Crockpot Chili

The weather here in the great northwest took quite a turn last week. We went from weeks of sunny warm weather, to wet and much colder weather.

(I’m crazy to admit it, but I was kind of glad. I love me some fall foods.)

Anyways, I’ve been trying to crockpot my way back into cooking a meal each week, and this recipe was a super easy way to do it – while honoring a return to cold weather food.

(Oh, and I use ‘chili’ in the pop culture way – because apparently, according to Sheldon Cooper, real chili does not have beans in it. I learn so many interesting things from him.)

The Recipe:

Crockpot Chili

1 lb ground beef, browned

3/4 c onion, diced

3/4 c celery, diced

1 can green chilis

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 cans kidney beans, drained

1 can cannellini beans, with liquid

1 T chili powder

1 t dried parsley

1 t salt

1 t oregano

Place all ingredients in crockpot and and cook on low for 8-9 hours.

The Results:

So, I have to be upfront and honest about something. Hubs may have helped me out the night before by prepping all the ingredients for me. This was super helpful because, as he put it, it would’ve taken me 45 minutes to prep what took him only 20. (It’s a sad, but true fact.) Anyways, that basically just led to me just dumping everything in first thing in the morning – SO easy.

And it turned out really good.

Now, this is not a gourmet chili or a specialized chili, or anything fancy like that. This is a regular basic chili that I think everyone would like. It’s hearty and delicious – and is wonderful for leftovers.

(And everyone in the family enjoyed it – which is crazy and hardly ever happens around here.)

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Turkey Burgers and a Camping Re-cap

We’re home!

Finally.

(I know you all missed me… I know I missed you.)

It was quite an adventure, let me tell you.  Here are the 10 most important things I learned while camping:

1.  Just because you’re camping at the end of July does not guarantee nice weather (especially in Western Washington).

2. If you end up in the middle of a downpour that lasts for hours (and the biggest excitement for your boys is watching the water drip off your tarp), it’s okay to have a Plan B.

3.  It’s even better if your Plan B involves a gorgeous house, with a state-of-the-art home movie theater, several drinks, a hot shower, and a warm bed – not located in the same room as your children.

4.  Going back to the campsite the next morning after the rain finally stops shows determination (and proves to your husband that you are not a quitter).

5.  Sticks and rocks can keep boys happily occupied for hours.

6.  We have some of the most beautiful views off the coast of Washington.

7.  Camping near a naval air station is great when watching their jet planes do manuevers over the beach during the day… but not so great when they practice those same manuevers every 20 minutes from 10pm until 1am.

8.  Sleeping all-together in one tent with no dividers is not a good plan.

9.  Baby wipes are a Godsend for any situation.

10.  Even though there’s about an 80/20 ratio of work to play, it’s all worth it to see faces like these:

Now for a recipe. 🙂

The Recipe:

Turkey Burgers, adapted from Cooks Illustrated, July/August 2012

20 oz ground turkey meat

6 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

4 pieces of bacon, sliced into small pieces

1 T soy sauce

1/4 t salt

pepper to taste

Place mushrooms, soy sauce, and bacon in food processor.  Pulse into a paste. Move into large bowl, adding ground turkey, salt and pepper.  Combine using hands until well mixed.  Form into patties and grill.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

In all honesty, I did not make these, Hubs did – and I forgot to take pictures. But these are the most amazing turkey burgers I’ve ever had (and they even have mushrooms in them!).  I just had to share them with you all.

