Super Easy Spicy Brisket Chili

chili

Brisket. At its best, it’s flaky and juicy, falling apart with the mere mention of a fork. At its worst, it’s tough and rubbery.

I know you’ve been told the old-fashioned way to make a brisket: marinating it overnight, baking it for hours at one temperature then changing to another. Slow cooking IS the key to a great brisket, but I don’t have time to sit around babysitting it. I bet you don’t either.

I found a gigantic brisket on sale just after New Year’s–it was crazy cheap, like $1.50 a pound or some such nonsense. I felt like I was the star of a reality show for a minute when I saw the price. Quickly, I took it to the checkout and paid for it as nonchalantly as I could, hardly sweating at all, as not to give away the AWESOME DEAL I WAS GETTING. Once I made it to the parking lot, I was fistpumping like John Bender in “The Breakfast Club.” It felt good.

But what do I do once I bring it home? It was a 20 pound brisket! That’s a lot of beef. I chopped it into six hunks and promptly froze it. Now I just take out a hunk and use it the same way I’d use roast beef or even ground beef. Last night, I made the best chili ever. It’s not hard at all. The crockpot does all the work!

Here’s what you need to make Spicy Brisket Chili–from scratch!

Spicy Brisket Chili

2 pounds brisket

2 Alarm Chili Mix

1 can Hunt’s diced roasted tomatoes

1 2-pound bag of dried pinto beans

2 teaspoons dried garlic

1 can of Coke

1 package Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Ancho chili seasoning blend

1 tsp. bold chipotle seasoning blend

1 package concentrated beef broth

Directions:

After thawing the brisket, put it in the Crock pot. Pour a Coke over it, then dump the steak seasoning on it. Add some salt, pepper and garlic powder/chopped garlic. Turn it on low, and let it cook for at least 7-8 hours.

It’s gonna smell so good. You won’t even believe it.

When it’s all flaky and such, remove it from the crockpot and put it in a storage bag or bowl. Let it refrigerate while you make the beans. Dump out the coke mixture and prepare the dried beans.

Rinse them and put them in the crockpot. Fill it most of the way with water. Put all the 2 Alarm Chili Mix seasonings in the beans. If you’re feeling brave, add a chopped jalapeno. Add the other pepper mixes, salt and spices. Let the beans cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Here’s how the magic happens.

First, take the brisket and heat it for a minute or so on high in the microwave. Cut it into bite-sized pieces and dump it in the beans. Add the canned tomatoes.

Turn the crockpot on high. Cook the chili for about an hour. Good luck keeping your family out of it before it’s reached perfection.

If you don’t want to make your own beans, you can use canned. You can also cook the beans or the brisket overnight in the Crockpot, saving time. You won’t be sorry. I felt like a real cowgirl cook after pulling this off. Those spices sunk into the beans and made the whole house smell like Texas Heaven. Top the chili with a bit of sharp cheddar and sour cream and you won’t believe how good it is.

If (and this is a huge IF) you happen to have leftovers, I recommend making burritos. Can you even imagine how delicious those would be?

 

 

 

 

Easy-Peasy Eggplant Parmesan

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You know what I make when I want to feel fancy? Eggplant Parmesan. Know what I make when there’s no meat in the house? Eggplant Parmesan.
Anyway, it’s super easy. As you know, in the South, we like to fry stuff and eggplant is no exception. In the summers when eggplant is readily available at the farmer’s market, it’s super delicious.Here’s how I do it.

Easy Peasy Eggplant Parmesan (EPEP)
1 large eggplant
1 large can diced tomatoes (I like Basil Italian, but any kind will do)
1 can tomato sauce
1 pack spaghetti noodles
2 cups flour
2 cups bread crumbs
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Tons of grated parmesan (you can used powder if that’s what you have)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp grated garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce and tomatoes together. Add some salt, a pinch of sugar and a bit of Italian seasoning.
Mix the bread crumbs, spices and flour on a large plate. In a bowl, crack the eggs and mix with the milk.
Rinse and slice the eggplant crosswise. You want the slices to be relatively thin. Dip in the milk-egg mixture then dredge in the flour-bread crumb mixture. Put a good amount of olive oil in a hot skillet. Cook each slice of eggplant until brown on both sides.
In a larger pan, cook the spaghetti noodles until almost done.
Place the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of a casserole pan. Top with the cooked eggplant. Next, pour the tomato sauce mixture on top of the eggplant, making sure to cover all available spaghetti noodles. Top with more salt, pepper, and spices, making sure to use tons of parmesan (add some mozzarella if you have it. Do it. It’s good).
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until piping hot and the cheese is melty.

