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   Zzzghy  My girlfriend and I had a one-on-one chili cookoff for Thanksgiving and I'm pretty sure I was hosed by the judging procedure. Why? because the five judges were all her fellow employees. I had nobody in the game. That, plus she's a real photographer and all I had was my crappy little phone camera and that didn't help. I admit my picture has an unintentionally Alpo-like riff, but hey -- it's chili. The taste-testing was allegedly "blind" but you know how that can go...

I went traditional Texas chili con carne from a recipe from Texas Monthly (pinched from the Chili Cookoff article from a couple months back ); with NO beans and options on the side. Judy went SoCal -- chili with beans -- and that didn't help either considering we live here. The only leveling requirement was the use of ground beef. They were both pretty good but I feel I am within my rights to throw a couple flags and demand a rematch. Like in Tejas.

   December 4 at 17:39 EST .

   4 people like this.

   MeiDei  When researching drying fresh ginger (health wall ) I found this:
Microwave Dried Herbs
Fresh herbs
plain paper or parchment paper

Make sure your herbs are clean and completely DRY.
Working with one herb at a time, lay them out in a single layer on a piece of paper that will fit in your microwave. If possible, remove the leaves from the stems.
Microwave on full power for anywhere from 30 - 90 seconds, depending on your herbs and your particular microwave. (see chart below )
Check the herbs and if they feel crisp they are done, but if they feel soft, microwave them for a few more seconds. Don't over-do it or they will turn brown and burn.
Let the dried herbs cool down and then crush them with clean hands, and package them in small jars or plastic bags.
Store in a cool dark place and use within 6 months.
Times are based on using a 1000 watt microwave. Add seconds more when using 600-700 .oven. Shouldn't have any browning.
Cilantro~ 30 seconds
Sage~ 75 seconds
Thyme~ 45 seconds
Marjoram~ 60 seconds
Basil~ 40-50 seconds
Parsley~ 60 seconds
Tarragon~ 60-70 seconds
Oregano~ 60 seconds
Rosemary~ 60 seconds
   November 5 at 17:17 EST .

   8 people like this.

   BirdsNest  If possible store the herbs uncrushed. That way you preserve the oils in the leaves. Crush them prior to use. And use jars with tight fitting lids.
November 22 at 06:56 EST .

  6 people like this.

   StormCnter  I found this in Texas Monthly and it's labeled the Only Texas Chili Recipe You Will Ever Need. Some of you might find it fun to read over. Or maybe to try with the advent of cooler weather. I use Gephart's chili powder instead of all those chilies, but otherwise it's all familiar. And if you don't have lard, Crisco in the can (not the liquid ) will work just fine. There are NO BEANS, I repeat, NO BEANS, in Texas chili.
Serves 8 to 10
12 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
7 pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, then ground
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted, then ground
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds beef chuck roast
1/3 cup fresh leaf lard (preferable ) or shortening
2 large onions, chopped
15 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup tomato paste
1 can (15 ounces ) tomato sauce
3 quarts chicken stock (set aside 2/3 cup for the masa harina )
1/2 cup masa harina whisked into 2/3 cup hot chicken stock
kosher salt

Heat a heavy-bottomed 12- to 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a layer of the chiles. Cook, turning often, until a strong chile aroma—one that is not bitter or charred—emanates from the pan. Do not allow the chiles to burn. Spread the chiles on a wire rack to cool and become moderately crisp. Repeat until all the chiles have been toasted. Grind the chiles to a fine powder in an electric spice or coffee grinder. Shake the chile powder through a fine strainer to remove any large pieces. Combine the ground chiles with the cumin, coriander, oregano, cocoa, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Set the mixture aside.

Trim the chuck roast, removing all fat, gristle, and tendons. Chop the meat by hand into 1/2-inch dice; set aside. Melt the lard in a heavy-bottomed 8-quart (or larger ) Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, add the meat and sear, stirring often. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted and transparent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to blend well. Cook, stirring, until the tomato paste is thick and dark in color, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and chile-spice mixture. Stir to blend well, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a full boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in the masa mixture and salt to taste. Cook, uncovered, an additional 30 to 45 minutes on low-medium heat, or until the chili is thickened and the meat is fork-tender. Stir often to prevent sticking. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve hot and add your favorite toppings (diced onion, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, corn chips, et cetera ).
October 21 at 11:58 EST .

