My Favourite Chili – Recipe

This is by far my favourite chili. and it is PERFECT on fall days.  It is vegetarian and even though I do eat meat, I really hate browning ground beef.  Not browning meat is one of the best parts of this chili.  That, and it’s delicious, easy and quick to make.  I’ve modified the recipe quite a bit, but the original recipe is found here.

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped*
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped*
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped*
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped*
4 cloves of garlic, crushed*
32 oz. container of vegetable stock (I often use chicken because it’s what I usually have at home) or 1 bottle of beer and about 20 oz. of stock.
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can of black beans
14 oz. can of dark red kidney beans
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. chili powder (up to 3 Tablespoons depending on how spicy you like your chili)
several drops of Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 can of vegetarian refried beans

* I put the onion, peppers and garlic in the food processor and pulse until they’re chopped fine (there is a photo below of this).  The chili is chunky because of the beans too and I find that the more they’re chopped, the tastier the chili is as a whole.  Obviously, you’re welcome to chop by hand if you’d like.  I just take advantage of any excuse to use the food processor.

Toppings:

8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
Green Onions, chopped
Tortilla chips

Directions:

First chop the onion, peppers and garlic.  I do this in the food processor after everything is seeded.

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Over moderate heat, add oil to a large pot and combine onion, peppers, and garlic.

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IMG_2105I puree the veggies quite a bit in the food processor.  If you like a chunkier chili, just chop less.  Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze pan with beer and broth (or just broth).

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IMG_2120Add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, and stir to combine.  Add refried beans to thicken.  Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce and salt.

IMG_2123Heat through and then simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes.

IMG_2129Serve topped with cheddar cheese and green onions (which I didn’t have).  And make sure to have a big pile of corn chips because my favourite way to eat this is not with a spoon, but scooping chili with the chips.

Note: I add quite a bit more liquid to this recipe than it originally calls for and a lot less chili powder.  Originally it was because I didn’t want to open a whole 32 oz. carton of chicken stock and then only use 1 cup of it, so I dumped it all in.  Even with all the liquid I find that this recipe is thick and chunky and delicious.  Plus, it makes a few extra bowls with each batch this way.  This is a super easy recipe to modify and I’m not usually one for modifying recipes that much.  Maybe as I learn to be a better cook I’ll do this more.

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Happy October!

I can’t believe October is here.  We’ve been lucky here in Minnesota to have mostly beautiful fall days .  Warm in the sunshine outside, cool in the mornings and able to have the windows wide open all day long!

We’ve been busy trying to soak up the fall in Minnesota since it is arguably the best season here.  Last weekend we took Will apple picking at a small family owned farm just east of Saint Paul.  Will had a great time in the pumpkin patch and hanging out with the chickens and turkeys.  IMG_2241 IMG_2245 IMG_2275 IMG_2306 IMG_2345 IMG_2369 IMG_2379 IMG_2384Will also LOVED eating the apples.
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And a little flash back to a year ago!  Sound asleep even with the sun in his face.  I’m pretty sure he slept through that whole day in the carrier through apple picking and hiking at Taylor’s Falls.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte – Recipe

 I have been wanting to try making a Pumpkin Spice Latte for a little while now and the cool Saturday afternoon with a husband out mountain biking and a kid napping was all the motivation I needed.  Don’t let this fool you, I’m not wishing away summer just yet.  In fact, I’d love a few more months of summer.  Who said Pumpkin has to be a fall treat?

If you search for “Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe” on google, this is the first result.  We had all the ingredients and it sounded easy enough and it was delicious.  It’s less sweet and less bright orange than Starbucks, both of those things I appreciate.

Pumpkin Syrup:
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of ground nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks or 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin

Coffee:
16 oz mug
2 shots of espresso
2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin syrup
steamed or warmed milk
whipped cream (optional essential)

Instructions:

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1.  Combine spices and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then lower temperature and simmer for 20 minutes.  Your kitchen will smell fantastic.
2.  Strain spices by pouring the water through a coffee filter or fine mesh sieve.
3.  Put the spiced water back into the saucepan.  Add pumpkin and sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes.

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3.  Store the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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To make the latte, prepare two shots of espresso.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin syrup and top with steamed milk and stir.  Add whip cream.  I heard a tip on Martha Stewart (her video on how to make a low fat latte) where you can warm milk in a large canning jar and then put the lid on and shake to froth the milk.  We don’t have a microwave, but I trust most of what Martha says.

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Enjoy!

(Original Source)

Is fall just around the corner?

I know that the chill in the air is probably just our air conditioning that’s turned up a little too high, but I think fall must be in the air.  Maybe it’s the students coming back and Grant getting busier each day with work, or the return of my craving for all things pumpkin.  Whatever it may be, I have an itch to knit something warm and cozy.  I think I’ll start with this yarn:

ImageKnit Picks Palette in Blue Note Heather

And this pattern:

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Audrey by Jane Richmond

Next, I think I’m going to go look up how to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte since I don’t think Starbucks has them yet!  🙂

Wheaton Visit

Our Wheaton visit in photos.

Driving in our new car!

