Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oh Shoot!

Yesterday, Dan asked me if I noticed the garlic was up.  I had not, so Anna and I took a little trip out to the muddy garden to inspect the situation more closely.  There they were.  Shoots of garlic about 2-3 inches high, and they did not look good. 

I'm sure the garlic sprouted in the beautiful fifty-degree weather we had, only to be struck down by the snow and bitter cold that followed.  The varieties of garlic I planted last fall are new to me, so I'm not sure if they are hardy in our northern climate.  Time will tell.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Chili

Big, beautiful bell peppers were on sale at the grocery store last week, as were canned tomatoes and chili beans, so it was time to make chili. There are a lot of amazing chili recipes, but here's the one Dan and I have worked out together over the years.

Our Chili

1 lb ground beef
1 large yellow onion (diced)
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic (minced) *
1 large yellow bell pepper (remove seeds & dice)
1 large red bell pepper (remove seeds & dice)
1 large green pepper (remove seeds & dice)
1 jalapeƱo pepper (remove seeds & dice)
2 - 15 oz cans diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
1 - 8 oz can tomato paste
2 - 15 oz cans chili beans w/ chili seasoning

In a large heavy pot, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Stir in diced onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add diced peppers, garlic and chili powder. Cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and beans. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for at least 30 minutes. Husband's note: Add a couple of dashes of every type of hot sauce you have in the house until you reach the desired level of heat.  He also wants me to note for the record that he prefers 2 lbs of ground beef and 2 cans of tomato paste.

* You can substitute 1 or 2 teaspoons of garlic powder if you don't have fresh garlic on hand.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread

I was inspired by one of my favorite food blogs, The Parsley Thief, to post my favorite Irish soda bread recipe.  I don't have a drop of Irish blood, but I love this hearty whole grain bread.  My recipe is from the March 2010 edition of Cooking Light magazine.  One or two buttered slices with a side of fresh fruit make a fast breakfast.

Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup steel cut oats *
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk (or sour milk) **
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a bread pan with cooking oil.  If you have parchment paper, line the bread pan with it and spray the parchment with cooking oil {I don't always have this on hand, but it does help prevent sticking}.  Mix all ingredients and pour into bread pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

* If you live near an Aldi, they currently have steel cut oats.  Their price is significantly less than other grocery stores, so I stocked up on these.

** I prefer buttermilk for this recipe, but I don't always have it on hand, so sour milk can be substituted.  Sour milk can be made by mixing a few teaspoons of vinegar per cup of milk.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stockup Sunday: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We had a busy morning: church, Sunday school, skating for Anna and then hockey for the boys.  The U6 girls hockey team hosted an open skate session and invited any girls who might be interested in playing hockey with them next season to come skate and scrimmage.  Anna had a fun time zipping around the ice with a hockey stick.  When she was done, I dropped off the boys for their hockey game, and then we girls went back home and got down to cooking.

We had lots to cook today, but most of it won't be staying at our house.  We made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, chicken salad, and pasta salad.  A good friend of mine just had a baby, so I'm hoping to bring her some food later today.  My chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are just a variation of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe (which I can make from memory).  Incidentally, if you make the original Nestle Toll House recipe, I have to share this tip I learned from my sister-in-law.  Did you know the only measuring utensils you need are a teaspoon and a 3/4 cup measuring cup?  Everything is a multiple of these two measuring utensils, even the 2-1/4 cup flour is three 3/4 cups. 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (one 12 oz bag)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Soften or melt butter in a microwave-safe mixing bowl.  Mix all ingredients except the flour, oatmeal, and chocolate chips.  Stir in the flour and oatmeal.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until done.

I highly recommend airbake cookies sheets for all cookies.  This wonderful invention allows you to bake soft cookies and never burn the bottom.  I have two, and I am very protective of them.  They never get used for anything but cookies, and they always get washed by hand promptly after the last batch of cookies comes out of the oven.  Happy baking, and if you have made any delicious treats recently and you'd like to share, please link me to them in the comments!