  Our family night consisted of getting to eat in the living room on the "pad," (a red and white checked oil cloth) and watching the show.  It's still my absolute favorite.  Laura Ingalls was a girl after my own heart, and I still, to this day, want to be like Ma...  And what about Pa?  Does it get any better?  A wonderful blend of kindness and steel, he was.

Some of my most beloved scenes were of the family sitting down after dinner, Mary and Laura doing their homework, Pa playing his fiddle, a roaring fire, and Ma serving up dessert.  I can just imagine "Old-Fashioned Cobbler" would have been such a one.  And I know it does beautifully in a dutch oven, so it's very possible!

If you like to go to a little trouble, I've posted the recipe I use when I have some time to spare.  Making the filling can really take this dish up a notch, but this is also a perfect go-to option in a pinch.  Just grab any variety of canned pie filling and you can save at least 20 minutes.  The sugar and butter caramelize really nicely, so this makes for a rich, more cake-like consistency than a traditional cobbler with a crumble topping that many are used to having.  And kiddos like to watch it as it bakes.  The batter envelops the pie filling and cooks right over top of it (as seen below) - no need to stir.

Pictured here is one I did recently with fresh apple filling.  I topped it with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream - wow.

Your next recipient is gonna love this one... Go and bless someone!

Old-Fashioned Cobbler - makes 6-8 servings 
For the filling

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 7 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
For the batter

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
~ Set oven to 350 degrees.
~ In two-quart casserole dish, place butter in dish and set in oven as it heats.
~ In small bowl, mix together brown sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set 
~ In large bowl, place the apples and sprinkle with the lemon juice and zest.  Stir to coat.
~ Add sugar mixture to apples and toss to evenly coat.  Set aside.
~ In a medium bowl, mix together milk, white sugar, and self-rising flour.  
~ When butter has fully melted, pour milk mixture into casserole dish and add filling 
    (canned or prepared).  Don't stir.
~ Cook for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden and filling is slightly bubbling.  

Filling recipe from Paula Deen via Food Network  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - cream biscuits

The recipe for a perfect Saturday morning?

0 alarms.
1 light breeze.
1 yummy breakfast on the patio with a neighbor.

Mr. Ronnie is a great friend of ours.  He and his wife, Ms. Suzanne, have lived across the street from us since we moved in.  They love our boys like their own, and Mr. Ronnie brings us food from time to time.

Excellent neighbors.

This morning, Mr. Ronnie meandered over with his coffee, so I thought it would be a nice opportunity to make a batch of biscuits and try our new strawberry rhubarb preserves I found at the farmer's market. Everyone says one can't live in the south and not know how to make biscuits, but you and I both know they can be cantankerous.

When making this breakfast staple, a light hand is a must, and so is this recipe.  These are melt-in-your-mouth-I-can't-mess-them-up good!  I promise.  

Happy Saturday!

Cream Biscuits - makes about 12 

  • 1  3/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
~ Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
~ Measure flour into a bowl.
~ Gradually stir in cream just until flour holds together and forms a ball.
~ Turn dough out on lightly floured surface and knead gently two or three times.
~ Using a light touch, pat or roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness.
~ Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, leaving as little dough between cuts as possible.
~ Gather remaining dough and lightly re-roll one time.  Discard scraps after this cutting.
~ Place biscuits on sheet pan with sides touching (this makes for softer biscuits).
~ Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.
~ Brush tops with melted butter.  Serve hot!

Recipe from White Lily: Your Favorite Southern Recipes