Monday, November 30, 2009

CEiMB: Confetti Chili

Hosted by I'll Eat You

This is our favorite chili recipe. Sometimes I change it up a bit by deglazing the pan with half of a light beer, throwing in some fresh tomatoes, or a pinch of cinnamon. This time I stuck to her classic recipe but added light sour cream, cheddar cheese, and diced avocado as toppings.

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes. Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

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Monday: leftover lasagna, Yoga Foundations II class

Tuesday: Herbed Chicken Breasts and Roasted Delicata Fries

Wednesday: CEiMB: Confetti Chili

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Cookie Exchange Party (recipe to come) plus Spinach Artichoke Dip and Hot Cider

Saturday: Sloppy Buffalo Joes and Holiday Baking: Sugar Plums

Sunday: leftovers, Holiday Shopping with Kate

Lessened Learned

Yesterday, as we were on our way to our friends house to hang out and watch the last UK football game of the season…I forgot my camera…here’s what was missed… 

A trip to Wine Authorities where we purchased another cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Co, an herbed goat cheese, and a batard loaf from Guglhupf. Mmmm, but I have to admit I loved the Bloomin’ Sweet Ash even more. Also purchased was Giacomo's Limited Edition Salami and Bell’s Brewery Best Brown Ale.

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And then…I had to stop by Local Yogurt to try the newest flavor, Pomegranate!! Imagine a light purple swirl topped fro-yo with fresh strawberries, as recommended, and chocolate toffee bits.

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(Stand in photo, this was blueberry topped with Dolly Mama’s dark chocolate bark pieces)

The yogurt flavor was great, just the perfect amount of sweetness to balance the tartness of the pom and tang of the yogurt. I admit though, I can’t wait for Eggnog to appear!!

Once at our friends house I stumbled upon the makings of BEER CHEESE!! A KY favorite!! I was astonished by how quick there version was to prepare and still had tons of flavor. Impressive!!

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(Stand in photo of beer cheese that I made last year.)

We had a “Use-it-up” sort of breakfast this morning – Trader Joe’s frozen hash browns, scrambled eggs, and clementine.

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Now I’m working on a top secret holiday baking project! Later I’m reheating a frozen lasagna and possibly watching Food, Inc.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday

I did a small amount of Black Friday shopping for Andy and I online at Amazon and Old Navy. Amazon had some magazines we liked for $5 for a 1 yr subscription and we found a couple new sweaters at Old Navy where they were offering free shipping along with $10 off/$50.

I worked a few hours, just for the morning, and was back home by Noon :)  Which was the perfect time to start up our Thanksgiving leftovers…remember when I made them last weekend? I adore this Five Layer Turkey Shepherd's Potpie!!

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I am also planning on making a batch of my favorite fall dessert, Cranberry Date Bars with the addition of ground flax for this weeks BSI entry.

We’re having pizza tonight and watching “Christmas Vacation”.

Angus Barn Turkey Dinner

This evening we shared Thanksgiving Dinner at The Angus Barn (a fabulous steak house here), with our great friends Kristen, Laurence and their toddler Ellie. It was a fantastic evening, as we always enjoy spending time with them and the annual Thanksgiving buffet was a perfect end to our day.

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Andy and I have been here a few other times…once to celebrate a promotion I got, another time to celebrate getting out of that same job that I hated with a passion, and once with Andy’s parents when they were in town visiting. I can easily say it’s one of our favorite spots.

Thanksgiving 2009 (1a) 

Pre-dinner mingling, as we waited for our table, with hot apple cider…

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And a few snacks…butternut squash bisque, olives, crackers and cheese.

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The gorgeous main dining room with buffet and servers.

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Huge dinner plate (no seconds were needed): prime rib, turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, loads of cranberry sauce, green beans, collards, broccoli and cauliflower, mac and cheese, creamed corn, ham with persimmon sauce, and fried apples. I passed on a salad, dinner rolls, shrimp, lobster casserole…all sounded delicious and I had hopes of trying a bite of each…but there was just no room.

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After eating about two-thirds of this, Kristen and I took Ellie on a short little walk to enjoy the decorations and Christmas tree. But also to try to make a little room for dessert…

Ellie is the cutest!

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Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, chocolate chess pie

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Bread pudding with bourbon sauce, berry cobbler, and banana pudding

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I had about half of each of the chocolate chess pie and cobbler – delicious – and a cup of decaf coffee with cream.

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Our buds aka “KY friends”

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Andy and I, happily stuffed.

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I am thankful for so much:

  • a wonderful husband that does everything to make me happy and two very happy beagles
  • phenomenal family and friends, that I can’t wait to see many of soon
  • living in an awesome city and having a great network and support system here
  • the perfect job for me and coworkers
  • a nice place to call home
  • and so, so much more!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Our holiday morning started with the Macy’s Day Parade, warm stollen and hot coffee mixed with a little hot cocoa!

