Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crock pot grits and green chiles, chili, and mashed potatoes (I mean cauliflower!)

I've been in the mood for comfort foods since I've been back in Michigan (and apparently also in the mood for foods starting with 'C').  It's all because it's been snowing a lot and dark by 4, and that leads to seasonal depression.

I've been dying to try out my new crock pot (thanks Mammom and Papa!), but I haven't been home for more than a few days since I got it.  It finally got a trial run on Monday.  I needed a recipe with a short cooking time because I didn't want to leave it on all day before I tested it out a time or two, but I couldn't stand the thought of waiting til the weekend to try it.  Luckily I found a recipe in one of Dad's books for green chile grits.  This was perfect because I got some local stone-ground yellow grits the last time I was in Atlanta, and kept meaning to cook some.  About the time the grits were done I added some browned turkey sausage slices.  It was so good (and still is!).  I'm not sure why, but things are always better when you cook them for a long time at lower temps.  I found a blog by a woman who made a New Year's resolution to use her crock pot every day in 2008.  That's quite excessive (although sometimes she uses it for non-food things), but she has some good recipes.  I'm excited to try some out!

Today I made some chili.  Al gave me his Chili recipe a while ago, so I finally got it out and gave it a shot.  I only made 1/3 of a recipe because I wasn't in the mood to invite the whole neighborhood, so here's the reduced version with my adjustments:

2 Tbl butter (I didn't use it - just coated the pot in cooking spray)
2 medium onions, sliced
1 lb ground beef (I used 3/4 lb because it worked out more conveniently)
1 can (20 oz) tomatoes (I used 28 oz can diced tomatoes)
2/3 can (6 oz) tomato paste (I used a whole can)
1 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp)
2/3 tsp MSG (no thanks)
1/6 tsp tabasco
1 Tbl chili powder
1 can (20 oz) kidney beans (I used 15 oz can)

Melt butter, add onions, and cook until tender.  Add ground beef and cook until brown.  Add everything else except beans, cover and simmer for 45 min.  Add beans and simmer 15 min.

It was good.  Probably not the best chili I've ever had (I may add a few more dashes of tabasco to give it more of a kick), but I'm still excited to eat leftovers.  Perhaps if I'd used the butter and msg it would have been wonderful.  I was excited to try out some of the ground beef that I picked up from the Amish people at my farmers' market (along with the sausage in the grits) before it closed for the winter.  They called it "lean", but the label just said "ground beef."  There was hardly any fat that came out when I browned it, so it must be extremely lean, but it had a really good flavor.  And the sausage was good too!

And finally, I made some mashed cauliflower today.  I boiled the florets until they were falling apart (about 20 min).  Then I let it drain for a while to get as much water off as possible, but it was still wet enough that I didn't add any milk.  I added a little bit of butter, salt, garlic powder (just for you, Dad), and cheese (I used Havarti because it was already grated, but I'm sure anything would be fine).  It is SOOO good, and I swear that it tastes exactly like potatoes.

Settle in for a lot more soup/stews and homey foods until the weather gets better (maybe around July??).

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