Hubs had made these a couple of weeks ago and froze the patties – but you couldn’t even tell.  They were juicy, meaty, and a perfect way to treat the burger craving – they taste almost exactly like beef patties.

~~~~

I’m off now to continue the post-camping recovery – which includes a good book and a comfy bed.  🙂

(Oh, and I’m trying to catch up with all the posts I’ve missed, so bear with me if it takes a couple days to visit you.)

Cheesecake (Take Two), 200 Posts, and a Giveaway

This is not how I’d expected this post (recipe) to go.

I was going to come out, all my culinary guns a’blazing, showing off my growth with an awesome cheesecake to celebrate 200 posts.

But, alas, that was not to be.

Instead, things did not quite go right…

So, Wednesday was my husband’s birthday – and I had the whole day (foodwise) mapped out.  Breakfast in bed, lunch out, tasty dinner, and a lovely cheesecake (his favorite) since last year’s did not go according to plan.  I was going for gorgeous looking and delicious this year.

The morning was a whirl – as I cooked breakfast, made the cheesecake, and set up dinner in the crockpot.

The cheese cake was a recipe I’d found on foodnetwork.com and had almost 500 reviews with a culminating score of five stars.  I was confident it was going to be a snap.  And it seemed as if it were.  The only thing that threw me off was that the recipe said to take the cheesecake out after baking for 45 minutes and that it should be jiggly.  It even stated ‘do not overcook.’  So, I left it in about 5 minutes longer and then forced myself to remove it, jiggly, as the recipe said.

After that it needed to cool and then be placed in the fridge for 4 hours to firm up.  No problem.

And when I finally took it out and released the springform mold, it looked gorgeous!

No cracks and a perfect crust! I was so proud…

It wasn’t until I began to slice, that things started to go wrong.

Apparently, it had not set.

I was so thankful at this point that we did not have guests.

(Did I mention that I wasn’t feeling well, so our friends cancelled?)

(Oh, and the dinner I made was not eaten – I’ll share that story next post.)

All in all, it was not turning into great day for him (or me).

Isn’t this just what you’d want on your special day??

(And yes, I also made a delectable strawberry coulis that was totally wasted – for those interested, mix strawberries, honey, and a little lemon juice to taste in a blender until smooth.  Delish!)

I was so sad.  I really felt like I’d let Hubs down on his special day.  But, of course, he found the silver lining of throwing away the rest of the cake, “At least we won’t eat all those extra calories, right?”

Sure, I guess.

But I was so looking forward to all those calories.  (And I felt that I’d let him down.)

Anyways, after a little introspection, I’m feeling that this recipe was a lesson for my 200th post.  It was the Cooking Gods letting me know that I still have so much to learn – so they gave me a little humbling experience to drive in the point.  They wanted me to renew my desire to continue to grow as a cook; to take chances and gain from the successes and the failures.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

(And, as the Cooking Gods are my witness, I will make a perfect cheesecake before post number 300!)

(Oh, and I’m going to spoil Hubs rotten on Father’s Day to make up for it.  So don’t feel too bad for him.)

~~~~

Anyways, on to the really fun part of this post… the giveaway!

In celebration of 200 posts, I am giving away a $20 gift card to Williams-Sonoma to one of my lucky, lucky readers.  They have a ton of amazing culinary toys that are sure to please everyone.

To enter, leave a comment for the following:

First Entry:  Share your favorite recipe (and a link if you have one).  (I’m really looking forward to seeing these – always looking for new things to try. :) )

Second Entry:  Like Misadventures in Cooking on Facebook.  (If you already do, just leave a comment telling me you do.)  Or subscribe to receive emails in the box on the right.

Third+ Entries: Share this giveaway on your blog, on FB, on Twitter, or any other social media.  One extra entry for every time you share.

(Make sure that each of these is in a separate comment.  Enter your email in the comment form, so I can contact you if you win.  I will be choosing a comment using Random.org next Friday, June 22nd at noon, Pacific Time.)

Thank you all, once again, readers, for keeping me positive and encouraged – you certainly help me keep going after days like Wednesday!

Good luck!

Dark Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream

It’s been awhile since I’ve, um, ranted complained about Hubs.

I know you’ve all missed it.  I think Hubs did, too, since he pretty much did everything under the sun to drive me crazy while making this dessert.  (And he unintentionally reminded me why I usually cook when he is not in the building.)

Anyways, I’ll get back to the complaining in a minute.

On a completely unrelated topic, for those of you that have been married awhile, do you ever wonder what you were thinking when you registered for wedding gifts?  I do.  We have so many crazy contraptions that we hardly ever use that we thought we absolutely needed when registering (a shake maker, hot cocoa pot, etc.).  They were great for the novelty at first, but pretty much have been sitting on the shelves for the last 10 or so years.  One of those things that we hardly ever use is our ice cream maker.  (I actually forget we have one most of the time.)

When I saw it, while Hubs was cleaning out the garage, I decided it was very necessary to make some ice cream.  I was excited to try something new (as Hubs was only one who’d ever used the machine), and I wanted to infuse it with a little Girl Scout Cookie love.

I found a well-reviewed dark chocolate ice cream recipe on Food.com – and was going to use it, except for adding the cookies at the end.

But, no, that did not happen.  As the expert, Hubs, was in the building.  And he had better plans (according to him).

The Recipe:

Dark Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream, inspired by Food.com  (but really from Hubs)

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 c milk

1 c heavy cream

3 egg yolks

1 c sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

10 thin mint cookies, crushed

ice

rock salt (or ice cream salt)

Chop chocolate into slivers and melt in microwave safe bowl in microwave (Hubs did 2 minutes at 90%, and it came out perfectly melted).  Set aside

In medium saucepan, heat milk and heavy cream on medium low to the temperature of warm bath water (technical, I know).  Add melted chocolate and whisk until smooth and incorporated.

In separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add a small amount of chocolate mixture to eggs and mix to temper.  Then add the egg mixture into the saucepan, stirring.  Continue to heat on medium until the custard mixture starts to get thick.

Stir in vanilla and pinch of salt.

Place in bowl, cover, and let cool in the refrigerator 1-2 hours.  Move to freezer and allow to cool another hour.

