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):

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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: 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:

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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

Sauteed Kohlrabi and Spinach

This was my first time trying kohlrabi — I ordered some from Imperfect Produce this week just for fun. Turns out my whole family really liked it (even my 5-year-old)! Kohlrabi tastes a lot like broccoli stems, only a little sweeter; in fact, you could easily sub in broccoli stems for this recipe if kohlrabi is not available or not your thing.

Whenever I’m cooking something new, I search for recipes online (usually Pinterest, Epicurious and Food Network) to get a handle on the basics. Here my starting point was Martha Stewart’s Sauteed Kohlrabi with Onions and Cream.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (note: if your kohlrabi has leaves attached, chop those up and add with the spinach)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 5-oz bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt
pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add kohlrabi and onion and saute until onion starts to go translucent and kohlrabi is cooked but still crunchy, about 10 minutes.

Lower to medium heat, add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Stir in spinach one handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and let simmer for a couple minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-10-B Square Skillet; Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl

Thrifted Find: Corning Ware P-201-HG Handles

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Corning Ware detachable handles without much luck, so I was really excited to find these the other day at Hope Thrift. The P-201-HG handles were designed for round P-series and B-series pieces, as I learned from this excellent blog post at Corning Ware 411.

That means it fits my Merry Mushroom B-1-B (another Hope Thrift find) — my favorite piece and the one that got me started on collecting Corning Ware:

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And here’s another example of the handle on a P-710-B skillet (this one is Avocado Green, though you can’t tell from the photo angle):

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These handles are going to make it a lot easier to start cooking with my skillets!