First glimpse of our old home!  🙂

Meeting his friend Jamie

With Alice at His Wheels International

Bike Mechanic in the making

Just like his pops

With Diane

Worn out
Will looked like this at the end of each day.  Totally pooped!
With his friend Lucie.  She is sharing her stickers with Will.

Will is never going to be this flexible!  🙂

Grant reading to Maggie and Will.

I love this one!!

Maggie, Will, Lucie and Eddie (the puppy)

When did Maggie become old enough to hold a baby??

Lucie helping feed Will.  He’s thrilled about this meal.
With Laura (I wish I had taken more photos at the RA reunion!)

With Parker and Cole

Mulled Cider with Whipped Cream

Okay… this is my all time favourite fall treat!  
Ingredients:
Apple Cider
Whipping Cream
Vanilla Extract
Granulated Sugar
Optional: Carmel Sauce
Directions:
1.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider and mulling spices.  Add a 2-3 teaspoons of spices to 2 litres/1 half gallon of cider using a tea infuser or tea filter.  Once cider begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Feel free to stop here… the cider is delicious all by itself!
2.  Not everyone knows this, but whipped cream and apple cider are a match made in heaven.  I use a pint of whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and about a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  The measurements are guesses because I don’t really measure when I make whipped cream and taste testing as you go is a must.
3.  Top cider with whipped cream and enjoy!
4.  Optional: Carmel sauce drizzled over the top is fantastic.  Mine was way past its expiration date so Grant and I had our cider last night without it.  Making your own carmel sauce is also an option, but I found that you end up with a ton of sauce that goes bad before we could eat it all.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Yesterday was the first chilly day and first snow here in Minnesota. In spite of what I just overheard the weather man say, Canada is not to blame for the cold air. 🙂 
Whenever the weather is cool, I always crave warm drinks and sweets with spice.  These muffins are some of my favourites and are another Starbucks knock off.  They can also be made gluten free and still delicious!  Enjoy!
Muffin:
3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten free pantry all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
4 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Pumpkin (canned or homemade)
1 1/4 cups Vegetable Oil
Cream Cheese:
8 oz. Cream Cheese
6 (or so) Tablespoons of Icing Sugar (or Powdered Sugar)
Dash of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons of Butter
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix all of the “Muffin” ingredients and fill muffin tins (either greased or with paper cups).  Start by creaming the oil, sugar and eggs and then slowly add the rest of the ingredients.  (I’m a pretty inexact baker, so I apologize to those of you who like more precise instructions.)
3. Using a mixer, mix the “Cream Cheese” ingredients.  Use powdered sugar to taste…more will make it taste like icing, less like regular cream cheese.  You can also just cut the 8 oz of cream cheese into 24 small cubes push them down into the batter.  Also delicious and quite a bit easier.
4.  I used an icing bag to “pipe” the cream cheese into the muffin but you can just drop it by teaspoonful’s (using two spoons) into the muffins and press it down into the batter with your finger.
5.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Makes 24 muffins.

Sunday in Stillwater

This past weekend we had family visiting and on Sunday we spent the afternoon in Stillwater, MN. We’re enjoying being tourists in our new hometown. 

The Stillwater Olive Oil Company was very fun! Who knew that Strawberry or Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar would be so yummy??

We went on a trolley tour:

Will is learning to grab onto of stuff.  This is going to get dangerous soon!

And finally we saw someone else’s handiwork that looked remarkably similar to what we did to the side of our house last December! 

Pumpkin Scones

I looked out the window this morning and realized that most of the leaves have fallen.  I’m still in denial that summer is over, in spite of the reminders of brisk air and Pumpkin Spice Latte’s.

My first year in Wheaton I was SO excited when the Pumpkin Scones and Latte’s arrived at Starbucks.  I got up early the first morning with my friend Melissa only to discover that they had run out of scones already.  Determined not to be defeated I decided to try making them myself and 6 years later these are still a fall favourite (and I must say I like them better homemade).

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
3 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter

Plain Icing:
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or half and half

Spiced Icing:
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or half and half
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and eggs.
  4. Cut butter into cubes and add it to the dry ingredients.  Use a pastry knife or fork to combine butter with dry ingredients.  You want it to look like sand without any large chunks of butter visible.  You can also use a food processor (which I did) to combine the dry ingredients and butter because it is so quick.
  5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball.  Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide.  Use a large knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough.  I like to make them much smaller than Starbucks (so you can have two).
  6. Bake 14-16 minutes on a baking sheet.  You can oil it, line it with parchment paper OR if you have non-stick cookie sheets like these (which are worth every penny if you like to bake) you don’t need to line or grease the pan.
  7. While scones cool, mix the plain icing in a bowl.  A whisk or spoon works just fine.  When the scones are cool, drizzle a coating of glaze over the top of each scone.  I put the scones on a cooling rack on top of wax paper or aluminum foil to let the excess run over.  (See photo) And there will be excess! 
  8. As the icing firms up, prepare the spiced icing in the same manner as the plain icing.  Drizzle on top.  I like to do it just like Starbucks does in a criss cross pattern.  I just use a spoon and hold it above the scones as the icing drizzles over, but you can use a squeeze bottle or something else too.

Makes 6 Starbucks-size scones or 12 regular-size scones.

Enjoy!