Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice & Beans (& A Hamilton Beach Giveaway!)

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice 4

Hey, everyone! Tis me, your local loon. I have a delicious recipe for you (do I do ANY other kind? I mean…really? Pshaw! *looks totally fake humble* 😛 ) as well as a Hamilton Beach giveaway. As you already know, I’ve been a proud ambassador for them for a couple of years now and I love their products. This is the final 2016 review and it’s one I personally love. I had a rice cooker I bought for $3.99 at Goodwill before this and sure, it worked; more or less. Problem was, all it did was rice and the way the inside lid was made, you couldn’t clean under it and there was nothing stopping condensation from getting up in there. So what did that lead to? The starches in the water from the rice would get in there and mold and every time I opened the lid, all that oh so nasty water would drip down the backside of the cooker. Not INTO the rice, but still…  I was soooo ready for a new rice cooker.
We’ve been using it literally since the day it came and I am in love with it. I am a total and complete failure at cooking rice on the stove. I even burn rice a roni. Guess what? I can make my rice a roni in this rice cooker and no longer have to scrape it off the bottom of a pan, lol. Plus, we eat a lot of brown rice and that can be difficult to get cooked all the way through. Another plus; this cooker has a steamer basket up top that can be used at the same time as when you have rice cooking or by itself. That comes in handy getting veggies steamed while the rice is cooking or can be used to, say, make some fish up top while the rice cooks below. Did I forget to mention that you can also cook oatmeal and other grains in this? Yup. You totally want to try to win the Hamilton Beach 4-20 Cup Rice And Hot Cereal Cooker or if you don’t win, go to their website to buy it. While you’re there, you can check out some of the other great appliances they have on their site  Here are the cool features of the cooker-
Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker
4-20 cup cooked rice capacity – 2-10 cup uncooked rice capacity
With rice rinser/steam basket
Great for oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat
Delay start makes breakfast and meal planning easier
Use your own recipe or packaged pasta & rice mixes
Automatically shifts to warm after cooking
White rice: cooks all varieties of white rice, including short- and long-grain rice
Quick rice: great for preparing rice in a hurry
Whole grain: for brown rice, farro, quinoa, and other whole grains
Keep warm: illuminates when cooking is complete
Delay start: prepare for cooking up to 15 hours in advance
Heat/simmer: use this function for flavored pasta and rice mixes, beans, soups, and one-pot meals
Steam cook: vegetables, meats, fish, and more
Hot cereals: great for oatmeal, grits, and cream of wheat

cooking timer

The push button timer area of the cooker

So what did I make? Well, I have a confession to make. I adore pretty much any flavor of Rice A Roni with a definite weakness for both the Mexican and the Spanish ones. So, I wanted to make a rice similar to those, but without having to stand over the stove worrying that I was going to burn it. I have to say, I succeeded admirably *she again says humbly* I have one step in here outside of the rice cooker, but it can easily be considered optional. I saute the veggies for a couple of minutes with the rice, then dump it all in the rice cooker. I wanted to get rid of the raw taste of the veg, plus brown the rice a bit. But again, that step is totally up to you. I also added a can of pinto beans cause I adore rice and beans. No matter what though, get one of these Hamilton Beach rice cookers and make this rice!

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice & Beans

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup minced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 1/4 cups good quality chicken broth
  • 1/2 of a 15 ounce can of salsa style fire roasted diced tomatoes (you could sub whatever flavor you want, or plain. Just make sure it is a type that has a good amount of liquid.)
  • 1 well drained and rinsed can of pinto beans (again, make this how YOU like it. Prefer black beans? Use them, just make sure you rinse them well. Or maybe kidney beans. Or NO beans)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (no, it doesn’t make the rice taste ketchupy. It just cuts the acidity of the tomatoes some)
  • 1 tablespoon of either McCormick Mexican seasoning or McCormick Southwestern seasoning (they are quite similar in taste, so either would work)
  • a few dashes of liquid smoke
  • sliced green onions, cilantro, grape tomatoes and various cheese for garnish
  1. Pour the oil into a medium non stick pan (8 to 10 inch),  then add the veggies. Sautee over medium heat for maybe 3 minutes or, just enough to cook off some of the rawness. Add in the rice, crank the heat up to medium high and cook for about two minutes more, or until some of the rice is a light golden brown,
  2. Scoop all of this straight into the rice cooker. Pour the chicken broth and diced tomatoes with their liquid over the top of the rice.
  3. Add the ketchup, liquid smoke, can of drained beans, and seasoning. Give this all a few good stirs, then close the lid, set the cooker for white rice and go read a book, or do some housework (you know you prefer the book idea).
  4. When it’s done, stir it well, then spoon it into a serving dish. Garnish with sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, some chopped grape tomatoes and cheese. I used some cheddar and some queso fresco. This was so good!

