Showing posts with label Dinners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinners. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken Redux

I have been so extremely spoiled with foods lately. With the littles being out of town for a couple of weeks, the Mr. and I were left with a surplus of money jingling around in the food budget. After all, we're only feeding 2... not 4-5. We've taken that opportunity to enjoy the luxury of shopping at Durham Farmers' Market for the last two weekends. A girl could get used to this! Fresh garlic, a million (okay, maybe 20) different cuts of bison, purple carrots, fresh sweet corn, juicy blackberries that burst with sweetness in your mouth. Le sigh. 

But, driving to Durham takes us over an hour and a half. Our car inhales gas like it's on its dying breath. Once the littles come back, we'll be lucky to get this trip in once a month. Even then, it will one rife with complaints. "Are we there YET?" "This is SO boring." "When can we leave?" Grrrrrr. Well, my dear market... it was nice while it lasted. We shall make our way back soon. I hope.

I will admit... this last weekend, we discovered the best market treat ever: free-range chicken. I am all about the concept and benefits from eating free-range animals. But, aside from the bison... I'd never really gotten my hands on any free-range meats. Probably because things like a 3.75 lb chicken sell for $13.88. That isn't the most feasible pricing for a single-income military family. And, I was skeptical that it would really taste any different than a store-bought chicken. Boy, was I wrong

What does it taste like? Tastes like chicken! Har har har. Not funny? Okay. Sorry. But, this is what chicken was meant to taste like. It is so moist, so robust and flavorful, so... chickeny! Sure, it's not affordable for everday consumption. But, trust me... you have to try it at least once! You'll be hooked! Promise. We'll continue to buy it as often as we can. And, when we move to Kentucky in the fall... we're raisin' us some chickens!

My favorite way to eat chicken? Roasted. With roasted veggies.

Roasted Chicken & Vegetables
1 (3-5 lb) chicken
2 Vidalia onions, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves and skin removed
Carrots, halved lengthwise, then again width-wise
Potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
Shallots, quartered
Fresh thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Place the quartered onions around the edge of a cast iron skillet. Place the chicken in the middle. Stuff the chicken with thyme, and place a couple of sprigs on top. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil; sprinkle with kosher salt, and pepper.

Roast in the oven at 450* for 1-1.5 hours, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 180*.  Remove from the oven, and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

For the veggies... spray the bottom of a baking sheet lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Carrots. We used these gorgeous purple carrots we found at the market. They had the sweetest, most earthy flavor after being roasted. Potatoes. We mixed some Purple Majesty potatoes with some buttery Yukon Golds. Garlic. Of course, fresh from the market. Shallots. Well, I can't say enough good things about shallots. I cook with them so very often. Toss those veggies onto the baking sheet. Throw on a couple sprigs of thyme. Drizzle veggies with olive oil; sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 450* for 30 minutes. I put the veggies in about 20 minutes before the chicken is done. That way, they're still roasting away while the chicken is settling on the counter.

Look at those crisp, roasted veggies!

You think the roasted chicken itself is yummy? Wait until you taste what we're gonna' do with the left-overs! Usually, the birds we cook are much bigger than the 3.75 pounder we got at the market. So, we typically have a good bit of meat left-over. But, between me and the Mr... we had to exhibit some self-restraint not to devour the whole thing so that I had enough for my signature Rustic Chicken Salad Sandwich!

Rustic Chicken Salad Sandwich
1 1/2 C pre-cooked chicken, shredded
1 Tbs spicy brown mustard
1 Tbs horseradish sauce (I always use Boar's Head)
1 tsp dried thyme
3 left-over roasted garlic cloves, mashed
Left-over roasted shallots
Cheese slices (I use pepper jack because we're all about the spice around here. Swiss or Muenster would be nice too)
Fresh baby spinach
A good loaf of artisan bread (or loaf of French bread)

Start by mixing the chicken salad. To the shredded chicken, add the mustard, horseradish sauce, thyme, and mashed garlic cloves. Mix until just combined; set aside.

Slice the bread into 1" thick pieces; toast them. Assemble the sandwich by spooning a generous amount of the chicken salad onto on slice of bread. Add shallots and spinach atop the chicken. Finish off with your cheese slices, then the other piece of bread. 

These sandwiches are so rustic, and yummy! They always remind me of fall, but are just as tasty in the summer! And, they go quite nicely with a side of sweet potatoe fries along with some horseradish sauce to dip 'em in! 

Back on Wednesday with Next Food Network Star Challenge play-along Episode #3. Still playing catch-up!

Friday, June 15, 2012

This one's for Sarah...

One of my best friends, Sarah, and I have been on many cooking adventures together. Which is to say... while I was briefly living with her last year, I decimated her Fry Daddy and nearly burned down her kitchen. This is so unlike me. Truly. The fire in the oven... not my fault. I don't know that we ever figured out what happened there. The food was still raw when that started. The Fry Daddy? Every fryer I had ever worked with... you could put the top to the unit on it even while it was frying. Not this one. Well, there was hot grease flying at my face. And, rather than searing my eyeballs with boiling grease, I grabbed the top to contain it. Not such a good idea. I killed the Fry Daddy...

Sarah was a pretty good sport about it. Although, I still owe her a new Fry Daddy. In the meantime, I'll try to make it up to her with my recipe for bruschetta. This is hands-down one of our favorite summertime meals in this house. It's light, refreshing, and super-easy to make.

While I have no specific history on bruschetta, aside from the fact that originated in Italy (no kidding, huh?)... the way that Italian foods entered the mainstream diet is rather interesting. In the 1930's, many American-born children of immigrants had built their own families and began to steer away from many of the dishes that made up their heritage. For reasons ranging from not wanting to be embarrassed to open their strangely-filled lunch sacks at school, to simply deciding that their ancestral dishes were just too heavy and spicy or too time-consuming to make... many immigrant families began to adapt their tastes to a more"Americanized" diet. The one major immigrant group to hold out against this trend? Italo-Americans. The fact that Americans came to love the Italians' "signature" dish: spaghetti and meatballs, didn't hurt either. Food editors began to pick up on the trend, and various recipes for spaghetti could be found in a variety of American publications. The interesting part? Rarely did the recipes include the (at the time) dreaded garlic clove. From the original American recipes made up of anything from tomato soup with Worcestershire sauce, to just plain ketchup for the spaghetti sauce; and a combination of beef suet, horseradish, and "bottled condiment sauce" for the meatballs... today's spaghetti and meatballs recipes have come A LONG WAY! Thank heavens that our palletes became more diverse, and our cooking skills more cutting-edge!

But, back to bruschetta! Just the ingredients look mouth-watering before even being prepared...

1 (8 oz) container cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 lg garlic cloves, minced  *plus one whole clove to rub on the bread
1 handfull basil, chopped
8 oz cheese, cubed (typically, we use mozzarella but this time we used paneer)
Kosher salt, to taste
Extra-viring olive oil
1 loaf of bread, sliced (typically, we use Italian bread but this time we used a rosemary olie oil loaf from the market)

We start by quartering the tomatoes, mincing the garlic, and cubing the paneer. In comparison to mozarella, paneer is softer and a bit sticky. It is mild in flavor, but goes perfectly with this dish and melts in your mouth with every bite. If you are priveledged enough to be in North Carolina, and can make a trip to the Durham Farmers' Market... stop by Chapel Hill Creamery, and pick up some paneer. You won't regret it! 

Basil. Lord, how I love basil! The smell is just heavenly. I could bury my nose in a fresh bunch of basil, and not come up for days! And, chopping basil is super easy! Grab several leaves, lay them on top of one another, then roll them up kinda' like a cigar. Start slicing, and you'll end up with lovely little "chiffonade" pieces...

Toss the cheese, basil, garlic, and cheese into a bowl. Drizzle generously with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Gently toss to combine.

You can cover that dish, and put it in the fridge while you move on to the bread. Sometimes, I will make it a couple of hours ahead... especially on the girl child's cheerleading nights. By the time I come home, the flavors of the tomato dish have mingled nicely and all I have to do is fry the bread.

Start by lightly coating a frying pan with olive oil. I use a paper towel to wipe away the excess. Using a basting brush, brush on a layer of olive oil onto one side of the bread slices.

Place the slices of bread oil-side-down into the pan, and brush the side facing up with olive oil...

Fry on each side until nicely browned and toasted; remove from frying pan. Immediately slic the tip off a clove of garlic, and rub it on each side of the bread. 

You will be amazed at how the garlic melts onto the bread until you have barely a stub left in your hand. Serve a bowl of the tomato mixture with several slices of bread. Use a spoon to pile a generous helping of the tomatoes onto each toasty bite of bread.

I can guarantee this will fast become one of your favorite summer meals too! Don't forget to join me on Sunday for Challenge #5 in the Next Food Network Star play-along!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Challenge #1...

Or Challenge #4 if you want to get technical about it. My Mr. has some misguided idea that I should send in an audition for Next Food Network Star. Personally, I think he's nuts. I watch the show religiously. And, for 90 minutes every Sunday I sit in awe of some of the amazing things the contestants come up with. Let's totally set aside the fact that 95% of the individuals on that show are actually trained chefs. Sure, they will throw in a food blogger, or a food critic, or just some random person that has some talent for cooking with a side of crazy personality. But, those people are few and far between. It's not being in front of a camera that intimidates me. It's not even the fear that my cooking wouldn't measure up (okay, maybe a little). I find the time constraints that they work under to be the most disconcerting. 30 minutes to think up a brunch recipe, prep, cook and serve it? Ummmm... I don't know about that.

But, when the Mr. suggested that I play along with the challenges at home? That, I could handle. I don't work in a fully stocked kitchen with everything that I need right at my fingertips. I have to go shopping. And, my kitchen is seriously lacking in counter space. I couldn't do anything in 30 minutes, aside from scramble some eggs and make toast, if I tried. But, this isn't TV. This is my house. I can take my time... to some extent. So, game on! 

I know that I am a few episodes behind. Thanks to my kids, and their busy little fingers with the DVR settings... I lost the first handful of shows. But, last Sunday morning I sat down and watched them all. Normally, I will post my version of the past Sunday's challenge on the following Sunday's blog. So, the challenge from just this past Sunday, I will work on this week and post this Sunday. However, until we are caught up, I will post on Wednesday too. Those will be my catch-up days. And, we're going to work backwards. So confusing, but not. Tee hee. There's a method to my madness. They have aired 5 episodes thus far. Episode 5 will be Sunday's blog. Today, we're going back to episode 4.

Here's the episode synopsis according to Food Network's Next Food Network Star page: 

"It's Fashion Week in New York and the finalists are thrilled to learn that, as potential stars, a "makeover" is essential ... but THEY aren't being made over; it's a food "makeover!" Each finalist will have to "make over" a bland dish, making it look (and taste) good for the most fashionable crowd on the planet. Ted Allen will be on hand to judge the fashion shows, plus an extra prize is announced for the winning finalist."

I wrote down, on little slips of paper, each of the dishes that the contestants were assigned on the show and drew out of a bowl. What did we end up with?

Awesome. Couldn't have picked a better dish! And, shockingly enough... my brain immediately started churning out an idea. And, even more amazing... I had everything I needed already in my kitchen. Huh. Maybe I wouldn't be so bad at this after all. I know this looks complicated, but it all goes together really fast. Make sure you read through the entire recipe first. Most of the steps can be worked through simultaneously. 

Chicken Bowl Pie

(For the chicken)
3 chicken breasts
1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine
3 1/2 C. chicken stock
1 1/2 C. water
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme

(For the spinach)
1 Tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch baby spinach, stems removed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs unsalted butter

(For mushrooms)
8 oz baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil

(For filling)
1 can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
2 (8 oz) pkgs. cream cheese
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
2 lg. shallots, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

(For bread bowls)
2 tubes crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury)
1 Tbs butter, melted

Start with the chicken breasts. We're going to boil them. But, not in just plain old water. That's boring, and does no favors in the way of flavoring the chicken. We're going to make that chicken yummy enough to eat on its own. And, boiling is better than baking for this. It keeps the chicken deliciously moist. Add the chicken and all remaining ingedients into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover pot and adjust heat to medium-low. Allow chicken to simmer 15-20 minutes, or until it is cooked through. When it's done, pour pot into collander set over the sink. Remove the chicken breasts, and discard the rest of the goodies.

