It suddenly happened this week… Fall arrived. As a fourth generation Vermonter, I can feel when it happens in my bones. Fall will usually allow the sun to peek in on us and temperatures to rise up enough to enjoy a few more weeks, but normally by the beginning of October the chill has settled in and Jack Frost starts to visit. I don’t mind Fall with the prism of colors that grace us, if only for a very short time, and my trusty sweater layers being dug out of my closet, it’s actually a welcomed change. And the best part? Comfort food! I love comfort foods and so does the rest of my brood. This Chili has been a staple of mine for about 12 or 13 years, it has pretty much stayed exactly the same over the years too.
It is perfect and hearty just the way it is. I do suggest finding Smoked Paprika, it really gives this dish an amazing flavor that cannot be duplicated by any other spice. Most large grocery stores carry it, you just need to look.
1 pound Chicken chopped into smallish chunks
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed
2 small cans chopped mild green chilies (I like the fire roasted ones)
1 small onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 jalapeño chopped (leave out the seeds for a more mild flavor)
1 or 2 cups chicken broth
1 tbs. dried Oregano
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Curry
1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, one about 3 quarts works best, on medium heat make a circle with the olive oil and dump in your chopped onion and red pepper. Cook slowly until the onion is translucent and peppers are soft, then add in the jalapeño. cook for another 2-3 minutes, being sure not to allow anything to burn. Now add in the chicken and cook through, browning all sides. At this point add in the rinsed beans and green chiles, and add enough chicken broth to almost cover everything, stir and bring to a low simmer. Now add in the Oregano, Cumin, Curry, Smoked Paprika, and Cayenne pepper and stir it all in.
You will need to let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until it starts to look thick. Taste it and season with salt and pepper, and you’re all done! We top ours with sour cream, and I put Avocados on mine.
Patience is not one of my fortes. I don’t like lines, of any kind, grocery store or DMV alike, and waiting for my children to ever so slowly follow me to the car is almost beyond my patiences threshold! But, I have learned that sometimes, there are things that are very much worth waiting for. Most of my recipes and go-to dinners are pretty quick, and can be devoured as soon as I toss the last ingredient in. There are a few though, my Meatballs (I will be posting that recipe soon!) and the tomato sauce that goes with it (I tell hubby that my spaghetti sauce is my nemesis… I swear I have to tweak it and play with it for about an hour before I am happy!) and my Old Style Pasta Bolognese all take about three to four hours.
Chili is one of these “hang out and simmer” kind of dishes. No matter what I do, I cannot rush this dish, it needs the TLC that only time and a low heated simmer can infuse into it. You can’t rush these kinds of flavors, so don’t even try. But, it is so worth it! This Chili is my own concoction, after spending an afternoon looking at thousands of chili recipes and not finding one I was really happy with I decided to take what I had learnt from other cooks and devise my own Chili. I also knew from experience that Guinness was a fabulous addition to anything loaded with beef, so I took a chance and created my own Guinness Three Alarm Chili. I call it three alarm, but it’s only about a 7-8 on the heat scale. You can always adjust heat by omitting seeds from hot peppers, and tasting before adding in the cayenne pepper.
It’s a huge hit in my house, especially when the cooler Fall air starts crawling its way across our neck of the woods. This is the time to start pulling out the warm comfort foods. I think your family will agree, Guinness makes good stew and chili!
1 large onion chopped
1 sweet pepper (I used a red one for color)
2-3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2-3 hot peppers finely chopped (I recommend Jalapeño or Serrano)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground buffalo
1 can 14.9oz. Guinness
2 6oz. cans tomato paste
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cans beans (I adore black and pinto beans, pick your favorites)
1 cup beef broth
fresh cilantro (about 3 TBS chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
To start, chop up your onion and peppers and garlic. Using a 6 quart stock pot, put it on medium to medium high. Be careful thats its not too hot, you dont want to burn any of these tender ingredients. Once it’s hot make a circle around the bottom with your olive oil. Then dump in your onion, saute for about 10 minutes until they start to get darker in color and are very soft, now add in the peppers and garlic, continuing to saute for about another 5 minutes. Add in the beef and the buffalo (always salt and pepper generously before adding to the pot) cooking it and breaking it all apart. Before the meat is completely cooked, so there is about 70% browned meat, add in the beer. Just pour it right in and stir to mix it all up. Now add the tomato paste and stir it in well, make sure you get out all the tomato clumps. Now with the heat lowered to medium, add in the chili powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne.