Easy Spicy Southwestern Rice 7

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Now for the giveaway!! Hamilton Beach is kindly allowing me to offer one lucky reader one of these lovely rice cookers all of their own. Just use the entry form below, doing as few or as many of the types of entries as you want. I will choose a random winner in a week and notify them by email. They will have 48 hours to get back to me. if they don’t, an alternate winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Click here to view this promotion.

Hamilton Beach sent me a rice cooker for review, but all opinions in this post are 100% my own.

 

Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

I mentioned eons ago that I have a set of cookbooks called Time-Life Foods Of The World. They were published in the late ’60’s and early 70’s and are anything but just recipe books. They are more food culture of various parts of the world with recipes thrown in. These books are some of my most treasured possessions and I reread them whenever I am in the need of some reading comfort. I was reading, for the umpteenth time, the one in the series that talks about the region of the states where Creole and Cajun cooking are the norm. I swear, each time I read that one, I want to get in the car and make my way to New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, just to eat. 😛

Well, after I finished reading it, I couldn’t get out of my mind one of the dishes mentioned. The author called it Chicken Piquante. It was described as chicken in a spicy tomato based sauce that had plentiful amounts of onion, garlic, etc etc. It wouldn’t leave my head and all I could think of was that I wanted to make something like that.

So I did.

And man, was it a hit! This turned out so darn good! The chicken was tender and moist and the sauce, which I served over brown rice as well as the chicken itself, was spicy, filled with tender/crisp veggies and tomatoes, with a VERY slight sweetness to it. This is one dish that I know I’ll be making again, and again… and again. And other than the time taken chopping the vegetables, this is barely any work at all. Plus, you can use your own favorite chicken parts in this. I used breasts and thighs, but you use what your family enjoys

You know the drill! 🙂

Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

  • 4 to 5 lbs chicken parts (the equivalent of one normal sized chicken. I used a combo of thighs and bone in, skin on breasts)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or some other neutral oil) plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (omit this if you want the dish less spicy)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with peppers and celery in it)
  • 2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (yes; ketchup. It adds a richness and subtle sweetness)
  • 2 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you may need more if your Cajun seasoning is salt free. I used McCormicks, which has salt in it)
  1. Pour the 2 tablespoons oil into a large pan (I used my 7 quart dutch oven just to leave room for splattering grease). Add in the chicken pieces, skin side down, doing it in two batches if they don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Cook the first side of the chicken for about five minutes. Don’t try to pull it up if it doesn’t come up easily. When meat has browned enough, it will flip without leaving half the skin in the pan. Flip each piece and let it cook for about another five minutes, then transfer the meat to a plate.
  2. Drain the grease in the pan and add in the 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour. Over medium heat, stirring frequently if not constantly, cook them together until the mixture is a medium brown color. You’re making a roux here and it will add a delicious flavor to the finished dish as well as help thicken the sauce up a bit.
  3. Once the roux is a medium brown, add in the various chopped veggies. Stir them around to coat and let them cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Snuggle the chicken pieces down into the vegetable mixture. It’s ok if they are kind of propped up on each other; they will still cook fine once covered in the sauce
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and then pour it all over the chicken pieces. Stir a little to get the sauce down in there, then cover the pot. Let this cook, stirring occasionally just to make sure the chicken doesn’t stick, for about 45 minutes (this is going on thighs and large breasts. If using other parts of the chicken, watch your time accordingly), uncovering for the last 15 minutes or so to give the sauce a chance to cook down a bit. Taste your sauce once during cooking to see if you think it needs anything; more spiciness, more salt, a touch more sugar, etc
  6. Garnish with green onions and sliced jalapenos if desired and serve with rice or noodles to sop up the amazing sauce.

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Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

Spicy (Or Not) Cajun Chicken

Spicy Mango Chutney

Spicy Mango Chutney

Spicy Mango Chutney



Being brought up in the Midwest in the 60’s and 70’s (yes, I’m old. Just shush.), there wasn’t much in the way of “exotic” foods. There was a lot of sausage, a lot of pork, which was horrid back then for the record- really fatty and just nasty. I honestly stopped eating pork as a young adult because I thought it was horrible. Now I absolutely love pork. There was also a lot of chicken, etc etc. All the homey Eastern European foods that had been brought to the heartland and foods that were made by a depression era parent were part of our upbringing. But Indian foods? Thai Curries? Fiery spice blends? Nahhhh…. not in the Chicago of that time period. When I got into my early thirties, I wanted to branch out some in my cooking. I’m not even sure why. There was nothing in me that said, “oooo, that sounds delicious and I want to try to make it!” It was more like just cooking curiosity. I have always been very interested in reading about different cultures and when you combine that in a book with their food culture, you’ll have me hooked. I had no idea that once I started down that road, I would become a quick addict.

