The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

30 Dec

Crazy Ass Chili

Posted in Garbage Recipes, Makin' Food on 30.12.10 by Octopi

For lack of a better description, this is some Crazy Ass Chili.  It looks complicated but really you just dump all these ingredients into a crock pot and let er go for a good 6 hours on low.  I also like it because, if I make it in the morning, I just dump the last of the coffee in there.  And maybe I take a swig of beer after dumping that in as well.  We made a modified version of this at Snowpants Pub Crawl last year and seemed to be a hit.  Just in time for winter and football/basketball/hockey watching!


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3/4 lb beef sirloin, cubed
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can/bottle dark beer
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2-3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 cup dried black beans



  • 2-3 carrots, chopped (or whatever other veggies you want to throw in there)
  • 1/2 cup barley (we’re trying to use up our vast supply of barley)
  • 1 scary dried hot pepper 
  • The meat is optional as well.  If you put additional beans in it you may want to add more liquids.

 Note: this is an image of the chili AFTER it’s been frozen.  Cuz you can freeze it and pull it out at a later date for lunch or dinner or whatever!!  Try it. It’s fun. 

Makin It Happen

  • If you put meat in there, go ahead and brown the meat in a skillet (with the olive oil).  While you are at it you can cook up the onions along-side.
  • Dump all ingredients in.
  • I kind of set the scary hot pepper on top of everything in the pot for the first hour or two.  Then I took it out because I was afraid of turning a nice pot of chili into a fiery vat of burn-your-face-off.
  • Cook on low for 6 hours (it takes a while, particularly if you’re using dried kidney beans.  They need a lot of time and liquid to rehydrate and cook.)


Nutritional 411 here.

tags: , , ,

No Comments »

07 Sep

Beam Me up Some Biscuits

Posted in Garbage Recipes, Makin' Food, Substitutes on 07.09.10 by Octopi

I found a good blog that tried out Mark Bittman’s recipe for (yogurt or buttermilk) biscuits from his book, How to Cook Everything. This is a recipe using only “Top 25” ingredients!  This is also a Garbage Recipe; meaning, a recipe for which you can easily take a gander around your kitchen and jazz the recipe up with some additional optional ingredients.

“Wait a minute!” you say.  Buttermilk is NOT in the Top 25 Must Haves!!  OK, it’s not.  But ingredients to make buttermilk substitute is, so there!  There are multiple ways to use substitutes for buttermilk, which is summarized well at this site.  Today we’re using Option #1, milk with lemon juice.

Buttermilk Substitute

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Alrighty, armed with a substitute for buttermilk: on to the recipe!!

Yogurt or Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe
From How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman


Base Ingredients (All from the Top 25 Must Haves!)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons cold butter (I used about 2.5)
  • 7/8 cups plain yogurt or buttermilk (buttermilk substitute used here was 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I only used about 7/8 of the combined mixture, as per the recipe)


Garbage Ingredients

  • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons of rosemary 


Making it Happen

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a food processor (if you’ve got one), add dry ingredients and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until butter resembles coarse meal.  I used a hand mixer to mix ‘er up and it was fine.
  • Stir in yogurt or buttermilk (substitute) until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and add cheese, if desired. Dough will be sticky. Knead dough 10 times and shape into a rectangle, 3/4-inch thick.
  • Drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. You could use biscuit cutters, but I personally think they look cool as drop biscuits.  Some things don’t look good homemade.  Like a couch.  Biscuits do, so dare to drop!  Dough should yield about 10 to 14 biscuits.
  • Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown. 



  • Most people eat home-made biscuits as a stand-alone item.  How about using some of the extra biscuits for breakfast in the morning?  Scramble up an egg, heat up a biscuit, and voila: egg biscuit!!  Kudos if you eliminate a Fat Layer by not including cheese on it or cutting down on the amount of cheese you put on it (instead of putting a whole slice of cheese on it, try putting just a bit of shredded cheese on top for flavor).


Nutritional content information is here.

tags: , , ,

No Comments »

12 Aug

Whole Wheat Honey Pancakes

Posted in Garbage Recipes, Makin' Food on 12.08.10 by Octopi

Pancakes...a Garbage Recipe

I love pancakes.  They’re so easy to make and you can make so many different kinds.  We’re big fans of base recipes like this; we call them Garbage Recipes because you can open your fridge or cupboard and just dump random ingredients into the base recipe.  We’ll be presenting more Garbage Recipes down the road. 

First Focus: Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (WWPF) I’ve been experimenting with WWPF lately. It can be kind of a pain in the arse to track down, so if you’re on the health kick like we are, you can do the traditional “substitute half the regular flour with regular whole wheat flour” thing.  The nice thing about the WWPF is that it’s ground finer than regular whole wheat flour so you can pretty much use it as a 100% substitute for regular flour in baking.  Obviously, it tastes like whole wheat flour though.  So if you make cookies with all wheat flour, they’re going to taste a little different.

Second Focus: The Glorious Pancake  Pancakes are great. Make a huge batch on the weekend, split them out into single servings in bags/containers, and grab them as an on-the-go breakfast during the week.  They freeze well too.  I bring them to work and eat them like finger food.  I think they taste good cold, but you may wish to heat ’em up.  To each her own.

The Recipe:

Base Ingredients

1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp Salt 
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 eggs
1 cup Light Vanilla Soy Milk

Garbage Ingredients

1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (opt.)
1/4 cup Ground Walnuts (opt.)

Making it Happen:

  • Mix all ingredients together / Heat non-stick pan to medium high
  • Drop batter into heated pan (batter should spread to about 4 inches in diameter). You shouldn’t need additional oil if it’s a non-stick pan.
  • Cook on one side ’til the top of the pancakes are bubbling and edges are getting firm. Flip. Cook a bit more. Check underside and if it’s brown, then take them off heat.
  • Serve with syrup or just eat ’em barefoot!
  • Tasty Goodness!



  • Right now the recipe is using 2 tbsp of vegetable oil.  I’d like to get it down to one (without having to put additional oil in the pan so the pancakes don’t stick to the pan.  If the next iteration works, I’ll update. If YOU try, let me know the results!
  • I’m trying to cut down on extraneous calories, so no butter for this girl on these. Personally, I don’t think they need it. Or syrup, and I LURV Wisconsin syrup. 


Print Recipes here…

Whole Wheat Honey Pancakes

Whole Wheat Honey Pancakes Index Card

View nutritional content here.

tags: , , , ,