September 29, 2014

Game Day Chili

I LOVE football and wait all year for the season to begin. I am very different from my girlfriends in that way. But they've long figured out not to bother me on Sundays when the New England Patriots play. And when the Patriots play on Monday Night Football, its a true cause for celebration!
These games are hyped and usually tough match-ups for my team. And Bill Belichick doesn't ever play his hand to the public, so you never know what the team really thinks going into the game.

Because I can't do anything but wait with excitement for tonight's game, Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs, I thought I'd make my favorite chili to eat while I scream and yell and hopefully root the Patriots to victory!
 My chili recipe has stood the test of time. From my son's high school football team (GO BULLS!) to my daughter's college lacrosse team (GO SAINTS!), and many tailgates in between, many have gobbled this right up. What I love about this recipe and what makes it different from others, is the amount of veggies in this hearty beef dish. 
Ready to start assembling this chili, here are my ingredients - the recipe is at the bottom of this post so no need to take notes :) Pay no attention to the Corona box in the corner - ha ha , lots of these will be consumed!

I start by chopping all the veggies I need and draining the beans and measuring out all the spices - just like on a cooking show. That way, when it's time to add the next ingredient, I won't be stressed with the heat and cooking time. So first come the onions.
You probably know this already, so this is to benefit my kids and their college/just-out-of-college friends, but the easiest way to chop an onion is to peel it, slice the ends off, then slice opposite the "grain" in thin slices...
...then flip the onion so it rests on one of the ends you had cut off. Simply slice the onion and you'll automatically get a small dice with half the effort.
 This next tip for chopping peppers is great and I got it from some time-saving cooking magazine. Start by slicing the top of the pepper off.
Now, you've got all this space to do the next step which is pretty cool...
 Take a sharp knife and in the little spaces that you created by slicing the top off, insert your knife and go around in a full circle.
After doing that, the center with most of the seeds and membranes come right out.
 Then cut open the pepper to take out the remaining white parts and any leftover seeds.
Slice the pepper in small strips, then line the strips up evenly and chop to make a small dice.
 Now on to the jalapeno peppers. You'll need two small ones for this recipe. This is my tip I made up as a solution to not wanting to touch the insides of the pepper too much (I wear contact lenses and rub my eyes a lot and rubbing eyes after toughing a jalapeno hurts!) 
I use my small grapefruit spoon to help me seed the pepper after slicing it in half lengthwise. The little teeth on the spoon scrape the seeds out really nicely!
Amazing how much stuff comes out of those little buggers!
 I need 4 garlic minced garlic cloves and the easiest way to peel garlic is by smashing it. I trim the ends of the clove with my knife and then turn the knife blade on it's side and smash down on the clove. 
And this is what the cloves look like after the assault. The papery outsides just slide right off and I can continue mincing the garlic.
I get out all the seasonings I need and measure them on a plate so they'll be easy to slide right off into the pot at the right time. I have salt and pepper, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, basil and cumin. There's also some chili powder to add but it missed this picture.
 My trusty pot is out and ready to start. I got this thing at Marshall's a million years ago and I cannot tell you how many meals its cooked and how much I love it!
I do two swirls with the bottle of olive oil and let it heat up a little until I can smell the yummy fragrance.
In come the onions and I let them cook for about 15 minutes until they get soft and sort of translucent.
 Then I add the red pepper and jalapeno. Looks kind of Christmasy! I let this cook for about 5 more minutes until the peppers got soft.
Once everything is soft and more translucent, then I add the garlic, making sure I don't let it burn. I cook the mixture for a minute more or so.
 Then I dump in the ground beef, chili powder (you can always add more than I have in this recipe, but its kind of like salt in a recipe - easy to add after you taste and impossible to get rid of if its too much), cumin, basil, nutmeg (always a good little surprise with meat).
I use my wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cook and to mix everything around. I let it cook until the meat browns. I like to use 90%-95% lean ground beef so, where in most chili recipes you have to drain the beef after it cooks, there isn't much fat to drain so I leave it in to add a little flavor.
 When the meat and mixture is brown and cooked, I add the Worcestershire sauce
 Next up are the two kinds of beans, black and red (my hometown colors), a petite diced can of tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves. (I apologize for the blurry picture. I had no idea how quickly a camera lens fogs up when over a pot of steaming chili!)
 Then pour away with the chicken broth - you can also use beef broth if you prefer. 
And of course, add salt and pepper to taste. I love black pepper, just not red pepper flakes. 
Weird, I know.
While I cook the chili and let it simmer for about an hour, I cook up some yummy jasmine or basmati rice to put on the bottom of my bowl as the base and then pour the chili all over.
SUPER YUMMY! Don't forget to add some cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top. And cornbread! The world is not complete without cornbread!

Here's the recipe! Enjoy the game! GO PATS!!! GO TOM BRADY!

Game Day Chili
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 Large onions, chopped into a nice dice
1 Red Bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1/8 cup of chili powder
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, juices and all
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
6 cups of chicken broth
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese and sour cream to garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until you begin to smell the oil. Add the onions and turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes until translucent and soft. Then add the red pepper and jalapeno pepper for another 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring the whole time making sure the garlic doesn't burn.

