Thursday, December 4, 2008

White Chili

When I was younger the thought of White Chili disgusted me. I pictured some kind of venison mixed with alfredo sauce...ick. However, once I tried White Chili I was instantly hooked. My fondest memory of using this recipe is when I made it for our friends, the Carrolls. Rachel and Clover were preparing to bring little Dixie home from the hospital. Dixie's birth coincided with the coldest few days that the Brazos Valley had seen in a long time. Their little pier-and-beam farmhouse was icy cold. I decided to warm the house up by making White Chili in the teensy kitchen before they arrived. The anticipation of the sweet, pink Dixie-bundle made the process almost dreamlike. I floated around the kitchen, playing house and dreaming of one day when I'd have a sweet bundle of my own. It didn't seem real that the little thump thump thumper we'd felt through Rachel's belly all those months would actually be a real little person in our world. Even though our worlds are farther apart, and two bundles richer...our lives are forever intwined.

White Chili
(serves 9ish)

*Pam cooking spray
*1 medium onion, chopped
*3 cloves of garlic, minced
*2.5 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh are best)
*6 tomatillos, chopped
*1 medium jalapeno, seeded, minced
*2 cups chicken stock
*7 ounces green chiles
*2 cups choppped chicken
*1/2 teaspoon oregano
*1/2 teaspoon cumin
*1/4 cup chopped cilantro
*2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed)
*juice of 1 lime
*salt and pepper to taste
*2% all-natural, Greek, strained plain yogurt (or sour cream if you don't care about calories)
*shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
*tortilla chips crumbled (optional)

Spray large soup pot with Pam, saute onion for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and brown slightly.
Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, and jalapeno. Cook until tomatillos are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken stock, green chiles, oregano, cumin, cilantro, beans, and lime juice. Cook until heated, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle chili into bowls.
Garnish with remaining ingredients.

***This recipe is also fabulous if you make it ahead of time and put into gallon-size Ziplock freezer bags. We've frozen it, and taken it in coolers on ski trips. Simply pour the thawed bags of chili into a crock pot set on low before you leave to hit the slopes. When you return the cabin will be filled with the delicious aroma of White Chili. Yum!***

Friday, November 28, 2008

Heirloom Recipes

Before Thanksgiving I helped my Nana bake for the holiday. Since she was expecting almost 30 people, there was a lot to do. As we prepared the treats I've enjoyed my whole life, I made copies of them with the intention of sharing them with Ava someday...and you today!

The first recipe I have is for Martha Washington Candy. I'm sure there are many variations on this, but here is Nana's version:

*3 cups chopped pecans
*7 ounces Angel Flake Coconut
*1 stick butter at room temperature
*1 can Eagle Brand Milk
*32 ounces (about 7.5 cups) powdered sugar
*1/4 pound Paraffin wax
*12 ounces chocolate chips

In a large bowl mix together pecans, coconut, butter, Eagle Brand Milk, powdered sugar. Form into 1 inch balls, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once all of the dough has been formed into balls, cover cookie sheet with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator. Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips and Paraffin wax in a double boiler until smooth and glossy. Dip candy balls into chocolate until completely covered. Return to parchment paper to set. Make sure to eat one before the company arrives, otherwise you may not get any!

The second recipe I have to share is my great grandmother's Old Fashioned Tea Cakes. These dense, not too sweet cookies are unbelievably wonderful with coffee.

*1 cups sugar
*1/2 cup real molasses
*2 eggs
*1/2 pound butter (yikes, I know...just don't make 'em too often)
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1 /2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
*1/2 heaping teaspoon nutmeg
*1/2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
*1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
*1/3 cup buttermilk
*flour as needed

In a large mixing bowl, fill halfway with flour. Create a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour all ingredients into the hole. Mix all ingredients completely with hands. Form dough into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and cook at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes.

The last recipe is for what we Raines grandkids call Nana Punch. It's 10 times better than any punch you've ever had...ever. Although I wouldn't serve this nectar of the gods at weddings, due to the staining-red hue.

*2 6 oz packages strawberry Jello
*3 cups sugar
*4 cups boiling water
*6 packages unsweetened red Kook Aid
*6 quarts cool water
*1 small bottle almond extract
*2 large cans pineapple juice
*1 12 oz frozen lemonade tube

*2 32 oz bottles Ginger Ale

Mix Jello, sugar, boiling water, Kool Aid, cool water, almond extract, pineapple juice, and lemonade tube together in a large, sealable container or pitcher. (If you're making this way ahead of time, you can put the mixture into gallon-size freezer bags.) Freeze until slushy. Pour Ginger Ale over punch mixture and serve. If you don't have a red mustache when you're finished, you haven't had enough!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My pick for entertaining

Last Christmas we exchanged homemade gifts on Josh's side of the family. Our gift was an invitation for dinner and entertainment (Ava) at our house. We were so excited to have Josh's parents over for dinner on Friday night. Many moons ago, when Josh and I were at A&M, we worked in a cafe in Brenham called The Pomegranate. One of my favorite cold day meals that the owner, Connie, would make was Beef Burgundy. This recipe combines Connie's soup with The Barefoot Contessa's Fillet of Beef Bourguinononne. It's very rich, and warms you from the inside out. My favorite part is that the protein and veggies are all in the same dish, no need to dirty more dishes for sides. Ava particularly enjoys the carrots. Add a little crusty French Bread on the side, and you've got the perfect meal for a chilly night.
For dessert I found a recipe for Hello Dolly bars on the Cooking Light website. I had tried these bars for the first time this summer at The Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg. The Cooking Light version is MUCH better for you...only 123 calories per serving! I made a slight variation in the recipe, and I've posted it accordingly. Please comment below if you have any questions about the recipes. I'd love to help!

Beef Bourguigonne

* 3-pounds of your favorite beef fillet (Not stew meat, you really want to splurge on the protein in this meal!)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Olive oil
* 8 strips bacon, cut in pieces with kitchen shears
* 2 minced garlic cloves (I recommend using the Pampered Chef garlic press)
* 1.5 cups Burgundy or Chianti
* 2 cups beef stock (Reduced sodium is best.)
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 2 sprigs fresh thyme
* ¾ pound pearl onions, peeled but not chopped
* 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
* ½ pound of your favorite mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
* 1 cup of water

Salt and pepper the fillets on both sides. Cut them into bite-size pieces. Use a large soup pot to sauté the slices of beef in batches with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 7 minutes. Remove them from the pan, and set to the side on a platter.

Using the same pot, sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned and crispy. Put the bacon on top of the fillet pieces and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Use the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Cook on high for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1-teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs from the pot. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is significantly reduced and the vegetables are cooked.

Add the fillet of beef slices, the mushrooms, the cup of water, and the bacon to the pot with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 15 minutes.

Hello Dolly Bars

* 9 graham crackers, blended into sand
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
* 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans
* 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Place graham cracker sand in a medium bowl. Mix with butter and water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly).

Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Cooking Pink

Cooking Pink is my new baby. A diary-style blog of recipes and cooking adventures as I try to cook healthy, yummy food for my husband and almost 2-year-old daughter. I hope you'll cook pink along with me!