Browsing Tag

i made that

Kitchen Diaries: Slow Cooker Chili

May 20, 2014





This recipe was a long time coming. I had long wished to make a chili but was put off by all the ingredients, and debates over what kind tastes best. Tomatoes or nah? Ground beef or chuck roast? And don’t get me wrong, Hormel chili will do the trick, but there’s something about slicing up your own fresh ingredients, seasoning the concoction to perfection, and ultimately savoring the works of your hands. Thankfully, I found a fairly easy Slow Cooker Chili recipe from, and I was quite pleased with the results.

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10.75 ounce) cans tomato puree
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans with liquid
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place the beef in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain grease.

Place the beef in a slow cooker, and mix in onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, kidney beans and cannellini beans. Season with chili powder, parsley, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper and hot pepper sauce.

Cover and cook 8 hours on Low.

I topped my bowl of chili with a dollop of sour cream, a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of diced green onion.

Variations: There really is no hard and fast rule for chili, which makes it so great. You can personalize it and improvise it as you wish. For example, I didn’t have chili powder so I used some paprika instead. I’m a fan of a little heat, so I sliced up a large jalapeño pepper and threw a whole one in the crock pot. It gave a much needed kick. Also, I’d never heard of cannellini beans before, but was surprised to quickly spot them in the canned food section at the grocery store. If you’re not as lucky as me, you can substitute them for navy beans.

Lessons learned: After reading some of the reviews, I decided to drain most of the liquid from the beans so it wasn’t as soupy. I checked on my chili at about 7 hours in, and sure enough it was very liquidy. However, I let the mixture cook overnight, and it had drastically thickened, plus it’s super flavorful.

Kitchen Diaries: Mini Chicken Pot Pies

April 2, 2014





Last night was one of those situations where I had a scant amount of ingredients (I desperately need to go grocery shopping), but I craved a hearty meal. That was when I remembered about how I’d been meaning to make these simple mini chicken pot pies, from Pillsbury. When I say “simple,” I mean so easy my 4-year-old nephew could make them. And the beauty of it all is it only requires four ingredients.

2 cups mixed vegetables
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated biscuits

Heat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, combine vegetables, chicken and soup; mix well. I took the easy way out and used already-cooked rotisserie chicken breast meat.

Press each biscuit into 5 1/2-inch round. I didn’t have a rolling pin so I opted to use a clean drinking glass to flatten the biscuits. Place one round in each of the eight greased regular-size muffin cups. Firmly press in the bottom and up the side, forming 3/4-inch rim. Spoon a generous 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each. Pull edges of dough over the filling toward center; pleat and pinch dough gently to hold in place.

Bake at 375°F for 20 to 22 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Cool one minute; remove from pan.

Lessons learned: Next time I’ll stretch the biscuits out even more. I was hoping to have more overlap on top so I could make a nice pleated design on each, but I had to settle for just pinching the remaining dough. Also, some of the pot pies, as you can see, are darker than others. I think they cooked unevenly because I placed the muffin tin on top of a cookie sheet in case the pies spilled over. That didn’t happen, so next time I’ll just put the pan directly into the oven. Perhaps that will give all the pies a nice even color.

Kitchen Diaries: Guinness Ice Cream Float With Whiskey Caramel

March 18, 2014





Hope you all had a nice St. Patrick’s Day (and aren’t dealing with hangovers)! In honor of this country’s favorite drinking holiday and per the boo-ski’s request, I decided to try Cupcake Rehab‘s recipe for Guinness Ice Cream Floats with Whiskey Caramel. I’m not the hugest fan of Guinness, but the ice cream definitely softens the punch and the whiskey caramel is so good I found myself eating it alone, by the spoonful. Here’s what I did to make it.

Vanilla ice cream
Guinness Irish stout
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey or bourbon

I started by making the whiskey caramel first. In one quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (I used about a third a cup of granulated sugar and the rest brown sugar because I ran out) and the water over medium-high heat until bubbles form and mixture is simmering. Occasionally lift the saucepan from the heat and gently swirl mixture (DO NOT STIR) while sugar is heating. In about 10 minutes, sugar will start to caramelize. Simmer until mixture is a rich, dark amber color. Reduce heat to low. Stir in whipping cream with whisk until mixture is blended and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat; pour sauce into heatproof jar or bowl. Stir in vanilla and tablespoons whiskey (I used my tried and true: Jameson). Refrigerate until serving time (the sauce will thicken as it cools).

Then I placed two scoops of vanilla ice cream into a glass, then poured a bit of Guinness and topped it with two more scoops of ice cream. My last step was to drizzle on the whiskey caramel.

Lessons learned: As you can see, the whiskey caramel was a wee bit runny. Next time I’ll make sure I have plenty of granulated sugar on hand and maybe throw the jar of whiskey caramel into the freezer to make it thicken faster.

Kitchen Diaries: Spaghetti With Sausage

February 3, 2014



As of late, I’ve been sticking with my tried and true recipes, and haven’t gotten too adventurous. But before I get on a new-dish-finding kick, I must highlight one of my favorite dishes to prepare: spaghetti! It’s so simple to make and easy to improvise and enhance. I kicked my most recent batch up with some pan-seared sausage and diced bell pepper, which we all know by now is my jam. Oh, and I decided to throw in the remaining fettuccine noodles that were looking lonely in my cabinet, in addition to the usual spaghetti variety, making for a lovely smattering of large and small bites.

Kitchen Diaries: Pumpkin Applesauce

November 18, 2013




I’m finally warming up to autumn and all its chilly glory, so I thought I’d incorporate some fall-feeling food into my repertoire. Look no further than this pumpkin applesauce. It’s cinnammony and delicious, and makes a good pick-me-up snack served warm or chilled. Move over, Mott’s!


