Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa

We were supposed to have a double rehearsal for “Arsenic and Old Lace” this afternoon (running through the show twice), but luckily it went so well the first time, we got to go home. Woohoo! Score. It’s like going to class and having the professor not show up for >10 minutes.

I’m not sure what I would’ve made for dinner if we were getting out later, but it was nice to have some time to research a few recipes and make something healthy. Let’s just say I’m not sure what dinner will look like this week; not McDonald’s, at least, but I’m not sure WHAT.

So, what’d I make? This:

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Butternut and Quinoa Pilaf

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash, (3/4-inch cubes) (see Tip)
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, water, barley and squash; bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the barley and squash are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper; mix gently.

It came out surprisingly well! Plus, it was borderline vegetarian (except for that darn chicken broth…free-range, organic, and low sodium, though). The recipe originated here (which also happens to be a magazine that I received as a Christmas gift and really like), but I switched out the barley for some quinoa. It upped the protein quotient…besides, I didn’t have any barley around. Dave really liked it, saying that he thought it was filling but light at the same time. I was pleased that the squash didn’t turn out to taste too…um…squashy. If you know what I mean. You’d think something with a name like “butternut” would taste sexy and smooth, but not s’much. In this case, however, it worked!

Now, what to do with my acorn squash….

Oh, and here’s a little irrelevant lovefest I thought I’d share. It’s rare for Beardslee to use the couch when we’re on it (plus, moments earlier he was kneading Dave’s belly…hasn’t done that in a long time). Awww, my boys.

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Attempts at Cooking

Howdy, readers. I’m enjoying a free late afternoon after a bummer vet appointment for Jasper (I guess you could call it a “dis-appointment”…ha!). He’s got a touch of asthma on top of his upper-respiratory infection, just like Brother Beardslee, but luckily it seems to be reactionary based on what’s happening in his lungs, and most likely won’t affect him long-term. Yay! Unlike his smoker-cough bro.

While at the appointment, it was embarrassingly noted that the little guy has gained weight. Yep, quarter of a pound in TWO weeks. Ugh. At least he’s still got his appetite.

So, I have officially switched our measuring cup for the kitty food. We used to use an old 1/3 cup one, giving them each a scoop of Science Diet Natural and Science Diet For Lard Butt Cats – er, the diet kind. In other words, I’d grab a scoop of the Natural and divide it amongst their dishes, then grab a scoop of the Diet and divide it amongst their dishes. Multiply that by morning and night and that equals…well, I suck at math, so let’s just say 2/3 of a 1/3 cup, twice. Ha!

They’ll be getting 1/4 cup measurements and I doubt they’ll even notice it…although, they ARE incredibly hungry boys. Well, Beardslee and Jasper are. Winston could care less. He’d rather work on his diabolical plan to rule the world and harass his brothers, not necessarily in that order.

So, while thinking about my poor lil’ dieting kitties (who don’t even know they are dieting yet, mwahaha), I decided to make MY afternoon snack something more nutritious – edamame. While it ain’t a cheeseburger, it’s tasty!

We don’t really do “diets” in this household. As I’m sure you’ve read, we try to eat “important” organic items, when fiscally plausible, and all natural, rather than setting strict guidelines. Not that I’m opposed to trying a diet re-set from time to time, especially if I can take something new away from it. (For example, that whole 4-5 small meals a day thing REALLY seems to work with my blood sugar.) But, it doesn’t mean that we’re lean.

For one thing, we’ve got genetics working on us – none of our parents are models (although my father was quite tall and thin – but I’m not sure how he would’ve evolved in old age). And the diet habits of our parents are hard to break – ie meat and potatoes, Italian, etc. Not that it’s ANYthing against our parents. It just gives me a challenge to try and divert from the recipes and ways of cooking more from time to time. If I can land upon some different recipes (from, perhaps, different cultures), I can at least mix them in with our more traditional fare.

Currently, I work on at least making sure that we’re eating whole foods. That is to say, rather than using Bisquick for pancakes, I make the batter from scratch with whole wheat flour. (And locally-picked blueberries my mom brought by. Yay!)