But I have. I could happily eat foods of that part of the world daily and not get bored with them. The problem is that it is difficult still to get good ingredients in my neck of the woods for the actual dishes and there are very few restaurants serving good Indian or Thai foods. So most of the time I settle for the condiments- mainly the chutneys. Some of what I make is Americanized because I want it to appeal to my not as adventurous family. I buy the “real” stuff from stores with good ethnic food selections and enjoy them myself. But I have made so many different chutneys it’s ridiculous- that tomato one up there, peach, cranberry, blueberry cranberry, pear ginger and so one and so forth. But my favorite will always be this spicy mango one I keep coming back to. It is a total amalgamation of a handful of different ones I have tried over the years until I finally got it to where I wanted it to be. It’s sweet, tangy from the vinegar, fruity and has a mild bite that adds so much to foods. I don’t just use chutneys with curries. I love them with baked chicken, fried chicken, any sort of pork. You name it, I’ll try it with chutney 😀 This doesn’t need to be canned, though you can do so if you’re feeling froggy. Just store it in the fridge in a covered container. It will keep well in there for months due to the high vinegar content.

You know the drill… 🙂

Mrs. Cupcake, who is now craving a good Indian curry.

Spicy Mango Chutney

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vinegar, cider or white (white makes it a bit sharper in taste, but I rather enjoy that)
  • 4 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (use more or less depending on how much you like spiciness. This amounts puts it at about a 5 on a 1-10 scale)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (NOT ground mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the sugar and vinegar in a medium pot (I use a 3 quart pot to help contain any bubbling). Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then add all the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Stir well, then cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Turn the heat down if it seems to be sticking. It will take longer to cook down, but it will get there. Cook until the chutney has reduced by about 1/3, is no longer watery, but looks thick and syrupy. It should take about an hour and a half or so.
  3. Let cool, then store in the fridge in a covered container. This can also be canned via water bath if preferred.

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Spicy Mango Chutney

Spicy Mango Chutney

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili (And A Giveaway!)

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili


We’re well into the school year and I don’t know about you, but it seems like half the time, I’m so busy with chauffeuring here and there, plus doctors appointments for physicals and vaccinations, etc, etc, that I end up saying “it’s snack night!” to my kids when they ask whats for dinner. Then I feel guilty because what happens is they eat cereal (they’re thrilled with that; me, not so much) for dinner and everyone ends up spread out chowing down on foods that I normally prefer not be served. One will be in his room, eating sandwiches. Two will be parked in front of the TV, watching Uncle Grandpa (Lord, I loathe that show) while my husband and I will be sitting in front of our computers. NOT exactly a family friendly eating experience and NOT how I want my kids childhoods to be. My husband working third shift exacerbates the problem because half the time, after getting the kids to school, I’ll come back and lay down with him and before I know it, half the day is gone and no dinner prep was made.

So what do I do more often now? Yep; you guessed it. The trusty slow cooker comes out. I own about 5 of them. The problem is, most of them are either too small or too limited on their usages (high or low, that’s it for settings) , so I let them sit and gather dust. So when I was contacted again as a Hamilton Beach Ambassador and asked if I wanted to try out their Set ‘n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid I was thrilled. Finally, I would have a slow cooker that I didn’t have to babysit.

This cooker is pretty awesome. You can either manually set it for how many hours you want the food to cook and set for high or low. Then once it has timed out, it automatically clicks over to warm. That way the food doesn’t overcook or get too cold to serve. Another option is, if you’re cooking, say, a roast or a whole chicken or maybe a turkey breast, you can use the included temperature probe. You insert it through a hole in the top of the lid right down into the meat, set the cooker for the temp you want the meat to come to and when it reaches that temp, it shuts off. Again, no overcooked dry chicken breast meat or stringy pork roasts because you forgot them.

I can honestly say I love this slow cooker. Yes, they sent me one for free, but my opinion is still honest. So much so that I’ll mention the ONE thing I didn’t like about it. The outside tends to get really hot, so you need to make sure this isn’t in reach of little ones.But other than that, I love it and have used it multiple times already.

Guess what else? Hamilton Beach has graciously offered to let me give one of these slow cookers to one of you. This is a $59.99 value and it’s just in time for colder weather (or as a great Christmas gift to someone, maybe?)  Plus, as the holidays get closer, we’re all going to be busier and you know darn well that having dinner on the table every night can be a hassle. So this is the perfect time to win this.

