Friday Five: Autumn Preserving

So, I may have mentioned previously- I adore autumn! A recent Buzzfeed article confirmed that this makes me a ‘Basic White Girl’, but I absolutely could not care less what stereotype I’m fulfilling. As soon as I start to have a preference for hoodies over tanks, and light candles rather than bonfires, I’m in my own personal bliss. So, we’re here!

Preserving

One of the things I love about fall is that it’s time for stocking up on all the delicious food available during the warmer months, and preserving it to last through winter. That might make me sound like a pioneer, but to be honest, I feel like such a pioneer when I preserve thins! Granted, I’m preserving food with a gas stove, and likely utilizing blenders and freezers, but still…I feel so insanely productive whenever I can or freeze something delicious to be used later.

On that note, today’s five are items that I am so looking forward to preserving over the next few weeks! Chime in below with what you’re planning to preserve, or maybe what you wish you could preserve!

  1. Sweet jam. Ohio had a weird growing season this year, so we’re only now exhausting our fruit crops. This weekend, I’m looking forward to making a few small batches of peach, or maybe raspberry jam to enjoy in the middle of winter, when locally grown fruit will be only a distant memory.
  2. Savory jam. Yep…I love savory jam! I’m thinking tomato marmalade, or caramelized onion jam, or jalepeno jelly? I don’t really know what makes these jams, rather than chutneys or anything else, but believe that I’m looking into it. Earlier this year, Evan had a Mac & Cheese Sandwich that also featured a spicy tomato marmalade. I’m thinking that a similar spread would be great on a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and bacon…noms!
  3. Roasted tomatoes. I don’t love making tomato sauce to can, because I think it’s actually a bit cumbersome. What I do like to do, though, is roast tomatoes for a while in a hot oven until they get a bit dehydrated and a tiny bit charred, then can those. With very little effort, delicious Ohio tomatoes can be a part of our meals for the next few months!
  4. Pesto! This one won’t be canned, obviously, but now is the perfect time to finish off the basil crop by turning it into pesto and freezing. And, seriously- there’s nothing like the taste of fresh basil in the middle of winter.
  5. Applesauce. This one makes the most sense for the season, I know :) I’ve made applesauce before, and used a food mill to press the flesh from the skins. This year I’m thinking of leaving the skins on and blending- we’ll see how that turns out. Definitely not my grandma’s method, but it might have a little fiber, and I think it should freeze pretty well.

So, stay tuned! We’re probably going to have some preserving posts coming up in short order, and I promise to let you know about our successes, and the failures :)

Steak and Bean Chili

I don’t know how your households go, but in our house Sundays in the fall are football days. Any Sunday that Evan isn’t on duty we start with an awesome breakfast, accomplish anything that deeds to be done in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day wallowing around the house. We flip through games, watching parts of them here or there, open the windows to air things out, throw in a load of laundry, do some homework, but constantly meet back at the couch to see what all of our fantasy players are doing. For us, this is the i.d.e.a.l. way to spend a Sunday.

Steak and Bean Chili 3

Most of these days, there’s a slow cooking meal simmering away all afternoon, and usually that meal is chili. I make a white chicken chili that Evan and my sister love, but I prefer a red chili, full of beef cubes cooked til they are shredding, and pepper and beans, in a thick beer/tomato broth. Noms!

Steak and Bean Chili

If you wanted this to be a weeknight meal, there are two options- you could use ground beef, and it would come together easily. Or you could toss everything in a crock pot and cook on low all day- that would also be delicious. My preference, of course, is to let it cook over the course of a few

hours in a heavy dutch oven, but any way you make it, it’s an amazing fall meal!

