American Chili Styles

Chili is as All-American as apple pie.  Many regions of the US  have their own distinct chili recipes and are known for a certain twist on chili.  The types of meat, spices and toppings can change the flavor of chili and what each area uses makes it stand out and stamps it as part of that region.

Texas chili is probably the first thing most people think of when they think of chili.  According to John Mitzewich, the former About.com guide for American Food, “real chili recipes use cubed chunks of meat instead of ground beef, and also don’t contain beans.”   Most Texas chili  has no beans or tomatoes.  A good recipe can be found on Epicurious.com.  Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients.  It’s not that hard to make. 

Another type of Texas chili is “a bowl of red”. This is a breeze to make and most of the ingredients are those found in most kitchens. 

Cincinnati chili is probably the most interesting.  You can get Cincinnati chili served five “ways”.  One way is just plain chili, two way is chili served on spaghetti, three way is chili, spaghetti and shredded cheddar, four way is chili, spaghetti, shredded cheddar and chopped onions, five way is all that and beans.   Cincinnati chili is always served with oyster crackers.  One of the ingredients in Cincinnati chili which might be surprising is cocoa powder.  A good recipe can be found here.

While firehouse chili is not exactly a region it is a distinct type of chili which deserves its own mention.  Traditionally, firefighters tend to cook large amounts of food while on duty and waiting for a fire.  They need hearty food to be able to do their very physical job.  Firehouse chili ranges from mild to spicy and usually the recipes are in large amounts. 

Southwestern chili is usually made with salsa verde, salsa made with green tomatoes. This chili has a milder, mellow flavor than chili made with red tomatoes.  Many times, Southwestern chili will be made with chicken rather than beef and may have white beans rather than red ones.

If you’ve only ever had chili out of a can, making your own chili should be on your list of things to do. Like most food, out of the can just doesn’t cut it.  Chili isn’t that hard to make and can even be done in a crock pot. Homemade food always taste better than canned or prepared food and it’s much better for your health, as well.

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You don’t have to Wait on someone to Give you Starter any more

Remember when you used to have to wait on someone to give you a starter before you could make Amish Friendship bread? Now you don’t have to wait I have the perfect starter for you. It is so simple you’ll want to share it with all your friends and faimly.

When I first made Amish Friendship bread like many of you someone had given me a starter. I remember being so proud to make this bread about every ten days and then you know what happened I got tired of baking or just didn’t have the time. So my starter just sat there unattended and I finally through it away.

Then I didn’t have a starter to work with and it took me a year to find someone who had a starter for me. Then the whole cycle began all over again. I baked, I forgot to bake and then I had to through away my starter because of my neglect.

Luckily for me and now you to, my sister-in-law gave me a recipe to make my on starter. It was so quick ans easy I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before myself. I’ve also included the recipe for Amish Friendship Bread.

To make your starter pour 1 cup each flour plain or all purpose, sugar, and milk whole, 2%, or skim whichever you prefer into Gallon zip lock bag mush together. Now you have your starter.

Important:
Do not use any type of metal spoons or bowl for making

Do not refrigerate

If air gets in the bag, let it out

It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble, and ferment

Day #1- Do nothing ( this is the day you got the bag) or the first date on the bag.
If you made your on starter, you start on day 2.

Day #2- Mush the bag

Day #3- Mush the bag

Day #4- Mush the bag

Day #5- Mush the bag

Day #6- Add to the bag: 1 cup each, all purpose flour, sugar, milk. Close the bag and mush.
Note: Anytime I use flour, I use self rising flour and I leave out the baking powder,
baking soda, and salt. It still turns out great.

Day #7- Mush the bag

Day #8- Mush the bag

Day #9- Mush the bag

Day #10- Follow the directions:

Pour the entire contents of bag into non-metal bowl

Add 1 1/2 cups each: all purpose flour, sugar, milk. Mix.

Measure out 4 separate portions, 1 cup each, into Gallon zip-lock bags.

These are your starters.

Keep 1 starter for yourself, and give one to each of 3 friends, along with

a recipe. Date your starters so they’ll know what day they are on.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To remaining batter add the following:

3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (if using plain flour)

1 cup oil 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. baking soda ( if using plain flour)

1/2 cup milk 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/2 tsp. salt ( if using plain flour)

2 cups flour ( all purpose or self raising)

1 large instant vanilla pudding

Grease 2 large loaf pans and mix additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
Dust the greased pans with 1/2 the mixture.
Pour the cake mix evenly into the prepared pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture
on top. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens from the pan. About 10 min.

Note; If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. The bread
makes a very good gift. If you miss mushing the bag a couple of times don’t worry
bread still turns out fine. Enjoy.

