Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spicy Chili

Or "fice-y" as Eileigh pronounces it. I love it when she says it- that and "opie-meal" (oatmeal). :) I was quite pleased with my efforts in making this huge batch of chili. I combined a few different recipes as well as money saving options. Primarily that would be using dried beans (that I soaked and cooked) and also making this a meatless chili. To be honest I have always been a fairly intense meatatarian but lately I've been focusing on eating less-meat if not being meatless altogether. I loved how this turned out since the bulgur has great flavor and texture; I don't miss the meat at all! For all the die-hard meat enthusiasts, just swap the bulgur for a pound or two of ground beef and brown the meat with the onion and garlic. Due to the 1/4 c. of chili powder the heat might be a little warm on the tastebuds but a good dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese will tame it down nicely. Eileigh ate a big bowl and didn't seem to mind a bit!

Spicy Chili

1 c. dried kidney beans
1 c. dried black beans
1 c. dried pinto beans

Soak beans overnight in water 2-3 inches above beans and covered in individual containers. The next day place beans and water in Dutch oven or large soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover and boil 1-2 hrs. until beans are tender. (You may need to add more water as it cooks; check occasionally). Drain in colander.

Meanwhile in medium bowl, pour
2 c. boiling water over
3/4 c. bulgur
Cover and let sit 30 minutes.

Next, saute in same Dutch oven/soup pot:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
(1-2 lbs. ground beef if you aren't using the bulgur)

When onions/garlic tender (and meat browned), add:
2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 cans (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes (or petite diced)
1-3/4 c. water
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. chili powder (less if you don't want it as spicy... or just use it as an excuse to double up on the sour cream)
1 Tblsp. EACH salt, brown sugar, dried basil, Italian seasoning, dried thyme and black pepper
1 tsp. EACH dried oregano and dried marjoram
cooked beans
cooked bulgur
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Makes: about 12 cups

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

Last week I bought a head of cauliflower fully intending for it to sidle up to one of my main dishes. However, due to unforseen circumstances (ok, ok, I forgot) it has remained in my crisper drawer, mocking me and challenging me to use it before I lose it. As I browsed my recipe stash for possible options I discovered this delicious little gem of a recipe. I think it is meant to be a side dish but I cooked up some brown rice and served the cauliflower and cheese sauce over the top- perfection!! Hmm... I just now realized I omitted several things in my rush to get dinner on the table before I had to run to make my pedicure appointment. WELL. I'll let you know what I omitted and then you can just make up your own mind what to include!

Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

1 large head cauliflower
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I omitted)
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Paprika (I omitted)
Minced fresh parsley (I omitted)
*Optional: Hot cooked rice to serve with cauliflower and sauce

In a large saucepan, bring 1 in. of water, cauliflower and salt to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 5-15 minutes or until cauliflower is crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour and thyme until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; add cheese, stirring until melted.
Drain and pat cauliflower dry; place on a serving platter. Top with cheese sauce; sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Cut into wedges. Serves 4-6

Friday, April 16, 2010

Baked Oatmeal and Broiled Grapefruit

For the most part our family doesn't eat cold cereal (unless it is a bonafide pregnancy craving, which I have had with both of my pregnancies). Cold cereal, while generally sugary and tasty, is expensive and I'm always hungry 2 hours later!! And since Mike is so wonderful to work so hard providing for us I feel it is my joyful obligation to stretch those dollars as far as I can. Enter oatmeal. This hearty whole grain is filling and relatively inexpensive compared to many other breakfast options. Of course, I'm talking about the regular oats getting dressed up fancy; not the variety box of little packets with flavored fruit. Although oats are great with a little peanut butter or cinnamon or molasses mixed in, occasionally I like to make this recipe for Baked Oatmeal. It's sweet but not overly so and a recent indulgence caught us pouring on some fat-free half-and-half needing to be used up; otherwise we just add a little milk.
Broiled grapefruit is a great way to use up some fruit that's right on the end of its shelf life or when you're married to someone who's just not that fond of it to begin with. It works great as a complement to breakfast, a side dish or even a simple dinner dessert. All of our grapefruits have been consumed in this manner as of late.

Baked Oatmeal

3 c. oats
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar (I decreased the sugars to 1/4 c. each on my last batch and it was just a little sweet. Eileigh and I liked it but Mike prefers it sweeter. I think I will be trying honey on my next batch to see how that turns out)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. vegetable oil (I have successfully substituted 1/2 c. applesauce for this, making it healthier but not quite as deliciously ooey-gooey)
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, raisins, chopped apples, nuts, etc.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and optional add-ins. Stir until well mixed. Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes until set (middle will be slightly unset). Serve warm in bowl with milk. May double recipe and put in 9x13 pan.