Steak and Bean Chili

2 ½ lb beef
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can diced chilis
¼ cup chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin
2 bottles or cans of beer
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

 The meat: If you wanted to make this is a crock pot, or just save time, you might skip this step. If you want to make the best chili possible, you should leave it in :) Start by cutting your beef (steak, a roast, stew meat…whatever you like) into bit sized pieces, and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy dutch oven to medium high, add some olive oil, and sear the meat in batches (I usually do two or three batches). Doing this in batches means that the meat actually gets that delicious brown crust, rather than steaming like it can when you add all of it to the pan. As each batch finishes, remove the meat to another bowl. Once all three batches are finished, check out your pan- it the bottom is super burnt, wash and dry before returning to the stove and adding a bit of oil. If the bottom is a little crusted but not too burnt, cover the bottom of the pan with beer and use a wooden spoon to loosen the crusty bits from the bottom- those will add great flavor.  Reduce the beer until there’s only a very thin coating left in the pan. In either case, move on to the next step.

 The rest: Add the diced onion and pepper to the pan and cook for about three minutes, or until the onion starts to get a bit translucent. Stir in the diced chilis and cook for another two minutes. Stir in the chili powder, oregano and cumin- it will be a bit dry, but I find that cooking the seasoning enhances its flavor. Finally, stir in ONE bottle/can of beer and 2 cans of tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium low for a nice, long time. At minimum, you’d like to cook this for at least an hour for the beef to start to tenderize. Ideally, you cook this for a few hours, stirring occasionally and adding more beer as the chili starts to look dry. 30 minutes before you’d like to eat, add the drained and rinsed bean. Top with anything you like- I love adding cheese, avocado and red onions!

What I’m Reading: Current Events

Welcome to today’s edition of What I’m Reading. I usually post reviews of the various books I read in my leisure time, and that post is definitely in the works for all the books that I read this summer. Today, though, I wanted to check regarding current events. I had to follow a lot of domestic and international news throughout my undergraduate career, and that’s a habit that has carried over into adulthood. The problem, though, is that there is so much happening right now that it can be hard to get a handle on all of the situations that people are talking about.

What I'm reading

So, although it’s a bit more serious than my usual blog posts, I decided to do a round-up of some of the more interesting articles that I’ve read lately. Some topics are international in nature- things like Ukraine’s struggle with Russia, Scotland potentially separating from Great Britain, ISIS. Some topics are domestic- Ferguson, the NFL controversy. And some things are not so depressing- a comprehensive list of soup recipes, for example, and the Pope’s suggestions for being a happier person.

So check it out, click around and read a few articles, and expand your horizons, if you’re so inclined!

-          The Pope’s 10 tips for coming a happier person are really spot on, no matter what your stance on religion is. And there’s a baby goat on his shoulders!

-          People are questioning the motives for the NFL’s selective choice in punishments for players behavior, and this article suggests that the organization’s real concern is sponsorship

-          On a related note, the NFL Players Association, on behalf of Ray Rice, is appealing his suspension. Evan and I have been talking about this, because he didn’t actually break any NFL rules that were in place when it occurred, but that video does not sugar coat. This gives rise to a lot of questions, like is this case being given more legal attention than it normally would? And can you punish an employee retroactively? And, if the Commissioner really did see the video months ago, what the hell else is going on?

-          Israel hasn’t been the focus of international news for a few weeks, but a few weeks ago the only press it was getting was bad press. Here’s a different perspective, written by a former AP correspondent…you may be surprised by apparent media bias.

-          This article has incited a fair amount of controversy- many world leaders are quick to remind the public that terrorist acts and, more specifically, ISIL, is not Islamic, and this scholar suggests that just because these acts are disagreeable to many does not mean that they aren’t undertaken by a sect of the religion. Heavy, but interesting.

-          Soup! This delicious compilation from the Huffington Post includes the recipes for 100 soups and stews- and had photos. Nom!

-          I get a little apprehensive when I feel like topics have been ‘dumbed down’ but this article is actually a really comprehensive look at the history if the Middle East, particularly Iraq. It’s tough to summarize that quantity of information and make it relevant, but it’s a really good read if you need a primer on the region.

-          Pretty much every time I think about Ukraine (and the country has been on my mind heavily since March, when Russia annexed Crimea) I cannot even fathom how Vladmir Putin has managed to wreak so much havoc. In an interesting change, this article suggests that not only should the West have anticipated the Ukrainian crisis, but that the West is also responsible for the crisis- and the author makes a pretty compelling case.

