Turkey Chili? I guess you can call it that…

Just like yesterday, making dinner started out good. I was torn between wanting to make pasta and chili and chicken soup, so I ended up attempting chili with some turkey thighs, because turkey is chicken’s more festive cousin, and who doesn’t need a little more festive? I don’t have a Christmas tree in my apartment because I’m spending Christmas at home, and instead have a single homemade ornament (that one of my classmates was nice enough to draw and give us this year) hanging on my already dead rosemary bush.

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Kinda sad, right? Which is why I needed to veto chicken in favor of turkey.

Yesterday morning I woke up to beautiful beautiful snow!!

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I was in a good mood when I bundled up to head outside. I got to the stationary store and bought over 600 sticky page markers for my reading – I’m really surprised they don’t know my name by now, considering in the past two weeks I’ve bought over 1500 post-its. Next stop on the schlepp was to the Starbucks on the way to campus, where I got to wait in line for a bit, which was fine because I knew my tea would be nice and hot when I got to the library. Quick stop at the school bookstore to check out possible Christmas gifts for people back home, and then I finally made it to the library. At which point I realized my library card was actually not with me at all, and hopefully back at my apartment. Drat drat double drat!

I don’t live far from campus at all – it’s kind of embarrassing how close I live. But I still had to schlepp back to my apartment and basically do everything twice before being any sort of productive, and with cold tea. Also, I’ve noticed that people in Montreal tend to shovel not at all, in which case you get to trudge through the snow, before it melts after a few days and packs down to lumpy, slippery ice. Alternately, they have snowplows for sidewalks that make no qualms about running you over. That’s right, on the way back to the library, I was almost run over and blinded by the headlights of a sidewalk snow plow. You’re getting jealous of my day, aren’t you?

It gets better…I found a desk and pulled some books that I needed, which was fine until this happened – a book I wanted was in a box, falling apart, beyond repair. How sad is that?

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I left the falling apart book at the library, mostly because they wouldn’t let me check it out. They don’t know that I am the most anal book person ever, and that it would probably be safer with me than on the shelf at the library, but, that’s okay. I trudged home with my bagillion books, (I’m not exaggerating, it’s a real number) and tried to figure out what to make for dinner.

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An hour later, I had turkey browning on the stove, onion and garlic simmering, and I was happy. I don’t know if you can call it chili, since they were out of jalepeño peppers and I completely forgot to buy chilis. It did have beans and tomato though, as well as chili powder and cumin, so I guess that’s a start.

Turkey Chili?

2 turkey thighs

onion

garlic

mushrooms

carrots

1 can red kidney beans

1 can black eyed peas

1 large can diced tomatoes

oil for pan

cumin and chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is a great concept because you can add or omit veggies as you want, and it should be super easy. I cut up the onions and sauteed them in the pan, and then added the chopped garlic. Brown the thighs for a few minutes on medium heat. Flip over and brown other side. Add spices, about a tablespoon of each. Add carrots, mushrooms, beans (well rinsed and drained) and tomatoes. I added a tomato can-full of water, which was probably a bit too much. Let simmer for a good half hour or so, until thickened. I ended up with a quartful of turkey stock that I was able to freeze, so that’s not so bad, but everything just seemed to take forever to cook up and get mushy. Also, you probably want to add your spices with the onions and the garlic so they can thicken up. I forgot to do that, which is probably another reason why my chili failed so hard. It gets better though. After I had a bowl for dinner, I left it on the stove to thicken up. I had taken the turkey thighs out after about a half hour and taken the bone out, chopped them up and put the meat back in. I didn’t want to use ground turkey because the package didn’t say ground in store, and I like knowing where my ground meat comes from. At dinner, none of the ingredients were yummy, but around eleven o’clock, the chili got so much better. So of course I had another midnight bowl. So yummy!  Like my chili, my day ended up good!  I got to snuggle up and read with hot apple cider and snow outside… not bad at all!

Try this recipe, but make sure you give it time to cook and add enough spices. No one wants crunchy carrots in their chili. Don’t forget the chilis at the store and you should be good! And then let me know how it turns out! Let me know what you changed and made better 🙂

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Easy Bacon-fried Steak

This is going to be a short post because finals are upon us. The grocery store even has ice cream on sale. It’s like they know we’re all stress eating. Last night was steak night for me. I fried it up in leftover bacon grease and butter and salted both sides with sea salt. I like my meat basically living, but after the USDA was called in last year to help out the Canadian food regulators, I make a point of cooking it a bit more here than I would back home. I cooked it over mediumish heat (4 out of 10) for about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Yum! I paired it with leftover corn pudding from Thanksgiving and I was happy! Easy and delicious. Do you have a favorite meal to throw together? How do you like your meat?

