Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Chili con Carne for Red Dead Redemption 2

So Red Dead Redemption 2 came out recently, and it looks amazing. I am one of the unhappy few that does not own a device that it is available so I hope that, this time, Rockstar feels like bringing the game over to PC. Sorry, PC gamer problems, you all are here for the food.

I was inspired by the games Southern setting to make this amazing Chili con Carne. My wife says it is the best chili she has ever had, but she is obligated to compliment my food. It is a really great chili and would serve equally well as an entrée or topping for chili dogs, eggs, or chili cheese fries.

I also need to add an obligatory apology to my friend Jay. He hates cinnamon in chili. I think it gives it a quick dash of sweet heat, he sees it as an abomination. Oh well, I will make him eat it anyway!

Ingredients:
¼ lb. of bacon, diced*
3 lb. of ground beef
1 large white onion, diced
1 tbsp salt
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 red fresno chilies, seeded and minced
1 serrano chile, sliced
40.5oz can of kidney beans, drained
28oz can of crushed tomatoes
½ tsp ground red pepper
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp of cinnamon (sorry again, Jay)
1 tsp cocoa powder

Directions:
Heat a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and brown the bacon until all the fat is rendered out and the bacon bits are crispy. Remove, drain, and set aside for later. Next, brown the ground beef in the bacon grease in 1 pound portions, removing each portion after it is well browned. You are going to be simmering the beef later so it does not matter if it is not cooked all the way at this point.

Once you have evacuated all of your beef, add the onions and salt and sweat the onions over medium to medium low heat until they are translucent and soft. Next, stir in all the chiles and sweat down until soft.

Dump in all the spices and cocoa powder and fry them until they are looking toasted and are stinking up your house something good.

Finally, pour in the can of tomatoes and the can of drained beans, and add your reserved meat back in. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes or until a nice thick gravy is covering your chili.

Optionally, serve with plenty of cheese, sour cream, and corn chips.

A really fun party idea is to keep your chili warm in a slow cooker and let your guests serve themselves in individual corn chip bags and load up on toppings. Some people call this a "walking taco" I just think its amazing.
*Pro tip: it is way easier to chop bacon up into a fine dice if you stick it in the freezer for an hour to get hard, not enough to freeze through, but enough to be stiff. That makes it way easier to dice up.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

For Rebecca


One of my sisters is undertaking the "No Meat November" challenge and I am here to support her. She asked me to put together some great recipes that are either vegetarian or pescaterian. Here are some of my favorites:

Vegetarian:

Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts:
A great dish that I love to throw together. It features quinoa, which is a high protein grain that works
great in cold salads.

Mushroom Risotto:
This was really intimidating to make, but it is actually really simple. A lot of recipes have really confusing descriptions and instructions and I tried to make sure mine were very clear and user friendly. I served this with some seared tofu to make a good full meal.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa:
This dip is really good, but I slightly over complicated the recipe. It is pretty easy to make this recipe in a skillet as I described or can just be stirred together cold.

Guacamole:
Guacamole is actually one of my favorite things to make in the winter because I love to make it with pomegranate and you can only really get a good price on those around this time of year.

Not Beef Stroganoff:
This one takes advantage of the fact that mushrooms are really meaty. It is pretty simple to take a traditional and replace the meat with mushrooms. While this is a great recipe, I do need to take a new picture for it.

Here is a link to the rest of my vegetarian recipes, which, given how much I like meat, I have a surprising amount of.

Seafood:

Shrimp Bisque:
Dear God this stuff is good. As the weather gets cold, this is a perfect thing to warm you up with a little spice and a little alcohol.

Another fantastic soup for this time of year. This one is made that traditional way, only white ingredients, but it is easy to make it Maryland style, just add Old Bay!

I have nothing else to say about this one, just make it. It's amazing.

While I provided a traditional set of ingredients for this one, it really is fridge velcro. You can put pretty much anything into it that you want.

This is a easy and simple application of my new favorite way to make salmon. This recipe includes detailed instructions on how to make this amazing dish. 

Ok, the title is a bit of a mouthful, but this is really good stuff. If you have not made crispy skin salmon before, I would recommend taking a look at the previous recipe to get a really good idea of how to do it.

Pretty much the best mussels I have ever had. It is spicy, but amazing. It is not strictly speaking pescatarian, since it includes sausage, but it is easy to leave that out and still have a great dish.

