Friday, September 28, 2012

Turkey Black Bean Chili

I don't know why but making chili has always kind of intimidated me. Every chili lover I've spoken to has said that it takes all day to cook, you have to have the right proportion (and kind) of beans, or is it no beans? The right kind of meat, the right chillies, the perfect blend of seasoning. It all just seemed really daunting for a dish that I don't really love that much.

However, chili is a great meal for those cool nights in the fall and the even colder nights in winter, when you want something rich and hearty to "stick to your ribs" and warm you up. Vince really likes chili, and all types of stew for that matter, and started begging me to make it for him. My quest for a simple yet tasty chili recipe began.

Right around that time I was discovering new food blogs. I was still pretty new to the whole blogosphere so I was very excited to find cooking related blogs. I stumbled upon one of my now favorites, PreventionRD. She was holding a chili contest on her blog. I scrolled through and waited patiently for the "right" one to appear.

Just by chance, she posted the perfect recipe on October 11, 2010. Our second anniversary. It was fate. I made it with a batch of corn bread and Vince devoured it. He was elated that I made him chili and I was happy that it not only tasted awesome but only took about an hour to make. I have been making this same recipe ever since.

So, once the temperatures dropped below 60* I decided it was time to make a batch of chili in our new house. It would be Max's first time having it. I wasn't too worried because the kid loves spicy food. I sometimes have to put hot sauce on his food to get him to eat it. Weirdo. Anyway, it was a huge success! This is the most I have seen him eat of any one food at a time. I think it knocked Chicken Tikka Masala out of first place for being his favorite food. He had three helpings at dinner, then he had it for lunch the next day and wanted it again for dinner! Seriously he could not get enough. He cried when we ran out. So I'll be making a double batch next time to freeze some. I might throw in a few more veggies too, just to get him to eat more of them.

Turkey Black Bean Chili
Adapted from PreventionRD


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
1 Pound Ground Turkey
2 15oz Cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
14oz Diced Tomatoes (I use fresh but canned work too)
15oz Tomato Sauce (I use homemade but canned or jarred work too)
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

  1. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large stock or soup pot.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, and bell peppers.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  4. Add the turkey and cook through.
  5. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and cover.
  7. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Turn off the heat and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  9. Serve topped with diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, or anything else you feel like putting on it!

Yields 8 (1/2 cup) servings

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Starbucks Iced Coffee

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks Coffee. I find their roasts to be a little too bold for me. They almost taste burnt. I do love foo foo drinks though and Starbucks has oh so many to choose from. Even though I could happily drink a Caramel Macchiato or Iced Mocha, I can not justify spending that kind of money on coffee. Vince on the other hand drinks them like water. Especially before we moved. Vince's daily commute was upwards of 1 hour each way. He would leave the house at an ungodly hour just to try to beat rush hour traffic. The years of this commute gave him a huge iced coffee addiction. He literally gulps them down in seconds. He would order several to drink on his way in to the office every morning. Do you know how expensive this got!?!

Now that we have moved, Vince's commute to work is literally 5 minutes, maybe 7 if he hits a red light. There is no more need for him to get several coffees on his way in to work and he really does prefer sleeping in to making a stop at Starbucks. However, he still loves his iced coffee.

I saw a post somewhere (I'll be honest, I don't remember where) talking about making iced coffee at home. We tried several variations and even bought the iced coffee k-cups for the Keurig. Nothing really matched the flavor of Starbucks. Then someone mentioned that The Pioneer Woman had an awesome recipe on her site that mimicked the ever elusive coffee. Sure enough, it was awesome!

The great thing about this is that it really does taste like Starbucks iced coffee and it costs pennies per serving. The unfortunate thing about it is that I now must drink at least one a day, sometimes several. If you know me at all, you know I can't tolerate much caffeine. I get shaky, jittery, and generally start acting like I just snorted a bunch of coke. Needless to say, that first big batch of fully caffeinated coffee concentrate did not do me much good. Vince and my mom both loved it though!

