Friday, October 28, 2011

Nana's Hog Heaven Chili

Do you have a recipe that you still make to this day, that engulfs you with wonderful childhood memories?  Well, this is mine, my mom's Hog Heaven Chili!!!  This bowl of chili represents what childhood is all about.  It's something from mom that is warm & comforting. It takes whatever happened that day & throws it out the at school making fun or getting a bad grade on a test, none of that mattered when I walked through the door to find this simmering on the stove.  The funny thing about this is, my sister made a batch of this, not 48 hrs before I made mine & we had no idea the other was making it...weird right?  And perfectly in keeping with Halloween being right around the corner.

1 lb ground pork (season to taste with cayenne)/hot sausage 
2-3 (large) cloves garlic, grated
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (13 oz) can rotel style tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup water (or more if needed)
Salt & pepper to taste (salt suggestion is 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp)

In a 5 1/2 qt dutch oven or similar, brown pork, season with 1 tsp of salt and a little cayenne.  Once it's browned, add remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 1-3 hours, the longer the better of course.  You may need to add more water as it cooks down.

Garnish with sour cream, cheese & green onions.  Mom always had a lime wedge too but I didn't have any on hand.  

Serves 5-6 servings 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Red Beans & Rice (tribute to The Half Shell)

Many dishes that come out of this kitchen are inspired by various restaurant dishes here in Memphis & this one is no exception.  The Half Shell, a locally owned seafood bar & grill, has a Red Beans & Rice dish that Memphians rave about.  And since my husband & I had our first date there, I felt this was the perfect dish to re-create, at home.  It's packed with flavor from the cajun seasoning, which coats the beans in a warm sauce, that soothes & pleases any appetite.  And it's all sitting on top of a bed of fluffy white rice, just begging to be stirred together.  This ultimate comfort food, will bring you & your family around the table, time and again.  

4 T butter 
1/4 cup flour
2 cans kidney beans, with juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 red onion onions, diced
1/2 cup diced ham
1lb andouille sausage, sliced
salt & pepper to taste (suggestion 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper)
1 T cajun seasoning (see below)

In a dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter & whisk in flour til incorporated.  This takes time & patience, about 20 mins to get that caramel color roux that you want.  Be sure to keep stirring it, so it doesn't burn.  Once it reaches that caramel color, add in your beans, stock, red onions, ham, sausage, cajun seasoning, salt & pepper to taste.  

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Over mid high heat, in a dutch oven or largest pot you have, add oil.  Toast rice in oil til it simmers, maybe 2 - 3 mins. Add water & salt, bring to a boil. Once its reach a rolling boil turn down to low & cover (do not uncover it while its cooking). Set a timer for 20 mins, walk away.  If after 20 mins, you taste it & its not done add more stock & reduce longer. Let stand for 5 mins off heat. 

Cajun Season
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp allspice
1 oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 chili powder
1 smoked paprika
1 sweet paprika
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
*if you prefer heat, you can add 1 tsp cayenne to this (optional)

Combine in a bowl & set aside.  I did pulse mine in a small food processor for about 15 seconds.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

While rummaging through my pantry, looking for a quick side item to go with our Crockpot Mexican Gumbo, I ran across a lonely box of corn muffin mix that needed a good home.  But this is no ordinary box, this box comes with a challenge (the ability to transform it into anything you like).  I have played around with this box on several occasions, trying to get the perfect cornbread texture. Most times, they were too dry & crumbly & wouldn't hold up.  But this time was different, with the addition of a few tablespoons of vegetable shortening & a little cheese, these muffins came out PERFECT!!  They are light & fluffy.  And just the right amount of flavor from the jalapenos without adding any additional heat.  We took 1 bite & were hooked!!  So, I am very excited to be passing this along to you so that you can make these for your family, too!

1 (8.5 oz) box corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
1 egg
1/3 cup half & half
1 tablespoon jalapenos, diced & de-seeded (or more if desired)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
dash of salt & cayenne pepper

Mix everything together in a meduim sized bowl.  Grease muffin cups with shortening.  
Bake at 350 for 20-25 mins.

Makes about 6 muffins

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crockpot Mexican Gumbo

Greetings from my kitchen!!  Today, I am bringing you this comforting crockpot meal, which is a 2 for 1 special.  It can be served 2 ways, first way is Tortilla Soup.  The other option is to serve it over a bed of fluffy white  rice & voile, you have yourself a Mexican Gumbo.  Either way you have a comforting meal that your family is sure to love!  We really loved it served over a bed of fluffy rice.  This is because when you stir in the sour cream & cheese, the sour cream thickens the sauce & coats the rice.  And the melt-y cheese, it brings it all together, YUM!!   

