Pumpkin chili with goat and black beans

Today I made chili without a recipe for the first time ever. I had a sugar pumpkin and ground goat meat in the house already, so I started with those and made up the rest. It turned out so good, I just had to share. Chili is flexible so you can always add or subtract some veggies for others, and substitute any chop meat you have or keep it veggie! Just play around with the spices and liquid level to suit your tastes. Here’s a good starting point:

Pumpkin chili with goat and black beans

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground goat meat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 diced hot chili
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp each: garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper
28 oz diced tomatoes
~1 cup broth (any kind, I used chicken)
~2 cups cooked pumpkin (I just used 1 whole roasted sugar pumpkin here but you could use canned)
2 16 oz cans of beans (any kind, I used black beans)

Roast 1 whole sugar pumpkin in the oven on 350F for ~1.25 hours. Place a baking sheet under the pumpkin on the rack below in case it leaks. Remove pumpkin from oven and slice in half to let it cool. Then, remove seeds (keep them to roast or just toss) and scoop out the pulp into a bowl. Mash it with a fork until smooth.

In the meantime, heat ~1 tbsp olive oil in a pot and brown your meat. When cooked, remove meat from the pan and drain the fat. Set meat aside. In the same pan, saute all the veggies 5-10 minutes until soft. Add in the spices and cook a few more minutes.

Add the meat back into the pot with the veggies, along with the diced tomatoes, broth and pumpkin puree. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 1-2 hours. Stir every so often. Mix in beans during the last few minutes of cooking just to heat them through.

Serve over white rice and enjoy!

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Red curry veggies over cauliflower fried rice

I had more energy than normal tonight following an awesome workout so I prepped dinner with a little extra love and passion. As it happens, it came out awesome and was actually pretty simply so I wanted to share. I stir-fried a bunch of veggies, made a quick (literally under five minutes) red curry and served it over cauliflower fried rice. The most time-consuming part was food processing the cauliflower, but you could always do this in advance or just dice it up small. Any veggies will do 🙂

Red curry veggies over cauliflower fried rice

Ingredients

for stir fry
coconut oil (or whatever oil you use for higher heat)
LOTS of roughly chopped veggies (I used 1 green bell pepper, 1 zucchini, 1 package of shitaki mushrooms, a few handfuls of bean sprouts, 1 medium yellow onion)
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

for fried rice
about a thumbs worth of butter (or your favorite fat)
1 head of cauliflower, food processed until rice size
~1 cup frozen peas
3 eggs

for red curry
coconut/extra virgin olive oil
~2 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk

First, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a wok or heavy pan. Toss in all stir fry veggies and cook about ten minutes until soft but still with a bit of crunch and color. Take them off the heat and put to the side.

Next, heat butter in the same pan over medium heat and add cauliflower. Make sure to coat it all with whatever fat you are using and cook until slightly brown and toasted looking, about 10-15 minutes. Then, create a hole in the middle so that pan is showing, add a little more butter and then eggs, beating slightly in the pan. When mostly cooked, stir eggs fully into cauliflower and add peas. Cook another two or three minutes. You can add coconut aminos or soy sauce at the end for flavor.

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You can be be making the curry in a second pan at the same time. Heat up coconut or olive oil over medium-low heat. Add curry paste and toast a few minutes until fragrant. Mix in coconut milk and just heat through. Finally, toss veggies and simmer all together for another five minutes.

Serve over fried rice and enjoy.

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Veggie hacks: 3-bean chili

One day last week, while attempting an aerobic walk during the arctic blast, my friend Lara and I were discussing what to make for dinner, and she mentioned vegetarian chili. This used to be one of my staples, especially when I wasn’t eating meat, but I have not made it forever. So I decided to make one that night. Please note: I wasn’t thinking about this blog when I was cooking, so there are neither pictures nor a precise list of ingredients. This barely counts as a recipe, consider it more of add-on that you can use when developing your own chili with your favorite ingredients or a trusted recipe.

Or, since chili is pretty fool-proof you can just take me at my word.

Really, the only reason I am posting about this at all is that I randomly tried something new that ended up coming out great and I had to share. I chopped the uncooked carrots and portobello mushrooms super fine in the food processor, until they were almost the size and texture of big breadcrumbs. Then I added the mixture to the chili when I put in the tomatoes and broth. The result was that the sauce took on the texture of meat chili, and it added the extra veggies and flavor without more chunks.

Here’s sort of what I did:

Ingredients

A few tbsp EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
a few garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled
6-7 baby portobello mushrooms
*Not positive on the quantities of carrots and mushrooms, I would say I had about 1.5 cups of the ground mixture in the end
1 large jalepeño, diced
*spice mixture (more on this below)
1 can each: Red kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
~2-3 cups veggie broth (I actually used chicken but can go full veggie here)

  1. Sauté the onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil for 10-15 minutes until onions are golden
  2. Add in chopped chili pepper and your spice mixture. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. I didn’t have chili powder in the house (dumb because I made some for Christmas as gifts and didn’t keep any for myself!) so I mixed together paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and turmeric until it tasted good.
  3. Chop carrots and mushrooms in food processor
  4. Stir everything else into the pot: beans, tomatoes, carrot/mushroom mixture and broth as needed (just enough so it’s not too thick)
  5. Boil and then simmer, uncovered, on medium low for an hour.