All you need to do is enter down below by commenting and using the optional methods in the rafflecopter box. Tell me what would be the first thing you’d make if you won this and there is one entry!

If you need an idea, I have a fantastic chili recipe for you. This is spicy, but not so spicy the kiddos can’t eat it. My six year old loved it. It uses chorizo sausage as well as the typical ground beef and some other ingredients that all add up to a warming, comforting, soothing bowl of chili. Serve this with some sides of fresh onions, cheese, sour cream and maybe crackers or tortillas and you’ve got a wonderful meal as well as some leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow. You know the drill… 🙂

Spicy Two Meat Slow Cooker Chili

 

 

 

  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 1 lb chorizo (removed from casings and crumbled if link style)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 14 to 16 ounce can of chili beans (your preference on heat)
  • 2 16 ounce cans kidney beans, well drained
  • 1 16 ounce can pinto beans, well drained
  • 1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes (regular or chili style; your choice. I prefer the chili style)
  • 2 whole jalapenos in adobo sauce, finely chopped (store the rest in a container in the fridge) (use more or less as desired)
  • 1 4 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (I use franks because I like that is has flavor along with the heat)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces chili powder (I use Bloemers)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. In a large pan, crumble and saute the ground chuck until brown. Drain and toss into the slow cooker. Brown the chorizo. Don’t drain this when done; just scoop it out and put it in the slow cooker.
  2.  Toss the onions, green pepper and celery into the drippings form the chorizo. Stir to mix, cover and cook over medium heat until the onions and celery are soft and limp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir once or twice during the cooking.
  3. Add the veggies to the crock pot; stir to combine.
  4. Add all the other ingredients, in order given (makes stirring easier), then stir to combine.
  5. Set your slow cooker for 4 hours on low.. Halfway through cooking, open it up (make sure you’re quick; slow cookers lose heat quickly and can take quite a while to reheat back up) and give it a good stir. Re-cover it and let it finish cooking.
  6. When done, stir it well and serve. This is excellent served with sides such as cheese, sour cream, green or red onions and cilantro. I also love mine wrapped up in a tortilla. My family, on the other hand are firmly in the cracker camp. Do what makes you happy. 😀
     Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

I was provided with a slow cooker as compensation, but all opinions in this post are 100% my own!

To enter the giveaway, just scroll down to the raffle copter giveaway form!

Hamilton Beach Set & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid

Hamilton Beach Set & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker With Spoon/Lid

 

Product Features

 

 

    • Three (3) choices for easy, automatic cooking: program, probe and manual

 

  • Probe mode is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat or for recipes that require food to reach a certain temperature
  • Thermometer probe reads the actual temperature of food as it cooks; the temperature is displayed on the slow cooker control panel
  • Travel-friendly design secures contents en route to parties, potlucks, family gatherings and tailgating
  • The lid securely seals in place with sturdy wire clips on each handle
  • 6 quart removable stoneware crock fits a 6 lb. chicken or a 4 lb. roast
  • Wraparound, even heat cooks food evenly and consistently
  • Full-grip handles make carrying heavy meals easier
  • Power interrupt protection keeps slow cooker on during a brief power outage
  • Questions are supported by a toll-free call center located in the U.S.
  • Backed with a one-year warranty

 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Spicy Tomato Chutney

 

We didn’t have a whole lot of luck with our tomato plants this year. It was such a wet, unseasonably cool Summer that they didn’t stand a chance. They would get decent sized and green, but few got enough sun to finish ripening. Out of about 12 plants, we got enough tomatoes for one session in the dehydrator, which we ended up eating like candy  and enough for this batch of chutney. I can sincerely say that this chutney was worth the wait for ripe tomatoes.

I’ve been canning for about 17 years or so now. I tend to stick to jams, relishes and chutneys. One of these days I’ll branch out and do pressure canning. I have the canner, just not the motivation or expendable cash. I keep saying that if I come across some fantastic sale on meat, I’ll can some, but who ever finds a fantastic sale on meat nowadays? Most of us are instead practicing meatless dinners a time or two a week because it’s so darned expensive to buy meat of any kind.

Is it horrid of me that I am enjoying this chutney so much that I keep going over to the bowl of it that is in the photo and snagging bites? Hehe This has a wonderfully unique taste in comparison to other, fruitier chutneys I have made in the past. You have the sweet acidity of the tomatoes, the bite from the peppers and garlic, the tang of the vinegar…. all melded together into a textural delight. Darn, I’m just soooo poetic today 😛

This has a decent amount of ingredients, but nothing hard to find and it all just goes into the pot together and cooks down, so it’s a fairly low maintenance recipe. I say again, as I’ve said before about canning recipes, practice safe canning, please. Do NOT listen to those who tell you it’s ok to just ladle the food into a jar, put the lid on and go on as if that’s sufficient for sealing. It’s totally NOT good enough. Even if the can seems to seal, you don’t know that it’s vacuum sealed, nor that any possible bacteria were killed. Never take that chance with your own health or that of your family. It’s too easy to do it right. 🙂 Here’s a link to show you how to properly can if you’re new to it. If you want to make this but don’t want to can it, you can also freeze portions of it. Just thaw when you’re ready to use some.

