Three Bean Chili

Whole Foods had canned beans on sale the other week and I stocked up. I figured it’s October and we should be getting chili weather soon. It’s not to be. We are still in the upper 80s and low 90s half way through the month. I finally decided I didn’t care that the weather is still saying summer – I want chili.

img_20181014_090920So … clean out the fridge and the cabinet and let’s see what we come up with. Three cans of beans, 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, some vegetable broth, spices, a needs to be cooked now yellow pepper and half a red onion. That’s it. At the end – shredded cheddar cheese that I picked up a while back for tacos and you have a meal. I was a little surprised at how well this turned out – and it was even better as enchiladas later in the week. (I forgot to take a picture of that though.)

Recipe:

  • 1 can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can white bean (pick your variety)
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 pepper (I had yellow on hand, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated/shredded cheese for topping (optional)

Peel and dice the onion. Dice the pepper. Drain and rinse the beans – set aside.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan that can be covered. When hot, add onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Onion should be translucent and peppers should be softer, but not mushy.

Add spices and toss to coat. Cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, then add tomatoes and half the vegetable stock. Mix, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add beans and mix well. Add the rest of the broth. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Uncover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Check and adjust seasonings.

 

 

Barbanera, White Blend – 2015

  • Basic info: Collezione Famiglla Barbanera, “Pian Oro” White blend – Tuscany, Italy, 2015
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $15 (local wine store)
  • Look: pale yellow straw
  • Smell: lemon, honey, pear, cut grass, peach
  • Taste: Soft lemon – not sweet but round and not really tart – apricot, white grape, honey. Lemon candy and peach on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Nice wine. Easy to drink.
  • Other notes: I picked up this bottle because I wanted to try something different and it looked pretty good. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was a nice wine to have for a few days. It wasn’t my favorite with dinner, but by itself it was good. Given that it is October, I was really hoping for some cooler weather and a good red right about now, but summer is hanging on an 90 plus degree days with high humidity kind of call for white wine.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes.

img_20180924_180738

Panther Rock Wine Cellars, Rose of Pino Noir – 2016

  • Basic info: Panther Rock Wine Cellars “Six Degrees” Rose of Pinot Noir, California – 2016
  • Type: Rose
  • Price estimate: $13 (local wine store)
  • Look: Orange/pink. Darker than expected for a rose.
  • Smell: iced tea, raspberry syrup
  • Taste: Powdered ice tea mix, artificial lemon flavor, raspberry. Not as sweet as it sounds and it has a tart finish.
  • Conclusions: Very weird, but not un-enjoyable. Easy enough to drink, but it didn’t really remind me of wine.
  • Other notes: When we were kids my parents use to buy these very large containers of powdered iced tea mix. I think dad liked the lemon flavored tea, but we made a gallon at a time with the powdered mix. This tasted exactly as I remembered that powdered iced tea tasting. Seriously, I looked at the bottle twice to make sure it was actually wine and not tea. It has that slightly artificial taste, but it isn’t unpleasant, maybe because it reminds me of childhood, but there it is. It could also be the 11 hour day at work that preceded this glass of wine.
  • From the bottle: “Raspberry with notes of peach and melon; a crisp finish. Gently pressed and cold fermented to attain peak flavor and balance.” 12% alcohol by volume.

img_20180912_200430

Cat Blanket #2

This is the second cat blanket. I actually finished the knitting part of the blanket before I made the scarf, but I didn’t have the edging done. Mom graciously offered to sew the border on for me since she has a sewing machine. I really should look at getting one of those, but I generally just hand sew the few things I need to fix, but if I start making more blankets with borders, I might just have to get a sewing machine.

The yarn really makes this one. I love how it change color and has the great mixing effect between the blue and the black areas. I could not have done that on my own (not yet anyway) so the yarn is the start here. The stitch is a basic seed stitch – knit one, purl one – in every row with an odd number cast on. (I think I cast on 75 stitches.) There are some definite issues in places, some from my knitting and some from the yarn (it was very thin in some places and very thick in other places), but overall I love the blanket. My edges were weird, which is why I decided to add the border – it hides all manner of issues.

I also tried blocking this time, which was new for me. I think it helped the blanket hold it’s shape a little, and I know the edges seemed a little better after blocking than they did before.

But yay! Another knitting project complete.

 

Phebus, Torrontes – 2017

  • Basic info: Phebus Torrontes, Mendoza Argentina – 2017
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $11 (Total Wine)
  • Look: Very pale yellow; dried straw
  • Smell: lemon flower, honeysuckle
  • Taste: Floral. Lemon, honey, herbs and nectarine. Not sweet, but with a sweet note. Descent finish with a touch of peach on the end.
  • Conclusions: Good wine, nice to drink with dinner or on the couch. Not fussy or very complex, but fine for drinking. Might be a little too floral for me.
  • Other notes: I picked up this bottle so I could check off Torrontes on my list of wine varietals to try. I had no idea what it was like or if I would even like it, but it wasn’t bad. It’s not my favorite and not something I’m going to go back to again and again, but I’d give it another shot. I think this was one of the last wines I took notes on when I started back to work this year. Most of the last few weeks were wines we drank in June and July. The nice thing about doing the blog posts just for fun and for myself is that I can skip taking notes if I want to and just enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. I needed the break from dissecting wine for a while so I took it. I should have some more interesting wines coming up and those I’ll take notes on and post – especially now that we are back to fall and I’m getting in the mood for red wine again.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the Total Wine site, “From Argentina’s northern region of Mendoza comes this crisp and refreshing, oak-free wine made from 100% Torrontes. A nose of fresh cut lemons with a hint of lime is followed by layers of citrus on the dry and refreshing palate.” 14% alcohol by volume.

