Monday, March 22, 2010

Rainy Day Chili

"It's an itsy bitsy spider kind of day!" Two-and-a-half year old Will sat on a stool in my kitchen and listening to the thunder and watching the downpour as I stirred this chili on our stove. This is a great "from scratch" recipe. No packet of seasoning means no MSG and knowing exactly (almost) what's brewing in my pot. Hang on after the chili for it's satisfying accomplice: The Lynne Brown Corn Bread.


2 lb ground beef or ground turkey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1-1/2 tsp salt
2Tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cans (16 oz each) tomatoes with liquid, chopped
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup boiling water
1 16-oz can kidney beans

In a large kettle, brown ground beef.

Drain fat and set aside.

In same kettle, heat oil; saute garlic and onions over low heat until onions are tender.

Stir in green pepper, salt chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin and oregano.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring until well mixed and spices become fragrant.
Add beef and tomatoes with liquid.
Dissolve bouillon in boiling water and add to soup simmer, covered, for about 1 hour.
Add kidney beans; simmer until heated through.

Ingredients for moist and tasty corn bread :
(preheat oven to 350)
1/2 c. honey

1 c. buttermilk*
1 egg
1 c. yellow corn meal
1 c. flour
3 Tbs. melted butter
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Beat together egg, buttermilk and honey; mix together all dry ingredients; combine all ingredients including melted butter and mix well; spread into buttered 8-inch square pan and bake for 30 minutes.

*if you're fresh out of buttermilk or for some reason you don't stock it as a regular item in your fridge, or you want to save a little money, you can make your own. Place one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar in a one-cup measure. Then fill the cup to the fill line with milk. Let sit for 5 minutes. The texture isn't quite the same, but it lends the same tangy flavor to the recipe.

Eggplant Rollatini *melissa

It's been a while since I've felt creative in the kitchen...about 16 weeks to be exact. Now at 19 weeks preggo I'm SO thankful that the horrid food aversions are pretty much over with and I can go back to getting creative with food again! And, with spring almost in full bloom (come on--you can do it!) and the promise of fresh produce right around the corner, it's just in time. 

Eggplant rollatini is a dish I discovered for the first time a few years ago and fell in love with it. *Warning* It's a little labor intensive. *Promise* It's well worth the effort. 

2  medium eggplants
Good quality olive oil
Sea Salt & freshly ground pepper
32 oz ricotta cheese (I used fat free--still very tasty)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Pinch of nutmeg
5-8 basil leaves (julienned *see how to)
2 cups tomato sauce

Cut off eggplant ends and cut in long thin slices about 1/2" to 1/4" thick. 


Place baking racks on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt to remove excess moisture and to cut down on any bitterness. Let rest for 10-15 min.


Then, rinse each slice of excess salt, pat dry, and brush both sides with olive oil.

Now grill that eggplant! There are a couple of ways to do this. 1. Use a stove-top grill pan and grill each slice until softened and until you get those nice grill lines. 2. Put them on the baking rack placed on a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven under the broiler on HIGH, flip once to brown both sides (Watch carefully as the slices will char easily and set off ALL the smoke detectors in your house, rendering you and your cat deaf for the rest of the day!) I have no experience with method 2.

Now take your ricotta cheese and empty container into large mixing bowl. 

Add lightly beaten eggs, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses along with a pinch of nutmeg and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. This is also when you would add your julienned basil. (I didn't have any as my basil plant acquired what I call "failure to thrive" syndrome.) 

Now it's time to fill those strips and get rollin'!

Take one heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture, 

place it at one end of an eggplant strip and roll.
Place in baking dish sprayed 

with olive oil. 

Repeat until all slices 
are filled and placed 
in baking dish.

Now, pour tomato sauce over top of the eggplant.


Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese...

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, serve, and enjoy!