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Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa - image  on http://megactsout.comThere’s my favorite “Food to Live By” cookbook. *sigh* It’s been one of the best things for my young marriage! Ah, in the second picture, you may notice another “whole food” in the background. It’s locally-raised, non-smoked bacon. Just add salt and pepper and it’s INCREDIBLE…but not the healthiest thing, in traditional terms. Yes, I know exactly where it came from and that I’m eating nothing artificial…but I realize that it’s got lots of fat going on. Same goes for the real butter that we use. C’mon, how could you NOT want to try this stuff??
Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa - image  on http://megactsout.comBut those aren’t things I’m willing to give up. What I know that I DO have to do for my family is create those vegetable-based recipes that actually taste good and use less naughty fats to incorporate them with our all-natural foods.
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Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa - image  on http://megactsout.comI’m working on perfecting a homemade pizza recipe (in this case, grilled). While it LOOKS good, I wasn’t impressed by the dough recipe I found. I wanted it to be completely whole wheat (rather than partly white flour and partly whole wheat), so I’ll be trying to use this recipe but cut back on the amount of honey I used with it. Note to self – you may like sweet stuff, and it does “help” recipes sometimes, but not THIS time. πŸ˜‰

If anyone has some “whole foods” suggestions or recipes that they swear by, I’d love for you to comment or email me! The cool thing about blogs is that they’re here for interaction. Sure, I love and appreciate the creepy lurkers who read (you know who you are! Shout-out!), but we’re living Web 2.0 right now. Share whatchya know! πŸ˜€ But be respectful and not bossy know-it-alls. Hate those.

Thanks, guys! Side note: I’m trying to use foods up the next couple of days in hopes of doing a bit of farmers’ market shopping, supplementing Hannaford for the rest of it.

“Waiter? There is too much pepper on my paprikash.”

Saturday was just one of those days. We hit up the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market and walked around the town while there, sharing some great conversation and the winter chill that was starting to show signs of thawing. Before heading home, we diverted our attention to a Lowe’s trip – which turned out to take more time than expected, all the projects we’ve got bubbling in our heads dying to finally get performed. I ended up with a good handful of ideas to share with you folks here, which is always a good feeling.

Dave mentioned to me that one of his co-workers had commented (in a good way!) about my food posts, so as a shout-out to her, I decided to share what I made for dinner. Hope it’s as appealing to y’all as it was to eat!

We had some all-natural (not organic, sigh) chicken from Hannaford and a pound of parsnips to use up, so after perusing my stand-by cookbooks, I decided to make chicken paprikash and roasted parsnips. This is sort of an ode to one of our favorite movies/running jokes – Billy Crystal, anyone? πŸ˜€

I got down to prepping the parsnips. All they really need is a peeling, rinsing, and chopping into 3-inch pieces. (A horizontal peeler is PERFECT for this. Way easier than a vertical one. Highly suggested.) If you’ve never tried them, DO! They’re sweet and a little zingy (like a carrot with fizz…?), and even while I smell them raw, I think to myself, “This should be made into a soda flavor.” Ew, I know, but still…I’d try it!
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Oh, yes. Beardslee decided to provide moral support from a nearby barstool. I’ve never known him to jump up here (and nap?!), so I’m chalking it up to Winston influence. Either way, thanks for the help, bud.

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I threw in half a thinly-sliced onion and a couple of chopped garlic cloves for some additional flavor. You could do an entire onion, but I wasn’t sure how it’d come out. As it was, the onion got VERY crispy, but deliciously sweet.

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Then, a sprinkling of dried oregano, sea salt and pepper, along with a drizzling of 2 tbsp. olive oil – and, as Ina Garten would say, “Clean hands” to mix it up.

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By the way, the way to keep a man – and ensure peace in the house? Buy this stuff. For whatever reason, Dave’s a pepper guy, and after we bought this pepper mill (which grinds 4, count ’em 4 different types of peppercorns), he’d beg to buy it again when we were out. It ain’t necessarily cheap, but if it’ll keep him happy, I’m game! And, I’ll give him that – it is pretty tasty.

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This is the cookbook that I used for guidance as far as the roasted turnips were concerned. The paprikash (again, more for guidance than exact recipe) was from my FAVORITE, Food to Live By. It’s where my go-to chili recipe came from, among others. I foresee cooking the paprikash time and time again, too.