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Several hours later we had a small lunch to tie us over until our Thanksgiving gathering. I saw this idea last year on the Prudence Pennywise blog and thought it was such a cute, simple, and fun idea.

Charlie Brown Pre-Thanksgiving Meal

I went with the pretzels, a herbed chicken grilled cheese and a clementine for lunch…along with a mini bowl of pumpkin frozen yogurt.

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  • Two slices of buttered toast
  • Some pretzel sticks
  • A handful of popcorn
  • A few jelly beans
  • Pink Sherbet
  • Throw in a few grilled cheese sandwiches for good measure

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We are all hanging out watching the The National Dog Show and the pups and I plan to take a small turkey trot soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

We both worked until 1 PM today and since then have been enjoying our evening at home. We decided to start dragging the Christmas containers out and after a couple hours of light work we sat down to enjoy our beautiful holiday filled home. I even got the Christmas cards labeled and stamped. We are headed home to KY in about 3 weeks so it makes since for us to get our decorations out early so that we can enjoy then a bit.

Our traditional UK topper Christmas tree

Christmas 2008

Stockings hung on the banister

Holiday Decorating 2008 (3)

Wreaths in the windows (Andy actually did these on Sunday)

Holiday Decorating 2008 (11)

Just as we finished decorating, Lowe’s installation arrived to install our new range. The kitchen upgrade is really starting to come together now. We’ve gotten the fridge and range in place. The dishwasher is being installed Monday and the over-the-range microwave should be a few days after that.

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Photo with a glimpse of the fridge…

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I remembered that I had several tuna packets in the pantry and decided to make one of my childhood favorites for dinner…tuna melts!

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Mix together

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • three packets tuna (or two cans)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil mayo
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Top bread slices with tuna mixture. Bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes.

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I almost forgot, as I left work this afternoon, I purchased fresh stollen and pan forte at Ninth Street Bakery…no real plan for either at the time of purchase…I just love holiday breads. But once home…I decided to have a little stollen for dessert and we both think a slice sounds great for breakfast tomorrow morning while watching the parade.

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Speaking of the Macy’s Day parade…I got an email a few weeks ago saying that FIVE of my cousins on my were marching with the Adair County Band – how cool is that!! We have one flute player, two clarinets, and two baritones (I marched baritone too back at Madison Central High School).

I’ll leave you tonight with one last photo, we were able to snap a cute one of our boys while decorating this afternoon. They were basically sitting on top of each other…they are inseparable.

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Good night!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roasted Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potatoes, and Figs

This recipe idea came over a Facebook post from my friend Elizabeth a month or so ago. I love anything roasted and recall making something similar to this in previous years, but I know I’ve never prepared this delicious combination. The sweet potatoes become caramelized, the chicken sausage crisp, and the figs nicely chewy. Thanks for pairing such wonderful flavors, Elizabeth!

Today feels like the end of my week even though it’s not. I work a half day Wednesday and Friday, but I don’t mind it much. It’s actually nice to go in and get a few things accomplished and then enjoy nice long afternoons and evenings at home. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4-5 links chicken sausage, cut in 1-in pieces
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 red onion, quartered through root end
  • 3-4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup dried figs
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Prepare Glaze: Whisk together EVOO, balsamic, and maple syrup. Set aside.

In a large, shallow roasting pan, toss the chicken, potatoes, onion, garlic, and figs with glaze. Season salt and pepper. Scatter the herb sprigs.

Roast 45 minutes until chicken sausage casings are crispy and the vegetables are caramelized.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

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Monday: leftovers, Yoga Foundations II class

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potatoes, and Figs (variation)

Wednesday: Charlie Brown Pre-Thanksgiving Meal and Cranberry Date Bars

Thursday: Thanksgiving Dinner @ Angus Barn

Friday: Five Layer Turkey Shepherd's Potpie

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Ellie's Lasagna

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Cranberries, and Pecans

It’s been almost 2 1/1 weeks since Andy’s finger surgery. He’s gone back on two separate occasions to have a few stitches removed and he still has a few more to be removed this week. His physical therapist has given him a lot of encouragement and been pleased with his progress, but it’s been a lot rougher than we imagined. The surgeon really sliced him up and it’s going to be awhile before he gains full use of his dominate hand. Here’s an updated photo, we were super happy this weekend to see that the swelling has finally started to go down, it’s still puffy but much better than before.

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I was SO excited to find a stalk of Brussels sprouts at Trader Joe’s this week; I’ve seen these on cooking shows before but never in the stores!!

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Wow - the bacon, cranberries, and pecans certainly jazz these roasted Brussels sprouts right up…all ready for the holidays!

