Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cold Weather is Chili Weather

Growing up in South Texas, any time the mercury dropped below 40º, it was officially COLD.  Mom would whip up a big batch of chili and serve with homemade cornbread.  If she was feeling really industrious, she'd make a pan of cheese & onion enchiladas and top with some of the chili, pop in the oven and heat for about 30 mins.  To this day, I still prefer my enchiladas with chili rather than meat sauce or red sauce (or "gravy" if you're old school).  That's a recipe for a different day, though!

Now, something about chili. There's tons of ways to make it!  This is a basic recipe, but it's my favorite recipe. Also, chili isn't chili without beans.  Without beans, it's just meat sauce.  I'm not a fan of flaming hot chili  where all you taste is fire.  I prefer to taste the meat, the beans, and the seasonings.  My mouth thanks me for not setting it on fire, not to mention my intestinal tract!  Also, I have a very gringo husband who doesn't tolerate hot food, so I've had to tame down my original recipe and use "mild" chili powder rather than regular speed chili powder.  This makes an easy, slow-cooked meal that is not only tasty and filling, but fills your house with a lovely aroma throughout the day.

Homemade Chili With Beans

Pinto Beans  (Remember them from this post?   That's the base for this recipe.)
1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey or a mix of turkey/beef
Chili Powder (Gebhardt Chili Powder is the bomb if you can find it)

Start with the pinto beans that have been simmering on your stove or in your crock pot all day.  Add chili powder to taste.  I use about 4 oz.  Crumble your meat into the mixture.  Stir and allow to simmer until the meat is done, about 30 minutes to an hour.  I like to slowly cook my meat so it absorbs all the flavors of the mix and cooks down a bit so the chili is thick, not runny like soup.

Easy peasy! 

The consummate way to eat chili in my family is to take your piece of cornbread and slice it in half horizontally.  Lay it in the bottom of a bowl face up.  Pour the chili on top, add grated cheese and chopped onions to the top and devour.  I don't like soggy cornbread, so I eat my cornbread on the side.  You can also serve over corn chips and have Frito pie.

 I've carted this recipe through 6 moves over the past 25 years.  I treasure this because I had called my mom one day to get the "recipe".  She never used a recipe for anything so while I knew how to make it, I didn't really know how to make it!  I was teaching school at the time n Kerrville, was in my first apartment, and living on my own for the first time.  I need to transfer it to a recipe card & put it in my recipe box so it's on heavier paper and in a more safe place, but when I need the recipe, I just look for this piece of paper, which is from a pad of letter writing paper.  On second thought, considering my husband dropped my recipe box and broke it, maybe this piece of paper is better!  He did repair my recipe box, though and it works great!

Enjoy your chili, and Robin, you don't have to add the onions! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pinto Beans


Or simply, "a pot of beans" or "beans" in my family.  Beans were a standard in my family growing up, especially in colder weather.  We had them at any large family gathering such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I can remember sitting at the kitchen table cleaning beans with my mom and dad.  Mom or Dad would pour the bag of beans on the table and I'd use my little hand to scoop some to my spot at the table.  Mom gave me a big bowl to sit on my lap and taught me to pick out the rocks, pieces of beans, and bean halves.  Everything else got scooped off the table into the bowl.  Pat...pat...pick out a pebble or piece of bean...scoop into the bowl.  It was a fun time of "helping" in the kitchen and training for life. It was also a time to connect with my parents.  Sweet memories of that old gray formica table and cleaning beans! (Today's beans are a lot cleaner, but I still like to clean them just to make sure I get whole beans and no little pebbles in mine.)

I like to slow cook mine over a low flame or in a slow cooker and I start the night prior to when I want to eat them.  This bean recipe is also the base for chili in my family. 

Pinto Beans
3-4 Cups dry pinto beans
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (Can use more)
1/2 t (or more) garlic powder
1/4 t (or more) cumin
Bacon slices (about 1/2 pound) or salt pork

Measure out your beans.  I usually start with 4 cups of beans.  Rinse beans in a colander and then place in a dutch oven, stock pot, or slow cooker.  Pour enough water to cover the beans and allow for expansion. (The last time I cooked beans I had about 4 C of beans and about 12 C of water.) Soak beans overnight in 1/2 t salt per 2 cups of water.  If you're watching your salt, use 1/4 t salt per 2 C of water. Cover with tight fitting lid and let them set overnight.

In the morning, to the water & beans add the remaining ingredients. If you want it spicier, add more garlic and cumin, but don't overdo it on the cumin.  You can also leave out the cumin and just use garlic and bacon or salt pork. If you use bacon, I recommend cutting each slice into fourths. As my mom said, "If it doesn't smell spicy enough, keep adding more garlic."

Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, turn down to simmer for 6-8 hours, or until tender.  Add warm water as needed throughout cooking process to keep beans from burning.

If you're using a slow cooker, add the onion and spices in the morning, cover and place on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Top with cheese and your choice of toppings and serve over cornbread,or as a side for any meal.  (I don't like soggy cornbread, so I don't do this, but my dad loves to plop his cornbread in his bowl then pour the beans on top.) 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Seasoned Green Beans

I was looking through my recipe box tonight to find a vegetable to serve at dinner tonight and came across this recipe. I don't know why I haven't made these in forever because they are so easy and so good!!  Just the right amount of flavor to enhance the beans.