Water Bath Canning

This chutney is wonderful with any Indian or Thai dish, as well as with any fattier cut of meat. The acidity of the chutney helps to cut the richness of the meat. It’s also great just off a spoon, but I am also a wee bit offbeat 😀

Spicy Tomato Chutney

  • 5 lbs tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I like to leave them in fairly decent sized chop. They add a nice look to the finished product.)
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt (non iodized)
  • juice and zest of one small lime
  • juice and zest of one small orange
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or crushed dried chiles (use more or less as desired, depending on how spicy or not you prefer it)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (same chop idea here as for the garlic. Chutney should have texture, not be smooth.)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  1. Put all ingredients into a large, deep pot and stir well to combine.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Once it gets to a boil, turn your heat down to a barely medium setting (I do this at 4 on an electric stove) and let it simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Cook until it has reduced to about half of it’s original amount and has become thick and rich looking, about 2 hours. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot at all, lower your heat a tad and make sure you’re stirring enough. Keep in mind that it will continue to thick a LITTLE bit even after you can it so don’t get it too thick during cooking. You want a product that is about the consistency of a loose preserve.
  4. Can as per the above directions (I got 4 1/2 pints out of this), leaving 1/4 inch headspace and boil in a water bath for ten minutes. When done, remove to a towel and leave undisturbed until cool. Check your seal and if any jars didn’t seal, store them in the fridge. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for quite a long time.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Spicy Pork And Pineapple Chili

Spicy Pork & Pineapple Chili

Spicy Pork & Pineapple Chili



Don’t even say it. I KNOW it’s May and I’m making chili. But c’mon. Are you going to tell me that from the beginning of May until the first frost, you never make a chili or anything resembling it? Ha! That’s what I thought!

I had a butt ton of pork stew meat that had been in my freezer since approximately the year 1575 and I needed to use it up. But although I’ve got a fairly large amount of pork recipes, I wanted something different. I searched for about 956 hours (not that this post is having any tendency towards exaggeration or anything) and found nothing that excited me. Well, other than some shirtless pics of Matthew Mcconaughey. But that’s neither here nor there.

So I went into our garage for inspiration. I can see the confused looks from here. My husband and I are of the survivalist ilk. Not big time… we have no concrete bunker or 800 semi automatic weapons. but we DO tend to keep a good food supply. it’s been quite helpful during hard financial times….. or when I have 4 pounds of pork stew meat to use up. I scouted around, found some ingredients that said “Hey! Janet! I’d go great in a pork chili!” I tend to listen when food talks to me.

I was really pleased with how this turned out. It is filled with tender meat, sweet chunks of pineapple, all in a spicy sweet sauce. We served this over rice just because that’s how I roll (did I ever mention my sad rice addiction?) but you could have it plain, like any normal chili. This is so amazingly full of flavor… one bite a little bit sweet, one bite with a bit of heat that kind of hits you in the back of the throat, one bite nice and meaty. All in all, this is a top notch chili, if I do say so myself and I will be making it again.

You know the drill…

Spicy Pork And Pineapple Chili

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 12 ounces chorizo, casing removed
  • 2 pounds pork stew meat ( or pork loin {NOT tenderloin}, cubed
  • 1 28 ounce can of green enchilada sauce
  • 12 ounce jar of salsa (I used a pineapple salsa I got at Trader Joes)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas (Garbanzos), drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Garnish-
  • sliced green onions
  • grilled pineapple slices (I used my grill pan on the stove)
  • cilantro

 

  1. Pour the oil into a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, celery and jalapeno. Cook over low heat until they are limp and tender. Remove from pot to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Crumble the chorizo into the same pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is cooked through and browned. Spoon out into the same bowl as the veggies and set aside. Leave the oil from the chorizo in the pot
  3. Working batches, brown all of the cubed pork in the remaining oil from the chorizo, removing each batch to the bowl as it gets browned. You may need to drizzle a little vegetable oil in there after the first batch.
  4. After all the pork is browned, dump the bowl with the pork, chorizo and veggies back into the pot. Stir well to combine.
  5. Add the enchilada sauce, the jar of salsa, the can of pineapple chunks, the sugar. the cinnamon and the salt to the pot. Stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for about an hour or until the meat is tender.
  6. Add the drained beans; stir well and leave the cover off of the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes or until reduced to desired thickness.
  7. Add in the balsamic vinegar; stir well.
  8. Taste for seasoning (salt, more balsamic, a bit more sugar, etc)
  9. Serve plain or over rice. Garnish as desired

