Monthly Archives: October 2012

Betty’s “Kick Butt Chili”

October 28, 2012

As we wait for the impending “FRANKENSTORM”, I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have a big ol’ pot of chili going on the stove. (OR- further below- in the crock pot!)  This recipe is near and dear to me, and to most people in our family- It’s a betty classic, and award winning at that.  Any time I need to feel warm, miss my mother, or see some gross weather heading our way, I instantly want this meal.  It’s no surprise to me that it’s the one recipe that’s requested the most out of my mother’s repertoire.  Her secret?  Orange soda.  Today, we’re having Kick Butt Chili. 

*NOTE* Generally, I just get a pack of hot sausage and a pack of sweet sausage and skip the ground chuck- my mother would probably protest that I am messing with a flawless recipe, but it’s what we like.

1 and 1/2 lbs ground chuck
1 lb hot or sweet sausage  (I use combination)
2 cans kidney beans (one light, one dark)
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
5-7 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup of orange soda *add half way through*

Brown the meat/ sausage and drain well.  Rinse your beans to relieve them of some of the gas they contain.  Add additional ingredients and spices, mix well.  Simmer over low heat for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.  After 1/2 an hour, add 1/2 cup of orange soda.

This is great served with shredded cheddar cheese and corn chips.  Sometimes I’ll top it with some red onion too. 

Crockpot version- Brown your meat, drain- add all ingredients to crock pot and cook it low and slow for 6-8 hours.  This works even better if you made the meat the night before and can just toss it all in the crockpot in the morning before work.

If there’s only 1 recipe you ever make from this blog… make this one.  It was “Betty’s” favorite recipe, and for good reason.  It’s won competitions, is always a crowd pleaser, and never has any leftovers when taken to a game day party.  This one won’t let you down. 

Happy eating- and stay dry out there!

Hey… Jamba Jamba… Jambalaya!

October 24, 2012

This past weekend, the hubs and I ventured out to the NoVA Brewfest, which was a great time, and is something I highly recommend doing.  While we were there, we were tempted by many tasty treats… and you can probably guess, Jambalaya.  Instead of indulging in the jambalaya at the festival, hubs decided that I should make MY jambalaya this week for when our friends come over for dinner.

WELL, 3 days later, and here we are!  Rotisserie chicken must be my secret theme this week, because this recipe uses a good ol’ store bought rotisserie chicken as a time saver too!  And everyone knows that I love a good rotisserie chicken- especially on Sundays when they are on sale for $4 as part of the “Family Dinner” deal… I usually get 2, debone all of it, and freeze/ use for recipes in the week.  $8 for 2 chickens?! Why not. 

Anyway!  Jambalaya in about 20 minutes- hold on to your hats kids… It’s gonna get crazy in here, and man will it smell good.

You’ll need:
1 red onion
1 bell pepper
2 stalks of celery
3 tsp creole seasoning
1 rotisserie chicken
1 “laso” link of precooked pork or chicken sausage  (hillshire farm…you know what I mean…)
2 boxes of chicken stock
hot sauce to taste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 and 1/2 “mugs” of 5 minute ready rice

To start yourself off, go ahead and chop up 1 red onion, 1 bell pepper (any color), and 2 stalks of celery.
Toss that in a large stock pot with a bit of oil and about 3 tsp of creole seasoning.  Let it sweat/ saute for about 3 minutes.   It will look lovely like this:

Then, add in a can of diced tomatoes- I like the ones that have basil and garlic, but hey- use what you like!  Add some Franks RedHots (can’t you just hear the little granny in your head!)  You know how much you like, and well, I know how much I like (I add a ton… I like food with some kick… I probably add 3 TBSP ? I don’t know…don’t hold me to that)  And then 2 boxes of chicken stock… roughly 8 cups.

Add in your picked/ pulled chicken… you won’t need the whole chicken, probably only the meat from about half.   Then cut your sausage up into little medallions.  Add that to the pot, and give everything a big ol’ stir like your grandma would. 

This is where it gets hazy… because like my mother, I don’t measure anything. So, I’m going to go ahead and give you an estimate… I pour in some rice…roughly 1 and 1/2 coffee mugs worth (the 5 minute kind- lets be honest, we have things to do here that are more exciting than watch rice cook)  

Again, stir… then let it simmer on medium for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy your delightful Jambalaya, and bask in the glory that it only took about 20 minutes.

Happy Eating!

Betty Classics- caramel popcorn

October 24, 2012

I’ve been craving this a lot lately, and one batch just never lasts long in our house.  So many fall and holiday memories of my mother are wrapped around this caramel popcorn, and I think that’s why I usually start to long for it in October.  A little time consuming, but oh so worth it… and it also makes a killer holiday gift if packaged nicely and you put a few add in’s to it- see below.

Today, it’s a “Betty” Classic- Caramel Popcorn

12 cups of air popped white popcorn  (yes, it really is better if it’s air popped- you can get an air popper for like $10- just go for it… you’ll be so happy you did)
2 sticks of butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light karo corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda

Pop your popcorn, and melt your butter…once the butter melts, add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir over medium- let boil for 5 minutes, then add in the corn syrup, stirring constantly for 5 minutes more.