Jody’s Carrot Cake (with Sarah’s Frosting)

carrot cake

For my birthday I really wanted carrot cake. But not just any carrot cake. I wanted to have a very moist carrot cake with lots of extra goodies, like pineapple. Jody was stressed it wouldn’t turn out, and so was Sarah, so she bought an extra boxed cake mix just in case. Know what happened? Deliciousness….plus an extra cake! Two cakes…you can’t go wrong.

We started with the bare bones of Pioneer Woman’s Carrot Cake (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/03/sigrids-carrot-cake-perfect-for-easter/) but we made it Texas style, wherein we added a bunch of good stuff, like pudding, pineapples, raisins, applesauce–it makes it totally different. I remember when I worked night shift at the hospital, and our charge nurse Mary would bring a carrot cake when we worked on the weekends. When word got out that cake was in the house, people would swarm the unit like the second coming–and it would be gone it seconds. I couldn’t remember how she said she made it but I remembered the pineapples.

I also remembered this old recipe I used to make that called for baby food carrots which sounds gross but is perfect–no long carrot-type hair thingies in the cake. The baby food mixes with the other ingredients to make a consistent carrot taste throughout the cake. Trust me on this.

Also I should mention: my kitchen was completely destroyed afterward, but it was worth it.

Jody’s Carrot Cake (With Sarah’s Icing)

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups carrot baby food (be sure it’s only carrots–and not a carrot-pea mixture or some other disgusting thing)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup crushed walnuts, divided into half cups (one for in the cake, one for the icing)
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 small can pineapples, crushed and drained
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce

Icing
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 package Philly (8 Oz) cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients, raisins and walnuts.If you don’t like nuts you can always skip this part. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients until moistened. Batter will be very wet.

Bake until the center is dry when checked with a toothpick. This may take a while–up to an hour. When the cake is done, it will look similar to a zucchini bread consistency–nice and moist.

When it’s completely cooled, mix up the icing and spread on.

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Aunt Sandi’s Best Baked Beans: A Known Cure for Depression

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I’m not gonna lie. It’s possible that just SMELLING these beans can add ten pounds to my butt. It’s so worth it, though. Sizzling bacon, spicy garlic and dark brown sugar blend to make a delicious dish that people would sell their souls for. Ok, maybe not that far, but almost. Aunt Sandi made these for us and we have never loved her more. We’re really loyal people, especially when you cook for us.

Aunt Sandi’s Best Baked Beans

One pound thick cut bacon
2 large cans Busch’s Baked Beans
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350. Slice the bacon into small strips. I use kitchen scissors. In a giant skillet—the biggest one you have–brown the bacon, onion and garlic together.
This smells heavenly.
Don’t tell anyone, but if I need to tell Lee about an unanticipated purchase, for example, a new Coach bag…purely rhetorical, you understand, I make these beans and tell him while the bacon’s cooking.
Bacon. It’s what’s for dinner.
This is important. Do not drain the fat. It’s delicious and good for you. Also, it’s a known fact that here in the South bacon counts as its own food group and has zero calories. Ok not really.
Add the other ingredients, mixing thoroghly. Next, pour into a baking dish and cook for about an hour.
Sit back and receive the praise from your family. Or at least embrace the quiet while everyone scarfs the beans.
Oh. My. Lanta. They are good.

What I Want My Son To Know

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My son is 15. Although he looks like a man, he’s not quite there. He has his father to model what a man should be like, so I’m lucky there. But my job isn’t done yet. As his mom my influence is still important. It’s hard being a mama to a boy, isn’t it? We’re so worried about making a “mama’s boy” out of him. At the same time, we don’t want to raise a man that’s ruled by his testosterone and goes around town like the Hulk (or Hulk Hogan, for those who know who that is). We just want a happy medium. Sometimes, what we don’t say can make more of an impact than what we do say.
1. What to expect from marriage. This may seem weird, but we as parents are molding future husbands and wives every single day. If you think that your influence doesn’t mean much, watch Psycho. I guarantee you’ll rethink it.

This is one of those things that both Dad and Mom contribute to. If your son learns that women are not respected, and that they must always be subservient, that’s a hard row to how, as my grandma used to say. If Dad leaves Mom to raise the kids alone, then the boy learns that men don’t need to stick it out when the going gets tough. Kids need to see both parents as equals. Think about this for a moment. Do you have female friends who have no voice in their marriage? Likewise, do you have male friends who are run over and disrespected by their wives? Neither of these are ideal circumstances.

2. How to cook simple dishes. I’ve met grown men who cannot make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese if a gun was held to their heads. Give me a break! What are we as mothers teaching our sons if they can’t even make a simple dish? I’ll tell you: we are teaching them that it’s not his job as a man. That a woman will come along and take care of him. He’s too manly. Or something. That’s so dumb! Mancub is no gourmet chef, neither am I. However, he’s able to make simple dishes like spaghetti.

