Chili cook-off test recipe #4

Pumpkin chili take 2. I’ve got to post this recipe before the cook-off on Thursday! I fed this batch to my co-workers last week and they really seemed to enjoy it. Several people even came back for seconds! I only made a few tweaks from my first pumpkin chili recipe, but I think they were crucial changes. Besides using less chipotle chili powder to cut back on the spiciness, I used just a small amount of pumpkin pie spice rather than the 2 tsp of cinnamon in the first batch that threw off the flavor of the chili. I also added some oregano which I think worked really well. The can of corn was just because I had some in my pantry and I didn’t know how else to use it! I think the chicken broth was unnecessary, but it did thin out the chili a bit so you can leave it our or add even more depending on what kind of consistency you’re going for. I’m not 100% satisfied with this recipe yet, but it’s coming along. I’ll make a few more tweaks for the chili cook-off on Thursday and let you know how it turns out!

INGREDIENTS:
20 oz ground turkey
1 c diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 c diced bell pepper (about 1 large pepper, I used yellow)
3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans (15 oz each) petite diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce (or two 8 oz cans instead)
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 c chicken broth (I used reduced sodim)

DIRECTIONS:
In a large nonstick skillet or stock pot, cook the turkey, onion, and bell pepper until the meat is no longer pink. When the meat is fully cooked add the chili powders, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper, pupkin pie spice, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the turkey mixture to the bottom of your Crockpot (I recommend using a liner to make clean up a breeze). Add the the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, drained and rinsed beans, drained and rinsed corn, pumpkin puree, and chicken broth to the Crockpot and stir gently to combine. Put the lid on the Crockpot and cook on low for about 8 hours (I cooked mine for 10 hours, but that caused the pinto beans to be mushy) or high for about 5 hours. Enjoy!

Based on Kalyn’s Kitchen Crockpot Pumpkin Chili and Civilized Caveman Cooking’s Pumpkin Chicken Chili.

Running difficulties

As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’ve had some running difficulties in the last couple of months. Before I left for Florida I started getting blisters on my big toes. I tried band-aids and tape, but no amount of protection or callusing stopped them from forming. It was annoying, but I kept running. Unfortunately once I got to Florida the humidity and rain didn’t really help the situation. Neither did running on the treadmill, which I started doing after the weather forced me to exercise indoors. So in addition to taping up my big toes every time I went running (I settled on some padded medical tape which worked better than anything else), I bought about half a dozen different kinds of socks to see if that would solve the problem. (Are you starting to see why I had so much more stuff when I left Florida than when I arrived?) I tried a range of running socks from thin Nike socks to padded Experia Thorlo socks to double-layer WrightSock socks. But while it was nice to have a variety to choose from (bonus – some of them were crazy colors!), none of the socks made any real difference in my recurring blisters. It was like a horror story every time I took my shoes off after a run. Let’s just say I used a lot of rubbing alcohol and Neosporin. I was so sick of the blisters and I knew something had to be done. So in the spirit of trying solutions from cheapest to most expensive, I decided I needed to get some new shoes. So shortly after I got home from Florida I went to Runner’s High in Long Beach to get fitted for a new pair. I figured a specialty running store was my best bet to find some good shoes, but I was unimpressed with the “expertise” of the guy who helped me. First he said that he didn’t recommend the shoes I had been wearing for running (Nike Free 5.0) even though Runner’s High had them up on the wall with the other “running” shoes. And I don’t think he paid any attention at all when I told him I have narrow feet. It wasn’t a good experience, but I bought a pair of Saucony Kinvara 4 shoes despite feeling like they might not be right for me. I ran in them five times before deciding that my initial impression was correct. Not only did my right foot get really screwed up because the shoes were forcing me to run on the outside of my foot (just the right one for whatever reason), but I also started getting horrible blisters on my heels. The material inside the shoe was really rough and it just ripped up my skin. And then I couldn’t even keep band-aids on my heels while running in those shoes. Obviously the Saucony’s were not for me. The last time I ran in them was last Sunday and I spent the next week letting my feet heal. I felt like such a slug all week so when the weekend rolled around I knew I had to do something. So when I was at South Coast Plaza yesterday I went to the New Balance store to look for a new pair of running shoes. Fortunately the employees there were a lot more knowledgeable and helpful than the ones at Runner’s High. I got a pair of 890v4’s in a narrow with (one of the great things about New Balance) which are so new that they aren’t even on the New Balance website yet! The associate who helped me watched me walk in a few pairs of shoes and even had me jog on the treadmill a bit to see which ones were best. I felt really good about my purchase when I left the store and I couldn’t wait to try them. So how did they work? Well, I went running tonight and they felt pretty good. No blisters or foot pain, which is a major improvement! I figured I’d have to kiss a few frogs before I found a prince, and it remains to be seen which category these 890v4’s fall into yet, but right now I’m optimistic! I’ll keep you posted.