There’s so much more to read, just to keep up with things! But there are the most notable articles that I’ve browsed in the past week or so. What’s caught your eye in current events, lately?

Southwestern Omelets

Friends! We spent the past week at Hilton Head, enjoying an end-of-summer vacation and it was truly glorious. I got to spend six full days reading books and watching two of my favorites frolic in the waves. And when we returned to Ohio, we learned that fall had arrived in our absence- best surprise ever!

Waves

Anyway, now it’s back to our regular programming and that means Taco Tuesday (see also: anything that feels inspired by Tex Mex). Today we have a Southwestern inspired omelet. I love omelets because they’re a great multi-purpose meal- they are totally customizable, so Evan can have his meat heavy version, and I can have a more veggie or creative version, and we’re both satisfied with our dinners.

South Western Omelet

Some people think that omelets are difficult, or too fancy to do themselves, but that’s so wrong! With a non-stick skillet, and a little patience, anyone can have these super delicious and filling omelets on the table in no time. Here’s my method.

 Southwestern Omelets

-          6 oz chorizo
-          ¼ onion
-          ½ red pepper
-          1 cup frozen hashbrowns
-          ¼ cup shredded Monterey cheese
-          4 eggs
-          2 tbsp milk or cream
-          Pico de gallo

Prepare your filling: Dice the onion and pepper to similar sizes. In a 8”-10” non-stick skillet, brown the chorizo for about five minutes, or until mostly cooked. Stir in the peppers and onion, and add the potatoes. Cover and cook for about five minutes; stir, re-cover and cook for five minutes more. Taste the potatoes to make sure that they are both cooked through, and salted well (the chorizo should have taken care of this, though). If the potatoes need more time, continue to cook and check in two minute intervals. Once the potatoes are done, transfer the filling to a separate bowl, and clean the skillet.

Southwestern Omelet 2

Prepare the omelet: Heat your pan to medium heat. If you need to err on one side or the other, heat to a medium-low, rather than a medium-high. Crack two eggs into a bowl and scramble, using half of the milk. Add some lubricating fat to your hot pan (I like spray, but butter or bacon grease are also great). Then, add the eggs. Allow them to cook for a few seconds, then push the outsides to the center, and rotate the pan to coat completely with the raw eggs. I like to over my omelets at this point, and let them cook for a minute and a half to two minutes. (TOTALLY OPTIONAL: I’m manic about cooking eggs. So, at this point I always make sure that the eggs are completely solid, and then flip the omelet. Using a nonstick skillet and some spray, and having a ton of practice, this is pretty easy for me. If you’d like, give it a try! Practice will make perfect.) Once the eggs are set, apply half of the filling to half of the omelet. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, and add pico de gallo as desired. Fold the top half over, and serve with potatoes and extra pico. Repeat with the other half of the ingredients, and you have a delicious dinner for two!

Product Review: Dagne Dover

Guys, I have found my work tote.

No kidding, finding a bag that meets the needs of a working lady is rough. I spend my bus time every day looking at bags that are fraying and sad, or stained and beat up, or chic and tiny (necessitating a three-bag-situation) or are huge and disorganized (I’m looking at you, Kate Spade baby bag that used to be my best option). But last week, finally, I found my new bag- and she’s perfect.

Whats in my dagne

Ok, the bag to end my search is a Dagne Dover tote. Dagne Dover is a small company that I can really get behind. The founding ladies set out to create a bag that is functional for women that need their bag to do work. It’s big, so you can forget about carrying around multiple bags to take you from work, to the gym, to dinner. It’s super organized- there are at least seven organizational features including a laptop pocket, tablet pocket, phone pocket, a zipped section, a water bottle holder, pen spots and a key leash. And it’s sturdy- the material is coated canvas, so it can stand up to some use, and be wiped clean in case of any spills or smears. In short- I love it, and can’t wait to add more Dagne pieces to my collection.

You can check out my photo above of everything that my Dagne holds, and then take a peek at my video review, below. If you have questions, ask away- I’m still breaking in my bag, but I’d love to offer perspective!

