Easy Summer Chili

I know, I know. Chili in the summer. Well, trust me, this stuff is fabulous -
It's really a mash-up of stuff I had in the cubboards. Since I'm moving, I have about 6 can's of beans that I need to use up because I don't want to haul food with. Use a good 1/2 - 3/4 cup summer ale, I happened to have Honey Moon handy.
And for the secret ingredient - yep, more honey. A little more than 1 tablespoon works wonders.Let simmer for 20 - 25 minutes. Oh, and seriously - the pan you use has something to do with the flavor. I LOVE my cast iron pans and use them for pretty much everything. Since I grew up with family using them, I have a confession. I never really clean them. Gross, right? Well, not really.


For sticky stuff I "rinse" the pan out with warm water and dry really well, then reseason by oiling and putting in a warm oven for an hour. My family used to go camping and these were the only pans we'd use. Ha! Easy for us kids that had to clean, right?

Here's the leftovers - when you reheat, add about 1 tablespoon chicken stock/broth or water and another pinch salt to bring out the flavors.My lovely pan after I've rinsed it out. The next meal in it - Toads in a Hole to re-season it (yeah, funny, right?).

Summer Chili

½ - ¾ cup summer ale
1 can black beans
1 can of either pinto or kidney beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp chili powder (not as much as regular chili!!)
2 - 3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2 - 3 shakes of Tabasco
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ - 2 tablespoons honey
½ - 1 pound ground turkey (I only use 1/2 because we don't eat much meat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Splash of lime juice (optional)

Toppers: Cheddar cheese, green onions, chopped tomatoes

Heat your pan to medium, put the olive oil into the pan. Toss in the chopped onion. Brown your ground turkey.

As soon as your ground turkey is not pink – turn it up and let it brown on high heat, stirring occasionally for 1 minute. You’ll see brown spots appear on the meat, means it’s caramelizing and you’ll have better chili color (because ground turkey obviously isn’t as dark as ground beef).
Drop the heat back to medium and add in everything else, no particular order except for your toppers. You can add the beer first or last. You can add the honey first or last, however you feel like it.
Easy, right? Yep.

Then, let simmer for 20 – 25 minutes. At the very last second – cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice over the chili (yeah, I know what you’re thinking… but remember, this is summer chili so it’s more sweet & tart with a hint of spice & heat rather than ALL spice & heat).

Serve warm with your choice of toppings. I happen to like cheese, green onions & chopped tomatoes.
Oh, it’s even better leftover served over hot dogs too!



The McTatty Garage Door

And so the fun begins. I come home from work. Open the garage door because I have to change clothes to go a fun work outting at Tutto Bene. And then I shut the the garage door. This happens. The door breaks. Why do things like this happen when I'm home without Bimmer Man? I don't know - maybe to test my patience? (Those who know me know what will happen next)...
And so I need to think about what I'm going to do. I smoke a ciggie and turn around to open the apartment door. A bug scares the freaking lights out of me. I don't know what this is at all. Please tell me! I'm from Minnesota - I know mosquitoes (oh, and by the way, I might even have West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease. I got bit by something and the bite marks are still on my arm from last Friday! If symptons appear, I'll keep a log!).
And so I walk into my apartment. Because I'm moving next Thursday it looks like this. I have to walk sideways to get into my apartment. Thank goodness I've been gaining weight running so much, right?I then proceed to make this face.
And drink one of these. It's been that kind of a week! So I called Spartacus' Mom (one of my fab Minnesota friends) and talked for a long time.

Let's just say that Barefoot Blogger's posting for this week has been postponed for a day or two while I sort out my mess!



10 Confessions

For some odd reason, I need a bit of stability in my life. I guess confessing to the world at least once per month seems to sooth my soul a bit. So here goes...

1. My new favorite alcoholic drink is Peach Tea with Raspberry Vodka.

2. I have an odd shaped nose (see below).

3. Both of my sisters have had nose jobs because of our odd shaped noses.

4. I'd rather have a boob job than have an elephant nose for 2+ weeks.

5. The pictures that I've had printed in our home are in black & white. Only.

6. I love the New Kids on the Block. Still to this day. Hello - Donnie Wahlberg!!!

7. I miss my mom. Lots.

8. Crochet is very calming. I make lots of scarves & hats in the winter.

9. I'm much more assertive & direct than I was one year ago. I don't put up with bullshit anymore and I know with whom I want to be friends with.

10. I know how to apologize and forgive.

I guess this confession kinda has a deeper meaning for me. At a fabulous friend's wedding this past weekend, I learned so much more about one friend that moved away like Bimmer Man & me. Change is inevitable when you move away from home. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Now, I've decided that matureness does not come from age, it comes from experience as well as learning from other's mistakes. So I have to deviate from the disappointment this past weekend and focus on the good.