   10 people like this.

   MeiDei  That's a lot of work but sounds delicious. I made the old-fashioned kind that included beans, which added considerably to the conversation for two days after.
October 26 at 21:28 EST .

  11 people like this.

   StormCnter  It's not a lot of work if you eliminate all that chile pepper roasting and peeling and grinding and sifting. Just use a good brand of chili powder. I put about 4 tablespoons in my chili.
October 29 at 09:07 EST .

  8 people like this.

   MeiDei  All things Lemon - how about this easy one:
Lemon Cheesecake Crescent Roll

Prep time 10 mins, Cook time 12 mins, Total time 22 mins

Author: Cathy Trochelman
Serves: 8
1 package (8 count ) refrigerated crescent rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, cold
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. lemon extract
zest of ½ lemon
1 c. powdered sugar
1½ Tbsp. lemon juice
zest of ½ lemon

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Beat on medium-high speed until mixture comes together.
Unroll crescent roll dough into triangles; spoon cream cheese filling onto wider end of each triangle. Gently roll the dough, starting with the wider end and tucking the corners, into crescent shapes.
Place 2 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment -lined baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Let rolls cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, prepare glaze by combining all ingredients until smooth.
Drizzle glaze evenly over rolls.

   October 7 at 15:59 EST .

   9 people like this.

   MeiDei  It's late in the season here for an ice cream recipe but I know we have lemon lovers here who live in the warmer regions of the USA. This recipe is too easy by far, enjoy!

1 1/8 cup full fat sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup full fat sour cream
1 small whole lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed (use ripe meyer lemon for best results )
Add all three ingredients into a blender. Blend on high speed until lemon is fully dissolved (about 30 seconds on the smoothie setting for my Blendtec ).
Pour into container (metal loaf pans work great ). Thump bottom of container against the counter a few times to let the ice cream settle and smooth out. You can also use a spatula to help smooth it out. Freeze overnight.
Adapted fromLady and Pups
All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.
Don't forget to let us know how it comes out.
   October 1 at 16:30 EST .

   11 people like this.

   StormCnter  Lemon ice cream is my favorite and can seldom be located. Thanks for the recipe.
October 6 at 10:00 EST .

  10 people like this.

   Surfhut  As an add-on to MeiDeis post below about freezing fresh tomatoes: I grow a lot of basil and oregano in pots every Spring and have those fresh herbs all summer. Near the end of growing season, I harvest the herbs, put them in a blender with olive oil, and drop portions into an ice cube tray (cover them in plastic wrap ). All winter, I can pop out a frozen cube of basil or oregano suspended in oil to use in whatever dish is on the menu. YUM.
October 1 at 08:02 EST .

   13 people like this.

   MeiDei  As an at home mom I made all my son's baby food (except fruit ) using the ice cube tray method of freezing. (It was 5X cheaper than buying the jars ). Once the food was frozen I popped the cubes out & put them in ind. freezer bags for use as needed. The cubes didn't stick to each other by being frozen first. Love the idea of freezing herbs in oil, thanks for adding.
October 1 at 16:41 EST .

  13 people like this.

   MeiDei  I was reading about freezing whole tomatoes on Kevin James website and saw this little tidbit in the comment section - thought you'd appreciate it too:

"One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes is in Roasted Tomato Sauce. Lightly grease or spray an 8x 11 pan. Set oven at 200*. Core (but do not peel ) enough tomatoes to near fill pan, add a peeled onion, a cored green pepper, and a couple of cloves of peeled garlic. Roast overnight night or about 8 hours. Allow to cool and place in one or two zip locks. You can scrunch the mixture in the zip lock or leave it chunky. I add my spices while heating it up. It is great on pasta or in chili, or with chicken parmesan.

This recipe came from the Williams Sonoma catalogue about 20 years ago."

Kevin just puts whole tomatoes in a zip lock freezer bag and freezes. Later he removes the tomato & slips it into a bowl of warm water so the skin slips off easily. If you have more tomatoes than friends & family to share with, this seems to be an easy solution to a bumper crop and not a whole lot of spare time.
September 10 at 11:52 EST .

   12 people like this.

   MeiDei  I keep calling him Kevin James - he's really Kevin Lee Jacobs and has a great website if you like gardening and cooking!
September 12 at 20:16 EST .

  12 people like this.

   Surfhut  This really works. I buy huge amounts of tomatoes every summer when they are at peak flavor and freeze them. It is such a joy to have those yummy tomatoes to make pasta sauce with in February!
October 1 at 07:57 EST .

  8 people like this.

   StormCnter  Whew! I made Turkey-Rice-Raisin Stuffed Bell Peppers yesterday and they are really scrumptious. However, it took a couple of hours from start to finish and a really messy kitchen to clean up. I can't cook in a messy kitchen, so part of the two hours was consumed by my washing up and wiping down. The recipe included toasted walnuts, lots of mozzarella and feta cheese, oven time and broiler time, too. As I said when I started this comment...whew!
August 20 at 09:46 EST .

   13 people like this.

   ALynnMcW  Could you use cranberrys instead of raisins I wonder?
August 25 at 10:14 EST .

  11 people like this.

   StormCnter  I don't see why not, ALynn. Maybe the dried version?
August 29 at 14:00 EST .

  6 people like this.

   Jerico  I don't feel like I'm done cooking unless all the pots and pans are dirty!
September 10 at 01:48 EST .

  14 people like this.

   Mike PHX  Maybe a 5 page recipe is not the way to stir it up.
Best Hangover Meatballs
Frozen meatballs
Mushroom soup
Throw in microwave for a couple of minutes.
Blow on to cool. Eat.
July 5 at 05:15 EST .

   15 people like this.

   Mike PHX  But if one is lucky enough to have access to honest to goodness fresh chicken pot pie...versus this crap?
What, are you crazy?
July 5 at 05:25 EST .

  9 people like this.

   StormCnter  Do you use Mama Mancini's meatballs that I hear advertised on the radio? Or will just any meatball do.
July 5 at 14:50 EST .

  15 people like this.

   Mike PHX  Suddenly, I need Mama Mancini's meatballs.
Pray, tell me where.
July 6 at 22:24 EST .

  13 people like this.


That should be the store locator page, Mike.
July 8 at 06:15 EST .

  7 people like this.

   StormCnter  This site has gone silent. Maybe I can stir it up a little bit (grin ). A few days ago, I made a Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie from a recipe I stole on Facebook and adapted. It was really simple and easy, using rotisserie chicken, Pillsbury piecrusts, frozen mixed vegetables various spices, heavy cream, chicken broth. My husband loved it so much he ate almost the entire thing. I'll post it if it appeals to anyone. BTW, the pie is picture-perfect when it comes out of the oven. I baked it in my cast-iron skillet.
June 28 at 12:30 EST .

   12 people like this.

   Jerico  Please do
June 30 at 19:23 EST .

  16 people like this.

   StormCnter   Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie
1/4 cup butter
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp dry tarragon leaves
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 (14 oz ) package refrigerated pie crust
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp cold water (Egg wash )
Set pie crust package out to bring to room temperature (easier to handle ).
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or similar with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In a separate large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter. Cook the celery and green onion in the butter for a few minutes or until the celery is beginning to soften.
Lower the heat to medium, stirring constantly add the flour to the skillet. Stir until the butter has absorbed the flour.
Continue stirring, gradually adding the chicken broth. Increase the temperature and bring to a boil. Add the cream and immediately lower the heat to simmer. Add the poultry seasoning, garlic salt, tarragon, lemon pepper and black pepper. Mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and mix in the chicken and vegetables. Mix well.
Unroll one pie crust and fit firmly onto the bottom and sides of the skillet. Pour the filling into the crust.
Fit the second crust on top. Fold under pressing the edges of the crusts together and pinching to seal.
Cut slits in the middle of the crust to vent. Brush with the beaten egg wash.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden. Rest for 10 minutes then serve. Resting is important so the filling sets a little bit more. Easier to serve.
July 1 at 06:17 EST .

  19 people like this.

   Jerico  sounds good. best part is no cream of whatever soup that so many recipes count on. I'm going to have to try it.
July 4 at 19:17 EST .

  15 people like this.

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