Please note, I was absolutely not compensated in any way for this review, I just love to share products that make my life awesome!

Hatch Chili and Tomatillo Salsa on Ginger Lime Steak Tacos

It’s true- Taco Tuesday has been everything but tacos for the past few weeks. I won’t apologize for Dessert Nachos (om nom nom!) but I definitely do want to keep tacos in regular rotation around here. To help get back into the swing of things, I bring you Hatch Chili and Tomatillo Salsa on Ginger Lime Steak Tacos.

Guys, this is legit. Hatch Chili and Tomatilla Salsa on Ginger Lime Steak Tacos 2For the sake of transparency, I feel like I need to start by letting you know that I actually started my first kitchen fire making this recipe. No, Firefighter Evan was not home; yes, I’ve seared meat in cast iron before; yes, I panicked and forgot to cover the pan with a lid; but no, there was no damage at all- I stared in disbelief for a few seconds, and by the time I reached for a lid, the flames had extinguished themselves. Ginger Lime Steak TacosNow that I’ve come clean, it’s back to the recipe. Roasted Hatch chilis and tomatillos come together to make an insanely delicious sauce. It’s spicy, but not in a need-milk-now kind of way. It’s more like a slow burn that you feel across your mouth. The lime and red onion give it a super fresh flavor that you sometimes miss with roasted tomatoes. The steak is marinaded in a combination of lime, ginger, garlic and onion, and the combination of lime with the salsa is so, so good. Out of this world!Hatch Chili and Tomatilla Salsa on Ginger Lime Steak TacosThese tacos might be a few more steps than you’re looking for after work, and I totally get it! To make it work for me, I made the salsa over the weekend, ate half of it on chips right then, and managed to save the other half for Taco Tuesdays. For the steak, I made the marinade the night before, left it in the fridge in a ziplock bag, then added the steak before I went to work (sometimes steak gets weird when it’s in a lime marinade for too long, so overnight was not ideal). When I got home from work, I grilled the steak then chopped my toppings while it was in the oven. In less than thirty minutes I had a ridiculous taco meal. Seriously, friends- ridiculously, amazingly delicious.

Hatch Chili and Tomatillo Salsa on Ginger Lime Steak Tacos
– 3 hatch chilis
- 1 lb tomatillos
- 1 1/2 lime
- 1 clove garlic, and 1 clove garlic- 1/4 cup red onion, and 1/4 cup red onion, and 1/4 cup red onion
- 8 oz steak
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp grated or minced ginger
- kosher salt
- tortillas
- red cabbage
- 1 red tomato

Prepare the salsa: Heat your oven to 450. Husk the tomatillos and rinse well. Arrange the tomatillos and peppers on a baking sheet, and spray with cooking spray. Roast 15 minutes on each side, or until they are browned. Once they are roasted, remove the stems from the chilis, and add them (flesh, skin and seeds) with the tomatillos to the blender. Juice one lime into the blender, and add a clove of garlic, 1/4 cup onion and the ginger. Pulse until smooth, adding more lime if necessary to reach your desired consistency.

Prepare the marinade: In a ziplock bag, mix 1/4 cup of minced red onion, the juice of one lime, olive oil, minced or grated garlic and ginger, and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Smoosh everything together in the bag, before adding the steak. Marinate for two to ten hours.

Prepare the steak: You call grill your steak, obviously, or use my cast iron method (which makes really good steak, in my opinion). If you are using cast iron, heat it on medium high for several minutes, until it’s very hot. Add about two tablespoons of oil (ideally not olive oil) and let that heat for a second, and then add your steak. I like to cook each side for about three to four minutes, until it’s nice and seared. Then, put the steak in the oven at 450 until it reaches your desired level of doneness. For my one and a quarter inch thick steak, it took about 12 minutes to reach 160 degrees, which is about medium. Remove from the oven, and let rest for five minute before slicing thinly.

Assemble the tacos: I like to grill my tortillas before I use them, and I usually use my already hot cast iron pan. On top of the tortillas, layer cabbage, meat, tomatoes, red onions, and tomatillo salsa. So. So. Good.

