Blue Apron Meals Review: Three Chile Beef Chili

We always love the next day chili because the flavors have fully developed overnight. The Three Chile Beef Chili with red kidney beans and pepper jack cheese is quite tasty, especially with a glass of red. The poblano and cubanelle peppers, popular in Cuban cuisine added the heat and the serrano pepper, “highlander” as described in the recipe provided a spicy complex finish. We loved the addition of creamy avocado and lime. The melty cheese and flavor was delicious and would consider putting the entire portion of chili spice mix versus half.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 ounces pepper jack cheese
  • 1 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cubanelle pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 10 ounces ground beef
  • 1 15 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp chili spice blend (cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano and thyme)

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Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Grate cheese. Drain and rinse kidnehy beans. Pick cilantro leaves off stems. remove green rind of lime and avoid white pith. Mince and peel 2 tsp lime zest. Cut lime into quarters. Peel and mince red onion and garlic. Peel, pit and dice the avocado then toss with the juce of 2 lime wedges to prevent browning.

Place the cubanelle, poblano and Serrano peppers on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. place in the oven and roast 7 to 9 minutes or until the skin is browned and blistered. _MG_0975

Remove from oven. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the seeds and stems, then roughly chop the peppers.

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Once the peppers have roasted, in a medium pot, heat 2 tsp of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking apart the meat with a spoon, 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Add the vegetables to the beef, add the garlic and all but a punch of the red onion (for garnish). Season salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until the onions has softened (2-3) minutes. Add as much of the chili spice as you like (we suggest the whole pack), depending on how spicy you would like the dish to be. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until toasted and fragrant._MG_0982

Simmer the chili: stir in the crushed tomatoes, rinsed kidney beans, lime zest, chopped peppers and 1 and 1/4 cup of water into the chili. Reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly combined and slightly reduced in volume. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in all but a pinch of cilantro (roughly chopping before adding, if you’d like). _MG_0984

 

Plate your dish: Divide the chili between 2 dishes. Garnish with the grated cheese, avocado and the remaining onion and remaining cilantro. Serve with the remaining lime wedges._MG_0987

Guest Post: Hungry Games: Glorious Gazpacho, Perfect for Summer!

One of the wonderful things about DC in the summer is the abundance of farmers markets. You could probably find one every day of the week if you tried—Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, etc. The locally grown summer produce is phenomenal! My mouth waters just thinking about biting into a sweet, juicy heirloom tomato or a crisp, refreshing cucumber…

The other day, a dear friend of mine, Babar, spontaneously called me and invited me over to cook dinner with him. He had just gone to his local farmers market and was inspired by a sign next to the heirloom tomatoes that read “Great for Gazpacho.” Having never made gazpacho before, he decided it was something he wanted to conquer, and fortunately for this girl, he wanted me to partake (I had never made gazpacho before either).

We used Ina Garten’s recipe found on foodnetwork.com, with a few modifications. And, with all due respect for the Barefoot Contessa, I think we may have improved on her recipe by subbing in heirloom tomatoes for the plum tomatoes she calls for. Made from fresh farmers market produce, our gazpacho was the absolute ultimate! (That was a super random reference to one of my favorite summertime films, Gidget, which you should probably watch if you haven’t already.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled (We did not seed our cucumbers…just chopped them up.)
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded (We used green and yellow bell peppers.)
  • 4 plum tomatoes (We used heirloom tomatoes—a brilliant substitution. I would say 1 heirloom tomato = 2 plum tomatoes.)
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar (We did not have white wine vinegar, so we used red wine vinegar instead.)
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • (We doubled the recipe and added 3 jalapeno peppers, removing the seeds.)

Directions

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes.

Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Mix well and chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

On the printout of the recipe we were using, someone had written a note that lime was a nice garnish for the soup. It seemed like it would be, so we cut up some lime to drizzle over the gazpacho—mind blown! Thank you Babar for introducing me to the world of farm fresh gazpacho. Who knew it was so easy to make (no actual cooking involved) and so delightful to eat?!

Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale, Downtown Crossing, Boston

Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale is a speakeasy which serves pub fare and is located at Temple Place (the Newbury Street in the 1800′s). I have heard through the grapevine it’s a great after work place in Downtown Crossing and has great craft beer and beer on tap selection. My friend mentioned about Stoddard’s when we were dining at Rafiki Bistro and instructed I try their mussels.

The bar area is spacious, has outdoor street lighting and a cozy atmosphere. The tin lined ceiling was quite intricate and I found it interesting that Stoddard’s used to sell fine cutlery and was a retail operation selling and assortment of items from sewing machines to bait.

The front dining area features vintage undergarments and corsets once sold at Stoddard’s.

We enjoyed some Rapscallion Honey and other uniquely named beers. Indeed, Stoddard’s has a vast selection of beers.

I am a huge fan of fondues, especially beer based fondues (love Cleary’s). Stoddard’s Aged Gouda and Cask Ale Fondue made with local cask-conditioned ale was served with house made pretzels & crudité ($10). The fondue was perfect with the soft and chewy pretzels, as well with the apple, however with the zucchini and broccoli, the flavor of the fondue was too hoppy and distinctly bitter.