Increase the heat and add the ground beef, chili powder, basil, cumin and nutmeg. Break up the meat as it cooks so the beef is crumbled and mixed together with the spices and is a golden brown. Add the Worcestershire sauce, can of tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, beans, bay leaves and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about an hour until the liquid reduces and the chili thickens.

This chili travels well to games and also freeze well too. Don't forget the rice, cheese, sour cream and corn bread! Woo Hoo!

September 26, 2014

"Land-yachting" at the Newport Boat Show on $8.50/day

Okay, so it did cost us more than $8.50 to do the whole Newport International Boat Show including food and tickets and drinks - lots of those!

But, it only cost us $8.50 to stay in Newport during the show, thanks to my trusty "land-yacht" Torpedo. My husband and I made up the term, land-yacht, because as you've figured out by now, we like boats. We work on boats, play on boats and live on boats. (Torpedo also moonlights as a super-fan bus going to lots of sporting events. But that's a story for another day.)
I'm always, ALWAYS in search of my "beach", in whatever form it needs to take on any day
 We brought provisions and threw our stuff on board and set off for a great couple of days. Goslings rum at the ready for "Nanny's" (Goslings and pink lemonade), "Joey's" (Goslings and orange juice) and Dark 'N Stormy's (Goslings and ginger beer), along with lots of white wine and simple snacks
 Simple overnights mean I don't need a lot of clothes. But I DO love my Sea Bags anchor bag. 
Love their things!
No self-respecting "land-yachter" can go cruising without some fresh flowers!

We figured out our cheap accommodations a couple of years ago when we went to the show in Torpedo and had to find a place to park. The beauty of our land-yacht is that she's (boats are always referred to as female) only 26 feet long which allows us to park in most oversized parking spots.
In Newport, on the famous Thames Street along the water, is a stretch of angled parking spots with meters, if you're lucky enough to get one. Or in this case, I stalked a poor man walking to his car and waited until my husband circled the block to pull into the space. I wasn't making a lot of friends at that point :).

The great thing about the meters is that you can use a credit card eliminating the need for quarters, put enough $ on the meter and then it shuts off at night. So for the day, it only cost us $8.50 and we were right next to the action - bars and restaurant - which came in mighty handy when we were a little tipsy and needed to go to bed.

We had fun shopping at the show, checking out our dream yachts, hosting very un-glam appetizers but with yummy drinks on board for friends and passerbys alike.
 Can't you just imagine doing cocktail tours around the harbor in this cool electric launch?
LOVE this sign!
 My favorite restaurant in Newport, The Candy Store, at the Clarke Cooke House
Every bar and restaurant needs a "Dog Bar"
I think my brother would have a blast on this!

Flags, flags everywhere and not a drop to drink!
(anyone remember Rime of the Ancient Mariner?)
 Pretty flower boxes on the wharves
Buy the boat and get some free lilies?
Even a little brass band to get me in the shopping mood! 
Unfortunately, I didn't need any help getting into the mood 
and maybe, just maybe, spent a little too much. 
But, Christmas IS coming and some of these may be gifts (hope my friends are hiding their eyes)
Even though I love Sea Bags, I also love Ella Vickers and I desperately needed a duffle bag. Both companies take old sails and make bags out of them. The sales lady excitedly explained that the duffle bag came from a 420 sail. I think I'd already figured that one out :) The purse and champagne bag just happened to fall in the pile when I was paying - oops!
Chace N'Lulu is one of my favorite stores in Newport and they had this super cute cashmere tunic. I wear a lot of tunics in the summer because they hide a lot of sins, and fun nights out. So just switching material from cotton to cashmere, I can still rock my look (as preppy as it may be).
If you don't know about MW Coastal Goods, you should. This husband/wife team combine their fishing and artistry and make these super cool bottle stoppers bottle openers and loads of other goodies. I even WON the lobster bottle opener from entering a contest at their booth!
The less glamorous side of yachting, in any form, is that sometimes there are smells from mold and mildew, bilge pumps etc. that you wish would just go away. I am PROMISED by my friend Libby, who actually lives on a 59' Hatteras year 'round with her husband and two dogs, that this stuff is amazing. Gotta try it on our real yacht.
Christmas present alert!
I just HAD to buy the double wine bags from the Newport Shipyard. Whoever has just one bottle? Pleeease! If you ever need service, this place has it all, including a cute shop and yummy restaurant!
This little number just wrapped itself around my wrist so I couldn't leave it behind! 
It's by Harrison + Pike
My last purchase was an attempt to purchase because they didn't have my size. But I LOVED this coat (no this isn't me, I wish) and I do need a raincoat. It's by Helly Hansen and supposedly runs small, but It's so cute!

So, though my accommodations were cheap, I more than made up for it in my purchases. But after running into lots of friends during the show and a night with best friends sharing drinks and apps on on board our land yacht, this was great road trip - one definitely to be repeated! 
p.s. see the boat listing for my dream yacht? A steal for only $5.9 million! ha ha!