Friday, November 20, 2015

First Snow = Chili!

We had our first snow tonight and the cold temps made me hungry for chili.

When it comes to chili, I am a purist. My recipe is simple and I don't intend to change it. Ever.

I don't know if I've ever felt like making any other kind of chili. I can appreciate white chicken chili, sweet potato chili or any of the other variations out there, and some of them are quite good, but I don't choose to cook them.

This is the recipe my Mom made and the recipe my kids will grow up eating.

Seriously, the hardest thing about this recipe is cutting up an onion. And it doesn't lack for flavor, I promise! The spices in this recipe reflect the fact that I want my kids to be able to eat it. Want it spicier? Add some peppers or more chili powder.

If you are reading this in the midwest you should think about throwing on a pot for dinner tomorrow. It is the perfect meal to warm you up after playing in the snow.

It can simmer for 20 minutes or 2 hours and be just as good.

My Mom's Chili
1 lb ground meat (pork, beef or turkey)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 can chili beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder

Cook the onion and ground meat in a large stew pot. Drain if necessary. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn to low heat. Cover and let simmer until ready to eat. It is best when simmered at least 20 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peppers

Looking for a new way to use spaghetti squash? Try my Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peppers.
It comes together quickly and is a great fall dish.
I like this recipe because there is not a heavy sauce covering up the flavor of the squash.

The sausage and pepper topping is a recipe that I make and use in many different ways. It can be grilled in foil packs in the summer or sauteed in a pan and used as a main dish on it's own, over spaghetti or of course, over spaghetti squash.

Bonus - the leftovers are amazing if you toss them in a skillet and add a couple beaten eggs. You could even add a little cheddar cheese.

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peppers

1 lb kielbasa (I use a lighter turkey version)
3 peppers, I use one green, one red and one yellow
1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 spaghetti squash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep the squash by washing it, cutting it in half and removing the seeds.
Place cut side down in a 9x13 baking dish. Add about 2 inches of water.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until the squash is fork tender.

While the squash in the oven make the toppings. Slice the onion and peppers. Mince the garlic. Slice the kielbasa into bite size pieces.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Toss in the garlic, onion and peppers. After about 2 minutes turn the heat down to medium and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After ten minutes add the kielbasa. Cover and cook until the peppers and onions are soft.

Once the spaghetti squash is done use a fork to scrape it out of the skin. Top with the sausage and peppers and add salt, pepper. It is also good with a little parmesan sprinkled on top.

I hope you like this dish - my whole family did, the kids even had seconds!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Holidays, Food, & Nostalgia

I recently wrote an article for The Des Moines Register about how food, holidays, and nostalgia go hand in hand. It was a fun piece to write and I was able to tell some great stories from other people around Central Iowa.

In the piece I talk about my Gramma Verna and the treats she used to make at her beauty shop. I still make many of the candies she made to this day but one stands out above the rest. They are her crunchy cereal bars.

Here is my Gramma fixing a customer's hair.

This picture is special for a couple reasons. One - it's probably the only picture I have of Gramma in her beauty shop. Two - the woman who is getting her hair done used to babysit my sister and me from time to time. Her name was Oleta and she collected owls. Every time we went to her house she let us wander through every room counting all of her owls. She also made the best pistachio fluff.

Back to the bars... They are simple to make and decadent. When I made them to take photos I only kept a few at home and sent the rest to work with my husband. I did not want to be tempted with the whole pan.

Crunchy Cereal Bars
Verna Sterling

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups corn flakes

Put the cereal in a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup and butter until butter melts and comes to a full boil. Remove from heat, add peanut butter and mix well. Pour over cereal and mix well. Spread in a 9x13 pan and let cool completely before cutting.

To read the whole article and see the recipes others shared, click here.