Slice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Backtracking to while the chicken is still boiling away, start to saute your spinach. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute making sure it doesn't brown. Add the spinach to the pot along with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Put the lid on the pot, and allow spinach to cook for 1 minute. Remove lid, adjust heat to high and stir spinach constantly for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove the spinach from the pan. You will end up with a bowl of yumminess that looks like this:

Now, start on the mushrooms (the chicken is still working away on its flavorful magic). Add a thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of a skillet, and heat over med-high. Add mushrooms to the pan. Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms. They won't brown properly. I worked in two batches, and they came out wonderfully. Saute the mushrooms until nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

While the mushrooms are browning, go ahead and chop up your artichoke hearts. By the time the chicken is done, you should have two bowls full of veggies and one full of mushrooms to add to your filling...

Now, let's prepare our bread bowls. Take 4 small glass bowls, and grease the outside of them generously. Roll out one crescent square rectangle. Lay it over the bottom side of the bowl like so...

Pinch together that perforated line in the middle. Take another rectangle of dough, and lay it crosswise over the top of the first one, and mold the dough until it is conformed to the bowl...

Using a basting brush, brush the tops of the pastries with the melted butter like so:

Bake in the oven at 350* for 10-15 minutes, or until nicely browned. While the bowls are baking, put together the filling. Start by melting the cream cheese in a large saucepan over med-high heat, stirring frequently so the cheese doesn't burn. Once melted, slowly whisk in chicken broth. I added maybe 1/4 C. at a time. This will thin out the cream cheese to give a consistency more similar to pot pie filling, but still slightly thicker. Stir in the chicken, chopped shallots and pepper. Fold in the mushrooms, artichoke hearts and spinach. 

Now, remove your bread bowls from the oven. Allow to cool slightly, and remove bread from bowl molds. If it doesn't readily come off, slide a knife around the edge of the bowl to loosen the pastry. Fill your bowls with the chicken filling. Voila! You're done!

I might not be serving this to a panel of Food Network big-wigs, but the Mr. can be quite the tough customer. I was a little nervous to serve this to him. It's the first time I've created something under such pressure. But, it received rave reviews. He even went so far as to say that it was absolutely, hands-down the best thing I have ever cooked. And, trust me... he's eaten hundreds of meals cooked by these hands. I can tell by the food coma that he is currently in while lying in bed next to me... he ain't lying! WIN! 

It is a tasty, creative, modernized spin on the traditional comfort food of chicken pot pie. Now, as far as the fashionable part of the challenge? I think it's prettier than a regular old pot pie. Was I to serve it to a panel of judges, however, I would have used one triangle of dough on cupcake molds and make tartlets out of them. Cuter. More fashionable. But, I'm feeding a big, hungry man here. That wasn't really practical. 

These are intensely rich, and not on the lower end of the calorie spectrum. But, they make for a deliciously decadent dinner every now and then! Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for the Episode #5 Challenge on Sunday!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Home on the Range

Yesterday, we came home with a pound of bison stew meat from Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm. Throw in some fresh veggies from the farmers' market... I couldn't wait to get home, and put together a mouth-watering stew for dinner. This is so simple, and will fill your house with a heavenly stew aroma in no time. Plus, it's a slow cooker meal... perfect for those families on the go!

A brief history of stew: Stewing meat is a manner of cooking that has been around longer than any other method of cooking. What classifies a stew? Any dish containing meat as the main component that is cooked over direct heat in a liquid base. Stews are perfect for tougher cuts of meat, as making a stew is a practice in patience. But slow cooking will break down the meat, making it tender and quite flavorful. Stews of yore were known to be cooked in the animal's own paunch, turtle shells... even mollusk shells. Modern-day stews can range from simple to quite complex dishes. Allow your creativity in the kitchen to take-over... the sky's the limit!

Bison Stew
1 lbs. bison stew meat
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. rendered bacon fat
4 cloves garlic, crushed
5 small potatoes, quartered (we used 3 "Purple Majesty" potatoes, and 2 red potatoes)
4 med. carrots, sliced
6 oz. portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, quartered
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley
4 Tbs. flour
1 bottle of stout beer (we used Guiness)
1 C. beef stock
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

We start of with the stew pieces. Pat them dry with paper towels so that they will brown evenly.

Heat up a skillet over med-high heat. Add the olive oil and bacon fat. I'm one of those weirdos with a mason jar full of questionable-look white goo in the back of my refrigerator at all times. Every time we cook bacon, I allow the grease to cool (but not solidify) and add it into the jar. It adds amazing flavor to meats whilst cooking. But, if you don't keep a stockpile of lard in the back of your fridge, just fry up a couple pieces of bacon and use the remaining rendered fat left in the pan for this step.

That succulent fat will melt right in the pan with the olive oil. Then, you're ready to add your meat. Don't crowd it. Cook it in batches if you must. It will cook more evenly.

Cooked the bison until it is just nicely browned on each side. Meanwhile, collect your vegetables...

Everything we used came fresh from the farmers' market. Earthly, freshly picked carrots. Fresh garlic. This was the first time I have ever had the pleasure of cooking with truly fresh garlic. I was surprised to find it quite different than the store-bought variety. It is moist... even the skin. The stuff you get in the grocery store is parched in comparison. The outer layers peel so easily. And, oh my... is it ever fragrant! When you crush the cloves, they are actually juicy. Such a lovely experience to cook with. We tried some "Purple Majesty" potatoes mixed in with some red potatoes. The purple variety is sweet, buttery and packed with flavor. Plus, if you stick with the "rainbow food" theory... all of those bright colors provide varied antioxidants, vitamins, and health benefits. This meal is colorful. So, it must be super healthy too! 

Add the thyme, parsley, and flour to the veggies. Toss to mix. Then, add the beer and beef stock; season with salt and pepper. Toss in your cooked bison, and stir to get everything covered in a rich coating of the beer and stock mixture. Cover that crock pot, set it on low and cook for 5-6 hours (stirring periodically). Once the potatoes are soft, and the meat is practically falling apart... you'll know your stew is done!

I'm a fairly modest person. And, not to toot my own horn... but this is quite possibly the best stew I've ever had in my life. And, the perfect accompaniment to sop up the delicious gravy left in the bowl is some freshly-baked beer bread. I'll be back tomorrow with that recipe!

The blog will keep going with new posts this week. But, I am in the process of a redesign. So, it ain't looking so hot around here right now. Bear with me... the new reveal should be done by next Sunday. We're also working on getting some lighting. I'm used to cooking in a very open home with lots of windows. Our new house is more cozy. But, with cozy... comes poor lighting situations. I have one window in my kitchen. If I get done with a recipe after dark, the photos just plain suck. But, I work with them as much as I can. Like I said... we're trying to get some lighting in here. And, payday is coming. That means new dishes too! While these turquoise ones go fabulously with my kitchen, they photograph terribly. New white dishes coming for me! Just stick with me... things are improving around here. Slowly, but surely.

* I am a huge fan of Food Network's "Next Food Network Star." So, I'm going to add a fun play-along feature to the blog and play along each week. I know, I know... I'm about 4 episodes behind. But, thanks to my kids' busy little fingers with the DVR controls... I lost all of the episodes, and had to play catch-up watching them today. In light of that, we'll just have to play a little catch-up around here too. Be looking for the first round to begin this coming Wednesday!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Chili Queen

Around these parts... we're from Texas. Although I have spent mostly all of my adult life living elsewhere, my formative years were all spent in The Lonestar State. And, let me tell you... there are two things that Texans take very seriously: their history and their chili.

I was dumbstruck when I moved to Alaska towards the end of high school. Their state's history was barely a blip on the radar... at least where the public school system was concerned. In Texas, we spent the better part of several grading periods learning solely about Texas history. Our entire 7th grade year, we had a Texas history course. Not world history. Not US history. TEXAS history. Weren't all states like this? I guess not. 

The Alamo. Bluebonnets. Jim Bowie. Mockingbirds. Independence from Mexico. Chili. Yes, CHILI. The origins of chili have their roots firmly planted in The Lonestar State. So, it's only fitting that it is the official state dish of Texas. One of my favorite projects in my Texas history class was "Cowboy Chow" day. We researched the traditional meals of real frontier cowboys of yore. Chili, cornbread, pork and beans. At the end of the week, each student was responsible for bringing in a dish to share. A dish of traditional cowboy fare. Favorite. Project. Ever. I was a foodie even at the age of seven.

