17 August 2012

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate: Chili and zucchini bread!

I think I have a problem.  I have been having chocolate cravings so badly that I have been trying to find different ways to incorporate it into recipes.  From my previous post  on Chocolate Balsamic Cherries, you know that I recently discovered Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from The Olive Mill.  I have been racking my brain trying to think want else I could use it in and I remembered that chocolate is used in Mexican cooking.  I tried it in chili last night and it was the best chili I have ever made: slightly spicy with a soft chocolate aroma.  You can't taste the chocolate but it balances the other flavors nicely.

Chocolate Chili

2 15 oz cans of black beans
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 package of extra lean ground turkey (I used Jennie-O and I think it was around 1 1/3 lbs)
1 medium to large yellow onion-diced
2 bell peppers seeded and diced
1 Anaheim pepper seeded and diced (the one I used was very mild)
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of chocolate balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp - 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 pinch of ground clove

2 tbsp of minced garlic  
1 tbsp of Better Than Bullion Chicken  ( it about 1/2 the price at Meijer than on Amazon)

1 tbsp of fresh basil
1 tbsp of fresh marjoram
1/2 disc of Taza Salt and Pepper Stone Ground Mexican Chocolate 

Rinse and drain you beans, I learned that this greatly reduces the flatulence factor! While they are draining, cover the bottom of a heavy pot with extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium heat.  Add onion, reduce to low heat, and cook until they are translucent.  Add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the turkey and raise heat to medium and brown turkey.  Add vinegar to deglaze the pot.  Then add all of the peppers, tomatoes, and drained beans.  Stir in chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon, clove and chicken bullion.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low but so it stays at a simmer.  Simmer for 50 minutes.  Then add the basil, marjoram, and Taza chocolate and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Serve with cornbread.

I also found this wonderful chocolate zucchini bread recipe from Barbara Bakes .  I love this recipe because it also uses Greek yogurt!  I am helping my best friend out with her garden while she is on vacation and harvested 3 of the biggest zucchini I have ever seen (one was about 2 feet long).  So I grated all of it, froze some, and then baked like crazy!  The first batch I wasn't paying close attention and think I only put in one cup of flour.(side note:  this is one of the reasons I mainly cook instead of bake, I have a hard time following recipes because I to measure things)  This was the larger loaves seen here.  They are still yummy but are more like brownies.  The second batch I added a 1/2 cup of chopped dried cherries and made the mini loaves and the mini muffins.  I can't eating them so good thing I made so many.

09 August 2012

Chocolate Balsamic Cherries

Saugatuck, Michigan is one of my favorite lake-shore towns. I am fortunate enough that one of my best friends lives not to far from there and is kind enough to host, what is becoming an annual, girls weekend.  This involves a lot of relaxing, beach, great food, and of course shopping in downtown Saugatuck.   My favorite stores are Spice Merchants (where I actually found Chevril!), The Butler Pantry (cute aprons and any kitchen gadget you can dream of), and The Olive Mill.  At The Olive Mill, I found the most amazing smelling and tasting Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar.

When I got home, I had some Michigan sweet cherries that were on the verge of turning and I wasn't sure what to do with them. I found this recipe on  nomnivorous.com and adjusted it by using the 3 tbsp of the Chocolate Balsamic that I bought.

I let them sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  This morning I was getting my plain fat free yogurt out for breakfast and decided to try the cherries.  One of my favorite treats are chocolate covered cherries, thanks to my father who also loves them!  The aroma when I opened these made my mouth water.  They are sweet but not overly and have a fabulous chocolate aftertaste.  I am heading to the farmer's market this afternoon and will be making a big batch.

01 August 2012

Stone Fruit Salad

 I have been trying to incorporate more fresh fruit into our family's diet.  So I stocked up this week.    I have been wanting to try balsamic vinegar and basil with fruit for awhile.  I threw this together tonight and was amazed that I have never tried it before.  The smooth oaky acidity of the balsamic balances the sweetness of the fruit and had my taste-buds jumping for joy.   Always one to experiment new flavors, I decided to top some plain fat free yogurt with the salad and sprinkle that with some chopped walnuts.  It is everything I can do not to run back in the kitchen for another bowl.  This recipe comes with a warning label:  you might not be able to stop eating the whole bowl so you should take precautions and make a double batch!
P.S.  This was so good I ate it before I remembered that I didn't take a photo.  I will have to do that tomorrow, if there is any left.

Stone Fruit Salad

This is what I used but you could use any combination that you want.
1 peach
1 white flesh peach
2 apricots
1 midnight plum 
1 mango
1 cup of sweet dark cherries, pitted and halved
1 gala apple (I know it is not a stone fruit.)
one handful of fresh basil chiffonade
4 tsbp of really good balsamic vinegar.  I used Old World Press 18 Year Traditional
drizzle of really good extra virgin olive oil

Mix together in a bowl and toss.

Great by itself or scoop a cup over one cup of plain fat free yogurt, sprinkle with walnuts, and drizzle with EVOO and vinegar.  ENJOY!