Monday, November 29, 2010

Spicey Mama's Texas Chili Seasoning

This week I will have my website finished and ready for business. This seemed like such an easy task but once again I will say I was wrong. I like to be in control of everything but am learning that is just not possible. I do not have a degree in computer science and unless a computer has a blood pumping heart I'm probably not an expert! As a nurse I can swim in most waters in that field and be comfortable, but with the computer I'm learning something new everyday. Thankfully I'm married to a computer whiz so that works out well and luckily he still ask me if he should take Tylenol for a headache.

Thanksgiving cooking is over and now I'm thinking about Christmas. I go from one big cooking event to the other the way some women look for shoe sales. Starting a business dealing with food products is so exciting for me and I can't wait to start seeing the feedback from customers. All my products will be free of MSG and salt. We all need some sodium in our diets to help our bodies function but the amount that is added to foods is just crazy. Salt covers up the the use of cheap ingredients by increasing the flavor effects on the taste buds. Food that is produced in the United States has strict guidelines for that product and it's labeling. Foods produced outside the US are not regulated well and may have much more than is even on the label. I am very sensitive to MSG, I know immediately after eating out if a food had it hidden in a sauce or seasoning. I try to avoid foods that have sauces, creams or gravies on them for that reason as well as the salt content. Chinese food is the biggest problem for me, but you can avoid the MSG problem when you eat at Panda Express. They do not add MSG to their foods, although there may be some in the if your sensitive be careful.

I developed a chili seasoning myself over the years so I could control what went into it and know it wouldn't make me ill. Last year my husband used it in the annual chili cook-off at our church and he won 1st place. Now that in itself is great, but we live in Nebraska and they normally don't care for the spicey foods. Spicey Mama's is a well balanced seasoning that has a deep chili flavor that gives an all day cooking taste to your chili or soups. It is pure Texas in a little zip lock bag!! Chili isn't about how hot you can get it to's about how deep and layered you can get the flavors. I don't add any salt, sugar or preservatives to this seasoning but do add a small amount of salt to my meat as it cooks. Nice thing about this is the cook is in control...which makes me very happy indeed!

I'm a Texan living in Nebraska who loves spicy Tex-Mex foods. When you think you have found a resturant that serves real Tex-Mex...they either close or you find out they use frozen burritos..YIKES!!! To my Midwest friends..that would be like you finding out they use frozen corn and pass it off as the wonderful fresh corn we have here in the late summer. Some things are just sacred and meant to be fresh. We do have some real Mexican food resturants that serve great tamales and baja style Mexican which I enjoy alot.

So Spicey Mama's Texas Chili Seasoning was born from despair but has grown to be the cornerstone of my spice and seasoning line. I love developing new products and have some great rubs that will be on the website soon. Killa Dilla Rub...hmmm...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I admit I have a cookbook addiction...

I love cookbooks. I can't seem to let them leave my home once they enter the doors. I have them everywhere and will never use recipes from some of them. Let's just say I give some away, what is the worst thing that can happen? The first thing that comes to mind is that I will feel sad, then the second thing I think is what if the next recipe I search for is in one of these and the third thing I think is....I need help! Do they have Interventions for foodies?

I am drawn to regional cookbooks when traveling. They are my favorite thing to take back home with me. My husbands loves the hats and t-shirts, just give me my recipes and I'm happy. My favorite's list changes from time to time but right now it's old family or community & church cookbooks. I have one from the church we attended when we lived in Texas and it is my workhorse for holidays with my family. We all have such precious memories of the "grandmothers" of the church and their wonderful sweets!

Being a displaced Texan...I have a dozen cookbooks with Texas in the title. My very favorite is The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh. It not only contains great recipes that are genuie Tex-Mex, but also lots of history and information. My very favorite recipe in this cookbook is Ninfa's red and green sauce. It is so Texas to me and that makes me happy!! The most unusual Texas cookbook I have is Baytown Texas Aggies Cookbook. One of my favorite recipe from that one is Texas Caviar which I will share with you...everyone needs to be a little Texan!! Happy Thanksgiving

Texas Caviar
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 avocado, finely diced (choose a firm one)
1 can sliced black olives, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 chopped fresh cilantro
1 T lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, Toss with seasonings and lime or lemon juice. Cover and let chill for 1 hr. if possible
May sprinkle grated Pepper Jack cheese on top when ready to serve if desired.
Serve with tortilla chips or crackers

Wow,that made me hungry so now I have to go to the store and make one more thing for Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 Days of Cooking

Okay, I have 7 days to cook everything for Thanksgiving. Timing on some of these dishes is so important, but if it has to be warmed up it's like eating the leftovers that are so good on Friday after Thanksgiving. I started the day off with baking 18 Turkey Sugar Cookies which my nephew requested. When I asked him what he wanted me to make for him..he said white cookies with orange icing. If everything was this easy in life we would be so much happier and less stressed! But since I am a woman and I see Holidays different than the male gender I will be making much more than that flock of turkeys cooling on my counter.

Our favorite sugar cookie recipe comes from a sweet lady who we always called Nanny. She was the grandmother of family friends but we adopted her as our own. Nanny always had a smile on her face and the softest voice ever. Her sugar cookies are renowned and the only recipe our family ever makes. Nanny was my son's first Sunday School teacher and this summer at 25 yrs old he made her cookies for another group of kids...time rolls on. She is no longer with us but her legacy of Southern cooking lives on !

Nanny's Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup Crisco shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream sugars, shortening, vanilla and egg. Mix together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Stir with spoon until mixed together. Flour surface and roll out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut dough in desired shapes.
Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool on wire rack, can be iced when cool.
Makes approx. 4 dozen cookies depending on shapes and size.

Now I think after reading that recipe again I may have to go make more cookies...Of course first I have to go get a new cookie cutter from the coolest store...Any excuse to by more kitchen items works for me!! If you try this recipe please post a comment and let me know how you like them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving is an excuse to cook!

Thanksgiving is an excuse to cook. It is the day we celebrate the bounty of the harvest. Okay very few of us are really involved in the harvest but we love to celebrate... For those of us who love to cook it's a day to go crazy. For me it's a day to pull out all the family recipes and remember those who are no longer with us. I am so lucky to have inherited all the recipes, cookbooks and note's written on little pieces of paper. If I'm honest inherit might be defined as I scooped them up while no one was looking! I am the oldest of three sisters so I pretty much get to do what I want. I fear what will happen as I age because my sisters are 10+ yrs younger than me, God help me if they are my caregivers!

One Thanksgiving I went outside the traditional box and no one was very happy with me. I wasn't happy with me. We never go very far from the traditional because it's what makes Thanksgiving. Our biggest departure this year will be the smoked turkey, although I will do a traditional one also. We are cornbread dressing people, totally southern thing. My Grandmother's dressing used cornbread and toasted bread so that's my favorite. My Granny's dressing was cornbread only with lots and lots of sage, I love it but my Mom always made her Mom's so that's what I make. My husband's Grandmother made bread stuffing which was a shocker to me the first time I ate it. Nannie was a fabulous cook from Maine who could make pie's that would bring you to your knees. Her stuffing became one of my favorite things but I still make Grandma's because that is what we all remember as Thanksgiving. I'll make Nannie's Date Squares for my husband because he loves them and...I love him!

Simply put, Thanksgiving is the day we give thanks for all those things we hold closest to our hearts. The best part is that we can loosen our belts, throw the diet away ,rest up for Black Friday sales, watch football all weekend and pray that someone helps clean the kitchen! Hmmm...I wonder what would happen if I served a spicy Deep Fried Cajun Turkey and Andouille Dressing???....wait that's what I did the year every one cried!!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Southern women working from this a new concept?

I love the "new" working from home concept. Women have always worked from home, at home, in the home and in the community! I have always wondered how it would feel to know that mowing the yard and taking out the trash completed my weekly chores list at home. Not to say that my husband won't do anything I ask and do it gladly...he just has to be asked. Women married or single are responsible for the majority of the household management. This is a job I love and honestly don't want help if I can do it myself.

Now Southern women are unique in a few ways as are women in other areas I have lived. Being a Texas born and bred girl I tend to be a little particular about things in my home. It's not easy to admit being a little neurotic about possessions. We tend to want family treasures, grandmother's dishes, and for some of us..don't touch that piece of paper the old recipe is on or you will draw back a nub. Having lived in several states across America I can say women everywhere have some of these issues. For me it's all about my kitchen and cooking. I love to read cookbook's like others read novels. On my bedside table there are 3 cooking magazine's, 1 cookbook, and a Fannie Flagg novel...oh and a decorating magazine. So that's me..I'm a true food fanatic.