3.How to clean up after himself. This is a toughie, and admittedly a work in progress. See my previous post about when Aunt Sandi came to visit for more information: http://wp.me/p2VqMF-nc. I’m trying, though people. I’m trying.

4. How to love and be loved. There is much to say about how boys are taught to be tough, not cry, be a man, blah blah blah. I would rather raise a son that can honestly demonstrate emotion, both happy and sad. I can’t say that it’s ever been a great idea to hide your feelings, to pretend or put on a fake smile when you don’t feel like smiling.

5. How to protect his family and those he loves. Admittedly, this comes naturally sometimes. I think it’s something to be nurtured. Not in a redneck, bar-fight kind of way, but a “this is my family and if you mess with them you deal with me” kind of way. I still remember the day that the waiter at Pizza Hut threatened me and all The Engineer had to do was stand up. That’s it. Problem solved.

6. How to apologize and admit when he’s wrong. It goes against the standard of manhood sometimes, doesn’t it? The best way for him to learn this is like everything else; to see it lived in real life.

Simple Shortcut Strawberry Shortcake

We having a cookout today and I’m making this super easy dessert. It’s so good and goes surprisingly far, considering how much Mancub loves strawberries. I must admit I’m making this pretty dessert in part because Watergirl is visiting.

Simple Shortcut Strawberry Shortcake
One Sara Lee pound cake
2 packages strawberries, washed and sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 can Ready Whip

Put the strawberries in a large bowl. Add the sugar and water, tossing lightly.
Take out a cup or so of the strawberries and put the in the blender for a couple of seconds, then pour the mixture back in the bowl.
Stir and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Slice the pound cake and put on an individual plate. Cover with strawberries and a bit of juice. Next, use about half a ton of whipped cream.

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Two Great Recipes: Cheesy Sausage Bread and Indoor S’Mores

sausage breadsmores

Y’all are in for a treat. I’ve got two great recipes here that take NO TIME at all and are super delicious and, let’s face it: impressive. These two items, Cheesy Sausage Bread and Homemade S’Mores never fail to have that “Wow” factor when I take them to parties or church potlucks. And really, they are easy-smeasy. I’ll tell you how.

The Cheesy Sausage Bread recipe came about from an Emeril show I was watching years ago. I love Emeril’s recipes, but sometimes they call for long lists of expensive spices and ingredients and we just don’t do that around here. If it can’t be made in 30 minutes, I’m probably not going to try it. Also, my husband likes spicy food so I make the hot version, but you can always leave out the peppers and cayenne and it’s pretty tame. I also changed up a few of the ingredients to make it even better. Don’t tell Emeril!

Cheesy Sausage Bread

1 loaf french bread

1 package breakfast sausage

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1 package mushrooms (washed and sliced)

1 can black olives

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 small container sour cream

1 container onion and chive cream cheese

1 block regular cream cheese

2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded

2 cups monterey jack, shredded

salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown the sausage. When it’s almost done, put in the onion, peppers, garlic and mushrooms. The beauty of this recipe is that if you hate any of these veggies, just leave them out. Nobody cares. I promise the Veggie Police will not be pounding at your door. Likewise, you can get fancy by adding other veggies you do like. I bet some chopped asparagus would go nicely in this recipe but nobody at this house would eat it.

After all the veggies are good and cooked, drain off the grease and add turn off the heat. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and 1 cup each of the shredded cheese and mix it really good with a sturdy wooden spoon or some such thing. If you don’t have Monterey jack, and you like pepper jack or provolone, go for it. Any of the cheeses can be substituted here. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s kind of like meatloaf: a lot of license for creativity.

Take the loaf of french bread and slice it down the middle, scooping out the bread to make room. This bread makes perfect homemade bread crumbs or hubby likes to use it to sample the sauce when I’m not looking. Next, pour in the cheese and sausage mixture and spread it out evenly in the bread cavity. Cover with the last of the cheese. You’ll want to cover the whole thing with some foil and bake at 350 until nice and bubbly. If you don’t need it till later, you can make it ahead of time and put it in the fridge. It will keep overnight and you can bake it later. SO. GOOD.

Indoor S’Mores

I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman and made it for a ladies’ event at church. It was a complete HIT. Here’s my pic I took of the ones I made, and a link to her recipe on her website. You’re welcome. These are really fun to make and if it’s a rainy day, nothing will cheer up your kids more than these!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/08/chocolate-covered-smores/

If you make these, you must tell me how they turn out! I’d love to post your pictures on a blog post, or let you do a guest post!