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken



My family and  are still on a quest for a good Chinese restaurant. It has to have a buffet, because, for one, we’re feeding two teenage boys, who are simply walking hormonal stomachs. And two, I tend to be a picky and poor eater and I do better if I have variety. So far though, all the ones we’ve tried range from “omg, this sucks”, to the point where I actually left a bad review for it on Yelp and I’m not the type to do that normally, up to “ehhh, it was ok, but I wouldn’t pay for it again.” We aren’t asking much…. just food that is fresh and not sticking to the warming dishes because it’s older than my husband, food that hasn’t been salted to the point where you could use it as a salt lick to lure animals in when hunting and a decent variety of dishes.

One of my husbands favorite things from a buffet is the Orange Chicken. I’m a General Tsos kind of a gal myself, but I do enjoy a good Orange Chicken. Good being the operative word. And that’s hard to find. So I gave up for now and decided to make it myself. I have to admit, I’m rather glad I did. No, we didn’t have the variety of 17 different kinds of (Americanized) Chinese foods to choose from, but the one dish was fresh, had an amazing orange flavor that was real, not like a cook poured a bottle of orange extract in it to flavor it and I could eat lying in bed watching bad TV. Hey, don’t judge… I wasn’t feeling well yesterday. That I even MADE dinner is to my credit :-p

This is fairly easy to make. As I’ve told you many times before and will many times more, do your prep work ahead of time. have all the ingredients cut and measured, oranges zested and juice squeezed, etc, etc, etc. Doing this saves so much time and hassle. You don’t get to a certain step and suddenly realize “Oh, crap, forgot to do this or that!” and have to put everything on hold. Do. Your. Prep. Work. And you’ll breeze through this.

You know the drill… git to cooking. 🙂

Orange Chicken

  • For chicken-
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • oil for frying
  • For the sauce-
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger *
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (use less if you prefer less spicy)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup warm water combined with a tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (low sodium is a good idea if you have it)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • zest of 2 large oranges
  • juice of 3 oranges
  • sesame seeds and extra sliced green onion for garnishing
  • rice and broccoli to serve with the chicken
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Combine the cubed chicken with the egg, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Dump in the cornstarch and flour and stir to combine. A wooden spoon works well here. Pour enough oil in a medium pot to go up two inches. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, then fry the chicken in batches of about 8 to 10 pieces at a time, until golden brown and cooked through, about 8  minutes. Set onto a paper towel lined oven safe plate or bowl. When all the chicken is cooked, set into the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepot, combine the sesame oil, tablespoon of vegetable oil, garlic, green onions, rice vinegar and ginger. Stir fry over medium high heat until the onion is wilted and everything is fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  4. As that cooks, combine the soy sauce, sugar, orange zest and orange juice in a measuring cup. Add them to the stir fried green onion mixture. Bring to a boil, then pour the water/cornstarch mixture into it. Stir until the mixture comes back to a boil and thickens up, stirring constantly.
  5. Toss the chicken in the sauce mixture (Or serve the side on the side if you have some people who only like a little bit of sauce and others who like more.), and serve with Basmati or Jasmine rice and steamed broccoli.

*NOTE- For an easy way to peel and grate ginger, just get out a spoon and a fork. Use the edge of the spoon to scrape the peel off; so much easier and much less waste. And then lay the peeled part of the ginger down on a small plate, holding the other end with your free hand. Use a fork to scrape across the ginger. It grates it quite nicely and you can use the edge of the fork to mash/slice up any bits that come off too large.

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Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice


I like shortcuts. Always have. The problem for me in using shortcuts in real life, like say driving, is that I have absolutely no sense of direction. I’m that person who takes the same route to places every…single…time. Because if I don’t, I also become that person who is later saying “Honest, I MEANT to take three hours to get back home. I was looking at all the houses in this neighborhood. It was totally my plan to drive past each house 46 times before I got back onto the main road.” I have to take a route about 10 times, then I have it down pat and won’t change even if they have torn the road up, closed it down and are using dynamite to fix it. Better dynamite than lost in the desert for 40 years. I’m pretty sure the Jews back in Old Testament days wandered the desert for 40 years because someone suggested an alternate route.

