Fall is officially here, Halloween has past and the clocks have gone back – there is no way to deny that cold weather is here and colder weather is fast approaching. Yes, winter is coming but this year I’m ready with tons of quick and easy soups. I’ve always been a big soup person, but I’ve realized I need to branch out beyond the classic butternut squash soup and the easy potato soups and attempt other varieties. After being surrounded by pumpkins at the grocery stores the past month or so I decided to grab one of the smaller pie pumpkins and see what all I could do with him – that didn’t involve baking a pie. After debating a pumpkin bisque, I decided to go for broke and attempt a pumpkin chili. I know from previous experience that sweet potatoes and butternut squash go well with chilies (and beans) so figured that the similarly tasting (to me) pumpkin would also fit well in this equation. One of those if x=y and b=y than x=b moments – and there we also have proof that on occasion I did occasionally pay attention in math class.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 vidalia onion, diced
- 1 serrano pepper, diced
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or store bought)
- 2 cups dark kidney beans
- 2 cups light (or "normal") kidney beans
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, "chili style"
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne powder (optional)
- 1 cup vegetable stock, divided
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 7 minutes, or until slightly golden.
- Add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Stirring once at around 30 minutes - at which point if chili is too thick add some of the stock 1/4 cup at a time.
- Remove lid and taste, add more spices as needed. Then cook for a final 15 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
This recipe is one of the few that I made up on the spot and decided to just go ahead and post – typically something gets tested a few times but I was so impressed with how this all came together I couldn’t resist. For those seeking a milder chili swap the serrano for a jalapeno – and for extra mild seed the jalapeno first. As for toppings – chives, cheese, and sour cream are the staples in my house but there is no right or wrong way to top your chili. Another awesome thing about this recipe is it can easily be modified for a slow cooker. Just pre-cook the onion and peppers (either day or night before) and then toss all ingredients in to the slowcooker. When using the slow cooker I add the full cup of water and cook on low for 7 hours, easier to thicken it up with flour than trying to rescue a scorched dish .
When I saw the challenge for /52weeksofcooking was North African cuisine, I was a bit nervous. Most of my recipes draw on meals I’ve had or meals I’ve seen prepared on one of the many cooking reality shows on TV. While I’ve prepared a few tagines, that’s really the limit of my N. African exposure so I set out on an internet search. First I decided to focus on nations in Central North Africa, in order to avoid the temptation to do another tagine or something that might be considered more Middle Eastern. Which is what led me to finding the Algerian Brik (or Borek), which seems to come in many varieties across N. Africa thru the Middle East and up in to South Eastern Europe/South Western Asia. After reading a few articles on the history and origin of this easy to transport dish I realized I had a different version of it while in NYC last winter. So with my new found knowledge, and a half dozen recipes, I set out to figure out the best way to conquer this dish while living in temporary housing. I decided to use pre-made phyllo dough and got a variety of ingredients for the fillings. Previous experiences with phyllo dough led me to go for the flat “panini” style we had in NYC but I’m hoping one day to have the skills to make these cigar or “eggroll” style.
Traditional filling includes eggs, which I used in two of the boreks. All of them were filled with onion, spinach, mashed potato, and a garlic clove.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 12 sheets of phyllo dough (10x20)
- 2 cups mashed potatoes , divided in to 4 portions
- 1/2 lb fresh spinach (or kale) well washed and torn
- 1 cup onion, diced and divided in to 4 portions
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs, cooked scrambled style (optional)
- 1 cup feta cheese (optional)
- Take three sheets of phyllo, make sure to cover any not being used with a moist papertowel, and fold in half so that the sheet becomes 10x10. Place desired fillings in the middle third on the phyllo dough, and then fold over the edges as if wrapping a present - ends first and then sides.
- Preheat oven to lowest setting possible, along with a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or other flat-bottomed pan. Place borek folded side down in the pan and cook for 7 minutes, or until starts to turn golden. Gently flip the borek and repeat on other side.
- Place the finished borek on the cookie sheet in the oven in order to keep warm while preparing the final boreks.
