Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Slow-cooker Chili

Well hello to all you beautiful people ;) 
It is yet time again for another recipe! I was thinking - oh what am I saying - DREAMING of some good Chili, since I posted about it about erm, a week or so ago, so now it is time for the BEST Chili (obviously - and don't try to fight it - don't mess with "zee Germans" hehe).

So let's do this: 

You will need:
  • 2 lbs ground beef(Grass fed if possible, because it tastes so much better)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 big Garlic clove (minced)
  • 2 Bell Peppers (diced) pick your favorite colors:)
  • 4 stems of Celery (diced)
  • 5 carrots (diced)
  • 1 Habanero (diced) (yup autocorrect wants me to change it to "handbarrow" - go home autocorrect - you're drunk!)
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 pair of disposable gloves
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • optional: 1/4 cup of red wine
  • and: a Slow-cooker
Spice-y stuff:
  • 3 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 1/2-1 tsp cumin (to taste)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper (I prefer black pepper)

The Spices
Okay not much to say about the ingredients, other than: gather them and put them all into a bowl (I didn't, for presentation purposes;)), just leave the Garlic and Onions separately, since they need to be browned first.

The picture below shows my beautiful Habanero (a.k.a. Handbarrow). From painful past experiences I have learned (that's a first!) to put on disposable gloves...So, I would recommend the same to you guys (unless you are tougher than me - but this is NOT a challenge ;))

Okay now dice the Habaneros as finely as you can (you don't want to bite on a large piece of Habanero later on. Again - painful!), and put them aside. 

I am aware of the fact that I should have cropped the pic below, but I was really lazy ;) That way you at least get to experience a larger part of my kitchen. I am also very proud of that "action-shot" - you don't know how difficult it is to spray, take a picture at the same time (that is not blurry), and don't over-spray. 

Anyway - I am drifting off here. So, the next step is to (you guessed it) spray a pan with Olive Oil, or even use 1 Tbsp of Olive oil (which I would recommend, I just didn't have any at home).
Turn the stove to a medium high level and add the Onions and Garlic. Many people wait until the pan is hot to add the Onions, but I don't believe in it. The reason for that is that everything happens TOO FAST for me, if I wait until the pan is blazin' hot, and I end up burning my onions all.the.time. So, no - this is not for me, and anybody else that rather likes to relax while cooking.

Once the Onions and Garlic are translucent you can (no, you HAVE TO) add the ground beef. Leave the stove on a medium-high setting and separate the beef / hack the beef a bit with a wooden spoon, so it turns into smaller chunks.
Once you have "hacked the beef" into smaller chunks (sounds violent...), you can add the spice mix and give it a good stir.
You want the ground beef to be somewhat cooked through (can still be pink in some places, but the roasted areas just taste great in my opinion (and no slow cooker can do that). Once the beef is roasted-ish, you can transfer the mix to the slow cooker.

Now is your chance btw: ADD THE WINE! (and drink some to congratulate yourself on your almost-done-Chili)
So now comes the easiest part:
add the veggies
 ...and the tomatoes and beans
then give the Slow cooker a good stir, close the lid, and cook the whole mix on low for 6-8 hours, which leaves you with a lot of time to clean up your mess and binge on Netflix (student talking here, so scratch that whole cleaning stuff - ahem sorry Nico...)
Tadadadaaaaaaa - this is what it looks like after 6-8 hours: Isn't it just gorgeous?

Aaaaand that is it. You can eat this Chili by itself, and feel good about yourself because it is sorta gesund-ish (see how I sneaked that in?), or add some rice or bread, which my husband prefers to do, because heaven forbid I would not provide him with some good carbs ;))

I hope you guys enjoyed it, and will try the recipe. If you don't have a slow-cooker you can also make this recipe in a big pot, but you would have to cook and look after it for at least 4 hours, so the spices can really seep in. But since you have a bottle of wine open anyway, this should not be a problem;). 

Let me know if you have any suggestions on what I should make for my next blog. This is actually quite fun, I have to admit! Now I just hope that filming my German lessons is as much fun (I have it on my phone, but I just can't submit it. I am quite the dork (Trottel - in German, for anybody who wants to know;))

Give me this week to upload it, and I WILL DO IT! 

Thanks for being patient! Love you guys <3

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Käsekuchen aka German Cheesecake

I bet you ALWAYS wanted to know how to make an authentic German Cheesecake (with a Halloween-y twist)? You might be wondering: What is the difference between a German and an American Cheesecake? 

Well, for one, the German recipe is my mom's recipe, and we all know that mom's and grandma's are just the BOMB when it comes to cooking and baking;) Secondly: My Cheesecake recipe is made with Greek Yogurt instead of cream cheese and is WAY less sweet than the American version!
(Short excursion to Christmas 2014, when I brought home some American candy to my family in Germany, and they said they couldn't eat it because it is too sweet - hence most of the German candy or baked stuff is way less sweet than American pastry and candy)

Anyway - here are the ingredients you will need. Since I usually use metrics, I wrote down the measurements in metrics as well as in - well, American measurements (I have honestly no idea what they are called. Whoops - I am playing the German Card on that one ;) )

So here we go:

