But Sugar is Sweeter

Archive for December, 2012

Three Bean and Beef Chili

IMG_3417

As much as I love an interesting dessert, or a buttery breakfast baked good, usually when I am scouring the internet for recipes, I am looking for dinner.  After all, it is technically possible to go a day without dessert (well not for me, but for some people); but most everyone would agree that at least one meal is a necessity.  So while classic chili might not be the most exciting thing ever posted here, I can say that this is a tried and true recipe that will keep you warm on a wintery night.  This is a real crowd pleaser, and my mom even requested that we make it as her birthday meal.  Personally, I would’ve gone with the Lobster and Corn Chowder, but I guess that’s why it’s her birthday ;-).

For the longest time I only liked turkey chili, but I’ve found that extra lean beef actually has the same amount of fat as turkey, with the added benefits of a healthy dose of iron and a lot more flavor.   Be careful though, because using anything less than 90/10 will give you that greasy chili that I personally think is gross. (I prefer my fats disguised in baked goods, not floating on top of my soup).  This chili is not particularly spicy, but can easily be toned down or up with the addition of extra jalepenos or crushed red pepper.  Similar to the Cincinnati Chili, this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which really adds a dimension of flavor so don’t leave it out.
IMG_3418

Classic Beef and Bean Chili

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beer (or water)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can chili beans, in sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper, if desired
  • Shredded cheddar, green onions, additional jalapeños and corn chips for topping

Directions:
Brown the beef in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Drain off fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and beer (or water) and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

While the beef mixture is cooking, place one can of beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the remaining two cans of beans, along with the mashed beans, into the chili and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cilantro and chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with desired toppings.

Adapted from Cook Like a Champion 


Baked French Toast

IMG_3405
After 5 straights days of early wake-ups to cold, dreary rain, sleeping in on a Saturday and enjoying breakfast sounded like a much better idea then running.   Back in Toledo, when the weather gets bad I tend to hit up the treadmill at our apartment complex, but on my last away rotation,  it just seemed like a waste to brace the weather to drive to the gym, just so I can run in place.  I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised that my runs in the cold rain have been pretty enjoyable, it’s just much harder to take that first step out the door on a Saturday morning.  In fact, I’ve now made it my goal to run outside all winter this year.     So in comes this amazing french toast, that can be made the night before and ready within 30 minutes of waking up on a sleepy Saturday.

This is really the perfect meal for company because to make a double batch would be no extra trouble.  It certainly beats sitting over the stove and flipping pancake after pancake while the finished ones sit in the oven getting soggy.  Besides, I have always preferred French toast to pancakes, which likely stems from my childhood (okay..and high school..and college) obsession with all things French.  This dish is really wonderful enough to eat on its own, with out added syrup or butter, which is something I would rarely say about pancakes.  We served it with some turkey sausage, and it made for such a cozy warm Saturday morning.  And thanks to some help from lululemon (my unfortunate new obsession), I still had a good run in the rain later that day.
IMG_3401

Baked French Toast 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 loaf (about 1  pound) brioche or challah, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk (at least 2%)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • sprinkling of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar or fresh fruit for serving, optional

Directions:
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and nutmeg and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Adapted from: Cook Like a Champion, Originally from Bon Appetit, Y’all