Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 13

Do you hate beans but like chili? Do you like beans but also like chili that’s a little different? Do you like chili? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions then this chili is for you. It’s beanless and beefy and incredibly satisfying, which is good because though it may be spring SOMEWHERE, in Ottawa we’ve had some major flooding and on Monday it stopped raining enough to SNOW. ALL. DAY. So we kind of need something cockle-warming. This chili is adapted from one my parents found on the internet and printed out and that I stole off their fridge in Florida and smuggled across the border.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 1

Start with 2lbs cubed beef chuck or stewing beef, and huck that in a non-stick skillet on high to sear all the sides. Chuck the browned beef into a large slow-cooker pot.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 4

Next, add in 2 tablespoons Worcestershire (“wooster”) sauce, 1 cup beef broth, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Now, the recipe did not say to drain the tomatoes so I didn’t and I found my chili ended up a bit on the watery side (I also added twice as many tomatoes as the recipe asked for). I thickened the sauce with some cornstarch later on and it turned out super awesome, but I’ll leave it to your discretion to either drain the tomatoes or use a smaller can.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 7

Dice up the following: 1 white onion, 2 red bell peppers, 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, and a couple large green chilis. I used Anaheim chilis because they are huge and not too hot and I wanted to be able to feed this to LongJohn. Gather as well 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika (ours is smoked), 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Chuck all that in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 5

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 8

Don’t forget to give it a bit of a stir.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 9

Cook that sucker on low for 8-12 hours, or on high for about 6.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 11

Before serving, juice 1 lime and add the juice to the mix.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 16

Serve garnished with either grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, or chopped cilantro (or all of the above, who are we kidding?).

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 15

Guacamole Hummus

Guacamole Hummus 9

I made this Martha Stewart dip for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary party and it was a lovely and cool addition to the nibblies section. It’s also got all the best parts of guacamole and of hummus without the extra effort of the hummus and the non-storability of the guacamole as separate entities. I made quite a few Martha Stewart recipes for this party, as Ms. Martha sure knows how to throw a shindig. It goes well with tortilla chips or any flatbread and lasts a couple days wrapped up in the fridge.

Start by thoroughly washing a large bunch of cilantro. And by washing I mean fill your sink with a few inches of water, plop the bunch in, and swish the stalks around with more water pounding down on top.

Guacamole Hummus 2

Because cilantro is filthy. This is the sink after I pulled it out, shook it off, and towel dried it. Chop the leaves off and shove them into the bowl of your food processor.

Guacamole Hummus 3

Halve as well two to three ripe avocados (the original recipe called for only one but that didn’t seem like enough). Chuck those in the food processor as well.

Guacamole Hummus 4

Then drain a 15oz can of chick peas and rinse them well. Pour those into the food processor too. I also added in one of my pucks of roasted garlic purée.

Guacamole Hummus 5

Start the machine running and chopping all your dippy goodness up. While it’s going, drizzle in some olive oil and some water until it’s the smooth consistency that you like. A couple tablespoons of each should suffice. Tip in a tablespoon or two of fresh lemon juice too.

Guacamole Hummus 6

Season it to taste with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges and all sorts of scoopable tortilla chips and flatbreads.

Guacamole Hummus 7

Mini Wonton Quiches

Wonton Quiches 16

I finally did get to have that finger-food brunch I was trying for. These wonton mini quiches were a big hit.

Wonton Quiches 1

I enjoyed cutting up all the vegetables super small to fit in the tiny muffin cup spaces.

Wonton Quiches 3

I did scoop the seeds out of the tomatoes to avoid mushiness.

Wonton Quiches 2

And I couldn’t decide on cheeses, so I went with both.

Wonton Quiches 4

I grabbed some fresh herbs from my very own backyard, because it’s actually spring now.

Wonton Quiches 5

In the end I had one set of quiches with mushroom, spinach, chives, and goat cheese, and the other was tomato, onion, cheddar, and cilantro. For amounts I kind of winged it, sorry.

Wonton Quiches 6

Anyway, preheat your oven to 350°F and line your muffin tins with two wonton wrappers each. Align them so they are at 45° angles to each other for the largest surface area. I didn’t do this but I would recommend greasing the muffin tins before you do this.

Wonton Quiches 7

Then I stuffed the tins with my vegetable-cheese mixtures.

Wonton Quiches 8

Then I started cracking some eggs. For 24 mini quiches I used about 14 eggs. I also added in a few tablespoons cream, some salt and pepper, and some grated parmesan. Gave that a good mixing.

Wonton Quiches 9

Then I ever so carefully poured the egg goo into the muffin cups.

Wonton Quiches 10

It’s hard to get it so it doesn’t go around the seal of the wonton.

Wonton Quiches 11

I baked them for about 15 minutes, until they were cooked through.