Friday Five: Kitchen Must-Haves

I am just getting started with this gloriously long weekend, but I did want round out the week with another edition of Friday Five. On Wednesday of this week, Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker gave her list of 62 Pieces of Essential Kitchen Equipment, and I lovvved it. I really adore seeing how other people I admire stock their home, and it gives me something to aspire to. Plus, it makes filling out a wedding registry that much easier, if you’re into cooking but don’t know what to register for.

On the flip side of that topic, though, I’m sort of a young professional, recently engaged in a full time job. I know that it can be hard to pick through lists like this when you’re on a limited budget, and you don’t know what the bare essentials are. So my Friday Five are the five items I absolutely require in my kitchen, and use constantly. Some of these (knives and dutch ovens) will probably be updated to better versions one day, but most of them are killing it for right now.

Kitchen Must HAves

  1. Wusthof 8 inch Chef’s Knife. We registered for a block of knives for our wedding, and I would guess that we use every single one throughout the course of a week, plus the four santoku knives that I bought in college.  This knife, though, is my go-to knife for most tasks. It came insanely sharp, and I keep it that way by sharpening a few times a month. Beyond kitchen tasks, I would also choose it for home defense situations, if the need ever arose. So, clearly, a pretty valuable player in my kitchen.
  2. Lodge Cast Iron Skillets. Interestingly, this would also be one of my top kitchen picks in a self-defense situation :). All kidding aside, though, I can cook nearly anything in a cast iron skillet. Once it’s seasoned, it gets so non-stick that I can easily make eggs, I love it for baking corn bread and skillet cookies, and it’s the best tool for grilling veggies indoors. Though we have three sizes of cast iron in my kitchen, the 10 inch skillet is the one that lives on my stove and gets the most use, because it does everything.

  3. Enamel Coated Cast-Iron Dutch Oven. I know, I know- we are all supposed to aspire to the Le Creuset products, and maybe I do. But I’ve owned the Food Network version for 5 years in two sizes, and they have never done me wrong. Similar to my cask iron skillets, these dutch ovens to everything- they make soup and simmer red sauce, they roast chicken in the oven, the hold cobblers, they keep cheesey potatoes warm on a two hour drive to Thanksgiving dinner- pretty much kitchen rockstars. If I had only cast iron and dutch ovens in my kitchen, I could probably continue to cook 80% of things I make, easily.

  4. Pyrex Mixing Bowls. This set of bowls is insanely helpful in the kitchen. They’re mixing bowls in graduated sizes, which is nice, but they’re also clean and classic enough to serve from- this was a lifesaver for me when I held my first dinner party and didn’t have any white serving bowls, or casserole dishes. They also have lids, though, so dealing with leftovers can be super convenient. I love my vintage pyrex from my grandma, but this modern set is so handy, and inexpensive.
  5. Bamboo Utensil Set. I cook with pans in a variety of compositions, and I hate grabbing and metal spoon and not being able to use it, and plastic utensils that melt are terrifying (seriously, where does the plastic go as it melts? You know where…). So rather than deal with that, I have a mason jar beside my stove that holds a dozen bamboo utensils and I never have to worry about what material I’m working with. The spoons that I currently have are about two years old and still going strong. Even if I did need to replace them, though, the set linked above is $6…totally within the budget. I’m also thinking of joining the twitter bandwagon and painting the handles a fun color- we’ll see how that goes. In any case, these spoons are absolutely indispensable in my kitchen.

So, what did I miss? What’s in your kitchen that you can’t live without??

August Subscription Box Reviews: Birchbox, Ipsy and Sample Society

It’s that time again- we’re reviewing some beauty subscription boxes that I received in August. I’m still getting Birchbox, Ipsy and Allure Sample Society. I didn’t love ipsy again this month, and Sample Society didn’t wow me either. Check out my reviews, then let me know if you agree or disagree!

