Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcoming December with Decorations, Eggnog Spice Bread and Three-Bean and Beef Chili

It's been a freezing cold weekend with fresh snow both Saturday and Sunday, and this morning it's only 6 degrees out!  With the cold weather outside, Sunday was the perfect day to put up our decorations for Christmas and make everything inside cozy and warm and beautiful.  Our house smells like cinnamon and sugar cookies.

For breakfast that morning we had some leftover Eggnog Spice Bread, which I adapted from my pumpkin bread recipe.  The bread was soft and moist and full of eggnog flavor, which I just love, and I liked the addition of the golden raisins and toasted pecans for a little texture.  The glaze I made to drizzle over the bread ended up being pretty sticky, since I made it with eggnog instead of milk, so if you want a glaze that's less sticky and sets up more then just use milk.  It tasted so yummy, though.  The bread was delicious with warm lemon curd.

After putting up the tree and the decorations, we did the grocery shopping for the week, then made a pot of Three-Bean Beef Chili to simmer away for dinner while we put together a gingerbread train kit - yes, the gingerbread kits may be intended for kids, but I love them, too! :)  And a few pieces of cookies and cream bark fit nicely in the little train caboose.

My family made a lot of chili when I was growing up, and we always called it 3-alarm chili or 5-alarm chili, depending on how spicy it was.  I used to dump so much Tabasco sauce on my chili that I couldn't even taste it.  I rarely use Tabasco, or any hot sauce, on my food anymore - I'd rather taste the food itself with all the flavor developed through cooking than just hot sauce.

And after a hot bowl of chili, there's nothing better to cool your mouth down than some cold, creamy eggnog...

Three-Bean and Beef Chili
printable recipe
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 ear of corn, husked
  • 2 pounds ground beef (97% lean)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (seeds optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can peeled, crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 15-ounce cans low-sodium beans, undrained (I used pinto, chili and black beans)
Turn the broiler in the oven to low.  Place the corn and poblano pepper on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until the skin of the pepper is blistered, about 20 minutes.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Slice the corn off the cob.  Peel the skin off the pepper then dice the pepper (seeds optional).

In a large stock pot, combine the ground beef, onion and jalapeno.  Add the salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the beef is browned and crumbly.  Spoon out any excess fat and discard.

Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed as it simmers.

Top with grated cheese, diced green onions and sour cream.

Eggnog Spice Bread
printable recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups eggnog
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray 2 standard-sized loaf pans with non-stick baking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggnog, oil, applesauce, both sugars, eggs and vanilla until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, whisking just until combined.  Stir in the raisins and pecans.  (I prefer raisins in baked goods to be soft and plump, not hard and chewy, so I always re-hydrate them first in a small pan of simmering water, drain and cool before adding to the batter.  The raisin water can then be added to recipes in place of tap water for extra flavor.)

Divide the batter between the loaf pans.  Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is nicely browned and cracked.  Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cover bread with a clean kitchen towel and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.  If desired, drizzle the bread with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Yields 2 loaves.