Tailgating Chili

Fall weather is here and football is back, which means it’s time for one recipe that has sat dormant all summer to make its debut. Chili!

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I made this chili for the Packers vs. Bills game at Lambeau Field a couple weeks ago. The last time I was at Lambeau, Brett Farve was making his debut as a Viking. Anger and resentment permeated the crowd, but the atmosphere could not have been more different as the Bills took the field. Most people just have pity on the poor Bills fans. It was quite a jovial environment, and much to Eric’s surprise, I had fun! At a football game! Amazing!

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Now, I normally do not cook chili from a recipe. I usually just start dumping stuff in the pot until it tastes good, so I’m going to try to approximate my measurements as best as possible. I changed it up a bit this time by incorporating some toasted New Mexico chiles – they’re optional, but really added another layer of flavor. Another “secret ingredient” is lots and lots of garlic. I think I used a whole head of fresh garlic and dumped another boatload of granulated garlic into the fold. I can’t pinpoint why, but I love the granulated garlic in my chili – maybe it’s more concentrated?

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Chili

(this recipe makes A LOT of chili – tailgating portions of chili – so feel free to cut it in half or quarters)

1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 large cans stewed tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 can black beans
, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
2 carrots, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped and diced
1 head garlic, chopped
6-7 dried New Mexico chiles
2-3 tablespoons cumin
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2-3 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2-3 tablespoons granulated garlic
salt & pepper

greek yogurt
cilantro, for garnish
green onions, for garnish

Saute the chopped onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil for a couple minutes. Add the red pepper, carrots, and ground turkey and saute for a few minutes more, until the meat is browned. Then start dumping – the canned tomatoes, spices, and beans. Meanwhile, de-seed the dried chiles and toast them in a pan until fragrant. Transfer to a pot of boiling water and rehydrate – this should take 3-5 minutes. Blend the chiles with a few tablespoons or so of chile water – or enough water to make it easy to blend the chiles. You should be left with a sort of paste-like consistency, maybe slightly runnier. Mix this paste into the chili. Let this mixture simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt, green onions, and cilantro.

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‘The Best Pasta Sauce’ Reinvented

No excuses here – I’ve been lazy. I’ve cooked quite a few tasty items in the last few weeks, but I’ve had no motivation to edit photos and write about them. Mostly, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with planning our upcoming honeymoon. We have the itinerary almost finalized, and I successfully looked up and priced out seventy different airlines’ flight routes. I then organized them in Excel separately by price and destination and experimented with different itineraries. Yes, I’m that nerdy about it.

Right now, looks like we’re doing the following:

Bangkok -> Hanoi, Vietnam -> Halong Bay, Vietnam -> Siem Reap/Angkor Wat, Cambodia -> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -> Kota Kinabalu and Malaysian Borneo -> Bali -> Bangkok and Thai islands. Whirlwind, that’s for sure. A month is not really enough time for this itinerary, but we’re going to make it work and make sure we see everything we want to!

Ok, back to food. This tomato sauce has been all over the blogosphere. It is delicious as is, but of course I had to spice it up. Tossed with some pasta (whole wheat, of course), a super fresh mozzarella from the farmer’s market, and fresh spinach – boom, a meal.

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The Best Pasta Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

1 large can, 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano is what all the bloggers recommend, but I used a different brand from the store – still tasted great)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (or, like I used, Earth Balance spread)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons cumin (this is the secret ingredient)
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion, cumin, and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Simmer over medium-low heat for 40-50 minutes, slowly breaking down the tomatoes as the heat through. Remove from heat and take out the onion, then add salt to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta al dente. Toss with the pasta sauce, fresh spinach, and fresh mozz.
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Food Party & Red Snapper Ceviche

It’s been a while since my friend Evan moved to Chicago – going on five months now – but believe it or not, he only recently bought a couch. In Evan’s mind, there is  no better way to celebrate buying a couch than to have a food-centric housewarming party (ok, so I may have had something to do with the party idea, but if you know Evan, you know the food-centric theme was all him).

Anyway, every invitee brought a recipe they had never, ever made before. Something they have never attempted. Something they never even thought about making. This set us up for potential disaster, to be sure, but surprisingly we all got out unharmed (unless you count being full past the point of comprehension). The food, in fact, was fabulous. I made a red snapper ceviche from Rick Bayless’s One Plate at a Time, which I’ll share below, but first is a little photo essay from the night.

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Cheese to kick start the evening

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Evan’s on-fire, very strong rye drink

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Evan rinsing brown basmati rice

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Danielle mincing garlic with this nifty garlic grinder

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Danielle wrapping egg rolls

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Evan not deveining the shrimp

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Lots of butter in this recipe

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Heaven

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More butter

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Shrimp in curry spices

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Dessert… cherries jubilee

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Barely fit this in my belly

Red Snapper Ceviche

from Rick Bayless’s One Plate at a Time

~1 pound red snapper, or fillets from 1 large meaty white fish
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice, or enough to completely cover all the fish
1 small white onion, chopped
2 large jalapeños, stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup pitted green manzanillo olives
2 large  ripe tomatos, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 small jícama, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
juice of 1 orange

In a large stainless steel or glass bowl (plastic or other metals will react with the acid and add a yucky flavor to your fish), combine the fish, lime juice, and onion.  The fish should float freely in the juice; if not, add a little more.  Cover and refrigerate until the fish is cooked – I left mine in for 4 hours, but wish I had taken it out after 2-3 as I found it to be a bit too acidic. Strain out the lime juice and set the fish aside.

Combine the green chiles, olives, tomato, jícama, cilantro, and olive oil. Stir in the fish, with salt and orange juice.  Refrigerate until ready to serve — preferably no longer than an hour or two. Serve with tortilla chips

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