Birchbox

Birchbox

Monthly delivery for $10/month

Includes 4-5 beauty and lifestyle samples

This month my box included The Balm: Stainiac Lip and Cheek Stain, Dr JArt Pore Minish Primer, Not Soap Radio Body Wash, Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, and Hello Breath Spray. Birchbox recently started allowing subscribers to choose one of the their products each month, and this month my pick was the stain- I’ve never used a cheek stain before and this seemed like a great way to try it out! I’ll admit, I was a little skepical, but this product seems great for adding a little color on breezy, no makeup days- it’s pretty sheer, which is great since I’m so fair, and it stayed on a while. The primer was okay for me (though I use Monistat chaffing cream as primer, thanks to a Weddingbee tip!), and I always like sample face and body washes. I actually was completely grossed out by the breath spray, but overall this box was a winner for me! I’m back to being satisfied with my Birchbox :)

Ipsy Box

Ipsy

Monthly delivery for $10/month

Includes 4-5 full sized or deluxe sample products, plus a makeup bag

This month my box included Dr Brandt Pores No More Pore Minimizer, Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, J Cat Beauty Eye Shadow, Jersey Shore Sun Lip Conditioner, Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, and the orange polka dotted cosmetics bag pictured here. I wasn’t thrilled to see another pore minimizer, because I think it acts as a primer, which I’m already all set with. The eyeshadow is kind of a specific color (not my favorite) and I don’t really use any lip balms other than my Burts Bees. I am happy to have another mascara though, and lovvvve the dry shampoo. I’m not in love with this bag, but here’s something I’ve noticed about my ipsy samples- I never love everything when I open it. A few weeks later, though, there’s always a few that I adore. Last month it was the Bare Minerals Eye Shadow, which I’ll definitely be purchasing full size (perfect color, perfect texture, long lasting-such a winner!) and the month before it was a sample of Benefit They’re Real Mascara- it’s amazing, and I’ve already bought the full size. So, while I’m not thrilled now, I still feel compelled to keep my ipsy going…we’ll see what happens next month.

Beauty Box

Allure Sample Society

Monthly Delivery for $15/month

Includes 4-5 Full sized and deluxe beauty and makeup samples

This month I received a Too Faced Melted Longwear Lipstick, Ciate Mini Nail Polish, KAte Somerville Face Oil, Jane Iredale Mascara, and Oribe Surfcomber Tousle Texture Mousse. So, to start with, none of these samples are full sized- okay. Also, I actually feel like the mini booklet that comes with this box is kind of awesome- the editors of Allure talk about the products and why they chose them, and give tips. So, the lipstick- it’s not something that I would have picked out myself, but I kind of love it! The color is cute, and (as the booklet points out) it’s a full coverage matte lipstick in a playful color, so it feels fun and a little unexpected! I’ve never used face oil before, but I’m not at all opposed to trying it, especially with the dry atmosphere of winter come. I love the nail polish sample, and it will be the perfect color and size for my upcoming beach vacation. The mascara sample wasn’t really notable for me, but I never mind more purse mascara. The only item in the box that I actively disliked was the mousse- the editors recommend using it on dry hair, so I applied it one morning before work, and it was a total disaster! My hair got sticky and awful and I had to improvise a weird twist situation with tons of bobby pins…not awesome. I will try it with wet hair sometime, though, and see how that goes. Overall, there wasn’t anything in this box that wow-ed me, but I still thought it was pretty good over all. I’ll definitely be subscribing for the upcoming month, because the spoilers are advertising a full sized Restorsea Eye Cream, at a value of $85…not bad!

So, tell me about your subscription boxes- anything new, fun, or awesome out there I should be trying??

 

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos

Taco Tuesday, amirite?

So, a lot of the time (especially on TT’s) I make food that has a ton of fresh ingredients in it, and homemade components, and is nice and hearty and hands on. Dessert Nachos don’t fall into that category (and aren’t particularly similar tacos, but who’s counting?). Dessert Nachos can be as homemade as you like, but this dish is really just designed to be a delicious, ice creamy, not chocolately, sugar fix of a dessert.

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos 2

Mission: accomplished.

