Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Savory Chili with Chocolate Brookies for Dessert

September in Michigan is usually much, much cooler than it has been this year.  Typically in the mid 60's, it's been in the mid 70's to high 80's for much of the month.  Today it's much cooler, 62 degrees and the weatherman says it's time to say goodbye to summer.  Cooler weather and football season means Chili and it's always a good time for cookies, right?  Today I have 2 recipes for you that are well loved and very much enjoyed around my house.  I grew up watching my mom make Chili and she was a little bit of this and a little bit of that until it tastes right kind of cook and that's how I learned to do it.  It's also how I learned that food, creating edibles that the people you love can enjoy, is an expression of love; it's a gift of love that cannot be bought.  Passing that knowledge on to me was a gift from my mothers heart and it's something I cherish.  I still tease her about trying to write down her recipes; how do you measure a bit or a spoonful? Anyway, I have learned that measuring is important to getting a consistent product and that I need to write things down as I go as I will inevitably forget something if I don't.

Chili is one of those meals that is easily prepared ahead of time and you can customize it to your families tastes.  The recipe lists ground sirloin, but I've made it many times with ground turkey and if your family is vegetarian, you could leave out the meat and use veggie stock.  You may want to add an extra can of beans for volume, however.  Poblano peppers can really vary in heat, but I have yet to use one that has been spicy.  They have an almost fruity flavor to them and they really add to the depth of flavor of any dish you use them in, which is why I added them to this recipe.  I mince them, just in case.

I buy my spices individually at a much loved spice shop in Northern Michigan called Spice Merchants.  The chili powder I use is called La Mesa Dark Chili powder and it's the best.  Robust and flavorful without being hot.  You can order everything from their website and their shipping is fast   I also recommend their Smoked Sweet Hungarian Paprika.  If you'd rather make it easier on yourself, they offer a Fiesta Chili Blend that is delicious as well.  I suggest starting with 2 tbsp of that and going from there.

Savory Chili


1 lb. ground sirloin                             1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 red bell pepper, diced                      2 tsp salt
1 green bell pepper, diced                  1 tsp chili powder
1 poblano pepper, minced                  1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced

Place all the above ingredients in a skillet and sauté over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it browns.

In the crock of a slow cooker, place the following ingredients and stir to combine.

1 28 oz. can NSA crushed tomatoes             2 tbsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika       
2 14 oz. cans NSA diced tomatoes                1 tsp. Coriander   
1 6 oz. can tomato paste                               ½ tsp. Dried Chipotle powder                   
3 15 oz. cans NSA kidney beans, drained    1 tsp. Dried Oregano
4 tbsp. minced garlic                                    1 tbsp. Ground Cumin
1 cup beef stock                                            2 tbsp. Chili powder
Salt to taste

Add meat mixture when there’s no longer any pink and it’s finished cooking, draining off any excess fat.  Stir to combine everything into a homogeneous mixture and taste for salt.  Cook on low for 9 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.  I like to serve this with cornbread or over corn chips – my mom called it Potbellies when she served it over Frito's. I top it with light sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Two simple ideas for any leftover Chili: Chilimac or Cherogies.  Chilimac: Cook one package of short cut pasta; drain.  Add left over Chili to the pasta and stir to combine.  Top with shredded Cheddar cheese and serve.  Cherogies: Boil one package of frozen mini Pierogies.  Drain and add left over Chili.  Heat through and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

I promised a recipe for Chocolate Brookies and this recipe doesn't disappoint.  This recipe originally came from King Arthur Flour, but I've modified it a bit.  These cookies are customizable as well as you can add what ever chips/candies/nuts you and your family likes.  I dubbed these Brookies because they are shaped and bake like a cookie, but have the flavor and texture of a brownie. You'll see espresso powder in the recipe; you won't taste it.  It is there to add to the depth and intensity of chocolate flavor.  If you want a mocha flavor, triple the espresso powder.  They are insanely delicious and seriously satisfy any chocolate craving. 

Chocolate Brookies:

 2 ¼ cups, minus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
Whisk the dry ingredients together.

12 tbsp. (1½ sticks) butter, at room temp
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tbsp. espresso powder
1 egg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee chips
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat butter, sugar and corn syrup until fluffy.  Add vanilla, espresso powder and egg.  Beat until combined and lightened in color.  Gradually add dry mixture until combined. Add chips and nuts. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper and scoop dough using a tablespoon measure cookie scoop to ensure each cookie is the same size and bakes evenly.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Makes 3-4 dozen.  

I hope you and your family loves these recipes as much as me and mine do! Much love! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fall Thank you

I was inspired by the fall colors that are starting to emerge here in Michigan.  I combined a few techniques for this card and really love how it turned out.  I stamped the wood-grain background using the Wood Pallet Background by Altenew.  I used my MISTI to stamp it in VersaMark and heat embossed the image with Copper embossing powder by Zing ( I made 2 panels and only inked 1).  I used Distress Ink with a mini blending tool starting with Tea Dye, then added Vintage Photo and finished with Walnut Stain.  I just love the richness you get when layering those shades.  I die cut the word "thanks" with a die by Lawn Fawn from the panel and from fun foam.  I applied a sheet of Stick-It adhesive to both sides of the fun foam before die cutting it so that I would have a sticker for easy assembly.  I removed the paper from the foam one letter at a time and carefully lined it up as I stuck them together.  Using tape runner, I attached the panel to the card base, then removed the backing from the die cut and fit it in.