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Β Speaking of paprikash, let’s get started! A couple of tablespoons of butter; ditto on the olive oil – medium heat.

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…while the parsnips roast at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (depends on how you like them done).

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And, for those of you who don’t know what paprikash is (I didn’t when I started this fiasco), it’s a Hungarian dish that generally uses sweet and hot Hungarian paprika. Of course, I just had the generic stuff sitting around the house, so I was concerned about flavor. I shouldn’t have been. Here, I’ve seasoned it with a generous dose of paprika, a sprinkling of oregano, and salt ‘n pepper.

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I put it in skin-down so that I could season the other side properly.

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And, now, while the chicken cooks… Oh, hello, gorgeous onion. I see you brought along your close friends, garlic cloves. I hope you don’t mind my dicing you…

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Mwahaha…the brutality of it. Oh, and these were much smaller in “real life” – Dave’s not a fan of cooked onion, so I dice/mince it so that it practically melts in. He was none the wiser. πŸ˜‰

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Now, I’ll admit that it SEEMS the chicken got too dark. But, actually, it didn’t make a darn bit of difference. I cooked both sides for a good 5 minutes, then added more cooking time (at a lower heat) at the end, practically braising them. The actual recipe called for cutting chicken pieces up in thin strips, so I had to ad lib.

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Check-in on the parsnips. Still looking pretty pasty, like me. Soon enough.

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Back to the chicken. After both sides have browned sufficiently, pull those suckers out…

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Β …and throw in the onion. Cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes.

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Then, add 2 tbsp. tomato paste and the garlic, stirring constantly while it cooks together, about a minute.

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Β Here’s what it’ll look like…

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Then, add 2 cups of chicken stock. We use free-range organic, FYI. Let it bubble away for another 5 or so minutes…

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…before adding the chicken back in and cooking a few more minutes. (In case I hadn’t mentioned it, we used 4 thighs. It makes enough sauce to use 4 thighs and 4 breasts, but I didn’t have so much on hand. Would’ve fed an army! Instead, I’ve saved the sauce to be used with chicken breasts at a later date.)

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While that simmers, mix together one cup of sour cream with 2 tbsp. flour. Mine looks funny because it’s whole-wheat. The sauce probably would’ve looked even prettier if I’d used AP bleached, but…don’t get me started. πŸ˜‰

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Oh! Parsnips are ready! Finally, a nice summer tan. I truly hope those rumors about the “char” on grilled (and, quite possibly, deliciously roasted) items being carcinogenic is false. I don’t tan or smoke, and my favorite way to eat veggies is roasted. Don’t take that away from me!!

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Oh. The boys are hungry. Here’s Boo reminding me that HE needs deliciousness, too.

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And a further segue… We’ve been giving them two meals of “mushy food” (they eat their crunchies during the day if they get hungry, but not much) since we had some health problems from BOTH boys. After trying several brands, we landed on one that doesn’t have any bi-products OR meal of any sort. Beardslee gets a little of the food with equal parts pumpkin (yes…it’s organic…) while Win just gets food. Their meal gets mashed together sufficiently, microwaved, and mixed with some water. See, the boys aren’t good drinkers when it’s cold out, for whatever reason…so, this helps amend that issue.

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So, now that you’ve sufficiently been turned off by the sight of cat food, here I am adding the sour cream mixture. The sauce needs to be on low heat completely or else the sour cream will separate.

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I cooked it on low heat for several more minutes, until I knew the chicken was completely cooked. At the end, I threw some parsley on top. Can’t wait to have fresh herbs again!

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Here’s the final product, along with some brown rice to sop up the delicious juices, and a side of yummy parsnips.

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It was sure to be such a nice meal, we decided to open up some white wine…of which Winston approved.

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What Makes a Salad

Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa - image _S090374 on http://megactsout.comDave’s a salad guy. He oftentimes goes back for a second full salad after we finish our meal. I call it a dessert salad, although there’s nothing fancy schmancy (like strawberries) on it. He comes from a family that eats one before every dinner, and the salads usually cover the entire dinner plate. They also shake ground black pepper atop their salads, which I thought was insane at first, but have since come to also use. It does make it less bland!