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Poached Eggs the Easy way

Many people experience whirlwind mornings and breakfast is on the fly, so they end up choosing unhealthy foods because they are quick.  But you can actually make a great breakfast in about five minutes and a poached egg in the microwave is the beginning of that healthy breakfast.

Protein is an essential part of a balanced breakfast.  Eggs are a good source of protein so they make a good choice to start the day with.

When poaching the egg, there is no need for butter or fats, as there is when you fry eggs so that definitely makes for a healthier egg.  Of course, you can add a small smidgen of butter or margarine after the egg is cooked and dash of salt but you don’t need the fats to cook the egg so if you’re watching your fat intake, the microwaved poached egg is a perfect choice. 

Done right, you don’t have to worry about the egg exploding and making a mess in your microwave either.  You don’t need special tools, either.  A ramekin, small Pyrex bowl or a glass mug is all you need to poach an egg in the microwave. If you don’t own ramekins, it’s good idea to invest in them as any working kitchen and cook will use them often, not just to poach eggs.

A poached eggs takes about a minute to cook in the microwave. But you don’t cook it for a full minute non-stop.  Four 15 second intervals is all it takes to cook a lovely poached egg.

Fill the ramekin with hot water from the tap or from a water cooler with a hot water function works best.  The egg will start cooking when you drop it in the hot water.  Put the ramekin in the microwave and set it to high for 15 seconds.  When it stops, let it sit for a few seconds and repeat those 15 seconds again.  After the third interval of 15 seconds, using a slotted spoon, turn the egg over so the softer egg yolk is visible and do your last round of 15 seconds. 

And that’s all there is to poaching an egg in the microwave.  Serve with two slices of toast, fruit and yogurt and you’ve got a good breakfast in less than five minutes.  You can prep by cutting fruit the night before to speed things up even further. There really is no reason to stop for an Egg McMuffin on the way to work or school.

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Biscuit Biscuit Recipe Cheese Biscuit Angel Biscuit

Forget all the fast food and other restaurant commercials that say their biscuits taste like home made! There really is no substitute for real homemade biscuits and the mouth watering smell as they bake in your oven. Here are two recipes, one for the cheese lovers and one for those who prefer the yeasty type.

CHEESE BISCUITS

1 pound sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 pound butter or margarine
4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pecans (optional)

Blend cheese and butter into sifted dry ingredients until smooth. Pat or roll out in floured surface to about 1/3 inch thickness. Cut with inside of doughnut cutter or other small cutter or push through a cookie press. Or make into a cookie roll, refrigerate overnight and slice. Garnish with pecans if desired. Bake on ungreased sheet at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Do not allow to brown.

Store in an airtight tin, placing wax paper between layers. Freezes well in closed tin. Makes about 125.

ANGEL BISCUITS

5 cups flour (plain)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
1 pkg. dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons warm water. Mix together the other ingredients and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly. Put in the refrigerator overnight. Bake at 425 degree F for about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

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Dairy Eggs

Flautas are tasty treats made with flour tortillas, cheese, and chili. Warm, flaky bites of tortilla wrapped around homemade chili, shredded beef, and cheese make flautas a popular Mexican food.

To make the best homemade flautas follow these easy steps:

FLOUR TORTILLA RECIPE

Ingredients:

3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of salt
1/3 cup of shortening (vegetable oil can be used, but is not recommended because it will make the tortillas taste vastly different)
1 cup of warm water

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and shortening kneading the mixture into a crumbly ball. Slowly add water and mix until it is like a soft dough ball. Once you have a dough ball, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Once the dough is smooth, cover with plastic and set it aside for one to two hours.

Divide the dough into approximately 12 equal round portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into eight inch rounds.

Cook the tortillas on a hot comal, a heavy skillet, for 30 seconds, turn over and cook for approximately 30 seconds on the other side until the tortilla puffs up and is brown.

SALSA

Ingredients:

2 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce
4 large garlic cloves, diced
1 4 oz. can of diced green chiles
1 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1/3 tsp. of cumin
1/4 tsp of ground rosemary
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

Directions:

Set aside a handful of chopped cilantro. Place the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro on top of the salsa.

FLAUTAS

Ingredients:

1 pound of cooked shredded beef
1 dozen Tortillas
1 Bowl of homemade salsa
2 cups of grated cheese
Vegetable oil or lard to fry flautas
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Directions:

In each tortilla place a handful of cheese, a bit of shredded beef, and as much salsa as desired down the center and wrap the tortilla into a flute-like shape (both ends open). Place on a baking sheet until ready to cook all twelve flautas.

Heat a skillet adding oil or lard. Once the skillet is hot and the oil is bubbling, place the filled tortilla into the skillet and cook until slightly golden brown.

Once all flautas are cooked, place on a serving platter, and top with more salsa, cheese, and cilantro.