When it comes to cooking though, I love shortcuts. When you have six kids waiting for food approximately 15 times a day, you have to come up with ways to feed them quickly. Sometimes this means taking old tried and true recipes and *GASPS* using things that are a bit more processed to speed things up. Case in point is this recipe for red beans and rice. Mind you, I love making them the old fashioned way; letting my dry beans soak overnight, making a 45 minute slowly browned roux and so on and so forth. Thing is, I have learned over 38 years of cooking (I started cooking when I was about ten) that sometimes, when you use shortcuts, you end up with a meal that is just as tasty as the old fashioned way. These beans are one of those times. Canned beans and a quick roux that’s made in the microwave (yes, you can do a roux in the microwave. Have I steered you wrong yet?) make this a weeknight meal that you don’t have to fuss much over. This is very meaty, filling and tastes fantastic.  This doesn’t have a ton of extra ingredients. Between the meats, the veggies and the Cajun seasoning, this is extremely flavorful.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 15 ounce cans red beans, 2 cans drained, 2 with liquid left in them
  • 1 lb fresh andouille sausage, casings removed, crumbled (buy the real thing, not smoked andouille. I found mine at Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage (the Mexican style, not the hard Spanish style.)
  • 1 lb ham, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons good quality Cajun seasoning (check the ingredients; most use a TON of salt & it is the 1st ingredient. McCormicks makes a good one.)
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Franks. I like that it isn’t just hot but has a distinct flavor)
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 2 cups white rice, made according to the directions on the bag
  1. Make your roux- in a large glass bowl (one that you know can handle time in the microwave, combine your flour and oil. Stir well. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, uncovered. It should be a nice light brown by this point and have a yummy nutty smell.
  2. Stir well, making sure to get the sides of the bowl. Microwave again for about another 1 to 2 minutes, watching through the door the whole time to make sure it doesn’t burn. By the end of 6 minutes maximum (unless you have a low wattage microwave, in which case the process will take longer), you should have a nice dark brown roux..
  3. Carefully add your vegetables (and garlic) to the roux and stir well. Put back in the microwave and saute for about 3 minutes. Slowly stir in about 1/3 cup of hot water.
  4. In a large pot, over medium high heat, brown your meats, one type at a time. Do the ham first, then the andouille, then the chorizo. The reason for this is that chorizo has a stronger taste and you don’t want the other meats picking up it’s flavor but instead  keep each meats distinct taste.
  5. Pour the roux mixture into the pot. Stir well, then add the beans, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir again, cover pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary to prevent sticking. You can simmer this for as little as 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry or as long as a couple of hours. It’s a very forgiving dish. It’s also amazing a day or two later, reheated.
  6. Serve over bowls of rice, garnished with onions.

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Sticky Spicy Sweet Thai Wings

Sticky Spicy Sweet Thai Chicken Wings

Sticky Spicy Sweet Thai Chicken Wings

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with friends on facebook about how the American public (and a few other westernized cultures) has gotten fatter and fatter even though there is a far larger variety of good for you foods to choose from. We went back and forth over whether diet or lack of exercise was the larger culprit with my personal stance being right in the middle of both. We make crappy food choices, then do nothing to work it off. As a society we have come so far from our agricultural work 10 hours a day at manual labor roots that’s it’s frightening. most of us now get our exercise at home via a dvd or at the gym or maybe jogging and that’s assuming we even get up off of our computer chairs to do ANYTHING. And as I said to friends, I’m as guilty of that as anyone.

Case in point, chicken wings. I absolutely love them and would happily eat them several times a week with no problem. The problem lies in how I usually like them. I love the prepackaged bags of Hooters coating, frying the wings up all nice and crispy and then slathering them in the Hooters sauce. In my defense, I don’t have them often, maybe 2 or 3 times year, but to be totally honest, that probably stems more from the price of wings than any healthy living on my part. Like I said, I’m as guilty as anyone else. Last night, I had those same Hooters wings all planned for dinner. But after that conversation, I just couldn’t do it. I have been trying to eat better lately anyway (as I’ve said before, I actually don’t eat much of what I make for the blog… this is where having teenage boys and my husband having female coworkers who love sweets comes in handy hehe) and after my soapbox talk on facebook, couldn’t justify fried wings coated in flour and a buttery sauce.

