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 »

03 Dec

Sweet Taters

Posted in Makin' Food on 03.12.10 by Octopi

I know. I’ve been MIA.  Guess what ISN’T my day job.  But I digress.  I have had a life-long on/off relationship with sweet potatoes. I love them now, I hated them growing up, and they’re the only thing I ate when I was a baby.

Really, my Mom felt guilty going to the grocery store and lugging a big case of baby food to the register: ALL sweet potatoes. The cashiers would think she was a bit crazy, but really it was her baby daughter who was crazy… for sweet potatoes and maybe in other ways, but those are stories for other days. I probably didn’t eat them growing up was because I ate 100 times my weight in them when I was a baby – give a girl a break!

I finally rediscovered them in college and haven’t forsaken them since. They’re tasty as oven baked chips and a tasty topping on homemade pizza. With the holidays upon us, it seemed appropriate to send a shout out to this pretty pomme de terre with the following recipe from Real Simple magazine.  A great winter recipe for this root veggie.

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Parmesan


  • 3 tbl olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3-4 potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup pecans (chopped or halves)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (we didn’t have on hand when we whipped this up but I’d add it next time)


Makin it Happen

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • (Olive) oil up a casserole dish (3 quart baking dish)
  • Mix sweet potatoes, cheese, 2 tbl of oil, salt and pepper.
  • Put in baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 45-50 minutes
  • In separate bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar, thyme, cayenne, remaining tbl of olive oil, and salt and pepper
  • Remove foil, sprinkle pecan mix over sweet potatoes, and bake UNcovered for 10-12 minutes (to toast pecans)

Eat up. Tasty goodness!

Nutritional content 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: , , , ,