Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter Warm - Fireplace Cozy - Big Game Chili

Yup, its that Chili time of the year. Frosty and Blustery outside, inside warm and cozy. Chili time...

The last couple years I've started a new tradition. A new chili recipe for the big game AND the cold weather. Everyone has to have a chili recipe for the Super Bowl, and what's better than chili when you're chilly? (Sorry, couldn't resist the cheezy joke)

This year, I decided to really shake it up by using chopped mushrooms in my chili. I promise! That if you don't tell, I won't. The texture and flavor of these mushrooms mimic ground meat perfectly. And they are so easy to make. If you were making a ground beef or ground turkey chili, wouldn't you sauté the meat first? Exactly what we are going to do in this recipe, too!

Big Game Chili (With a Secret) 

3 TB Grapeseed or Canola Oil, divided
2 Cups Chopped Red Onions
2 Cups Chopped Peppers - Your choice of anything you like. If you want it mild, choose bell peppers, spicier use jalepeno, serrano, banana peppers, etc. How bout a combo?
2 TB Chili Powder
1 TB Smoked Paprika
1 TB Turmeric
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp Hot Sauce - your choice.
4 Grated Garlic Cloves
2 (28 OZ) Cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes
4 Cups Cooked or Canned Beans - your choice. I used red beans and black beans, but anything is up for grabs like pinto or kidney beans, navy beans or even chickpeas!
1 (12 OZ) Can Stout or Dark Beer - or veg stock 
3 (16 OZ) Packages Baby Bella Mushrooms
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Garnishes like cilantro, chopped onion, avocado, cheese, pumpkin seeds, lime wedges, salsa etc.

Step One Heat 2 TB of oil in a stockpot and add the onions and peppers, chili powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook and stir over medium heat until the onions and peppers are very soft. Add the grated garlic and cook until aromatic about a minute.

Step Two Add in the tomatoes, beans and beer. Bring to simmer and cook over medium heat for about thirty minutes.

Step Three While the chili is cooking, chop the mushrooms finely in a food processor, filling the processor only half full and using the pulse feature to chop the mushrooms. When all are chopped, heat the remaining 1 TB of oil in a large sauté pan, and sauté the mushrooms, (seasoned with salt and pepper), in three batches until all the liquid is absorbed and the mushrooms are browned. Add the cooked mushrooms to the simmering pot of chili and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until all the flavors are incorporated and the chili is warm. Serve the chili with your desired garnishes.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Kicking the New Year Off Right - A Bright and Refreshing Salad Dressing and Ways to Use it!

Happy New Year! If you are thinking about better-for-you eating, I have an incredibly delicious way to get excited about it. The way I see it, the only way to continue past the first few weeks of this resolution time of the year is to make the food you eat absolutely "craveable".  One way to do it - BIG FLAVOR. That's what citrus brings. Stand in the produce section of any store this month and you'll see big bags of roly-poly clementines, fat oranges and gi-normous colorful grapefruit. All perfect to pair with warm comfort food favorites like stews and soups and casseroles.

I developed this recipe for a favorite meal full of protein-packed goodies like beans, quinoa and mushrooms. All that heavy food needed a lift. That's where this dressing comes in! Drizzled over a platter of citrus and frozen, (or fresh) berries it adds a kick of fresh flavor - not to mention color.

Once I served up the dressing on a salad, I knew it was a hit. Later, when thinking about an appearance on Atlanta and Company, (a TV show on 11 Alive here in Atlanta), I knew I had to share the recipe - it is THAT good. I wanted to brainstorm a new way to use it - the show was all about better-for-you appetizers.

Eureka! Playing with a bag of clementines gave me my answer. Two tiny segments, the fresh taste of basil, and a little salty prosciutto wrapped around the bright tangy fruit made an excellent bite. To make it better? A drizzle of the dressing.

Below are two totally different ways I've used the easy-to-make bright and refreshing dressing. I'm still coming up with more ideas - like using the dressing as a quick marinade for white fish, or as a dip for grilled shrimp. How good does that sound? But I know that there are still lots of ideas - what are yours?

The recipe is SO good - when I passed it on to a friend she made it for New Years Eve and posted this picture to her Facebook page!

Tart and Sweet Orange, Berry and Pomegranate Salad

4 Navel Oranges
2 Cups Blueberries (Can be Frozen)
½  Cup Pomegranate Arils

1 TB Maple Syrup
1 TB Honey
Juice and Zest of a Lime
¼ Tsp Ground Cardamom
¼ Tsp Cinnamon

Baby Lettuces
¼ Cup Chopped Toasted Pistachios

Step One Peel the fruit and cut in rounds over a bowl.

Step Two Drain any excess juice from the fruit into a sauté pan. Add the syrup, honey, lime juice and zest, cardamom and cinnamon to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for a minute or two and then remove from heat and let cool. Pour over fruit mixture and toss until all the fruit is coated. Serve on a bed of baby lettuce and radichio and sprinkle with nuts.

Clementine and Prosciutto Skewers with Lime Honey Drizzle

Seasonal fruit, wrapped in a basil leaf and a little Prosciutto and drizzled with a little dressing – served on a skewer.

1 TB Maple Syrup
1 TB Honey
Juice and Zest of a Lime
¼ Tsp Ground Cardamom
¼ Tsp Cinnamon

4 Clementines, Separated into 2-segment wedges
1 Bunch Basil, in Julienne Strips
4 OZ Thinly Sliced Prosciutto

Step One Add the maple syrup, honey, zest and juice and lime, cardamom and cinnamon to a jar and shake well.
Step Two Wrap a piece of the basil, and then a strip of Prosciutto around each 2-segment wedge of clementine. Skewer, and then drizzle with the lime honey dressing.

WHATS that fruit under the skewers? Its a POMMELO. A citrus fruit from Southeast Asia that is juicy and sweet - kinda like a sweet grapefruit. Isn't it gorgeous - I found it at the regular grocery store. Not only is it delicious, its also glamorous when used with the pretty skewers!