Chili à la Cincinnati

A few months back, my bestest gal pals put together a collection of their favorite recipes and presented it to me on my birthday.  Included in the beautiful homemade envelope was this jewel of a recipe.  I’m still not clear on what makes this a cincinnati chili (maybe it’s their known twist on chili?), but I do know that this is a dish that both the pelirojo and I enjoyed.

This chili recipe was given to me by my friend Liz.  Unlike me, she is a seasoned (haha, get it?  I made a cooking joke!  … *sigh…) cook who knows her stuff.  She’s creative, awesome, talented AND she recently started a food blog over at Food Foolery.  I’m excited to see all of her enticing recipes showcased on her site.

Have you taken a glance through the combination of spices in this beast?  The addition of the cocoa was what caught my eye.  Also, this bad boy is versatile because it can be made into a traditional chili or you can make it as a sauce.  I was craving some pasta, so I decided to try the later option.

The sauce was so rich over whole wheat spaghetti.  I’m intrigued by idea of this recipe as a soup with some beans.

An easy recipe and definitely a keeper for my binder.  Thank you for sharing this, Liz.  And I can’t wait to follow the adventure on your blog!

Today is January 31st. Do you know what that means?

Happy Monday my friends!  Before you start grumbling under your breath about there being no such thing as a happy Monday, prepare yourself.  Grab a cup of coffee and spend the next few minutes at work (or at home) in the sweetest form of escapism that exists.  For the next few minutes, I invite you to dive into the sweet and delicious compilation of treats that have been gathered on two wonderful sites.

The first party is taking place over at Steph’s Bite by Bite blog.  At 7am this morning, the auction opened for bidding on all of the baked goods that were donated for Steph’s bake sale.  Her Team in Training is working to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  It is such an important cause and one that is very dear to me.  Please run (not walk!) yourself over to her site and consider bidding on those delicious treats!

The second party is being hosted by Nancy over at Spicie Foodie.  The Your Best Recipe roundup is a collection of dishes that participating bloggers have contributed.  Each month, we get to pick our favorite dish that we made and share it with the awesome community of readers on her blog.

Come on, isn’t this a great way to start a new week?  You get to contribute to a great cause and drool over a collection of delicious recipes!  Can us food blog readers ask for more on a Monday morning?  I think not!

The last thing I wanted to share with you is my *happy dance*!  On Saturday afternoon, I received in the mail a treat that I had been hoping for ever since she announced it’s release.  It’s Nancy’s cookbook!  I can’t wait to try the different recipes and drool over the phenomenal photography on each page.

I hope you guys have a great Monday and an awesome week.  Please be sure to stop by Steph’s and Nancy’s today!

Chicken Penne Pasta

Well, here we are.  It is finally Friday of what has been a long and very busy week.  But the weekend is finally upon us, and I have plenty of fun plans to celebrate the last three days of the Triangle Restaurant Week!

Since the last few days have been so packed, I planned ahead with the week’s menu and made a sauce that would last me for a few lunch and dinner meals.

Before you gasp at the quantities listed in the ingredients to the left, know that I doubled the recipe so that I could have enough to last us over a few days.  And, if you’re normal (unlike me) you can make enough pasta in advance so that all you have to worry about is reheating it in the microwave.

However, if you aren’t normal (like me) and you have a thing against reheated pasta, then you’ll have to take an extra couple of minutes into account in prepping the leftovers.  Don’t roll your eyes!  I’m not imagining it (I don’t think..)!  The consistency of pasta changes once it has been microwaved.  It gets gummy, or hard and it just bugs me.  All this means is that you have to warm up water in a tiny pot just for pasta.  It will take an extra 15 minutes, but it’s worth it to me to have freshly cooked past.  (Ok… I suppose it’s silly enough that you can roll your eyes…)

The recipe is adapted from Spitler & Yoakam’s 1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes, and is very simple and versatile.  If you are of the vegetarian persuasion, you can simply omit the chicken and have a very flavorful dish.  Even if you aren’t vegetarian, I don’t think you would miss the chicken if you left it out.  There are enough harmonious notes in the dish to keep your palette intrigued.  The only thing I will try changing next time is the olives.  The black olives were nice, but I’d like to taste what kalamata olives would do to the flavor.

