Thursday, October 31, 2013

6th anniversary cast iron chili

My husband and I recently celebrated our 6th anniversary. 

As you may have noticed from previous years' posts, we like to celebrate the traditional anniversaries, although with our own twists.  So, for example, on the leather anniversary we went to the county fair (cows have leather, y'all!), Outback Steakhouse (again, cows), and Leatherby's Ice Cream shop.  We got each other leather gifts and had a grand old time.

The 6th anniversary is the iron anniversary...can you guess what we did?

We have been on a pretty tight budget, so we decided to have an evening of iron...cast iron, that is!  I made this delicious cast iron chili.  It's my take on Pioneer Woman's chili, and it is fabulous.  Check out the recipe below.  We also enjoyed cast iron cornbread, and a cast iron chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  It was a delicious day!

The food was delicious, although the anniversary continues to make us shake our heads in disbelief.  You see, just a few days before our anniversary, our laptop died (remember my loooooong break from blogging in September?  that was the cause).  I went to go find my old backpack to put the laptop in so that I could take it to the shop, and I found a bottle of wine in the was called Irony! 
I laughed - how ironic that my husband chose to hide the wine in the backpack of all places...and on the morning that the computer died!

The ironies continued.  Two days before our anniversary, we found out that I was pregnant.  Ha!  I couldn't even drink the wine anyway.  Ironic!

Some very amazing and generous friends gifted us a new laptop since ours was dead.  It was the most generous gift I've ever been given...then, two weeks after we received it, my little Pebbles poured a huge mug of tea on top of it.  Laptop dead.  Ironic!  And so sad!

Since our anniversary, our home has become an electronics graveyard.  In addition to the two computers lost, we've also lost a cell phone, waffle iron, and now my camera.  That's kind of bad for a blogger, isn't it...ironic?

We also lost the pregnancy at 11 weeks...that was just a few weeks ago.

Let's just say that the last few months of our sixth year of marriage didn't treat us so well.  But our cast iron dinner?  Well, it was delicious. :)  Here's to six years of love and a lifetime more, no matter what life hands us!

Cast Iron Chili
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
  • 1 t. garlic, heaping
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. chipotle chili powder
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 cup masa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies
  • 2 cans Ranch style beans

Brown beef with garlic and spices.  Add tomato sauce; stir well, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  In a small bowl, stir together masa and water; add to chili, stirring well.  Add remaining ingredients and any additional spices to taste.  Continue simmering for 15 more minutes or until desired temperature.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

molasses baked beans

It's finally starting to cool off here in Texas, and that gets me excited for warm and filling meals.  Inspired by Gooseberry Patch's latest, Hometown Harvest (see here for chance to win a copy!), I transformed their recipe for molasses baked beans from a side dish into a main entree.

It. Was. Fabulous.

There are a few secrets to these baked beans that make them unlike any other I've ever tried.  First...the molasses.  Rich, creamy and dark, these molasses pack the perfect amount of spicy sweetness into these beans. 

Second, this recipe calls for a clove-studded onion.  I had never heard of such a thing!  I have stuck cloves in oranges...but in an onion?  Never!

Yet, it was amazing.  The clove added the perfect flavoring, and sticking the whole cloves into an onion allowed for an even more complex taste with easy removal after everything was done cooking.  What a showstopper of a technique!

So what made my beans different from those in Hometown Harvest?  I simply added some smoked sausage.  We are a "meat and potatoes" family, so I wanted to add a bit of something extra to turn these delightful beans into a main dish.  It worked!

You should give these a try today.  And while you're at it, make some cornbread to go with them!

Molasses Baked Beans
adapted from Gooseberry Patch's Hometown Harvest
  • 2 16oz. packages dried navy beans
  • 1/2 lb. salt pork, cut into strips
  • 1 cup molasses, divided
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 whole onion
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 lb. kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced

Cover beans with water in a large pot; soak for 2 to 3 hours.  Drain beans, reserving liquid; place beans in a slow cooker.  Add salt pork, 3/4 cup molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and chopped onions.  Stud whole onion with cloves; add to slow cooker.  Add sausage.  Pour in enough of reserved liquid to fill half full; stir. Cover and cook on high setting for 4 to 5 hours, or on low setting for 8 to 9 hours, until beans are tender.  After several hours, if a darker color is desired, stir in remaining molasses; continue cooking as directed.  Remove clove-studded onion and salt pork before serving.  Serves 8.

Friday, October 18, 2013

cabbage medley

I've never been a huge cabbage eater, but I decided to start.  Not only is it one of the most inexpensive veggies in the produce section, but it's chock full of good stuff.  According to this site, it's got many antioxidants that help protect against cancer and reduce LDL cholesterol.  It's an awesome source of vitamin C, vitamin B-5, vitamin B-1, and vitamin B-6.  It's also a good source of potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.  And all this for only 25 calories per 100 grams!