Grassman - you have grown and changed and matured like no other SN that I know. Spending weekends with you, I have learned more about you and I'm more impressed every time I see you. Job hunting is hard but so is life. You have seen change and growth and matureness in so many of your friends lives along with the ups and downs that love, family, brothers and careers bring. You have become one of my most favorite people in this whole world. Bimmer Man and I will always be there for you.



Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've deviated from the norm of taking pictures while I bake for these. They're super easy and super normal to make! Mmm... Chocolately goodness... I actually used the new Nestle swirl chocolate & peanut butter chips.
I used my mom's recipe - but really, family comes first so I used the closet recipe I could possibly find to them - and yum, these look fabulous!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)
Makes about 18 large cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.


Shrimp... Scampi....

So some comments before I get to the recipe and whatnot - use FRESH shrimp, I did not because I'm a broke-ass wifey of a law student. But, if you use frozen, defrost the shrimp BEFORE you start - bring them to room temp. Dry them off - get most of the excess liquid off of them. That makes them keep their so-called "crunch."
Don't forget red pepper flakes. They give it a kick!
Chop the onions & garlic.
Melt butter in olive oil - it's SO pretty (seriously, I am EASILY amused!)
Toss your onions in to sweat them a little bit - about one minute.
Then put the garlic on top so it doesn't burn, sweat another 2 - 3 minutes.
Throw your shrimp in to warm them through (especially if you're using frozen shrimp, they don't have to be in the pan for very long at all).
Cut your lemon (oh, another pretty lemon...).
Take the shrimp out once warmed through. Do not overcook otherwise they'll be gross and chewy. We don't like chewy shrimp.
Put in about 1/2 cup chicken broth, lemon, red pepper flakes and let reduce until there's about half the liquid left. You can use white wine too, but I'm a cheapskate.
Once reduced, toss in your shrimp, and cooked pasta.
And voila!

I KINDA followed Tyler Florence's recipe - but when you look at scampi recipes, they're pretty similar!

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.


My Lovely Niece

Isn't she lovely? She's so damn cute and such a princess... and I still think of her as being 4 years old...

And yes, I did take her senior pictures!


Barefoot Bloggers: Cornbread!!!

Cornbread is pretty good. I normally make the Jiffy stuff so this was a little different for me. For those of you that know me - I only eat jalepenos in my homemade guacamole. Otherwise, eh, I could leave 'em out. Which I did. Why? Because I used the jalepeno in 7 Layer Dip! That's why (and then I decided to scratch my nose which was on fire for two days...)...

In any case - Check out Barefoot Bloggers if you haven't already done so, this is where I get these recipes!
The ingredients. But don't forget flour, it just didn't fit into the picture.
Pam your pan. And no, I don't have a glass 13x9 inch pan.
One egg had two yolks. I had to take a picture because I didn't notice for 3 minutes!
3 eggs later...
Don't forget a nice summer drink... I happen to like beer. Oh - idea - I should do some beer blogging!
Flour, cornmeal, etc...
I happen to set aside my green onions in a pan that I had just brought home from work. In my opinion, it feeds people like a horse trough.
Don't forget the baking POWDER like I almost did. I was too distracted... Oops...

I love onions - I immediately cut almost all of a whole bunch into the bowl. If I could eat onions every single day I would. Actually, I think I do...
You're supposed to use good cheddar cheese, but let me tell you with only $20 left in my checking account - um, well, $11.99 of that went to beer.
Then drink more...
Print out the recipe so you don't have to keep looking at your computer...
And then set your timer for 20 minutes and let your batter rest. Go drink more. And maybe smoke a ciggarette. Or watch the news. I don't care.
Then it looks like this! Yea for cornbread! (Cheryl, this is REALLY easy to make - are more pictures helpful?)
MMMmmm... onions....

Ina's Jalepeno Cheddar Corn Bread (or Cornbread, whatever)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish,
3 scallions 3
tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Mmm... Pretzels....

Easy, easy, easy. Seriously, so easy, I decided to take pictures in black & white.
Let the yeast proof. It's done about 2 minutes AFTER when this picture is taken. It only takes 5 minutes or so - just long enough to crack open a beer! Or drink Sprite from McDonalds.
The dough - after HAND KNEADING. Seriously, I don't have enough money for a KitchenAid stand mixer! I only use that in my dreams!
This is my right hand in the middle of kneading, I had to take pics with my left. I think there's still some flour on my camera. Oops, oh well!
Give it another good knead. Keep your hands nicely floured - don't worry about using too much flour, I got 4 cups into this baby. Plus you'll let it rise for a whole hour.
Then, separate into 8 equal pieces, roll out into 24 inch lengths and MAKE A PRETZEL SHAPE.
The boil for 30 seconds in the baking soda & water bath.
Don't forget to use your Good Cook pastry brush to brush your egg wash on.
And voila! But don't be like me - I accidentally forgot to spray the pan with Pam with Flour. Oops. My friend Ben and I ate them straight from the pan.
Mmmm... Pretzels.....
By Alton Brown
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.