Video: Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire Food Review





Here is a little video of me and some friends reviewing some of the eats your can get from the PA Renaissance Faire

Friday, October 5, 2018

Pretzel Style Sausage Rolls

My Oktoberfest recipe for this year!

My wife has never been a fan of my original sausage roll recipe unless I take the time to trim all the casings off. This has always seemed a little too time consuming for me, so I don't and she doesn't eat them if I make them for a party. This time I just started with a pound of sausage meat and that made the whole thing much easier.

When I was coming up with this recipe I did some research on egg washes and discovered that doing an egg wash with just a beaten egg yolk gets you a deep brown color when baked. When you add a nice serving of large grain salt, it can give puff pastry a pretzel like exterior.

Ingredients:

2 sheets of puff pastry
1lb of pork sausage meat
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg yolk, beaten
salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400

Roll out the sheets of puff pastry. I like to use a rolling pin to smooth any creases, I think it makes it easier to roll in the end. Divide the ground sausage into 4 equal portions.

Take one portion and place it on the narrowest edge of the pastry sheet and form into an even log that stretches along the entire edge. Brush the sausage with some of the maple syrup.

Carefully roll the puff pastry around the sausage and right before the pastry would overlap, brush the bit that would overlap with a little egg yolk to seal it. To make sure the roll has a flat bottom, before I seal it up, I lightly dock, or poke with a fork, the piece that will overlap. This collapses the layers of pastry and keeps them from rising as much. This is mostly a cosmetic decision but I find that it makes the whole batch turn out more even and uniform looking.

Cut the roll off from the remaining sheet. Each roll should take half a sheet, feel free to stretch the dough or roll it out thinner if you find that you don't have enough space.

Repeat for the remaining sausage portions. When they are all rolled, lightly brush with the remaining egg yolk and then sprinkle liberally with large flake salt. If you can get pretzel salt, even better.

Cut the logs into 6 equal portions. I shallowly score the tops twice with a knife, not deep enough that it goes through the pastry, so that they don't expand too much. Again, this is a personal preference that helps the finished product look nice and uniform.

Bake on a greased or parchment covered baking sheet for 15-20 minutes until dark golden brown.

To make the dip, combine equal amounts of maple syrup and mustard. Enjoy!

 If you are interested, here is a great place to find some great info on egg washes and how they work and what they do

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Family Style Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Family Style Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
"But Matt," I hear you say, "you already put up a Spaghetti with Meat Sauce recipe. What is so different about this one? What makes it family style?"
A few things actually! This recipe does not have beer in it, to make it a little more family friendly; it has two different meats, to appeal to everybody; and it is a one pot wonder, as the dishwasher, I appreciate whenever I can make less work for myself.
This is a simple recipe and everything flows well, one step in to the next. It is a very hearty entree, good for the cold nights coming, and it makes plenty of leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 lb spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, sliced
48 oz pasta sauce
parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a stock pot, cook your pasta till al dente according to the package instructions (here are some tips to making better pasta). Strain and leave in the colander while you make the rest of the dish.

Add the oil to the pot and heat over medium heat until it shimmers.

Add in your ground beef and sliced sausage and brown until cooked through before adding in your pasta sauce and bringing it to a simmer over low heat.

Add your cooked pasta back in and serve, garnished with grated parmesan.

P.s. This would go amazing with my Cheesy Roasted Garlic Bread!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Irish Redhead

My wife, Laura, had been going through some stressful times and she needed a drink. She tends to drink very slowly, so it had to be strong, but not taste strong. I searched my kitchen for some inspiration, and came up with this. All the ingredients in this recipe are by volume (the imperial system is confusing).

Ingredients:

2 strawberries washed and trimmed
.5 oz of demerara sugar
1 oz of Ribena* or blackcurrant juice concentrate
2 oz of Irish whiskey**

Directions:

In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the strawberries and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the Ribena and whiskey. Fill the shaker with ice and shake thoroughly to combine and aerate. Pour through a cocktail or hawthorn strainer into a lowball or rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!

*Ribena is a British blackcurrant juice concentrate and is pretty much the only brand of the stuff I have been able to find in stores. I was first exposed to it when my family went on vacation to the UK and I fell in love with it, and I was so glad when I saw it in my local grocery store. If you can find a different variation, I am sure it will work just as well.

**If you replace the Irish whiskey with American rye, you have a cocktail I call a Strawberry Blonde, also named for my wife.