“Jalapeno” Popper Chili

Fair warning: I have never actually eaten a jalapeno popper. I know what they are, but really my only association with them is this scene from Sealab 2021:

HESH WANTS POPPERS.

Also, I used chipotles, not the jalapenos (very reasonably) recommended in the original recipe at Savory Moments. I know, I know, it’s jalapeno popper chili, but first of all, chipotles are just better, and second of all, there is also bacon in this dish, so it helps to up the smokiness factor! Normally, I would have halved it, as well, but my parents were visiting so making a big pot of something was exactly what I needed!

“Jalapeno” Popper Chili

Ingredients
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
5 chipotles, minced (I scraped out most of the seeds and it still had some heat to it! If you want it more fiery, leave some or all of them in)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 14-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 8-oz package cream cheese, cubed
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, or parsley, if, like me, you’re not going to inflict cilantro on yourself

Method
Put the chicken in a pot and cover with water.
Cover and simmer until cooked through. I’m sorry, I didn’t check how long that took, but when it’s done, take it out and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the water.
In a big soup pot, cook the bacon.
When it’s done, take it out to drain on paper towels, and drain all but (about) 2 tsp of the grease from the pot.
Over medium heat, saute the onion, chipotles, and garlic in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.
Add in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper, and saute another minute.
Stir in the tomatoes and 1 cup of the chicken water (or more if it seems dry; I added a splash more).
Add the corn, beans, and chicken and bring up to a boil.
Turn down (for what) and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the cream cheese until it’s completely melted.
Add the bacon and the cilantro/parsley and stir to combine.
You can serve it topped with cheese if you want, but I found it perfectly cheesy without anything else added.

My other problem, other than thinking “HESH WANTS POPPERS” the entire time I cooked it, was that I’ve been deliberately mispronouncing “jalapeno” for so many years now (thanks to this Trailer Park Boys scene) that it was nearly impossible to remember not to say “ja-LAP-a-no.”

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Ginger and Soy Sauce Pasta

This one is unique. It really does combine these different culinary traditions into one tasty whole. Sure, you could change it to be all one culture – use rice noodles instead of pasta, stir-fry the stuff in a wok instead of a frying pan (although you’d have to change from olive oil to something else, you can’t stir-fry with olive oil due to its smoke point)… or you could cook the garlic less so it doesn’t have that toasty flavour, I don’t know, there are lots of changes you could make. But I recommend that you don’t – make it in all its weird hybrid glory. You’ll enjoy it.

The recipe comes from Pickled Plum. I halved it, which still left us with leftovers, and substituted rice wine vinegar for the sake, which gives it kind of a nice tang. If you have sake around the house, cool – I didn’t, so I had to make a decision!

Ginger and Soy Sauce Pasta

Ingredients
1/2 lb short pasta – I used farfalle, but whatever you like
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sriracha
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
small handful flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
While it cooks, heat the olive oil in a pan over high heat.
Throw in the garlic, ginger, celery, and onion, and saute for 5 minutes or until the onion is starting to brown.
Add in the ground beef, breaking it up as it cooks, until it’s browned through.
The pasta should be about ready now. Drain it and put it back in its same pot.
Drop the butter in the hot pasta; it will probably melt right away. You can give it a stir to coat all the pasta if you’d like.
Pour in the beef mixture.
Stir in the soy sauce, sriracha, vinegar, and parsley.
If everything’s still hot, great, serve – if not, turn the heat on low under that pot and heat everything through first.

So good! And a cheap meal, probably – plenty of pantry staples in here – and the original recipe made a point of saying it was a grownup update of a college meal. But one thing – that sriracha can collect in the nooks and crannies of the pasta, if you choose a kind that has either nooks or crannies, so you might get the odd Spicy Surprise piece. Woo!

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Carrot-Ginger Soup with Avocado

I guess it’s repeat time in my kitchen. Just like my last post, I’ve made carrot-ginger soup before. This one has a different recipe, though, and – importantly – it has an avocado garnish.

The recipe comes from My Little Gourmet, whose Comic Sans I will forgive on the grounds of avocado. I halved it; this was just for me. That was perfect for two reasons. First, it made just about the right amount. Second, I found myself with half an avocado, half an onion, half a lime, and, from another meal, half a tomato hanging around. What could be more perfect – I made a little guacamole, just for noshing on, as well!