So I played. I love spicy foods, I love sweet hot foods even more and I love Thai influenced foods too. So I dreamed up a sauce that had those flavors. I am rather pleased with how these turned out. The sauce is sticky, (and a good wing just HAS to be sticky. It’s the law!), sweet and with a nice punch of heat to it. If you’re spice averse, just lower the amount of jalapeno pepper.  This makes a lot of glaze. You can store the excess in the fridge to use as a dipping sauce for many different foods. 🙂

You know the drill… git to cookin’

Sticky Spicy Sweet Thai Wings

  • 1 4 lb bag frozen chicken wings, thawed
  • 8 ounces apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice and zest from one small lime
  • juice and zest from one small orange
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/3 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced jalapeno
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with non stick foil (you could also use regular foil but spray it with cooking spray… as much fat as wings render, they still stick to the pan).
  2. Place the wings in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then drain off all of the rendered fat or your wings won’t crisp at all, they’ll just steam in their own fat.
  4. Continue baking at 400 until wings are cooked through. If they haven’t browned enough for you, turn your broiler on high and put the pan under the broiler until they are of desired brownness. Watch closely so they don’t burn.
  5. As the wings cook, make your sauce. In a medium non stick pot, combine all the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn while the preserves melt. Once it is smooth, turn the heat to medium and continue boiling, stirring very frequently to prevent sticking. Turn the heat off about ten minutes before you take the wings out of the oven to let the sauce cool and thicken. it will look thin hot, but will thicken nicely as it cools.
  6. Put your cooked wings in a large heatproof bowl and pour the desired amount of sauce over them. Toss to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.

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Cajun Fried Fish Po’ Boy With Fried Green Tomatoes & Lemon Herb Tartar Sauce

Cajun Fried Fish Po' Boys

Cajun Fried Fish Po’ Boys

Whoa. I just passed over into “Long Recipe Name Land”, didn’t I? But I had to!!! Honest injun, ma! Fried Fish Po’ Boy sounds b…o…r…i…n…g… and while the fried green tomatoes added kicks the name up a notch, you really really NEEDED to know about the homemade lemon herb tartar sauce (on a side note, am I the only one who was thoroughly confused as a kid by tartar sauce and tartar on ones teeth? I was convinced that you got bad teeth because you ate tartar sauce. Please tell me I wasn’t alone in my idiocy *hears crickets, dies of embarrassment*) because it’s really what sends this sandwich over the edge from “I saw 5000 po’ boys on google” to “Oh! Where did I see that one po’ boy that had that amazing tartar sauce!? Oh yeah, it was on From Cupcakes To Caviar!”. It is creamy and tangy and a bit zesty from the lemon and the red pepper with a wonderful herbed flavor from…well, the herbs. Duhhhh, mannnn.

I would have liked to use catfish on this because I love catfish but catfish costs as much as a mortgage payment anymore if you’re in a landlocked state so I used Tilapia. Feel free to use whatever mild white fish you like in this. Any of them will work. This is extremely easy. Just get your tartar sauce made at least an hour ahead of time to give the flavors time to blend and taste it to make sure it to your families liking. Get your prep work done (veggies ready to go on the sandwiches, side dishes ready etc) and all that will be left is frying the fish and the tomatoes, letting everyone put their sandwiches together and chowing down.

You know the drill… get to cookin’!!

                                  Cajun Fried Fish Po’ Boy With Fried Green Tomatoes & Lemon Herb Tartar Sauce

  • 3 lbs of your favorite white fish fillets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow; up to you)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (use a GOOD brand like McCormicks; the cheaper brands are mostly salt. If you have to use a cheaper brand, omit the salt in this)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 green to slightly pink tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup good mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill weed or 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh (I actually prefer dried in this; the flavor works better plus you don’t have that leafy texture since this isn’t something cooked)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (do NOT use dried; dried chives are a waste of money) or sub fresh green onions but the flavor will be stronger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 6 hoagie buns or sub rolls
  • sliced sweet onion
  • lettuce
  1. Make your tartar sauce- In a small bowl ( a cereal bowl is big enough) combine mayo, pickle relish, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, one tablespoon lemon zest, dill weed, chives, red pepper or hot sauce and salt. Stir well to mix, taste for seasoning then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal,  and the next 7 ingredients (up through the cayenne).
  3. In another bowl, combine the eggs and cold water.
  4. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat your oil to between 335 and 350 degrees. As it’s getting to temp, bread your fish. Dip first in the egg mixture, shaking off the excess, then dip into the flour/cornmeal mixture. Gently lay the fish, about 3 to 4 at a time depending on size, being careful not to crowd the pan, into the hot oil.
  5. Let cook until golden brown on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes then flip. Let the other side brown well then remove from pan and lay onto a paper towel lined plate. Unless your fish is exceedingly thick, letting it get nicely golden brown on each side will be enough to get it cooked through without overcooking it. Cook all the fish, then do the same procedure with the sliced green tomatoes. With the tomatoes however all you need to do is get them brown. No worry about actually getting them cooked.
  6. Lay everything out- fish, tomatoes, tartar sauce, rolls and garnishes and let everyone put together their own po’ boys.

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