grillin’ the most

I can’t tell you people how often I’ve gone into a grocery store with a list, only to leave without at least one item on said list. And not on purpose.

And I should add here, that I am quite the strategic little planner when it comes to grocery shopping. I don’t always shop at the same neighborhood Whole Foods, but in general the layout of most grocery stores is the same. So I write my list according to what I’ll walk through first. I load up on produce and stuff from the dairy/meat section (the outer parts of the store), then my list thins out once I hit the inside of the store to the processed/canned goods. Word on the street is that’s a big deal in eating right.

So with my planning, not only am I increasing the likelihood of “eating right”, but also I’m increasing the likelihood that all the things on my list will be found – especially important for the many times I leave my pen in the car and can’t cross things off.

And yes, I do try to make a list on my iPhone, but I find it hard to walk through the store holding my phone up. It’s almost as bad as texting and walking (I suppose it’s the same as texting and walking, but also pushing a cart, so actually worse). Those are the folks I want to punch in the face, so I figure I should try to stick to the pen and paper.

Anyway, I’d decided to join the hoards of 6:00 shoppers in the downtown area Trader Joe’s last week for a change of scenery, and also because I knew for once I could get everything on my list there without having to go to another grocery store. It was, needless to say, mass chaos. People pushing through to grab the $1.99 arugula and the free samples of artichoke dip, and meanwhile the stockers were pushing their carts through the store with a “kill or be killed” sorta mentality. But no bigs – I went into it knowing it would be crazy, and crazy was what I got. I also ran into Judy! That never happens.

I’d found all of my produce, and then lo and behold, I found totally fresh corn on the cob (meaning, not already shucked and put into plastic containers for a higher price), so I went to put back the other one, and somewhere in the mix I absolutely forgot to grab the fresh corn. So when I got home to make this GRILLED CORN and bean salad, I just had a bunch o’ beans.

Solution? I texted my dear husband and asked for a last minute stop for some corn which, he obliged to, knowing his dinner depended on it. I grilled fresh corn, onions, and jalapeños and tossed them all with beans and tomatoes, and a perfect summer salad (4th of July party, anyone?) was made.

The End.

p.s. Last Friday I posted some 4th of July recipe suggestions. Click here and scroll to the bottom! Happy 4th :).

Grilled Corn & 3 Bean Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012; serves ~12

printable version

time commitment: 30 minutes

ingredients
1 c halved heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 t salt, divided
3 ears shucked corn
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 jalapeño peppers
1 T olive oil
Cooking spray
1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c fresh lime juice
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 diced peeled avocados
1/2 c queso fresco

instructions
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

Brush corn, onion, and jalapeños evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeños 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs (if you’re smart, you’d do this over a bundt pan so corn doesn’t fly everywhere). Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado and queso fresco.

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A Giant Kinda Night

One of the (10,000 bazillion) reasons Chris and I work so well together is that we play to each other’s strengths, we complement one another. For example, when we plan vacations, I like to hop around to tons of places, he likes visit 1-2 spots and really hone in on them. We usually compromise at 2-3. When we painted our kitchen together a few weeks ago (notice the teal in the back?), I agreed to do the tedious taping of the trim and mind-numbingly boring detail work, as long as he promised to do the big areas of rolling and lots of the cleanup. When I make dinner, he (usually) does the dishes. I drive, he navigates.

You get the point, right?

And when major holidays or events roll around, he likes to stick to tradition, and keep things as they usually are. I’m fine with that, as long as there’s good food involved, which there always is. For July 4th, we always make burgers. These are still one of my favorites. For Thanksgiving, we don’t do anything crazy with the turkey, and we can’t change the stuffing, but I have free reign over most of the other dishes (which even I, Miss I-Hate-To-Make-Things-More-Than-Once, usually only rotate out the green veggie dish and keep the rest the same, too). There is usually a time of the year that we find a reason to make pulled pork (like watching a season of The Walking Dead. Get it – pulled pork?! shredded meat?! bwa ha ha), and there’s always another holiday, like Memorial Day perhaps, where we just plain ol’ grill.

Let there be no doubt in your mind that Super Bowl Sunday is its’ own holiday, too. And when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, it’s chili time – 20 degree weather outside or not.

Mind you, a move West hasn’t changed a single one of these traditions – somehow we manage to really gravitate towards the same type of people no matter where we live – the ones that like to eat, drink, and have a shit-load of fun together. And as per usual, we have no issue with hosting, again playing to the “as long as we get to make good food” mantra.

This time around, instead of making 1 chili for everyone to eat, we made 2 different chili recipes – watch out! The recipe below is adapted from a Texas-style all-beef chili. For you Texans-to-the-core out there, don’t hate, but I put beans in it, too (!). I won’t be caught walking an alley of Texas alone (does Texas have alleys?), that’s for sure, because I’m about to let ya’ll know that this girl LOVES beans in chili. Plus, even though we doubled mostly everything in the original recipe, I couldn’t quite bring myself to dump 8 lbs of beef into a pot, but by all means, if you prefer beef to the beans, go for it. I liked the additional texture of pinto beans, and clearly I need just a little more ammo in my nightly “Dutch ovens“, so there you have it ;).

The other recipe satisfied the gluten-free and white-meat-only eaters out there, and was another tasty concoction – a white bean and chicken chili, with loads of chili powder. Maybe I’ll share that one a little later on.

And of course, there’s no such thing as chili without some cornbread, and we all know how much I love cornbread, right?! No pics of it, and no leftovers either. Sad faces.

But when it came to the chili, we were happy to eat it for another couple of nights. Happy faces!

Oh, and GO, Bears! 49-ers? Ok, ok, YAY GIANTS!