For the die cut leaves, I used the stitched leaves set by Lawn Fawn to cut several out.  With the second panel, I blended Tea Dye over it and let it dry.  After I cut out my leaves, I inked over them using Barn Door, Fired Brick, Spiced Marmalade, Squeezed Lemonade and Mustard Seed.  I took a clean piece of Distress Watercolor Cardstock and used Dylusions and Distress Spray Stains to color it as I wanted a mix between deep hues and vibrant ones like you'd see in nature.  For the bright leaves I used Dylusions spray in Lemon Zest and Sunshine, Distress Twisted Citron and Mowed Lawn and Heidi Swapp Color Shine in Gold.  I let that dry thoroughly and die cut my leaves.  I arranged and attached the leaves using tape runner and foam squares. 

I love this time of year with the beautiful change of God's creation outside, abundant farmers markets, apple cider and donuts and countless creative ways to enjoy it.  Hope you enjoyed and thanks for spending a little time with me! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guess Whoo Loves You

It's slowly transitioning from summer to fall here in Michigan and I was inspired to play with the rich colors of God's creation.  I also challenged myself to use a few products I had in my stash that I haven't used before.  The owl and sentiment are from Clearly Besotted and embossed with Lindy's Stamp Gang embossing powder..  The wood pallet background stamp is from a set by Altenew called Wood Pallet Background.  It was stamped in Dark Chocolate ink by Simon Says Stamp on the Misti so that I could double stamp if I needed to.  I colored it by ink blending with distress inks.  I used a scalloped circle die from Lawn Fawn to die cut the middle to make a shaker.  The leaves were die cut using the stitched leaves die set by Lawn Fawn and colored using the same technique I shared in my last blog post. 
These are the stamp sets used.
To color the wood background I started with Tea Dye and worked my way through to the darker shades Vintage Photo, Gathered Twigs and then Walnut Stain.  I added Rusty Hinge to give it some richness and depth.  I embossed the Owl and sentiment with Lindys Stamp Gang embossing powder in Cafe Au Lait. 

I used the largest of the Lawn Fawn Stitched Rectangle dies to add a stitching detail to the edges and LF scalloped circle die to die cut the middle. 

The middle was made into a shaker using the large circle shaker pouch by Impression Obsession.

For the shaker bits, I added Doodlebug sequins, die cut leaves, Harvest Gold microfine glitter by Glitter Ritz and gold microbeads.

The shaker pouch has adhesive around the edge that seals the pouch when the backing is removed and it's applied to the background surface.

I fit the shaker piece back into the background and mounted the complete piece on a standard card base.  I then attached the die cut leaves with foam squares and the card is complete.

 I arranged and attached the die cuts to look similar to a wreath along the bottom of the shaker.

The rest are clustered at the top right corner.

 These are the colors I used for the red/orange/yellow leaves.  The green/yellow were cut from a scrap of another sheet that I used the same technique with.

This card turned out really adorable and I am always happy when I can get inky.  I hope you enjoyed. Don't be afraid to try it out and see what happens!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Northern Lights card tutorial

 Picture 1 shows the shades of sprays I used to make the piece in pictures 2 and 3.  I start with a 11x15 sheet of cold press 110 lb Strathmore watercolor paper. I wanted a cold, icy looking background.  I layer the colors and add enough moisture to get the products to swirl and blend.  I started with Lindy's Stamp Gang Whale Watch Blue, which is a gray blue with a lot of shimmer to it.  I added Distress Salty Ocean and Mermaid Lagoon towards the middle and next to each other to get a blend between the two, creating a new blue/teal shade.  I added Hickory Smoke for a little darkness and Dylusions White Linen for an icy swirl.  I add the Perfect Pearls spray in Pearl over the whole piece to get things moving and blending.  Sometimes I need to take a paper towel to sop up puddles that form along the edges and I like to do that to avoid "mud", which can run into the middle and ruin it.  Mud is more of a tendency when using colors that will turn brown when combined such as purple and yellow or red and green.  It's not a risk with the colors I used here. 

 I just love the swirls that dried in.  Sometimes what looks awesome wet doesn't look the same when it's dry.  It kept those swirl patterns this time, so I was happy with it.

 These are the colors I used in the piece below.  Distress Salty Ocean, Mermaid Lagoon, Twisted Citron, Picked Raspberry, Dusty Concord and Shaded Lilac.  I also used Dylusions Lemon Zest.  Not pictured is Perfect Pearls spray in Pearl.  The orange in the piece is the blend between the pink and yellow.  One of the best things about doing these is the blend between the different colors.  You also never get the same piece twice, and I've tried!
 A trick I learned in art school was to take a sheet of paper, fold it in half and half again.  Cut a square out of the middle and open it up, making a veiwfinder.  Use the square in the middle of the sheet to look through to find perspective.  So I take the die I want to use, in this case a stitched rectangle, and move it around to find what I want to make my background.  I mark it with a pencil and cut it down with my paper trimmer.  I then send it through my big shot to die cut it.

 I used Distress ink in Black Soot to blend around the edges to darken it, giving it that night time sky look.

 I typically make three to four layers of ink to get the darkness I want. 
 I used SU Lovely as a Tree stamp set.  Momento Tuxedo Black ink.

This one is another version made with the same techniques and a different piece of the same sheet.  Tim Holtz stamps and Ranger Embossing Powder in Platinum.
I posted this card on Facebook and received wonderful and encouraging comments.  This one was also done the same techniques.  The only difference is that I didn't use any perfect pearls on it.  The sparkle is from a Wink of Stella Clear pen.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed!

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