Chili

ChiliIt’s that time of year, you know, football season, and the end of baseball. I did say football season. Those are keywords that rumble my household, especially in the kitchen. Sundays in particular are days of a good family meal, whether we invite family, friends, or take time for own family, it is a special day of food. Growing up was the same way, it seemed like the warm, home-cooked meal, was always there on Sunday, well, that or pizza delivery or McDonald’s. 🙂

Ok. Football, and food. The first question of Sunday morning is typically ‘What should we eat for the game?’, followed by ‘Do we have to go to church?’. Let’s focus on the first, what do we eat for the game? This typically has ranged from nachos, chicken wings, pulled pork sandwiches, just to name a few. What always wins, however is chili.

I grew up eating chili. My dad might claim that he is chili master, and truly, he might be, however as I am learning the ways, I have made, and kept a pretty darn good recipe. This is yet another simple recipe, and something that can be enjoyed for days.

Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef
  • Chopped/Small cubed Sirloin (optional)
  • One Large Yellow Onion, chopped
  • Four stalks of Celery
  • Four cloves, chopped Garlic
  • Water
  • Cumin
  • Black Pepper
  • One can, kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Two cans Hunt’s Chili mix
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Red Wine (optional)
  • Cheddar Cheese (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Corn Chips (optional)

ChiliBegin by warming your soup pan, I use a fairly large soup pan. On medium-high heat, begin to brown the meat. Make sure you drain the fat when cooked, then return to the stove on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, garlic, 1-2 TB of dried cumin, and pepper. Cook for nearly seven minutes on medium and let the veggies sweat through. Add the two cans of Hunt’s chili mix, fill each can of water, and add to the pot as well. Mix and continue to cook. Once the beans are drained, add those suckers as well. Here’s the beauty; this process takes less than twenty minutes, and when this process is done, lower the heat to low, throw the lid on, and crack a beer. It’s ok. You can have a beer on game day, at noon.

My wife is quoted this past chili cook down saying ‘it’s a beautiful thing that you can leave this chili on the stove all day, and keep coming back for more. ‘

Enjoy, and go Packers!

Viva the Fajita

FajitasI will start by saying I am only a fan of flour tortillas in the following instances:

  • They have eggs, cheese, chorizo, and salsa in them
  • They are larger than a corn tortilla
  • They consist of meat, peppers, and guacamole

With that stated, Viva the Fajita.

My wife was impressed when I threw down the fajita the other day, only due to the fact that neither she nor I order fajitas off a menu. Ever. Now, I have been with co-workers and friends who can throw down the sizzling plate of fajitas, but I on the other hand stick to traditional tacos al pastor, or something other wicked.

Here is the scoop. When I open doors to my freezer, refrigerator, or while at the market, my brain starts kicking into gear. It comes natural; flavors, plating, satisfaction with smiles. Well, when I opened the door a few days ago, I saw the flank steak that I used for my beef jerky. I did not have to do much with the flank steak, but I did anyway. A little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder for the marinade.

Here we go, start making your fajita and yell ‘Viva Baby’:

  • Flank Steak
  • Olive oil, or whatever you like
  • Salt, Pepper, Chili Powder
  • Green Pepper
  • Onion
  • Flour Tortillas

Optional Ingredients:

  • Green Pepper(s)
  • White/Yellow Onions
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Cheese

FajitasTo get started, marinate your steak, place in a bag, add salt, pepper, and chili powder to your liking. You know what you like. Add other stuff if you want (cumin, fresh herbs (marjoram, oregano, etc)), and let that sit overnight. Always overnight.
When you are ready to go, it could not be simpler.

Fire up the grill. Thinly slice the green pepper and onions and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a skillet, and get ready to cook these down to your liking. I like my peppers and onions with a slight crunch, and not too soggy. You know what I mean right? So medium to high heat at first, then bring it down to low as the meat will take a few minutes to cook. Back to the grill right? Cook the flank to your liking, I like mine medium-rare. Once done, take it off the grill, cover with foil, and let rest for a few minutes.

FajitasDuring this time, I sliced the avocado, chopped cilantro, garlic, and tomato and made the guacamole. A minute for two after this process, I took the meat out of the foil (keep the juices), placed on a cutting sheet, and cut against the grain, into thin slices (or the thickness you would want to put into your mouth).

