Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cincinnati Chili Dogs

 I haven't had much time to post lately, but I just had to share the Cincinnati Chili Dogs I made on Sunday. Cincinnati Chili was a favorite of ours when we lived in Indiana (and had access to a Skyline Chili restaurant), but there isn't anything like it in Minnesota. Luckily, has a very good recipe--supposedly the original Skyline Chili recipe. You can find the recipe here: Authentic Cincinnati Chili

The great thing about this chili is all the spices---cinnamon, allspice, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, cloves, chili powder....and a "secret" ingredient....

It's true...chocolate makes everything better!

We decided on chili dogs after we found these Angus dogs at the store. No nitrates means no swollen sausage fingers for Pete....

Cincinnati Chili is usually served over spaghetti, with a few variants on the toppings. Here is a breakdown of how Cincinnati Chili is most often served:
  • two-way: spaghetti and chili
  • three-way: spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheese
  • four-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, and either diced onions or beans
  • five-way: spaghetti, chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans
  • cheese coney: hot dog topped with chili, shredded cheese, diced onions, and mustard
  • chili cheese fries: French fries topped with chili and shredded cheese
Oyster crackers are a must for authentic Cincinnati Chili, but, alas, I forgot to buy some. Another reason we decided on the dogs.

My mother-in-law, who lived most of her life in Ohio, never heard of Cincinnati Chili. It was an instant hit with her.

How do you like your chili?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wendy's New Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt

To say that I love French fries may be an understatement. I loooove French fries! So when Foodbuzz and Wendy's offered me a gift card to try out Wendy's new fries, I jumped at the chance. Oh, before I forget--my official disclosure: "As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a Wendy's gift card to try out Wendy's new Natural Cut French Fries with Sea Salt " .

I first heard about Wendy's new version of French fries a couple of weeks ago, and since my husband and I both share a love of the fried potato, we set out to find them. The first few tries were futile, but we did manage to get our fill of Wendy's chili (that's one recipe I hope they don't monkey with). We finally did find them, but, keeping in mind that this was before I received my free-trial gift card, I didn't pay much attention to the detail. They did seem a little salty.

Along with my gift card, came a time and place that I should use it. My window of fry tasting opportunity was pretty small--this Friday or next, between 2-6 PM. Since I'm out of town next week, this Friday won the draw. Unfortunately, when I left work at 4:30, the weather decided to take a turn for the worse---it was snowing. The commute to my designated Wendy's, normally a 20 minute drive, took 1 1/4 hours. Yikes. The things I do for French fries.

Before I left on my great French fry adventure, I googled the new fries to see what kind of buzz was out there. The opinions were divided. There is a whole group of people out there who loved the old fries. Nothing but the old version would make these people happy....they are now boycotting. The other group didn't care for the old fries...too soggy, they said. These people welcomed the change with open mouths. And everyone compared them to the mother of all fast food fries, the McDonald French fry....amazingly popular even after Mickey D's changed things up drastically twenty years ago, doing away with frying them in beef tallow. It must have to do with the flavor additives.

So what did I think? I like them. I know the sea salt thing is a gimmick....sodium is, after all, sodium. The "sprinkling" of sea salt actually makes the fries seem less salty, which makes me question the salty taste I got on my first visit. I'm thinking an employee was a little heavy-handed with the salt at that location. The fries themselves were crispier than the old version, and the skins left on gave them a more natural potato taste. Even after I took all of my pictures and the fries were no longer hot, they remained crispy. That is a good thing.

Check out the potato skins on these fries. To me, it made them a little tastier...more potatoey, if you will.

Of course, I've always loved the burgers at Wendy's...the meat seems fresher. They are going for the same impression with the fries.

I certainly wasn't having any trouble finishing my fries.

Check out all the French fry advertising. This is a big deal for Wendy's.

Not a crumb left.....

And back out into the cold...

In conclusion, I think the change is good. If the different locations can make the fries a little more consistently, I think they will be successful. Good luck, Wendy's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Butterscotch French Toast

I never use a recipe for French toast. I suppose if I made the fancy baked and filled variety, I would need one, but I'm always making basic French toast....a few eggs, some milk, stale bread, yada, yada, yada.... Today, though, I thought I'd gussy it up a little. Good thing, too, for I found out that today is National French Toast Day! Who knew?

I actually thought about French toast a few days ago when I made a couple more loaves of my Orange Glazed Sweet Potato Breakfast Braid (more on that recipe later...I'm going to be in a cook-off next week with it!). One loaf was tucked away to dry out a little...perfect for French toast.


Just slice up a loaf of day old egg bread or raisin bread. apple cinnamon bread would be good here, too!

I used about 3/4 of a loaf for this batch. Cut some nice thick slices.