Productive Saturday (sort of)

Except for last night I spent the past week being a lazy bum. Besides going to work I didn’t get much else done until I dragged myself to the laundromat yesterday to wash a ton of dirty clothes. At least I got that out of the way before the weekend. But when I woke up this morning I was still faced with a to do list a mile long. So I threw on some clothes – freshly laundered – and headed to Disneyland. Not the most obvious place to run an errand, but my first order of business today was to scour both parks for the orange and black Minnie Mouse ears that I so desperately wanted. Unfortunately I failed in my quest. When I couldn’t find the ears at Disneyland last weekend I thought I just wasn’t looking hard enough, but it seems they sold out a while ago. Now I’m kicking myself for not buying them in September! Oh well. I’ll just have to adjust my Halloween outfit for work on Thursday accordingly. Before leaving Disney I grabbed breakfast at Earl of Sandwich and then started the second phase of my Saturday errands. Next stop, South Coast Plaza. Not only did I have a couple of items to return to American Eagle, but I also wanted to check out the computers at the Sony store and see if there was one I wanted to buy. Sony has several laptops that are in the running to be my next computer, but I wanted to see them in person before ordering one. Unfortunately two of the new models aren’t in stores yet due to the government shutdown. Shoot. I liked the Sony Vaio Pro Ultrabook a lot, but I want to take a look at the Vaio Flip PC and Vaio Tap Tablet PC before I make my decision. So I’ll have to wait at least a few more weeks before getting my new computer. My biggest accomplishment at South Coast Plaza was buying a new pair of running shoes at the New Balance store. My running has been suffering recently due to the awful shoes I’ve been wearing, but that’s a long story that I’ll save for another post. For now let’s just say I’m very excited to have a new pair that will hopefully not hurt my feet or give me blisters. I’ll let you know how they work. On my way home from the mall I exchanged two pairs of running socks at REI because I wasn’t paying attention when I ordered them and I got the wrong size. Oops. (My growing collection of fancy socks is another part of the saga of my running difficulties. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.) Then I grabbed a sandwich at Corner Bakery for a late lunch before going home and collapsing on my couch. That was a lot of errands! The rest of my day consisted of catching up on TV shows on my DVR (Agents of SHIELD, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Elementary, etc.) and working around the house (folding laundry, washing dishes, etc.). I actually got a lot accomplished today even though I didn’t get my Halloween Minnie ears or a new laptop. So what’s the plan for the second half of my weekend? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know!

Foodie Friday – Double dark chocolate cookies

Back in August before I left for Florida I made a couple of batches of cookies while watching the first Florida football game of the season. This was back when I still had thought that the Gators might have an amazing season. How naive I was! Now that the season is more than halfway over I’m just hoping Florida becomes bowl-eligible at some point. But with Georgia, South Carolina, and FSU left on the schedule I’m not holding my breath. But on to the recipe. I stumbled across some Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa at the grocery store a few days beforehand (after looking for it in stores for the past year and coming up empty) and I was determined to use it to make some cookies while watching football. So I combined two different recipes, added some dark chocolate chips, and the result was these delicious brownie-like double dark chocolate bar cookies. Not quite as moist as your typical brownie, but the dark chocolate flavor was really rich – much better than most brownies I’ve tried. So if you find some Special Dark cocoa at the store grab it and make these cookies immediately!