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Avocado

Ingredients
1 tbsp butter
1/2 an onion, chopped
thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced
juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (if you’re using canned stock, 2 cups is one can; you should be fine with just the one can)
1/2 avocado, cubed
2 tbsp sour cream, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper

Method
Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, ginger, and lime zest, and saute for 1 minute.
Stir in the carrots and saute another minute.
Add the sugar and salt and pepper and saute another 2 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.
Turn down to a simmer and cover.
Let simmer for 20 minutes.
While that simmers, combine the avocado, about half the lime juice, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl, and set aside.
When the soup is done simmering, puree it with an immersion blender.
Stir in the sour cream, the other half of the lime juice, and salt and pepper.
Serve garnished with avocado.

Of course my avocados sank. It looked really pretty for about 5 seconds. It still tasted fine, though!

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Pulled Pork with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’ve talked about pulled pork before, but this is a little different in that it cooks in the oven, rather than the slow cooker, and you throw a bunch of vegetables in with it, which is kind of nice.

It isn’t the set of ingredients you’d maybe expect for pulled pork – I mean there’s red wine in it – but it doesn’t make it taste strange or like some kind of cultural mashup dish. It’s just good, and SO tender.

Pulled Pork with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

for the pork
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups chicken stock

for the spicy tomato sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

Method

for the pork
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Saute the onion, carrot, and celery for 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Stir in the garlic, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf, and saute for another minute.
Add the pork and pour in the wine and stock.
Bring to a boil.
Cover with foil and put the skillet in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning the pork an hour into it.

for the spicy tomato sauce
While the pork is cooking, heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat.
Saute the onion in it for 4-6 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and paprika and saute another 30 seconds.
Add the tomato and simmer for 30 minutes.
Let cool for a bit, then puree in a food processor.
Leave aside until the pork is ready.

When the pork is ready, take it out and shred it with two forks.
Strain the pan juices into the tomato sauce.
Return the sauce to its pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the pork and heat through.

Also good as a burrito filling!

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Stuffed Pepper Soup

I don’t know if I’ve had real stuffed peppers more than once in my life, but this soup purports to bring all the flavours (and contents) of a stuffed pepper to your soup bowl. However, for those of you to whom I might be married and who don’t care for bell peppers, it only actually includes one actual pepper!

The recipe comes from Frugal Bites, and the only “change” I made was one that the original recipe suggested: bumping the amount of stock up to 2 cups, rather than 1 1/3 cups – not because I need the soup to be thinner or anything, but because I don’t have homemade beef stock kicking around, and a can is 2 cups. And as to thickness or thinness of soup, this is variable by the day. Initially, when you first make it, yes, it will be more soup than stew. But the leftover situation is different because there is rice, and it’s going to absorb some more liquid, and so you’ll have a thicker soup or stew the next day.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
2 cups cooked brown rice (that’s about 1/2 cup uncooked)
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
grated cheese, for serving

Method
In a large soup pot over medium heat, brown the meat with the onion and green pepper.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the rice, worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until everything is heated through.
Serve, garnished with cheese if you like.

It also seems like something that, minus the rice, would be a pretty decent pasta sauce – you’d probably want to adjust quantities there, so it wouldn’t be too soupy, but in general theme and flavour, it could definitely work as a sauce!

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Taco Pasta Bake

This is good. It’s a bunch of all good things mixed together with a bunch of pasta and baked in the oven. Cheese is involved (actually quite a lot of cheese), so naturally there is meltiness. There’s really nothing to complain about.

I made it a little differently from the original (from Bakeaholic Mama). For starters, I halved it. It still filled a baking pan, and the leftovers lasted us for a few days. Sure, it’s just the two of us – if you have a houseful of hungry kids I imagine it’s different – but it was still tons.