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Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

This isn’t about something I made, and I get how polarizing Starbucks is, but, to me, a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate exemplifies cramming for exams before Christmas and wanting to be home and done already. No matter where I am in the US, or Spain, and now Canada, when exam time comes I invariably end up in Starbucks trying to get everything together and done, which is kind of ironic since I don’t really go to Starbucks that often at home. I shouldn’t even be taking the time to post this, but I think writing for fun is good for my mental health. I didn’t even know about salted caramel, as a drink or a thing in itself until a few years ago when I had it at a neighbor’s Christmas Eve gathering. Consider my mind blown. Before I got off the phone with my mom earlier today, I reminded her that the one thing she had to remember to get was Salted Caramel from William Sonoma because I’ll probably be home too late this year for them to still have it. Until I’m, this will have to do. I don’t get whipped cream, or even a salted caramel hot chocolate every day, but today certainly called for one. What are your holiday traditions? Do you inevitably find yourself in the same place every year? Behold the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and enjoy 🙂

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*Disclaimer: Starbucks did not compensate me in any way or have anything to do with this post; I just love me some Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate 🙂

After the Food Coma – Reflections on Thanksgiving 2013

Over Thanksgiving break one of my friends shared a story with me about one of his friends from New Jersey who got really exited once and butted into a heated conversation with the dreaded phrase, “Youz guys!”  Because we don’t actually talk like that, except when we do.  It doesn’t get much more Jersey than that. I can vouch that this friend was not me. I only got slightly Jersey about 1 am my first night home, when, exhausted after traveling all day, I tried to tell my dad a story about the free coffee coupon I picked up on the way to the train, and much to my surprise, instead of the much more widely accepted coffee, the word “cawfee” came out of my mouth. Nevertheless, I think “youz guys” is a great way to start this post because, well, youz guys, I’ve missed blogging!! I took a nice break when I went home for Thanksgiving, and it feels so good to sit down and write again!!

I don’t have many food stories to share since most of what we ate at Thanksgiving dinner were family recipes that I’m going to keep in my family. I can assure you that everything was delicious, and this year did have one delicious addition… Cranberry Margaritas. I think they’re my new favorite. I loved drinking them almost as much as I loved spending time mixing them up with my cousin! I got the recipe in this year’s November issue of Bon Apetit magazine and also found it on their website here: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/cranberry-margarita

I left out the Chinese five-spice powder, and I’m curious how that would alter the taste, but the ritas seemed perfectly fine without them. Thanksgiving Eve as I was mixing up my cranberry jelly, I realized the recipe would make 4 servings. Of course I quadrupled it, just to make sure we could have more drinks than pounds of turkey. There was a lot left over, but my family is also into wine, so I would still recommend making more than one batch, especially if your group is just drinking these. We mixed up the drinks one or two at a time in a shaker, but I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be just as easy to make a big pitcher beforehand and pour as needed.

I’m have pictures of the steps along the way but I’m missing the finished drink because I was too busy enjoying it 🙂 You’ll have to check out the Bon Apetit website for that, but I promise it was yummy and looked just as pretty and delicious!

Our Thanksgiving was small this year but I am still thankful for family and friends! It was just so good to be home and catch up and relax!! We also played a few rounds of family Taboo between dinner and dessert, which I loved. I learned some new words, notably, “fart sack,” which apparently all guys know means sleeping bag, and I learned to think of a being slapped as, “a high five – in your face.”

I’m surprising myself with how happy I am to be back in Montreal. It snowed while I was gone and everything is pretty and white! I can’t believe that in less than a month this semester will be done, and then I’ll only have one more to go! Last night I snuggled up in my apartment and let myself have a chick flick marathon, culminating in Love Actually. I lose it at the end, every time, when Jamie goes to Portugal and Sam runs through the airport to get Joanna. I still have to get a mini tree for my apartment, but watching that movie is always the perfect way for me to ring in the Christmas season!

I hope my American friends enjoyed their Thanksgiving as well, and that the rest of you still got some time to relax, or have time to with the coming holidays! Let me know if you relax with a cranberry margarita!!  Also, you can now follow my blog on Twitter @thegirlfromnj  Just a bit of shameless promotion before I sign off.  Cheers!

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