Turkey Chili with Avocado

Turkey Chili with Avocado

I know I’ve posted my fair share of soups and stews over the past few years, but it’s for a good reason – I love cooking these types of foods! Along with sauces, soups are fun. You can change the flavors as you go – add a bit more of this, a dash of that. It’s the type of cooking that allows you to be truly creative and experimental. It’s just fun. Well, that and delicious.

My latest is a new turkey chili recipe that I made a few times this winter. It’s really simple – I mean, half the ingredients come from cans – but has tremendous flavor that you can make as strong or as mild as you like. The main spices in this version are garlic, cumin, curry powder and smoked Paprika, but the overall flavor is actually a little on the sweeter side which comes from the vegetables – onion, carrot and red pepper. Oh, and did I mention that I top it with avocado? Seriously this is a keeper.

If you like your chili to be spicier, definitely kick up the paprika or use a spicier chili powder (I personally like the smoked flavor of the Hungarian smoked paprika). Here’s the recipe.

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The Most Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are classic, something we all grew up eating and my family was no exception. They’re the cookie my mom would whip up for bake sales and make as a “cake” for my birthday parties with frosting. There was even a year in junior high when all I ate for lunch each day was a chocolate chip cookie and carton of chocolate milk (sorry, mom, that’s what I was really doing with my lunch money).

And don’t even get me started on chocolate chip cookie dough! I’d eat the individually frozen dough balls from Market Days right out of the freezer as an after school snack, and in high school my friends and I would share a roll of store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough and eat it with spoons.

While ubiquitous, to me chocolate chip cookies are also conventional. And although I wouldn’t call myself cutting edge in pretty much anything (I mean, come on, look at my shoes), I don’t usually make this cookie because there’s no challenge to it.

This takes me to a few years back when a recipe from The New York Times was making the rounds in the blogosphere. I wasn’t interested. After all, they’re just chocolate chip cookies, right?

Luckily, my friend Jenn paid attention and began making these cookies, which turned out to be absolutely freaking delicious. I’d even go so far as to call them a game-changer.

Whenever we’d talk about these cookies – and, oddly enough, they came up in conversation quite often – I always referred to this recipe as “aged chocolate chip cookies,” because that was really the trick, letting the batter rest (or age) in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours. But I never made them myself. They were her thing, not to mention waiting for the dough to age required patience and planning, two things that don’t really suit me.

I finally had a wake up call a few weeks ago after visiting Jenn in San Francisco. The first thing she gave me when I got off the BART was one of her aged chocolate chip cookies. It had been a while since I’d had one and I forgot just how freaking good these cookies were. That’s when I made the decision: I need to start making these myself – they’re just too good not to have on a regular basis. Or semi-regular basis, given this is the time of year for fruitless resolutions.

And did I mention these cookies are huge? But don’t try to make them smaller – it’s part of their charm. Also, the ingredients are kind of specific but once you have them, just think of all the cookies you can make!

So here’s my advice: make a batch. Freeze them for portion control. And then eat them whenever you need a delicious bite of comfort food or as a reward for making it through spin class. That’s my plan, anyways.

Happy New Year!

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Exploding Egg & Veggie Breakfast Sandwich on Homemade Rosemary Focaccia

I’ve only been eating eggs for about two years and I’m still super picky about them. Growing up, eggs didn’t appeal to me, although neither did breakfast in general. I still can’t eat when I first get up and have to consciously remind myself to eat when I get to work or I’ll be hangry by 10:30.

Anyways, one of my recent favorite egg dishes is an egg sandwich on focaccia bread that I sometimes buy at the farmers’ market. It’s hot, fresh, and made using veggies and eggs found at the market that morning.

Flash forward to yesterday afternoon and another Chicago rainstorm. I decided to bake bread to pass the time and settled on rosemary focaccia bread using the olive oil dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and it was delicious (all you have to do is add fresh minced rosemary to the dough and bake on a cookie sheet at 425°F for 25 minutes). I’d already eaten about half of a loaf straight-up when I started thinking, I have got to find something else to do with this delicious bread. That was when I remembered the egg sandwich and got to work.

