Friday, September 24, 2010

Recipe 5: Simple and Delicious Chili

Summer is over. With the beginning of fall, I thought I'd post one of my favorite meals for cooler weather (not that we've had any so far). This recipe is a beef chili my wife makes. It's the reason I'm still married to her (just kidding, honey). I was craving it yesterday afternoon and asked if we could have some for dinner. Since she's 31 weeks pregnant and her sciatica was acting up, my wife had to instruct me how to make it from a kitchen chair. I took pictures at each step, and I have her permission to share the recipe in this blog. 

My wife's measurements are a little better than mine. She uses a combination of measuring cups, and the palm of her hand.

Here is the list of the ingredients. We didn't have any chili beans in the house when I made the chili. It tastes much better if you add them, so I'll make that part of the steps. I just don't have a picture of it. If you are a vegetarian, just leave out the ground beef, and add a can of red kidney beans to the mixture the same time you add the chili beans. I guess you could also saute mushrooms with the onions and peppers.

1 lb of ground beef or turkey
28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
6 oz can of tomato paste
8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 can of chili beans
4-6 oz beer (1/2 can or bottle)
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
palm full of sugar
palm full of salt
olive oil
For garnishing (optional):
shredded cheddar cheese 
sour cream
jalepeno slices

Step 1: Chop onion and green pepper. Set aside.

Step 2: Drizzle some olive oil onto the bottom of a large skillet and put it on medium heat. Add ground beef and begin to brown. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Step 3: Once meat begins to brown a little, add onion and green pepper to skillet. Continue to brown meat, stirring often.

Step 4: Once meat is browned, add garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder, sugar and black pepper. Mix well.

Step 5: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste to the skillet. Mix together well.

Step 6: Add beans and beer. Stir well. 

Step 7: Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low. Cover with lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Then uncover and serve.

My wife likes hers in a bowl with shredded cheese sprinkled on top with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of beer bread on the side. I like mine on top of a plate of white rice, with a generous sprinkling of tabasco sauce. To each their own. 

Next week I'll try to do one of my wife's family desserts.

Happy Eating!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recipe 4: Chickpea Salad

Well, I'm back from our mini wedding anniversary vacation getaway at Wrightsville Beach. And I'm nursing a jellyfish sting on the top of my left foot. So, I'm glad I have to write this blog today because I could really use some comfort food.

One of my favorite places to have lunch is at Neomonde Cafe in Morrisville, North Carolina. It's the best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food around. Every time I eat there I get a side of their chickpea salad with my order of falafel, shawarma, or beef kabobs. Since I don't make it out to RTP as much as I used to, I decided to recreate the dish at home with a few a changes, of course. Neomonde uses scallions and fresh parsley in their salad, but I prefer it with dried parsley (fresh is too overpowering) and without the onion aftertaste.

Below is a list of the ingredients:

One 15.5 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
One 6 oz. jar of sliced green olives.
3 tablespoons olive (remember, not the measuring spoon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dried parsley

Step 1: Drain and rinse can of chickpeas and add to large bowl.

Step 2: Drain  olives by holding lid slightly apart and pouring out juice into sink. Add to the bowl of chickpeas.

Step 3: Add oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and parsley to bowl, mixing ingredients together each time.

Step 4: Mix together thoroughly and let it sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature to give the flavors time to blend. Refrigerate any unused salad for up to 4 days or so.

Serve with hummus (drizzled with olive oil) and pita slices. Also, goes great with grilled chicken or my cucumber hummus pepper pita (see last week for recipe).

Well, hope you enjoy it! I'm going to go take some more pain relief medicine, soak my foot in hot water, and dream about the beach.

Saha wa hana!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Recipe 3: Cucumber Hummus Pepper Pita

This is a Steve original. During hot summer days, I make this for my wife and I. It's great with a side of chickpea salad, which I'll post next week, hopefully.

It's a very simple and light, yet delicious meal. I tried to create a dish that combined 2 of my favorites: Greek salad and sandwiches.