These scrumptious authentic Mexican flautas are the best. You can substitute store bought tortillas and salsa. But for a more richer and authentic Mexican flavor, homemade salsa and tortillas are highly recommended. Enjoy.

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Hormone Laden Dairy Products are an Ongoing Controversy

Many dairy farmers in the U.S. routinely give their cows bovine growth hormones to aid in milk production. This practice, although allowable by law and considered ‘safe’ by the U.S. government, has raised a lot of controversy. There are misgivings about the safety of this practice and many groups and individuals are against buying dairy products that come from cows given hormones.

Why are cows given these hormones?

Since 1993 when the practice was developed, many conventional dairy farmers have begun to routinely give their cows bovine growth hormones in order to make cows mature quicker and produce larger quantities of milk. The hormone may be referred to as bGH, rbGH, bST, or bST.

According to Baby Center, “hormone is produced by cows’ pituitary gland and an extra amino acid is attached before it’s injected into dairy cows.”

Health concerns from dairy products coming from hormone-injected cows

Several consumer groups are concerned there may be adverse health effects to humans consuming dairy products that contain the extra hormones. The practice has been banned in Canada and Europe, but not the U.S.

Health concerns include the effect it has on cows. Baby Center notes that cows receiving the hormone injection are possibly prone to health problems including reproductive troubles, infections and lameness.

Often antibiotics are given to afflicted cows to combat problems, and traces of these drugs end up in the dairy products sold on the market. This leads to a more complicated issue associated with antibiotic resistant bacteria, often referred to as “super bugs”.

Other health concerns include potential increased risks of cancers and children physically developing more quickly. These are some of the reasons why people avoid dairy products coming from hormone injected cows. At this time, many feel there are just too many unknowns for long-term impact, and opponents feel more testing should have been conducted before food laws allowed the practice to enter the food chain.

How to avoid buying these dairy products

Currently, there is a lot of opposition to this practice, the primary reasons being the potential adverse health effects. There are many advocacy groups pushing to have this practice halted, or at least have labeling on dairy products that contain hormones.

It is important to know that since labeling of hormones are not required by law, if you want to avoid buying these products, look for labels that are organic, hormone “free” or “no hormones administered”.    Practically Green recommends consumers buy organic because this is the “surer bet” no hormones have been used since there are no third party certifications to monitor the hormone “free” labels and this label, unlike the organic one, doesn’t address how the cows eat or live.  

To find where to buy hormone-free dairy products, Eat Well Guide offers additional resources.

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Best Pizza Dough Pizza Dough Secrets

After many years of making pizza, I think I came up up with the ideal pizza dough recipe.
This dough is fragrant, crunchy to the right point but yet soft.
This recipe is not really for those in a rush but the results are really worth the extra time. If time is not an issue for you and you strive to make the best pizza dough ever, get your yeast and flour ready and start rolling!

INGREDIENTS

For the best dough ever you will need:
4 cups of flour
1 envelope dry yeast
2 tablespoons salt
water as needed (best if bottled or filtered)

Procedure:

Not many are familiar with the term “autolyse”. This procedure is explained in detail in the book “Taste of bread” written by the bread wizard author Raymond Calvel. The procedure consists of wetting the 4 cups of flour, salt and yeast with some bottled water mixing it slightly together until appears like many small fragments as in pie dough. Allow it to rest from 20 minutes to about an hour. Then you may continue to knead/mix adding more flour or water until you get the typical pizza dough consistency.

Afterwards, let the dough rest for about 45 minutes in an oiled bowl to prevent sticking , cover it with a cloth and let it rest in a warm area. Upon your return you will se the dough has almost doubled. Punch it down, re-knead and let it rest another 45 minutes.
Stretching the pizza may be a bit challenging, I like to throw it in the air, classic pizza man style. If difficult to stretch out use a rolling pin.
Finally proceed as normal topping with crushed tomatoes, mozzarella and your favorite toppings. Pizza like high temperatures so cook in middle rack of preheated oven for few minutes at 500 degrees.

Pizza dough is relatively simply to make, however, it is time consuming as it requires a series of waiting times for the dough to rise properly. Once, you get a hang of it though, you may find it easier and easier since you can run other errands and complete other household tasks in between. After making this dough many years, I have never regretted the time spent in the kitchen, the simple fragrant smell of pizza cooking is enough to forgive every minute passing by…

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Vegetable Omelet Recipe

I must admit it took me quite some time to make the perfect omelet. An omelet is not the easiest dish to prepare. It may appear easy, but it really takes some skill and savoir faire. A vegetable omelet can be pretty tasty if you choose the right combination of vegetables. I like to prepare my vegetables in advance, so they are ready to heat once the omelet is cooking. Make sure you choose the freshest vegetables in the market, this surely makes a big difference.

