Friday, January 30, 2015

Homemade Chili

 We have battled the flu and computer problems for the past month and now it's already time for the Super Bowl. How time flies when life gets busy! But I thought I'd share my go to chili. I have to admit that I've never followed a recipe when I make chili, so for all the years of my life I have just winged it. Considering that I turned 62 in December, that's a lot of years. So the past few times I finally began writing it down.We like a thick, meaty chili with beans, that is fragrantly spicy, but not fiery. Some hot cayenne pepper can always be added for more heat, or Ro-tel tomatoes can be used instead of plain tomatoes. I made the last batch of chili this week after my husband finally kicked the flu. He said it really hit the spot! Chili is a perfect Super Bowl food around these parts and is perfect for this cold weather that much of the country is enduring. Here's my recipe.
My Homemade Chili
From Lynda's Recipe Box
I add a little brown sugar to the chili because I think it really compliments the spices nicely.

2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 large onion, diced
1/2 of a poblano pepper or bell pepper, diced
1-2 tablespoon oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 - 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans in sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
2/12 - 3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the ground chuck in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Before the meat is completely browned add the onion, pepper and garlic. When meat is browned and the onion is softened, remove excess grease from the pot if needed. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, about 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir the spices into the meat mixture and let cook just for a minute. Lower the temperature if needed so the spices don't burn.
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, drained black beans and chili beans with sauce. Add the water and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Place lid on the pot and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding water if needed.
Remove lid. If chili is too thick add extra water to get the consistency that you want. If too runny, cook the chili uncovered, until it thickens to the desired constancy. Stir often to keep the chili from sticking or burning. Taste chili and adjust the seasonings. May need more salt and pepper, and if you want it hotter add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Serve with several choices of toppings, such as onion, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, chips, etc. Enjoy!
Click here for more Super Bowl food ideas.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ham, Cheese, and Veggie Tortilla Pinwheels

 I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! We are still in the holiday season so I thought I'd share yummy Ham and Cheese Tortilla Pinwheels, (or roll-ups), with you . I made these several times before Christmas for various parties and gatherings. Even though these type of recipes date back to the 80's or so, they are still delicious, and festive little appetizers when sliced and plated, or they can be cut in half and served for lunches or carried in lunch boxes. You can use any type of deli meats and cheeses. For these I also added leaf lettuce and red bell pepper that had been cut in thin strips. Stack each ingredient evenly across the tortillas, and then roll each one up as tightly as possible to keep stuff from falling out. Then enjoy these pretty, festive roll-ups whatever the occasion. Here's my method.
Ham, Cheese and Veggie Tortilla Pinwheels (or roll-ups!)
From Lynda's Recipe Box
Note: you can mix herbs into 8 ounces of plain cream cheese to use, or you may purchased the herbed cream cheese from your local store. Deli meats should be thinly sliced or even shaved. Count your meat and cheese slices so you can evenly divide it among the 8 tortillas. Makes 8 rolls.

1 package of burrito sized tortillas- I used the spinach flavor tortillas. They add a nice touch of color.
8 ounces softened cream cheese, mixed with about 1 tablespoons fresh, chopped green onion or chives, and 1 tbls. parsley. Or to save time, buy the herbed cream cheese from your market.
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham, or other meat of choice,
1/2 pound sliced Provolone cheese, or cheddar or other cheese of choice
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
leaf lettuce, washed and large ribs cut out

To assemble Tortilla Rolls:
Lay tortillas out on a flat surface. With a knife, spread the softened cream cheese mixture thinly over the tortillas. The cream cheese is going to act like a glue to hold everything together.
Now at the end closest to you, start the layering. Lay out a couple of slices of ham that are folded in half, next cover with cheese, then the lettuce and ending with some sliced bell pepper. These ingredients will be stacked on top of each other, hopefully evenly all the way across.
Now, start rolling the tortilla and holding firmly to the ingredients as you roll, until each tortilla is rolled all the way. When rolled all the way, the cream cheese should hold it together. Wrap each rolled tortilla in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and cut the ends off of each tortilla rolls. Cut the roll into 8 equal slices and place on a serving tray. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Potato-Fennel Gratin(from Ina Garten)

Mmmm, I have to tell you that Ina's Potato-Fennel Gratin is amazing! My husband and I would order this from a restaurant if it was on the menu, that's how much we love it! This side dish has so much flavor from the addition of fennel, onion and cheese to the potatoes, that it is positively addictive. I don't know about you but I just can't resist creamy, cheesy potato dishes! This is a wonderful dish anytime and perfect for any holiday dinner or buffet.
Only the bulb of the fennel is used. I saved the stalks and added to some soup later on. The fennel bulb is cut in half and the core then removed.
Then it is sliced very thin, and the potatoes also. Ina's recipe calls for Gruyere cheese, but I subbed sharp white cheddar cheese and it is delicious. I hope you'll give Potato-Fennel Gratin a try. Here's the recipe.
Potato-Fennel Gratin
Adapted from Ina Garten
(I made half a recipe when I took these pictures, but I'm providing the whole recipe. Leftovers reheat very well.)


2 small fennel bulbs ( I use 1 large bulb for the whole recipe)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds (about 4 large potatoes) I used Yukon gold
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese (Ina uses Gruyere)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease the inside of a 10 cup baking dish. I used a 9x13 inch.

Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and then slice them thinly, making about 4 cups. Sauté the fennel and sliced onions in the olive oil and butter over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat.

Peel the potatoes, then slice thinly with a mandolin or by hand. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of cheese, and the salt and pepper. Add the cooked fennel and onion and mix well.