So, we eat a lot of salad in our household. We often purchase the organic pre-washed salad mix (I know, but they’re just the right amount to get us through the week without wastage) or the organic romaine heads, and add various fixins. (We live in CNY – “g”s get dropped a lot.) Since I’m trying to eat more seasonally, at this time of the year I don’t have a lot of extras around — so a little sliced onion’s all I need. Dave likes to load his up with stuff.

Oh, and every couple of weeks I roast some nuts (almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts) with some egg white and turbinado sugar, which makes an AWESOME topper to salads…or, apparently, a snack, since they often don’t make it to the top of the “main event.” And, I must admit that our croutons aren’t organic (I’ve tried some and they’re not even worth it for their crunch factor), but they’re as close to all-natural as possible. Once in awhile, I get ambitious and roast my own out of local Italian bread, and they are the best EVER, but during work weeks with theater responsibilities and stuff happening, fuhgettaboutit.

During the summer, our salads are frickin’ awesome. This time of year, not s’much, but when it’s nice out? Nice. Seriously, we regularly will eat just huge salads for dinner and feel completely satiated and happy. The fact that 85-100% of the stuff that’s IN those salads come from our own back yard is probably an additional reason that we love these salads so much. The lettuce, peppers, tomatoes (for Dave…), herbs, and stuff I’m probably forgetting taste completely different from your own garden. We’re also known to throw in some more gourmet things when it’s nice and warm out, like strawberries (which I’ll DEFINITELY be growing this year). Add a balsamic reduction and some walnuts and you’re done.

But, what really MAKES a salad? You’re probably expecting me to say that the ingredients need to be fresh, local (or homegrown), organic, blah blah blah. Not really. For ME, what makes a salad is the dressing…and, in my mind, the only dressing I’ll ever need is Thousand Island. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s a tad it vinegary — and it’s versatile as a dressing, dip, sandwich spread, or even on tacos. (Don’t puke, seriously, I tried it this week — insanely good if you don’t have taco sauce around.)

Sunday Supper: Butternut Quinoa - image  on http://megactsout.comSo, I’d been eating Dave’s version of a “dressing” for about a year (id oil and any vinegar on hand — sure, it’s healthy, but sometimes just too simplified), shouting profanities in the aisles of Hannaford while I awaited for an organic or all-natural or FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD at least an HFCS-free version. I’m pretty sure Dave was embarrassed to go near the condiment aisle with me for awhile there. It just ticked me off. My blood boils now to think about it.

Instead of continually risking ejection from our favorite supermarket, I decided to get proactive. I found a few recipes online, purchased my organic pickle relish (which I’ll gladly use on any nitrate-free hotdog, any day!) and all-natural mayo, and got to work. Storing it in a mason jar in the fridge, I now have a dressing that’s not only way better for you than the ones in the store, but that TASTES 10x better. It’s cheaper, too, since I use all the other ingredients for other uses, anyway.

Here’s the recipe that I took and how I tweaked it a bit:

All-Natural Thousand Island Dressing

– 1/2 c. mayonnaise (there are name brands now that give you all-natural — I prefer the taste, but you can also try Vegenaise or whatever you’re into)
– 2 Tbs. ketchup (I use organic)
– 1 Tbs. white vinegar (or extra juice from the relish)
– 2 tsp. turbinado sugar or agave nectar (or white sugar, if you’re into that…not judging ;-D)
– 2 -4 tsp. sweet pickle relish, to taste (I’m such a pickle fiend that I’m considering growing cukes just for this purpose next year — but, for now, I bought organic)
– 1 tsp. finely minced onion (whatever you want — I’ve used red onion every time, but the original recipe called for white)
– 1/8 tsp. salt (eyeball it)
– dash black pepper

Stir it all together and store it. It’s better the longer it sits.

I know that there are a lot of people (such as my dear, sweet, better half) who despise the thought of this dressing, which is fine. But, I think I’ve always liked its subtle sweetness since childhood.

There are still others of you who are asking “Crap! How unhealthy is THAT?!” But, y’know what? I feel that we’re a part of the whole foods movement, so this is my gateway drug into the world of more natural living. There are a lot of pre-packaged or over-processed foods that we’re cutting off of our “we eat that” list. So, if I want more wholesome eating and living, I’d rather know how the food I’m eating was prepared and that I used the best ingredients I could to make it.