San Antonio. My favorite city in all of Texas. Rich with history. Delicious meals available at a plethora of traditional Tex-Mex restaurants on nearly every corner. Back in the 1800's, the phenomenon of the Chili Queens at Military Plaza Mercado. These women sold bowls of stew known as "chili". At the time, it was a simple dish consisting of dried red chiles and beef. They made their chilis at home, loaded them up into colorful chili wagons, and hauled their fare to the market every night. They would build mesquite fires right at the market square to keep their chili nice and hot. Colorful lanterns would adorn the chili wagons, drawing patrons to the women seated on the ground next to their pots. The Chili Queens would serve up their fiery stew to patrons while they sat on stools in the square, enjoying their spicy meals. Eventually, sanitation laws were passed that put The Chili Queens out of business in the square. Many just closed up shop, others went on to open indoor cafes. Whatever the end of their story was, their infamous fare lives on as a popular culinary treat even today.

Recipes for chili are up for serious debate. They are the star player in culinary cook-offs all over the southwest. And, each chili cook has his own recipe that he or she proudly proclaims, and firmly believes is the. end. all. be. all. chili. recipe. Beans or no beans? Ground meat or cubed chuck? Spicy or nuclear hot? It's all a matter of opinion. But, this recipe has been in my family for quite some time. Over the years, I have put my own twists on it. And, like any other chili cook... I believe this to be the. end. all. be. all. chili. recipe. 

One note before we move on to the recipe... chili is supposed to be hot. Not so spicy, in my opinion, that it sears the roof of your mouth and you dissolve into a puddle of sweat. But, heat is an important factor in this dish. I have found that there is NO way to make this mild enough that kids will enjoy it, while still maintaining the integrity of the flavor. So, just do yourself a favor... unless you have a child with extremely savvy tastebuds, forego serving them this dish. The accompanying corn muffins go nicely as a side with tomato soup or canned chili of a less spicy variety. Now, moving on...

Queen's Chili
2 lbs. ground turkey (You can also try ground pork, beef or chicken. We LOVE bison as a subsititute.)
1/4 of a lg. Vidalia onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
3/4 of large Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
3 lg. jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 (12 oz.) cans or bottles of beer (I use whatever is on hand... usually PBR)
2 Tbs. molasses
1 (6 oz.) can and 1 (12 oz.) can tomato paste, plus 1 can each full of water
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 lg. handful fresh parsley, chopped
4 tsp. terragon
4 tsp. sweet basil
2 tsp. thyme
1 can Ranch-style pinto beans, UNdrained
1 can kidney beans, UNdrained
1 (4.5 oz. bottle of chili powder)
2 tsp. paprika
2 lg. squares baking chocolate
1 lg. handful of yellow cornmeal
Several dashes of mango habanero salsa

Start by cooking in a skillet: ground turkey, minced onion, minced garlic and salt over med-high heat until meat is just cooked through. 

While meat is cooking, put all remaining ingredients into a large crock pot. Add cooked meat, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Cook on low heat for 4 1/2 hours. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and chopped onions. 

You can also offer the option of Frito pies. Take a handful of Fritos, top with chili and cheese. I think this ruins the whole chili experience, but the Mr. loves it. It is a great way to enjoy left-overs, though. Only then, will I allow the Fritos to creep into my bowl!

This makes A LOT of chili... perfect for Super Bowl parties! It also freezes quite nicely. So, even if you're only feeding a small group... cook it up, and freeze some of the left-overs. Or, if you're so inclined... just cut the recipe in half, and eliminate the can of kidney beans.

Every bowl of chili needs a tasty carb to soak up the remaining gravy in the bowl. These muffins are PERFECT. Just a slight touch of heat to their moist, sweetness!

Sweet Heat Muffins
3 Tbs. butter
1/2 lg. vidalia onion, chopped
2 lg. jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 (8 oz.) pkg. corn bread mix (I HIGHLY prefer Jiffy brand)
1 lg. egg, beaten
1/3 C. whole milk
1/2 C. sour cream
1 C. grated sharp Cheddar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 375*. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside.

In a skillet, melt butter. Saute the onion and jalapenos until tender, but not browned. 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place muffin mix, egg, milk, sour cream, cheese, salt, dill and paprika in a lg. mixing bowl. Add onions and peppers. Mix until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned, and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Now, you're ready to enjoy a good old cowboy-style meal... just like you would deep in the heart of Texas!

And, just like Texas has its favorites of chili and history... I have my favorites of history and food. You may have noticed, I have tried to tie in a little history with every post here lately. I am enthralled with food history. The shows Unwrapped and American Eats have long been favorites of mine. I have a stack of food history books on my bedside table that I'm in the process of working my way through. The history will eventually play an important role into the design of this blog. Stay tuned!