Cheap Chili

Everyone should have a chili recipe that is easy, delicious, and CHEAP! I developed this recipe with my best college bud, Chris. This chili recipe is chalk full of flavor with just the right amount of spice.  Add your favorite chili side, and you’ve got yourself a treat that is sure to please your tastebuds as well as your wallet. What more could you ask for? Oh, and don’t worry, we have a chili recipe that is the complete opposite of cheap that will knock your socks off, too. Look for it later in November…You can thank us later!

Shopping List

Cheap CH-001

  • 1 lb. ground beef (we go low-fat here)
  • 1 lb. ground hot Italian pork sausage (see what we mean with low-fat beef?)
  • 2 packages of McCormicks chili seasoning packets
  • 1 bottle V-8 Spicy Hot Low Sodium vegetable juice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cans Ranch Style beans
  • 1 can medium Ro-Tel chilies (feel free to use original or hot in order to balance the spiciness)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • salt and ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Heat the olive oil on medium in a large pot. Sauté the onion for 2-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Add the ground beef, and hot Italian sausage and brown (an additional 5-8 minutes).
  • Add the Ranch Style beans, Ro-Tel, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, 2 packages of McCormick’s chili seasoning and Spicy Hot V-8.
  • Bring to a boil. Then reduce, and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.

CH Chili-002 8.24.01 PM

Serve with your favorite chili side! ENJOY!!

Apple Crisp

Washington is known for its apples.  Galas, Red Delicious, Granny Smiths, and my very favorite, Honey Crisps, all grow in my home state, and, let’s be honest, they’re the best apples in the world.  I love cooked apples; whether they’re in applesauce or pie, there’s something comforting about a warm soft apple with a hint of cinnamon.  That’s why I absolutely adore Tom Douglas’ apple crisp.  It has a crisp, buttery topping over sweet gooey apples.  And the very best part is that you can use any fruit that’s in season, including berries, peaches and rhubarb.  Serve this stuff warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and I promise you’ll fall in love, too!

Shopping List

For the crisp topping:

  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into dice

For the apples:

  • 8 medium apples (whichever are your favorites!)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of the apples)
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling over the apples

Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • To make the crisp topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl.

Crisp-003

  • Add the diced butter to the dry ingredients and blend with a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers until crumbly.  Set aside.
  • Peel the apples, core them, and cut them into thin slices.

Crisp-001

  • Toss the apples with the sugar.

Crisp-005

  • Pour the apples into a 9-inch pie pan, sprinkle with cinnamon, and cover with the crisp topping.

Crisp-006

  • Set the filled pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any juices, then place in the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown, the apples are soft, and the juices are bubbling, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Crisp-008

  • Spoon portions of warm crisp into bowls and top with ice cream or whipped cream.

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

Gumbo. This creole classic can be as unique as the family cooking it. As the weather changes from summer to fall, gumbo can be a welcomed treat.  We stumbled across this beauty of a recipe in last months issue of Bon Appetite. (http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chicken-andouille-gumbo). This recipe struck a perfect balance of heat and flavor, and if you are a fan of the creole side of our great country, you should most definitely give it a shot!

Shopping List

Gumbo-001

  • 1 3½–4-lb. chicken
  • 1 large onion, peeled, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced ¼” thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce
  • Cooked white rice and sliced scallions or green onions (for serving)

Preparation

STOCK

  • Bring chicken, onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, basil, oregano, and 12 cups water to a boil in a large stockpot. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer, skimming surface as needed, until meat is falling off the bone, about 1 hour.
  • Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Let cool slightly, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bones.
  • Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot (or airtight container if not using right away); discard solids. You should have about 12 cups.
  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months. Let meat cool; tightly wrap and chill.

GUMBO

  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate.
  • Whisk flour into oil in pot and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is the color of a brown paper bag and smells nutty, about 4 minutes.
  • Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to roux; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add stock (all of the stock), chicken, sausage, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and vegetables are soft, about 1 hour.
  • Add hot sauce to gumbo, season with salt and pepper, and simmer 30 minutes to let flavors meld; discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
  • Serve gumbo over rice and top with scallions or green onions.