Broiled Grapefruit

2 grapefruit, cut in half
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

Mix cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle a little on each grapefruit. Dot a little bit of butter on top. Broil 10 minutes (my timing varies; keep an eye on it). Serve warm.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ezekiel Bread

As I finished up my prior post I realized I haven't shared my go-to recipe for bread. I haven't bought bread in literally months (last time maybe Sept. of last year?) since
1. I like this recipe/flavor/bread so much
B. It makes four loaves at a time
3. It's healthy and includes real ingredients I know (i.e., flour, honey, wheat germ, etc.) as opposed to most store-bought bread
4. It's more economical than store-bought
and finally
5. I usually give at least one loaf per batch away and I enjoy being able to do that!
I haven't kept track of how often I make bread but I'd guess it's around every 2-3 weeks (give or take a week), depending on how much I give away or how many sandwiches we decide to eat. I freeze the extra loaves in gallon-size freezer bags (after cutting off one end so it fits!). :)

Ezekiel Bread

3 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
5 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
1 tablespoon plus 2/3 cup honey, divided
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup toasted wheat germ
6 to 8 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 3/4 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon honey. Add the remaining water and honey, oil, sugar, salt, whole wheat flour, wheat germ and 3 cups bread flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Shape into four loaves. Place in 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 4 loaves (16 slices each)

BBQ Shrimp and French Bread

Ahhh, finally! The catalyst I've needed to get back to blogging. One of the curses of having some slightly perfectionistic tendencies is wanting to do something SO right that instead you procrastinate and put it off because you feel it just can't be done the right way... and then it doesn't get done at all. Therein lies the sad state of my blog.
Quick summary of the last month: Eileigh and I got sick, Selah and Mike got sick, Selah got admitted to the hospital for bronchiolitis and I stayed with her for the three days she was there while Mike's mom came down to stay with us and help out; finally everyone was better. Then we were informed of the possibility of Selah having craniosynostosis (early fusion of skull sutures) and rode the emotional rollercoaster until we landed somewhere around the breathable wait-and-see zone. I think we had about a week off for emotional rebooting until Mike was informed of his need for surgery to fix a complication from a surgery he had a year and a half ago. So that's the next thing on the horizon... that we anticipate! Who knows what else is in store- but I know God is faithful! He has carried us through so much and I am so thankful for His sweet presence and peace.
Now to the good stuff! Our family l-o-v-e-s shrimp. Eileigh most definitely included- she can keep pace with the best of us. One of our all-time faves is Mexican Shrimp Bisque, which is so simple yet rich and I am always on the lookout for other great shrimp recipes. I was thrilled how easy and delicious (or "licious" as Eileigh calls it) this recipe is! It's been adapted for the crockpot and only takes about two hours. The "BBQ" part doesn't seem as much BBQ-y to me but more of a spicy, yummy, sop-it-up-with-thick-bread sauce. Mike (who is not much of a thick-bread/sop-up-sauce man) tore off an extra hunk of bread just to dip in the sauce- oh yeah, it's that good! I love homemade French bread- it's easy and this recipe makes four loaves for under $0.50. However you can also use slices of fresh-baked Ezekiel Bread if your sweetheart misunderstands you about throwing the frozen French bread in the oven and warms up the Ezekiel bread instead. Delicious that way too! :)

BBQ Shrimp (crockpot)

2 lbs. raw shell-on shrimp (I used 51-60's and took some shells off for Eileigh prior to cooking)
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter (I used 4 Tbsp. and it was definitely fine!!)
1/4 c. olive oil (I'll probably decrease this next time... maybe 1/8 c.?)
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce (I used 1-1/2 and liked the results; a bit warm, especially the sauce)
1 tsp. kosher salt (I used sea salt)
1 tsp. ground black pepper
juice of 3 lemons
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I think this really enhanced the flavors)

Rinse shrimp (thaw if needed) but don't soak too much. Put shrimp into crockpot with butter, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Add the Tabasco, salt, and pepper, then add the lemon juice and basil. Toss just a bit with a big spoon to mingle the flavors- it's okay that the butter is in a big stick. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes. You'll know the shrimp is done when it has turned pink and can be peeled easily. I turned ours off at 2 hours and it was perfect. Serve with French bread to sop up the juice. Serves 6-8

French Bread

3 c. warm water
1 pkg. (2-1/4 tsp.) dry yeast
3 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. salt
7-1/2 to 8 c. flour

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in 1 c. warm water. Add sugar and salt; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 2 c. water and 3 c. flour, beating with the paddle on a heavy-duty mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon. Add remaining flour a cup at a time. Knead with a dough hook 4-6 min. or 8-10 min. by hand until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Cover with a towel; let dough rise until almost tripled. Or make dough early in the morning, and let rise all day. Shape dough into 4 baguettes (long, slender loaves). Let loaves rise about 45 minutes until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 30 more minutes until golden brown. *Freeze each baked loaf in foil. To reheat, loosen one end of foil and heat loaf at 375 degrees about 20 minutes until hot and crisp.