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No-Recipe Black Bean Chicken Chili


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Here it is in a bowl with cheese, looking quite delicious

I was trying to get text before the picture, but it’s not letting me move the picture down. I hate not having a real camera…

Anyway, this is a picture of a food experiment I created about two weeks ago. Like the Veggie Mac and Cheese I wrote about recently, I went in without any real knowledge of how chili is supposed to be made, never having attempted to cook it before myself. I don’t remember what gave me the idea. I just thought about the ingredients I had on hand and figured I’d try it out. I’m going to get ahead of myself now and tell you that it turned out AMAZING! I was really surprised by how delicious and chili-like it was. Even though there was a chance it would be more of a soup, I still just felt like trying it, and this was definitely a success.

Ingredients:

apprx. 2 medium chicken breasts (I was using tenders, so I am not sure how it compares)

beefsteak[?] and campari tomatoes

green/red bell peppers

1 can of black beans

1 [amount] of cilantro

1/2-1 lime

Chili powder, smoked paprika, and cajun seasoning

 

Non-Recipe:

To start with, I cooked the chicken. The intention was to put it into the pot shredded, so I had to pre-cook it to the point where shredding would be possible. I pan-fried it in a small amount of oil for a few minutes on a low heat. I wasn’t concerned with making sure they were 100% cooked, as they would cook for a while in the chili itself. As it turned out they were cooked the perfect amount, and once they cooled, shredding them was very easy.

I can’t really remember in just what order I put all the ingredients in the pot, so I’ll just guess… I like my peppers to be a little bit roasted or seared, so I put them in first to cook in a little bit of oil for a few minutes. Then went in the tomatoes, which would need to cook for a while to get stew-y. Soon after went the can of black beans (Goya) and then about two cans full of water, to give it plenty of time to cook while getting to the right consistency. It was about here that the chicken went in as well.

Next came all the seasonings. I used about three tablespoons of chili powder, and it was fairly spicy in the end. I used about one tablespoon each of smoked paprika and McCormick’s cajun seasoning, which I usually use for chicken and sprinkled over fried eggs (so good, really). Plenty of fresh chopped cilantro went into the pot, and some of it stuck to my hands as well. If you want to avoid that, I recommend washing it long enough in advance that it has time to really get dry, because if it’s wet it decides to love your skin.

Stirring often is basically the only thing you do other than adding ingredients to the pot. If it looks like it’s actually boiling, turn the heat down. The order of adding things doesn’t really matter that much, because you cook it all together long enough that all the flavors will combine, and some will be more prominent but what can you do.

Later on in the process I added the lime juice, then had it cook for a few more minutes. Once it looked pretty much like a chili consistency, I decided it was done.

It was really delicious. I’m not just saying this because I want you guys to think I’m having successful cooking ventures. If it had sucked, I would tell you. I was really surprised that it went as well as it did. It tasted awesome both freshly made and as leftovers. It did make me wish I had cornbread, but… oh well. Next time.

I highly recommend making something similar. Go for it! Just wing it! You know how cooking works, you can do it…

 

 

 

Pasta with cheese sauce – multiple successes!


Time to play catch-up (not ketchup, or catsup, which I have run out of, unfortunately for me that time I made burgers…) and post a few experiments that I’ve done over the past few months that I’ve been too lazy to post. I feel a little bit bad about it, but hopefully this will make up for it.

I don’t know why I did this, but I decided I’d like to try to make a creamy cheese sauce for my pasta one night. My first try went very well, although I definitely think I overdid the red pepper flakes – it’s so easy to do because they look so festive! – and as a result it was a bit spicier than intended. It was still delicious though, so I count it as a win.

It’s been a while since I made this, so I can’t recall exactly how it was done. I can you a vague idea, though, in case you want to try a recipe-less cream sauce… It’s a great dish. The way I made it was quick and easy, resulting in a tasty meal. I have pictures from two separate times preparing it.

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Of course I made too much pasta as usual. Part of the problem with cooking for one person is that it’s hard to cook single portions when you learned to cook for at least two people originally. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers, of course, although this dish is definitely much better when fresh. There’s probably a way to make cheese sauce that keeps better, but then I’d have to follow a recipe. Plus, I used angel hair this time, which is never as good in leftovers form. My recommendation would be linguine, regular spaghetti, or some fun shaped pasta like penne or rotini. I love rotini! The little corkscrew kind. It’s the most awesome pasta shape.  Read the rest of this entry

The Evolution of a Blog, Not That It Really Matters.