Cinnamon Dessert NachosThese nachos have three main components: cinnamon pita chips, caramel sauce, and cinnamon ice cream. (I also added some chopped apples and toasted walnuts, for texture.) Strictly speaking, you could purchase each of these three items and layer them up and call it a day; or, you could make each part from scratch. I opted for an in-between, where I purchased pitas and added cinnamon, made caramel sauce, and used store bought ice cream. Choose your own adventure, and enjoy :)

Cinnamon Dessert Nachos

-          4 pitas
-          2 tbsp butter, melted
-          ¼ cup brown sugar
-          1 tsp cinnamon
-          1 Tbsp butter
-          ¼ cup brown sugar
-          Pinch of salt
-          2 Tbsp bourbon
-          1 Tbsp cream (heavy, or half and half, or milk…no rules)
-          ½ apple, diced
-          Walnuts or other toppings
-          Cinnamon ice cream

Make the pitas: Lay pitas on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with baking spray and bake at 400 for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned (turn after 3 or 4 minutes). Brush each side with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Cut into triangles and set aside.

 Make the caramel: in a skillet, ideally one with a heavy bottom, melt the butter and stir in the sugar, salt and bourbon. Let it bubble up and, once it gets nice and foamy, allow to cook for about a minute- it should be a slightly thick, syrup-y consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream, and gently fold in the diced apple Set aside, and allow to cool a bit.

 Assemble your nachos: Lay the pita triangles on a plate, baking sheet or skillet. Drizzle with caramel and top with apples, nuts, or other toppings. Add a scoop of softened ice cream. I like to let the ice cream melt a little bit, then use the pita chips to scoop it up. Delicious!

 

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Happy Monday, my friends! Things are starting to get a little hectic for us, although I’m always surprised how much back-to-school affects me as an adult with no children…anyone else with me? In any case, what I absolutely need to start the week right is a delicious, from scratch dinner- making it gives me a sense of purpose and familiarity, and I get so much comfort from eating food I prepare for myself…especially if it involves red sauce and cheese!

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers 3

Although our regular Taco Tuesdays really highlight my love for Tex-Mex, I always prefer to make stuffed peppers with an Italian influence. This recipe is insanely delicious, and actually surprisingly fast and easy. If you wanted an even faster version, you are more than welcome to sub in some jarred sauce for the tomatoes- still delicious, but probably ten minutes faster. In either case, I recommend serving these stuffed peppers with a tossed side salad and some crusty bread for mopping up the sauce- a sign of comfort food at its finest :)

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

-          4 poblano peppers
-          8 oz sausage or ground pork (you can use two or three links of Italian sausage, if you’re so inclined, or part of some prepackaged sausage)
-          2 carrots
-          2 stalks celery
-          ¼ fennel bulb (totally optional, but definitely recommended- It won’t taste like licorice, I promise!)
-          ½ onion
-          2 cloves garlic
-          28 oz whole tomatoes
-          ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
-          ½ cup mozzarella cheese

 Prepare the peppers: I like to broil my peppers, but you could also roast over a gas flame (I’ve definitely done this) or grill…on the grill. To broil, preheat your broiler and spritz the peppers with cooking spray. Place under the broiler until lightly browned on one side, and then turn and broil until lightly browned and blistered on the other side. Remove from the broiler and set to the side to cool while you make your sauce.

 Prepare the sauce: Brown the sausage or pork on medium heat. While that’s cooking, peel the carrots, and dice the carrots, celery, fennel and onion, and mince the garlic. Once the sausage is browned, add the chopped vegetables to the pan and saute until the carrots are slightly softened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the can of tomatoes. At this point, cover the pan and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Once they’ve softened a bit, mash the tomatoes with a fork (or a potato masher) and stir into the sauce. Cover again, and allow to cook for about ten more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste, and add some kosher salt if needed.

 Stuff the peppers: Slice the tops of the peppers off, and use a spoon to remove the seeds and membranes (everything should be pretty soft, so this should only require a spoon or your hands- but be gentle!). Using a spoon or your hands, gently stuff the peppers with the meat, veggie and cheese mixture, and set on a baking sheet. Top each pepper with a generous amount of shredded parmesan, and bake at 400 for 7-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve with any extra sauce on the side!Italian Stuffed Poblano Peppers 2