Friday, June 27, 2008

Award Winning Chili

Yeah, that's right, I won an award. I entered my chili recipe in Cuisinart's stand mixer recipe contest, and ended up winning a wine cellar, a popcorn popper, and a blender. Sadly, I feel the need to keep that cellar well stocked, which can be a bit pricey. Nevertheless, below is my award winning chili recipe. If you don't like things really spicy as my husband and I do, you may want to cut back on the chipotles a bit. I love the tender chunks of sirloin in this instead of ground beef.

Black Bean and Chipotle Chili
1/3 cup olive oil

2 pounds petite tender or boneless sirloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon creole seasoning such as Tony Chachere's
2 cups chopped Vidalia onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 6oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo
1/3 cup masa harina
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups low sodium beef broth
3 14.5 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
grated mild cheddar for garnish
finely chopped red onion for garnish

After cutting beef into cubes, drizzle with the Worcestershire sauce and creole seasoning. Empty all chipotles and adobo into a food processor, and puree. In a heavy kettle heat the oil over medium high heat until hot, and brown beef in batches, transferring browned beef with slotted spoon to a bowl. In the rendered fat, cook the onion, garlic, and chipotle/adobo puree until onion is softened. Add the Masa Harina, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon. Cook the mixture, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes and beef, simmering uncovered for 45 minutes, or until beef is tender. Stir in beans and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, or until beans are hot through. Serve the chili garnished with cheese and red onion.

Holy Guacamole Burgers

Hey, look at me, no pesto. Can you tell I'm a foodie? Well, as a lot of foodies, I'm addicted to The Food Network, and I got this idea from Rachel Ray's Moo Shu Pork Pockets. When I made those, my husband and I really enjoyed them, and I got to thinking about all kinds of international burgers. The following are my southwest themed burgers, and I'm still working on an Italian burger with Italian sausage, and a Greek burger with lamb served in a pita. Yep, I got ideas... Anyway, I have made these several times, and they've been a big hit.  You could totally do "semi homemade" with store bought guacamole, and even make smaller burgers and smaller tortillas for sliders. 

Holy Guacamole Burgers
1.5 pounds ground beef
1 heaping tablespoon taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso 40% less sodium)
4 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
2 slices pepper jack cheese
2 slices chipotle cheddar cheese (Sargento makes the chipotle cheddar deli slices, but if you can’t find that, sharp cheddar cheese works well too)
8 grape tomatoes chopped (I use grape tomatoes when summer, garden tomatoes are not available, if you can get a good tomato, one small or ½ large would be great)
¼ red onion finely chopped
6 slices jarred jalapenos finely chopped, or 1 small, fresh jalapeno seeded and finely chopped
4 burrito size tortillas
Shredded lettuce

1 avocado peeled, pitted, and mashed
1/3 of a lime, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped onion
6 grape tomatoes finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Guacamole:
Add lime juice, chopped cilantro, onion, tomatoes, salt and pepper to mashed avocado and mix together.

Directions for burgers:
Chop and mix tomatoes, onion and jalapenos.
Mix ground beef with taco seasoning, and form into 4 burgers. Grill burgers to desired doneness. Slice cheese slices in half, and put half pepper jack slices on each tortilla. Top pepper jack cheese with slice of cooked bacon cut in half. Top bacon with tomato, onion, jalapeno mixture. Place a burger on the tomato mixture, then top each burger with 1 Tablespoon of guacamole and ½ slice chipotle cheddar or sharp cheddar. Top with shredded lettuce. Fold in sides of tortilla to make a pocket. Brown both sides of quesadilla burger for about 2 minutes each, slice in half and serve.

Chicken Pesto Parmigiana with Prosciutto and Pesto Gnocchi

 I was out one day shopping with my Mom, when she asked me for ideas for dinner and I came up with this. It's simple, with ingredients that are typically around the house (at least my house), that can be put together pretty quickly.

Chicken Pesto Parmigiana
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken tenders or chicken breasts
3/4 cup Pesto (when basil is in season, homemade is best, but store bought can be used)
Prosciutto slices
1 cup bread crumbs (italian seasoned works well, but if you have plain, just add a tsp of Italian seasoning)
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup flour
1 egg beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 16oz. package vacuum-packed gnocchi 

Preheat oven to 350. If using chicken tenders, they're already thin filets, so no need for beating, if you use the chicken breasts, you will need to use a meat mallet, and pound them! Have flour in one shallow dish, beaten egg in another shallow dish, and bread crumbs and parmigiano in another shallow dish. Dip chicken into flour first, then egg, then bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in skillet, medium heat, and brown chicken on each side for about 4 minutes per side. Put a dollop of pesto on each piece of chicken, then wrap in 1 slice prosciutto and place in baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. While chicken is in the oven, boil water and cook gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain, put in serving bowl and stir in 1/4 cup pesto.  Serve chicken with side of gnocchi in pesto.  