Add mixture to ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine – using the ice and rock salt.

Once the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, remove from machine.  Stir in cookies and place in plastic container.  Freeze until hardened and then enjoy.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was really looking forward to doing this.  On my own.  Hubs saw me prepping, read the recipe, and informed me I would be doing it all wrong.  He then educated me on what I should do instead.  And when I say educated, I mean he completely took over.

He cut the chocolate.  He melted the chocolate.

I was allowed to measure the milk and cream. Exciting, I know.

He separated the eggs.  He let me add the sugar and attempt to whisk.  Apparently, I had the wrong whisk.  He got the right whisk and whisked the eggs.

I got to stir the chocolate into the milk, but he came over to double-check I did it right.

He let me attempt to add some chocolate to the eggs mixture – but when I accidentally bumped his hand while he was whisking, he did it instead.  He added it to the rest of the chocolate.

I got to stir while it heated.  Woo-hoo!

He decided when it was thick enough and had me pour it in a bowl to cool.  And lucky me, I got to put the bowl in the fridge!

The rest we did together.  Or I did with his advice and supervision.  You get the picture.

There were lots of deep breaths taken.  And reminders to myself that he was only trying to help.  And thoughts of the deliciousness that would be mine when it was finished.

But then, to my disappointment, I saw this sad small amount of finished ice cream.  It was supposed to make a quart, but it turned out to be more like a pint.  All that work and frustration for a pint of ice cream.  Grrr!

I was still hopeful that when it froze, it would at least taste amazing.  And it sure did look good…

And it was good, very rich and chocolate-y with little crunches of cookie mixed in.  My only complaints were that the mint cookies were over-powered by the chocolate, and that it was a touch grainy in texture.  If you were to try it, I would strongly suggest adding more cookies and perhaps a splash of mint extract to give it that extra boost of flavor.

I probably won’t be making this again, though.  It was a lot of work (though I didn’t do too much of it) and a lot of time for such a small amount of ice cream.

I think a pint of Ben and Jerry’s might suit me just fine.

And it’ll guarantee the continuation of my marriage.

This is not a real post.

But I don’t have time for a real post right now.

(I promise I’ll get one up later today – or tomorrow at the latest.)

Things are just hectic around here.  I know, you’re surprised.

Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment to prove to you why I still call this blog Misadventures in Cooking.

See, yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Hubs is always in charge of our meal, and this year I took care of dessert.  Here’s Hub’s amazing dish: crab risotto topped with pan seared scallops:

Since we were both chocolate-d out, we decided to go with our old standby of strawberry shortcake for dessert.  A dish I have made many times before.  Unfortunately, it did not quite turn out:

It’s these little experiences that keep me humble.

Good thing I could camouflage it in the bowl with strawberries and whipped cream.

I’m so lucky he loves me no matter what.

Chicken with Orange Cilantro Relish, Take Two {A Guest Post}

Okay….this is the Husband, and it’s time to set the record straight.  Despite all the “rumors” that have been spread about my influence in the kitchen, your’s truly has been nothing but helpful and encouraging….mostly.  I mean, how many people would so readily subject themselves to the experiments of an aspiring cook.

All kidding aside, it has been fun to watch the passion for cooking and baking grow in Courtney and, with the exception of a very few anomalies, her trials are usually nothing short of excellent.

This time,  I was granted the opportunity to redevelop a recipe. While the original was a mostly flavorful and a creative success, we both agreed it lacked something to take it over the top. So, with the ground-rule of staying as true to the original ingredients as possible, I set out to re-create this simple and healthy dish.

The Recipe:

Chicken with Orange Relish, adapted the adaptation from Good Housekeeping, December 2011

2 bone-in chicken breasts cut in half crosswise and skin removed

ground ginger

garlic powder

salt

pepper

2 small clementine oranges, peeled, de-pithed, and cut into segments

3/4 t grated, peeled fresh ginger

1/2 t garlic pressed or minced

1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice

1 T red wine vinegar

1 t brown sugar

1 red bell pepper finely minced (I used half red & half yellow for color)

2 green onions, sliced

1/4 c cilantro, chopped

olive oil

For Chicken:

Preheat oven to 425. Pat chicken dry on both sides with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger on both sides.  Heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, oven proof nonstick skillet. When oil is shimmering and just begins to smoke add chicken, breast side down. Pan sear for 3-5 minutes until nicely browned. Flip chicken and place skillet in the oven. Roast in oven until chicken reaches 160 degrees, approximately 15 minutes

For Relish:

While chicken is in the oven, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add half of the orange segments along with the juice, vinegar, brown sugar, bell pepper and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in green onion, cilantro and reserved orange segments. Set aside until chicken is ready to serve.