I started this blog intending it to focus on food, and until a few days ago, when I changed the blog name to match the link, that was how I looked at it. I will still write about food, of course. But I was having this problem…

I have another blog that’s just for writing. You can go see it here: http://devajashewaywriting.wordpress.com. There, I try not to ramble on about things that aren’t related to writing. I’ll write about life developments occasionally, but the focus of that site is my writing and, sometimes, the process behind it. I kept feeling the desire to write about food, to share when I make something really delicious without following a recipe (which happens the majority of the time I actually cook anything. Not bragging, just sharing…). So then I started this blog to do that. But I also feel I want to write about other things sometimes. Tidbits of life or whatnot. And I was thinking, “How many blogs do I actually want to have?”

The answer was, not actually more than two.

Luckily, the link name for this blog was “norecipelife” (an option that seemed cooler than “norecipefoodblog.wordpress…”), so, my brain connected some dots and said to me, hey, just make the blog No Recipe Life, and then you’ll be justified in writing about other things here. That’ll keep your blogs down to a minimum.

Seemed like a good plan. At some point I want to turn my writing blog into something resembling an actual writer’s website, so I don’t want to clutter it up with other crap. But I’m happy to clutter this, more personal blog! I’m thinking I will still write mostly about food, but now I’ve opened it up to talk about other things as well.

Speaking of food: My idea about making mini pies has been put on hold until I have more money to buy pie ingredients. My food budget has gone way down lately due to the fact that I spend more money than I should. So, no pies. I did, however, whip up some kind of fried-dough-coconut-pancake thing from stuff I had lying around. Let me tell you a little bit about them. (no pictures. Sorry.)

Read the rest of this entry

Homemade Tandoori!


I should apologize for the lack of a picture, because it is so beautifully orange, but I don’t have a camera that would show it.

Tonight I was preparing chicken so I would have something to make lunches with. I wanted flavor and simplicity of preparation (my two favorite things in a non-recipe) I decided to go with tandoori chicken with garlic and basil. That sounds fancy. How did I do that? Well, actually it’s the opposite of fancy and was very easy.

At some point I acquired a little tin of tandoori seasoning. I think it came from T.J. Maxx. Anyway, it’s a nice thing to have for when I want to make my rice bright corally orange, or add an interesting twist to dinner.

Surya, the best Indian restaurant EVER, which is located in my semi-hometown of Worcester, MA, makes deep red tandoori chicken. No other restaurant has ever made it half as good. So I tend to get something else. At other restaurants, the tandoori chicken just barely has a dusting of orange on it, and I wonder why it doesn’t stick.

I discovered, most likely by accident (but I can’t remember now), that if I stir it in with a little bit of cream (half and half is usually what I have available) the seasoning will stick to the chicken and make it nice and colorful. Raise your hand if you knew this trick. …Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So, anyway, if you’re interested in how I prepared tonight’s no-recipe chicken, it’s very basically like this:

Slice or chop two cloves of garlic and toss into vegetable/canola/olive oil, cook on a low-medium heat. If your stove is anything like mine, watch out for a spitting pan and you should probably wear pants, or you’ll end up with hot oil sprayed on your leg. It wasn’t scalding, so I’m ok.

Prepare boneless chicken meat to your preference. I like to cut it into strips, usually, as it cooks faster that way. Put chicken in oil, watching out for spitting again. I mean, really. Is it that the pan doesn’t like me?

Add cream. You don’t need much. I’d approximate three tablespoons or so. If you’re into the no-measuring style, just pour a small amount in, but enough that it can get around the whole pan.

Add tandoori! This is really don’t measure at all. maybe 1/2 tablespoon? It depends how strong you want it. And you can always add a little more if it’s not orange enough…

So, once you’ve put the cream and seasoning in the pan, mix that stuff up stir-fry style. Make sure all the chicken gets coated. Then let it simmer for a little while.

Last minute addition: if you suddenly get a desire to add a little more flavor, find an herb or something to toss in and mix that around at the end of the cooking. If your extra thing is onions, you might want to cook them a little more first. Just saying… my extra bit was dried basil.

Note: This anti-recipe would probably have best results with fresh basil and garlic that was purchased more recently than six months ago. I’m serious, I think that’s how long it was. Can you tell how often I cook with garlic?

Even though this was a dish I was making for later, I had to try a bite. It turned out great, if I do say so myself.

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