The Iceberg wedge was lightly grilled and slathered with bleu cheese and roasted sweet tomatoes ($8). The salad was nothing spectacular, but my friend thought it was good.

The P.E.I. mussels were amazing. The light and creamy curry sauce was nicely spiced and really enhanced the ocean flavor of the fresh mussels. I would definitely order these again and was glad my friend suggested them to me, especially paired with the house made french fries. The bread should have been a nicely toasted and buttered crostini versus the soft bread, which seemed like an after thought versus contributing ingredient. The thick slices of bread lacked texture and flavor which made me want to set them aside.

The house cut fries with aioli ($6) were nicely crisp on the exterior, tender on the interior and seasoned well. We definitely finished these off and even ate the little potato bits.

We would definitely return to Stoddard’s and try the burger, steak frites and lobster hush puppies. The tub style sink was fun to use and a unique design touch.

Stoddard's Fine Food And Ale on Urbanspoon

Soy Cheddar and Salsa Omelette

Adapted from Canadian Living

Makes 2 omelettes

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 pinch salt
  • 1/2 pinch pepper
  • 2 tsp butter or Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup shredded soy cheddar cheese

Salsa

  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/8 cup  chopped onion
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh coriander or fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

In bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, coriander, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; set aside.

In bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 tbsp water, salt and pepper just until blended but not frothy.

In 8-inch  nonstick skillet, melt 1/2 tsp  of the butter over medium heat. Pour half of the egg mixture into skillet; cook until almost set, gently lifting edge with spatula to allow any uncooked eggs to flow underneath, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the cheese over salsa and spoon 1/4 cup of the salsa onto half of the omelette. Fold uncovered half over top; cook for 2 minutes. Slide onto plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with remaining salsa.

Eggplant Parmesan

Lightly breaded eggplant parmesean doused in tomato sauce and mozzerella cheese is always a welcome entree. It is vegetarian friendly and exceptionally satisfying.

Adapted from AllRecipes and Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  2. Place sliced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle salt over eggplant and let stand 10 minutes; rinse salt and pat dry. Dip eggplant in egg then in bread crumbs. In a hot pan with a tablespoon of olive oil fry the  breaded eggplant, about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  3. Add 1 cup tomato sauce to 9×13 baking dish, half of the eggplant, mozzarella and parmesean cheese; repeat layering process finishing with the cheeses.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

A Tale of Two Lasagnas- Hearty Meat and Vegetarian

Lasagna is a popular comfort food we like to make now that fall is around the corner. We decided to do a vegetarian version and a meat version. The meat version is very hearty and smaller servings would be best. The savory vegetarian version is a bit lighter because we love portobello mushrooms. For a quick shortcut, we made the onion-scallion mixture together and divided it between the two different lasagnas. Same with the ricotta mixture.

Vegetable Lasagna

Meat Lasagna

Makes 12 servings per lasagna

  • 1 (16 oz) package lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb portobello mushrooms, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 3/4 C green bell peppers, diced
  • 3/4 C Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C scallions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 1 jar vegetable pasta sauce
  • 1 jar meat pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C Parmesan cheese
  • 4 C shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.

In a large saucepan, cook and stir mushrooms, green peppers, onion, and garlic in oil. Stir in pasta sauce and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. In another large saucepan, cook and stir ground beef, onion, green peppers.

Mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, and eggs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread 1 cup tomato sauce into the bottom of each greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/2 each, lasagna noodles, ricotta mix, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering using vegetable or meat mixtures, and top with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Ricotta Mixture

Browning the beef to make the meat sauce

First layer for each lasagna

Final layer for each lasagna

Vegetable Lasagna

Meat Lasagna

Papas Supreme (Fiesta Supreme Fries)

Taco Bell in Puerto Rico sells papas supreme or supreme fries, a tasty concoction that is basically a beef taco over french fries for $1.29. Taco Bell in the United States does sell french fries, but only at select locations. None of them, at least to our knowledge sell papas supreme.

To recreate this zesty snack or brunch item, we decided to use beef taco filling, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese smothered on top of store-bought french fries.

  • 1 bag Ore Ida Crispy Crunchies- seasoned, battered fries
  • 1 1/2 ground beef,  80% fat
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
  • a generous handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 2 C shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a glass dish or on a cookie sheet, arrange the frozen french fries in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

While the french fries bake, in a large skillet on medium high heat, sauté half of the onions in olive oil. Add the ground beef and stir to break up the clumps. After the beef has browned, drain the excess fat from the skillet. Add 3/4 C water and the taco seasoning. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

To prepare the pico de gallo, combine the lemon juice, tomatoes, remaining onion and cilantro in a bowl.

Once the french fries are crisp, evenly sprinkle half the shredded cheese on top. Then layer the beef taco meat on next. Dollop on the sour cream and smooth it out. Plop on the pico de gallo and finish with the remaining cheese. Pop the tray back in the oven to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.