Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chili Con Carne, My Way

I've been making this Chili Con Carne recipe for decades years.  The origins of the recipe dates back to my "Nana", who spoke better Spanish than English.   My mother, who is of German descent, wanted to please her new Mother-In-Law, so the story goes. So Mutti tried to please her mother-in-law by learning to add Mexican food to her excellent German repertoire.

Slowly, but surely, I began to adapt this recipe to suit my taste buds.  This chili has now become a Super Bowl Sunday tradition, and my men always look forward to it.

It's high time that I share with you the way I make chili.  When I made this version, I tried to make note son measurements.  I've never written out a recipe, because I instinctively know what ingredients and spices to grab.  So, please keep in mind, that chili making is a lot about tasting and seasoning as you go along.

Just cruise the canned food aisle of your local grocery store. How many variety of chili do you see? Mild, spicy, and meatless are stacked on shelves.  Looking for a chili seasoning?  Take your pick. I started making my own, that I pour into an empty spice bottle-- I use this all the time.

  It's very simple:
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. oregano
This is the seasoning I now use when I make Chili (and tacos, and lots of other recipes). Ready to make chili?

Pin It

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to make Pickled Jalapenos Rings

February is going to be an exciting month for us. We have Super Bowl Sunday (Go, 49'ers!) Valentine's Day is just around the corner (a special day, because that's when my husband proposed to me), and then we're headed to Maui for a week of snorkeling, and sight-seeing.  I am counting the days!

Last weekend, I decided to do some housekeeping on my thousands hundreds of food photos I've taken.  During that process, I discovered no less than twenty-seven recipes that I never got around to sharing with you.  Now, that I created a separate file folder labeled "To Be Posted", here's the first one that I made a year ago.

The funny thing is, I'm not a football fan. Over the years, I've made Super Bowl Sunday a time for me to spoil the men in my life. It warms a mom's heart, to watch her one-and-only child and his stepfather watching "The Game".  Usually, our SB Party guest list is just the two of them-- and mom, cooking while the game goes on and listening to them screaming and jumping up and down. This year, two very dear friends have relocated from Rhode Island.  That's a perfect excuse for me to bake a cake, don't you think?

Pin It

Monday, January 21, 2013

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with a Pineapple Coconut Cream Cheese Filling

Making Whoopie is something I've always wanted to do. Hey! I'm talking about Whoopie Pies!  I have lost count as to how many chocolate whoopie pie recipes (with a marshmallow creme filling) I've saved, and have yet to make.

Recently, I saw a Carrot Cake Cookie recipe, and then a light bulb went off. I love carrot cake, and it's been a long time since I've made one. Could I make a Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie?  Of course, I did an internet search, and I'm not the only one who thought of them.  That didn't stop me, though. My mind was made up.  I especially love carrot cake that has raisins and pineapple, and coconut.

How could I incorporate all of my favorite cake ingredients into a whoopie pie?  I decided to add oatmeal, to the batter, for a little extra texture (I'm not fond of really "cakey" whoopie pies).  I debated on adding walnuts or pecans, and I decided to leave them out. Though, they aren't a bad idea.

I'm a self-admitted "Kitchen Gadget Queen", so I have a Norpro Muffin Top Pan.  These are perfect for baking muffins, if prefer to eat just the top of a muffin  These also double as "Whoopie Pie" pans.  You don't have to use this pan, and can use a parchment lined baking sheet-- or a Silpat mat.

The aroma of these cookies had notes of cinnamon, vanilla and spice.  They're lightly browned around the edges, and soft in the middle.   While they cooled, I began to consider what kind of filling I wanted.

Pin It

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Restaurant Style Salsa

This weekend is "The Big Game" at home. I admit, I'm not much of a football fan. My son is. He's been a Falcons fan for as long as I can remember. When you live just two hours south of San Francisco, this is the San Francisco 49'ers territory. (Shall I also mention, ahem, this is Baseball Giants territory?)

My son is, naturally, hoping that the Falcons will make it to the Super Bowl. We shall just have to wait and see.  No matter which teams will fight for the ultimate trophy, I know that I will make my traditional chili recipe, plenty of guacamole, salsa and chips.  This morning, I was searching for my salsa recipe and I realized that I had combined the recipe with a post for Black Bean Huevos Rancheros (May 2010) .

Pin It

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baked Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower In A Spicy Pink Sauce

Before I talk about this recipe, I want to thank "Emily White Designs" for my blog makeover.  I loved the first design that she created for me, almost three years ago. I just felt ready for a new and fresh look.  I love it,  I hope you find it to be user-friendly.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, I tend to post step-by-step photos on how to recreate the recipe.  I didn't really intend to blog this recipe, because I was tired (and hungry).  It was dark outside, and I didn't want to set up a light stand in order to photograph.  The recipe turned out to be very easy to make, and by the time I took the dish of baked pasta out of the oven-- and I took a taste-- I knew I had to share this.

Pin It

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"THE" Coconut Cake (Stick with me, if you hate coconut)

**If you've been a regular visitor to my blog, I thank you! Welcome to my remodeled Blog Kitchen.  We've repainted it, decluttered it, and added some update social media buttons-- from Pinterest to Google +.  I'm very happy with the new and modern look, and I hope you find this to be user friendly.
I'm still seeing a boatload of "Healthy Recipes" on the cover of food magazines, and on a lot of the food blogs that I visit. I keep pinning them, and promising that I'm going to make at least five one a week, for my family.

Pin It

Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Chinese Chicken Salad, Made Lite

I should give myself a pat on the back. I'm actually participating in the  "Healthy Recipes" season. Don't get too excited. I haven't gone "Health Nut".  Do not adjust your station. This is only temporary.

I do eat pretty healthy--most of the time. (Of course, there's my weakness for fries). Okay, I have a sweet tooth and I've been known to eat oatmeal cookies for breakfast  However, I enjoy fresh fish and even enjoy eating vegetarian meals. I try to play the "balance game".  Exercise? Well, that needs work. I'm a fair weather swimmer,  and that's all I'm saying.

Pin It

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Blueberry Oatmeal Maple Scones, Sponsored by Better Oats

How many of you were brave enough to make weight loss your New Year's Resolution Plan? Really? That many?

I, for one, have a slightly different approach about healthy eating. Let's be real. I love to cook and I love to bake.  That's why becoming a food blogger is so much fun.  I won't apologize for using heavy cream, cream cheese or butter.  The key words in my diet vocabulary is moderation and balance. Trust me, the baked goods and decadent sauces that you see, on this blog, is not how we eat every single day.  The healthier broiled chickens and fresh veggies are meals I don't photograph. We just eat them, and enjoy them.

My goal, this year, is to add more whole grains to my diet-- along with more fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.  Years ago, I finally understood that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I try not to skip it, even if it means toast and coffee "to go"-- as I drive to work.

Better Oats
I was offered an opportunity to try a variety of Better Oats products to try and review. I was also asked to create a recipe, using the product.  Here is what Better Oats has to say about their products:

Better Oats� instant oatmeal comes in many delicious varieties � 23 flavors in fact, including RAW Pure & Simple� Pomegranate and MMM... Muffins� Blueberry Muffin. Kids love Better Oats because it�s fun and delicious, and parents love it because it is not only nutritious, but also convenient. Better Oats uses up to 35 percent less packaging than traditional instant oatmeal boxes (so there�s more room on the pantry shelf), and the pouch doubles as a measuring cup!

Made with 100% whole grain oats and flax seeds, this complete line offers a simple and healthy option when it comes to instant oatmeal. But it's not only a great breakfast (or lunch... or snack...) but also a better ingredient to spice up a cookie or other baked goods.

You've got to try Better Oats. If you've been settling for ordinary oatmeal, then you're in for a treat because Better Oats is just... better! Try us and see for yourself.

So, try it I did. I took a box of the Oatmeal Raisin MMM Muffins flavor to work for a few days.  I liked that the pouch is a measuring cup for the water. 
 Just a two minute zap in the office microwave, and a splash of low-fat milk, and I had a healthy snack during my break. I liked it.

My favorite flavor soon became the Blueberry MMM Muffin Old Fashioned Instant Oatmeal.  So, I pondered on what kind of recipe I could make using this product. 

The idea hit me, when I saw fresh blueberries at my market. Scones.  We love them, freshly baked from the oven. They're delicious with a fresh cup of coffee.  But, some scone recipes have a whole stick of butter. Sometimes they have heavy cream added. Just two days into January, I figured that most people are trying to shed the glasses of eggnog and plates of cookies that were meant for Santa. 

Could I make them a bite more "healthified"? So, I challenged myself to come up with a recipe that included whole wheat flour, Better Oats Oatmeal and no sugar-- and half the butter. I could only hope that the scones wouldn't taste like sawdust.

I used 1-1/2 cups unbleached self-rising flour and 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (recommended: King Arthur Flour brand). I added one packet of the Organic Raw multigrain hot cereal with flax (1/2 cup), a pinch of coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and whisked it all together, to combine. NOTE: As a substitute for 1 cup of self-rising flour, place 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.

Here's a great baker's tip for cutting butter into dry ingredients-- grate the butter!  I added 1/2 stick of butter (4 oz.).
With my fingers, I combined the butter and dry ingredients, until it was coarse and crumbly (do not over mix, or you will have very tough scones). You want to leave bits of butter in the dough, so that you will have tender and flaky scones.

For the wet ingredients, I combined 2 eggs, 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk*, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup pure Maple Syrup (don't use pancake syrup). 

I then added the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and folded it together until it began to be evenly wet. I then added 6 oz. of fresh blueberries, folding them very gently so I wouldn't have squished berries and blue dough.  No worries, if the dough isn't quite combined.
NOTE: Yes, you can use frozen blueberries. Don't bother thawing them; instead save a little bit of the flour (before you add the butter) in a separate bowl and coat the frozen blueberries with it. This will prevent the berries from turning your dough purple.

Pin It