Well hey, it's been a hot minute.
But who's counting?
I've been dying to blog about food and I've actually had a few friends ask me to, but ya know. Life happens and blogging gets shoved way, way, way, wayyyyyyy down on the list of important things to do. On the list of things I wish I could do while neglecting anything resembling responsibility? First.
I sincerely wish I could get my act together and make time in my day to write more, but it would most likely be at the expense of my precious beauty sleep. And that ain't happening.
But, I digress.
So it's been like all summer and then some. Many things have happened on the farm - the Farmer and Jack got a boat and spent most of the summer hours fishing and tubing and all the fun things that come along with owning a boat. We had a garden again but it wasn't very plentiful for some reason - tons of cucumbers, a handful of tomatoes and a couple green peppers. But the orchard was quite fruitful even in its infancy. We got a couple peaches, a couple apples and a couple pears. As summer slowly fades away I'm already longing for the days of warmth and swimming and late nights out. Oh sweet summer.
I enjoy fall, don't get me wrong. The crisp air in the morning is one of my favorites - so long as it warms up to 65ish degrees during the day - I LOVE the crisp air. Fall brings with it a bunch of fun events at church - one of which is probably my very favorite event all year. The chili cook off!
This year, like every year in the past, I entered a chili. Each year I have cooked in the chili cook off I use a different recipe. I wrote about it once. I've used recipes online, I've made my own up. I've won and I've lost.
I'm not even going to go into what kind of crazy, stupid day I had the morning of this year's chili cook off - it's really quite amazing that I even decided to cook chili and even show up.
This year, my homemade, self-invented chili recipe started a few days before the cook off. I was at my favorite store - Woodman's - perusing the reduced produce. Every morning between 8:30-9:30 AM they put out produce that will likely spoil within a couple days. Honestly, some of it is already kind of spoiled. It's to the point where you desperately need to cook it, freeze it, can it -- something to it, like, immediately. There was an entire bag - I mean like 9 or 10 red bell peppers for $0.99! So I grabbed them - I LOVE bell peppers in everything and they're really easy to prepare ahead of time.
I cut them in half, pulled out the ribs and seeds and laid them skin-side-up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then I put them into my 350 degree preheated oven and let them roast for a good 45ish minutes to an hour (depending on your oven temps, my oven temps tend to be slightly lesser than normal ovens) You want to get them to a soft roast where the skin starts to blister. If you've never roasted peppers before you might open the oven door and flip out because you burnt them. But it's totally fine if the skin is blistered and black. - if they're over cooked they'll turn into mush, which isn't ideal - so you want them to be soft and skin blistered.
You can also do this at a higher heat for less time. Just Google "oven roasted peppers" and there's tons of ways to do it.
When I take them out of the oven I just let them rest on the baking sheet until they are cool enough to handle. Then you can peel off the skins and place them in a bowl or on a plate or straight in a Ziploc. Then repeat the same thing but with poblano peppers. If you have two sheets you can roast them at the same time just switch racks half way in between. When I roasted the poblanos I also peeled about 2 whole heads of garlic as much as I could into individual cloves. And I quartered 4-5 shallots and threw the garlic, shallots and peppers all on the tray to roast. When the garlic comes out of the oven, the remaining layer of paper peels off pretty easily and you're left with this awesome, soft, roasted-garlic that compliments the roasted peppers so well!
After I peeled everything I threw it all in a gallon sized Ziploc and threw it in the fridge. It sat there for the next two days until I made my chili. Maybe the flavors melded together even better, maybe not. I've also roasted the peppers, onions and garlic the same day I've made the chili - so either way, just do what's easiest!
I'll spare you the nitty gritty details about browning meat and chopping onions, I'll just give you the good stuff. Behold, the recipe to my Cook-Off-Winning Chili:
Roasted Pepper Chipotle Chili
1 lb Chorizo
1 lb ground beef
2 lb ground pork
4-5 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
2-3 jalapeno peppers, roasted and peeled
3-4 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
1 can Chiles in Adobo sauce (ribbed and seeded depending on how spicy you want it)
1-2 heads of garlic, roasted and peeled
3-4 shallots, roasted (or yellow onions work too)
2 cups beef stock
50 oz of your favorite salsa
Add the roasted peppers, chiles in adobo, roasted garlic and shallots to your blender or food processor. Blend until pureed, add just a little olive oil if it gets too thick. This should be the consistency of like tomato paste or slightly thinner. Set aside.
