Campfire Chili Cheese Dip

We recently returned from a camping trip in the redwoods, where this dip was a welcome snack the first evening after working hard to set up all our gear. I’ve made it both over the campfire and in the oven at home, and I have to say it tastes better while camping! You can make it in a disposable pie tin or in a cast-iron skillet, but I decided to try it in Corning Ware — more details on that below.

The recipe is not my invention, but I’ve seen it all over the internet so I don’t feel bad duplicating it here.

 

Ingredients

cream cheese (up to one 8-oz block; amount depends on the size of your pan)
1 can chili (any kind)
shredded cheese (any kind; I used Monterey Jack this time)

Spread an even layer of cream cheese on the bottom of the pan. Add the chili, then top with a layer of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and heat over the fire until the chili is bubbling and cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-1-B Casserole

So, can this be cooked over the fire in Corning Ware? Well, I don’t recommend it. First off, the Corning Ware website explicitly says the stovetop product is “not intended for camping, industrial or commercial use.” That refers to modern pyroceram products, not vintage, but still.

On the other hand, if Corning Ware can withstand the stovetop and broiler, and can even go directly from freezer to the flame, why not the campfire? In particular, Corning Ware’s stovetop percolators seem ideal for camp coffee. I don’t see why a casserole dish would have any problem. So, I decided to go for it:

 

I was expecting the dish to get pretty dirty, and it did. After cooking there was a heavy coating of soot all over the bottom and sides. Thankfully, that cleaned up fairly easily with some soap and a scrubby sponge. The before (well, more like mid-cleaning) and after:

 

Unfortunately, while cleaning the bottom I noticed a long scratch that looks like it could be a crack (in the center of the photo):

img_2031

After pondering it for a while, I think the soot may have simply made an existing scratch/crack more visible — so most likely the damage is not from the campfire. Still, I probably would not try this experiment again.

It sure was fun, though!

Thrifted Find: Corning Ware Menuettes

These tiny pans from Corning Ware’s Menuette line are so cute, especially in two of my favorite patterns: Wildflower (on top in the above photo) and Floral Bouquet Third Edition (bottom). I found the P-82-B saucepan at Goodwill and the P-83-B skillet at Savers, and couldn’t pass them up even though I tend to prefer models with detachable handles.

The skillet is just the right size to fry an egg, something I’ve been meaning to try in my Corning Ware. Since cooking with pyroceram is fairly new to me, it’s been really fun to get a feel for it. The egg ended up with nice brown crispy bits on the bottom and a slightly runny yolk, just the way I like it. Using plenty of butter was a good idea.

 

The pans originally came in sets of three with tiny lids, so that gives me a few things to hunt for…. There’s more info about the Menuette line over at the Corning Ware 411 site.

Thrifted Find: Pyrex Divided Dishes

Pyrex divided dishes are especially fun to collect, due to the sheer variety of limited-release patterns out there. My favorite is Dandelion Duet (pictured above), which came out in 1959, advertised for its ability to hold two separate packages of frozen foods in one dish. (The Corning Museum of Glass has a great ad from the era in its library collection here.)

After a flurry of bidding on the Goodwill auction website, I’ve found myself with quite a few dishes (is this what obsession looks like?):

img_1892

Clockwise from top right: Verde, Snowflake (x2), Pink Daisy, Opal,  Royal Wheat, Golden Acorn, Town and Country, Dandelion Duet, Butterfly Gold.

Since shopping Goodwill online is sort of like cheating, I also took a picture of the pieces I actually scored in real-world thrift stores (Savers and Hope Thrift). Finding lids is always a particular treat.

img_1897

So what can divided dishes be used for? Chips and dip, cheese and crackers, soup and salad, chicken and waffles, spicy and mild, two different sides, different flavors of jello, individual pies with one crust … the possibilities are endless. I’ve also heard of people using them as dinner plates.

It’s worth noting that other manufacturers also made divided dishes. I frequently see Glasbake models in thrift stores, and Fire King seems to have some too.

 

Rustic Potato Leek Soup with Sausage and Kale

Sausage, potatoes and greens are a classic soup combo that I have made a bunch of different ways. For the sausage I’ve used linguica, Spanish chorizo, andouille, kielbasa. Potatoes could be white beans, barley, rice, quinoa. In place of kale: spinach, collard greens, broccoli leaves. (On a side note, if you ever have a chance to get some broccoli leaves, do it! We were ordering them in our Imperfect Produce box for a while and braising them like other hearty greens — really yummy. I’ve never seen them in stores.)