4 apples, chopped & peeled (any variety, but softer ones do work best)
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick

Peel the apples and slice them into small cubes. Simmer the apples along with the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally, and let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Mash the mixture with a fork to remove any chunks that are too big. Remove cinnamon stick. If you’re serving immediately, let it cool slightly. If not, add the sauce to clean jars while hot and store in the refrigerator once cooled.

This recipe yields about 29 ounces of applesauce, and I easily doubled it for this particular batch.

Variations: Out of convenience, I just used a little more than half of a can of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin, as opposed to organic canned pumpkin, and I don’t think the recipe suffered any because of it. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is pretty delightful as is. However, I wonder what it taste like to add half granulated sugar and half brown sugar. I didn’t want to compromise the recipe my first go-round, so I only added a sprinkle of brown sugar. This time I used Gala apples, but as a fan of the tangy tartness of Granny Smiths, I may try a mixture of apple varieties in the future. I’m also thinking of substituting sweet potatoes for pumpkin. Oooh, and in the summer I’d consider adding tropical fruit like mango and/or papaya for a cool sweet treat. So many possibilities!

Special thanks to Cupcake Rehab, where I found this recipe.

Kitchen Diaries: Taco Pizza

November 11, 2013




Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is: taco toppings on a pizza crust. And it was simply delightful (and a great way to polish off the leftovers from the tacos I made last week).

With a ready-made 7-inch pizza crust, I spread on a layer of refried beans with jalapeño. Next, I added small scoops of salsa, a layer of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese blend and seasoned ground beef, and then another layer of cheese. I then baked the pizza for eight minutes. As it cooled, I cut it into quarter slices, and added a pinch of shredded lettuce and a generous dollop of sour cream.

I thought it was a nice change of pace from the dull of regular soft tacos, and much easier to eat than a Mexican pizza. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Kitchen Diaries: Chicken and Dumplings

October 29, 2013



The past few days have really felt like autumn, so I was in the mood for something hearty. I happened upon this fast and easy recipe for chicken and dumplings on Evernote Food and was eager to give it a go. Initial reports from the boo wop confirmed that this batch, my very first, was indeed delicious. This is sure to be in heavy rotation well into winter.

2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or vegetable medley)
2 1/2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed creamy chicken mushroom soup
2 cups Bisquick mix
1/3 cup milk

To simplify things and save time, consider getting a precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and dicing the the breast meat into cubes. Saute the celery and onion in oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of milk, frozen peas and carrots, chicken, broth and soup to a boil. Add sauteed onion and celery.

While that’s cooking, in small bowl, stir together the Bisquick mix and 1/3 cup milk until soft dough forms. As the ingredients are boiling, drop dough by 8 to 10 spoonfuls onto chicken mixture.

Cook, uncovered over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more.

Lessons learned: When dicing the chicken, I’ll be sure to look out for small, stray bones making their way into the pot. At least one found its way inside of the pot, and we don’t want any chipped teeth or choking hazards. Also, the dish was flavorful on its own, thanks to the pre-seasoned rotisserie chicken; however, next time I’ll throw in some additional spices and seasonings just to make it my own.

Kitchen Diaries: Pepperoni Pizza Omelette

October 23, 2013




I can get used to this improvisation thing. I was looking for something to eat for a late breakfast and didn’t want a plain old omelette. Upon browsing through my fridge, I saw the makings of a pepperoni pizza minus the crust (after baking some homemade pizza for Monday night’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story movie viewing party), so I blended the two and came up with this delightful pepperoni pizza omelette.

Combining two eggs, pepper and some pizza seasoning, I proceeded to make an omelette, but added some pan-seared pepperoni and bell pepper, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese inside. Amazing and simple! It was a pizza party in my mouth!

Kitchen Diaries: Key Lime Pie Revisited

September 25, 2013


As you may recall, exactly two months ago I tried my hand at a Key lime pie to some not-so-stellar results. “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” was the mantra I had in mind when it gave it another go. And I’m glad I did because this pie is a tart little slice of heaven! Read all about my first attempt here.

Kitchen Diaries: Red Beans and Rice

July 3, 2013



This week I was in the mood for something that would stick to my ribs, and nothing’s more hearty than a batch of red beans and rice. My stepdad, who’s from Louisiana, makes the most amazing red beans, and he was kind enough to let me in on how he makes his.

1 lb. red kidney beans
1 stick margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup onion, diced
1 lb. sausage, sliced
1 jalapeño pepper

Soak beans overnight in a bowl of water. Place beans into a large pot and double the height of the beans with water (For example, if the beans come up to two inches high, add four inches of water). Cook over high heat until the water is boiling, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring the beans every 15 minutes or so, to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Repeat this process until the beans are tender, or about 30 minutes to an hour. If the water has been fully absorbed, add in a small amount more. Next, pan sear the sausage for a couple of minutes on each side so that the slices are browned. Add the sausage into the pot, along with the margarine, bell pepper and onions. Feel free to throw in any additional seasoning (This time I used Lawry’s Seasoning Salt). Lastly, place the jalapeño into the pot (slice it open if you wish to add a kick) and let the beans cook down for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Lessons learned: The beans turned out pretty tasty for it being my first go-round, but it felt like they were missing something. I think it was the Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. Well, that and the fact that I used Farmer John’s smoked sausage instead of Hillshire Farm, which is the sausage of choice for my stepdad. Although matching the taste of my stepdad’s red beans was the goal, I know that this is a recipe I will learn to make my own as time progresses.