Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe: White Chili with Cornbread Topping

I just had to share this recipe with you. It is so delicious! I found it on the King Arthur Flour Company's recipe website. You MUST make this as soon as possible. Granted, it may not be low calorie, but it is REAL food, like our grandmothers used to make. YUM!

(I omitted the jalapeno pepper because I don't like spicy food. I used chopped chicken instead of turkey.)


White Chili with Cornbread Topping

Ingredients

Chili

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 large onion, peeled and chopped, about 3 1/4 cups chopped onion
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/2" to 3/4" pieces; about 1 1/2 cups chopped pepper
* 1 small jalapeƱo pepper, diced; remove and discard seeds for milder chili
* 1 to 4 cloves garlic (to taste), peeled and minced
* 1 pound bag frozen corn, thawed; or 3 cups fresh or frozen/thawed corn kernels
* 2 cans (4 1/2 ounces each) chopped green chiles, undrained
* 5 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey meat, white and/or dark
* 1 can (15 to 19 ounces) white beans or cannellini beans, undrained
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* 3-ounce package cream cheese
* 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, optional, for topping

Cornbread topping

* 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
* 1 cup yellow cornmeal
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 4 1/2-ounce can chopped mild green chiles, drained
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
* 1 1/4 cups milk
* 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
* 1 large egg


Directions

1) To make the chili: Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic, frying until the vegetables are soft and the onions are barely beginning to turn golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2) Add the corn, chiles, and chicken or turkey, stirring to combine.

4) Place the beans with their liquid in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Add to the pan with the meat and vegetables, stirring to combine.

4) Stir in the cumin and salt.

5) Simmer the chili slowly for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. While the chili simmers, make the cornbread topping, and start preheating the oven to 375°F.

6) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chiles, and fresh cilantro.

7) In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, melted butter, and egg.

8) Pour the liquid all at once into the flour mixture, stirring quickly and gently until just combined. Set the batter aside while you finish the chili.

9) Add the cream cheese to the chili, stirring until it melts. Adjust the salt, if necessary.

10) Spoon the chili into a lightly greased 9" x 13" x 2"-deep pan. You'll need about 1" clearance between the chili and the top of the pan, to ensure the cornbread topping doesn't overflow. If your pan is shallower than 2", fill with chili until it comes no closer than 1" to the top. You may also divide the chili among individual serving dishes. The entire recipe makes about 8 cups of chili; if you use 2-cup capacity ramekins or bakers, spoon 1 cup chili into each.

11) Top the chili with grated cheddar cheese, if desired; then with the cornbread batter. For 8 individual ramekins or bakers, use 1/2 cup batter for each.

12) Bake the chili and cornbread for about 25 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean. The individual servings will bake for about 20 minutes.

13) Remove from the oven, and serve hot or warm.

Yield: about 8 to 12 servings.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Fine Day: Vogue

After the sudden outpouring of emotion had subsided and the mini-celebration began in the courtyard of the chapel, my new husband and I, along with our wedding party, headed to various locations of the church to take the obligatory formal wedding photos.

My husband and I with our parents.

My whole family and all of our significant others.

The wedding party. Dang, we're formal.

Of course, with our group of friends, things didn't stay serious for long.

That's more like it. Relax. Have a seat. Want a cocktail?

Sexy ladies! Work it!

I sure hope he's not allergic to those flowers.

This is one of my favorites of my dad lecturing my future husband from the courtyard pulpit. You tell him, Dad!

We did manage to focus for a couple of minutes at a time and take, what I consider, some pretty great photos (Cristina, you rock!).







After a while, it was time for just me and my new hubby to "act romantic" for the camera. We didn't have a hard time with that!







Soon, it was time to head on over to the reception site and get our party on!

My sister, Cupcake, decorated her white SUV to whisk us away to the party. She's so cute! Inside the car she had set up a cooler full of ice, a bottle of champagne and two (shatter-proof) champagne flutes. It was so cute! Of course, when Lobster opened the bottle of champagne it poured all over his lap. He jumped out of his car and did what I like to call the Ice Cold Crotch Dance. I wished the photographer had gotten that shot!

Lucky for Lobster, Cupcake happens to have a plethora of useful goods stashed in her car at all times. Seriously, it's like a veritable Target in there. You could probably find a paper shredder and some discounted shoes if you were really looking. Anyhoo, we ended up finding a stash of napkins to wipe down my husband's pants.

As we zoomed away, I thought to myself how appropriate the moment was. Being surrounded by my sister and Lobster's best friend (who are getting married in April), drinking champagne, laughing at my silly new husband, feeling like a million bucks...if this was an insight as to how the rest of my life with this man would be, I was going to be a happy girl!

Stay tuned for scenes from the party!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thirty One

Today is my birthday. I am thirty one.

I don't know about you, but that sounds old to me. I don't feel thirty one. I feel twenty eight. To me, twenty eight is the perfect age: old enough to be considered "mature" while still young enough to be considered "hip." Thirty one just feels weird. Not young, but not technically old. I think I'm going to start aging backwards like Benjamin Button.

Anyway, I had a great, low key birthday celebration with my family this weekend. Lobster and I made lasagna and our family and friends brought various side dishes and desserts. It was a yummy feast! Then we played Catchphrase (a family favorite) and drank lots of wine. It was the first time some of my friends had been over to our new house so Lobster and I had spent the entire day cleaning like mad. We were pretty exhausted when the party started! But it was a lot of fun and I'm glad we kept it low key.

Lobster and my mom went in on a new iPhone for me since it's FINALLY available through Verizon. Granted, I won't be able to actually order it until February, but it's nice to know that I can actually get it as soon as Verizon lets me! My sister got me this beautiful necklace:


Isn't it pretty? It's from Layla Grace. She sells fabulous stuff. Go check her out.

Sunday was a lazy day. Lobster and I did some laundry and discussed all the house projects we want to tackle. We finally made a list of all the things we want to do and then prioritized. One of the things we agreed we needed to do first was furnish our third bedroom. Since moving in it has served as a cat room/junk we don't know what to do with room/wannabe man room. When we have more than one set of guests staying with us, we have to throw the air mattress on the floor. Not very hospitable, if you ask me.

Anyway, I had been researching options for a bed or couch for that room. I really wanted something that would serve as a place for Lobster to hang out and be "manly" but also a place where guests could sleep comfortably when necessary. A daybed would have been my preferred solution, but those are pretty expensive. Then I started looking into sofa sleepers and those are just as bad as daybeds. So I finally swallowed my pride and started looking at...I hesitate to admit this...futons.

Please don't judge me.

I was surprised to learn, however, that futons have come a long way since my college days. They actually make not-so-bad-looking ones now. I was even more surprised to find a model that I kinda liked at Walmart. Yeah, that's right, I said Walmart.

Quit judging me.

It was really inexpensive and the reviews on the website were really good. So we hopped on over to our local Wally World and bought the thing. I put it together in approximately two hours and only said two curse words the whole time. I think that's a record for me.


See, not so bad looking for a man room, right?

So, that was pretty much our Sunday.


Oh, and I bought my DSLR (if you could see me right now you'd see me grinning from ear to ear). More on that later...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

365 Project: Bells, Books and Man's Best Friend

Here are some more pictures for my 365 Project. I've been having a lot of fun with Photoshop but I have only been using the Actions feature. I'd love to learn how to do more, but I haven't yet had time to teach myself. I'd love to find a weekend class or something where someone can teach me. I learn better with a teacher.

Tangent. Sorry. Moving on.


Just my rusty old garden bell. I love the contrast in colors.


Took this shot on a trail in the neighborhood across the street. Great view of Fort Worth in the morning light.


Isn't he the prettiest dog? I just love him.


I heart old books. And my new ceramic birdie friend.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Master Plan

For the past couple of years, I have wanted to start a raised bed garden. When Lobster and I were living in our rented duplex, we decided it would be a waste of money to try to build one there, so we waited. Then, we moved into our new house at the beginning of the summer and I desperately wanted to build the raised bed garden but we had so many other expenses that were more vital, so we waited.

Then, over Christmas, I got a catalog from the Gardener's Supply Company that was filled with gardening goodness. I soon found the section on raised bed gardens and found one for a whole lot less than other kits I had been scoping out. It was even cheaper (and less work) than building our own. So I talked to Lobster about it and he said, "Okay, fine. Get it." So I did.


It's small. Just 3 X 3 feet. But I think it's the perfect size for the amateur gardener who may or may not have a habit of killing things she plants. It still needs to be built and placed in a sunny spot in the yard, but I'm excited. I'm going to start with easy to grow veggies like tomatoes and peas and carrots. If I am successful, I will be needing to find lots of recipes that involve tomatoes and peas and carrots.

In preparation of planting, I bought the 2011 Farmer's Almanac. It tells me when the last frost should be this year. Mid-March, I think. I wonder how it knows?

Anyhoo, other than that, my Master Plan to Growing a Successful Garden is:

  1. Plant.
  2. Water.
  3. Don't kill.
  4. Keep dog from peeing on future food.

Sounds simple enough, right? We shall see...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birthday List and More 365 Project

I'm a little busy this week, hence the lack of posts. I don't see a reprieve in sight either. But I wanted to share some of the photos I've been taking. I'm having lots of fun with Photoshop and am hoping to get the latest version for my upcoming birthday (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, Lobster). Oh, and since I'm talking about what I want for my birthday, here are a few more things:


Canon EOS Rebel T2i (MUST HAVE! CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT!)



Jo's Totes Camera Bag (Isn't this the cutest?)


Verizon's iPhone (IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME! Ahem...)

I have expensive taste, don't I?

Okay, sorry for that tangent. Back to the point. What was my point? OH! Pictures...


Have you ever seen such a fierce looking fencepost? Sheesh.


I love the shadowy drama of this picture.


He is a mighty hunter of all things small and furry. Beware the mighty hunter.

Friday, January 7, 2011

365 Project: Gone Fishin'


I couldn't resist catching these ducks with their bums sky high. Duck butts. Hehe.

Seriously, I have the sense of humor of a thirteen year old boy sometimes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Fine Day: Promises

It was time. I was ready.

After what seemed like endless minutes of waiting, the doors finally swung open. My dad stepped forward and gently urged me to do the same. I was eager to do it, to take those first steps, but I felt like I was moving in slow motion. But then, in an instant, I was over the threshold and walking forward into the rest of my life.


Something I always worried about was how I would make it down the aisle on my wedding day without having a panic attack. Not because of nerves or cold feet. But because of all the people looking at me. I have never been one to enjoy being the center of attention. I don't like standing up in front of a crowd, much less speaking in front of one. I'd rather be a wallflower, listening to and observing other people as they go about their business.

Clearly, I had to get over a lot of this fear being The Bride. I was nothing if not the center of attention for over a year. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least.

But as those doors opened and I walked into the chapel, I saw no one. Of course, there were over a hundred people sitting in the room and over two hundred eyes all trained on me. I knew, somewhere in the back of my brain, that they were all watching me, but all I saw that day was my future husband, my Lobster, standing at the end of the aisle smiling broadly at me with love in his eyes like I'd never seen.



My dad and I finally made it to the end of the aisle. As he said the words required of him to give me away, a bit of sadness passed over me. It was hard not to think that in a few moments I would be letting go of my childhood and becoming, for all intents and purposes, part of a separate family unit. Instead of my world centering around my parents and sisters, it would now revolve around my husband and the family that we would create. Of course, I was happy to be marrying my Lobster and becoming our own little family, but it was, and still is, difficult for me to think about "letting go" of my parents.


The brief sad moment passed, however, when my dad gave my hand to Lobster and we finally held each other. I could feel each of us drawing strength from the other. We were communicating calm, peace, joy and wonder without speaking words.

At some point in the service, our pastor asked us to look out into the chapel and observe how many people were there to celebrate the day with us. It was not something that I was expecting, but I am so thankful for it now. I remember looking out into the crowd and seeing the faces that I loved from every stage of my life up until that moment. It was almost how I imagine it will be in heaven, surrounded by all the people you love and just swimming in an atmosphere of unimaginable joy.


And then we began to say our vows. I had been worried that I would blubber like a baby through them or speak so softly that no one could hear me. But when I opened my mouth to promise my heart and life to Lobster, I was somewhat surprised to hear my voice ring out loud and strong and clear. There was no hint of shyness, hesitation or nervousness in my voice as I said those words. I felt strong. I felt sure. I felt nothing that I had ever spoken was truer than what I was saying at that moment.


The final prayer was sent up and just like that we were at the end. The pastor turned to Lobster and told him that he could kiss his bride. As he was moving toward me I couldn't believe it was finally happening. My new husband (what?!) was about to kiss me for the first time as his wife (gulp!).


And then he did. And it was beautiful.

We were announced as husband and wife and cheers and applause erupted in the small chapel. As we sailed down the aisle hand in hand I found that I could not keep the silly grin off my face.




As we walked around the corner and into the courtyard outside, I realized that I had not shed one tear during the entire ceremony. I was so proud of myself...

...until I burst into sobs.


Lobster held me in the courtyard and just let me cry. Luckily, we were alone for a short moment so that I could just let the flood of emotion flow through me uninhibited. I guess I just couldn't hold it in anymore and the whole day's worth of emotion consumed me in that moment. Lobster knew and just let me have some time.

After a minute, the rest of the wedding party was upon us. I had been able to control myself considerably by the time they joined us, but my bridesmaids saw the remnants of tears and swooped in to "prettify" me once again. They were the best bridesmaids ever.


The joy was palpable in that little courtyard and we were so ready to start celebrating. But first, we had one thing to do...

Up next, the photo shoot!

(All images courtesy of Wisner Photo.)

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