It’s time to start getting ready to close up shop and let the Friday fun begin!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Bake Sale for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Before I get to the who, what, where, and when, I want to start with the why.  When I was first contacted to participate, I had a moment of hesitation.  I thought: “surely she doesn’t want me to help out.  I’m just a rookie who would be playing with with pros!”  But then I thought about him.

This is Matt.  I met Matt the first day of fourth grade in Mrs. Nason’s class.  He sat in the row next to me all year.  Over the next few years, Matt and I hung out during various school activities like orchestra and safety patrols.  He was always nice to me despite my  general bratiness that accompanied being a pre-teen.  I could tell you so many wonderful stories about him…

The summer after our eighth grade year, my family moved back to Brazil.  Matt was one of the only people who kept in contact with me during our time abroad.  (Keep in mind we were getting ready to enter high school and email wasn’t as widely used back then, so this took some effort.)  We kept in touch over the years and as technology (i.e. AIM) became popular, we were able to check in on each other.

When I moved back to the States for college, I visited him every time I could when I found myself back in Virginia.  Matt was one of those rare guys that actually picked up the phone to catch up.  He didn’t rely solely on technology to keep up with friends.  One day, though, I got a call I didn’t want.  Matt told me that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here was a healthy, athletic, young guy who was in the ROTC program… how could it be?  Over the next few years, I saw one of the most exemplary displays of human resilience.  He even beat it into remission for a short time…

Matt was 24 when he passed away.  The picture above was taken the last time I saw him.  It was taken several months before things got bad.  Although it has been almost three years since he passed, I still can’t bring myself to delete his cel phone number from my phone.  So it’s him.  Matt’s the reason I agreed to join.

Now let us cover the other w‘s of this event.

The who is the organizer of this event.  Steph and I started this blogging adventure around the same time and we’ve kept up with each other’s sites over the past few months.  In addition to being a great cook, Steph is a runner.  She recently joined a ‘team in training’ in order to prepare for the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon.  As part of their preparation, they are hoping to raise $1,900 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  (This is where she got creative!)  Steph had the idea of organizing an online bake sale (what) and asked a bunch of us foodie bloggers to donate a baked good to the sale.

The event will be hosted on Steph’s site (where) and will take place on Monday, January 31 (when).  For all of the rules and information you will need, and to see a list of the participating bloggers, please click here.

There are some heavy-weights contributing to this bake sale, so in an attempt to compete, I have been testing different recipes to find something that is both tempting and will ship well!  Out of the three baking experiments I have attempted over the last two weeks, this Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie was by far the best.  I found the recipe while flipping around Martha Stewart’s site.

The idea behind this cookie is that it has a chocolate cookie base (which is exquisite on its own!) and then you drop it into a bowl of sugar, cinnamon, and CHILI POWDER!  Seriously though, how good does that sound?

Because this was an experiment, I had to have a control.  There  were three batches that were made.  The first was simply the cookie dough without the interesting step.  The second was the cookie rolled in a sugar, cinnamon, and just a teeny bit of chili powder (i.e. the amount asked for in the recipe).  The third batch was rolled in bowl that had a good amount chili powder (it wasn’t an exaggerated amount, just a little over what the recipe calls for).

The first batch was scrumptious.  The dough could definitely stand on its own.  The second batch was enjoyable because you had the complementing flavors of the cocoa with barely a hint of the chili powder.  The third batch… oh the third batch… it was by far was the best.  There was no mistaking the brilliance of the recipe and why the flavors are infused into one mouthwatering treat.

See?  Don’t you want some?  You know you do.  It’s a great way to ease the guilt of indulging in this scrumptious treat.  It’s okay to eat it because it’s for a good cause…

There you have it.  This Mexican Hot Chocolate cookie is my contribution to Steph’s bake sale and it is baked with all of my love in memory of my friend Matt.  I hope you will consider bidding for it on Monday, January 31st!

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