Dave Ramsey says that a wife can be the greatest home economist there is.We love a bargin. We love coupons. What is the first thing we learn to do as girls? Shop! I always loved going to town on Saturday with my Mom and going to the grocery store. It was like walking into a toy store for me. Even at age 10 I had an unusal thrill of seeing all the different foods, spices, and things from other countries that were so foreign to me. Even to this day when we travel I want to go to the local grocery store and check out the regions food specialties. I will skip mall shopping ,which I hate, to go to the grocery store. As I write this my mind is on the fact that our town has a Trader Joe's grand opening this morning. I will drive by malls, furniture stores, outlet malls...never slow down until I get to the newest food playground in town.

Several weeks ago my husband was trying to be helpful and met me at the grocery store to load my purchase in the car. After doing this he put the cart in the rack and we left. When we got home I started looking for my well organized and jam packed coupon folder. It was a lovely green organizer that contained my favorite coupons. He left it in the cart and it is gone forever. Honestly I acted a little childish about this, needless to say he was very sorry and looked a little nervous as he explained what happened. I have since gotten a new bright pink organizer and realize I shouldn't have let it out of my sight. Neurotic or a great home manager??

This week has been one where the wife's work at home overwhelmed the working from home job. I would have it no other way because I do the first because I love my husband, son, and family so much that they come before everything. I work from home for my job because I love these special people and nothing will ever come before them again. Now if I can get that coupon organizer's demise out of my mind I will get on with my life.......

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wow....I'm still me huh??? !!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. We are so blessed in this country to have the chance to do anything we dream. It has been a long battle and opinon has swung both directions, but a woman can now be anything she wants!
If she chooses to be a doctor, chef, corporate executive or lawyer she has a busy and exciting life. On the flip side if she chooses to stay home, raise her children, manage her home and her life it is just as exciting and busy. It is okay to choose either direction and enjoy them completely! I have done both and can say they are equally rewarding and challenging.

After your children are grown and that "empty nest nasty stuff" hits, you look around and say...what now??? Although I was in the workplace when my son left for college the change was overwhelming. I began to look at my life in a much different way. What do I want now? Where am I going? Does this job really make me happy? I knew I would leave my stressful job and do something I loved. Life is just too short not to step out and see if your dreams are going to be a reality.

Now, I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. When I was 20 I had the crazy idea to open a craft store and let people put their crafted items there for resale. I took 15% of the cost and managed the store. It was going strong and we had to move out of town for my husbands job and I closed the store. Years later while living in Colorado I found a large craft mall and stood in the middle of it and laughed. Timing is everything! Always made me feel good to know I should trust my gut and step out and just do it.

Took me a while but I have realized that I'm still that 20 yr old girl with dreams of bigger and better days. We all need to remember that sesons occur for a reason, they prepare for the next harvest. So I think it's time to get my plow out and kick up some dirt!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What is chili?

What defines the dish called chili? Does it always have to have one common ingredient to all chili's? Being from Texas I see a big steaming bowl of dark red chili topped with cheese and onions. I see cornbread sitting beside it or saltine crackers nearby. Next to it is a huge glass of ice tea with lemon in a wide mouth quart jar. My senses are excited by the strong smell of the spices and the sweet smell of the tomatoes.

I have learned to not be so critical of other's chili fantasies. Some people feel the need to add various beans to the rich, deep pot of chili. This does add to the quanity you have to feed a crowd and adds great fiber content to your diet. I may loose my Authentic Texan status but I have been known to add beans to my chili and it Chili Beans. I am learning to adapt to changes slowly but chili is my sacred dish!

There are those who are very misguided and actually use chicken in their chili. Chicken is not meant for chili...period. I love those of you who do this but please I can't in good faith be a part of you calling that chili! Now I've had great soup in the Midwest with chicken, chili spices, and great veggies in it that could be called...Chicken Enchilada soup or Mexican Chicken Stew. And if anyone needs to borrow my hot peppers to give it some kick I would be glad to help!!!

Being born in Texas it was a food shock to me to move to other areas of our country. In Colorado I learned all about Hatch Chili peppers. I am a huge fan of these peppers now. I have some roasted and in my freezer for Green Chili Stew. In Missouri I discovered true Italian food on the famous Hill in St.Louis, the wonderful Nicoletti's Pasta con Broccoli, and the irreplaceable Provel cheese and Zia'a Sweet Italian Dressing...Only made in St.Louis. In Nebraska the fresh corn in late summer is so sweet and juicy it runs down your chin when you take a bite. Have to buy it straight from the farmer to get it the freshest. So regardless of where you land in life..there is always good food and memories to make.