Seasoned Green Beans
3 1/2 C fresh or frozen green beans (approx. 1 lb.)  I used frozen, uncut but you can use cut green beans as well.
2 T butter or margarine, melted
1/4-1/2 t seasoned salt (Lawry's)
1/4-1/2 t chili powder
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t onion powder

Place beans in a steamer basket; place in saucepan over 1" of water.  Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 8-10 mins, or until crisp tender.  In a small bowl, combine the butter & seasonings.  Drain beans; add butter mixture and toss to coat.

Serves 4

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Spice Cookies

These are simply amazing!  They are the perfect blend of spices, chocolate, and cranberries.  My stack of cookies kept decreasing because my husband kept swiping them!  These taste great warm from the oven.  I know the list of ingredients looks long, but don't be dismayed.

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Spice Cookies
1 & 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt (can use as much as 1 t)
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
3/4 C shortening
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C white sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 C whole oats
1 & 1/2 C dried cranberries
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º. 
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice in medium bowl.  Set aside. 
In mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and combine well. 
Add flour mixture a little bit at a time and stir until just combined.
Add oats, cranberries and chocolate chips and blend well.  (I do all this in the mixer.)

Using a regular spoon (soup or cereal size), drop dough onto cookie sheet.  Dough is a bit "wet" so you might want to use parchment paper on your cookie sheets and use 2 spoons rather than get your hands all messy.

Bake 12-14 mins or until light brown.  Remove to cooling rack.  Cool completely & store in air-tight container.

**The original recipe stated to use a 1/4 cup scoop to drop dough on the cookie sheet.  I don't like large cookies, so I use a regular spoon.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Drops

I found this little jewel of a recipe in the Nestle Toll House Recipe Collection cookbook copyright 1987.  It's a thin, spiral bound cookbook filled with delicious chocolate recipes! 

2  1/2 C all-purpose flour
1  1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt (I usually cut this in half)
1  1/4 C sugar, divided  (1 C for the cookie recipe and 1/4 C for rolling the cookie in prior to baking)
3/4 C vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temp
1 t vanilla extract
1 10oz pkg (1 1/2 C) Nestle Toll House Mint Chocolate Morsels *

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In large bowl, combine 1 C sugar and the vegetable oil; mix well.  Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.  Gradually add flour mixture, blending well between each addition.  Stir in mint chocolate chips.  Shape into small balls (about 1 t of dough), roll in remaining sugar.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.  Cool completely on wire racks.

Makes approx. 5 1/2 dozen, 2" cookies (perfect for popping in your mouth!)

*Back in the day, Nestle made an all-chocolate mint chocolate chip.  A couple of years later, they discontinued those chips, so I had to use the Andes Mint chips.  Last year, I found Nestle Dark Chocoalte & Mint chips in the store which were dark chocolate chips and green chips, as seen in my pics.  I think I would prefer a solid chocolate mint chip and will probably go back to using the Andes Mint pieces in the future.

Also, this recipe is also good doubled for a larger number of cookies.  If you double the recipe, do NOT double the amount of chips used.  You'll end up with about 1/4 of them in the bottom of the bowl.  Of course, you could eat them all...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Momma's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have such wonderful memories of baking with my mom.  I miss her so much at this time of year, but I'm thankful that she shared her love of cooking and baking with me.  I can't remember a time when I wasn't in the kitchen helping my mom (& dad).  This is my all-time favorite cookie and recipe.  They make a lovely, crunchy cookie.

Mom's Toll House Cookies

**This recipe is doubled and makes a TON!**

Preheat oven to 375º.

Combine and set aside:
4-1/2 C All purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t salt  (I cut this in half to help make it more heart friendly)

Blend in mixer:
2 C Crisco
1 1/2 C brown sugar, very firmly packed
1 1/2 C sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t water
4 eggs at room temperature

1 to 1 1/2 C of chopped pecans or walnuts
1 large package (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use 2 C)

Cream Crisco, sugars, vanilla, water and eggs until nice and creamy.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture a little bit at a time and mix well.  Scrape sides of bowl frequently.   Stir in chips and nuts.  Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 mins or until browned to your liking.

**I use a regular long teaspoon from my utensil drawer.  The smaller you make the cookies, the more cookies you get! ;)  I also refrigerate my dough in the fridge for several hours or overnight to keep cookies from spreading so much.  Lastly, I use the water displacement process to measure my Crisco.  If you use Crisco sticks, either use a couple of tablespoons less or increase your flour by about 1/4C to prevent spreading and pancake cookies.

Here's a treasure I pull out every Christmas.  This is from a cookbook my mom and her co-workers put together in 1987.  This is one of my most treasured possessions, and as you can see, much used.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Treasure Cookies

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

HEAT oven to 375ºF. Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder in small bowl.
BEAT sweetened condensed milk and butter in large bowl until smooth.
ADD crumb mixture; mix well. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheets.
BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.