I love making fancy dinners from time to time, and spending more time than I really need to on presentation. But sometimes it's the simple food that's the best. Last Sunday - which is grocery shopping day for the week - we came home with a rotisserie chicken for dinner. I baked a couple of potatoes and heated up some canned baked beans. Our simple supper of roast chicken and baked potatoes with a spoonful of beans on top was just right for a relaxing evening.
It reminded me of dinners as a kid - minus the chicken - as a lot of our meals consisted of affordable food like potatoes, rice and beans. When I think of baked potatoes, I remember a night when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was on TV for the Saturday night movie feature. Since we didn't yet own a VCR, and this was long before there was even a dream of something such as a DVR, my parents pulled the TV into the kitchen and tweaked the antenna to get a signal, so we could watch the movie while we ate our dinner of baked potatoes and green beans. This was a real treat, as TV was rarely allowed during mealtime.
Burgers and fried things are another of those simple foods that are everywhere around us, so they're sort of taken for granted. For me, fries just aren't fries without a healthy dollop of ketchup. I have a fondness for ketchup - that Jamie finds kind of odd - and I'll put ketchup on just about any form of potato. I love it on hot dogs, even though mustard should be sufficient. But I like the combination of the ketchup and mustard, with lots of onions and relish. I'll even put it on eggs, if it's a boring scrambled egg at a greasy diner. Sub-par steak or pot roast... yep, you guessed it. Better with ketchup. (Although, I will say, Jamie has never made steak that needed ketchup!) Once when I was a kid, my brother and sister were teasing me about how I liked to put ketchup on everything, so my brother squirted some into my glass of water and dared me to drink it. I won't say I enjoyed it, because I do draw the line at some point, but not being able to pass up a dare, I drank it and pretended it was the best thing ever.
Jamie's been saying for a while I should make my own ketchup. But I decided not to make the classic version that's sort of bland and overly sweet. Instead, I made a spicy chipotle ketchup that's smoky and intense, but not too sweet, with onion, garlic, chipotle peppers, red bell pepper, apple cider vinegar, molasses and brown sugar. A few sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves. And tomatoes, of course, the key ingredient. I used canned diced tomatoes because it was cheap and convenient, but by all means use fresh ones if you prefer. You could even roast the tomatoes first to deepen the flavor even more.
Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us, and although I could care less about watching football, I have a boyfriend and friends who do like it. Plus, it's an excuse to get together with friends, eat some great food and just hang out and relax.
The guys are having a chili cook-off (and I have been instructed not to help Jamie with his, because they didn't want him to have an unfair advantage). Although he's not going to make chili, and has something else up his sleeve, for some reason he didn't agree that I would make a better pot of chili than he would. :)
For dinner last Friday night, I made Black Bean Turkey Burgers - the suggestion of which made Jamie grimace - but he ended up really liking them. I seasoned them up with garlic, Italian seasoning and a little mozzarella to give them lots of flavor, and we topped our guilt-free burgers with some smashed avocado and a spoonful of the homemade spicy chipotle ketchup.
Our side dish was not so guilt free - lots of beer-battered fried things - but I wanted to do a trial run of these since I'm planning to make them for the super bowl party. I kept the beer batter pretty simple - since the chipotle ketchup packs quite a punch - but if serving with a milder ketchup or sauce, then definitely zing up the batter with a little hot sauce to give it some kick.
The onion rings fried up perfectly golden and crisp, with really little oil retention since the oil was almost up to 400 degrees at times (it's hard to regulate on our electric stove). The sliced jalapenos were spicy and yummy with their beer batter coating. I tried a few mozzarella sticks, too, but those just exploded in the oil and the cheese escaped from the batter, so I may have to work on my technique some more for those. The onion rings, jalapenos and chipotle ketchup made the perfect little marriage of flavors.
We now have a huge batch of chipotle ketchup in our fridge, waiting to be served up on Sunday. I'm also going to make football brownies - very simply just brownies baked and cooled, cut with a football-shaped cookie cutter and frosted to look like a football. (Click this link for inspiration.)
Cute, simple and something I think everyone will love! I might even make life easier for myself and make them from a box mix. I know, I know. But sometimes, baking from a box really is okay. Especially when you made beer-battered onion rings and homemade ketchup.
Spicy Chipotle Ketchup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs discarded, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) peeled diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo seasoning (about half a 7 ounce can) (this will be pretty spicy - use just 2 peppers for a more mild flavor and level of spiciness)
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses and lemon juice. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth (or puree in batches in a blender or food processor).
Add the ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, ground cloves, whole cloves, celery salt and kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for an hour and a half, until thickened and the flavors have developed.
For a "rustic" ketchup, remove the cinnamon sticks and the whole cloves with a slotted spoon and serve the ketchup as is. For a smoother ketchup, pour the mixture through a mesh strainer (or a food mill) into a heat-proof bowl, pushing it through the strainer with a spoon to strain out the pulpy bits of the tomatoes, peppers and onion. Discard the pulp and let the ketchup cool to room temperature (it will thicken a little more as it cools) and serve.
Yields 7 cups.
From Curly Girl Kitchen.
Black Bean Turkey Burgers
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 can low-sodium black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Yields 4 large burgers or 6 medium burgers.
From Curly Girl Kitchen.
Beer-Battered Onion Rings and Jalapenos
- 1 large sweet yellow onion
- 4 jalapenos
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (leave this out if serving with the spicy chipotle ketchup)
- 1 bottle beer
- vegetable oil
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the egg, hot sauce and beer, whisking until a smooth batter forms. The batter should be thick enough to coat the onions and jalapenos, but not too thick.
In a large, flat-bottomed sauce pan, heat the oil over medium, or just over medium heat, until it reaches 370 degrees F. (This will take a while, so you might want to get the oil heating first.)
Working in batches, dip the onion slices in the batter and carefully drop into the oil, about 5 or 6 rings at a time. Cook, turning once, until crisp and golden brown (about 1-2 minutes each side), then set on paper towels to drain. Between batches, make sure the oil returns to 370 if it drops too much while cooking the onions. Finish cooking all of the onion rings. (If you like, you can keep them warm in a 200-degree oven.)
Lastly, drop all the jalapeno slices into the batter and toss to coat. Scoop them out with a mesh strainer and drop into the oil, pushing them around to separate them a little. Cook until crisp and golden brown, then drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately with the spicy chipotle ketchup.
Yields 4 servings.
From Curly Girl Kitchen.