Saturday, September 28, 2013

Basic Chili

There are a thousand ways to make chili. For years I made mine with beef and beans, until a friend asked for no beans, then my family turned on me and bailed on their long loved version of my chili.

Now they like meat only but lately I've added bell peppers to the mix. It's just the two of us and we've really started to like it that way! You can add pasta if you like - some do, some don't.

You'll need:

2-3 Quarts of Tomato Juice
3  lbs. Ground Chuck (some like it extra meaty)
2-3 Bell Peppers (diced and sautéed- optional)
Chili Powder - to taste
Onion Flakes

This is as simple as it gets! When browning the beef, sprinkle liberally with chili powder, add salt and pepper and a few shakes of onion flakes. Drain beef and add to crock pot. Add tomato juice and peppers, sprinkle a liberal amount of chili powder, salt and pepper again, then cook on low heat for at least 4 hours.

If you add pasta, cook it first then rinse in cool water and cool completely.  Add at the very end of the cooking of your chili.  If you don't, you'll get starchy pasta pops.....and that's never good.

You'll have to adjust the seasoning to suit your heat preference. We like it pretty zippy! I serve my chili with Fritos and shredded Velveeta! You can add sour cream or just use crackers - cornbread is pretty yummy with chili too! Just curl up in your team jersey and dig into a big mug of chili and cheer your little heart out!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

French Bread Pizza

I was shocked that someone actually asked me for this recipe this week....then tonight a friend realized that their new home was outside the local pizza delivery area - not to fret!  This is an easy, cheap and quick answer to pizza woes!

You'll need:

1 loaf French Bread or Sweet Italian Bread from the grocery or bakery
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (you'll only use a cup or so)
1 stick butter
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Garlic flakes or Garlic salt (your preference but I like Garlic flakes)
Toppings (see notes below)

What to do:

Slice bread horizontally into two long halves.  Lightly spread each half with butter, then sprinkle sparingly with garlic flakes (or garlic salt, your preference but I avoid additional salt and do the flakes).  Place the buttered-seasoned bread in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350* for 10 just want the butter to melt and the crust to firm up to a light crunch consistency. 

After removing from oven, I like to slice the bread halves into individual serving slices (about 2 inches wide or so). 

Spread a tablespoon of your favorite sauce on top of crusted bread. 

Add a pinch of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Top as you like, I usually use Pepperoni, Sausage or Ground Beef (or both -  cook drain and crumble), Sautéed Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, etc.  (Sauté veggies in butter or for tomatoes, just sauté in their own juices but not for long, tomatoes cook very quickly).  Add a pinch of French Fried Onions and you won't be sorry (that crunch is a fantastic texture and the onion flavor is not overwhelming!

Add another pinch of your cheeses then return to cookie sheet and bake in 350*  oven for  3 - 5 minutes (cheese will melt on top and bubble to golden color).  Remove from oven and enjoy!

I do not use the broil function as I tend to make charcoal briquettes on that setting! 350* is my friend and she does well for me! 

One loaf of bread serves 3-4 people depending on their appetites and if you are serving salad or any accompaniments. 

This is great for football games or entertaining with children as it is adaptable for individual tastes!  You can prep your bread in advance and set up a toppings bar - even include Alfredo sauce if you prefer and add spinach or petite cooked shrimp as optional toppings...Que Sera Sera!  Enjoy Ya'll!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chicken Tortellini Salad

I was trying to use what our garden had produced and serve a filling and cool meal on another 100+ degree day!  My solution was initially, chicken salad on lettuce.  The problem was....I didn't have time to make chicken salad today.  Then I was worried it wouldn't be filling enough for the hubs so I added some pasta to make this a heartier summer dinner.  Shortcuts were required and baby did they work!
You'll need:
Lettuce (half a head iceberg serves two or any lettuce mix you like is fine)
Tomatoes (cut into wedges)
Bell Peppers (cut into strips)
1 1/2 lbs Store bought chicken salad
1/2 cup Green Grapes (halved)
1 lb Chicken and Prosciutto Tortellini
Cook tortellini in the microwave for 12 minutes until tender.  Drain and rinse in cool water.  Stir cooled and drained tortellini into the chicken salad.  I just bought chicken salad from the ice box section (the deli chicken salad was $5.99 a pound!)  No way - the ice box section had a perfectly good brand for $3.99 a pound and it was all white meat with pecans in it!
Chop your lettuce and center on the plate,  Garnish with tomato and bell peppers (or what ever veggies you have on hand).  Combine tortellini with chicken salad and grapes.  Place chicken salad mix in the center of your lettuce bed and garnish with dill or parsley (salt and pepper work fine too)! 
This is delicious, hearty and still a cool dinner for a very hot late summer night and the hubs LOVES it!  Double winner for a busy lady trying to make a good dinner fast!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jack in the Beans

Getting ready to cook out for Labor Day! Burgers, Dogs and Baked Beans are on the menu.  I'm feeling a little nostalgic this morning and missing my family in Tennessee, then I remembered this recipe to add a little something extra to our dinner tonight - Mr. Jack!  These are the best beans I've ever made!

You'll need:
2 tablespoons bacon drippings or oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey
1 can (28 ounces) baked beans
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke, optional

Heat drippings in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and brown sugar.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

In a pinch, you can use onion flakes instead of chopping an onion - that deletes the oil or bacon grease from the recipe above.  Yellow mustard also does well if your out of Dijon mustard.  I do not use the liquid smoke.