Below are the ingredients. This is for one serving.

1 whole wheat pita
1/4 large cucumber
1/4 red pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons of sliced olives
1 to 2 teaspoons of feta cheese or sliced/diced provolone.
Italian seasoning
2 to 3 teaspoons of plain hummus
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons red wine Vinegar

Step 1: Cut pita in half, wrap it in a paper towel and heat in microwave oven for 15-20 seconds. This helps it separate better when you try to open up the pocket. Let it cool.

Step 2: Chop the cucumber and pepper. Put into a small bowl.

Step 3: Add a teaspoon or so of olive slices, then sprinkle on a dash of Italian spices. Drizzle with a little oil and vinegar. Just enough to coat. Add a little cheese. Stir.

Step 4: Spread hummus on the inside of the pita slices.

Step 5: Spoon cucumber mixture into pita slices and enjoy.

That’s it. Very quick and simple to make. You can add red onion to it, if you want to give it more bite. Please let me know if you try it. 

Kalí óreksi!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Recipe 2: Caprese Salad Sandwich

On the way home from our baby's ultrasound in June, my wife and I stopped by a little Italian restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called Carmine's. We had just learned that we were having a baby boy and were very excited, and very hungry. While opening up the menu, my wife immediately saw that they had something called a Caprese Salad Sandwich. Knowing that I love Insalata Caprese, she pointed it out to me and I ordered it with a side of pasta salad. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. And it's very simple to make. I just never thought of it before. So, one day in early August, I decided to recreate it for myself. My sandwich, surprisingly, turned out very good. I added 2 key ingredients, though, that I felt restaurant's sandwich was missing: A little bit of olive oil (if they had it on there, I couldn't taste it), and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. 

For those who don't know, Insalata Caprese, or Caprese Salad, is a very simple salad that originated from the Italian island of Capri. It consists of tomato slices, alternately layered with slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese and basil leaves (torn or whole), drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with a little salt & pepper. I had it the first time I was in Verona, in 2002, and have loved it ever since. It can be used as an appetizer, as we did at our wedding, and goes nicely with a glass of Chianti. If you want me to post a step-by-step recipe of this, just let me know in the comments area. I make it a lot anyway, so it'd be no problem.

Below are the ingredients for the Caprese Salad Sandwich. This recipe is for one sandwich. You can double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients depending on the number of folks eating. But, you already know that.

1 ciabatta roll (I bought mine at Walmart. 2 slices of sour dough, or any crusty bread, can be substituted)
2-4 slices, large ripe red tomato
2-3 slices, mozzarella cheese
2-3 fresh basil leaves 
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
Ground black pepper

Step 1: Cut the ciabatta roll in half and separate. Brush olive onto each half of the roll, on the cut sides. See photo below.

Step 2: Rinse and slice the tomato (about 1/4 inch thick) and place the slices on the bottom slice of bread. Sprinkle with a little pepper. You can add salt if you like, but I find that mozzarella has plenty of salt in it already. You can also drizzle a little more oil onto the tomatoes.

Step 3: Slice the mozzarella cheese (also, about a 1/4 inch thick) and layer the slices on top of the tomatoes. 

Step 4: Rinse the basil leaves and gently pat dry with paper towels. Pull the leaves off the stems and layer the leaves on the mozzarella. 

Step 5: Top with remaining bread slice and cut the sandwich triangularly.

The sandwich goes great with a side of pasta salad, an olive medley, or old fashioned potato chips.

As with all the recipes I post, feel free to tweak them, modify them, and make them your own. Try adding a pinch of garlic powder to the oil, or a little red wine vinegar to the tomatoes, etc.

Also, I strongly recommend Carmine's Restaurant. I give all credit to them. They also make great Philly Cheese Steak and French Dip sandwiches. I'll post directions to the restaurant in the comments area, if requested.

So, I guess that does it with the tomato and basil recipes, unless I get a request to post the Insalata Caprese step-by-step recipe.

Buon appetito!