Black and white and red all over

February 19, 2009

Did you miss me?

I know you did, because I got so many comments about my absence.

OH WAIT. No I didn’t.

But that’s okay, I had a busy week, too.

This morning was cold, the coldest it’s been in a few weeks, and I felt like my feet were actually frozen by the time I made it from my car to work, so I started thinking about chili at about 8:25am. Which is early even for me.

Also, according to my very careful records (this blog), we haven’t had chili since December 21, and that’s kind of remarkable in this household.

triple bean and toasted barley chili

triple bean and toasted barley chili

Say that three times fast.

I put this together on the fly, but I think it went something like this:

  1. Heat ~1t olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup quick cooking barley and toast, stirring frequently, for two minutes.
  3. Add 1 diced green pepper and 1 diced onion, along with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne to taste. I actually had a cumin accident at this point and I’m sure there’s at least 1/4 cup in this dish. Cook, stirring often, until peppers and onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a fairly serious boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. The barley should be tender and the whole thing should look really thick. Or “dank,” as Matt would say.
  5. Add 2 more cups of broth, 1 cup of water, more spices, and 1 can of each of the following beans: dark red kidney, black, and garbanzo. Or any firm beans. Whatever.
  6. Stir and bring back to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  7. Uncover and continue to simmer until it thickens up a bit.

This makes at least 5 or 6 meals, and it tasted great. I didn’t use any tomatoes, so it had more of a white chili feel.

Many days ago, we also had this pizza, which is notable because of Matt’s inspired addition:

how do you like them apples?

how do you like them apples?

That’s right, he chopped up some gala apples to put on it, along with the mushrooms, red peppers, and broccoli that I selected (most of the broccoli fell off, sadly). I was skeptical at first, but I have to admit that he was right: the apples were awesome.

I’m cooking at least our next three dinners, so I should be back soon. I’m committing in this public forum, so I kind of have to, right?


Vacation countdown

December 21, 2008

I had a long day of waking up cold, complaining about the cold, going to the gym (in the cold), running errands (in the cold), and complaining more about the cold. It was exhausting, obviously, so I wanted to make a quick dinner. I thought I’d try something new, so I went for… chili! Yeah, I know, same old same old. But it’s a degree outside and nothing else sounded quite as warm. I did shake things up by adding chips this time, though!

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It’s got the refried beans again. We’re addicted.

In case you’re concerned, I have been eating during my unplanned hiatus. The only notable thing, though, was stuffed squash:

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We roasted the squash the same way we did last time. The filling was different though, because I was (gasp) out of bulgur. So I whipped up a mix of ground turkey breast, a can of pinto beans, a green pepper, a can of diced tomatoes, and some cumin. Basically, chili without the liquids. I’m nothing if not predictable. Anyway, it made a ton, so we used the rest to make burritos. We’re handy.

Yesterday we went out to fancy dinner to celebrate six months of marriage. We split a shrimp skewers appetizer and I had the “seafood extravangza” pasta. I’d love to make it at home, but it had complicated things like mussels and lobster and so on, so I don’t see that happening. In honor of things I can’t make, we also split a slice of hazelnut cheesecake for dessert. And I may or may not have had a nice glass of wine and an Irish coffee over the course of the evening. Both of which helped cut the pain on the three degree walk home. In a dress.

In other good news, I only have one and a half work days left before vacation. This is simultaneously exciting and anxiety-inducing because my to-do list is looking a little out of control. Tomorrow should be especially interesting, with two doctors appointments, some meetings, a cookie party, errands, four loads of laundry, and a trip to the gym somewhere in here. My life is exhausting.

Okay, I’m off to fast (again). Let’s hope the appointment stays on schedule this time.


Chilly = Chili

December 14, 2008

I used to be a really creative person, but I can never seem to break that out when it comes time to make up titles for blog posts.

It’s really cold here today. At least, the weather reports say it is, and I haven’t been outside at all so there’s no reason for me to doubt it. According to my weather widget, it’s about 55 degrees colder than it was last night at this time and the wind chill is below zero. The term “arctic cold front” is being thrown around.

So, when I was deciding what to make for dinner, chili felt like the obvious choice. So I made some.

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This was a new recipe for me, Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili from Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. It was really, really good. I was a little nervous about the sweet potatoes, but they really are an awesome chili addition. My version was extra chunky because I forgot to buy crushed tomatoes and ended up using a few cans of diced instead.

Since I’m off exercise for a bit, I’ve been trying to keep my meals as healthy as possible. For instance, I only added one handful of cheese to this chili. Hopefully that made up for all of the Pocky I had for a “snack” this afternoon.

Okay, I think it’s time for some hot chocolate. Just to keep up with the theme of warmth.


I don’t know if you can tell, but we really like chili.

December 7, 2008

This new WordPress is fancy. I hope I can figure it out.

What’s with my weekends being less than relaxing lately? Last night I was nursing a really painful swollen knee and trying to read through the pain when I heard a familiar scratching sound. In our bedroom wall. So. gross. Let’s hope it goes away quietly and there aren’t any more rodent run-ins.

I’m refusing to live in fear this time around, though, so I did manage to cook dinner. We had a bunch of pesto leftover from our pasta the other day, so I decided to use it. So, we ended up having chicken chili with pesto.

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I was a little nervous but this turned out really well. So well that I even packed some of it for my lunch tomorrow, which never happens.

We went grocery shopping today for the first time since before Thanksgiving. It was beautiful. Matt tried to convince me that we could go for a few more days, but I was out of ginger snaps, so that wasn’t happening. Plus, last night I used up the last of our acceptable foods to make breakfast for dinner:

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That’s a spinach and goat cheese frittata with sweet potato “home fries.” Kind of a stretch, I know.