Wonton Quiches 12

Because I didn’t grease the pan it took some persuasion to get them out.

Wonton Quiches 15

But they were so good!

Wonton Quiches 17

And even great for a cold quick breakfast or lunch the next day!

Wonton Quiches 20

Chipotle Beans (and Rice!)

Chipotle Beans and Rice 12

This probably should be a Wingin’ it Wednesday kind of post but it’s so good I simply can’t wait that long. This came out of the fact that I had been remiss in cleaning our refrigerator and there were some sad looking contents that really needed to be dealt with.

It also makes for a super quick dinner because most of the ingredients just need to be heated up and then you’re set.

Start by cooking up (or heating up) some rice. I’m using brown rice here because that’s the sum total of rice I had in my house but you can use whatever you want.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 1

Then I chopped some stuff: onions, green onions

Chipotle Beans and Rice 2

Some cold Italian sausages we’d barbecued the night before …

Chipotle Beans and Rice 3

And some very sorry-looking tomatoes.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 4

Then I drained and rinsed a can of black beans. You can use any kind of bean you like – just make sure they’re not dried or that would taste bad.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 5

Then I heated up some oil and butter in my big cast iron skillet and cooked the onions until they were translucent and smelled amazing.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 6

Added in some garlic and the beans and gave that a stir.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 7

Then I chucked in the rest of the stuff.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 8

Added a wee sprinkling of ground chipotle.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 9

And a few dollops of sweet salsa (this stuff has mangos in it and I love it).

Chipotle Beans and Rice 10

Then I stirred it all around until everything was soft and amazing.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 11

And then served it over rice with a dollop of sour cream.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 13

The cilantro garnish is growing on my table. I hope it will flourish in the backyard once it gets warmer.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 16

This was so good I don’t want to wait until I clean the fridge again to make it once more!

Chipotle Beans and Rice 15

Hot and Sour Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 29

This comes from The Foodess and it might be THE BEST THING EVER.  I love hot and sour soup, as does Atlas, so I made this with her in mind and everyone who ate it LOVED it.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 12

Start with with a giant pot and chuck in 2 litres of chicken broth. I like the low-salt stuff. Add 2 cups water to that.

Now slice some stuff up. Take some ginger, a 2″ knob.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 2

Peel that and slice it up.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 3

Grab 2 stalks lemongrass, and peel off the outer bits.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 4

Slice it into 2″ lengths. I also cut mine in half lengthwise, to increase the lemongrass flavour’s exposure to the broth.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 5

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 6

Grab a handful of kaffir lime leaves (about 8-10). You can freeze the other ones for later.

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So you’ve got all this stuff.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 8

Chuck all that in the pot with the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, stuff the lid on and leave it for 30 minutes.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 9

In the meantime, grab yourself some mushrooms. The recipe called for 2 cups whole button mushrooms but I had shiitake on hand, so I cut off the woody stems and sliced them into strips instead.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 10

Slice up a cup of cherry tomatoes as well.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 11

Grab 2 oz dried noodles, any kind. I liked the look of this ditali stuff.

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You’re also going to need a cold roasted chicken, like the kind you get at the grocery store. I used to be leery of the fact that they sat out for so long, but then I talked to someone who worked at a grocery store and he said they sold so fast they were always making new ones. And they’re such a time-saver!

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 15

Anyway, take that sucker and pick it apart, shredding the meat with your fingers. You’re going to need 2 cups shredded chicken, so I just did the whole bird and got a little more than that.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 16

Juice 3 limes and set that aside for a minute.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 13

Gather together as well a giant bunch of baby spinach leaves, and chop them coarsely. It’s harder than it looks.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 17

Chop up as well a giant handful of cilantro. I had a brainfart in the grocery store and bought Italian parsley by mistake and had to go back. But they are very similar in appearance. So I chucked in some Italian parsley too.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 1

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 18

While you’re gathering your stuff together, grab some fish sauce and sriracha, and some sea salt.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 21

Use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger, lemongrass, and lime leaves from the broth. You can chuck those bits in the compost now.

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Add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, and noodles. Bring those puppies back to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are tender.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 20

Stir in the chicken, 4-6 tablespoons sriracha (I used 2 tablespoons because of the nursing mum, and it was spicy enough), the lime juice, and a few teaspoons fish sauce. Add some salt to taste.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 23

Add in your spinach and cilantro and cook that for a minute or so until everything is bright green. Serve hot, with additional cilantro on top, if desired. Fantastic the next day.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodles Soup 25

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Three Bean Mexi Salad

This is a quick and colourful summery salad you can serve at any time, as a side dish and as a standalone meal. It’s easy and appetizing and full of flavour. And, as it’s Labour Day, you should take a break, and enjoy this simple salad.

