Category Archives: Cooking Gadgets

Mark’s Mother’s Chili


Not your average chili

We love our slow cooker (or crock pot to some of you).

We love our slow cooker so much we would take her out for a nice dinner at Sonsie. Afterward, we would buy tickets for a Duck Tour so she could be exposed to the wild world outside of our pantry. Sure it would look like a scene out of the movie Girl, Interrupted, but it’s a risk we would take to show our gratitude for her hard work. If people can clip their nails on the MBTA Green Line, we can take our slow cooker out for a night on the town.

After all, how many people do you know have the ability to work non-stop for 10 hours without so much as a break just to cook you a nice roast? No one can stay focused on one task longer than our slow cooker. She has chutzpah; her mind set on the final goal of delivering us a meal cooked perfectly and free from salmonella or E-coli.

We love her so much we use her even when we really don’t need to. Like in the case of this chili.

You’ll Need
Vegetable cooking spray
1 pound ground beef (we used angus)
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pepper
7 tablespoons nonfat sour cream
Sliced green onions (optional)
Ditalini pasta

Coat a large saucepan with the cooking spray and set on stovetop over a medium-high heat. Add your onion, meat and garlic and sauté until the meat is cooked. Drain your meat in a sieve and return to the pan.

Beautiful Beans

There is something very pretty about kidney beans, you know? We don’t revere them like we do our slow cooker, but they are pretty to look at when photographed under the right light.

Well, who isn’t?

Dress them up, and take them out!

Anyway, add in your drained beans and the next 8 ingredients (through pepper) in a separate bowl and stir until mixed. Add the mixture to the cooked meat. Cover and reduce the heat and allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. We also got a little greedy and added some cooked bacon to the mixture and this point. It was heavenly.

Ditalini or shrunken ziti?

Meanwhile, cook the ditalini according to the instructions on the box and combine with the mixture in a large serving bowl.  Here is where our love for our slow cooker came in and we added the mixture to the cooker to stew it a little longer. To avoid the chili drying out, we didn’t let it stew very long.

Serve with a dallop of sour cream and a fistful pinch of Mexican shredded cheese. You could also garnish with some chopped scallions if so desired, to add a little heat and some color. Serve with some cornbread on the side and a good seasonal beer.

It is beyond good chili. Don’t picture a chili that is swimming in beans and stew. That is Wendy’s. This is home-cooked. This right here will warm your heart. This is love.

With or without your slow cooker.



Vanilla Bean Ice Cream w/ Mint Chips


Unhealthy in every aspect.

We feel so Amish right now. You can go ahead and rank us right up there with any gay Amish couple because we can churn cream like the best of them.

Well, that is a lie because we had a machine do most of the creaming and mixing for us while we watched and took some photos with our iPhone, so I guess we couldn’t be farther from a same-sex Amish couple.

Do they have same-sex Amish couples? Life without Lady Gaga, Glee and Cuisinart appliances sounds like hell to us, but we’d love to have a gay Amish couple over for dinner to talk about this and learn how it works.  We’ll add that to our “60 Before 60 List”  between learning how to make licorice (#48) and petting a real toucan (#46).

We’d ask about their fantastic hats and the steeds that pull their bedazzled buggy. We could share with them the magic of Home Goods, Sur le Table and Crate and Barrel. They could bring us some butter. They would share their craziest memory from Rumspringa. We would whip out our prom pictures. There would be giggling until 2am.

We’d be best of friends.

We’d make them ice cream for dessert.

You’ll need:
3 cups of heavy cream (half and half would work too)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds of one vanilla bean)
1/4 cup of mint chocolate chips

Or you could just drink it as is

Add all of the above ingredients (minus the chips) into a saucepan and heat lightly until the sugar dissolves. We used a whisk and it worked perfectly. To test, dip a spoon into the mixture and taste. Can you taste any grainy sugar? No? Perf. Transfer your mixture into a bowl and chill.

Oh! We had never seen vanilla bean paste before, so here is what it looks like. Take it from us, it’s a lot easier to use this rather than risk slitting your finger off trying to squeeze beans directly from the vanilla bean pod. Market Basket has it!

Life (and finger) saver!

Meanwhile, in the freezer, you should be freezing the cylinder from inside your ice cream maker. Once the cream mixture is chilled and the cylinder frozen, you are ready to churn some ice cream.

You might need a Lactaid handy

Slowly pour your cream mixture into the ice cream maker and then let it churn for about 20 minutes.

Then, add the mint chocolate chips. Your ice cream maker may grunt and be visibly upset that you added some chunks to her otherwise smooth creation, but she will get over it.

You won't regret it

While it churns, you will notice it bulk up a bit and eventually look like freshly scooped ice cream. After about 30 minutes, transfer to a bowl or plastic container and freeze for a few more hours until firm.

The result is a fancy schmancy batch of homemade ice cream, ready to serve to your favorite Amish gay couple! If only we knew how to get a hold of one…