Recipe credited to Jay Ducote, Contributor to Bon Appetite

Gumbo-002Gumbo-003Gumbo-008Gumbo-006

Chicken with Tarragon

We all have those meals that remind us of our childhood.  Whether it be Grandma’s pot roast or Mom’s spaghetti, we eat these dishes and are sent back to a simpler time in our lives.  In honor of these iconic meals, we’d like to introduce a special series of posts that we like to call Nana’s Kitchen.  We’re referring, of course, to Ben’s Nana, my mom, Randie.  She’s a fabulous cook, and I’ve spent many hours attempting to recreate her amazing dishes.  Her Chicken with Tarragon is one of my absolute favorites; we hope you like it, too!

Shopping List

  • 2 chicken breasts, split
  • 2 tbl. butter
  • 1/4 cup green onion, diced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation

  • Saute chicken breasts in butter for approximately five minutes

Tarragon-002

  • Add green onion, stock, and tarragon

Tarragon-003

  • Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes
  • Remove chicken, and keep warm
  • Boil juices until reduced to approximately 1/2 cup
  • Add cream and bring to a boil

Tarragon-004

  • Reduce to 3/4 cup until thick
  • return chicken to pan, coast both sides with sauce

We serve this deliciousness over rice and with a veggie of choice. Simple. Quick. Delicious. Enjoy!!

Roasted Tomato Pomodoro

We yearn for that time of year when you can finally turn off the a/c, open the windows, and let in the crisp Colorado air. Fall. It’s simply the limit! The fall harvest is full of so many of our favorite ingredients to cook with, and towards the top of that list are the plethora of ripe tomatoes we find this time of year. The roasted tomato pomodoro featured this week will fill your home with an incredible aroma that can only be satisfied by nomming on this simple sauce. Toss with your favorite pasta, add a protein if you are into that sort of thing, and voila! We hope you enjoy this sauce, and everything else that fall has to bring!

Shopping List

Fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil. How can you go wrong?

Fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil. How can you go wrong?

  • 3 lbs tomatoes, stems removed and halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 medium/large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 325º F.
  • Place halved tomatoes in shallow baking dish with cut sides facing up
  • Place olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until garlic is finely chopped.
  • Pour mixture over tomatoes and bake 2-3 hours (stirring occasionally, and breaking up tomatoes while you do so) or until tomatoes collapse and become saucy with caramelization. (Note: we suggest doing a 1 hour and every 30 minutes thereafter stirring routine for the best results).
Step 1 - halved tomatoes in shallow baking dish

Step 1 – halved tomatoes in shallow baking dish

Step 2 - place sauce over tomatoes and bake.

Step 2 – place sauce over tomatoes and bake.

Tomatoes after 1 hour bake

Tomatoes after 1 hour bake

Tomatoes after 2 hour bake

Tomatoes after 2 hour bake

Final sauce

Final sauce

Buon Appetito!

Buon Appetito!

Best EVER Caesar Dressing

Ah, the Caesar salad.  One can find it on the menu at pretty much every restaurant from here to Timbuktu.  I’ve had good ones, and I’ve had bad ones.  This recipe is the best one.  Seriously.  Enjoy!

 

SHOPPING LIST

(Serves about 12)

Ceasar-002

  • 1 egg, coddled
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 can flat anchovy fillets, mashed into paste
  • 1 cup finely-grated parmesan cheese

PREPARATION

  • Whisk anchovy and egg together in a medium bowl; add lemon and mix well
  • While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it thickens and is well emulsified
  • Drizzle over your favorite lettuce, add some freshly cracked pepper and serve immediately

Ceasar-005

Best EVER Ceasar Dressing

Best EVER Ceasar Dressing

Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream Pie

We love a good dinner party. What better way to socialize than with a group of friends, some tasty adult bevies and, of course, some delicious food? We have found, though, in most of our dinner outings that more often than not people miss an essential part of the meal: dessert!  It doesn’t have to be just for a party, though; dessert is a vital component to any balanced food gathering, and (GULP), we have been guilty of leaving dessert off of the table way too often. Shit, even the one and only Snoop Dogg himself understands the connection and importance of dessert…

“When I’m no longer rapping, I want to open up an ice cream parlor and call myself Scoop Dogg.” – Snoop Dogg

We feel ya Dogg… Maybe it’s the emphasis on appetizers, and the meal itself, but dessert doesn’t have to be a forgotten art. It can be easy, delicious, and the perfect ending note to a lovely time whether you are entertaining a group or just yourselves. What’s more, it doesn’t have to come from your local bakery. There are desserts out there that are just as impressive without the fuss of baking, like the caramel macchiato ice cream pie we are featuring this week. I combined my love for coffee and ice cream to make this delicious dessert. This ice cream pie is simple to put together, and the steps can be done days in advance to eliminate the need to spend time on it when you are preparing your meal. Paired with your favorite coffee or espresso,  you’ll impress your guests with a dessert that DIDN’T come from your local baker.