I’d love to hear how this turns out if you try it, so please share below!

Pumpkin Chili Reenactment

I’m pretty excited for fall. In my family, fall is full of birthdays and milestones. Some are happy, some are pretty sad, but I still love it. Don’t get me wrong. I will miss sunbathing and outdoor showers more than anything. But as the weather cools, I’m find I really am ready to get back to the business of cooking well and eating right. And being able to turn the oven on again without sweating to death.

In preparation, I went to Trader Joe’s this week with my friend Kathrin to stock up on all things pumpkin. I remembered making some sort of pumpkin and black bean chili last year, so I bought a few cans of pumpkin puree, a few cans of beans and a 1lb of ground turkey figuring that seemed like about the right ingredients.

When I got home I started searching for recipes, but they all had something in them I didn’t have in the house or don’t like. So, I made up my own version based on what I had and the veggies from the farm this week.

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It came out delicious! But I forgot to take any pictures or write anything down. So, in the interest of full disclosure, the recipe below is a staged reenactment of that chili.

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients
*makes 6 servings
(the recipe is doubled in the pictures if you are wondering why the pot is so full!)

1-2 tbs butter
1 frying pepper, cut into rings
4 small sweet peppers, cut into rings
1 onion, chopped
1 large jalapeño, sliced thin
2-3 garlic cloves sliced
1/2 tsp each: cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt
3 small tomatoes roughly chopped (w/ seeds)
1 15oz can black beans
1 15oz can cannellini beans
2 cans pumpkin puree
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups chicken stock

In a large pot, melt better and sauté onions and peppers over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add in jalapeño and chopped garlic and cook a few more minutes.

peppers-onions

Once veggies are soft, mix in spices and cook a few more minutes. Then, stir in tomatoes and turn heat to low, letting everything stew for 5-10 more minutes.

In the meantime, brown ground turkey in a separate skillet with just a little bit of olive oil.

After the tomatoes start to get soft and cook down, add pumpkin and chicken stock into the pot. Mix well, then add in beans. Bring everything to a boil, making sure to stir often since the pumpkin is thick so nothing sticks.

Once the pot boils, turn down to low heat and mix in browned turkey. Let pot simmer on low, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring often.

chili-pot

I served as is, but you could top with a bit of grated cheese or a scoop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

Enjoy!

Poaching eggs in the Black Hills

May I first say, sorry for the delay in posting! I intended to post from the road, but some places had no service or electricity and all places took my head so far from the computer that I kept not writing. However, I took pictures of everything we ate along the way so I could catch up once back on the grid. Here we go.

Our first night of camping was in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The prairie landscape here is described as beautiful and unforgiving, which I can now say is about accurate. We set up our tents and prepared for a silent and powerful sunset.

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In the morning, we set our for an 8 mile hike across a harsh rock crust trail dotted with sunflowers and grasses.

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However, we did not depart without a tasty power breakfast! Since we were still getting a feel for how to keep the camp stove lit in the prairie winds, first morning simplicity was important. Poached eggs are great to make on a camp stove because all you have to do is boil water, and there is minimal cleanup afterwards. Plus, they are soooo good.

Ingredients:
*makes one serving

2 raw eggs
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 fresh orange
salt and pepper to taste
a dab or two of hot sauce if you wish

poached-eggs-with-avocado-and-orange

Bring a few inches of water to a boil and add a pinch of salt. Crack both eggs into a cup. Once the water is boiled, spin the water to create a whirlpool in the middle of the pot. Then, carefully pour the eggs into the center. Cook for three minutes at a slow boil, and then remove the eggs from the water with a spoon.

Serve with avocado slices and fresh fruit!

Deep dish pizza is my new favorite food

Let’s cut to the chase: Chicago deep dish pizza is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. I mean, just look at it…

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Since Chicago was our first real stop on the trip, providing a few days of leisure before camping, we decided to indulge in this decadent local treat. Our host
took us Giordano’s for a taste.

I am not sure what I was imagining deep dish pizza to be, but I could not have been more wrong. I think I was picturing a Sicilian sort of thing, with a thick crust. Instead, what arrived on our table was a stuffed pizza. The delicious crust was filled, like a pie, with a melty core of cheese and toppings, about an inch high. All the elements were perfect. The crust was light, sweet and flaky, just thinly lining the bottom of each slice. The sauce was delicious, closer to a thin tomato sauce than a thick marinara (win!).

