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So, my workplace decided to have their first annual chili cook-off today.  And I got 1st place!  Yay!

I used to help my family when I was a teen when my Dad’s chiropractic office entered a local chili cook-off (we were the Spine Tinglers).  So I figured this would be fun.

I couldn’t find any of our old chili recipes (they were always a work-in-progress anyways) so I based my recipe from “The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste” recipe from food.com.  I did tweak it a bit because that’s fun to do.  My version came out about a medium heat (nice and warming but without scorching out your mouth flesh).

2013 Chili Cook-off Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (I used frozen diced onion)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb beef sirloin (small cubes)
  • 1 (14 1/2 oz) can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 1 small can chopped jalepenos
  • 12 – 24 fl oz of beef broth (you can also add a can of dark beer and reduce the amount of broth)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 2 (15-oz) cans light red kidney beans
  • 2 (15-oz) cans dark red kidney beans

Instructions:

  1. Drain the canned beans and rinse them well.
  2. Brown meat and onions.
  3. Add tomatoes, coffee, broth (and beer, if using) and tomato paste.
  4. Add spices, beans and peppers.
  5. Simmer for 2 hours (or longer on low in a crock pot – my preferred method).

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I love the autumn.  I love the colors and the cooler temperatures.  I love the foods associated with autumn: apples and pumpkin, turkey and potatoes and the warm spices cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  I love comfort foods and this time of year is just perfect since you just want to curl up with a big bowl of yumminess and then hibernate.

Last night I tried out a new soup recipe and was very happy with it.  I probably needed to add a bit more salt and pepper but that is easily remedied.  The original recipe came from http://www.pillsbury.com.  I didn’t add the celery called for in the original recipe because 1) I didn’t have celery on hand and I didn’t want to buy a bunch only to use 1 stalk and 2) I’m not a huge celery fan anyways.  I used a blend of cheddar and colby jack instead of cheddar/american as called for in the original.  I also didn’t saute the onions in bacon fat because I already had some pre-cooked bacon and I was lazy and didn’t want to dirty a pan just to saute the onions so I just put the diced onions in the crock pot.  Sauteing the onions in bacon fat would increase the flavor but it was good skipping this step as well.

Cheesy Potato Soup (see original recipe here)

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon (I used more – because bacon is awesome, but this is optional if you don’t eat bacon)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 5 cups diced, peeled potatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth (I used low sodium)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (you might want to increase if you are using lower sodium broth)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (I recommend increasing this amount)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar

Directions:

  1. Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove and drain and refrigerate.
  2. Using reserved bacon fat, saute the onions until tender.
  3. Add cooked onions, potato, broth, salt & pepper to crock pot.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the half & half and flour.  Add to crock pot.  Cook on high for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in cheeses until melted.
  6. Garnish soup with crumbled cooked bacon.

This is a lovely warm soup to eat on a chilly evening.  I baked up a batch of rolls to eat along with it so the carb-loading qualities of this meal were complete.  😉

I also love crock pot meals.  I love the simplicity of dumping a bunch of ingredients in a pot and having a dinner made later without a whole lot of fuss.  So, enjoy!

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My mother has asked for this recipe and so I figured I’d share it here as well.  It is one of my go to crockpot recipes because it is super easy and super tasty.  I actually took the leftovers of this and put over tortilla chips (instead of rice) and made some rockin’ Salsa Chicken nachos.

The original recipe is from SparkRecipes but I have tweaked it a bit from the original recipe found here: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=672711.  The original recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup but I prefer the cream of chicken.  They also leave the chicken breasts whole and I prefer to shred it.  Both are personal preferences on my part.  I’m sure it’s tasty either way.  🙂

Salsa Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on the size, I only used 2 the last time I made this because the chicken breasts were HUGE)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (I use the low sodium/low fat version)
  • 1-2 Tbsp taco seasoning (or 1 packet)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use the low fat version)
  • Shredded cheese (Mexican blend) – optional
  • Rice

Instructions:

  1. Mix salsa, soup and seasoning in the crock pot.  Add chicken.  Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.
  2. Take chicken out and shred it.  Mix chicken back into crock pot and add sour cream.
  3. Serve over cooked rice and sprinkle with shredded cheese if wanted.

The next time I fix this I’ll try to take a picture.

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It’s been a while…

My last post was over a year ago and what a year it has been!  Unfortunately, not in a good sense.  My health took a fairly dramatic downturn toward the end of last year and continued on until I was hospitalized for six weeks this summer.  During the hospital stay I ended up having the majority of my large intestine removed, a 5″ blood clot removed, a couple pulmonary embolisms and an internal abscess (which for a while they thought was a heart attack).  So, not the best summer.

But, on the bright side, I am now starting to feel much better than I have for a long while, even though I am still slowly recuperating.  And, I look forward to getting back to my recipe blog.

Over the next couple months, I want to try out some new interesting dishes and get ready for the holiday season.  Among the things I have planned:

* The search for the perfect meatloaf

* Developing an excellent baked spaghetti recipe

* An adventure into Belgian cooking

* Some new bread recipes

* Foods for holiday gifts

* Some new soup and stews for the cooler weather

So, I hope everyone is doing well and I look forward to getting back to cooking and feeling better!

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Sorry, it’s been a while since I posted. Right after the last I came down with a nasty cold and then was gone for the holidays.
Most of the cookie stockpile has now been given away and consumed.
I have a few recipes that I need to share before I start on some new ones.

Since the weather has been chilly, I’ve been thinking about trying out some new soup recipes. I am generally not a big soup maker and/or eater. But, sitting here in my chilly office – that really sounds good right now.

So, stay tuned for the remaining Christmas recipes I didn’t get to post before I left and some upcoming soup recipes!

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Bork! Bork! Bork!

I have dubbed this upcoming weekend as my Swedish weekend.  Of my various ancestors, I think that Swedish is probably the closest I have (most others came over in the early to mid 1700s as far as I know).

My great-great grandfather on my mother’s side immigrated to the US from Sweden.  So my Mom did grow up with certain Swedish traditional foods.  So, in honor of my Swedish ancestry I am going to devote this weekend to the making of Swedish goodies.

I am planning on making Spritz, which I always liked.  And I am going to try a new recipe for Peppernotter.

I am also planning on baking some Lussekatter (St. Lucia buns) to eat on Monday – St. Lucia Day.

Plus, another special treat for my parents.   And since this is a public blog I’ll wait until I actually give it to them before I do a post on that item.  But, don’t worry, I’ll take pictures.  🙂

To get you all in the mood, I offer you a clip of my favorite Muppet character: the Swedish Chef!

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