If I inspired you, I've done my job!

October 24, 2011

Chili Con {MUCHO} Carne

So we had yet another frost warning. I interpret it this way: get your CHILLI on! It's easy. Really! Since I'm «cheating» by using canned beans, I decided to make my own chili powder…
I used the following:
  • 2-3 dried chilis (you can substitute it with 1/2 part cayenne pepper)
  • 1 part cumin seeds
  • 1 part coriander seeds
  • 1 part black peppercorns
  • 1 part dry oregano
  • 1 part cocoa powder
…and a little bit of elbow grease to crush it all in a mortar with pestle
If you don't want to sweat, use already grounded spices with the same proportions.
Now that you have your own powder, let's start the fire…
Step 1: In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add 2 lb (mucho-mucho carne) of ground beef and brown it on a high heat. You can use the potato masher to separate the meat. Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder.
Step 2: Add vegetables: 1 cup chopped carrots, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped onions, 2 chopped jalapeños (seeded). Mix, lower the heat to medium and sauté for 10 minutes. Add another 1 teaspoon of chili powder.
Step 3: Now add 3 generous tablespoons of tomato paste, mix, cover and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Step 4: Time to add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, with its juice. Mix it all well and continue to simmer until all heated through, for about 10 minutes.
Step 5: Empty two 16 oz cans of beans of your choice {I usually use kidney and pinto} into the strainer and rinse them with cold water. Add to chili. Add another 1 teaspoon of chili powder, if you like. Lower the heat to low and simmer uncovered until ready to eat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
That's it! Serving suggestions: a dollop of sour cream, a couple of table spoons of shredded cheddar cheese, pita bread, chips or cooked rice.
I purposely did not add any salt, because the tomato paste, canned tomatoes and canned beans have enough for my taste. You can adjust salt to your own liking…

The chill is gone for now, the chili, too! Gone before I was able to take any serving pictures! But I know I will be making more. The weather prognoses disposes for more chili!

October 13, 2011

Easy As Apple…

…pie? No, apple pie is not THAT easy to make. This phrase should be: Easy as apple sauce! Because this tasty concoction, that usually bought from store, is very easy to make at home. All you need is some freshly picked apples, a little water and sugar+spice, if you want. And a pair or two of helping hands. That makes it perfect to cook with kids. Depending on the age, they can help you peel, core and slice the apples.

You will also need a roomy sauce pan, depending on how much sauce you are going to make. If you make extra, it can easily be stored in an air tight container in a refrigerator for weeks.

This recipe makes about 2 quarts of apple sauce.

Easy Apple Sauce

6 medium to large golden delicious (or any variety) apples
2 T spoons brown sugar*
1 stick of cinnamon (or 2 t spoons of ground)
Some water
  • Wash, peel, core and slice apples (that's when you will need that extra set of hands)
  • Add water to the sauce pan to cover the bottom for about 1/2 inch, put it over the medium heat; throw in sugar and cinnamon
  • Start adding chopped apples, cook, stirring occasionally, until they all soft and mushed; takes about 20-30 minutes
  • You may mush them more, if you like it smooth; I leave it as it is for I like chunks…
*you might want to add more sugar if using sour apples.

That's all falks! Now pack some of this fresh yumminess into your lunch bag and enjoy!