Moving forward, Vince has since kicked his iced coffee habit (for the most part) and my mom the coffee addict doesn't visit very often. I will be making a new batch of coffee concentrate using decaf and then proceed to horde it all. I mean it! I'm not sharing!!

Starbucks Iced Coffee
From The Pioneer Woman


1 lb of Starbucks (or your favorite brand) Ground Coffee
2 Gallons Cold Water
2% Milk (or whatever you prefer)
4 14oz Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk (adjust according to your taste for sweetness)
Optional: Flavored Coffee Syrups (I prefer Torani brand and the sugar-free syrups are zero points)

  1. Pour the coffee grounds into a very large container.
  2. Pour in the water.
  3. Lightly mix to wet all of the grounds.
  4. Cover and let sit overnight, or for 12 hours.
  5. Prepare a large pitcher or jug (must be able to hold 2 gallons of coffee).
  6. Place a fine mesh strainer over the opening of the pitcher.
  7. Line the strainer with coffee filters (or paper towels).
  8. Very slowly begin to pour your coffee through the strainer into the pitcher. This step takes some time but it is worth it to not have coffee grounds in your pitcher.
  9. Pour the cans of sweetened condensed milk into the coffee and mix thoroughly.
  10. Refrigerate the mixture.
  11. Once the coffee is cold, get out a large mug.
  12. Fill your mug with lots of ice (you can freeze coffee in ice cube trays and use that so it won't water down your drink as they melt!
  13. Fill your mug about with delicious sweet iced coffee
  14. Add a splash of milk (or your creamer of choice) and Voila! perfection.
  15. If you prefer flavored coffees, just add a splash of coffee syrup (like hazelnut, caramel, or coconut).

Yields: 2 Gallons of Coffee

Monday, September 24, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday

Well, here we are again. Monday. The dreaded day of the week. We're all exhausted here. We've been running with out of town trips and company for the past couple of weeks and now Max seems to be having a growth spurt and isn't sleeping well. What I wouldn't give for a few quiet hours alone in my house right now.

The first weekend of September, Vince's step-mother, two sisters, cousin, and I all loaded up in my car for a road trip to rural PA for Liz's bridal shower. That's right, Vince's baby brother Tony is engaged! Squee! We are so happy for both of them and they have asked Vince to be a groomsman and Max to be the ringbearer. Yay! I met the little flower girl that Max will be riding in the wagon with and she is adorable. The wedding is set for the end of December in Nashville. I've started getting Max's attire together, starting with a new pair of flame Vans. :)

While the girls were having fun at the shower in PA, Vince's dad was staying at our house. So before we left on our trip, I had to get our guest room and bathroom ready, stock the house with food, do laundry, clean, and all of the other stuff you do when overnight guests are coming. They had a great time! I was a little anxious since this was the first time I had left Max overnight but the guys' weekend turned out just fine. Max sure does love his Grandpa.

We had a little bit of a break until my mom came for a visit. She has been seriously ill since have complications from gall bladder surgery. She finally got the okay from her doctor to fly so I immediately booked a flight for her. It had been 6 months since I had seen her and couldn't wait for her to get here. It was the first time she was visiting our new house so we were out exploring every day! We went to the cool play area at the mall and rode the train and the carousel and had ice cream afterwards, we went to the Reston Zoo, the Leesburg Outlet mall, to Max's art class, the farmer's market, and we explored downtown Herndon. In our limited time at the house we managed to bake zucchini bread and chocolate no-bake cookies. Max helped Grandma make spaghetti and meatballs with homemade tomato sauce.

Needless to say, I haven't had much time to blog but I have been making new recipes like crazy. The only problem is that they typically get eaten before I have time to take any pictures. Oh well, such is life.

Max had a pretty good lunch today. It consisted of:
Snap pea crisps
Raspberry Jello
Juicy Juice 100% grape juice, 4oz box
Peanut butter & blackberry jelly on whole wheat squares (it is really hard to tell in the picture but the sandwich was cut using an Elmo imprint)
Green grapes
Oikos 0% fat blueberry Greek yogurt