recipes

{To Eat} Chipotle Pimento Cheese

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I moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania over eight years ago. It was a pretty big adjustment moving to a new area, and one with a very different culture. While some things took a long time to get used to, one thing I embraced right off the bat was the food. Durham has such a wide variety of food, and tons of vegetarian options (which makes me very happy), and one of the dishes they love here in Durham is pimento cheese. I thought this was a Southern thing, but my sister-in-law, who is from Louisiana, claims that it’s a North Carolina thing. Regardless of its origins, this spreadable appetizer is almost addictive. I’ve had it out a plenty of restaurants around Durham, but it’s so super easy to make at home, and it’s a guaranteed hit! Swapping out pimentos (red peppers) for chipotles in adobo sauce is my take on this NC favorite.

Chipotle Pimento Cheese

1 10oz block cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T chipotle in adobo (or 2 chipotles, diced with about 1 tsp adobo)

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Grate cheddar cheese and place in medium-sized bowl. Add in sour cream, mayonnaise, and chipotle. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix ingredients.

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If you’re able, refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Serve with sliced and toasted baguette, crackers, celery, and/or tortilla chips.

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Bonus tip: If you really want to Southern-it-up, stir some of this into grits. Soooo delicious!

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{To Eat} Chipotle Quinoa Chili with Garlic Cheddar Corn Muffins

I wrote last week about trying to eat healthier this year, and I wanted to share one of our favorite winter recipes. This is a vegetarian chili, but I promise you won’t miss the meat at all. In fact, it is the meal Corey requests most often, more than any recipe with meat. I made this in my brand new dutch oven (that I loooooooove), but you could very easily throw all these ingredients in the crockpot with nearly the same results. The thing I love most about this recipe is that nearly all the the cooking time is unattended, meaning I can throw everything together, then spend my time on other things!

I used quinoa in this recipe because it’s a grain that’s relatively high in protein and essential amino acids, making the chili more filling than if it was all vegetables. It also adds a meat-like texture, which I think makes the chili even more satisfying to meat-eaters. If you haven’t cooked with quinoa before, it looks a lot like rice or couscous, and can be found in the grocery store in with the other grains.

Ok, let’s get down to business!

The ingredients
For the chili
1 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 bell peppers, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T chili powder
1 T cumin
freshly ground black pepper
4 chipotle peppers, diced
2 T water
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans beans (I used 1 can black beans and 1 can Great Northern beans)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water

For the cornbread
1 box cornbread mix (I used Jiffy)
1/2 cup cheese
1 t  or 1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen or canned corn

Start by chopping up your peppers, onion and garlic. I diced my vegetables very very small, I wanted them to cook down and add some flavor, but not much texture.

In the pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add your onion and peppers. Cook for 8-9 minutes, allowing them to get soft and just a tiny bit brown, then add the minced garlic.

When you can smell the garlic, add your spices all at the same time–chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

You want to heat these up and allow them to “bloom.” Stir the mixture around until the spices soak up all the liquid in the pan. If the mixture starts to look thick and dry, deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons water. Stir in the diced chipotle peppers and cook for about 2 minutes. This will allow all the flavors to come together and develop.

Next add the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir to bring mixture together. Add the quinoa and the water and stir again. Put the lid on the pan, and bring the chili to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the the heat down to low and continue to cook for 2.5-3 hours.

The finished product! This is a thick, rich, hearty chili. The quinoa gives it an almost meaty look and texture.

Now on to the cornbread! I know Jiffy cornbread mix is probably not the healthiest, but it is Corey’s absolute favorite. You could easily make cornbread from scratch or use a healthier box mix. Make the cornbread according to the package directions, stirring in the cheese, garlic, and corn to incorporate well. Grease 8 muffin cups and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake according to package directions, until edges are light brown.

All together now….

The ingredients
For the chili
1 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 bell peppers, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T chili powder
1 T cumin
freshly ground black pepper
4 chipotle peppers, diced
2 T water
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 can black beans and 1 can Great Northern beans)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water

For the cornbread
1 box cornbread mix (I used Jiffy)
1/2 cup cheese
1 t  or 1 clove minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen or canned corn

The directions
To make the chili
1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat
2. Add onion and peppers and cook until soft and very slightly brown
3. Add minced garlic stir and cook 2-3 minutes
4. Add spices and cook until hey are fragrant and have absorbed the liquid in the pot.
5. Deglaze pot with 2 T water if needed
6. Add chipotle peppers, stir and cook about 2 minutes
7. Add chicken broth, tomatoes and beans, stir
8. Add quinoa and water, bring chili to a simmer over medium heat
9. Once mixture is simmering, reduce heat to low and cook for 2.5-3 hours.

To make corn muffins
1. Mix cornbread according to package directions
2. Add cheese, garlic, and corn and mix just until incorporated
3. Grease 8 muffin cups, and fill 2/3 full with cornbread batter.
4. Bake according to package directions.

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