At this point, we want everything to start to incorporate and get the flavors mingling. Put the cover on the pot and lower the heat to medium low. Stirring once in a while, let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, you can now add in the beans and the beef broth. I would suggest to start tasting at the point, and add salt and pepper as needed. Put the cover on and simmer on low for about an hour and a half to two hours. When there is about 30 minutes left of time, add in the dried oregano and the fresh cilantro. Continue to cook for about 30 more minutes. And as always taste taste taste.
My family likes corn bread with Chili, I on the other hand do not. But I will whip up a batch of corn bread muffins for them, and then I cut one in half, put it on the bottom of the bowl and scoop the chili over top. Top with a little bit of cheddar and/or sour cream. I have been known to put slices of avocado on the top of mine! Yummmm….!!
In this household we love breakfast. It’s the most asked for meal, we will have breakfast for lunch and dinner, really, it’s just good eats all the time! I am sure I can blame my infatuation with breakfast on my father. Growing up he would make pancakes for dinner (from scratch!) all the time, and really whats better than real maple syrup on anything for dinner? I have done the same with my kids. We also love Tex Mex or southwestern flavors, so as a result we end up eating lots of breakfast foods and spicing them up a bit in the process.
There are a lot of breakfast restaurants (around here at least) that serve burritos, filled with everything from eggs and cheese to a more complicated mish mash of multiple pork products, potatoes, eggs, or whatever they feel like tossing into the tortilla at the moment. I love burritos, and luckily so does the rest of my family. So, I decided to make my own, and oh, are they so easy!
1 TBS Butter
olive oil for sautéing
1 medium or small Onion, sliced
1 Yellow, Orange or Red Pepper
6 Turkey Sausages, casings removed
1 can Black Beans, rinsed
1 TBS Cumin
3 tsp Curry
Fresh chopped Cilantro, about 1/8 of a cup
Tortillas (I use whole wheat)
Sharp Cheddar cheese
Jar of Salsa
salt and pepper
To Start, slice up your onion and saute in a large frying pan with the olive oil, keep the heat med-low so the onions don’t burn and sauté up nice and sweet. While you’re cooking the onion, start making the scrambled eggs in another pan. Like I have said before, I like the way Gordon Ramsay does eggs, this is what I always do for scrambles. Then add in the sliced pepper to the onions and continue sautéing them together. Once they start to get soft ad the turkey sausage (casings removed), and using a flat wooden spoon chop the sausage into smaller pieces while it cooks. once its all done you can add in the rinsed black beans, curry, cumin, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste, stir just to heat everything up. Take the tortillas and put in some egg, the sausage mixture and sprinkle with the Cheddar, then top with your favorite salsa. Thats it! Yummy southwest burritos with eggs and sausage.
It’s pretty rare, but sometimes I get cravings. Cravings that will wake me up in the morning, and consume everything until I feed it. You know this craving, right? It’s the same one that makes you eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s while hiding in the closet. Yeah, that one.
This is the craving monster that took over me this morning. When I woke up, I could only think about spicy blackened chicken sitting on top a pile of fettucini slathered in a spicy Alfredo sauce. Oh, yes. That was whats for dinner.
There is one thing that I hate about Fettucini Alfredo, its packed to the brim with fat and calories… and I mean packed! And like most home cooks out there working towards a ‘lighter’ fare for most dinners, I have attempted to make Alfredo ‘lighter’, but alas, Alfredo will have none of that! I think that we just have to allow Alfredo to be what it is, absolutely delicious, and absolutely fattening. It’s okay, we’re allowed to indulge, if only once a week!
Of course, I cannot make just any Alfredo, around here that will not do! I need it kicked up a notch… It’s got to have some spice. Although I will say it didn’t end up more than a 5 on my spice scale (10 being the hottest, and my 8 year old can handle a good 7). Don’t leave any spices out. It’s perfection, and of course the heart of blackened chicken is the spices, and if you leave any of them out, you’re just eating grilled chicken.
How to get chicken Blackened
The blackened chicken in this recipe has butter in it. Now I know a lot of you out there will get squeemish at the idea of using butter in a seasoning mix, but please trust me when I say, this works, and margarine will not be the same. Not only will the butter make the seasonings stick to the chicken, but it also gives the chicken a nice blackened outside. The other thing is, you must grill this chicken, I am sorry but it really is necessary. Its pretty much impossible to get the chicken to come out looking this good from a stove top. And please, make sure that grill is hot, do not go tossing this beautiful chicken onto a semi warm grill, oy! Not the way to do it. We have a charcoal grill, and it took me an entire summer to really master it. It does take time, and quite a few over cooked burgers (yuck! the worst!), but once you get it figured out, charcoal makes some delicious food.
Okay, so moving on. I think you all got the rules here. Butter, spices and hot grill… a must.
Blackened Spice Mix
1 TBS. Cumin
1/2 t. Paprika
1 t. Dried Oregano
1 t. Chili Powder
1/4 t. Cayenne Powder
1/4 t. Dried Thyme
1/2 t. White Pepper
1/2 t. Onion Powder
1/2 t. Garlic Powder
4 TBS. Butter, melted
3-4 chicken breasts
Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and dump into the spice mix. Using a fork, stir it all together until its well incorporated. Put the chicken in a large ziplock baggy and dump the spice mix in. Roll it all around until the mix is covering all of the chicken, do not put into the fridge, as this will cool the butter, and it will just crack and fall off the chicken when you transfer it to the grill. Go heat up that grill, and the chicken will wait patiently for you, marinating on the counter. Now while you wait the 15-20 minutes for the grill to get its groove going, start on your alfredo.
Cajun Fettucini Alfredo
1 TBS. Olive Oil
1 large or 2 small Shallots
4 TBS. Butter
1/2 C. Flour
1 1/2 C. Milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 C. Half & Half
2 1/2 C. Asiago & Parmesan cheese
1 t. Chili Powder
1 1/2 t. Curry Powder
1 1/2 t. Ancho Chili Powder
When you cut up your shallots, chop both top and bottom off, then slice it from one side to the other, this will give you the optimum slices to saute into a slightly caramelized onion. I caramelize my onions all the time, I believe the flavor they give is second to none. So I always take the extra time and let them cook, low and slow. Now that your onions are cut and the pan your cooking your alfredo sauce is hot, put in your Olive oil, and the shallots. make sure your heat is somewhere around medium to medium low,stirring occasionally and keeping them piled on top of each other, onions need time to sweat and get sweet. At this point you can get back to your grill and chicken.
Grilling the Chicken & Making the Alfredo
This is easy, theres no special trick, with the grill nice and hot, put the chicken breasts on, then immediately turn it down. If you’re grilling on charcoal, move about half of the briskets to the outside ring, this will give you the medium heat we’re looking for. Put the top on, and let them cook, its about 7 minutes each side. when you see the juices run clear, they’re done. Don’t over cook them! Dried out chicken is not yummy-licious. During this cooking time, keep checking on your onions, and moving them around every couple minutes, making sure to keep them in a pile (this really sweetens the onions up). Get your pasta water going, and follow the directions on the box. Get your chicken done and off the grill before proceeding to the next step of making the alfredo, its going to need all your attention.
When the onions are done, add the butter and let it melt in. Then sprinke the flour on and stir adding the milk. Stir until thick and bubbly. Now add in your cheese and herbs and spices and stir until its all mixed in and thick. This dosent take very long, and keep the heat medium-low or you may scorch the milk. Salt and pepper to taste, and your done. Mix the pasta and alfredo together, plate, and cut up a peice of chicken to lay on top. Add some cheese if you wish.
So, I may be a designer, and I love working on my artwork, but I also have another love. Cooking! I love to try out new and interesting things in the kitchen. And recently I have been encouraged by my other half, and my children that I should start taking pictures of my meals, and put up the recipes for you all to take advantage of. Well, heres the first one.
When we all got up on this going-to-be lazy Sunday morning, all three of my boys (two that are under 12, and one over 30!) wanted something for breakfast. I love cooking breakfast, but it seems Sunday is the only morning we’re all together and not busy doing other things. Due to this, I usually end up whipping up something on Sunday mornings.
Last night we had tacos for dinner, and I had a bunch of left over taco meat. This sounded like a perfect compliment to potatoes, and scrambled eggs. Not just any scrambled eggs though, Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs! If you havent tried these rich and delicious eggs, you must! they’re absolutely devine! I would also highly suggest you watch his video before attempting to make them. It’s a little out of the ‘box’ for most of us, so watching Gordon do them sort of makes it all come together.
I cook with my heart, and most of my recipes come right out of my head, I rarely measure anything, and I taste, taste, and taste some more. Luckily, this first post of mine is pretty easy and eyeballing most things will be fine, even for you novices out there.
2 TBS. Olive Oil
Bag of baby Red Potatoes (2 LBS.), Cut into bite size pieces
1 small or half of large Onion, Chopped
1 Red Pepper, Chopped
2 cloves of Garlic
1lb. Taco seasoned Ground Beef, already prepared
4 TBS. Butter
1 TBS. Crème Fraîche (or Sour Cream if you’re in a pinch!)
1 jar Corn Salsa
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 cup Mozzarella
Salt & Pepper
To start, preheat the oven to 400. Now chop up all your baby Red Potatoes, and heat up a large deep skillet (make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle because we’re going to put the whole kit-n-kaboodle into the oven!), mine was three quarts, and it was a perfect size. Once the pan is hot, with the stove on Med-High, put in your olive oil, then toss in all the potatoes. cover them up and let them cook, stirring occasionally. While the potatoes are cooking, chop up the onion and pepper, then throw them in the pan with the potatoes, move everything around so its all getting cooked evenly. The potatoes will stick a little, and thats fine, the pan ‘drippings’ as they’re called will add in lots of flavor later on. Salt and pepper the potatoes, onion, and peppers liberally. Placing the lid back on to help with the cooking process, turn the heat down a touch as to not burn anything. Stir everything around every couple minutes.
Now start on your eggs while the potatoes are cooking. I have made Gordon Ramsay’s eggs many times, so they’re pretty easy for me, the most important thing to remember is to get all the eggs, and 2 TBS of butter (in small chunks) into the pan when its cold. I put my stove on med-low, and using a spatula, I just keep it all moving, rather quickly. once they start to scramble, its important to add in the crème fraîche before they get too far cooked. This is what gives them so much richness. Once the eggs are done add in some chopped up cilantro.
The potatoes should be all done, and you can quickly stir in the chopped up garlic and the taco seasoned beef, turn the heat down and stir for a few minutes. Even everything out, and then add the eggs right on top. Turn the heat off so you wont burn the bottom. Spread the eggs evenly around, then grab your salsa and spoon it evenly on top of the eggs. Lastly cover it with cheese. Now just toss it right in the oven and let bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese on top is hot, melted and gooey!
It won’t be the easiest thing to scoop out, but with a big spoon and bigger bowls, it was perfect! I added Cholula to mine, of course, and then a small dollop of sour cream.
Hi everyone! I thought that this would be a super cool tutorial for me to recreate for you all. This is a two part tutorial, and this design will go with the next tutorial, so stay tuned for that one!
We will be using Adobe Illustrator and we will learn how to use the Gradient Mesh Tool. I dont know if you have ever used that tool before, but its pretty fun once you figure out how to use it. So anyway, without further ado…
Start by opening a new document in Illustrator. I made mine 11 x 8.5, but you can do any size you like. It’s a flexible design, so no worries. Make sure you put the color mode to RGB. Now make a black rectangle, or square to fill up the back ground. Next is the Pencil Tool. In order to change the option of the pencil, just double click the Pencil Icon, and it will pop right up.
Now you can change your Pencil to the following setting so that you can get smooth edges when you draw your abstract shapes.
Get all your edges smooth and if you mess up a little it’s very easy to correct with the shape still selected.
Now go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh. Give the shape three Rows and three Columns. This will give your shape various points to add color to.
With the Direct Selection Tool, select the four inside points and give them a black color.
Click on the Lasso Tool and make a circle around the edge of the shape make it red, repeat the process all the way around the edge of the shape until it has all the colors you would like to use all around the outside edge.
I ended up using some colors from Swatch Library under “Flowers”. Design another abstract shape, and repeat this entire process. You should now have two abstract shapes, and they should be all colored in and ready to go.
Change the opacity of the two shapes. Go to the Transparency icon on the right hand side of your workspace, click on the pull down and select Screen. This will make the center transparent.
Hold ALT While dragging an object to duplicate it, then change the sizes and rotate them in order to get your abstract design.
Once you start moving and scaling you’ll start to see how the shapes start to design themselves. Fill up the whole art board with these shapes.
Once your art board is satisfactorily full, we are now going to give it even more color and gradients to give contrast. Start by creating a large circle (to get a perfect circle hold Shift), and then fill it with a color>black gradient.
By changing the blending mode to screen the whole circle becomes transparent, you can play with the opacity slider to get the desired effect.
You can make a few circles and give then other colors to make more intrest. I then made one with white in the center and set the blending mode to Soft Light. By changing the opacity I gave the design a subtle highlight which adds interest. Now make a square and cover only the area you want to get into the clipping mask, then select the entire design. Go to Object>Clipping Mask>Make. Or on a Mac the Apple key 7.
You now have a bright vector design! Be proud, its gorgeous!