Other food- and drink-related highlights from the last few days include: mushroom and goat cheese pizza for dinner before our final class event of the semester, new  Trader  Joe’s  gingerbread coffee that came in the mail as an early Christmas gift, and a big piece of delicious ice cream cake.

And now I’m off to watch some basketball, clean, eat ginger snaps, and otherwise avoid acknowledging that it’s Sunday night.


More leftovers

November 30, 2008

When I was in grad school, my friend Dayna introduced me to white chili. Before she shared this wisdom with me, I believed that all chili was based on the recipe I had used for years: ground turkey or Morningstar veggie crumbles, 2 cans of red kidney beans, 1 can of tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, and a big dash of chili powder. She opened my eyes to a whole new world of chili. And I’m sure Matt’s grateful that she did, because I think he was getting tired of eating my “traditional” chili all winter long.

Since we literally have pounds and pounds of turkey breast from our big T-Day meal, I adapted Dayna’s excellent chili recipe and came up with this:

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Another easy one:

  1. Heat a diced onion, some minced garlic, and a green pepper in a little olive oil over medium. We also have some celery and carrots on their way out, so Matt had the good idea to toss those in as well. He’s smart.
  2. After five or so minutes, add 4 cups of broth and 1 cup of water (you can use less than this, just eyeball it. We needed a lot to handle all of those veggies). Then, add diced turkey/chicken/neither if you’re a vegetarian, about 1/2 cup of corn, and a can of white beans (drained and rinsed). If you’re going meatless, I’d add another can of beans.
  3. Add cumin to taste. I literally dump it in.
  4. Stir, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Live on it for days and days.

The only good thing that I can identify about this whole mouse situation is that our kitchen is probably the cleanest it has ever been, even before we moved in. We’re also being incredibly vigilant about washing dishes immediately and putting them away. I have more prep space than I’ve had in months.

Can you see how I am working on a positive outlook?

I’m not sure if you know this, but tomorrow is December 1. I know, I was surprised, too. It’s been a little disorienting spending 99% of the last four days in our apartment. But December 1 means three and a half weeks until vacation! I’m sure my family is getting all jazzed for my visit as I type this.

Okay, time to celebrate the end of November with – you guessed it – pie.


Soup time

November 18, 2008

I’ve got some kind of sickness of an unidentifiable nature, and it’s been really dragging me down for the past two days. I worked from home for part of the day yesterday to keep my germs sequestered, but today I mostly had muscle aches and some wheezing, so I made it in to work and powered through most of my day. Because I am a trooper, people.

We had corn chowder last night, because it sounded like the best option when my throat was still hurting. I used my own recipe, although clearly no one reads these things because I didn’t get any comments when I made it the first time about how I forgot to mention one important ingredient in my corn chowder: corn. So go ahead and mentally add that to the recipe somewhere. It really doesn’t matter where. Near the beginning would be my recommendation.

Tonight was a perfect chili night, as it was fairly cold today and I am still sort of sickly. I have Arielle to thank for tonight’s dinner, because I never would have thought of adding refried beans to chili but I was intrigued by her recipe and had to try it. I may never go back.

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I know that it kind of looks like every other bean-based soup/chili I’ve ever made, but it was so much better. Don’t let all the cheese fool you.

I made chili like I usually do, but added refried beans. Here’s the deal:

  1. Saute a diced green pepper and a small diced white onion in a little olive oil over medium with 2 cloves of garlic (minced) for about 5 minutes
  2. Add about 1 cup of your favorite broth, cook for about 3 minutes
  3. Add two cans of whatever kind of beans you want, but when I do a red chili like this, I usually use firmer beans like kidney and black beans, which I used tonight
  4. Add two cans of no-salt added diced tomatoes and stir
  5. Add a can of refried beans and stir slowly until it’s smooth
  6. Add a bunch of cumin and chili powder to taste
  7. Add more broth if desired
  8. Simmer for about 15 minutes

This makes a ton of chili, which is good, because we need a quick dinner to reheat before the basketball game tomorrow night.

Obviously I had some cheese on mine. Ellie Krieger is always saying that, when it comes to cheese, a little goes a long way. I always say that, when it comes to cheese, a lot also goes a long way. We also had rolls, the only ones Matt could find in the bakery section without HFCS.

Okay, Carolina is about to be playing basketball on my television, so I need to go. I leave you with the encouraging messages that greeted me when I got back from the 5k (click for more awesome detail):

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First Chili

October 8, 2008

All day, I thought it was Thursday. It wasn’t. That’s tomorrow.

To comfort myself in the face of all that disorientation, I made my first chili of the season:

You could call this “use whatever you have” chili. I know I will.

Here’s what I used:

  • About 3 small turkey burgers worth of ground turkey breast (this is a precise measurement, I know)
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • Garlic
  • Cumin (lots)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can green chiles, diced
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 3 cups of broth
  • 1 cup of water

All measures are fairly approximate. Except the ones that say “1 can,” because I feel pretty confident about those.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Heat carrot, onion, and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until soft.
  2. Add turkey and cumin and cook turkey through, breaking into small chunks.
  3. Add beans, peppers, barley, water, and broth. Bring to a low boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy.
  6. Write me fan mail.

I’ll be experimenting with this more (read: every other day) as the weather cools off. This was a little bland for me, so I need to heat it up next time. It would also be good without the turkey, with different beans, with some corn, with a different grain. The possibilities are endless, really.

Okay, I’m wiped out, so I’m going to go finish The Road and probably cry about a post-apocalyptic world until I fall asleep.

And then it will be Thursday.

Right?