Crock-Pot Chili

The much anticipated post about the chili! It’s taken me a while to catch up here, mainly because of spring break traveling. So I decided I wanted chili. The trick was finding a good recipe for chili. Ah hell, who needs a recipe? Make it up as you go!

My want-to-be-Texas-Chili.

I gathered bits and pieces from friends and family and then did my own experimenting. The whole crock pot thing made it unbelievably easy though.

So I fried up some ground turkey and some ground mild Italian sausage. Then I added that to the crock pot. Let me just say now that this recipe is a layering of flavors. Next went in a can of pureed tomatoes, then a can of diced tomatoes, and a can each of drained pinto beans, kidney beans and black beans. Let me thank the dollar store for those.

I followed the canned ingredients with a diced jalapeno (seeds removed because I’m a wimp when it comes to too much spice), minced garlic and half a diced onion. Finally, comes a whole slew of spices. I added in a bay leaf, a beef bouillon cube, parsley, paprika, thyme, chili powder, garlic powder, sage, cilantro, oregano, and cayenne.

Mix it all together, let it cook on high for about 3 hours, then down to low for another two hours and served it up with cheese and sour cream. I was told Italian sausage doesn’t belong in chili, but I kind of liked it. It could use some tweaking, but as the roomie put it, it’s “a good experiment chili.” Here’s the recipe.

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Stir-Fry Experiment

Stir Fry

It looks all pretty and turned out really tasty.

So this was last week, but I just haven’t had time to post it. I decided that I wanted a stir-fry. The catch is that I’ve never made stir-fry. So it’s time for some experimentation. Everything I used was fresh, which made a good start. I used chicken breast that I cubed up and sauted with some teriyaki sauce (not a lot though). I set that to the side and then started adding in vegetables, which were mainly cut into ribbons (for presentation’s sake – and thanks to my boyfriend). So in goes the onion, zucchini, yellow squash, green and yellow bell pepper and mushrooms, in that order, since things cook slower. I poured half of my previously made sauce over it so that it had something to cook in, as well as a little bit of olive oil. Sauted it all together, and at the last minute, threw in the baby corn to warm it up a bit, as well as the chicken to heat it back up. Toward the end of the cooking process, I made some ten-minute rice to put the stuff on top of as well. And topped it all with the remaining sauce and water chestnuts (I needed the crunchy texture).

As for the sauce, that was a total experiment, more so than the meal itself. The goal was a spicy sweet sauce. After some tweaking it was pretty much perfect. I used teriyaki sauce and oil as the base and then I added: minced garlic, mango preserves, zest/juice of one lime, zest of an orange, red pepper flakes, pinch of cayenne pepper, cumin, and thyme. Mixed it all together and added half to the cooking process and the other half over the top of the finished product. I also added some apple cider vinegar to the mix, but that didn’t taste right, so I don’t think I would do that again. I ended up adding in more teriyaki to overpower the taste of the vinegar.

Basic Banana Bread

banana bread

The banana bread after it came out of the oven.

So the overripe bananas were perfect for this banana bread! And I bought smaller pans so that I could make more than one small loaf. It creates a wonderful portion control.

I didn’t think that making this would be this easy either. Did you know that banana bread – though a bread – doesn’t have any yeast in it? I was slightly amazed.

When I was putting this all together, my timing worked out perfect with the dinner. And then an exam following. Yay for rewards!

See the recipe here, courtesy of allrecipes.com

Full Comfort Meal

smothered chops

Smothered pork chops, salad and the ultimate garlic bread.

Pork chops were one of the last types of meat in the freezer. So I had to do something I haven’t done before. I looked up pork chops and improvised off another recipe I found. So simple, only one pan, a cutting board and knife were dirtied in the making of this dinner.

This would have probably been better with boneless chops, but these were really good regardless. I admit it, I was gnawing on the bone. I paired those with a tasty, veggie-filled salad, with avocado and croutons and sun-dried tomatoes. A little bit of Italian dressing and voila! Scrumptious at its best. And then there’s the garlic bread.

Thanks to Guy Fieri and the Food Network, I have found the best garlic bread recipe ever. It was so good and so bad at the same time. The bad part being how many calories have to be in it. But it was melt-in-your-mouth good. I have to admit that we (the roomie and I) were slightly skeptical about the mayo that gets mixed with the butter to go on the bread. But I have definitely not lost my faith in Guy. He was right, the mayo cannot be gone without, it makes the butter combination creamy and gives it just a little bit of a kick.

This was probably the most tantalizing and filling meal that I’ve had in weeks, given how little time I’ve had to cook lately. I definitely don’t mind the time I put into it (about an hour and a half), because it was just what my body was craving.