Except I didn’t just halve everything straight up. I used the whole green pepper like the original recipe, the amount of onion I used was about equivalent to the full recipe’s amount, and I used the full can of beans. But I decided this was fine, because I also, um, forgot the salsa. So I kind of made do with the vegetables that would have been in a salsa, using a bit too much so as to make up for what was missing. And I also chucked in some tomato sauce to make up for the missing sauciness. So it probably bears merely a passing resemblance to the original, but that’s fine, it’s still good.

Taco Pasta Bake

Ingredients
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 box short pasta – I used radiatore
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, or half a bigger one, diced
1/2 brick of cream cheese, room temperature
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
1 cup salsa, or reasonable facsmile
1 tbsp chipotle powder

Method
Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large skillet, brown the beef with the peppers and onions.
Stir in the cooked pasta and both cheeses until the cheese coats everything more or less evenly.
Stir in the sour cream, salsa, beans, and chipotle powder.
Spread evenly into a casserole dish.
Top with the crushed tortilla chips and tomatoes (we had a serious discussion over what should go on top, and we ultimately came to the decision it should be tomatoes on top, but do what you need to do).
Bake for 30 minutes.

I wish I had actual salsa to have used, but that’s my one regret about the dish. But the creaminess from the cheeses was nice to have as the defining flavour, so I suppose on balance it’s fine.

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Bean and Sausage Stew

Maybe “stew” isn’t the right word here. The original name, where it came from at Dine and Dish, was a “ragout,” which to me sounds like a sauce, but it’s actually a stew in France (a sauce in Italy). So maybe that is the right word. What it is, anyway, is thick and substantial, and it hasn’t got a great deal of liquid in it, but that which there is is thicker than soup level.

It is also, not to put too fine a point on it, delicious. It’s interesting, because you don’t use stock or anything like that, just the liquid that the beans are in and that the tomatoes are in, and the liquid that cooks out of the ingredients. Bear in mind that the bean liquid is often quite salty, so you probably won’t need to add salt at all.

I did halve the recipe, except for the single-can of Mayocoba beans – who’s going to use a half a can of anything? – and I also couldn’t find Mayocoba beans. I looked Mayocobas up and found they were a small, firm, yellowish bean, so I picked up the closest similar bean. Seemed to work out all right! And anytime someone says to use sweet Italian sausage, I swap in the hot kind, because why wouldn’t you?

Bean and Sausage Stew

Ingredients
about 1 lb kielbasa, sliced
about 1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into chunks
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 an onion, chopped into large chunks (I happened to have the half an onion left over from the Japanese potato salad)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp – or less! – salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can Great Northern beans, not drained
1 can Mayocoba beans if you can find them, otherwise any similar bean, not drained

Method
Preheat oven to 425.
Mix all the ingredients but the beans together in a large oven-proof pot.
Pop it in the oven for 45 min.
Take it out and stir in the beans and their liquid.
Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

This makes great leftovers, too, and smells good when you take it in to work for lunch and makes everyone jealous. In case that was something you were interested in.

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Japanese Potato Salad

This little potato salad got controversial beyond its import. I just made it to eat with burgers on a nice summer’s day out on the porch. And then it turned into a whole thing about family recipes. I for one do not have any family recipe for potato salad. My family’s recipe was “go to Safeway, buy Fletcher’s potato salad from the deli, the no mustard kind if possible.” And there’s nothing wrong with that – it was good! – but apparently this is weird. He asked the internet if having a family recipe for potato salad was the norm, which he assumed it was, and the results were mixed. So… I don’t know. Do you have a family recipe for potato salad?

I don’t know if this is going to be my new family recipe – I’m partial to a few other recipes as well – but it is super easy and quick. The recipe comes from Set the Table, which was previously Tokyo Terrace, so she would know from Japanese potato salad. I didn’t even know Japan was into potato salad!

Japanese Potato Salad

Ingredients
1 lb red potatoes, cut into big chunks
1 tsp salt
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
salt and pepper

Method
Place the potato pieces in a pot and cover with cold water.
Add 1 tsp salt.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Then, turn it down to medium and let them cook until easy to stab with a fork, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, put your cucumber slices in a bowl and rub a couple pinches of salt into them.
In a separate bowl, soak the onion slices in cold water for about 3 minutes.
Drain the onion and cucumber and squeeze any excess water out of them.
When the potatoes are done, drain them and put them in a bowl.
Stir them a bit, smashing some of them a little bit.
Mix in the cucumber and onion, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the mayonnaise and mustard until smoothly blended and evenly coating everything.
You can either eat it as-is, which will be a bit warm, or throw it in the fridge for a bit to get cold first.

