Lynda Murray

The Dietitian Magician®

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Beyond Bad Chili

September was a very lucky month for Oscar.  As my faithful readers may recall, Oscar is my garbage disposal.  He was hungry and he got fed…a lot.  You see, I made a batch of chili that was eccentric in taste.  It was foul enough to make Taylor Swift sing about bad chili instead of bad blood.  I managed to add enough cheese to my first bowl to keep the happy cows in California busy for the next year.  My husband took a bite, giving me an odd smile (like a baby passing gas grin).  I lectured him about the high cost of groceries when I caught him trying to feed it to the dogs. Call me Loretta from the comic strip, The Lockhorns, who continually cooks her husband, “death defying meals.” 

Sleuth for Solutions

The sad thing is it took us a few weeks to figure out what had happened. I carefully froze the extras in individual portions and stashed in the freezer for quick, “heat and eat” meals during the week. I moved onto other family meals, forgetting about the half a dozen containers of bad chili in the freezer. 

A few weeks later, I was inventorying spices for a grocery list. Nutmeg. Check.  Cinnamon. Check. Chili Powder. Check. My spices are arranged alphabetically.  Chili powder followed by cinnamon. Nutmeg further down on the shelf and so on.  I gathered up my spices, finding it odd that my alphabetical order was off. One label uses 11 letters to spell out its contents (Chili Powder) and the other eight letters (Cinnamon). I didn’t read too much into it. My spice bottles each stand four inches tall, with pale yellow labels and brown lids.

At lunch I extracted one of the bowls of frozen chili.  It smelled OK as it heated up in the microwave.  I blew on it and took a bite.  UGH! The seasoning combination was so bad it took my breath away.  I swallowed, gasping. I felt as if I was at the finish line of Garret’s path 5k race, but it was the finish of a bite of bad chili. I needed an SOS pad to scrub my tongue.  Ge-ish-guh!  I brainstormed out loud to my husband, analyzing the ingredients that had gone into my batch of chili- “Oddly seasoned canned tomatoes?”  Maybe?  “Ground bison?”  Naw, I had used that dozens of times.  Then the light bulb came on, “You don’t suppose...”    I ran to my spice cupboard, flung open the door and the criminal ingredient was exposed.  There it was, unassuming, standing four inches tall, with a pale yellow label and brown lid, filled with brownish colored contents. Using eight letters to spell out its contents – you guessed it - cinnamon.  It sat there almost smirking at me, sitting right in front of the chili powder. Dog gone it, while they both spill out a brownish colored spice, the end result is dramatically different.

Oscar wins

I thawed out all of my carefully portioned out bowls of chili and revved up Oscar. Lucky for me, Oscar is an appreciative eater. He gnashed his “teeth” in approval of the bad batch of chili. 

Cheers for Cinnamon

I love cinnamon. This spice is right for many dishes, just not chili. Erg!  I’m getting goose bumps from bad chili dreams. Now that it’s officially autumn, the cooler nights make it perfect for lighting the oven to take the chill out of the air.

Here is a delightful dessert to serve when you want to “wow” your crowd. I love it heated up with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, sprinkled with an extra dash of good quality cinnamon on the top.

Apple Lasagna – totally different, totally terrific

Pasta for dessert? You bet! Ricotta and Cheddar cheeses are the perfect complement to sweet, spicy apples. I did this as a recipe demo for the residents & staff of Parkview Care Center in Wayland. They loved it so much, they want to add it to their regular menu.

All you need:

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup light ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 (21 oz) cans apple pie filling

10 lasagna noodles (no boil)

Topping

¼ cup flour

 6 TBSP packed brown sugar

1/4 cup ole fashioned oats

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground nutmeg

3 TBSP butter

Garnish

1 cup vanilla yogurt

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

All you do:

  1. ‍Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all cheeses, egg, white sugar, & almond extract in a med. bowl. Blend well.
  3. Spread one can apple pie filling over the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan.
  4. Layer with half of the noodles, (break to fit) and then the cheese mixture. Repeat.
For Topping:
  1. ‍Combine flour, 6 TBSP brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  2. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over top.
  3. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes.
For Garnish:
  1. ‍Stir yogurt and 1/3 cup brown sugar in small bowl until smooth.

Serve warm apple lasagna with garnish & apples slices if desired. 

Lynda Murray

Lynda is an award winning dietitian and a leading advocate for nutritional health and wellness.

Lynda Murray

Lynda is an award winning dietitian and a leading advocate for nutritional health and wellness.