October 05, 2011

{FALLiage} Almost/WordlesWednesday

Октябрь уж наступил — уж роща отряхает
Последние листы с нагих своих ветвей;
Дохнул осенний хлад — дорога промерзает.
Журча еще бежит за мельницу ручей,
Но пруд уже застыл; сосед мой поспешает
В отъезжие поля с охотою своей,
И страждут озими от бешеной забавы,
И будит лай собак уснувшие дубравы.
Унылая пора! очей очарованье!
Приятна мне твоя прощальная краса —
Люблю я пышное природы увяданье,
В багрец и в золото одетые леса,
В их сенях ветра шум и свежее дыханье,
И мглой волнистою покрыты небеса,
И редкий солнца луч, и первые морозы,
И отдаленные седой зимы угрозы.
И с каждой осенью я расцветаю вновь;
Здоровью моему полезен русской холод;
К привычкам бытия вновь чувствую любовь:
Чредой слетает сон, чредой находит голод;
Легко и радостно играет в сердце кровь,
Желания кипят — я снова счастлив, молод,
Я снова жизни полн — таков мой организм
(Извольте мне простить ненужный прозаизм).
{А. С. Пушкин}
October has arrived - the woods have tossed
Their final leaves from naked branches;
A breath of autumn chill - the road begins to freeze,
The stream still murmurs as it passes by the mill,
The pond, however's frozen; and my neighbor hastens
to his far-flung fields with all the members of his hunt.
The winter wheat will suffer from this wild fun,
And baying hounds awake the slumbering groves.
A melancholy time! So charming to the eye!
Your beauty in its parting pleases me -
I love the lavish withering of nature,
The gold and scarlet raiment of the woods,
The crisp wind rustling o'er their threshold,
The sky engulfed by tides of rippled gloom,
The sun's scarce rays, approaching frosts,
And gray-haired winter threatening from afar.
When autumn comes, I bloom anew;
The Russian frost does wonders for my health;
Anew I fall in love with life's routine:
Betimes I'm soothed by dreams, betimes by hunger caught;
The blood flows free and easy in my heart,
Abrim with passion; once again, I'm happy, young,
I'm full of life - such is my organism
(Excuse me for this awful prosaism)
{Pushkin A. S.}

October 04, 2011

Apples for Breakfast

How about apples for breakfast? I agree, that they are fine they way they are, but pancakes are fun!

Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes
Makes 12 3˝–4˝ pancakes

1 large apple, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup milk, preferably at room temperature
1 egg, beaten
1 t spoon vanilla extract
1 T spoon sugar
2 T spoons vegetable oil

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 t spoon baking soda
1 1/2 t spoon baking powder
1 t spoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
  • Combine all the wet ingredients in one bowl, whisk together;
  • Combine all the dry ingredients in another bowl, mix;
  • Mix together wet and dry, whisk a little bit (don't over-mix) and let the batter rest while you prepare the griddle (if using an electric griddle, heat to 350°F);
  • Ladle 1/4 cup of batter on a hot griddle, fry for 3 minutes and when the bubble appear, flip to fry for another 3 minutes;
Serve topped with some home-made butter and drizzled with honey.

October 02, 2011

Golden Delicious. Golden & Delicious!

This last Saturday we finally got a chance to go apple picking. Every year we pilgrimage to an apple orchard near by, sometimes several times during the apple picking season. Alas, not this year. Due to the constant rain and literally outflowing problems we were only able to take a trip to the Northhampton county for the first time this past Saturday, October 1! Despite the more than 50/50 certainty of rain, it was a nice overcast day bracketed between this never ending rain. So we took advantage to set off on a delicious adventure, Golden Delicious!

We climbed and jumped down, ran around and sampled fresh air and apples and brought home tons of crispy Gold Delicious, which are abundant this time, and some bumpy Red Delicious as well.

So it is obvious that I will be writing about apples this month, or rather about apple recipes…

And let me start with a dessert: thinly sliced baked apples resting on a vanilla cloud…

It is called Charlotte. No, I didn't give it its name. I have no idea why it's called this way, and I don't feel like doing any research, since I already know all I need: it is a quick and easy delicious dessert recipe!

By adding some cinnamon I adjusted a popular version a bit. The preparation is very quick and takes way less time than to type the recipe here…

~Charlotte~ An Apple Dessert

2 medium golden delicious (or any sweet variety) apples
some lemon juice
1 t spoon cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 t spoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 T spoon butter for preparing the spring pan
+some more flour for dusting

1 T spoon confectioner's sugar, if desired
  • Peel, core and thinly (≈1/4˝) slice them. Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples to prevent from browning and then sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter the spring form (or any other dark* cake pan) and dust with some flour. You might avoid it altogether if you're using non-stick baking spray, I don't use it and don't recommend, but if you're accustomed to it, go ahead…
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs+vanilla until they foam, for about 3 minutes on high speed. Gradually add the sugar, continuing beating but now on a medium speed. After all the sugar is added, beat for another 2 minuted on a high speed.
  • Turn the mixer off, sift the flour into the egg mixture. Slowly beat it together until all combined.
  • Pour the batter into prepared pan, top with apples and bake for 30-35 minutes or until inserted into the center toothpick comes out clean. Cool.
  • Dust with some confectioner's sugar if desired…
Enjoy this deliciously golden and easy dessert!

*The time is for a dark metal pan.