Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snowy days in PA

Well, I have to tell you, it has been quite a week.   After much research, himming and hawing, I finally got my new range (thanks, Mom and Dad!)  It's a five burner whirlpool with a griddle that fits over the middle burner.  I really had no idea what I was missing!  Did you know that it shouldn't take an hour to pre-heat your oven?!  It was delivered on Saturday and I christened it with a favorite meal, chili and corn casserole. 

I've posted the recipe for corn casserole before, as well as a good chili recipe, but this chili is a little different.  If the other one is Rainbow Chili, named for the vast array of colorful veggies in it, this one might need to be called Tad's Chili because of it's lack of veggies (zucchini being the most offensive) or it could just be Guy Chili, because it's mostly meat and beans. 

Basically, I take 2 hot peppers, a few cloves of garlic, and an onion and finely chop them in the mini food processor.  Get that softening in a big pot with a little olive oil and then add 2 lbs of ground meat (I like ground beef and pork, personally.)  Brown that up, and while it's browning, season with salt and pepper, finely dice (almost puree) two bell peppers in the mini food processor.  Drain off most of the fat from your meat and add the peppers.  Cook that together for a few minutes, then add a big can and a small can of diced tomatoes and your spices.  

Now, I don't measure my spices, sorry!  I just eyeball it for color and proportions, and then taste as I add.  Start with a big palm full of chili powder, half a palm each of cumin, paprika, and hot Hungarian paprika, and then half that of garlic powder and Cayenne pepper.  Then taste and adjust.  Oh, and salt and black pepper, very important!  Then add in kidney beans.  I do a can each of dark red and light red, but use what you like.  Then just let it all cook together, the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.

This chili is hearty, meaty, and perfect for snowy days, which we have had plenty of this winter!

The next thing I wanted to share with you is another tasty meal for a snowy day.  We got nailed with 10 inches of snow here Tuesday, so I'm working on my 5th day off of school with a cold I got for my birthday Monday.  Last night I made a salad that was so good I was sad I didn't have enough ingredients for another one today.  Or so I thought!  This salad is a little bit different from last nights, but equally good.  If you want last night's, use left over filet with sauteed mushrooms instead of the jalapenos chicken sausage.

   Start by roasting some vegetables.  I did this just like I did in my last post, so if you need instructions, check it out.  I was out of potatoes, so I used butternut squash instead (equally delicious!)  With 10 minutes remaining for the veggies, I slice up some chicken sausage and brown it in a pan with a little olive oil.  Put that on a bed of arugula mix with a little chopped fresh mozzarella. Then, in the same pan, add a little butter, and toast up some big sourdough croutons. I add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese right at the end.  Then, take your veggies out and throw them on top of the salad, add some croutons, and dress with just a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It was so tasty.  I am not a big salad eater in the winter time, but the roasted veggies and the warm sausage make it so comforting and filling, that you will make this your new go-to cold weather salad.
So, hopefully I get back to work again soon because being home this much is spoiling me, and my kitties, rotten.  Stay warm and well fed!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Roasted Veggies

I've got to tell you, yesterday I went to Wegmans with nothing but cheese and cream in my fridge. It had gotten pretty busy around here, and even I can only eat so much cheese!  So I headed to my favorite store and loaded up my cart with veggies, fruit, and chili ingredients.  I got home late tonight after a really LONG meeting at school and was so psyched to make dinner. For once in my life I wasn't starving when I got home because I brought yummy snacks (avocado humus, red peppers, and carrots) to share at the meeting, and we order out for lunch.  This gave me time to pre-heat my ancient oven and do some roasting.  Ps.  I'm saying goodbye to my 1970s range Saturday and getting a new one!  I have to admit I'm feeling a little sad to see my old friend go, but I know I'll be able to count on the new one in a whole new way.  Anyway...

I pre-heated my oven to 425 degrees and started chopping up some vegetables.  On a foil-lined baking dish I drizzled a little olive oil, then added my cubed up (and peeled) sweet potato, red potato, turnips, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and radishes.  By the way, I had never cooked radishes before, but a friend shared that they were delicious, so I decided to give them a try.  Oh, they were good!

I then tossed them in a little more olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the top rack of my oven.  I checked on them a few times, then after about 30 minutes, I took them out and enjoyed them with a grass-fed steak tenderloin, mushrooms, and a few onion rings.  

It was so delicious, and to be honest, I could have just eaten a huge bowl of the veggies.  I don't think I even needed the steak, although it was also very tasty. 
I tried each of the vegetables on their own because I wondered which one I liked the best, and I've got be honest, I'm not really sure I could answer my own question.  The sweet potato was sweet and tender, the sprouts got blackened and crispy, and the radishes were still a little spicy, but I truly was surprised that I think the turnips were my favorite.  Which roasted vegetable is your favorite?  Which ones should I add to my pan?