SHOPPING LIST

Use your favorite ice cream brand.

Use your favorite ice cream brand.

  • 8-12 oz. chocolate wafer cookies, pulsed in a food processor until fine
  • 3/4 cup of melted unsalted butter
  • One jar of chocolate fudge sauce
  • One pint of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream
  • One pint of a coffee flavored ice cream
  • One bottle of squeezable caramel sauce

PREPARATION

Chocolate cookie crust

Chocolate cookie crust

  • Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan
  • In a food processor, pulse the cookies until fine; transfer to a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until coated. Press the crumbs over the bottom and sides of the pan and place the crust in the freezer until firm, about 1-2 hour(s), but can be done a few days in advance.
  • Once the crust is firm, place a layer of the chocolate fudge sauce on top of the cookie crust. Then place crust back in freezer for an additional hour or two, but can also be done a few days in advance.
Then the fudge layer

Then the fudge layer

  • Once the chocolate sauce is firm. Take the vanilla bean ice cream out of the freezer, and let sit at room temperature until soft (approximately 15-20 minutes). Take vanilla bean ice cream out of carton, place into a bowl, and stir until smooth. Then place a layer of the vanilla bean ice cream on top of the chocolate sauce layer. Then place back in freezer for an additional hour or two, but can also be done a few days in advance.
Vanilla layer next

Vanilla layer next

  • Once the vanilla bean ice cream is firm, repeat the last step with the coffee ice cream. Place in freezer for an additional hour or two, but can also be done days in advance.
Coffee ice cream awaiting its drizzle of caramel topping

Coffee ice cream awaiting its drizzle of caramel topping

  • When ready to serve take ice cream pie out of freezer 20-25 minutes before serving. Cut, place pieces on serving plates, and creatively coat the top of the slice with the caramel sauce.

We hope you enjoy this dessert as much as we do! As always, if you have preparation questions don’t hesitate to let us know!

– Cheers!

atoasttomirth.com

 

 

Chile Rice Casserole

Hi. My name is Adam, and I’m addicted to cookbooks. My addiction is so insatiable that it also carries over to the numerous magazines, blogs, websites, and stores all dedicated to food. (Ahem…I’ve also been known to use charm, wit, and various other more nefarious methods to obtain desired recipes from my favorite restaurants). I’m addicted, no doubt, but this addiction comes with an added benefit for my family, friends, and, well, everyone else who stumbles upon our experiment here at atoasttomirth.com — really good food.

The 1976 edition of this gem is really the only cookbook you would ever need. That is, if you don't share my addiction.

The 1976 edition of this gem is really the only cookbook you would ever need. That is, if you don’t share my addiction.

Sue Ann’s momma, Randie, and stepdad, Mike, have helped to feed my addiction with the gem of a cookbook pictured above. The California Heritage Cookbook from the Junior League of Pasadena has had many editions (our favorite is the 1976 version). It is often a go-to for us as the rich heritage of the State of California has helped shape cuisine throughout our country. Whether it is Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, French, German, or any of the other dishes from the distinct nationalities that have set up shop in this diverse land, this book delivers epic recipes that are accessible for all.

The Chile Rice Casserole is one of our favorite go-to side dishes. We use it to complement almost all things grilled (making it perfect for the summer), and also bring it to parties. It is mind blowingly simple to prepare and usually never comes home from a party.

SHOPPING LIST

(Serves 8)

This is a great bargain budget side dish

This is a great bargain budget side dish

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound monterey jack cheese, grated (If you would like a little more kick to the casserole we have been known to do 1/4 pound monterey jack and 1/4 pound pepper jack)
  • 7 oz. diced green chiles
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (feel free to use more if desired)

PREPARATION

Sour cream & rice

Sour cream & rice

  • In a medium-sized saucepan bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil (no more, no less).
  • Add the rice, cover pan, and simmer over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, approximately 20-25  minutes.
  • Let the rice cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Mix the cooked rice with the sour cream, salt and pepper.
  • In the bottom of a buttered (or greased) 1.5 quart casserole dish spread 1/2 the rice mixture.
  • Sprinkle the grated Jack cheese and chiles on top and then add the rest of the rice.
Cheese and chills on top of half of the sour cream and rice

Cheese and chiles on top of half of the sour cream and rice

Top the cheese and chills with remaining sour cream and rice. Finish with a few dabs of butter and grated parmesan

Top the cheese and chiles with remaining sour cream and rice. Finish with a few dabs of butter and grated parmesan

  • Dot the top with butter and sprinkle with the parmesan.
  • Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Once done baking we suggest covering the dish, and cooling on top of the stove for 15 minutes (making this side dish perfect to prepare and then travel with).
Right outta the oven

Right outta the oven

You'll go back for seconds...and thirds...

You’ll go back for seconds…and thirds…

Pasta Primavera with Grilled Garlic Lemon Chicken

Bellini’s Restorante in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is a popular Italian restaurant that first opened its doors in 1990. I discovered it seven years later when I began my undergraduate program in musical theatre at Oklahoma City University. My first experience at Bellini’s provided the inspiration for this dish. It was a simple primavera with grilled chicken, but it was packed with so much flavor that it soon became my go-to dish when dining there. As I began my law degree at the same university I was sad to discover that it had disappeared from the menu. After learning of this tragedy I set out to recreate that wonderful plate of food, and the recipe below comes very very close. It’s a light summer pasta dish that is simple, delicious and stunning to look at. We hope you enjoy our take on an Italian summer classic.

The chicken will cross the road to get into this marinade!

The chicken will cross the road to get into this marinade!

SHOPPING LIST

(Serves 4)

  • Two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Zest and juice of one large lemon
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic minced and divided equally into two ramekins
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. Italian seasoning
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. red chili flakes
  • 2 small-medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 small-medium squash, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 10-15 spears of asparagus
  • 10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Spaghetti or thin spaghetti
We like to use fresh season veggies for this dish.

We like to use fresh season veggies for this dish.

PREPARATION

  • Cut a small slit in the top of the chicken breasts;
  • Place chicken into a large zip-lock bag with one of the ramekins of garlic, the zest and juice of the lemon, salt and freshly cracked pepper, 3-4 Tbs. of extra virgin olive oil, and incorporate the ingredients together;
  • Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours;
  • Place the sliced zucchini, squash, asparagus spears, carrots, and red bell pepper into a large mixing bowl with the remaining minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, freshly cracked pepper, and Italian seasoning. Mix together until incorporated;
  • Spread veggies evenly onto a foil-lined cookie sheet and let veggies marinate for 30-45 minutes at room temperature;
  • While the veggies are marinating, pre-heat the grill to 375°-400°. Grill chicken until done. (I use a 7-7-2-2 minute flip ratio);
This grilled garlic lemon chicken really takes this dish to another level.

This grilled garlic lemon chicken really takes this dish to another level.

Veggies ready for their oven time

Veggies ready for their oven time

  • Pre-heat oven to 375°
  • Bake veggies for 30-40 minutes, stirring half-way through. (At the half-way point add the halved cherry or grape tomatoes);
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the desired amount of pasta. (Reserve approximately 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of the water prior to draining pasta);
  • In a large bowl toss drained pasta with veggies. In order to avoid dryness in the pasta incorporate 1/4 of the reserved liquid from the pasta at a time (do not overfill with the liquid, though);
  • Thinly slice the chicken;
  • Plate the pasta, sprinkle with parmesan, add a generous portion of chicken and Enjoy!
Pasta in the summer doesn't have to be a heavy dish. It can be light, and filling at the same time!

Pasta in the summer doesn’t have to be a heavy dish. It can be light, and filling at the same time!

Easy Summer Caprese Salad

 

I love a good salad.  Crisp, refreshing summer salads are my absolute favorites, and nothing screams summer quite like the caprese.  Juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and flavorful basil come together in my take on the classic Italian salad.  Enjoy!

Shopping List

  • 2 dry pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 3/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Drizzle of good balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Gently toss together the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil
  • Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top and salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve immediately
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