For this soup I wanted to use some of the flavors of potato leek soup but make it chunkier and brothier, like a stew. If you’re not a fan of kale, you can sub in spinach — add it after the potatoes are cooked and simmer for a minute or so just to cook it lightly.

Whether you opt for kale or spinach, it’s helpful to use an oversized pot, so that there’s plenty of room to accommodate the greens before they wilt and become more manageable. I used a 6 3/4-quart Le Crueset dutch oven, my go-to pot for making soup and cooking greens.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 lb bulk italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (white and light green portion only)
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs mixed potatoes, partially peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (I used russet and red potatoes)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 bay leaf
10 oz kale (about 2 bunches), stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized crumbles, until it’s browned through. Add onions, leeks and celery and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute more.

Add potatoes, chicken broth, wine, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then stir in kale. Bring to a boil again, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are cooked and the kale is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the cream and heat to warm through, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pictured: Pyrex Butterfly Gold 402 Round Mixing Bowl; Pyrex Spring Blossom 402 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl

Thrifted Find: GE Beehive Mixing Bowl

I have a soft spot for these utilitarian bowls made for vintage stand mixers. Various glass companies produced them for various mixer brands, usually in two-bowl sets. The bowls in the back of the photo were my first purchases when I started looking for vintage kitchenware in thrift stores: Fire King on the left (found the two-bowl set at Hope Thrift, and was bummed to discover today that the smaller bowl was cracked) and Glasbake on the right (found at Goodwill). Both were designed for Sunbeam mixers. The GE beehive bowl in the front of the photo is my most recent find, snagged at Hope Thrift. I’d been eyeing it on the shelf for a few weeks, and finally caved when it was marked 50 percent off.

The large bowls make great salad bowls, and the small ones are handy for storing leftover soup and such in the fridge. Now I’ll be on the hunt for a replacement bowl to complete the Fire King set.

Thrifted Find: Corning Ware Amana Microwave Browning Skillet

I’ve seen this piece sans lid a few times in different thrift stores, but when I found one with a lid at Savers I had to buy it. Corning Ware browning skillets are pretty interesting because they have a special coating that makes the bottom of the pan heat up in the microwave:

img_1818

That means it can sear steak, sizzle burgers, saute onions, fry eggs, make a grilled cheese sandwich and more, all in the microwave!

Essentially you nuke the empty pan in the microwave to heat it up, then add food and nuke some more. The pan has raised “feet” on the corners to keep the hot surface from damaging the floor of the microwave.

I’m looking forward to trying it out. Fried eggs sound like fun, or at the very least it seems like a handy way to heat up chicken nuggets or fish sticks for the kids!

Easy 3-Bean Turkey Chili with Chipotle

Chipotle peppers have been my “secret” ingredient in chili for years — I love the spicy, smoky flavor they bring to the dish. Lately I’ve been using them in their powdered form,  but you can also use the canned version with equal success. Throw in a little of the adobo sauce they come in, too.

My other favorite chili technique is using a variety of beans. Kidney beans for their traditional chili flavor, black beans for contrast and garbanzos for something unexpected. Cannellini beans and navy beans also work well.

The spice level here is mild-to-medium. You can pep it up by using a hot chili powder blend, adding more chipotle powder and/or adding red pepper flakes.

Note: Masa harina is a nixtamalized corn flour used to make corn tortillas, typically found in the Mexican/international aisle of the grocery store. In this recipe I’m using it as a thickening agent, so you can do without just fine, but it also adds a subtle earthy flavor that is delicious! If you don’t have masa in your pantry, I recommend seeking it out — then use it to make your own tortillas. Homemade corn tortillas are really tasty and oh so easy — The Kitchn has a nice tutorial here.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
2 14 1/2-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 15-oz can red kidney beans
1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans
2 tbsp mild chili powder
1 tbsp ground red chipotle
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp masa harina (optional)

Optional toppings:
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped green onion
sour cream

In a large pot (at least 5 quarts) over medium heat, saute onions in the olive oil until they start to go translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 1 minute. Then add the turkey and cook, breaking it up into bite size crumbles, until it’s browned through, about 7 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes (undrained), tomato sauce, beans (drained and rinsed), chili powder, chipotle and oregano, stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the masa and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.

Pictured: Corning Ware Spice O’ Life A-5-B Saucepot; Corning Ware P-150-B Grab-It Bowl; Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl