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Archive for October, 2009

Everyone has a particular food that triggers memories of a certain time or place in their life. Growing up every Halloween my mom would make a slow cooker chili. The house smelled fantastic! A culmination of chili powder, cumin, onions, peppers, tomatoes, beef and beans…OH MY! It was always cold and dark on those nights and an overflowing bowl of chili topped with melted cheddar cheese and a glass of apple cider was the perfect start to prepare my brother and me for the bitter air. This dish sums up October for me. It gives warmth, love and memories that can never be replaced. Now that I am living on my own, I requested this recipe from my mom. I finally made it one of the first days that it fell below 40 degrees this season. The aromas were the same and made me feel safe and secure. In hopes that it might provide some comfort to you this fall, I want to share the recipe with you:

Mary’s Chili Recipe

1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef ( I use 95% Lean)
1-2 onions (Diced)
1 green pepper (Chopped)
1 TBS cumin
2 TBS chili power
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder (season to taste)
1 TBS hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco)
1 32 oz. can chopped tomatoes with liquid
1 jar of salsa
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can of great northern (white cannelloni) beans
1 15 oz. can of butter beans (lima beans)
1 large can of light red kidney beans (32oz?)
1 large can of dark red kidney beans
1 cup of beer or wine
Olive oil
Crock pot
Shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar Cheese or Taco Seasoned Cheese

Add small amount of oil oil to grease a frying pan add beef, cumin, cayenne and chili power. Brown beef. Add onions and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Drain any grease from pan. Place in the bottom of a crock pot.

Drain beans in a colander to remove liquid. Run water over beans. Drain. Add to crock pot.

Add tomatoes with liquid to crock pot. Add beer or wine. Add hot sauce. Season to taste.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or on medium 2-4 hours.

Before serving check seasonings, you could add more hot sauce or beer/wine if more liquid is needed. Chili is a recipe that can be altered to the cook’s preferences for mild or hot seasonings, Cumin is key. You could increase the amount for a more savory flavoring.

Ladle into bowls, top with shredded cheese. Serve with green and red hot sauce.
Enjoy!~

–Straight from my mom’s email!

Love The Power of Food,

Nora

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Love Me Some Concord

Concord grapes are in season and popping up everywhere from seasonal items incorporated into grocery store products to center pieces on fall harvest menus. It is a fantastic pair for all the flavors of Autumn. Concord grapes have an intense grape flavor, both sweet and tart. They tend to be the best grape source for juices and jams. Recently, I have enjoyed these grapes in a few unusual fashions: pureed into a pie filling, as an ice cream and a sauce over fish and roasted butternut squash.

When it comes to ice cream, I tend to stay away from the “premium” fruity flavored ones. To me, there is not a better base than the indulgent flavors of vanilla or chocolate. I’ve seen everything from orange ice cream to blueberry ice cream, and they all fail to live up to the traditional vanilla and chocolate. I made an exception for a hand crafted Concord grape ice cream. It was so unusual that I just HAD to try it. The flavor combination reminded me of grape soda topped with a creamy vanilla ice cream (not that I’ve ever had a grape soda float…gross.). The Concord grape gave the cream a potent flavor and was well bound in the smooth texture and consistency of the iced cream. It was full bodied and had a luxurious mouth feel.

Grape pie is not a particularly unusual product, but I had never tried it before. I was in love. The strong flavor and jelly-like consistency of the grape puree was a well suited filling for buttery flaky pie crust. If you think about it, grape jelly is a magnificent pair for buttery biscuits and croissants so it was no surprise that it would be a perfect match for a pie. It was a dessert worthy of any fall menu.

The most surprising flavor combination of the three items I tried was the Concord grape sauce, served over seared halibut and puree of roasted butternut squash. The fish was phenomenally cooked; light, moist and flaky. The butternut squash was roasted and pureed giving it a nice consistency, texture and sweetness. The Concord grape sauce really pulled the dish together. It gave an added flavor to the fish and the tartness of the grape was exhibited through the sweetness of the butternut squash. It was such a fantastic combination that I wanted to savor…the last bite came all too quickly.

If you haven’t tried this grape, you are in for a treat.

Grape-o-licious,

Nora

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Now that it is October and officially Autumn, the time has come for me to trade in my crisp fresh produce and grilled meats of summer for warm, hearty oven/stove-top crafted meals. There is nothing better than coming home from a long, chilly day to a house filled with the warmth and aromas of a strategically planned meal that you know will satisfy your mind, body and soul. Dinner to me is always the most special meal of the day. It is thoughtful, rich and seemingly time intensive. In a busy world it is hard to put the same effort into preparing elaborate breakfasts and lunches. Cereal, milk and fruit for breakfast, and a sandwich for lunch…repeat. BORING!

I am a bit of a breakfast freak. It is the most important meal of the day and why not start your day off right? I always set my alarm to allow myself enough time to get ready and have a real breakfast (breakfast bars…no thank you). In the summer months I tend to alter between cereal with sliced bananas and blueberries and yogurt with fresh fruit and vanilla almond granola. Refreshing, crisp options for warm mornings. In the fall I want something more soul soothing and weather appropriate. Oatmeal is my go to breakfast food. I love buying the Wessex Oatmeal and adding all of my own goodies to it. I will never be plain brown-sugar or pre-packaged oatmeal girl. My favorite add-ins are sliced bananas (heated with the cereal)and walnuts, dried cranberries, almonds, big juicy raisins, dried cherries and pecans. YUM. Can you think of anything better than hot, creamy cereal sweetened by dried fruit and has a hearty crunch of nuts? Me either. Every once and a while I crave something that is still hearty and rich but not a heated meal. My solution: Greek yogurt and fruit/nut granola with bananas/frozen fruit. Greek yogurt is thicker than traditional yogurt and packed with protein. In the summer I enjoy the crispness of Bear Naked Vanilla Almond granola with fresh fruit and plain yogurt, but in the fall I want something heartier and baked. Bear Naked Fruit and Nut granola does the trick. It has pecans, almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins and dried cherries. (all of my favorites no wonder I like it).

Having a variety of breakfast mix-in on hand will keep you interested and satisfied through the bitter mornings of the fall.

Stock Up,

Nora

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