Brown meats and add to a stockpot, do not drain (if you're picky about grease then drain partially but the chili gets a lot of its flavor from keeping the drippings in the pot. Note that I also do not have any added salt or seasonings, so the savory flavors come from the meat's drippings.) When all meat is mixed together in the stockpot, over med-low heat, add the pureed roasted pepper mixture. Mix until the puree coats the meat well. Add the salsa and stir well. Finally, since this will be a very hearty, thick chili, add up to 2 cups of beef stock to thin it out. If you like a thinner chili, feel free to add more salsa and more beef stock. I added one 28 oz can of black beans to my chili - but beans are a preference so they're optional. Bring it up to a boil, stirring often, then let it simmer for as long as you'd like - I put mine in a roaster/crock pot and let it simmer for 3-4 hours on low, stirring occasionally.
I love this chili because I didn't use any dry seasonings. The chili was seasoned entirely from the roasted peppers, onions, garlic and with the flavors from the meats and salsa. It has a medium heat - but I would not say that it's spicy. If you'd like a completely mild chili - you can keep out the chiles in adobo and if you'd like it spicier, you can keep some of the seeds in the peppers and keep the seeds in the chiles in adobo.
These little guys pack a punch so it can help determine the spice level of your chili. I use an entire can but ribbed and seeded and I add a little of the sauce when I puree my peppers.
And that's it. I'm not sure if that seems like a lot of work or not, but it's seriously the most delicious chili I've ever had. I have made it twice now - once for the chili cook off and once just two days ago when I did my meal prep for the week. I think one of the best things about chili is it lasts a while, freezes well and can be done in a day while you are doing other things because most of the time it's just simmering.
Speaking of meal prep, I had a crazy awesome "Meal Prep Monday" yesterday! I stopped at Woodman's after I dropped Jack off at school and picked up some reduced produce. I had a big bag of tomatoes in the fridge that needed to be prepped and I picked up 2 big bags of bell peppers and jalapenos and I had two containers of mushrooms and a zucchini that needed to be used. In all I paid less than $5 for all the produce! As soon as I got home I cut the tomatoes in half and placed them skin-side-up on a parchment lined baking sheet. I roasted them for about 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. When they were cool enough to handle I peeled the skin off and threw them in my ninja blender. I pureed them into a smooth sauce. Jarred them up and now I have the makings of marinara sauce for dinner on Thursday. I plan on adding some Italian sausage that I have in the freezer (also purchased in the Woodman's reduced meat section for less than $2) So for around $3 I have an entire meal that will feed my family and probably yield leftovers!
The peppers I roasted and used in my chili. I did save out one and a half roasted red bell peppers and two cloves of roasted garlic and pureed them separately. I saved this puree in a small container. These are the makings of a red bell pepper cream sauce that we will be having with risotto and steak tomorrow night. I have made this grilled skirt steak in the past and I intend to make it again tomorrow with parmesan risotto and use the red bell pepper cream sauce as a garnish.
Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce
2 roasted red bell peppers
3 cloves of roasted garlic
Basic Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
Add the roasted peppers and garlic to your blender and puree until smooth, adding a small amount of olive oil if it seems too thick. Set this mixture aside.
Prepare a basic béchamel with the butter, flour and heavy cream. Start by melting the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and whisk until the flour is well incorporated and the flour taste has cooked off (about 1-2 minutes) slowly whisk in 1/2 of the heavy cream and whisk constantly until it begins to thicken (about 1 minute) then add the remainder of the cream and whisk until it is a smooth, creamy sauce. Then you can add the roasted pepper and garlic puree. Combine well.
This sauce is really good with seafood or chicken over pasta also. I love it with parmesan risotto!
...back to meal prep.
I used the zucchini and mushrooms to stuff peppers for tonight's dinner. I diced up the mushrooms and zucchini and sautéed them with a little onion and olive oil. I roasted whole peppers at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes - until they were soft but not totally roasted - I'm not looking for the blistered skin for these. I added the stuffing to the peppers and they are now waiting to hit the oven again to be warmed up for meal time. I had enough stuffing for 7 peppers so there are now 5 in the freezer for future meals!
Thursday's dinner will be Italian sausage marinara over spaghetti (zucchini noodles for me), but I have not yet decided on how I am going to prepare my marinara. I can update when I find a recipe for that.
As it stands, we're set to eat pretty well this week and I only spent $3 out of the grocery budget for November! I spent more than that on lunch supplies - but for the dinners that I prepared on Monday I literally only used what I had in my freezer and the $4 or $5 worth of produce I had sitting in my fridge! Now that feels like a serious accomplishment!
Here's to making this a new habit! Happy meal prepping!
From the kitchen,
The Farmer's Wife