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (10oz) can rotel tomatoes, with juice
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained
1 qt chicken stock
3 large cloves garlic, grated (1 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander (optional)
1 tsp paprika 
1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob (1 cob)
season to taste (suggestion: 2 tsp salt & 1 tsp white pepper)
(Tortilla soup) garnish with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, avocado
(Mexican Gumbo) garnish with sour cream, cheese, avocado

Place all the ingredients in your crockpot & turn on high.  Cook for 4 hours.  Serve over rice for the gumbo or with tortilla chips & garnish. 

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Cafe's Chive Butter

Many many people have tried to create this chive butter, including myself & there are so many rumors flying around about what all is in this spread.  But I am here to set the record straight, it's not Boursin cheese, it's not cream cheese, it's SOUR CREAM mixed in with the butter!!  After eating out on Sunday at American Cafe, we were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.  I did not ask anyone for this information, it was merely passed on to us by an American Cafe' employee.  He didn't know that I was a food blogger or that I would go home & make it & nail it!  But here it is & it's been tested & family approved.  And I am so excited that we can finally make this at home & you can share this with your family too.  

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 large garlic clove grated
1/2 tsp salt

Place butter in mixing bowl & beat on high for 1 minute.  Add chives & sour cream & mix on medium til til incorporated.  Finally add garlic & salt.  Serve immediately or place in refrigerator.  Be sure & serve at room temperature.

Makes 3/4 cup

Monday, October 10, 2011

Buttermilk Baked Fried Chicken

We attended a lunch recently, at my grandparents retirement home (all the good stories start out this way) & they were serving fried chicken for lunch.  A year ago, I would have seen that on the menu & would have had to say, "I can't eat that."  But when I saw the menu, upon arrival, I knew this was my chance to conquer, the fear that my body couldn't handle fried foods.  Growing up, I have very fond memories of my grandparents taking us out to dinner all the time & I would always order the same thing, fried chicken, mac & cheese, green beans & garlic bread.  The best part of that entire meal, aside from the mac & cheese of course was eating the skin, it was always my favorite.  So, back at "the home" (as we call it) as everyone was finishing up, I looked at my niece, removing her chicken skin & refusing to eat it.  So I asked her if I could have it & she said YES, SCORE!!!  And as we were driving home, my husband said, "you know what the best part of that meal was, watching you eat Elaina's chicken skin!"  This recipe is in honor of my grandparents who always knew where to find the best fried chicken & now we can have it at home anytime we want.  

6 pieces of chicken
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp paprika
1/8 cumin
2 cups vegetable oil (or similar)

To make buttermilk: In a small bowl, combine whole milk & vinegar, stir & set aside to thicken.  
In a gallon bag, place chicken pieces, add "buttermilk" & place in a bowl to allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

To make flour mixture: In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, cumin.  Take the chicken out of the buttermilk & coat each piece with the flour mixture.  

Preheat oven at 350F.

Pour your oil into a dutch oven & heat to 360F, using a thermometer.  Be sure the oil covers about 1 inch of the bottom of your pot.  Work in batches of 2-3 pieces at a time, cook for 2 mins on each side or until lightly browned.  Be sure you monitor the temperature between each batch, to assure it returns to 360F degrees each time.  Once all the chicken has been fried, place each piece on a cookie sheet with a metal rack & bake for 30 mins, or until internal temperature reaches 165F.  

Makes 4-5 servings

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Cardamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I know I promised ya'll Pumpkin Butter Brownies however, my slight alterations to the Butter Brownies were an experiment & one that gave us muffins. The fun part is we still got a fantastic Fall recipe out of this!! And I get to return to the drawing board having learned a few things in the process. We had a potluck dinner at church last night & this is what I brought. Needless to say, they were devoured in no time & when I returned to the dessert table there was only 1 left so I took to my husband & watched him his eyes light up, as he peeled off the little wrapper & in one bite, it was gone.  By the way, if you have never tried cardamon before it's perfect for cookies, muffins, can be added to plain yogurt to give it a little flavor and it's also used in a lot of Indian dishes.  And a little goes a long way.  

On a side note, my sister is having surgery tomorrow so this may be my only post this week.  Feel free to but in some prayers for us, we would certainly appreciate it!!!  

1 cup (140 g) all purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
6 oz (3/4 cup) pumpkin puree
5 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F, line & grease 24-cup mini muffin pan. 

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt, set aside.

In a sauce pan over low heat, add the pumpkin, butter & sugar, stir together until melted. Remove from heat & allow to cook slightly. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, place the eggs & extract & whisk together. Slowly whisk the cooled pumpkin mixture into the egg mixture. Then, add the flour mixture and continue whisking until combined. 

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 way full then place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for about 30 min to 1 hour. Frost & serve.

Cream Cheese Cardamon Icing
1/2 stick butter, softened 
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cardamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar (or more depending on desired consistency)
2 tablespoons half & half (or milk)

In a mixer (or mixing bowl), on medium high speed, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add extract & cardamon.  Turn the mixer on low, slowly add the powdered sugar til it's incorporated & then you can increase to medium high speed.  Then add half & half.  You can add more powdered sugar, depending on your desired consistency.     

Adapted from Butter Brownies

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