Chili Topped With Fresh Ranch/ Ginger Ale

Jack Frost has definitely been nipping at our noses lately, so what better way to beat the cold than with some hearty chili? I've been dying to try my hand at my own Ranch recipe as well (a good excuse to use my homemade mayo), so let's let the two of them get acquainted, shall we? Let me start off by stating that I'm no chili fanatic, so I'm not really interested in debating style or authenticity (beans or no beans? BEANS.) or setting new thresholds for heat and spice. Since its origins as a tex-mex staple make it purely an American dish, I'm sure the recipe can handle some diversity, much like our country does every day.

Chili is usually a great bang for your buck, since it will make some leftovers that will last at least a few days (or months, if you freeze it). I usually throw it together from memory and add spices to taste, but here I'll attempt to transcribe a recipe.

Bryan's Plain Ole Chili With Beans
16 oz ground beef (I go with 80% lean for extra heartiness/flavor/fat)
1 can pinto beans (12 oz)
1 can red kidney beans (12 oz)
1 can tomato sauce (12 oz)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. salt
3 Tbsp. chili powder (I used Ancho chile powder)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper

Add beef and 2/3 of the onion to a medium-large pot. Cook over medium-hi heat until beef is browned. Add onion powder, chili powder, cumin and 1 Tbsp. salt; stir into beef. Strain and rinse beans. Add beans, tomato sauce and 1 tomato-sauce-can-full of water. Bring to a simmer. Combine garlic and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process until garlic is finely chopped. Add garlic/oil mixture, bell pepper, remainder of onion and 1 Tbsp. salt to chili. Simmer for 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve!

Fresh Ranch Dip
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
Fresh cilantro (equivalent of about 3 Tbsp chopped)
1 tsp ground sage
1 dash basil, oregano, paprika

Combine ingredients in food processor or blender, blend until garlic is fairly fine. Refrigerate at least half an hour before serving. Add a very small amount of milk ONLY IF you desire a thinner dressing. 

I love the chili with a dollop of the Ranch, it makes it even more hearty and satisfying. If you attempt any of these recipes, remember I do most of my cooking by taste, so some adjustment may be required depending on your preferences.

Ginger Ale

Yesterday I started some ginger ale based on this "scientific" recipe. I used ginger juice (fresh from the juicer, unbelievably spicy!) instead of shredded ginger, which made the whole thing less messy to prepare. I set the bottle near a heater vent overnight and by mid-morning it looked ready to go nuclear! I put it in the fridge before work and opened it when I got home. It's delicious! Unfortunately, just a tad yeast-y (not necessarily a bad thing). It came out pretty sweet, too, so next time I'll use less sugar than it calls for. I think the fermentation cut the bite of the ginger a little, it definitely was not as powerful as the ginger juice was when freshly juiced. It was really exciting to open the bottle for the first time and watch the CO₂ bubbles begin to activate. I was pretty scared the mixture would explode when I wasn't paying attention, but lucky for us (and our fridge) it was fine!

Since the first attempt came out so promisingly, I will definitely make this again; next time I will make some slight changes, though. Buona Sera!



kelly said...


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