It's that time of year again! There's nothing that beats those winter blues better than a bowl of home made chili. Here's my entry for the Bush's Chili Cook Off recipe contest. Cocoa, molasses and beer are paired with Bush's Kidney Beans and Pinto Beans to create a dish with a velvety, smoky flavor while a combination of roasted red peppers, chipotle pepper and serrano chili peppers provide a pleasant kick. Enjoy!
Ingredients (serves 2)
1/2 red Bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 Serrano chili peppers
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb 90 % lean ground beef
1/2 lb 85% lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili flakes
2 teaspoons chipotle pepper powder
330 ml India Pale Ale
6 oz jalapeño sausage, casing removed and chopped
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
16 oz Bush's Pinto beans in medium chili sauce
16 oz Bush’s Kidney Beans in a mild chili sauce
14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons molasses
Pre-heat oven to 450F. Place red bell pepper, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Cook for approx. 25 minutes or until skin starts to blister. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Remove skin and chop pepper finely.
In a large frying pan heat olive oil. Add onion, peppers, chili peppers and garlic and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for approx 4 minutes.
Remove ingredients from pan and place in a small bowl. Add beef to pan and brown for approx 5 minutes. Add cumin, chili flakes and chipotle pepper powder. Mix well. Add ale, sausage, coca powder, beans, tomatoes, onion mix, roasted red peppers and molasses. For a spicier chili add extra chili flakes, according to taste. Mix well, reduce heat and simmer for approx. 45 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheese.
As I prefer my salads with tangy dressings instead of heavier, creamy dressings, I decided to take a classic salad and experiment with different dressing combinations to see what I could come up with. The recipe below pairs the classic, walnut, celery and apple combo with a sweet and tangy honey, sesame oil dressing. Topped with shrimp and toasted sesame seeds it has already become one of my new favorites.
Waldorf Salad with Shrimp and Honey Sesame Dressing (serves 2)
1 Gala apple
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
4 tabs rice vinegar
2 tab lime juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Salt to taste
4 leaves butter lettuce
8 cooked shrimp
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Cut apple into small chunks and place in medium bowl. Finely chop celery and add to bowl with apple. Roughly chop walnut halves and add to bowl. Pour rice vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil and honey into a small jar. Add minced ginger. Tightly close lid on jar and shake vigorously until ingredients are blended. Add salt to taste. Pour dressing over chopped salad. When ready to serve, place butter lettuce on two plates then spoon salad onto lettuce. Top with cooked shrimp and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Looking for something a little different for a week night supper, I created a dish I call Tex-Mex Baklava, my attempt at fusion cuisine. Crispy filo pastry, often used in mediterranean dishes, is delicately brushed with Bertolli Classico Olive Oil and deliciously sandwiches spicy chicken, creamy cheese and beans that are popular ingredients in Tex-Mex cuisine. This meal quickly became a family favorite. Here's the recipe in case you'd like to try it.
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons Bertolli Classico Olive Oil, divided
2/3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ yellow onion, sliced
½ red pepper, sliced
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, chopped
4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
15 oz can black beans, drained
1 ¼ cup grated Manchego cheese, divided
½ teaspoon ground cumin
12 Filo pastry sheets, 13” x 17”
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In a medium saucepan heat 2 tablespoons Bertolli Classico Olive Oil. Cut chicken breast into thin strips and add to oil. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until strips are cooked through. Add sliced onions and red peppers to pan and cook for a further 4 minutes until soft. Add minced garlic, chipotle pepper and pesto and mix well. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix beans with cumin and 1 cup Manchego cheese. Set aside until ready to assemble dish.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 ½ ‘‘ x 6 ‘‘ baking dish. Cut pastry sheets in half. Lay one half sheet inside dish. Pastry should cover bottom and sides of dish. Using a pastry brush dab Bertolli Classico Olive Oil evenly and lightly over pastry sheet. Cover with remaining half sheet. Repeat layering and dabbing process with 3 more full sheets (you will now have a stack of 8 half sheets in baking dish). Spoon bean mixture evenly over final layer. Top with a half sheet of pastry and repeat the layering and dabbing procedure, using up 4 more sheets. Spoon chicken mixture on top of top pastry sheet. Press down gently then top with a half sheet of pastry. Repeat layering process until final 4 pastry sheets have been used up. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of pastry and cook in oven for approx. 25 minutes or until pastry is a rich golden color. Serve with sour cream and avocado.
I was recently excited to learn that I placed 2nd in the Canadian Albacore Tuna recipe contest! Several years ago when I decided to reduce my meat consumption I was worried that a diet featuring mainly vegetables and grains might be boring and lack taste. I started experimenting with fish recipes and have never looked back. My favorite fish is definitely tuna, which helps satisfy my protein needs and is my go-to meal when time is of the essence. The fruit salsa was a happy discovery. I was looking for something to complement the heat of the pepper crusted tuna and happened to have a bag full of mangoes and cantaloupes. I had initially been planning on preparing a fruit salad for dessert but realized that the sweet, juiciness of the fruit was the perfect pairing for the tuna. Served with a dish of couscous this meal is easy to prepare, healthy and delicious. It is also now a family favorite. I have included the recipe below. I hope you like it!
Pepper Crusted Tuna Fillets with Cantaloupe and Mango Salsa and Couscous
3 x 4 oz albacore tuna steaks
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup black peppercorns, roughly ground
1/4 cup pink pepper berries, roughly ground
1 cup cantaloupe, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon minced Ginger
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
Marinate tuna fillets in lime juice and soy sauce for at least an hour.
Prepare salsa by combining diced fruit with lime juice, cilantro and ginger in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. Pour couscous in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for approx. 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Add more water if necessary. Couscous should be light and fluffy. Add olive oil and lime juice. Cover with foil and set aside.
Remove tuna fillets from marinade and coat with ground peppercorns and pink pepper berries. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil for approx 6 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and cut into thin slices. Arrange on a plate with fruit salsa and serve with a side of couscous.
Nibbles and Fluff
In 2008 I co-founded the rescue group, Animal Advocates of North Texas (AANT) to help lost and abandoned animals find forever homes.