Chili Powder

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If you can find good quality spices in bulk, it’s worth the extra time to mix up your own spice blends.  You’ll find that it’s probably much less expensive, and you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food.  Plus, you can experiment with your own specialty flavor blends!  Your taste buds will thank you.

3 teaspoons ground dark red chili pepper

3 teaspoons ground light red chili pepper

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all spices in a small jar (I used an old spice jar, already conveniently labeled for me), and give it a good shake!

This recipe makes enough chili powder for about 2 medium-large pots of chili.

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Veggie-loaded Chili

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Chili is one of my all-time favorite meals to make (and one of Paul’s favorite meals to eat, so it’s a win-win).  I really enjoy one-pot wonders that I can let stew on the stove for several hours, especially on these subzero winter days.  I do all of my chopping in the morning, throw everything into the pot, and let it do its thing.  That’s the beauty of chili… it only gets better with time.

I love loading up my chili with lots of veggies.  I use whatever I have on hand, but my staples are always tomatoes, beans, and bell peppers.  In this recipe, I’ve added corn and cauliflower, and I tapped into some garden-“fresh” zucchini and yellow squash that I’ve still got left over from our summer harvest.

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions or 1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs lean ground meat (I used about ¾ lb ground beef (92/8) and 1 ¼ lb ground turkey (93/7).)

½ head of cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized florets

3 bell peppers, chopped (I used 2 green and 1 white, but any color will do!)

1 ½ cups zucchini, chopped

1 ½ cups yellow summer squash, chopped

12 oz. bag frozen organic corn

2 – 15 oz. cans low sodium beans (I used pinto and kidney, but black and cannellini are also great choices)

1 jalepeno pepper, minced

2 Tablespoons chili powder*

1 teaspoon cumin*

Salt, to taste (about 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons)

Black pepper, to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)

28 oz. can peeled crushed tomatoes

2 – 28 oz. cans diced or petite diced tomatoes

2-4 cups low sodium chicken or beef stock

Heat a large pot over low-medium heat.  Swirl a few Tablespoons of olive oil around in the pot.

Add onions and cook until they just start to turn translucent.  Mix in the garlic and cook for a minute or so.

Make a well in the middle of the onions and garlic, and add the meat.  Use a wooden spoon to mash up the meat into smaller pieces.  Stir and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until the meat is close to fully cooked.

Mix in all veggies, beans, and jalepeno pepper.  Add the spices, salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften (stir gently, as to not crush up the beans).

Pour in all 3 cans of tomatoes and chicken or beef stock.  Bring to a boil.  (Tip: If you like a super thick chili, you may want to omit the stock all together.  The chili will naturally thicken over time, as you simmer it and/or chill and reheat, so if this sounds like you, add the full 4 cups.)

Lower the heat and allow the chili to simmer, partially covered, until the veggies are softened and the chili has thickened a bit.  Give it a stir every 15-20 minutes.  (I highly suggest simmering for 4 or 5 hours if you have the time.  This allows the chili to thicken and the flavors to develop.  BUT if you don’t have the time, simmering for an hour or two would work just fine.)

Serve up with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream… enjoy!

Serves 8 (and freezes wonderfully!)

*You may want to use more or less cumin depending on how much is already in the chili powder mixture that you use.  I often use “Simply Organic” chili powder and supplement with a little extra cumin, but for this specific chili recipe, I created my own mix.

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Quinoa Cakes

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These quinoa cakes are a delicious, light and fluffy, slighty crispy substitution for your favorite starch, grain, or bread.  You can serve them as a side dish to chicken and roasted veggies, as the “bun” for an open-face hamburger, or simply as a grab-and-go snack.  (I must admit, I’ve even topped them with jam in the morning… I’d probably leave out the oregano and parmesan cheese next time, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.)

What you’ll need…

1 1/2 cups prepared quinoa (about 1/2 cup uncooked)

1 egg

1 Tablespoon all-purpose gluten-free flour

3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

a couple pinches of salt

a few grinds of the pepper mill

What to do with it…

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over low-medium heat.

Swirl a little olive oil around in your pan.

Separate the quinoa mixture into 4 equal portions.

Scoop one portion into your hands and gently mold together until you’ve formed a patty (if it gets too sticky, you can oil your hands).

Place in your hot, oiled pan.

Repeat with the remaining 3 portions.

Allow quinoa cakes to cook for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the bottoms look crispy and golden brown.

Flip the cakes over and cook for an additional couple of minutes.  (If your pan looks dry, add a little more oil.  Crispy quinoa edges are delicious!)

Serve hot off the stove or cool on a wired rack, refrigerate, and save for later (they freeze and reheat well… just pop them in a hot pan or toaster oven).

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