Get ready to rock. Warm up your tortillas in your microwave, or oven (in foil) and place in a warmer if you have it, otherwise, keep them sealed somehow, someway. Flour tortillas have a way of getting hard around the edges if you keep them unwrapped.

When you are ready… You are ready right? Plate them up. You know how the tortilla works; flour tortilla, meat, cheese, toppings, fold, eat, drink, eat more. Be happy. Fajitas are delicious. Things are comparable and can beat the fajita, but it is a dish that is everlasting, especially with a great wife, and friends.

Finger Lickn’ Good – Fried Chicken

Allow me to begin this post by stating that my mom’s fried chicken is a hard one to beat. I think I am getting there, however. In the past, I have soaked chicken for a couple of hours in salted water, rinsed, and drained. I then would season, coat in flour, put it in an egg wash, then back in flour, then fry it. Trust me, that recipe is really good. This past weekend allowed me to experiment with a new recipe, and you should try this one.

Growing up, my mom always fried her chicken in a cast iron skillet. After researching the skillet, and recently purchasing one, I thought of my mom’s recipe, and I could not get it off my mind. I decided not to use her recipe, however I did attempt (and succeeded) to make my own. Overall, I think the cast iron is key, along with the following information:

Ingredients:

  • Whole Chicken, cut up (legs, thighs, wings, breast)
  • Buttermilk
  • Seasoning (I used garlic, kosher salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder)
  • Cooking Oil (I used corn oil, but would recommend lard or Crisco or something of that sort)

Add the chicken to a large ziplock bag, season with pepper, and add a quart of buttermilk. Seal it and put place in a bowl to prevent any leakage. Soak the chicken overnight, preferably 12 to 24 hours.

Let the games begin. When you are ready to go, heat enough oil, preferably 1/8 of the bottom of the meat and bring to about 350 degrees. During this time, drain the chicken in a colander. Mix your seasonings and moderately season. Dredge the seasoned chicken in flour (I shake the pieces in a ziplock bag full of about 2 cups of flour). I placed them on a wire rack and let them set for about 10 minutes. The oil will be ready by then.

Place the chicken pieces like this; skin side down, thighs in the middle, legs, wings, and breasts on the edges. Cook them for about 10 minutes, carefully not to burn, flip, and continue on the other side. I attempted to take the temperature of the meat, however that did not do much to me. Instead, I went with my instincts, took the chicken out, and drained on paper towel.

I served this dish with our favorites, mashed potatoes and corn. Overall, my wife said this was the best chicken she has ever had, one of my boys ate two legs (unheard of), and the other ate close to an entire breast (unheard of). Based on those facts, I think I will make this dish again.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Alfredo SauceLet me start by saying that I am not a big fan of pasta. Maybe it is simply the red sauce, not sure. Growing up, pasta was around the table, however I simply chose my pasta and sprinkled parmesan cheese on it, no red sauce. Never red sauce. My wife on the other hand, as she grew up easting pasta and parmesan cheese, loves the red sauce. I almost feel guilty that I do not cook pasta that often, even though I love my wife dearly, she doesn’t see the red sauce very often. There is one dish that we come to agreement on, and that is alfredo. So yesterday, I decided to make my own alfredo and enhance it to something out of this world.

Lets begin by saying how easy it is to make the sauce. Lets get going here because I know your mouth is probably watering.

Ingredients:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Fettuccine Noodles
  • Basil (optional)
  • Bacon or Pancetta (optional)
  • Peas

Fettuccine AlredoUsing a sauce pan on medium heat, add two tablespoons of butter and chopped garlic. Let melt, then add the heavy whipping cream. I added the entire container, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Lower the heat and bring to a simmer. The cream will begin to thicken, approximately 10 minutes or so. Keep stirring as it could burn on you. During this time, bring salted water to a boil and cook the noodles for approximately 10 minutes, or al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, and add the pasta back to the pan and get ready to boogie. The sauce should be close to being done. Add 1 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese. Now the sauce is coming together. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss.

If you want to do what I did, here is the skinny. While the sauce was cooking, I added a cup of frozen peas. I precooked six slices of bacon, and roughly chopped. I topped the dish with the bacon and basil. TRUST ME…. This one is a keeper.