INGREDIENTS:
1 stick butter, softened
1 c light brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornstarch
1 c flour
1 c dark chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the vanilla, egg, and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add the baking soda, cornstarch, and flour and mix until almost combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure no streaks of flour remain. Spread the batter into an 8×8″ pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Based on Averie Cook’s Dark Chocolate Dark Brown Sugar Cookies and Sweet Pea’s Kitchen’s Double Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Chili cook-off test recipe #3

First of all, I can’t believe I didn’t take pictures of any of the chilis I’ve made. But I guess if you’ve seen one batch of chili you’ve seen them all. Unless it’s not tomato-based. Then it would be a different color. But I digress. This recipe is a variation of chili cook-off test recipe #1 so much so that I hesitated to even post it. But I wanted to keep track of everything I tried on my way to the final recipe so here it is. This was the third batch of chili I made while I was in Florida and it was hugely popular. My co-workers inhaled every mouthful and raved about it. I have to admit that I didn’t get to try it myself, but I heard lots of good things. Chili recipe #1 was a bit spicier than I wanted it to be so this time I reduced the amount of chipotle chili powder and increased the amount of regular chili powder to compensate. In hindsight I probably should have used even less chipotle chili powder (about 1/2 tsp) and left out the cayenne pepper completely to reduce the spiciness even more. I’ll remember that next time. Oh, and I also added some more tomato sauce. Not absolutely necessary, but it thinned out the chili a little bit. This recipe is easily customizable so you can use your own judgement on the spices. Let me know how it turns out for you!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb ground beef
1 c diced sweet onion
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (or less)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cans (15 oz each) dices tomatoes
2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 whole jalapeno peppers

DIRECTIONS:
In a large nonstick skillet (I had to use a stock pot because the kitchenette in my hotel room is poorly stocked – no pun intended) cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is no longer pink. When the meat is fully cooked add the chili powders, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until the spices are well incorporated and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the beef mixture to the bottom of your Crockpot (I recommend using a liner to make clean up a breeze). Pour the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and drained and rinsed beans on top of the beef mixture and stir gently to combine. Place the whole jalapeno peppers on top of everything (use gloves!) and put the lid on the Crockpot. Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!

Based on A Year of Slow Cooking’s Basic Chili Crockpot Recipe.

Fights with my iPhone

I love my iPhone, I really do. But sometimes to drives me crazy. Yesterday when I was trying to add some new songs to my running playlist I noticed that all of the latest songs were gone. Everything from the last six months, at least. I hadn’t deleted the songs and I hadn’t synced my iPhone with my laptop in about a week so I have no idea what happened. My iPhone ate my music! Very frustrating. I had to do something about this travesty (first world problem, I know) before going running. So I built a “New music” playlist of about 60 songs on my laptop and transferred it to my iPhone. Or so I thought. When I left the house to go running it wasn’t there. I’ve never claimed to be a computer genius, but I should be capable of putting music on my phone, right? Ugh. So I had to fall back on an old playlist to entertain me while I was running last night. No big deal because I really like all of the songs on my iPhone, but some of them get old after hearing them umpteen times. I run four or five times a week so I listen to a lot of music. Tonight before I went running I removed all of the songs from my iPhone and started building a workout playlist from scratch. I put about 3 hours of music on there so far (which will last me about two running sessions), but I need to build that up some more. I have given my iPhone a lot of credit for my running success because I don’t think I could have done it without music to listen to. Without something to keep my mind occupied all I can think about is how tired I am! That’s the worst. Hopefully my iPhone doesn’t delete my songs again because I might have to leave it at home and use another iPod for running. And yes, Lauren’s iPhone, that’s a threat!