For the Dough you will need:
  • 300g (2 1/2 cups)  Flour
  • 6g (2 tsp)              Baking Powder
  • 50g (1/4 cup)        Stevia Sugar (I used this brand)
  • 1 pinch                  Salt
  • 1                          Egg
  • 1 tbsp                   Milk (I used 2% Milk)
  • 150g (1.5 sticks)   Margarine
  • 12g (1 tbsp)          Vanilla Sugar (mix together Vanilla Beans and regular                               granulated Sugar)
For the Filling you will need:
  • 2 Packages           Vanilla Pudding Powder (German Brand if possible)
  • 500ml (17 oz)       Milk (I used 2% Milk)
  • 100g (1/2 cup)      Stevia Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp             Lemon Extract
  • 750g (26.5 oz)      Greek Yogurt (I used this brand)
  • 3                          Egg-whites 
  • 1                          Egg-yolk (to brush on cheesecakes later on)
For the Halloween Deco part you will need:
  • 1 package of Dark melting chocolate morsels 
  • An apple (or almonds)
  • Toothpicks
  • A decorating/icing bag / or a Ziploc bag
  • a decorating tip 
  • parchment paper
This may seem a bit overpowering since there is a lot going on in this recipe, but it is well worth it! And once you got a hang of it, you will be able to bake this Cake with your eyes closed (that might be just a liiittle over-exaggerated;)). 
For my mini Cheesecakes I used 2% Fat Milk and Greek Yogurt, but if you want to slim down the recipe some more, you can use the Fat Free version (but I don't think that Fat Free tastes as good, and it usually has a bunch of weird add-on ingredients in there). I also used Margarine, because that is a thing us Europeans do. We use Margarine for everything, because it is supposedly better for you, but there are many opposing viewpoints about this, so I will not get into this now ;).

Okay now I'll take you with me to the step-by-step process (One day I will make a YouTube video, that just seems easier to me).

For the Dough:

First of all: Preheat the oven to 395 Fahrenheit (do you just say "F"? not sure).

I will make it super easy for you: Mix together ALL ingredients. My mom would tell me that I would have to start off with the dry ingredients and then add the liquid ones, but "ain't nobody got time for that" - Sooo I just mixed everything together the way I wanted to (Yup mum, I am a rebel!;)) - and it turned out just fine!

Knead the Ingredients together with your hands - this is usually the easiest way, and add as much Milk as needed, to get a firm, non-sticky dough (consistency of sugar cookie dough - which it pretty much is). You may have noticed that in the first picture I divided the egg-white and egg-yolk, and I have truly no idea why I did that - practice? Looks? Don't ask me. It seems like I am getting old ;).

This is what the dough should look like once it is done! If you used melted butter or warm butter, you need to put the dough in the refrigerator for about half an hour to be able to work with it later. 

Now it is time to pre-make and bake the dough, so it can get nice and crispy and the liquid cheesecake filling won't run through it later. Line your Cupcake tin (did I mention you DO need a cupcake tin? Nah, right? Can I blame that on my age again?..) with cupcake liners (duh), roll the dough into little balls (about 1inch diameter), and press it down on the bottom of each liner.
Done? Great! Now - for the lack of a better word: "Fork" the bottoms (this truly does not sound good - let me explain it). Use a Fork to punch some holes into the flat dough, so it does not rise and no bubbles are forming.
Once you are done with the "Forking" (that word really grows on me;))- bake the Dough for 6-7 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down a little bit. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.


Now it's time to tackle the filling part (This requires either help or multitasking abilities)- My great friend Darja helped me out - she is also the hand-model in a few of the following pictures (hah! I told you I would post it ;)). 

Also: Decrease the oven heat to 305 F (I will just do it like that from now on - you know what I mean)

First of all you want to grab a clean bowl, and pour the content of the 2 Vanilla Pudding Powder Packages into it, as well as the sugar. Add some of the milk, and whisk it so it turns into a liquid (it should not be firm or creamy, otherwise you will not be able to pour it into the rest of the milk later). 

Grab a sauce pan, add the rest of the milk and let it come to a boil. Once it boils, add the Vanilla/Sugar/Milk mixture to it and STIR! Turn the stove to a medium setting and continue stirring with a whisk, until there are no lumps left anymore and the pudding mix has turned into actual pudding (creamy, not liquid anymore).

Turn off the stove and remove the sauce pan from the stove. Add the Greek Yogurt and the Lemon Extract and stir until it's well combined. At this point you can decide yourself if you want it to taste more Lemon-y (There is no raw egg involved yet, and I am super weird about raw eggs). 

Now get another bowl, add the egg-whites and beat them until they are stiff (this sounds so violent:P). Fold the stiff egg-whites into the Pudding mixture. 

Filling: check

Now that your Filling is done, add it to your cupcake tins (I filled them up almost completely)
 Bake the mini cheesecakes for 20-25 minutes. Since a toothpick test does not really work for this kind of cake, you will have to wait until the filling is rising. This means that the egg-white is expanding, which means it is cooked through (If you ask me why, I will give you my dad's favorite answer: Physics! (although in this case it might actually be chemistry, but what do I know - clueless Marketing major)).
Once the mini cheesecakes are baked, take them out of the tin and let them cool down completely. While they are cooling down, you can prepare your deco-station. 
Roll out some parchment paper, melt the dark chocolate (in the water bath if you are fancy and have the time, in the microwave if you are lazy like me), and fill up the Icing bags. I used dark chocolate because I LOVE dark chocolate, and because it is gesund-ish ;). Aren't you supposed to eat x amount of dark chocolate every day?! (And x amount of wine, etc.)
Be creative! We (Darja and me - thanks again dear! :*) made spider legs, and spider webs.
We also used an apple and cut out round pieces, dunked it in chocolate, and used it as the spider's body.
Once the cheesecakes are cooled down, place the decorations onto the cheesecakes ("glue" the legs to the spider body with chocolate), and DONE :)