img_20180819_185719

Bacon Bread

It has been a very long time since I made bacon bread. A very long time. But it was Dad’s birthday and I wanted to make him something that I knew he would like. So … bacon bread.

Bacon bread was inspired by the bacon buns grandmom use to make. She never wrote down the recipe so when I started to try to figure it out, the bread never turned out exactly right. But eventually I got it right. There is a slight sweetness to the bread which matches to the salty bacon. Add some onion and keep some of the fat from cooking the bacon and you get a moist bread that tastes delicious. I’ve thought about trying to make a vegetarian version, but I don’t think it would work nearly as well.

The nice thing about this dough is that there is enough for two loaves. I could have made one large one, but making them slightly smaller means less baking time. It is also easier to tell when the bread is done and the crust is pretty without getting overly dark.

Recipe:

  • 3-4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast (or one packet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg (optional) for brushing on top
  • 12 oz. bacon
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (if using uncured bacon – skip if bacon is cured)

Heat milk, water and butter until warm (120 degrees). Add yeast and let sit for five minutes until foamy. Combine one cup of flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir together. Slowly combine the yeast mixture, the mix (using a dough hook if using a mixer) until a very soft dough forms. Add the eggs and one additional cup of flour and mix well.  Beat on medium-high speed (if using a mixer) for two to three minutes. If mixing by hand, mix until soft dough forms and is smooth. Mix in about a half cup flour and mix well (about 8 minutes with mixer).

Flour a clean surface. Turn dough onto floured surface and add about 1/3-1/2 cup flour to the top. Mix and knead the dough by hand for about ten minutes. Add more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, but keep dough soft. Return to bowl, cover and let rest while you make the filling.

Rough chop the onion so the pieces are small enough to be in a filling, but large enough to be noticed. (No, this isn’t very precise, but that’s okay – the onions can be a variety of sizes and it still works). Chop the bacon into pieces, discarding some of the fat as you cut.

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and once heated, add bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is cooked. Drain the fat. Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onion. Cooke, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Drain fat again. If your bacon is uncured, add maple syrup and stir well. Remove from heat.

Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into large rectangle. Add half the filling and spread evenly over the dough. Tightly roll the dough starting from the long edge. (Fold dough over edge, pick up and roll onto itself until you reach the end.) Form rolled dough into a circle and place seam side down on a baking sheet. (I like using a Silpat as I find it keeps the bottom from burning for me.) Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover and let rest/rise in a warm area for about an hour.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Once pre-heated, beat remaining egg and brush onto the loaves the bake for about 35 minutes. If loses sound somewhat hollow when tapped, they are done.

Let rest and cool on wire rack.

Wagner Vineyards, Rielsing – 2016

  • Basic info:Wagner Vineyards estate bottled Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, NY – 2016
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $12.50 (Total Wine)
  • Look: Translucent pale straw
  • Smell: apple and petrol (I know, it sounds awful and I have definitely smelled better wine)
  • Taste: Good acid, apple, pear and some mineral notes. Not too harsh with a nice petrol finish. (I know, that sounds weird, but it was a nice finish.)
  • Conclusions: This was a really nice wine and one that won’t break the bank.
  • Other notes: When I looked through the whites we had on hand one day I noticed that they were all “better” bottles. Bottles that I want to open when we have company or can bring with us somewhere to enjoy with friends. I needed something I could just sit and enjoy and so a trip to Total Wine was made. (It was a Sunday, or I would have suggested our local wine store, but was what it was.)  I picked up a few sub $15 bottles and so far have not been disappointed in a single one. Most of them were nothing spectacular, but they paired well with food and were perfectly enjoyable, which to me is the mark of a good wine. This one was particularly interesting to me because it is from the Finger Lakes area of NY and I’ve been hearing about the whites in this region for a while. As a girl who grew up in Jersey and know there is good wine outside the west coast, I really wanted to try it.
  • From the bottle: From the winery notes, “A beautiful pairing wine that will compliment whatever is on your table with a fresh finish and a silky mouthfeel. This wine will continue to unwind beautifully with time in the bottle. This dry Riesling is an outstanding food wine, with nectarine and lime aromas, flavors of citrus and mineral and a crisp clean finish. The opulent fruit is restrained and there is just the right amount of lively acidity to pair beautifully with myriad foods without being bitey.”  12.9% alcohol by volume.

img_20180807_181251