Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Chills for Chili!

I'm going to throw myself out there and be completely honest- I am a sucker for visual marketing. I caught a glimpse of a movie that always amused me in my teenage years and the minute that happened, I was sucked in.  The Parent Trap (with Lindsay Lohan before she ended up as a crack-head) is filled with wonderful culinary novelties like Oreo's and Peanut Butter, delicious large breakfasts that will set your heart racing and finally Cornbread and Chili. Hearing the words "Cornbread and Chili" made me react like a dog to a fine tuned whistle.

With that said, I decided to make cornbread and chili for the first time ever...from scratch...with my very own recipe. You know when you decide to take on a new hobby and halfway through your adrenaline fails and you wonder if the scrap-booking or knitting is really going to work? That's how I felt with the chili. However, I am proud to report that it was a great success and I can hardly wait to taste it tomorrow (soup and chili is always better the next day).

If this post has served as a visual marketing and you decide to make the chili, I have two things to say; One, my post has served its purpose; and two, make sure you get enough chili powder!

-1/2 green bell pepper
-2 lbs ground sirloin beef
-1 chopped onion
-2 minced garlic cloves
-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 tbs oregano
-1 1/2 tbs salt
-1 tsb crushed red pepper
-4 tbs chili powder
-3 (14.5oz) cans pinto beans
-5 cups of water

-1 box JIFFY corn muffin mix
-1 egg
-1/3 cup milk

1. Follow the steps on the back of the JIFFY box and let the cornbread sit aside while you make the chili
2. Place the chopped onion, green pepper and minced garlic in a deep pot with the extra virgin olive oil
3. Let the vegetables sautee for a few minutes then add the ground beef and brown it evenly

4. Use a thin metal colander to drain the excess fat out of the meat
5. Place the meat back into the same pot and add the rest of the chili ingredients
6. Let the chili cook on a medium-low heat while stirring it every now and then
***If too much water evaporates, simply add more water and seasonings to maintain the bold taste


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So Cold for Matzo!

It's official, the bitterness of the winter's cold has struck Cincinnati and it most certainly has a mean streak.  I drove to work today (about 25 minutes) and my hands were still freezing by the time I entered the parking lot. The only remedy for this hateful weather which never fails to turn people into their dark alter-ego is one thing...make that two; a fireplace and warm chicken matzo ball soup.

I decided to make this hot commodity when I was strolling through my friendly-neighborhood-Kroger with one thought on my mind - How am I going to maintain this New Years Resolution (tone up for my wedding and eat less junk in a world full of distractions)?  This soup is a happy medium for anyone who is looking for a wholesome meal with no strings (or in this case fat) attached.

2 boxes Matzo Ball Mix + soup mix
Ingredients for matzo balls (4 eggs, 8 tsp vegetable oil)
1 small whole chicken (preferably organic or Amish)
6 stalks celery
6 medium carrot sticks
1 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 medium onion

1. Prepare chicken by washing it with cold water and removing the insides/gizzards
2. Cut an onion in fourths and drop it in a large pot along with the chicken
3. Fill up the pot with cold water until it reaches just above the chicken, cook on medium heat for 40 minutes or until the meat is tender and easy to remove from the bone
4. While the chicken is cooking, wash and chop the vegetables in bite-sized pieces, layer the celery on the bottom of a bowl and the carrots on top (the carrots will be placed in the soup prior to the celery because they take longer to cook)
5. Use a large serving fork and spoon to lift the chicken out of the pot and place it on a baking pan to cool off for ten minutes (some natural wind from your lungs should help the process move along efficiently)
6. While the chicken is cooling, follow the instructions on the back of the box to make the matzo balls
7. Pull off all the meat from the chicken and shred it in small pieces
8. Strain the broth into another pot to remove the onion and excess from the chicken
9. Fill the pot back up to where it would be if the chicken was still in the pot.
10. Heat the soup back to a medium heat then place 1 1/2 packets of soup mix in the broth Once it comes to a light boil, gently place the matzo balls in the broth
11. Once the matzo balls have been cooking for ten minutes, place the carrots in the soup and finally the celery.
12. Season with pepper and serve hot!