My omelet is a no flip omelet. I got tired of flipping omelets and having them break. Follow the instructions carefully and use the equipment below.

Equipment:

2 frying pans

A lid for the frying pan

A spatula

NO FLIP OMELET

Ingredients for 2 omelet:

4 eggs (2 per omelet)

1 Roma tomato

1 green Bell pepper

1 small onion

4-5 Portobello mushrooms

Italian dressing

Cooking spray

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Procedure:

Chop the tomato and onion. Slice the mushrooms. Julienne the pepper. Pour some olive oil on a small frying pan and saute the onion first until blond, add the pepper, the mushrooms and the tomatoes. Salt and pepper. Allow veggies to wilt for a while. Add 2 teaspoons of italian dressing and mix allowing another few minutes to come along. Ensure that the veggies do not attach to the bottom of the pan. In another frying pan, spray some cooking spray and pour 2 beaten eggs. As they solidify shake the pan to avoid attaching to the bottom. Cover with the lid to allow the top to cook. This makes flipping the omelet unnecessary. Watch for signs of being ready. Use the spatula to transfer to dish. Finally fill the omelet with the veggies. If you wish you can add some shredded mozzarella as well.

That’s it! Pretty easy, wasn’t it? You will never flip another omelet in your life again!

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What Makes Eggs Labeled Organic vs Conventional

Eggs are a versatile food and typically a staple item in the refrigerators of many households. However, not all eggs are created equal, as there are several different types on the market. Two broad categories of eggs are organic and conventional.

In terms of organic and conventional, this designation of a type of eggs refers to what kind of feed the chickens were fed, if pesticides were used and whether or not they were given any type of hormones or antibiotics.

Criteria to be organic

In the U.S., for eggs, and other foods, to be considered organic, the producers must be U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified, although producers that sell under $5,000 a year of goods are exempt, but still must follow USDA guidelines.

Generally speaking, this means eggs that can be marketed as organic come from chickens that were fed organic grains and no antibiotics used on the chickens; an emphasis is made on “green” conditions.

Often the word “natural” is used on egg cartons, but do not be taken in by this marketing ploy as “natural” and “organic” do not have the same meaning.

Organic eggs vs. conventional eggs

As noted above, all eggs are not created equal. This is often related to the living conditions the chickens are kept in by farmers. Some eggs are laid from free-range chickens, others are designated as “cage free” but still live in cramped quarters and may or may not have access to outdoors. Chickens housed in battery cages are extremely cramped and the birds have no room to spread their wings or move around.  

While the living environment established for the chickens does not apply to the designation of whether an egg is organic or not, it often goes hand-in-hand because chickens living in battery cages have a higher chance of becoming ill or contaminated with feces and other bacteria-laden items due to the cramped conditions.

Organic eggs, while not necessarily in completely cage-free conditions, in many cases are produced in a more humane environment for the hens, but not always. Primarily, however, the chickens laying the eggs are not given lower quality chicken feed and are not administered any antibiotics.

Generally speaking, the chickens housed in battery cages are not organic because of the extremely close living quarters and higher risk of infections. Keep in mind though, that free range chickens, while in more humane conditions, may not be raised organically; however, most producers that have free range chickens do raise them in an organic fashion.

Differences in appearance and taste

Whether or not there are differences in eggs depends on its production history is often up for debate. Official standpoint in the U.S. is that there is no “substantial quality”difference, however, those more inclined to go organic will argue this point.

For instance, a study cited in National Geographic”revealed that the free-range eggs, on average, contained one-third less cholesterol and one-quarter less saturated fat, in addition to higher levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.”

Many note there are some differences in the visual appearance and taste or an organic egg, as the Denver Post notes.

Related:

Understanding the difference between free-range, cage-free and organic eggs

Why battery caged chickens can contribute to contaminated eggs

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Recipes Fast and Easy Cakes

GRAM’S EGGLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

SOURCE: Unknown – However, this recipe goes back to my earliest memories.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sour milk (with 1 teaspoon soda added to it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

Mix as given (thin batter)

Bake in moderate oven. (350F)

There’s not a lot of information given in this recipe as to the method, however,

I remember that if she didn’t have sour milk, she would add a spoonfull of white vinegar to the milk in a glass and stir. The amazing thing about it is that you could hear the change in the tone of the mixing spoon hitting the glass, as the milk soured!

There’s no baking time given in this recipe. One of Gram’s common kitchen tools was an old steel knitting needle (double ended) which she used for baking. She would stick the needle into the cake. If it came out clean, the cake was one. If it came out with stuff on it, she would wipe it clean on her apron and give the cake another few minutes, then test it again.

Enjoy!

icle here

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