October 26, 2011

Corn Chili

I found this recipe when we were newlyweds and I was in my final semester of college.  Money was tight, and that meant that recipes that were hearty and filling (but didn't include meat) were on the menu.  I threw together this chili with whatever I had laying in the pantry and some guidance from good old allrecipes.com.  It takes no more than 20 minutes from the time you decide to make it until it's on the table.  This made a surprisingly big pot of chili that lasted quite a while.  Try serving it with sour cream and tortilla chips.  Or pair it with a little homemade cornbread, and it's the perfect meal to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.

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Corn Chili
(adapted from Corn Chili on allrecipes.com)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (or less if you don't want it to be too spicy)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp taco seasoning (optional)
2 cans corn (or 1 lb frozen corn)
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced OR stewed tomatoes (regular or Mexican-style for more spice)
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp granules)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1. In a large stock pot, cook onion in oil over medium heat for one minute.  Stir in cayenne pepper, oregano, and taco seasoning.  Cook one minute more, stirring.  This recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes.  Play around with the spices, adding more or less, to achieve that perfect chili taste that will win you first prize in the neighborhood chili cook-off.  
2. Stir in corn, tomatoes, beans, bouillon, water, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Cook, uncovered, until heated through and slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes.  If it's too thick, just add more water. Too thin?  Add a bit more tomato paste.
3. Serve your chili in a large soup bowl and let it warm you right up.

October 22, 2011

Beef Taco Bake

One of my neighbors gave me this recipe a few weeks ago.  It sounded simple and tasty, so I was excited to try this week.  I tweaked it just a bit to my personal preference, and it tasted great.  Each night, it gets better and better somehow.  And the best part is that it's lasted us three dinners so far, and we still have some left--which is surprising.  Usually a dish like this will last two nights max, but this one is really filling, so you don't have to eat much to be satisfied.  I'm definitely keeping this one.

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Beef Taco Bake

1 cup rice, uncooked (white or brown works just as well here)
3/4 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning (or just under 1/4 cup taco seasoning and about 1/2 cup water)
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can tomato soup
1 cup salsa
tortillas (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package directions and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain the fat.  Stir in taco seasoning (and however much water the taco seasoning tells you to add).
3. Combine rice, ground beef, black beans, corn, tomato soup, and salsa in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.
4. This dish can be served alone or rolled up in a tortilla with a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy it again and again until it's gone.

October 21, 2011

Baked Ziti

Last year my church did a recipe night where we all made a favorite recipe and brought it to share.  This baked ziti recipe was a sure hit.  I went back for seconds... and possibly thirds.  When I found out how easy it was to make, I was sold.  Thank you, Heather, for this awesome recipe.

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Baked Ziti

8 oz ziti or penne pasta, uncooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups water
16 oz cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese (divided into separate 1-cup portions)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine all ingredients (reserving 1 cup of mozzarella cheese for later) in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 55 minutes.
3. Uncover, top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
4. Bam!  Eat it up.  That was delicious and easy, right?

October 5, 2011

Ham and Potato Soup

I'm sitting here on my couch all cuddled up in a blanket.  Tonight is supposed to be the first really cold night since last winter.  With cold weather on the brain, warm food comes to mind.  My crock pot soups are always favorites when the weather is chilly, but this ham and potato soup is one of my all-time favorites.  You can whip up a pot in about half an hour, and it is delicious in a bread bowl.

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Ham and Potato Soup
(adapted from Delicious Ham and Potato Soup on allrecipes.com)

3 1/2 cups potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup cooked ham, diced (even cutting up lunch meat works here)
3 1/2 cups water
5 chicken bouillon cubes (or about 2 Tbsp bouillon granules)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp flour (also the same as 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)
2 cups milk

1. Combine potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and water in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender.  Reduce heat to low and stir in bouillon, salt, and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened.  This might take longer than that, depending on how low your heat is.  If it doesn't seem to be any thicker, keep cooking it until it does.
3. Pour milk mixture into the large stock pot and stir to combine.  Turn up the heat to medium, and cook until heated through.
4. Serve up some comfort with this soup in a homemade bread bowl.  Mmm...

Homemade Bread Bowls

What's better than soup?  Soup in a bread bowl, of course.  But what's better than soup in a bread bowl?  Soup in a homemade bread bowl.  It seems like a challenge--like you'd have to be crazy to make your own bread bowls, but it's surprisingly simple and is a sure fire way to impress guests.

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Homemade Bread Bowls
(from this recipe on allrecipes.com)
*Yields 8 medium bread bowls or 6 large bread bowls

2 (.25 oz) packets active dry yeast (or about 4 1/2 tsp)
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil (I like olive oil best)
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let it stand until creamy, or about 10 minutes.
2. Add salt, oil, and 4 cups of flour.  Beat well.  Stir in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes).
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 40 minutes).  If you have a cold house, which is usually the case when you're making bread or soup, just switch the oven to warm for a minute, then turn it off.  Place the bowl of dough and a shallow pan of warm water into the oven, and let it rise in the warm oven.
4. Punch the dough down, and divide it into 8 equal portions (or 6, if you want larger bread bowls).  Form each portion of dough into a round loaf (basically the same as a large roll).  Make sure that you get it into a nice rounded shape.  If it's too flat, there won't be any room for soup inside it.  
5. Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle them with the cornmeal.  Place dough balls onto the cookie sheets (half on each sheet), and let them rise in a warm place until doubled (about 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
6. In a small bowl, beat together the egg white (or the whole egg, whatever) and 1 Tbsp water.  Lightly brush the loaves with half of the egg wash.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake for 10-15 minutes more (depending on whether you made small or medium-sized bowls), until the loaves are golden brown.  If you're cooking both cookie sheets at the same time, remember to switch which pan is on the top or bottom here so they cook evenly.  Cool on wire racks.
8.  Cut the top 1/2 inch off of each bread bowl, and scoop out the inside bread, leaving a wall 3/4 inch thick on all sides.  Fill it with soup, and use the scooped out bread to dip in the soup.  Delicious!
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