Pour the potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. Press the mixture down and smooth the potato mixture evenly in the pan. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 cup cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned  and bubbly. Remove from oven and let set 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pineapple Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (AKA Mexican Fruit Cake)

I decided it was time to pull this Pineapple Sheet Cake from the archives and give it better picture. This is a very moist, delicious cake that was passed to me by my mother. My mom was not a pie person, so therefore during the holidays she would make cakes and cookies, but rarely a pie. This cake is a favorite of my husband , and it's always a hit wherever I take it. It's a perfect cake for a pot-luck, or a family dinner, or even to take to work. Even though the cake itself contains no fat, this is a very moist cake as long as you make it several hours before it is to be served. The crushed pineapple in the cake makes it very moist, and it just gets better every day that you have it. I hope you will enjoy it!
Pineapple Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Lynda's Recipe Box, and my mother
(Note: the only pineapple I've found that DOES NOT work is from Aldi. It just didn't contain enough juice.)

Ingredients for cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (20 ounce) can of crushed pineapple with juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cups chopped nuts, I usually use pecans or walnuts -optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease either a 9x13 inch pan or a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar and soda and mix. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bake for about 35-40 minutes for a 9x13 inch pan. (A 10x15 pan will take about 20-30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool. Can frost while cake is just warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, (1 stick), softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 3/4 cup chopped nuts, optional, but I always use them. Makes the cake extremely good.

Spread frosting evenly over cake and top with pecans or walnuts. Let it set for several hours before cutting so the pineapple will moisten the cake. Bet you can't eat just one bite- enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ten Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

 Here's some food ideas for your Thanksgiving table. The only turkey recipe I have on the blog so far is Ina's Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast. It's the best turkey breast I've ever eaten. Or there's yummy Cranberry-Apple Relish.

 Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole is amazing and a real crowd pleaser.
This Corn Casserole is an easy, old recipe if you need a last minute dish.
 Sage Stuffing is delicious! So is Sausage and Cornbread Dressing. In fact dressing/stuffing is my favorite part of the meal, I think.
 Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar  and Homemade Cranberry Sauce with a touch of orange. So good!

 Delicious and easy Honey Glazed Baby Carrots and
Sautéed Kale with Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushrooms give you a couple of tasty, healthy options.
For some more ideas for side dishes for your Thanksgiving table, click here.
Hope that gives you all some ideas. Happy eating!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quick Potato Rolls

Thanksgiving is almost here, and in my opinion you have to have homemade rolls for the feast. At least in our family you do that is. I've got several delicious roll recipes, but I thought I'd share this Easy Potato Roll recipe today. I love Potato Rolls because of their tender, soft interiors, which come from the addition of mashed potatoes to the dough. This recipe is so easy because it uses the convenience of instant mashed potatoes! Plus, this recipe is a quick rise roll, in which you set the pan of rolls over hot water and they are then ready to bake in just 15 minutes! And they smell heavenly, and fill your home with the aroma of fresh baked bread. Mmmm, Thanksgiving isn't the same without this fragrance.
This quick roll is stirred together, lightly kneaded, then formed into 12 rolls and placed in a greased pan. After they are covered, the pan is placed over a pan of very hot water. The rolls rise for about 15 minutes.
When the rise is over, just pop them into the oven and bake Voila! You have tender, melt in your mouth homemade Potato Rolls. I like to brush them with melted butter right out of the oven, then I just can't wait to eat one. Hope you'll give them a try.
Quick Potato Rolls
Adapted from Taste of Home

3 1/2 - 4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce), quick-rise yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup warm water (about 120 degrees F.)
1/2 cup warm whole milk (about 120 degrees)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup dry instant mashed potatoes
1 egg
melted butter to brush over the rolls,(about 1 tablespoon)

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, sugar, yeast, sugar and salt. In another bowl, mix the water milk, and the 1/4 cup melted butter. Stir in the potato flakes and let stand 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 4-6 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover dough and let rise 10 minutes. Uncover dough and cut into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Place a large baking pan on the counter and fill half full with boiling water. Place the baking pan of rolls over the hot water. Cover the rolls and let rise for 15 minutes. ( I place a baking rack or cookie sheet over the boiling water if needed to hold the pan. Then I cover the rolls with plastic wrap to rise). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. while the rolls are rising. After 15 minutes of rising, place the rolls in the oven and bake for20-25 minutes until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Brush with melted butter and enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pumkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

 I just had to start off my fall baking with something pumpkin since it is one of my favorite fall and winter flavors! Apple is right up there too, so there will be an apple recipe coming real soon also. I have tried a couple of different Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipes and this is the best one so far so I'm sharing it with you.
 This Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is dense and moist, much like pumpkin bread or pound cake. I topped this luscious cake with cream cheese frosting that contains some brown sugar, which gives the frosting a hint of caramel flavor! This is a perfect fall dessert which would be a delicious addition even your Thanksgiving table. And I confess that it was so good with my morning coffee also! Try taking it to any family gathering or even to work and I think people will be singing your praises. Here's the recipe.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from My Baking Addition

Bundt Cake
If you don't have all the spices, you can sub pumpkin pie spice if desired.
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil, or vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups un-bleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 14 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons milk, half and half or cream, if needed to thin the frosting
3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans, if desired

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10 inch Bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl combine the oil and sugar and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat in the pumpkin. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture a little at a time, and mix until batter is just blended well.

3. Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the batter evenly around the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center if cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10-15 minutes. Then invert cake onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Place cake onto a cake plate to frost.

4. To make the frosting: In a large bowl add the softened cream cheese, butter and the brown sugar and beat until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Then gradually add in the powdered sugar and beat well. Stir in the vanilla and milk if needed. If frosting is too thick add a bit more milk if needed to get the desired consistency. Spoon frosting over the cooled cake. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, push the frosting where you want it. (This is not a glaze that will pour). Top with the toasted pecans , if desired. Now enjoy!