Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


It’s been 10 months since my last post. Very. Very. Sad. At least this time there are some excuses. The first being the adoption of our cute and crazy dog Gemma. That happened all the way back in March, but the adjustment phase for me was a bit long! Don’t worry I will dedicate an entire post to that heartwarming story in the next few posts. Let’s just say I’ve never owned a pet and being a first-time “dog-mom” was not easy some days.

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The next thing that took me away from the blog was starting graduate school. In May I decided to go for it and so far have completed two semesters. I am currently in my third semester. I never imagined working full-time and taking two grad classes would be so hard. There are days when I absolutely feel I have no life other than go to work come home and do school work….weekends are now for school work as well. But I think I’m getting better with my time management and have dramatically decreased my procrastinating ways, which has allowed time for other things.

It is strange, though, what actually made me sit down and type this post. It is due to the loss of my kitchen! Recently we were hit hard by the infamous “Polar Vortex” that has been sweeping the U.S. and we had the misfortune of a frozen pipe that burst. When you wake up and start to walk down the hall and hear what sounds like rain coming from downstairs…you know what you are about to find is not going to be good! Water was coming out of the ceiling, down through the light fixtures, down the walls, all in the cabinets and drawers! It’s been a mess, but we are thankfully moving forward, however we have to get a whole new kitchen which has left me without for almost two weeks now and will probably be without for at least another week or two.

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Hubby set me up with a makeshift work station and so we haven’t had to eat out every night, but I feel like the only food I can make is the mediocre stuff I used to make before I knew how to cook. Although that is not entirely true…I’ve managed to come up with a few great meals thanks to my Nu-Wave Oven, Nu-Wave PIC, and my crockpot.

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But it’s just not the same. I’ve come to find cooking as something that makes me feel happy and de-stressed. I love coming home on a Friday and making a great dinner for Hubs and me. It is just what I need after a long week. (Although let me be clear, our number of take-out nights has drastically increased thanks to grad school!) I like being able to use fresh herbs and ingredients and trying new recipes…something that is just not possible right now.

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So to all of you out there who’ve had to suffer through this ridiculous cold today’s recipe is for a very delicious and hearty chilli. A few things with this chilli…although I used one recipe as my base I made a lot of changes. I also poured over the internet to learn about chilli. I definitely recommend adding your own touches, changing the amount of spices and tailoring it to your own preferences. Also, based on my (limited) research I would recommend using beer as the original recipe calls for. I am certain this will give a unique dimension to the flavor. Unfortunately we do not drink beer so I had none and didn’t see the point in buying any just for this batch of chilli so I substituted beef stock. It was still delicious but I’m definitely going to try it next time…even if it means asking for a bottle from a neighbor!

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Also this makes a huge batch…my slow cooker is smaller, only 3.5 quarts, and this recipe filled it all the way to the top. I was actually worried that it wouldn’t all fit in there, but luckily it did. If you have the same size slow cooker then you may want to cut the recipe down or just make this in a large stock pot on the stove (or get a bigger slow cooker!) or if you’re a risk taker just hold your breath as you add all the ingredients and hope it all fits!  

Hearty Slow Cooker Chilli

Source: Burnt Carrots

Ingredients: 

1 lb beef stew meat, cubed

2 lb ground beef

1 can kidney beans

1 can black beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 onions, diced

1 green pepper diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 (4 oz) cans diced green chiles 

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

12 oz dark beer or 12 oz. beef stock

1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or substitute diced canned tomatoes if you like chunks!)

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut beef cubes into smaller pieces. I cut each cube into fourths.
  2. Brown the beef stew meat and add to slow cooker.
  3. Brown the ground beef. Drain and add to slow cooker.
  4. Add the salt and pepper to the meat in the slow cooker. Then add the beans.
  5. Heat olive oil in the pan. Add diced onions, green peppers, and brown sugar. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to brown the onions, keep heat on medium low. Add garlic towards the end of cooking. Once the onion mixture is done, add the chiles, chili powder, coriander, and cumin.
  6. Add onion mixture to the slow cooker. Add the cocoa powder and stir well. Add tomatoes and beer. Stir. Cook chilli on low 8-10 hours.
  7. Serve piping hot with a side of cornbread.

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Summer Corn Chowder


Well it’s been one hot summer so far here in the northeast…and from what I see on the news it isn’t much better throughout most parts of the U.S. The last thing you are probably thinking about during these hot summer days is hot food like soup. Despite the heat, the other day  I decided to make a big pot of summer corn chowder. It is one of my favorite ways to use fresh corn on the cob. I got this recipe from a cooking class Hubby took me to for my birthday last year.

We made it in the class and even though I HATE SOUP (chowder is soup in my book) I told myself that I was going to try all the stuff we made, as this is an important part of cooking. I tasted it and loved it! I make a huge batch and then freeze it in smaller portions. It freezes really well and I love stumbling across it in the freezer after summer is over and you can’t get corn on the cob anymore. Tasting that sweet fresh corn is the best!

So whether you make this now or freeze it for later you will not be disappointed. For a heartier meal, you can add some cooked chicken cut up into small pieces. Serve with fresh homemade French Bread (check out my Mini French Loaves recipe!) and a small salad for an amazing summer meal.

Summer Corn Chowder

4-6 ears of corn

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs fresh tarragon

2 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 medium red potatoes, diced

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cubed (optional)

  1. Shuck the corn and using a knife strip the kernels into a bowl. Put the cobs in a large stock pot with 4 cups of water and herb sprigs (tie the herbs together with string); bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the butter in a saucepan and turn the heat to medium high. When the butter melts, add the onion, along with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion soft, about 5 minutes; add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes.
  3. After the corn cobs have cooked, strain the liquid into the onion mixture. Bring to a boil, add diced potatoes, then turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. When the potatoes and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, add the corn kernels and cream and heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, garnish with parsley, and serve.* Can be made the day before or frozen.
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