Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's Chili in Here, Folks!


Hahaha! Sorry, I just can't stop myself with the bad chili jokes. And no matter how old and tired they are, Sweetie Pie and I just have to regale each other when them. But no joke, this was darned good chili. First thing Sweetie Pie said, hey, if it makes your nose run and your eyes water, it's gonna be good. Well, that's one measure I guess, grins. This chili is can be as spicy or as mild as you like, just adjust the hot stuff up and down to your liking. We're still newbies at spicy, but are slowly appreciating it more and more, to the point that some of our New England favorites are tasting kind of bland.


1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained of fat
1 large onion, chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomato, undrained 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh, minced)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Optional: pinto, kidney, black beans (or other beans) drained, added 10 minutes before end of cooking,

Add all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer 30 minutes or until thickened. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

A good dollop of sour cream and some grated cheddar or jack cheese is nice.  Smooths out the spiciness and adds a nice mouth feel.

Chili is pretty versatile and you can customize it according to your taste.  Some add jalapenos, corn, celery (really?!), green peppers. We tend to be more straightforward, though beans are often considered chili sacrilege.

COOK'S NOTE: A regional ingredient that wasn't called for in the original recipe but makes a nice addition is an ingredient called masa harina. It's limed, ground corn and is not the same as the ground corn that is used to make hoe cakes, johnny cakes, cornbread, and so on. I use it to make corn tortillas and someday tamales. Anyway, it's addition to chili is used to thicken the chili and adds a touch of sweetness. For some chili lovers it's the missing ingredient in really good chili and we seem to fall into that category.  I started with a tablespoon, let it cook four or five minutes to see the thickness, and added more until I received a thickness that was pleasing to me.  This chili was even better the second day and freezes well.  Believe it or not, it's good in place of regular spaghetti sauce and is delicious mixed with rice.  Mmm!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Italian Sausage and Peppers

My Sweetie Pie has a life long friend who happily lives "just down the street" from us.  When I say life-long, I mean 50 plus years of solid friendship, an oddity these days in so many transient relationships.  It's fun to be in their company and listen to them talk of their schoolboy pranks, glory days, and senior problems.  And food.  Oh, we miss good homemade Italian food. 

I didn't have the good fortune to grow up Italian, but I did have the good fortune to live in an area where excellent Italian food abounded and beautiful women with joyous and generous hearts shared their recipes with me.  Now this platter of Italian sausages and peppers may be considered skimpy by some standards, grins, but there were only four of us for dinner and we had other food.  But I've been in homes where the platter was heaping and food almost falling off the edges.  And leftovers don't go to waste.  These make super submarine sandwiches (or hoagies, depending on where you live) or work up delicious in an omelet.  Or better yet, make any leftovers into an omelet and serve in a crusty roll with some provolone cheese.  Oooooh.  Swoon.

Like so many recipes, not a real recipe but a list of ingredients, and you adjust according to your family's preferences and needs.  This is what I did


4 sweet Italian sausage (can use hot sausages or a combination)
2 each green and yellow pepper, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
a pinch of rosemary, oregano, or basil or a combination, optional
a good splash of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all your ingredients on a roasting pan and give them a good tossing about to combine them.  Roast for about one hour, turning occasionally, or until the sausages are nicely brown and cooked through.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sweet, Cakey Cornbread

Sweet, Cakey Cornbread
Well, as my hairdresser would tell me, my roots are showing.  This time though we're talking about cornbread, and I mean Yankee cornbread, sweet and delicious, made to go with Sunday's Boston baked beans dinner, fried chicken, or steaming bowls of chowdah.  And if it's not sweet enough for you, slather on the honey butter, all drippy and sticky and wondrous.  Food of the gods, I'm telling you, grins.

This cornbread, as the title suggests is cakey, not crumbly, with a finer texture.  It holds up well to lots of butter!  I happen to use white cornmeal this time but the yellow cornmeal works very well and near as I can tell it's just a difference in color.

One caveat:  As much as I love this recipe, it is not that great for cornbread dressing.  Look to our southern cousins for a recipe, where there is less sugar and can really showcase the savory seasonings.  Good stuff!  You need both in your life to be complete.


1 cup cornmeal
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar (I told you this was sweet!)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and toothpick tests clean. 

COOK'S NOTES:  This makes delicious corn muffins.  Reduce cooking time, checking maybe after 20 minutes or so.  I use cupcake liners for easier clean up.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bisquick "Danish"

Bisquick "Danish"

The older I become, the more I appreciate simpler things. Perhaps it's a sign of maturity and gained wisdom or more the result of my body getting older and just tiring more quickly. Grins, it doesn't matter. What I can say with certainty is these "Danish" are delightful. Of course they aren't going to taste like Danish made with puff pastry, but if you want something with a lot of wow power with little effort, these are for you.

I made two flavors, apricot and raspberry, and took them to work, and before I knew what had happened, people were cuing up to sneak away two at a time. No concerns about leftovers because there weren't any. However, when I make them for home, we do need to store leftovers overnight and wrapped in a tight container they are as good the next day, maybe a little softer, but still quite delicious.


1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups Bisquick (or similar brand or your DIY copycat mix)
2/3 cup milk (or half and half for a richer flavor or a mixture)
1/4 cup of preserves (of your choice)

Mix butter, sugar, and biscuit mix together until crumbly.  Stir in milk just until dough forms, probably like 25 strokes.  Don't overwork the dough or the biscuit can become tough.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on greased, or parchment lined, sheet.  Make a shallow well in the center of each biscuit and fill the well with a teaspoonful or so of the preserves.

Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are a pleasing golden brown.

Drizzle with glaze while Danish are still warm from the oven.

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon warm water (or enough to liquid to make the glaze easy to drizzle)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

I drizzle the glaze from the tines of a fork.