I tell you what, being finished with marathon training has really freed up my weekends! I finally had the chance to visit Katie at the fire station. I've been a few times before, but since she works an hour away it's much more of an ordeal than just swinging by for lunch. This was the first time I'd meet her new crew, so I wanted to win them over with some treats.
To the cupboard I went! I found a brownie mix, but only had one egg. I had lots of peanut butter, but no chocolate. Then I found some graham crackers. After a quick Google search, I came up with this amazingly simple and delicious recipe: Toffee Graham Cracker Bars. I didn't have enough pecans, but hazelnuts made a tasty substitute.
- Lay graham crackers in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with foil.
- Bring the butter and sugar to a boil, then stir in the nuts and vanilla.
- Pour mixture over the grahams and spread evenly. (Move quickly, it gets sticky as it starts to cool.)
- Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. The original recipe says to remove from pan immediately, but I thought it made more sense to let it cool in the pan until the carmel solidified a bit (about 10 minutes.)
The butter and sugar soaked into the grahams, making them crispy, crumbly, and oh-so-yummy. Oh yeah, they were for the firefighters, but I had to taste-test them first! I knew they'd be a big hit.
So I was able to make a killer dessert from what I had in the cupboards, but what about dinner?
I started by pulling out the veggies that needed to be used up. Slim Pickings: (most of) an onion, 1/2 container of mushrooms, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, and some poblanos and tomatoes from the garden.
Then I dug through the pantry and the freezer and came up with: MorningStar Farms 'crumbles', pinto beans, and corn.
I can totally make chili out of this! Do I have everything I need to flavor it...? Yup!: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, beer, and tomato sauce.
And I even had the perfect thing to serve it over: spaghetti squash.
Since the squash takes 45 minutes, I got started on that first. Lucky for me it came with instructions!
However, those first 4 words are very deceiving. Cutting that sucker in half was a feat! I bet many a fingertip have been lost in the name of squash-halving. However, after a long battle, I came out unscathed.
While that baked away, I had plenty of time to work on the chili. I started by dicing the onion, peppers, and mushrooms and sauteing them in 2 Tbs canola oil over medium heat until soft.
I deglazed the pan with 1/4 c beer (you could use water or stock) and then added 3 diced tomatoes.
After letting the tomatoes break down for a couple of minutes, I added the rest of the ingredients: 6 oz (1/2 package) 'crumbles', 1 can pinto beans (drained & rinsed), 1/2 c frozen corn kernels, 2 c tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder (I would have used more, but the poblanos made the chili quite spicy!)
I turned it to low, stirred in 1/2 c water, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I pulled the squash from the oven and let it cool.
And then I scraped it with a fork to release the "noodles". Love it!
The first time I tried spaghetti squash, I was afraid that it would be mushy. But it's really not! The strands are quite firm and keep their shape. Kate even referred to them as 'al dente', which I think is a fair assessment.
I put 1/4 of the squash into a bowl. Ready to be topped with chili (and a dollop of sour cream!)
It was quite good - and Katie liked it, too! I have to say I'm pretty proud of my scavenging abilities!