Maybe someday we’ll be eating 100% naturally (we’re getting there, but not to THAT extreme yet), with nothing but raw milk and local fruits and veggies in our systems, but for the time being, I think we’re doing just fine. πŸ™‚ And I’ve got my dressing, so I’m happy.

Orange: The Occupational Hazard of Housewifery on a Saturday

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Mr. and Mrs. Squash.
I think I decapitated Mrs. Squash today.

We’ve had another surreal, wonderful Saturday around the ol’ crooked house yet again. While the poor hubs and Winston are both fighting off a nasty suntin’ suntin’, Beardslee and I have gone about trying to make them well again. Or, Beardslee has manfully rested — I’m sure he’s saving up his energy to do something truly heroic. He’ll probably display it around bedtime.

So, poor, hacky, drippy Dave had to leave the warm comfort of our bed this morning amid yet another tundra morning to help me schlep both cats to the vet’s. Boo had a follow-up visit and they kindly fit Winston in for his case o’ the cruds. Hopefully the shot and oh-so-fun-to-choke-down-his-throat medication that Winston received will stop things from flying out of both major orifices.

After a quick donut stop (yes, you heard that right — I think Dave had a craving…and who am I to deny a pathetic sick husband?), we headed home to brew a pot of organic coffee with which to enjoy a couple (and that makes it alright, doesn’t it? Yeah, I know it doesn’t).

Realizing that I have yet to get the disgusting ailment that has been making the rounds in our schools and places of work, I became grateful and thought of what to do for the #1 man in my life. The answer was obvious…homemade chicken soup.

After quick-thawing a free-range chicken I’d frozen for juuuuust such an occasion, and chopping up some almost-seen-better-days veggies, it was finally on the stove, simmering away. All of the veggies and their organic or FM origins made me feel slightly better about the donut I’d scarfed hours earlier. I used up the rest of the carrots, onion, a parsnip, and some organic celery from the fridge (and will throw in some leftover half-used bags of organic veggies from the freezer when finishing it off). While surveying what else would be going bad shortly, I noticed some butternut squash (already showing signs of ick — and not the fish disease) and a couple of sweet potatoes in need of usage.

Man, this thing’s starting to turn into a Donna Thompson article. Apologies. I’ll try to pep it up.

Wanting to utilize some of my green cookbooks, I found a simple sweet potato soup recipe (which could easily be frozen or taken for lunch throughout the week) which called for a method of cooking which involves using the stove as little as possible, “lid cooking” the potatoes after bringing them to a boil. So, I diced them up, along with the last parsnip, threw in our all-natural vegetable broth (who knew I’d love Wolfgang Puck so much?), some garlic, S&P, and a dash of ground ginger, just for the hell of it. Er, heck, depending on who’s reading this. πŸ˜‰ I went slightly askew from the recipe, but I still kept the eco-friendliness intact by not peeling the taters and using the “duh, why didn’t I think of that” cooking technique.

After having diced the potatoes, I went after the butternut squash to freeze which, if you’ve ever disassembled, you know it’s a real…yeah, it kinda sucks and makes you wonder why you bought the thing in the first place. Upon taking the halved, peeled squash to the garbage can to scoop the seeds out, I realized how orange my hands had become — as well as my sock, from holding the lid of the can up (not sure why I did it that way, there IS a foot pedal) and the wall behind the can. Oye. I love the color orange and all, and particularly what it means when it’s in food (beta-bet-bet-bet-betaaaa carotene! Wow. I hang around with too many cheerleaders), but this made me want to sit down and have a beer.

So, rather than taking that route (definitely not a beer day — more like a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps or hot cider with rum sort of a day — can I get a wuh wuh? Again. Too many high schoolers in my life.), I sat down and wrote this little ditty for y’all. I’m patiently awaiting the moment of dis-assemblage of the chicken and re-assemblage of what we like to call “mmm…sooooup.” Even more patiently waiting is Sick Dave…and, particularly, Winston, who dreams of people food. You can see it on his crazy face. His fazy.

Hope your Saturday’s just as nice, if not as orange. Looks to be a classic movie night here once again, for which I’m uber excited. Soup ‘n cinema. Sweet.

