Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mary's Chili

Although Mary thinks this chili is 1 point per serving, it is still a good deal for 2 points for 1 cup or even 3 ponts for 1 1/2 cups, which makes a hardy serving. The little bit of meat makes the chili really taste meaty.

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd or for freezing. It is the perfect thing to eat for lunch on a day when you have to "save" points for a special meal! Or eat this for dinner on a day when you have used too many points.

CHILI

1 tsp canola oil
5 oz ground beef or turkey - 93% lean or more
1 small onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper (your favorite color), chopped
28 oz diced tomatoes
15 oz can of kidney, black or chili beans
15 oz can of Fat Free beef broth
1 package Chili Seasoning (McCormick or Aldi brand)
2 zucchini or summer squash, small dice
2 Tablespoons cornmeal
S & P to taste

  1. Heat a 3 or 4 quart sauce pan. Add oil to hot pan. Add meat and cook until no longer red.
  2. Add onions, celery and pepper. Cook to soften.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except the squash. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Cook 20 minutes then add the squash and corn meal. Cook 20 - 30 minutes more.
  5. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.

NOTE: When I make this recipe, I add 1 dice jalapeno pepper, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. These additions really add big flavor. If you have special ingredients that don't add points (like cocoa powder) go ahead and add them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Try Polenta

When I was in cooking school I asked my chef where the polenta was (I couldn't find anything labeled polenta in the storage room). She pointed to large bin of cornmeal. I must have had a funny look on my face because she told me (in a very condescending tone) that polenta is nothing but cornmeal.
I had eaten and made polenta in the past but I had purchased it in a box marked polenta from Italy. I had no idea I was actually buying imported cornmeal. Of course it is ridiculous to buy imported polenta becasue we produce more corn than anyone. I was paying a premium for that Italian variety!

Polenta is a great substitute for pasta (I make a mean polenta layered lasagna) or mashed potatoes. It is also good for breakfast with poached or soft boiled eggs.

POLENTA

4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 Tblspn olive oil

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in 3 or 4 quart pot.
  2. Over medium - low heat add the cornmeal to the water. Pour the cornmeal in in a stream while stirring the water with a whisk.
  3. Continue stirring until the cornmeal thickens. It is done when the consistancy is like soft mashed potatoes.
  4. Stir in the olive oil.
  5. At this point the polenta can be served or you can place it in a 9 x9 pan that has been coated with cooking spray and allowed to "harden" covered in the refrigerator. When it is set you can slice and heat servings in a saute pan or bake in the oven to heat through.

To add more flavor (but this is not core) you can add 1/4 cup of Romano or Parmesan cheese to the warm polenta).

Cornmeal (polenta) Biscotti

This is a rustic Italian cookie. It has a good crumb and is not as hard as other biscotti.

3/4 c sugar
1/4 c each butter (melted) and canola oil
2 T fennel or anise seed
1 T rum (or water)
1 t each vanilla and almond extract
3/4 c egg beaters
1 3/4 c flour
1 c yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c coarsely chopped almonds (toasted)

  1. In a bowl mix the sugar, oil, butter, fennel, rum, extracts and egg beaters. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl mix the flour, cornmeal and powder.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix thoroughly (until it all comes together). Mix in the almonds.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 375.
  6. Spray a 15 x 12 cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  7. Divide dough in half. Roll / form each half into a log 14 inches long. Place the logs on the baking sheet and press the logs down so they are flat (1/2 inch thick).
  8. Bake the logs for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow them to become cool enough to touch (10 minutes). Reduce oven temp to 350.
  9. With a serrated knife, slice the loaves into 1/2 inch slices (about 30 from each loaf).
  10. Lay the cookies down on the baking sheet (you will need two sheets here).
  11. Bake a total of 18 minutes, turning the cookies over half way through.