We start out with three eggs and a little cinnamon (about 1/2 teaspoon). I usually put in a tablespoon of sugar. This time I made it brown sugar. Goes better with the butterscotch theme. :)

Of course, we need some milk. I put in 3/4 cup, using 1/2 cup skim and 1/4 cup heavy cream. If I'd had whole milk, I would have used that. secret ingredient...Butterscotch Schnapps. I put in a tablespoon.

Just whip it all together, with a pinch of salt, in a shallow bowl, soak the bread slices, and fry them up in a hot pan with a little butter melted in it. I don't think we need visuals for that part.

Seriously, these are sweet really doesn't need syrup.


But, what the heck? I've got some leftover fruit compote from Thanksgiving. It adds a little color.

Great way to use up that stale bread, n'est pas?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Last year, after seeing the Julie/Julia movie, I came home and immediately had to cook with butter. I couldn't get enough of Julia Child and even went so far as to make Boeuf Bourguignon for my dinner club. And it was good. Really good. A little time consuming, however. So, last Sunday, I decided to compromise a tad and make my stew in a crock pot. You know what? It was good, too.

I started out by looking through a few recipes here and there to get an idea of how I wanted to proceed. It turns out that I used many of the same procedures that were utilized during the making of the Julia Child version. Basic stuff, really.

First, fry up a little bacon...about 4 of 5 slices. Use the bacon in a sandwich. We're just looking for the fat for now.

Take about 2 pounds of stew meat, cut into bite size pieces, and dry it off.

Put the meat into a freezer bag with some seasoned flour (about 1/2 cup). I seasoned mine with some Old Bay's Seasoning and pepper. Use whatever floats your boat.

Shake it all up.

Saute the meat until browned...don't it in batches.

Probably this would be better if I didn't use a non-stick pan....we want the brown stuff on the bottom to deglaze.

Gather the ingredients: some good red wine, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste (about a tablespoon), garlic.....add it to the pan drippings and heat through.

Put the browned meat in the crock pot, add some red potatoes, baby carrots, pearl onions (I used frozen), and two bay leaves. Pour in the wine/beef broth combo.

I love me some potatoes....

Turn the crock-pot on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. If the stew is a little thin, combine a two tablespoons of cornstarch with a little water, stir until smooth, and mix into the stew.

The only thing I was disappointed about was the look of my brown. I asked for suggestions. Tomatoes, I was told. Put a can of tomatoes in. So the next time, I added the tomatoes and some frozen veggies.

You tell me--does it look better?


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bacon, Tomato and Avocado Sandwich....

......Using Nature’s Pride® Oven Classics bread

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's Program, I was sent a couple loaves of Nature’s Pride® Oven Classics bread--the 100% Whole Wheat and the Oven Classics give them a whirl. I do so love getting stuff in the mail. My whole family loves it when I get stuff in the mail. Yes, even loaves of bread.

Of course, first we had to read the labels. Pete's ears perked up when he saw that the oatmeal bread had 40% less sodium than regular oatmeal bread. And Taylor will only eat whole wheat bread, so she had dibs on that. My mother-in-law only likes a certain chemical infused white bread that shall remain nameless. I didn't think she would be interested. Mybad. She ate half of the loaf of oatmeal bread before I could blink.

Now, what to make? I was kind of in the mood for a BLT, so I picked up some bacon (cover your ears, Taylor--you can put jelly on your slice).....

.....And some tomatoes....

......and an avocado (not a big fan of lettuce on sandwiches).

I toasted the bread (not that it needed was nice and soft for whole grain bread) and fried some bacon until it was nice and crispy. Why is it that someone always eats the bacon before I can get it into the sandwich? Then I slathered it with mayonnaise (only the real miracle whip) and layered it with tomato slices and avocado. Oh, don't forget some pepper.

And then I made Pete wait for his sandwich so I could take some pictures. :-D

...he's still waiting....

I made mine on what was left of the oatmeal bread. Dang...someone ate half of the bacon I set aside for my sandwich....perhaps he had to wait too long.

I'll definitely be getting this bread again. Healthy for you and tastes good...can't beat that combo....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

Chocolate and pumpkin. Ever since I made that elaborate Amanda's 4-Layer Chocolate Dappled Pumpkin Cake last week (and then again two days ago...heehee), I couldn't stop thinking about how I loved that taste combination. My sister read the recipe and called me immediately to ask if I could change it up to make it easier ("Can't I just add some pumpkin to a cake mix?"....yikes!). So, when a baking opportunity arose last night---a birthday at work---I decided to compromise. The cake part of this recipe is actually pretty much the same as the one for the layer cake. I just made it into cupcakes, omitted the cream cheese filling and the chocolate ganache topping, and used a buttercream frosting instead. Then I added a little dusting of decorative sugar and some candy corn. Voila! A very cute, Autumn themed, tasty cupcake.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes