Turkey Chili and Cornbread

Hurricane Sandy is on its way. The Californian in me is simultaneously nervous and excited. The grocery store was an absolute madhouse. I have never had to wait in line to get into the store! Needless to say, I was lucky to come out with what I did find at the store, which turned out to be a lot of snack food (I mean, if there’s a power outage nothing will make me happier than a PB&J and some pretzels). I knew tonight I would want to make something warm and hearty, thus I decided upon chili.

I have been wanting to make chili for a long time now. One, because I wanted to cook and eat something that wasn’t chicken and two, because it is so delicious. The chili recipe is great because it has all the flavor without the need to go buy a ton of spices you might use only when you make this dish. And cornbread was a natural side dish. This meal took longer to make than my normal meals (I had all day Sunday so I thought I’d use it) but it was so worth it!

Turkey Chili (makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. Ground Turkey
  • 1/3 can Tomato Paste
  • 1 can S&W Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 can Corn Kernels, drained
  • 1 can Pinto Beans, drained
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Bell Peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 1-2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Scallions (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional), to taste
  • Salsa (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until the turkey has browned (about 6 minutes)
  2. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, jalapeño, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender (about 8 minutes).
  3. Add the tomatoes (canned and fresh), beans, corn, salsa, tomato paste, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered. Stir occasionally until the flavors blend and the chili thickens (around 30-45 minutes). Serve with grated cheese, yogurt/sour cream, and scallions. Pair with cornbread (recipe below).

Paula Deen Cornbread (from Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for baking dish
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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Strawberry Banana Bread

Just when I thought my banana bread could not get any better…it did!

So, I went from disappearing from my blog for a week to adding multiple posts all at once, but trust me, the onslaught of recipes and cooking ideas are worth it.

This week has felt very long for me: lack of sleep due to baseball games (Go SF Giants!) and playing catch-up at work has left me tired and hungry when I come home. Hungrier than usual. So hungry I bought way too much fruit from the vendor one day. Rotten bananas have a simple solution: my banana bread. But when I looked into my fridge, I saw an excess of strawberries and thought why not; throw them in!

This bread is fantastic. Love the addition of the strawberries. I cannot wait to make it again!

Strawberry Banana Bread

  • 1-2 ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Plain-Flavored Yogurt (I used Fage Greek Yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup white All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In one bowl, mix mashed bananas and sliced strawberries with baking soda and yogurt. Set aside. In another bowl mix oil, sugar, egg/egg whites and vanilla. In a third bowl mix flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Combine all the mixtures (and if you want to add nuts or chocolate chips now is the time to do it!). Bake for about 45 minutes. Makes about 12 slices.

Strawberry Fields Salad

There’s no denying it: this is the most beautiful, colorful salad I have ever made.

So this last Saturday afternoon I found myself wandering around the city (I do that a lot) and decided I should go to Union Square for the first time (I’ve never been-I know, I am clearly still a NYC newbie!). Anyways Union Square was having this incredible farmers market: I am talking fresh fruit, veggies, cheese and meat, wine and baked goods galore. Even fresh cut flowers! Needless to say, I was in heaven. I knew I had to buy something special. And that’s when I saw it: gourmet goat cheese.

I am a big cheese person, and the goat variety just might be my favorite. I love rolling it in nuts, or pesto, or spices to really jazz it up. The one I bought was already fancied-up for me: honey lavender goat cheese. Mmm mmm good. The flavor is so light and aromatic, call me one happy cheese person.

Thus, the inspiration for this salad was born! The tangy, sweet goat cheese mixes perfectly with strawberries and crunchy walnut chunks. And balsamic vinegar is the perfect topping to it all.This salad was light and flavorful and the perfect lunch to satiate me after all that walking around the city!

Strawberry Fields Salad

  • 3 cups Mixed Greens, rinsed
  • 1 cup Strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 2-3 Celery Stalks, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/8 cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon each Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

The directions are simple: combine in a bowl, toss, and serve!

Next time you’re bored on a weekend day, look up where your closest farmer’s market is. The products are always fresh, and supporting local farmers buy buying and eating their delicious food is a wonderful and satisfying way to spend an afternoon!

Instant Personal Brownie

Apologies to all for the long breaks between posts; life got busy thus eating has been a more on-the-run sort of deal or leftovers-from-lunch-out. Not good blogging subjects I assure you.

But oh my gosh I am about to share with you best idea ever!

Yummy, yummy: brownie in my tummy!

Have you ever wanted a brownie like 5 minutes ago and just needed chocolate, fudgy goodness more than anything? For me, brownies are perfection. I crave chocolate, but for me a chocolate bar sometimes won’t cut it. I need a thick, gooey, warm slab of brownie. That’s where this recipe comes in: it’s microwaveable and filled with chocolate flavor. It is also simple, meaning I cannot wait to add extra ingredients to it for some variation and creativity points!

Instant Personal Brownie (makes 1 brownie in a ramekin, recipe from Love From the Oven)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Oil (vegetable, canola, or coconut)
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • Optional Mix-ins: chocolate chips, chopped up candy bars, peanut butter, cream cheese, butterscotch chips, Oreo cookies, caramel, nuts

Directions:

Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl or cup (it took me 15 seconds). Add the oil and mix well. I wanted a fudge-like consistency, so I added 2 Tablespoons of Oil. If you prefer a cake-like, dense brownie, edge closer to 1 Tablespoon. Add vanilla and water and mix well. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients. If you added less oil, the mix will look firm and that’s okay. Press or pour (depending on batter consistency) the brownie batter into the ramekin. Add your mix-in on top, or pour it in as your pouring in the batter. Cook in microwave (I have cooked mine for as little as 45 seconds and as much as a minute and I tend to like my brownie gooey and on the undercooked side). Lick brownie batter bowl while waiting impatiently for the finished product. Lunge for the microwave door as soon as the beeping starts. Maybe wait long enough to top the brownie with ice cream or more chocolate (or for it to cool down). Another option is to do what I did and burn your mouth by immediately digging into the brownie. In my mind: so good it was still worth it!

