Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Duck Ragu

This is the time of year that many of us back woods, redneck, country (insert name you prefer here) women are very familiar with; the season when all the men in our lives that are of age virtually disappear. Some of us have significant others who also travel for work as well and so it seems we are living the single lady (or mother) life for a while.

It’s hunting season.

And while Chuck does make an effort to stay home long enough on a Friday night for some dinner and a conversation before heading off, I don’t get to see him much these days. All of course is forgiven when he comes home with such precious things as fresh duck. It’s one of those items that you would be over the moon lucky to actually find, let alone be able to pay for.  

I opted to make a duck ragu, because this bird like so many other wild birds had a long physical life and was a bit tough. Allowing the ragu to simmer low and slow for a while really did the trick for making this wonderfully tender and delicious.

Holiday Duck Ragu (Serves 4)
1 tbsp butter
1 duck, deboned, and skinless
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup red wine
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp orange zest
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb parppedelle pasta cooked aldente

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the duck to the pan and brown the duck on all sides, then remove the duck and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the onion, and mushrooms. Cook stirring occasionally until they are tender and golden. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and cook for another minute, stirring continuously. Add the wind and bring it to a simmer until it reduced to half, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth, zest, and spices, stirring well to combine. Add the duck back to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. With forks shred the duck meat and stir it in to the sauce until it is well combined. Serve over warm pasta. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween through the Years

Halloween is coming up and I started thinking about all of the costumes that I have donned over the years. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays so I like to get really into. I haven't quite decided what I am going to be this year or what I am even doing, but Halloween is a Friday so you can bet I am going to come up with something for it.

2013 - Harley Quinn

2012 - Skipped I was no fun this year

2011 - Chucky & Bride of Chucky
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2010 - Cop & Robber

2009 - Wilma Flintsone

2008 - Hill Billy Complete with mullet that doesn't show up in the picture.

2007 - Dorothy

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bravo Charlie Bravo Chili! Guest Post

Before I let Pat take the reigns over here I want you all to leave him some love and tell him how much he needs to start a blog himself!! He's one of our best friends, and always a ton of fun, so without further adu... here's Pat!


First of I would like to thank Jess for letting me take a “celebrity shot” post on her blog. Second I would like to mention that yes ladies I am a single man who loves the kitchen!

In the words of the great poet Robert Frost “Something there is that doesn't love a bowl of chili”.  Well maybe he might have said something different but let’s be honest, I was not an English major back in college and there is a good reason for it.

Have you ever really thought about what makes chili actually “chili”? Is it the meat and bean combination, the actual use of chili peppers or is it a word that has become similar to the “old college try” where anything goes. It's funny how the term chili has changed over the years and boy what a change it has taken.

To some the traditional chili just isn’t enough to be satisfying and in came the invention of the “Man Cave Chili Cook-Off”. An annual event that pushes the chili limits, boast food, libations and good times had by all.  Perfectly placed in the fall for people to bust out the crock-pots, use up the fall garden ingredients and try going someplace where no chili has gone before.

This year I attended the 3rd annual event and as the reigning second place chili maker for the last three years (always a brides made never a bride) I knew I was in for some competition. Chili’s like the “Gnarly Nosebleed”, “Splat”, “Beefy the Taste Bud Slayer” and “Port “O” Goose” filled the warmers with all kinds of ingredients and off the wall recipes. We saw venison, fava beans, Bacon and poached eggs for the top.  As a side note with the poached eggs, don’t knock it till you tried it ladies and gents it is the new wave in chili cooking.

I went all out for my second place chili this year with the “Bravo Charlie Bravo” or “BBQ, Chocolate Bacon” chili.  The mixture of materials were a perfect combination. A little heavenly bliss if you will.  The sweetness from the chocolate with the smoky BBQ flavoring and nip of spice on the end to remind you that it is still a chili. It was definitely a crowd favorite but it did not have enough to bring me victory (again). Looks like I will have to save my Rocky dance for another day.

But that’s the fun in competition though, that drive to have the first place chili on competition day, to be the one to beat. Guess we will have to see what next year brings and what kind of ingredients will find their way into my chili.

Bravo Charlie Bravo Chili!
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
3 Super Hot Chili Peppers, diced (Added for Heat adjust accordingly if needed)
¾ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (Again for Heat)
1 ½  teaspoons Italian seasoning
½  pound bacon, diced
1 pound spicy sausage
1 ½  pounds lean ground beef
1 bottle hickory smoke barbeque sauce (28 ounces+/-)
¼  cup chili powder
1 cans kidney beans, un-drained (add a second can if you like beans and a root-tootin time)
1 Hershey’s Chocolate Bar ( ¾ for chili rest for yourself)

In a large pot over medium heat, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, onion and Italian seasoning.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until slightly crisp. Drain and pat dry with paper towels and stir into the pot.

In the same skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until brown. Drain and toss into the pot.

In the same skillet over medium heat, cook the beef until brown. Drain and stir into mixture.

Stir the barbeque sauce and chili powder, cayenne pepper into the pot; taste and adjust seasonings.  Stir in the kidney beans, chocolate, diced chili peppers and simmer until flavors are well blended.


Tip: As always with Chili it is best to let it sit for a night so flavors can blend. It will make a world of difference if you take the time to make it the night before and re-warm.

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