Kicked Up Couscous:

Prepare couscous according to package directions, except add 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic to the water at the same time as the couscous. When couscous is done, stir in the juice from half a lime, one chopped green onion, and a couple of tablespoons of finely diced bell pepper.

Serve chicken and relish over couscous.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

From my (the Husband’s) perspective, this dish turned out only slightly better than the original.

While the chicken was more moist and flavorful, the relish still had a slight bitter taste to it.  We’re thinking it might be the vinegar.

All in all, a decent dish, but would probably try substituting something like mango or pineapple to give it a little more flavor and sweeten it up a bit.  The couscous was a hit for both of us, and can be dressed up hundreds of different ways.

Even though it wasn’t the home run I was hoping for, it still was a delicious dish.

{Okay, it’s Courtney – now that I’ve stolen the computer back from Hubs.  

I just want to say that he is way too humble.  First off, his chicken blew mine out of the water.  It was so much more flavorful for the pan searing – and a lot more moist for the way he cut the breasts (as opposed to my sad little fillets).   The couscous was also a big hit.  I loved the addition of the lime, onion, and peppers; it added a whole new dimension.

Now the relish we still need to work on.  His version was definitely better than mine.  Less bitter – but something still seemed off.  I didn’t really mention any of your wonderful hints from the original post, just because I wanted it to be all his plan (plus I didn’t want to give him too much of a leg-up on me.)  I’m thinking next time, no vinegar or an uncooked relish. 

Finally, isn’t he the sweetest with the second paragraph!  And I promise I didn’t bribe him to say it. 

Now let’s give him a little comment love – so he’ll be inclined to guest post again.

Thanks everyone!}

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

I’m getting complaints.

(Not from you all, but from Hubs.)

Apparently, he’s irritated when I make a delicious, amazing recipe – and then proceed to never make it again.

Now, I’ve informed him that there are many fantastic main dishes I’ve made over and over again (White Bean Chicken Chili, Very Lemon Chicken, and Panzanella Salad – just to name a few).  He then clarified and said what he was referring to was my baking; more specifically desserts.

I find I cannot fault him, as I remember some of the delectable treats I’ve made over the last (almost) year – like Trefoil Toffee, Dark Chocolate Souffle Cake, or Homemade Graham Crackers.  I agree with him in some respects, but I personally also find it a bit boring to make the same thing twice.  I like the challenge of baking something new – and the anticipation of whether or not it will fail, meet, or exceed my expectations.

So when he asked for a goodie for us to enjoy with an afternoon decaf coffee, I compromised.  I knew he wanted me to make the Banana Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins, so I looked around blogland and instead found a recipe with the same idea, just in coffee cake form instead.

The Recipe:

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, adapted from Buns in my Oven

1  c semi-sweet chocolate chips

2/3 c (packed) golden brown sugar

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 c flour

3/4 t baking soda

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

3/4 c sugar

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 1/3 c mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large)

3 T buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl until well blended; set streusel aside.

Sift or stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.

Beat sugar, butter, and egg in a large bowl until fluffy.  Mix in mashed bananas and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and blend well.

Spread half of batter in prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle with half of streusel.  Repeat with remaining batter and streusel.  Bake coffee cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Cool for about 10 minutes and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I think I could have aptly named this recipe, the “mix-up everything, substitute away, but somehow still successful Banana CC Coffee Cake” – because seriously, with everything I did wrong, I can’t believe it came out right.

Ummm, let’s start with the streusel.  Well, turns out that I didn’t have any brown sugar – so I looked it up and found you could make your own with regular sugar, molasses, and a food processor.  Done!

The next thing I did wrong was to add my sugar to the dry ingredients, instead of adding it to the butter.  Oops.

Then I just added banana pieces to the batter instead of pre-mashing them.

Oh, and I also didn’t have any buttermilk – but I did have buttermilk powder.  I pretty much ignored the directions on the carton, and just mixed in the water and powder at the same time (which apparently you are not supposed to do).  At that point, I just thought, oh, well…

One thing I did do correctly, was layer the batter and streusel – something I was very excited about.  How can you not love extra chocolate and streusel through the middle of each bite?!  (And a threw in some chopped mixed nuts we had, just to add a little crunch.)

I was really kind of worried as it baked away in the oven.  I did not want to hear about my mistakes from Hubs and/or get an I told you so about using a recipe I’d succeeded at before.  But, you know what?  It turned out just fine.

Now, I did learn a valuable lesson while testing the cake to see if it was done: when you stick a toothpick in a cake that has a layer with chocolate chips in the middle, it will not ever come out clean – it will be coated with chocolate every time.  So I just did my best guess when it was done.  (And I was right.)

To be brutally honest with you, it is a very, very sweet coffee cake.  The flavor and texture are great, but I don’t think I could eat this as a stand alone – it definitely needs the coffee to cut into the richness.  But, with the coffee, it is decadently good.

And the best part…

No complaints.