Brown Rice & Alfredo Sauce

This recipe is one that brings me much pride, as it was something completely new to me.

Now, I am not a natural cook. The flavors and recipes I am familiar with are such because I grew up with them, I have made them with the careful directions of my mom (who is the most creative cook I know), or just got lucky. This alfredo sauce was different since I have never made alfredo sauce before and was not even sure if I had all the basic necessary ingredients (cheese, namely). Lucky for me, I am constantly buying cheese so that was not an issue. I did run into a minor challenge when I looked at my almost-completed product and realized I wanted alfredo on risotto-and did not have any risotto at hand. Alas, a package of brown rice came to the rescue and it was the perfect choice.

This alfredo is everything you want in a creamy pasta sauce: warm, comforting, and easy to make but decadent in flavor.

Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 cup chopped herbs (I had tons of cilantro to use, but can easily use basil or parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic cloves and cook together until aromatic. Add milk and when milk is warm add in cheese. Let cheese become nice and melty (this is a good time to start dipping bread into the saucepan, fondue-style). Add in chopped herbs and red pepper flakes and mix together. Take off heat and pour onto pasta of choice.

Bake Off: Cookie Edition

This last weekend was wonderful. It actually probably gave me the energy to get me through this week (which as you can tell must’ve been busy since I am posting this 7 days late!). Last Sunday, I got to spend the day on Long Island with my friend Magda and her wonderful family. It felt so good to be in a real home words can hardly describe!

And the Sunday activities were right up my alley: brunch, movies, nail painting, and baking. Oh, there was baking all right. In fact, Magda and I decided that instead of baking one thing (like normal people do occasionally),  that we would bake 5 different things (cookies, to be exact) and figure out which types we liked best.

You could say we got a little carried away…

But that was part of the fun! Each recipe was so delicious, and you know when you put two people who love science into a kitchen they are going to go all nerdy on you and start splitting recipes and figuring out the right consistencies for dough, etc. So worth the cookie dough stomachache.

Anyways, lest I ramble on more, here are each of the recipes and a side-comment on what we thought to name them. If you learn one thing about baking from this post learn this: have fun with it!

The experimental ingredients: everything sweet and delicious!

#1: The Imitation Lola (a tribute to Flour Bakery’s Lola Cookie)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 8 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

#2: The Polish (has nothing to do with Poland other than that the honey used in the recipe came from Poland)

From left to right: The Mother’s Worst Nightmare, The Polish, and The Imitation Lola all lined up and ready for baking!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon, to taste

#3: The Canadian Cookie (it’s cause of the maple, eh?)

The finished Polish, Canadian (the pancake-looking one), and Snickerdoodle Cookies.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

#4: The Mother’s Worst Nightmare (a cookie of sinful delights)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup potato chips, crunched up
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • handful of M&Ms (personal preference for amount, I chose a lot)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

#5: The Snickerdoodle (simple, and oh-so-good)

Clockwise from the top: The Imitation Lola, the Canadian, The Polish, the Mother’s Worst Nightmare, and Snickerdoodle in the middle. Oh that pile of cookies looks like it needs a tall glass of milk!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

For each recipe, the directions are pretty much the same. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg together for a couple minutes. Add in flour, salt, baking soda and other various dry ingredients and mix until they just come together. Scoop cookie dough onto baking pans and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Chicken & Kale Pizza and Buttery Garlic Knots

You know those day where you just crave bread?

Okay, maybe you don’t.

But I certainly do. And that is exactly why a couple of nights ago I dedicated my evening to making a gourmet Chicken & Veggie Pizza. And it was oh-so worth it! Homemade pizza dough is divine: soft and warm out of the oven. Of course, I took some of the extra pizza dough I wasn’t going to use and created the most delicious garlic knots ever. I was seriously so full and so satisfied after this meal. I ate enough pizza for multiple people but there was essentially a salad on top so I think I am in the clear.

Chicken & Kale Pizza

Ingredients for Dough: (makes one 12″ pizza)

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 package (.25 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Toppings:

  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • Grilled chicken
  • Prego pasta sauce (or any sauce of your choosing)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped Bell Pepper
  • Kale leaves

Directions:

In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, and oil. Knead together. You only need to let the dough rest for only 5 minutes, I went out and ran errands for an hour and covered it with olive oil-covered saran wrap so that it could rise a little more.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and pat it or roll it into your desired pizza shape. Transfer flattened dough to an oiled baking tray or tray/pizza pan dusted with cornmeal. I popped the pizza dough into the oven for 3-5 minutes by itself to let it get a head start on cooking. I then pull it out of the oven and spread on my desired toppings. Pop this delicious looking creation back into the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Garlic Knots

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Dough (from above recipe)
  • Melted Butter
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • Optional: red pepper flakes

The garlic knots are easy. Mix melted butter and garlic (and preferred spices) in a bowl and set aside. With the extra pizza dough rip of a handful and roll into a log. Tie the log into a knot in the middle and fold the extra (if there is any)up and over to meet in the middle of the other side. Place on a baking sheet ans brush with the delicious, buttery mixture. Place in the oven. Eat them all. The End.