Between my CSA and a Saturday morning visit to Green City Market, I had a ton of veggies to choose from. I really just wanted a little bit of this and a little bit of that without it turning into something I’d have to eat everyday for the next week (you other single cooks out there know what I’m talking about), so that’s what I did! I used one piece of bacon, one fingerling potato, two mini bell peppers, two crimini mushrooms, 1 large leaf bok choy, and about half of a very small yellow squash.

I cooked up all those veggies in the bacon fat (I’m going through a bacon phase) and added a little salt and lemon juice, then removed half of the veggies to save for later – this recipe really made two servings.  All that was left was to add two eggs to the pan with the remaining veggies, scramble it all together until the eggs were cooked, and pile the mixture onto a piece of fresh rosemary focaccia sliced in half.

Simple. Delicious. No recipe required. Happy Sunday morning!

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Cooking from My CSA: 3 1/2 Zucchini Recipes

I’ve been receiving my CSA weekly for about a month now and it’s finally starting to contain more of a variety of ingredients. There are still a lot of greens (chard, kale, collard), but this week we got a few new items – leeks (so small they look like scallions), tomato (one), and a whole lot of zucchini.

I enjoy zucchini, we have a good history. When I started cooking for myself my senior year of college, zucchini was one of the first vegetables I took on – I’d cook it on the George Foreman Grill with chicken marinated in Italian dressing. The George has long been out of commission, but my fondness for this summer squash remains.

Seeing as I’ll probably get even more zucchini next week, today I decided to look at it as a challenge to see what I could do to use it all. If I’d had more time (and if I hadn’t run out of flour), I would have made another batch of zucchini muffins, so that will have to wait. But I did make Zucchini-Walnut Bread, Chocolate Chip Zucchini-Walnut Muffins, a Zucchini Frittata, and Stewed Zucchini with Tomatoes.

Many of the ideas came from the CSA newsletter, which I think is one of my favorite features (thanks Harvest Moon Farms). The Zucchini Bread recipe was a combination of the one from the newsletter and one my friend shared. They were so similar that I took the best of each and made it my own, including reserving 1/4 of the batter for the muffins with chocolate chips. And same with the Stewed Zucchini – the inspiration was from the newsletter, I just tweaked it based on what I had available. Finally, I made the Frittata because I had leftover shredded zucchini from the bread/muffins to use up; it was the perfect thing to make.

Here are the recipes I made today. If you have a great zucchini recipe, please share it – I know there’s more zucchini coming!

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Cooking from My CSA: Collard Greens

As I briefly mentioned in my last post (otherwise known as the first post in months), I joined the Harvest Moon Farm CSA this year. For those of you not in the know – Mom, I’m talking to you – a CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Essentially, before the growing season even starts, you pay for a share in a farm’s crop, which for me comes to half a box of produce each week from mid-June until November. It’s uber convenient as the box gets delivered to my office building every Wednesday afternoon, and then I go to the farmers’ market on Saturday to supplement with produce that wasn’t in the box.

My weekly take is half a box because I’m splitting a share with a friend, who last week started a fire by microwaving fennel. That’s another story, but the point is that I might have to take the rest of the fennel this year even though I don’t like it because she just can’t be trusted.

I’ve been having fun experimenting with my CSA box and seeing what I can make out of it each week. Really, I’m enjoying the challenge of 1) using everything in my box, and 2) trying new veggies/new ways to prepare them. Often times I wind up focusing on just a few of the vegetables, then find myself with the rest starting to wilt on Monday night. This leads to a lot of last minute roasted veggie or stir-fry dishes that I take to work with quinoa. It’s good, but lacking a little creativity.

A few nights ago I focused on the collard greens, something I don’t eat often. I buy a lot of chard and kale, but usually stay away from the collards. Not sure why exactly, but I think maybe it’s because I had the impression it’s tougher than the other varieties.

That night I prepared the collard greens with delicious multi-colored carrots I’d picked up at the market along with bacon, garlic and lemon juice. That was pretty much it – super simple, very fresh and filling, and a great way to really taste and enjoy the collard greens. I was surprised to discover that they were more mild tasting than the others, which can sometimes be slightly bitter. I’m definitely a collard greens convert – bring ‘em on!

Here’s what I did, it’s really more of a guide than a straight-up recipe:

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