Friday, January 14, 2011

Food in Review

You’d think from the fact that we got over 10” of snow last winter, that snow wouldn’t be quite the big deal when we get 3” the next year.  Not so!  I think it would have to get up to 10” regularly before we DFW area Texans stop marveling at this crazy thing called snow.  

The snow set the pace for a the week, which is basically to say that it was colder than a witch’s, um, toe this week and required warm, comforting food!  Seriously, most nights were in the teens here.  That’s cold.  Period.  

Sunday:  Well, I think we can all agree that chilly weather calls for......chili!  I realize this is FAR from original, and you’ve seen my chili before.  But wanted to show you what goes into my process.  I tend to let my chili cook for hours to get all the flavors nice and acquainted.  The other tidbit about this week is that all the dinners had to be really quick because I intended to do the 10 day unlimited yoga trial after work every day.  So, yes, our meals revolved around the chili.

First up, brown some meat (or don’t, vegetarian is good too.....I’m doing that soon).  This was the last pound of the ground beef I got from the farmers’ market.  Once it was browned, I drained the fat and added a diced onion to sweat until translucent.  The meat went back in, along with a can of tomato sauce, two cans of water and all the seasonings from the chili kit.  Yes, I own all of these spices.  But I love this kit and how it turns out, so I just buy the kit.  I only use half of the “red pepper”, as an FYI.  I love spice, but I also like to feel my tongue.  So, I guess technically, I make one alarm chili.  That simmers away for 30 minutes.
 

Meanwhile, roast a couple pablanos.  You can either stick them under the broiler, turning until blackened, or stick them straight on an electric burner.  The result is extremely similar, except that I find the skin is easier to feel using the broiler method.  Once black, pop into a zip bag or a bowl sealed tightly with plastic wrap.  The key is just to allow the peppers to steam.  Again, this is helpful in removing the skin. 
 

Once 30 minutes are up, mix the masa from the kit (another reason I buy the kit) with water, pour it into the chili and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes.  At this point, add any fun stuff you want.  My typical chili gets the roasted pablanos (de-skinned, de-seeded, and chopped), a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, and a drained can of dark red kidney beans.  Really though....the door is wide open to add whatever suits your palette!  Once I stir my add-ins thoroughly, I let it simmer till we’re ready to eat, however long that might be.  
 


Sunday’s dinner was a simple bowl of chili with a dollop of organic sour cream, grated sharp cheddar and multigrain tortilla chips on the side.  Perfection on a snowy night.

Monday:  When there is a vat of chili in the fridge, chili dogs are irresistible!  Especially when I happen to know my husband loves them.  I used Applegate Farms organic uncured beef franks for our chili dogs.  These guys were out of this world good!  Seriously one of the most flavorful dogs I’ve ever eaten.  I didn’t feel like committing to an entire bag of buns, so I used my newest obsession under the dogs: sea salt ciabatta from the WF bakery.  (Go out and get this!  Put it in a breakfast casserole.  Thank me later.)  I was leery about the ciabatta, but it was a foolish worry!  It held up beautifully!  No sogginess.  No tearing.  Just thick, chewy bread in every bite.  I tried a little experiment and split a dog down the middle.  I’ll be doing the rest this way when I cook them.  Great for stability since we weren’t using traditional buns.  The ciabatta and wieners were doused in chili, onion, and cheese, of course.  More multigrain tortilla chips on the side.  Dinner was done in 15 minutes.  Gotta love that!  
 
Tuesday:  Another quick and easy pleaser: chili topped taters.  I “baked” the russets in the microwave, split them, filled them with chili cheese, and sour cream.  Dinner.  Done.  
 

Wednesday:  I had another chili recipe planned out, but lacked the cheese to bring it to fruition.  So, I changed the focus from chili to chowder.  I had a box of Pacific Natural Foods rosemary potato chowder, and I wanted to make it into dinner for two.  So, I diced up a russet and a half (left over from the Tuesday.....I bought extras).  I added a pat of organic butter and some olive oil to my pan with a little diced onion (left over from the chili dogs) and the diced potatoes.  They sauteed until the potatoes were just a starting to get color and the onion was soft.  Then I got a little weird, with the husband’s blessing.  I split two of the Applegate Farms beef dogs down the middle, sliced them thin, and added them to the potatoes.  In went the box of chowder and some veggie stock to thin it out.  It simmered, covered for about 15 minutes while more sea salt ciabatta reheated at 350 in the oven.  The resulting chowder was extra thick, warm, and utterly DE-licious!  I know the hot dogs are probably a little ghetto, but they worked.  Oh man did they work.  These might be the best dogs I’ve ever eaten.  The texture is strictly hot dog , but the flavor is far more like kielbasa or smoked sausage: hearty and noticeable.  And I’ll hand it to the Pacific soups.  So far, I’ve had two and both have been rich, thick, and full of flavor with excellent ingredients lists.  
 
Thursday:  Hot dog alert!  Yeah, two days in a row.  I know.  Nothing right about me. And on nachos.  Really?  Yeah, I went there.  The package says to use them within 4 days of opening.  I got a little creative.  Sue me.  Okay, well, the husband was quite fond.  I found it meh....I wouldn't recommend it, personally.  But that's really the great part of cooking: you get to try it and see for yourself!


And some Riley for the road....thought she's bounced between sweet, sickly pup to hellhound this week!  Lord give me strength.


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