Of course, in order to incorporate cabbage into my diet, I have to add bacon...ha!  I diced up just a few slices and browned them until crispy.

Then I layered sliced onion, diced celery, and chunks of cabbage into the skillet.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top and pour two cups of warm water over that.  Finally, dot with 4 pats of butter.

The cooking is easy!  You put the lid on and boil the whole thing for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat but don't move the skillet.  Then stir the veggies, replace the lid, and just let it stand for 20 minutes!

This cabbage medley is a nutritious and delicious side dish for just about any meal!

Cabbage Medley
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into chunks
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into pats

Brown bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Layer remaining ingredients over the bacon in the order listed above.  Cover and boil for 10 minutes; turn off heat.  Stir vegetables, replace the lid, and let stand on burner for an additional 20 minutes.  Serves 6.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

hometown harvest - review and giveaway

Oooooh, Gooseberry Patch has done it again!  I am so excited to be sharing their latest cookbook with you - after taking a short break from blogging (technology issues...ugh), what a perfect subject for my first post back. :)

(Be sure to scroll down below to enter the giveaway to win your own copy!)

Hometown Harvest is a delicious read.  It's chock full of hearty recipes, inspiring tips, and fall memories!  The chapter titles in and of themselves make my mouth water.  "Hometown Pancake Breakfast" features sumptuous recipes like Autumn Apple WafflesHarvest Hot White Chocolate, Quinoa Breakfast Bake, and Cranberry-Eggnog Monkey Bread.  I can't wait to try Miss Kelli's Corn Cakes and Skinny Pumpkin Soup from "Church Social Soup Supper" as well as Bacon & Cheddar Peroghies and Spiced Holiday Ham from "Thanksgiving Dinner to Remember."

"Game Day Get-Together" contains recipes like Yummy Meatball Sliders, Hot Buttered Cider, and my own recipe, Roasted Vegetable Tart!  Finally, I'm drooling just thinking about the Nutmeg Dessert Sauce and Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie in "Pumpkin Patch Sweets" and the Molasses Baked Beans and Old-Time Sage Dressing from "Slow-Cooker Potluck Pleasers."

Here's a few recipes we've tried so far, and our thoughts on them!

Most Elegant
Signe's Cinnamon Chip Scones

We don't eat scones often, but I really don't know why...they are so easy to make!  These scones are simply elegant and a perfect accompaniment to coffee or hot cocoa.  My toddler discovered her sweet tooth on these. :)  If you want to transform breakfast into a really special affair, be sure to put these on the menu!

Most Addicting
Buttery Onion Pretzels

Okay, so these pretzels are pretty amazing!  I've made them as the recipe says (with French Onion Soup mix) as well as with taco mix, and I just love them!  I took a whole pound of pretzels to my Bible study thinking that I'd be taking home plenty of leftovers...there were none left by the end of the night!  Beware - if you make these, you won't be able to stop eating them!

Most Comforting
Fried Corn Chowder with Beer Bread

My husband and I both agree, this meal is simply comforting!  When it's cool outside, there's nothing I want more than a creamy soup and a thick slice of bread.  The soup and bread both come together quickly with excellent flavor.  They are sure to warm you from head to toes!

Most Hearty and Filling
Gramma's Beef Barley Soup

I've been looking for a hearty beef stew, and I've found it!  This not only tastes delicious, but a small cup will fill you up for the night.  I love the texture of the barley and the flavors of all of the veggies.  This is one I'll be making again, especially as the nights turn cooler.

As always, we have picked our favorite of the above recipes to share with you below... :)

The Fried Corn Chowder and Beer Bread!  We just loved this recipe so much.  And lucky for you, it's actually two recipes in one!  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  And be sure to scroll down below to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Hometown Harvest!

Fried Corn Chowder
  • 3 T. butter, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 T. dried, minced onion
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper

Melt one tablespoon butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add corn; cook, stirring often, until tender.  Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a separate large saucepan.  Add onion and cook until lightly golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes and hot water.  Simmer until potatoes are tender.  Drain half of the liquid.  In a bowl, add flour to milk; whisk until no lumps are visible.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir flour mixture into hot potato mixture; blend well and stir in corn.  Simmer until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with Beer Bread.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Beer Bread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 12 oz. can beer or non-alcoholic beer
  • 2 T. butter, melted

In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add beer; mix well.  Pour into a greased 9"x5" loaf pan.  Drizzle butter on top.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes, until golden.  Slice while still warm.  Makes one loaf.
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