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil
¾ cups olive oil
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
½ cup pine nuts
1-2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry basil leaves, and toss all ingredients into food processor, and let her rip. There you have it. I like to have some pieces of pine nuts that are big enough to be recognizable, and add some more texture, so I leave some out of the food processor, and just lightly crush them, and add them to the processed ingredients.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Since I discussed making "bouncy noodles", and bruschetta with sun-dried tomato pesto, I figured I better include the pesto recipe, and give some of the limitless possibilities for said pesto, or basil pesto, or whatsomever your favorite pesto is.

Place in a food processor, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup pignoli nuts, 1/2 cup shredded pecorino romano, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Process ingredients together, and you've got some pesto.

These pinwheels with sun dried tomato pesto cream cheese are very yummy appetizers...

1 package of six 10-inch Spinach with Garlic and Pesto Baja Wraps
(any spinach tortillas would do)
2 -8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sun dried tomato pesto
1 pound thinly slice prosciutto
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 whole roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup artichoke hearts,

Put both packages of cream cheese in mixing bowl, and add sun dried tomato pesto and mix thoroughly, then set aside. In food processor, add kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts, and mince to make a tapenade, and set aside. Divide the sun dried tomato cream cheese and spread it on each tortilla evenly. Layer the cream cheese with 3 slices of prosciutto, then top with 2 tablespoons of the tapenade and spread evenly over prosciutto. Roll each tortilla tightly, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. Cut off ends and discard, then cut rolls into 8 even slices. Lay pinwheels flat on serving dish.

Or how about a pesto pizza? Yummo

1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup purchased or homemade pesto (basil, sun dried tomato, what ever you like)
1 partially baked thin pizza crust
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 slices prosciutto, chopped
1 large jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese thinly sliced (if cheese is partially frozen, it is much easier to slice thinly)

Preheat oven to 450. Place pine nuts in small, heavy skillet over medium heat; toast, stirring often until the nuts are browned, about 5 minutes. Spread pesto thinly over pizza crust. Distribute drained artichoke hearts, shallots, and prosciutto evenly over pesto; sprinkle with pine nuts. Cover with mozzarella. Bake until bottom of crust is golden and crisp and the cheese has melted, approximately 10-15 minutes.


My husband had a dinner meeting last night, so my 5 year old and 2 year old got to plan the menu of "bouncy noodles", or rotini to you and me. My picky 5 year old likes hers very plain, with just a little butter, parmesan and a sprinkle of seasoned salt. My gourmet 2 year old needs a little more flair, so I had some sun-dried tomato pesto for her noodles. Well, my husband's dinner meeting got cancelled, which meant he'd be home for dinner. That meant things needed to be jazzed up a bit. The first thing that he asked was "what are we having for appetizers?" Since I wasn't planning on serving appetizers, I had to act fast and use what I had on hand. Since I was planning on making some croutons for our salads anyway, I just thought I'd use some of those croutons to make some bruschetta for appetizers.

I like to use a french loaf, multigrain, take and bake bread to make croutons. While you are slicing the bread into 1 inch (or a bit less) thick slices, preheat the oven to 500. Brush each side of the bread with good olive oil, and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. I actually had a grill basket that I used, because the croutons get the heat from above and below, and it makes it very easy to flip them half way through. Bake the croutons for 10 minutes, flipping half way through. While the croutons are baking, peel and cut in half, 2 cloves of garlic. When the croutons are browned and crisp, rub one side of each crouton with garlic. Place the croutons that you are making into bruschetta on a baking sheet, and switch oven from 500 to broil. Place the croutons that will stay as croutons, on a cutting board to cube later. To top the bruschetta, I had to use what I had on hand, so I topped a couple of them with sliced brie cheese, others with 1 tablespoon each of sun-dried tomato pesto, a few pignoli nuts, and a shaving of pecorino romano cheese, and I topped a few others with crumbled feta mixed with chopped grape tomatoes. I placed these bad boys under the broiler for about 2 minutes, and TaDa, appetizers were ready with just what I had in the kitchen. The beauty of bruschetta is top as you please, with what you have available, an olive tapenade would be great, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, what ever you've got in your kitchen.