Friday, March 4, 2011

Chili Cook Off Recipe & More

Friday my husband took a crockpot full of my chili in for a Chili Cook Off at the hospital he works at, and I won 2nd place. He's been telling me for years that he loves my chili more than any he's had, including restaurants. I always chalk it up to him trying to butter me up:) I thought I'd share my recipe, even though it is VERY simple, which is why I'm always surprised when everyone likes it so much.

Brenda's Chili

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 envelope taco seasoning
1/4 cup smooth taco sauce (I used Taco Bell brand)
4 15 ounce cans of chili beans in sauce (no meat)
1 can black beans
1 can traditional refried beans
1 1/2 cups water

Brown and drain the ground chuck, then add the taco seasoning, following directions on the packet. This can be done the night before, then refrigerated until ready to make the chili. Place the beef in the crock pot, add the cans of beans, taco sauce, and the refried beans and water. Mix it all together well, and cover. Cook on high for several hours, or longer on low. Stir occasionally.

Notes: I serve this with tortilla chips, and shredded cheese. This almost fills up a regular sized crock pot.

Would you happen to know how to make caramel out of condensed milk, Eagle brand type? As I recall it is baked in the over? Just popped into my wondering mind. ~foreverautumn

Sure! I had been asked this a couple years ago, so I saved the method:)

For safety reasons, heating the unopened can (old cooking method) is NOT recommended. Instead use one of the following methods.

Oven Method: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into a 9 inch pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil; place in larger shallow pan. Fill larger pan with hot water. Bake at 425ยบ for 1 1/2 hours or until thick and caramel colored.

Stovetop Method: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into top of double boiler; place over boiling water. Over low heat,simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until thick and caramel colored. Beat until smooth.

When my daughter had blood on a white shirt, an ER nurse told me to pour Hydrogen Peroxide on the blood stain. Let it sit for a few minutes and wash. ~Kristi


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gardening Time: Pepper Tips

I know most of us have been getting garden catalogs in the mail since December, but it's finally time to start seeds indoors. A general guide for vegetables and flowers is the following:

Zones 9, 10, 8, 7, and 6: Start seeds indoors February/March

Zones 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1: Start seeds indoors in middle or end of March.

Peppers are a little bit challenging to grow, but with seeds you'll have access to a much bigger selection of hot and mild varieties. I've grown both types and they have a couple of things in common: grown them in full sun in a fertile, rich soil that is never soggy. Pepper plants don't like wet feet, but at the same time don't allow the soil to go completely dry.

It's best to start pepper seeds inside about 8 weeks before the last frost in your area. The thing to remember about pepper seeds and plants is they like it toasty. If you live in a hot climate you can start seeds outdoors when the soil is about 65 degrees F., but the rest of us need to start seeds indoors or buy plants. Growing from seeds offers a huge selection of sweet and hot peppers compared to the plants that are usually available at nurseries, as I mentioned.

To start pepper seeds indoors, the temperature of the potting soil needs to be between 75-80 degrees F. A covered seed starting container works great--it acts like a mini greenhouse. Clear plastic containers from baked goods or salads can be used too. Seeds should germinate/sprout in about 10-15 days depending on the variety. Keep the container in a warm location that is free of drafts to get the best results.

Once the seeds germinate, then they will need bright light. Use fluorescent lights 14 to 16 hours a day, positioned a few inches above the seedlings, raising it as they grow taller. A sunny window will work too if it's in full sun. If a window is used, the container will need to be turned daily so the seedlings don't bend one way towards the light. Don't transplant the pepper plants outside until all frost has passed and the soil has warmed up to at least 60 degrees. Always "harden" the seedlings before putting them into the garden, by moving the seedlings outside for a little bit each day when it warms up. When you are sure the cold nights are done, then plant them in the garden, and water well.

On OFL we also have an article I wrote on harvesting peppers that includes recipes: