Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chili Cook-Off: Week 3

Well after last week's experience trying to fake chili powder, I had to restock the spice cabinet before making this week's chili. Not only does this chili call for chili powder; it calls for a quarter cup of chili powder. Hold on to your hats!


1lb ground elk or beef
1 can of tomato juice (46 oz)
1 can of tomato sauce (29 oz)
1 can of kidney beans (15 oz)
1 can of black beans (15 oz)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder

Brown meat in a deep pot, i use my noodle pot. While the meat is browning i rinse the cans of beans. Once it is brown you can add the tomato sauce and juice and then i add the seasoning. After it is all mixed together you can add the beans. I found that the seasonings mix together easier if you add the beans last. Let it come to a boil and then put on simmer until supper. The longer it simmers the thicker the sauce will become. So it all depends on when you remember to start it. I like to simmer it for at least 1 hour. Goes good with corn bread or saltine crackers and we add cheese to it.

I used two cups of black beans prepared from dry beans and frozen. Due to other plans, we put this chili together and put it in the crock pot for the day. Our plans ran late and I wound up trying a cup when we got home. The next day I transferred the chili onto the stove to simmer for a while before dinner.


grass-fed ground beef from CSA = $5.00
tomato juice = $2.12
tomato sauce = $1.25
kidney beans = $0.99
black beans = $0.50
chili powder = $1.50

Ordinarily I would not include spices, but since there is so much chili powder I think the cost becomes relevant.

I have the other spices and sugar on hand.

Total = $11.36
6 Servings
$1.89 per serving


I was skeptical of the amount of liquid called for in this recipe. This, coupled with the crock pot, turned out to really go rather badly. When I tried a cup the first night, it was very liquidy and tasted like only chili powder. Once this spent some time simmering on the stove the next day, however, it was fantastic. It only improved with shredded cheddar cheese on top and cornbread muffins. So, basically, if I had followed the directions I would have known it was great to begin with. This chili seems flexible enough to be good as suggested, or on hot dogs or nachos. I'll definitely try this one again, and although (surprisingly!) the chili powder didn't seem as strong on the second day I might decrease the amount next time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chili Cook-Off: Week 2

This week's recipe is a chicken chili. I've only had chicken chili a few times; once was more like a weird soup and the other (which was really, really good) involved a seasoning packet sort of kit thing. So, I don't really know what to expect!

Week 2 recipe:


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 cans condensed chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can tomato paste
2 cans kidney/navy/chili beans (whichever you prefer), rinsed and drained


In a 5-qt. Dutch oven, cook onion and garlic in oil over medium-high heat until onion is tender. Add chicken; cook and stir constantly until browned. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40-60 minutes.

*I have also made this with shredded chicken and it is good that way too.

Well, the biggest problem was that I discovered we were out of chili powder while the vegetables were cooking. Oops. Then I found that we didn't even have enough ground cumin for the recipe. Double oops. However, I looked up the ingredients in chili powder and tried to fake it by grinding some cumin seeds, some chipotle powder, a dash of oregano, a garlic blend, a little extra cayenne pepper, and hope. I also threw in a few liberal dashes of smoked chipotle Tabasco sauce.

chicken breasts = $2.50
diced tomatoes = $0.99 (for the big can; 2 small cans as called for would have been $1.60)
chicken broth (organic) = $2.29
tomato paste = $0.50
kidney beans (canned) = $1.88

I have garlic, onion, oil, and spices on hand. Most of them anyway....

Total = $8.16
6 Servings
$1.36 per serving


I am not a fan of diced chicken, but the texture didn't bother me here. It was tomatoey and rather spicy, although I certainly take responsibility for that given that I made so many modifications in the absence of actual chili powder. As it was, the chili was good. It might just be the context given that my husband and I were just talking about it yesterday, but the flavor and base almost reminded me of a spicy seafood stew. He suggested that we try the same chili with pork, which I think would be great, and/or add corn. I think different beans would be best with pork in the chili too. It reminded me a bit of a tortilla soup recipe I've made that has canned red enchilada sauce as a base.

Overall, it was definitely different and very good. It's an excellent base recipe that will be a springboard for experimentation.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Just for fun

Here's a look at some more of my finished projects from around the holidays.

These are potholders sized for kids that I made using my usual potholder pattern, but less of it and double crochets instead of singles. I made them with some TLC Essentials I had kicking around in the stash, color "Oasis". These were for the kids of the Whoscarf friends. Ravelry page here.

Thanksgiving and Whoscarf 142

A friend of my husband's got married this year, and as favors at their wedding reception they gave out bottles of wine. I used the cork from the bottle to make a Korknisse, which we named Corky, for their Christmas tree.

English pattern here. Ravelry page here.


This was a quick, scrappy project that I think came out looking great. It's another free pattern called Weaved Hotpad, available as a Ravelry download. Ravelry page here.


I made a few Spiral Scrubbies as gifts as well. This one was my favorite, though. They work up very quickly and I could keep the yarn and crochet hook right in my purse while running around in the month of December. Doctor's office, grocery store, post office .... wherever I was, there was almost guaranteed to be a scrubbie with me too. Ravelry page here.


I also made a couple of these cool Garterlac Dishcloths. Ravelry page here. If you've never tried entrelac knitting, this was a fun, easy, and best of all small introduction!


I highly recommend the entrelac cast-on if you are going to try this. I thought a loose long tail cast-on would be okay, but the edge just wouldn't stretch quite far enough. The entrelac cast-on is a little fiddly only because you use a crochet hook and a knitting needle. I think it's totally worth it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sweet Slippers

Back in December I dug up some complementary stash yarn and whipped these up in a couple days. Doubled worsted-weight yarn on size 9 needles knits up quick and cushy!


These are from the pattern Aunt Maggie's Slippers, which is available for free. It's written for a few sizes and, once you get the hang of it, is easily adjustable. The finished slippers are nice and stretchy. I made mine with one strand each of variegated and solid acrylic yarn. The pattern only has two short seams to sew once you're done with the body of the slipper.


Spike couldn't resist them. Whenever he spotted them before they were wrapped, he would announce "Shoes!!" and put them on even though they were enormous on his toddler feet. Once they were wrapped, they were unwrapped and rewrapped numerous times before they were unwrapped a final time by my sister, who actually got to keep them.

I know I'll keep these in mind when I need a quick gift. My only reservation is that they are a little slick on the bottom on our wood floors, so that will definitely go into consideration of who gets their own pair.

Ravelry project page

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chili Cook-Off: Week 1

Some online friends are having a virtual chili cook-off in which we all make the same chili dish during a particular week and at the end of January we can declare a winner. There are four recipes for four weeks, and we're in week 1. I'll post the recipe, my modifications, approximate cost and what we thought of each chili. So, here goes!

Week 1 Recipe:

Caribbean Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1 tsp bottled minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) whole sweet potatoes rinsed, drained and diced
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth/stock
1 cup mango nectar (Kerns or Goya brand)
1 packet MILD chili seasoning mix (McCormick)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
chopped fresh cilantro (optional, I never use this)

Heat oil in skillet. Add turkey and garlic, stir until brown. Add broth, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, seasoning packet, nectar, and allspice. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Serve into bowls, top with fresh cilantro, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

Modifications: I used fresh garlic, two cups of black beans prepared from dry beans, and two small fresh sweet potatos

ground turkey = $2.81
black beans = $0.50
sweet potato = $1.00 @ $0.88/lb
petite diced tomatoes = $0.79
(organic) chicken broth = $1.00
mango nectar = $1.49
McCormick Mild Chili Seasoning = $1.49

Olive oil, garlic, and allspice are on hand.

Total = $9.08
4 Servings
$2.27 per serving

We LOVED it. I let it simmer a little longer than indicated in the recipe, maybe 20 minutes. I don't even like tomatoes and I ate them. I ate everything in my bowl and went back for more. It's got a slightly sweet flavor, but certainly not overbearingly so. My husband suggested adding a mild curry paste next time; I think it would be great with a smokier flavor like from chipotle peppers. It was very good as I made it too.

In the future, I will skip the spice packet and season it myself. I don't have any complaints, but I'll never remember to buy the packet and I have all the spices around already. The mango nectar comes in a 12oz can and the recipe only calls for 1 cup, so I will probably freeze the extra 4 oz of mango nectar to combine with the leftovers from the next time I make this for a 3rd round of chili out of two cans.

Yum. What a surprise!