Now take this outside and eat it on a porch or something! Whether or not you have a family recipe – whether or not this is anything like your family recipe – it’s good anyway and you should eat it.

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Whiskey-Glazed Walnuts

We’re beginning to develop a tradition on the 4th of July, by which I mean we’ve done the same thing 2 years in a row, and that is to spend the evening next door, on our neighbours’ porch, having a few beers and enjoying one another’s company. This year I decided we should contribute more than a few bottles of beer (which this year was a saison we brewed at Hopsters for our 6th anniversary), so I threw together these nuts from Dine and Dish! Side note, I’m going to be stomping around her stomping grounds of Kansas City in about a month – US Air Guitar Nationals will be taking place there, and as you know, I live for that sport and specifically the nationals, since that’s the one time per year I get to see some of these great people. If you want a little taste, the Northeast Semifinals just took place earlier this week, and I was there and wrote up a recap on my other blog.

Whiskey-Glazed Walnuts

Ingredients
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups halved walnuts

Method
Preheat oven to 350.
In a small pot, stir together honey, whiskey, salt, and sugar over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is starting to boil.
Stir in the walnuts so that they are all nicely coated.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the liquid turns light brown.
Remove from the heat.
Drain the nuts through a strainer to remove any remaining liquid.
Line a rimmed baking sheet and spread the nuts out on it so that, as much as possible, they don’t touch each other.
Bake for 8 minutes.
Let cool.
Once they’re cooled, break apart any clusters with a wooden spoon.

As Kristen from Dine and Dish said, you can use these either as a straight-up munching snack, or you can use them as a topping for salads, yogurt, ice cream… the options are limited only by your tastebuds.
Once the nuts

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Brownies with Salted Caramel Glaze

This other thing that I did recently was to take really seriously an off-hand remark from a friend of mine. My office has a skeleton crew on staff in the support department outside of regular hours, and my friend was working the weekend. All it took was one reference to homemade baked goods and my plan was in motion.

These aren’t the first salted caramel brownies I’ve made, but it looks like I make them on a bit of a theme. Those were for some neighbours in our old apartment building who had been having one disaster after another, and these were to cheer up my pal stuck nearly alone at work on a gorgeous Sunday. So if you’re having a tough life, perhaps salted caramel brownies are the solution. Just let me know.

These ones are different from the other batch, though, in that these have the caramel on top, and the others had it ribboned through the batter. The recipe for these ones came from Simply Life. I changed one main thing: I thought I had 2 eggs left, and I only had one. So I made them with one egg. If you read the blogpost that goes with the original recipe, she mentions making brownies from a boxed mix as a kid. I did that too, and I remember that the boxes would say you could either use one egg or two, depending on what kind of consistency you wanted – cakey or fudgey. I couldn’t remember which was which, except that I was pretty sure we only used one, and I was pretty happy with how those boxed mixes turned out. So I figured I’d manage with my one egg. And I did, it was fine.

Brownies with Salted Caramel Glaze

Ingredients

for the brownies
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup flour

for the glaze
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp heavy cream

Method

for the brownies
Preheat oven to 325.
Grease an 8×8 baking dish.
Whisk together the sugar, salt, and cocoa powder in a bowl.
Let butter cool slightly from melting it, then mix it in.
Next, stir in the vanilla and egg.
Stir in the flour until just smooth and combined.
Spread into the baking dish.
Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

for the glaze
While the brownies cool, make the glaze.
Melt the sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. This will take about 3 minutes. Stir frequently.
Stir constantly for 1-2 more minutes until it turns golden brown.
Remove from heat immediately when this change occurs.
Stir in the salt and butter until the butter is melted.
Return to the heat (medium) and stir in the cream for 1-2 more minutes.
Let it rest for 1 minute, then drizzle over the cooled brownies.

When I made the caramel, some chunks solidified, which is only a problem if you don’t want to eat pieces of caramel. In other words, they’ve gone to a good home.

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