Pour over the popcorn and stir.  Turn onto a baking dish and bake @ 200 degrees for an hour, stirring and “flipping” every 15 minutes.  Cool on wax paper and store in an air tight container.

For Holidays:

Make as above, but add in honey roasted peanuts, cashews, pecans, or dried cranberries.
Drizzle with white chocolate.
OR- add in M&M’s and drizzle with chocolate.
The possibilities are endless, and it looks really nice in a mason jar, holiday cookie tin, or fancied up cello bag. – I usually attach the recipe on a cute little card.

Make several batches- it goes quick.
Happy eating,

Time to sing, It’s Chicken a la King!

October 23, 2012

Sometimes, I want the comfort of an old- fashioned standby.  A classic dish that screams of days when life was a bit more simple.  And sometimes, more often than not, the sensible part of me laughs and says “Yeh- OKAY, because we have time for THAT.”

This originally was how Modern Martha came to be- the longing for all those classics but with a twist into the modern world of time savers.  I’d be stuck in the nostalgia of a dish, and it would haunt me until Saturday or Sunday when I had the time to spend on such luxuries.  It wasn’t enough. I wanted more… I needed more real dinners….but, how to find the time?!   Could I take my modern conveniences and somehow transform them into something of yesterday?  Oh, could I… and today, I give you another Modern Martha wonder recipe.  Why this took me so long to figure out, I am not sure, but just go with the thought that all life’s wonders and secrets take time and involve some sort of journey.  (JOURNEY-DRINK!  Sorry, wrong moment here… my hubby and I have a reality TV drinking game that when someone on the show references the journey they’ve made, we drink.  It’s a really good game for shows such as “The Biggest Loser”.  Trust me.)  Anyway… I give you : Time to Sing, It’s Chicken a la King!

Now, Chicken a la King has always been one of those dishes that has eluded me.  One of those classics that I use to LOVE as a child, but wouldn’t get very often.  I never understood why not until I became an adult- this dish is a total pain in the ass to make, let’s be honest.  Generally, when I tackle this, I end up with flour all over my kitchen… biscuit dough under my fingernails, and on occasion, gravy in my hair.  Boy am I ever a sight for sore eyes when all is said and done!  The dish always turns out perfect, and for that I am grateful, but GEEZ- nearly 2 hours later and a huge mess to deal with afterwards. Yeh, let me get RIGHT on that.  No thanks.  Yet, every now and then… I need it.  I just need it….and that’s when it hit me:

I could Modern Martha this!  Surely, there’s a way easier way to go about this and still have it taste like it was out of the 50’s.  Hold on to your potholders kids, because here it is!

You’ll need:
1 rotisserie chicken from your fave grocery store
1  jar of your favorite chicken gravy (or, make your own… its really not that bad)
1 bag of frozen Pillsbury Southern Style Biscuits (How did I not know about these?!)
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
butter- 3 tbsp

Preheat your oven for your biscuits @ 375 degrees, and pop your biscuits in for 22 minutes.
While they are in there, here’s what to do:  Chop your onion and celery and put in a skillet with the butter.  Cook until they are soft and slightly translucent.  Add some salt and pepper.  Pick/ Chop your chicken off the bones.  Dump your gravy into the celery and onion mix, and stir… simmering over medium low.  Toss in your chicken and thin out the mix with some chicken stock if needed… continue simmering until your biscuits are done.  Top open faced biscuits with the chicken/gravy mixture. 

Yep- that’s it.  Chicken a la King in 25 minutes.  And I’ll be honest… right as I thought, “oh…but its not the same… my hubby took a forkful, groaned happily, and said “this might be the best that you’ve made this.”  WELL… if that isn’t the final nail in the coffin of tradition, I’m not sure what is.  And it sure as hell is easier.

Happy eating!

Crockpot Love

October 7, 2012

I love a good crock pot meal… it’s a no brainer.  You gather your ingredients, throw it in, toss that baby on low, and go enjoy your day.  Absolutely the best, and really hard to screw up.

Here’s one that’s a staple in our house.  Today I used a Beef Loin, but generally, we do pork because it’s on sale more frequently, and usually a bit more budget friendly.

1- two to three pound beef or pork loin
2 bottles of red wine. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive… a table red works great, as well as a cab sauv.  (Note- you only need 1 bottle for the recipe itself, the other bottle is for you to drink- for me, that’s a must and ensures that I won’t take a straw out and start drinking red wine out of my crock pot. I’m just sayin’.) 
1 bundle of mini gold potatoes
1 bag of baby carrots
1 pack of onion soup mix
1 glass of water
Italian seasoning to taste- I usually throw some in so that it covers much of the top- generally, that works for us.

Throw it all in your crock pot.  Let it go on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 4.  Not only will your house smell divine, but you will have tender, falling apart, delicious meat and veggies.  Depending on your wine, your pork will turn a little reddish/purplish- that’s totally normal.