I love dishes like this, quick and simple with a million different preparations. Once I’m fully moved in to our new place I’m hoping to give the fried version a try, though I think I’ll stick to pre-cooking the eggs if I use them. I served this with a bit of Greek Yogurt, though sour cream would also work – or nothing at all!
Originally this post was going to be a guest post for an awesome food and crafts blog but for some reason they decided to not use it So after waiting for over a week to see if they would change their mind, or just respond letting me know they got the original email with the post, I decided to share it here. When it comes to fall my mind always goes to varios types of candies, and the variety of ways they can be used. Last year I made some Kat-Kit Cookies while the year before that I treated my friends to some Kit Kat Cheesecake. This year I debated all sorts of goodies, and then realized this was going to fall in the middle of our trans-state move and scaled back a bit. After checking what my temporary kitchen had equipment wise, I went for a triple layer bark – with some fall colored M&Ms (tho left over M&Ms from Halloween would work just as well). This recipe is so simple, with or without a double-boil, it just requires prior planning since the bark takes a bit of time to “dry”.
- 1 lb semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 lb white chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups M&Ms
- Line a cookie sheet (or pizza pan) with a single layer of wax paper.
- Set up a double boiler and begin by melting the white chocolate chips. Once they are liquid slowly pour them in to the center of the parchment paper. Use a knife to slowly spread out the chocolate as evenly as possible.
- Then begin melting the orange chips (or the orange colored chips) repeating the process of pouring them over the white layer. Repeat with the final chocolate chips. By going from light to dark there is no need to clean the double boiler between meltings, saving some cleaning time.
- Slowly and gently pour the M&Ms over the chocolate layers doing your best to avoid clumps. Once finished allow to chill to room temperature and then place in fridge for at least 1 hour.
- To break the bark either a) use a pizza cutter or b) use the wax paper to bend and break. Eat and Enjoy!
I got lucky and found a bag of Halloween themed chocolate chips (not pictured due to spaz – this photo is with a “regular” bag of chips) and spent a bit of time splitting up the orange and black in order to create the triple layer effect. Another option would be two bags of white chocolate chips and using food dye to create the orange layer.
I normally make this the night before, that way when I get up in the morning it’s ready to break. I took this batch to work as a good-bye treat for my coworkers, and to insure I didn’t eat the entire thing by myself…
I’m also sending this over to /52weeksofcooking for their candy week – homemade bark with store bought candy make the perfect treat!
Spicy Chili Peanut Sauce
For the most part my house is a peanut free place, since I find my husband functions best when not dealing with an allergic reaction. However this move has us spending work days apart while I wrap things up in NoVa, and he starts his new position in Maryland. Needless to say I have gone a bit peanut crazy, to include eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. The other week I was doing a basic stir-fry when I decided to add some peanut butter to the dish, to see what would happen. The result was incredible so I decided I had to replicate it and figure out how to get the perfect balance between the spicy chili and the delicious peanut butter.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Japanese eggplant, roll cut
- 1/2 lb bok choy, chopped whites and torn greens
- 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce (or more to taste)
- 1 1/2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook 3 minutes or until garlic starts to turn golden. Add the eggplant and the white section of the bok choy and cook for 7-10 minutes, the eggplant should start to turn slightly brown and become soft.
- Meanwhile mix the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, and chili sauce. Once the eggplant is soft add the sauce along with the bok choy greens and toss well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then stir and taste - adding more of the chili, soy sauce, or peanut butter as needed.
- Serve over brown rice or soba noodles and enjoy!
If sauce is too salty or spicy add vegetable stock or water, 1/2 tbsp at a time until desired taste is reached!
The first time I made this dish I wasn’t sure how things were going to go, but learned once again that randomly experimenting with ingredients can produce spectacular results. One tip, if using creamy peanut butter make sure to add some fresh peanuts to the dish in order to keep the satisfying crunch! I’m sending this over to 52weeksofcooking for their nuts week, which I’m thankful fell during the time when my hubby was out of the house