 

Beef & Pinto Bean Chili with Ancho, Mole, and Cumin
Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2009 via Epicurious; serves 12-16

I should add here, that the serving sizes are NOT generous (maybe 1 cup each). They’re based on the fact that this chili was eaten after tons of other snacks were consumed, so ginormous bowls of chili were not had. If you’re making this chili for dinner, I’d guess that this exact recipe yields closer to 10-12 servings. But it’s hearty, so consider yourself forewarned!

printable version

time commitment: at least 4 1/2 hours, most of which is inactive

ingredients
chili
2 T cumin seeds
8 bacon slices, chopped
1 4-pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 c)
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
7 c beef broth, divided, possibly more
1/4 c pure ancho chile powder
1/4 c chili powder
2 T mole paste
1 T salt
4 t apple cider vinegar
1 T dried oregano
1 bottle of stout beer
4 15-oz cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c masa (corn tortilla mix)
1/4 t cayenne pepper

garnishes
Chopped green onions
Queso fresco
Sliced fresh  jalapeño chiles
Tortilla chips

instructions
Toast cumin seeds in heavy small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool; grind finely in spice mill or in mortar with pestle.

Meanwhile, sauté bacon in large pot over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to large bowl. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in 3 batches, sauté beef in drippings in pot until browned, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer beef and most drippings to bowl with bacon. Add onion and garlic to pot. Sauté until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 c broth to pot. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return beef, bacon, and any accumulated juices to pot. Mix in ancho chile powder, chili powder, mole paste, salt, vinegar, oregano, and cumin. Add 6 cups broth, stout, and pinto beans; bring to boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer gently uncovered until beef is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by 1/2 cupfuls if chili is dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Mix in masa by teaspoonfuls to thicken chili or add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin. Season chili with salt, pepper, and cayenne, if desired.

Chili can be made up to 3 days ahead (and making it ahead does give flavors time to meld, so try to make it at least a day in advance). Let cool at stovetop for an hour, then refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before serving.

Set out garnishes as desired. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Anytime, anyhow

You’d think I’d be a “get up early in the morning and make breakfast girl” since I have this nutso dream of owning a B&B one day. You’d think that waffles, quiches, and pancakes would dominate the posts here, and that the breakfast section of the recipe page would be enough to dedicate a separate page to it. You’d think all these things, but as it turns out, your thinking would be wrong.

I barely make breakfast. Meaning, I double a recipe of granola or granola bars, and I hope they last us a week or two. Making breakfast is reserved for times when we have company, and even then there are way too many great brunch spots to take advantage of in Chicago.

Nonetheless, I’ve always been a fan of breakfast for dinner, and in this group I’d include practically anything involving poached eggs, even though often times you’ll find them in dinner recipes as well. Eggs in purgatory? A very easy recipe that now that I think of it, needs to be revisited. Salad with bacon and poached eggs? That sounds like two ‘breakfast ingredients’ to me.

This one here might be stretching it a bit on the breakfast front, but maybe not.

I mean, I’ve seen a-plenty of breakfast burrito (heck, I had one for brunch today), so it certainly seems plausible to have a breakfast taco in the AM hours, don’t you think? Of course, since I really don’t make breakfast at breakfast all that much, this was most certainly consumed in the nighttime hours.

I’m imagining a remake with scrambled eggs, not that there’s ever anything wrong with the poached variety. Basically, you can have this anytime, anyhow, and even anywhere.

Beef barbacoa all by itself isn’t the worst concept, either. Though you could easily buy the beef already spiced in most any Mexican market, I prefer to spice it, braise it, and marinate those flavors all by my lonesome. Should you choose to do the same, I suggest you plan ahead, as the beef will be tastiest if you let it hang out in the pot, once cooked, overnight.

However, if you are making yourself a meaty breakfast, overnight is just enough time to let those flavors come together, and it might be all the time you could stand before shredding it up and eating it, anyway.

Beef Barbacoa w/ Poached Egg
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010

printable version

ingredients
1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
6  T salsa, divided (make your own, or buy bottled; I prefer Frontera Salsa)
2  T water
8  (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
4  large eggs
1/4  t kosher salt
1/4  t freshly ground black pepper
1  cup Beef Barbacoa (recipe below)
1/2  c (2 ounces) cotija cheese, crumbled
1/4  c finely chopped fresh cilantro
4  lime wedges

instructions
In a small saucepan, mash beans with fork. Combine beans, 2 T salsa, and 2 T water in saucepan over low heat until warm, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and heat tortillas in oven for about 8 minutes.

Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Break 1 egg into each of 4 (6-ounce) custard cups coated with cooking spray (if you have them; otherwise add eggs to large saucepan full of water). Place custard cups in simmering water in pan. Cover pan; cook 8 minutes. Remove custard cups from water. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over eggs.

Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates, and top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons bean mixture. Top beans with 2 tablespoons Beef Barbacoa. Place 1 poached egg on each plate so it overlaps both tortillas. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon remaining salsa. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Beef Barbacoa
Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010; serves 10 (2 oz servings)

printable version (beef barbacoa only)

ingredients
1  t freshly ground black pepper
1  t dried oregano
3/4  t kosher salt
3/4  t ground cumin
3/4  t ancho chile powder
1  (2 1/4-pound) boneless chuck steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1  c water
2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1  T fresh lime juice

instructions
Preheat oven to 300 F.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; rub oregano mixture evenly over beef. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 c water and garlic to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover and bake at 300 for 3 hours or until beef is very tender. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Skim fat from surface of broth. Remove beef; shred with 2 forks. Return beef to pan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer mixture 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates; stir in lime juice. Reduce heat to medium, and cook beef 3 minutes or until crisp in spots.