Both the sauce and crust take a back seat to the cheese and filling, which ooze out everywhere bringing joy with every bite. Here, take a closer look:

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Now, I am a clean my plate kind of a girl, but a slice and a half put me over the edge. Good thing the leftovers made a great room temperature lunch in the road the next day 🙂

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Spring Cleaning Veggie Soup

I want to make everything from scratch, all the time. After all, I’m trying to learn how to really cook. Sauces, broths and doughs are fun to try, but they take time and love, and a lot of exploration. Sometimes they fail at 8pm at night when you’ve worked all day, gone to the gym, still have a term paper to write, and are on the verge of transforming into the hunger-induced raging lunatic doppelgänger of your normally normal self. (Who you then have to apologize for in the morning even though you have no memory of her visit…)

Anyway, it’s finals week for me and I have a big project going on at work, so when I went grocery shopping on Sunday I made a point to put together some quick and easy meals. I already had a bunch of veggies in my kitchen from all the big elaborate meals I thought up and “didn’t get to” this week, so with an additional carton of veggie broth and 1 can of beans I was able to make up this soup. Besides clearing out my fridge, it came out pretty tasty. Sometimes it pays to throw in everything but the kitchen sink and see what happens.

Ingredients:
4 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onice, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
4 parsips, peels and sliced
2 garlic cloves, whole
4 cups vegetable broth or stock
2 cups fresh peas (or frozen, or canned if you have them)
1 can great northern beans
1 small tomato, diced
1-2 fresh basis leaves
a pinch of fresh parmesan
a pinch of herbs de provence
a pinch of crushed red pepper
sea salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cut the sweet potato and parsnips into 1/2 inch cubes, and lay on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over half way. Since the veggies will cook a bit more in the soup, they don’t have to be completely cooked through. Watch them and make sure to remove them from the oven before they start crisping.

In a large sauce pan, heat a bit of olive oil and saute the onions and celery on med-low flame until translucent, about 5 minutes. Try to keep them from browning. Add in the rest of your ingredients, except the beans, and bring to a slow boil. Once boiling, add beans and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for another 20 minutes.

Top with fresh parmesan to serve. I happened to have some amazing kielbasa in the fridge homemade by a friend of mine in the fridge (thanks Kathrin and Sam!), so we sliced that up and threw it in the leftovers for something different. It was refreshing and satisfying both ways.

Enjoy!

A Berry Nice Surprise

In a moment of great ambition, I volunteered to make pies for my family’s Easter celebration. Baking does not come naturally to me, so I felt a lot of pressure to get these pies right, since there was going to be a crowd of about 20 people. I decided on one strawberry rhubarb and one apple pie. I also decided to buy pre-made crust, and that I was not going to post about this adventure. However, a few things happened and that all changed. First, I found out there is no rhubarb to be found anywhere this time of year. So, with the strawberries already in my cart I decided to try a mixed berry pie. Second, the pies came out great! So here we are 🙂

mixed-berry-fruit-pie-homemade

Mixed Berry Pie
adapted from Epicurious

2 store bought pie crusts (I used the Whole Food’s brand frozen ones, made from only a few whole ingredients)
1-16oz container of strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (for glaze)

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except egg yolk in a bowl, and stir until fruit is nice and coated. Line a pie dish with one crust, and fill with fruit mixture. It should be piled nice and high, since the filling will cook down quite a bit. Carefully cover pie with the second crust. Seal by crimping the edges together with a fork nice and tightly. Cut a few slits in the top for vents.

To make the glaze, beat one egg yolk, 1 tsp of water and 1/4 tsp white sugar together. Brush over the top crust.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F, then reduce temperature to 350F and bake for an additional hour to 1 hour and 25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from over and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps

Confession: It’s not always easy being clean. Keeping the meal repertoire interesting and tasty enough to stay on track is hard to do sometimes. My motivation and creativity come in waves. Recently, simplicity has been my ingredient of choice. So, the other night I started with one idea, chicken sausage. Recently I’ve been playing around with taking sausage out of the casing, making it much more versatile. I actually googled “chicken sausage lettuce wraps” to see what ideas I could steal, but there wasn’t much to be found. I had cooked quinoa and a lemon in the fridge, naturally challenging me to incorporate them as well. So, I thought, let’s see if we can’t make chicken sausage lettuce wraps a thing.

chicken-sausage-lettuce-wraps

Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps
Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
6 plain chicken sausages, casings removed
1 head bib lettuce
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
handfull fresh parsley, chopped (I actually pulled mind out of the freezer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan, add the sausage and break it up into small pieces as it begins to cook. Saute on medium heat until completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add in the quinoa and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until everything is heated through.

Remove from heat. Toss sausage mixture in a large mixing bowl with parsley, lemon juice and the diced apple.

Carefully pull off each lettuce leaf, and fill them with a spoonful of the mixture. Serve like tacos. This also makes great leftovers, just pack filling and lettuce separately.

Enjoy!