Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wendy's Chili ~ by Aunt D

Have you ever eaten Wendy's Chili? From the Wendy's fast food? It is my ABSOLUTE favorite. Corny maybe, but cheap and easy I am. When my friend Megan G. at work posted on her FB that she had the recipe I was salivating! And to make it even better it was 21 degrees out and clear today in beautiful Maple Valley. So off to the market I went in search of the basics I was missing. Side note: I also made a pan of Marie Callendar's Southwest Corn Bread, the variation that adds a can of corn to it. GREAT side dish for this.

*2 lbs of ground beef, browned
*one 29oz can Tomato sauce
*one 29oz can of Kidney beans (drain liquid)
*one 29oz can of Pinto beans (drain liquid)
*one 29oz can of diced tomatoes
*1 cup diced onion
*1/2 cup diced canned green chilies
*1 cup of diced celery
*2 tsps cumin powder
*3 TBSP of chili powder
*1 - 1/2 tsp black pepper
*2 tsps salt

Brown meat and drain off fat. In a large kettle combine beef, celery, onion, and green chilies.  Sweat them for 5-10 min.  Add all other ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring every 15-20 min for 2-3 hours.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grasshopper Brownie Bars ~Molly

I made these for Christmas Eve and they are soooo good! The creme de menthe doesn't cook out, like it would with a pie, so these probably aren't a great thing to take to a church potluck, school bake sale, or AA meeting. Mom has now eaten several and is claiming that she wants to "get a little drunk".  Merry Christmas everyone!

*I didn't take this, I stole it from Maybe if Sarah were here helping me, I'd have my own picture.

For brownie layer
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not extra-bitter or unsweetened and no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For mint ganache
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream**
  • 10 oz fine-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons green crème de menthe
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For chocolate ganache
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Make brownie layer*:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.
Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, and salt until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make mint ganache:
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over white chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in crème de menthe and extract and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.

Make chocolate ganache:
Bring cream to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.

Assemble layers:
Spread mint ganache over top of cooled brownie in a thin even layer using offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes.
Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry, then trim edges of dessert (1/4 inch off each side). Cut dessert into squares and peel from foil.

*If you don't want to make your own brownies, I'm sure the kind out of the box would work just fine. This recipe makes enough batter for a 13x9 pan, though, so for box brownies you will have more ganache than you need.

**I didn't think the mint ganache was minty enough so I used probably closer to a 1/4 cup of creme de menthe. I didn't reduce my heavy cream at all, though so it didn't set up as much as it should have. When I make this again, I'll probably use about 1/3 cup of heavy cream instead.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snow Popcorn ~ by Sarah

I got this recipe from another Sarah--a gal I taught with in Goldendale.  She brought it to the staff room one December and I couldn't get enough!

microwave popcorn
white chocolate chips or white almond bark
plain M&M's
peanut M&M's

(There aren't specific measurements for this.  For this batch, I used three regular-sized bags of butter-flavored microwave popcorn, two bags of white chocolate chips, one jar of peanuts, and one large bag of each kind of M&M's.)

Pop popcorn.  Meanwhile, melt chocolate or almond bark in a saucepan over a larger pan of boiling water.  Dump popcorn into LARGE container (I've used garbage bags when I'm making a really big batch--you need room for it to be able to really move when you shake it).  Combine all the ingredients in the container with the popcorn and shake the heck out of it.  You might have to stir, too.  Lay out on baking sheets, foil, or wax paper to dry.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twice-Baked Potatoes ~ by Sarah

These are ah-mazing.  In the words of cousin Amy, "These are the best things I've ever eaten."  And they pretty much are.  Just don't think about your waistline while you're enjoying them.  Big surprise--they come from the Pioneer Woman!

8 baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
canola oil
8 slices thick-cut bacon, fried
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, cut into slices
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 green onions, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

With a paper towel, rub the outside of the potatoes with canola oil.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked inside and the skins are slightly crisp.

Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.

Dice the fried bacon into bits.  Throw the butter, sour cream, bacon, milk, seasoned salt, and pepper into a large bowl.

While the potatoes are still hot, hold each potato in a towel and cut in half lengthwise.  With a large spoon, scrape out the insides into the bowl with the other ingredients.  Repeat until all the potatoes have been scraped.  Reserve the potato shells on a large baking sheet.

Use a potato masher to mix the ingredients together.  Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese.  Slice the green onions and add them to the bowl.  Stir, taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Fill each potato half with the potato mixture and return to the baking sheet.  Top with the remaining 1 cup grated cheese.  Bake in the 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are hot.

Pioneer Woman picture:

If you want step-by-step directions with pictures, go here:  The recipe is older than the one in her cookbook, so I would follow this one and just look at hers for pictures.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beefy Harvest Soup ~ by Sarah

This recipe is from the Oregon Beef Council.  It is one of Wes's favorites.  Definitely a good wintertime main dish!  I like it because, other than the sausage, I usually have all the ingredients in my kitchen.

1 lb. ground beef
4 c. water
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables
4 t. beef bouillon
1 c. uncooked large elbow macaroni
6 oz. smoked beef sausage, cut in 1/2-inch pieces

Brown ground beef.  In large saucepan combine water, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, and bouillon.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in macaroni and ground beef; return to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in sausage; continue simmering 2-4 minutes or until macaroni is tender.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.  (I also add Lawry's seasoning salt and garlic salt.)

The kids love it, too!