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  • 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned, quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425. Cook the bacon in a pan and set aside reserving 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.

2. Add the Brussels sprouts to a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and toss with the bacon grease. Bake for 25 minutes.

3. Remove from oven and mix in the cranberries and pecans.

Recipe adapted from Closet Cooking

Maple-Cinnamon Whole-Roasted Persimmons

Yesterday morning started off with my favorite breakfast, a bowl of Trader Joe’s plain European yogurt with homemade granola. I’ve been topping it off with various jams and have loved this Hibiscus & cranberry one given to me by a friend.

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Then we headed out for our local errands. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find anything at Morgan Imports, but we had a lot of fun at Wine Authorities and Local Yogurt.

My favorite Dolly Mama Corn, Chile, and Pepita Dark Chocolate Bark, Hillsborough Cheese Co: Bloomin’ Sweet Ash Cheese and a Guglhupf Bakery Batard. We also tasted five phenomenal wines today at the tasting and picked up three of them.

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The last stop was LoYo were I picked up there new Jumbo sized carton to go, we decided on pumpkin!

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I purchased persimmons earlier this week and had planned to slice them for a salad, but as they sat on my counter day after day I started remembering how good fruits are roasted. After a quick Google search I came up with this recipe, below.

Roasting makes the persimmons fork tender and really draws the sweetness out. The skin reminded me of the texture of a date, the interior almost pumpkin-like and the taste of a cinnamon-papaya. Yesterday, I ended up pairing mine with a couple of dates for a mid afternoon snack and this morning I had one reheated and diced on top of French toast.

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  • 4 large Fuyu persimmons (ripe but still firm), cored
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the persimmons on a backing sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and salt, followed by a drizzle of maple syrup. Bake for about one hour, until very soft.

Recipe courtesy of Culinary Competitor

Dinner was an old favorite and I had one happy husband for making it - Loaded Potato Soup.

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Finally, I realized a couple days ago that I have forgotten to photograph and post the last two weeks CSA baskets…I’ll do better. Here’s the contents though.

Brinkley Farms Winter CSA – Week 2

  • 2 bags spinach
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 lb kale
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 lb stew beef

Brinkley Farms Winter CSA - Week 3

  • 1 head green butter crunch lettuce
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 delicata squash
  • 1 lb chorizo
  • 1 lb ground beef

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Cook-off

This morning (was finished by 8:30 AM) I cooked all for the love of this leftover Thanksgiving dish (scroll to the bottom of that post). This will be the third year in a row I’ve prepared a meal with my true desire being just to have leftovers for the casserole.

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Last weekend I prepared our bird and placed the shredded meat in the freezer. For the first time I am using store bought gravy. Recently, while at Whole Foods I saw that Imagine makes an organic prepared gravy, I couldn’t resist giving it a try. But I did use my own homemade stock for the stuffing, so that should count for something. I snuck a little taste of the gravy and thought it tasted great for this purpose.

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Speaking of stuffing, I tried another new recipe again this year…I think I may have found my signature stuffing dish.

Apple-Bacon Stuffing

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Step 1: In a large deep skillet, sauté 1/4 pound diced bacon in 2 tablespoons butter for 5 minutes; transfer to paper towels.

Step 2: Add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, 2 diced apples, and 1 tablespoon each thyme and sage; cook 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Step 3: Pour in 3 cups chicken broth. Simmer until step 5.

Step 4: In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add the bacon and 1 cup chopped chestnuts.

Step 5: Add to the bowl 8 cups toasted bread cubes, 6 cups crumbled cornbread and the hot broth mixture.

Step 6: Gently toss the stuffing, then spread in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dot the top with butter or turkey pan drippings, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350. Uncover and bake until golden, 20 more minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens

This Roasted Cranberry Sauce ROCKS!! It is the quickest cranberry sauce to throw together too. I just top the cranberries with the ingredients and gently stir together right on the pan. Bake for 15 minutes and squeeze the orange juice, balsamic, and ginger over the top!! No stove top stirring, popping, or babysitting required.

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All topped offed with leftover sweet potato casserole (it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in our house without it). Since I was making this purely to top off our Thanksgiving casserole, I left off the pecan topping.

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Finally, April has a fantastic giveaway occurring on her blog, go check it out (but don’t enter because I want to win :P

We’re headed out to Morgan Imports this afternoon in hopes of finishing up our Christmas shopping list. We’re also going to swing by our favorite wine shop, Wine Authorities, to pick-up a buttery Chardonnay for us to enjoy at the Fearrington Village for Andy’s 30th b-day celebration. Once there, I can’t go to the University Shopping Center without stopping into Local Yogurt. They’re now offering Jumbo to-go 24 ounce size containers! I’m either getting pumpkin or plain…or maybe I’ll get those two swirled!!