Start with your beans. Crack open a can each of black beans, red kidney beans, and white navy beans. Or whatever beans you like, really.  Drain them and give them a rinse in a colander. Set that aside while you chop up some veg.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Chop up 2 red peppers into whatever size you think is appropriate for a bean salad.  Who am I to tell you what to do?

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Do the same with 2 jalapeños.  Be careful not to touch your eyes while you’re doing this.  I like to mince mine up super fine.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Chop up as well 1 red onion.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

And slice up about 4 green onions.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Huck all those things in a bowl with your beans, and add to that about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

For the dressing, start by mincing up a huge bunch of fresh cilantro.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Drop that in a bowl with a few cloves minced garlic and the juice and zest of 1 lime.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Add to that 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, a dash of salt and pepper, another dash of hot pepper sauce, and 1 tablespoon ground cumin.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Mix that all together, then add in 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Dump that on top of your salad and toss until well combined.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

This salad is best if you cover it and leave it in the fridge overnight to let the flavours mingle.  Serve it cold.

Three Bean Mexi Salad

Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

I know.  We just had a burrito post recently.  But when we were in Portland, and I was busy doing wedding related things with Doodle and the other bridesmaids, the Pie was often left to his own devices.  Luckily, Portland is a very walkable city, and there was a good Street Fighter tournament on the web for him to watch when he got bored with walking about.  One afternoon, he happened upon a place called the Burrito Bar.  The burrito he had there, according to him, changed his life forever.  So last week, he recreated what he had eaten there and I got to enjoy it as well. Plus, we had to do something about our raging onion population.

Life-Changing Burritos

First, he started by making up a batch of his famous Mexican rice.

Life-Changing Burritos

While he was doing that he gently poached 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he put me to work as his sous-chef.  I had to make the “salad” component.  First, I opened up an avocado.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I cubed it.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I found a tomato.

Life-Changing Burritos

And cubed that as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Chopped up a handful of cilantro and added that in, as well as some salt and pepper and lime juice.

Life-Changing Burritos

Toss that and set it aside.

Life-Changing Burritos

Open up a can of black beans and drain and rinse them well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he had me finely chop a jalapeno pepper, to go in his cheese sauce.

Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

The cheese sauce is made by melting a tablespoon butter with a tablespoon flour to form a paste, then adding a half cup of milk.  When that is well-mixed you can add your grated cheese, about 1 1/2 cups.  The Pie used a mixture of old cheddar and spicy Monterey jack.

Life-Changing Burritos

Once the cheese was melted he dropped in the jalapenos and let that sit for a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

At this point the chicken was ready to be shredded. Just pull it apart with some forks. It’s pretty fun.

Life-Changing Burritos

We added a few tablespoons salsa to the chicken.

Life-Changing Burritos

So now we are ready to make these burritos, baby.  We have Mexican rice, salad, salsa-y chicken, black beans, cheese sauce, and some sour cream as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

You’re going to need the biggest flour tortillas you can find.  These ones are ten inches, though the Pie says the one he had in Portland was THIRTEEN inches.  Set your tortillas on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Start piling on your ingredients in the centre of your tortilla.  Be generous.

Life-Changing Burritos

To properly fold a burrito, we looked to the internet.  If you’re not sure, try YouTube.

Life-Changing Burritos

Take the opposite side of your tortilla and bring it towards you, so the ingredients get all jumbled together and pushed to one side. This also leaves a bit of food sauce on the empty side of the tortilla, which provides a bit of friction to keep things stuck together.

Life-Changing Burritos

Unfold the tortilla and lift up the sides, to sort of hold everything in. Take the side of the tortilla closest to you, with all the ingredients, and flip it up and over on itself.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then, tucking in the top of the tortilla, start rolling towards the end.  Try to get it as tight as possible.

Life-Changing Burritos

Make sure your ends are tucked in and slide the rolled tortilla to one side of your aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Tightly roll the burrito up in the foil, and twist off the ends when you are finished, to hold everything together.  That is your burrito, all wrapped up.  We had enough ingredients to make seven of these puppies, and we tossed a few in the fridge for a later meal, and a few in the oven for about ten minutes to heat up a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

To eat, just peel off some of the foil and you are all set. Take a bite.

Life-Changing Burritos

This is one of the burritos the next day, cut in half.  Look at that lovely combination of ingredients!

Life-Changing Burritos

Nip It in the Bud!

Nip It in the Bud

I’m growing a wee herb farm in my kitchen.  I am tired of the wilted overpriced garbage I get in the grocery store, so I’m growing my own mint, rosemary, oregano, basil, and cilantro.  And it’s coming along just fine.

Nip It in the Bud

If you know anything about gardening, then you will know all about this little tip.  If you don’t know anything about gardening (like me) then this little tip will be super cool.

Nip It in the Bud

To make your plants branch out more (i.e. produce more leaves and therefore more things for you to eat), just pinch out the tiny leaf buds at the tops of the stems.  Those little wee leaves there.  Just pinch them off.

Nip It in the Bud

Then your plant is forced to rely on its secondary growth and you get a nice branching effect, which in this case will give me more basil.

Nip It in the Bud

And more rosemary.

Nip It in the Bud

And more mint!

Nip It in the Bud

And when those grow out a bit you can do it all over again, more pinching, more branching …

Nip It in the Bud

Red Curry Coconut Noodles

Oh god this is good.

This is a recipe from Pioneer Woman.  It’s pretty much the best combination of everything that’s awesome in the world.

The amounts in this are all approximate.  Feel free to experiment with the proportions until you come up with a flavour combination that suits you.

Okay, so take a couple heads of broccoli and cut all the florets off.  Save them for a nice broccofu/broccomeat later.  Cut off the tough bottoms and use a vegetable peeler to get off the thick skin.  Then cut it up into tiny little matchsticks.

Julienne up two red peppers and also an onion.

Slice up, as well, about three green onions.  You can use fresh cilantro instead of green onions if you like.Take yourself four boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and cut them into small bite-sized cubes.

Get ready as well a dobble or two of minced ginger and red curry paste.  You can adjust these accordingly to your own personal preferences.

Now, take the cream off two cans of coconut milk and dump it into a large saucepan.

Turn on the stove to medium-high heat and let that simmer up.

Look how it melts all lovely.

Plop in the curry and the ginger and let that simmer for another minute.

Now drop in your chicken and let it cook all the way through. 

Add in four cups or so of chicken broth and the rest of the coconut milk. 

Let it start to bubble again and drop in half the green onion.

Heave in the vegetables.

Now comes the tricky part.  You want to jam in a package of wide, flat rice noodles.  Do some manipulation and get that stuffed in as well as you can.  It might take some time to get them softened enough to cram them in all the way.

The noodles should take about five minutes to cook through, but you want to get the sauce boiling until it starts to thicken.  Remove it from the heat and let it thicken for another five minutes or so.

We served ours in tiny bowls out of a communal dish, and sopped up the juices with na’an.  So filling and so excellent.This serves a whole bunch of people, probably about six, so we chucked the leftovers in some Tupperware and it was great the next day.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

me: have you ever made anything with spaghetti squash before?

Cait: since i don’t know what you’re talking about, no

Cait: i think it looks so much like spaghetti that i’d be disappointed when it didn’t taste like spaghetti

me: it tastes like squash

Cait: of course it tastes like squash it’s a freaking squash

The card from my magic book.

The mysterious and elusive spaghetti squash.

I have always been intrigued about the physical properties of spaghetti squash, although until the other day I had never tried it.  We found a squash sale at Sobeys and decided to give it a whirl.  I wrangled up a recipe I had been keeping for yonks out of my magic book of recipes, and I went at it.

The recipe called for 4lbs of spaghetti squash.  My scale only goes up to 500g so I had to give it my best estimate.  It was supposed to serve 4, so I did some mental math and came up with two squash about the size of my feet (while this may not be a standard measurement for you, it works pretty well for me).

I may need a bigger scale.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise.  The recipe said nothing to me about removing the seeds and stringy bits so I left them in and I regretted it later.  I would recommend digging those suckers out with a grapefruit spoon or serrated knife.

Cut side up.

Brush the open squash halves with olive oil, then sprinkle with brown sugar, coarse salt, and ground pepper.

Cut side down. Don't worry about spraying the pan - the oil on the squash is enough.

Flip the squash halves face down on a rimmed baking sheet and chuck them in the oven at 400°F for 45 minutes.  Cool them, in the pan and on a rack, for 10 minutes after that.

Using a table fork, dig out the contents of the squash in stringy little bits – it really is amazing how much this resembles spaghetti – and put the contents in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of roasted chopped hazelnuts (fun fact: also known as filberts), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped herbs (the recipe called for fresh cilantro, but I only had a tiny bit of frozen stuff, so I mixed it with some frozen pesto I had made and that was that).  I can assume that you would use any herb you had on hand, really.

Hazelnuts, Pesto, and Parmesan Cheese - my three favourite things.
The leftover squash shells.
Fork the crap out of that thing.

Toss and serve immediately.

I actually wasn’t too happy with this recipe.  The first negative was, of course, the left-in seeds, which, had they been properly roasted like pumpkin seeds, would have been awesome, but because they were still pretty raw, were actually kind of nasty.  I also didn’t feel that the hazelnuts added anything special to this recipe.  Next time, I would go with slivered almonds or pecan bits, for a milder, sweeter taste.  The pesto was excellent of course, but that’s because I have mad skills.  The leftovers were better the next day, but I think I will just chuck the remainder in some sort of minestrone and be done with it.  Recipe to follow, I guess.

Toss and serve.