Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot and Chili

So it's the hottest summer since 1980, and we decided it was the perfect time to make chili. Most of you realize the heat index has been hovering around 117-degrees as of late, so you may be questioning our sanity at this point. Don't worry. We are, too.

But, we decided to make Ree Drummond's Simple, Perfect Chili (p. 82), despite the steamy weather outside. We figured it's summer. Let's make baseball food. Chili cheese dogs it was. Ree's chili is a basic beef chili, and she also lists optional ingredients, such as beans, jalapenos, diced tomatoes and chilis. Some in our little foodie group are bean-opposed. We decided to keep it simple - and perfect.

We started by browning two pounds of Uncle He-Man's ground beef (we're still working on that half-a-cow in his freezer), along with some minced garlic. The smell was worth it right there, enough to perk up the guys and bring them into the kitchen.

Our beef was lean, so we did not need to drain any excess grease. We poured in an eight-ounce can of tomato sauce. Don't worry, that's the sauce, not Lou's sauce. graphic horror films here.

This was followed by the spices.They included oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and salt.

These were mixed together.

This was left to simmer for about an hour.

After the hour was up, we added the secret ingredient: masa. Remember how we went on-and-on about the anthropology of corn in our grits post? Well, masa is the little sister to grits. It is a finely ground, Mexican corn flour. We added a quarter-cup of masa to a half-cup of water to form a thick paste.

This was added to the simmering chili. Because our beef was so lean, we decided to add a little water at this point. Then it looked like Ree's picture. We were feeling a little more confident.

We topped Nathan's hot dogs with cheese and P-Dub's chili. We also brought out homemade, canned bread-and-butter jalapenos, as if things weren't hot enough already. This was the perfect All-American meal for a summer evening.

By the end of the meal, we were all using The Bean's lingo, "More hawt dawgs?"

Happily full,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Break's Over, Folks

We've been on a short two-week hiatus. Chalk full of stuff, though. Jo's family has moved into their first permanent home, while Lou worked her tail off for them. Thanks, Lou. Love, Jo.

Then Lou's little sister and her husband moved into their first home. We are moving fools. While we are very thankful for nice, cool houses, with yards for children to play in, we won't cry if we don't see another moving box for eons to come.

Because we've been crazy-busy, we decided to go to our archive of recipes we have yet to blog about. discuss Ree Drummond's Mocha Brownies (p. 221). Word to the wise: if you're on a diet, stop reading. Otherwise, you'll want to stick your head into the bowl of icing. We were good little girls and actually refrained from doing so. We only ate it by the spatula-full.

First we start by melting four ounces of unsweetened chocolate.

In our favorite Kitchen-Aid mixer we creamed together butter, sugar and egg. We realized we were out of granulated sugar (what?!), so we substituted with sugar's next-door-neighbor: brown sugar. It worked out all right. We think this substitution made the brownies more dense than they normally would be, but it did not seem to alter the taste.

Next we poured in the unsweetened chocolate and added some vanilla.

We poured - or glopped - the batter into the pretty 8x8 purple dish. We realize now, as hindsight is 20/20, that we could have used a 9x13 baking dish, as these brownies came out very thick. It's always something, isn't it?  The brownies were baked for about 45 minutes at 325-degrees.

While the brownies were in the sauna, we moved on to the icing. We mixed powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, salt and vanilla.

Next, we made a pot of coffee because the world is just a better place with a pot of coffee.

We then put some of that coffee into our icing mixture. We whipped the icing into submission until it was nice and fluffy.

We were going to tell you that the icing should be about the consistency of a meringue. However, it has now taken 10 minutes to figure out how to spell 'meringue', so we decided we're not going to tell you it should be the consistency of a 'meringue'. Whatevs.

We spread this fluffy substance over our cooled brownies and refrigerated them for a short time, so the icing became firm.

This will fix any chocolate craving, and the coffee flavoring is a nice twist. Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Happily full,