Local, Organic Comfort Food

Sunday was a nice, quasi-typical Sunday for us. It was highly-relaxing (after an uber-busy work week, plus a garage sale thrown in for fun), we got some stuff completed, and while it was still humid, was kind of dreary. If it had been colder, it would have felt like an autumn day — which are our FAVORITE types of days. Dave’s a “drizzly” fan and I’m an autumn fan, which is why we’re risking a possibly rainy wedding day in October.

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Regardless, I was going through several of my new “real food” cookbooks and pondering what we had to cook. My decision came down to free-range chicken soup or chili — and the newly-popping jalapenos in my garden helped me to decide.

I used the cookbook Food to Live By by Myra Goodman. It’s an enjoyable book to simply read, given that the author is a mom who raises her kids on a working farm, so I figure “If she can do it, certainly I should be able to.” Here’s my version of her recipe:

“Foggy Day Chili”
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. diced yellow onion (for me, it was 1/2 an onion)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1-1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (mine was from a Herkimer farm)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
several good sprinklings of cinnamon (my addition)
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, undrained
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, undrained
1 can (28 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 tsp. salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 minced jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (depending on how hot you like it)
A handful or two of semi-sweet chocolate morsels (optional — I added them to my bowl since Dave could “taste chocolate” — if I hadn’t told him he had it in his bowl, he wouldn’t have noticed )

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until onion and garlif are soft, not browned, about 1 minute longer. Add the beef, and break up with a wooden spoon.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the spices (except the red pepper flakes). Cook, stirring frequently, until the mean is cooked through; ~7 minutes.

3. Add the beans and tomatoes, with their liquids, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the chili simmer, gently stirring occasionally until thickened and the flavors are concentrated, about 45 minutes. (If it’s not thickening to your liking, remove the cover to evaporate some liquid.

4. Add the salt and taste for further seasoning (including the pepper and red pepper flakes). Add minced jalapeno and chocolate (if using) and stir. Serve with cheddar cheese or sour cream, if wanted (we didn’t).

We ate the chili with a simple corn muffin that Dave prepared — his first ever. All we did was add Jiffy corn muffin mix with a handful (give or take) of thawed frozen corn and a diced jalapeno, baked off, and enjoyed with butter. It was the perfect pairing. Delish!

Seriously, this was a pretty easy meal to make. You should try it! It’s my new go-to chili recipe. Oh, and the onion and garlic were from the Herkimer Farmers’ Market, as I said, the beef was local and grass-fed (and the jalapeno was from my backyard), the beans were organic (one wasn’t, but I felt better because it was locally-made), as was the can of tomatoes; pretty much everything except the spices and chocolate were either locally-grown or organic. Not too shabby, I think. At least, it was absolutely delicious. I foresee it being dinner tonight, as well. πŸ˜‰

*By the way, the picture is a royalty-free image from the Internet, not my stove top. I miss a gas stove, and only wish I had gorgeous pots like that, but I’m lucky to have what I do. πŸ˜‰

Meatless Meal

I made an awesome meatless panini today that I thought I’d share. It was just too good not to! The recipe is for just one panini, but you can figure out how to double/triple/quadruple it. πŸ™‚ (Clearly, given my amounts, it’s not uber-specific.)

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– handful of mushrooms (any type you like)
– chunk of onion, sliced
– extra virgin olive oil (2 Tbsp. for sauteeing + extra to brush onto bread)
– homemade Italian bread or baguette
– 3-4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 8 basil leaves
– handful feta
– salt/pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in small saute pan over medium heat. Saute onion (and a sprinkle of salt) for a few minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until brown and soft. Splash in the balsamic and cook another minute, until reduced.

Brush olive oil onto two pieces of Italian bread (one side). Layer on basil, feta, mushroom mixture, and a little salt and pepper. Put olive oil side onto a grill pan, placing the weight of the smaller saute pan on top. After a minute, flip and weight the other side. Serve it up, it’s done!

See, now, I’m a HUGE mushroom fan (& onion…especially when cooked), as well as a balsamic convert. Dave decided to make a salad, and I was feeling all salad-ed out, so what better excuse to use up some ‘shrooms?