Archive for the ‘dinner’ Category

I have four or five different chili recipes I routinely use.  Like the perfect pair of shoes, each recipe has just the right “chili attributes” for different occasions.  A reliable weeknight chili recipe that takes less than thirty minutes to prepare reminds me of my beloved J Crew flip-flops, always conveniently located and ready to slip on.  My cute collegiate loafers remind me of the five-way Cincinnati chili-mac recipe I use for tailgating at football games.  I have a rather sophisticated chili recipe made with braised prime rib and exotic spices which reminds me of my sleek kitten heel pumps.

Today’s chili reminds me of my broken in, all scuffed up, wear all day leather riding boots.  My boots make me feel all snugly and warm and are so comfortable I forget I have them on.  Like being home.  This chili is for crisp, fall harvest Saturdays.  The kind of day where you don’t mind investing a few extra minutes cooking, knowing the reward will be a dish with a nuanced and layered depth of flavor.

Once assembled, put the pot of chili on the back burner and let it gently bubble away while you are out at the kid’s football games, hiking in the woods or grabbing a pumpkin at the farmer’s market.  It will fill the house with the most enticing aromas while you are away.  It makes enough for a big crowd and tastes great served with a dollop of sour cream and crispy tortilla chips.

Big Bold Chili

(serves 8-10 but, may be chilled and reheated)

inspired from Sarah Leah Chase’s Cold Weather Cooking


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 can white navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 pound bacon, diced

3 medium white onions, diced

4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

3 TBSP ground cumin

3 TBSP paprika

3 TBSP really good chili powder

1/2 to 1 tsp red cayenne pepper (more cayenne = hotter spicy heat)

1 (or more) tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes (optional to increase the spicy heat factor)

3 TBSP dried oregano

2 28 oz cans tomato purée

2-3 cups beef broth

1 pound ground beef

1 pound hot Italian sausage

1 bottle dark, yeasty beer

salt to taste

Serving condiments such as shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, diced onion, fresh cilantro and warm tortilla chips.


Drain and rinse the cans of red kidney, black, white navy and garbanzo beans

Fry the diced bacon until crisp in a large dutch oven.  Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, set aside. (Save the bacon fat)

Add the diced onion, jalapeno and garlic to the bacon fat.  Saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent, about ten minutes.  Drain off the remaining bacon fat.

Toasting the dried spices helps unleash their maximum depth of flavor.  Place the cumin, paprika, chili powder and cayenne  in a dry skillet and toast over medium low heat for two minutes.  Be sure to swirl the pan continuously so the spices do not burn.  Add the fragrant toasted spices to the vegetable mixture.  Add the cans tomato purée, oregano and beef broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a separate pan sauté the beef and hot Italian sausage together, breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook until crumbly and brown.  Drain off excess fat.  Pour the dark beer into the meat to de-glaze.  Add the meat mixture, rinsed beans and cooked bacon to the chili.  Simmer on extremely low heat for an hour or two.  If the mixture gets too thick, thin it by adding extra beer, beef stock or water.  Adjusted any seasoning to taste.  Spoon into crocks and serve piping hot with the condiments.  Enjoy!


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I’m sure you’ve played the game before …..if stranded on a desert island where you could only bring three foods with you…what would they be?  Hands down for me it would be a great aged cheddar cheese, warm, crusty french bread, crisp granny smith apples, lots of chocolate and of course a perfectly paired wine.  What?  A couple too many foods you say?  Come on now, you didn’t really expect me to stop at three, did you?

So let’s talk about this decadent macaroni and cheese.  Today’s recipe has three ingredients and this time I really mean just three.  A chuck of great aged cheddar, whipping cream and your pasta of choice.  Reminiscent of the rich mac-n-cheese served as a side dish at high end steak houses, this is the real deal.  I don’t eat carbs often so when I do, it better be worth it.  This is worth it.

The cheese sauce whips up while the pasta cooks and this dish is on the table in 10-15 minutes.  Can’t beat that.

I spent all last week gallivanting around Catalonia and the Costa Brava region in Spain on my bike with a great group of friends.  Do I eat so I can ride or ride so I can eat….that is the question.  Neither is the answer.  I love them both!  I am a bit snowed under though and trying to catch up, so my post today will be as simple as this recipe.  Enjoy!!

Absolutely Decadent Macaroni and Cheese


2 cups whipping cream

7 oz aged sharp cheddar cheese, hand grated

1 pound short pasta (macaroni or fusilli corkscrews work great).  Cook al dente, according to package directions.  Drain the pasta but do not rinse.


While the pasta is cooking pour the whipping cream into a large saute pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for three minutes stirring occasionally , allowing the cream to reduce.

Add the grated cheddar cheese.  Pick a really good chunk of cheddar.  Hand grate the cheese.  Do not choose a package of pre-shredded cheese.  Besides tasting inferior, the pre-shredded cheese contains stabilizers that don’t work well with this technique.

Stir well over medium heat until the cheese melts into the cream and the sauce thickens, about another 1-2 more minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked pasta.  I drain but never rinse my pasta after it cooks.  The starch left on the pasta from the cooking water helps thicken the sauce, if you rinse the pasta you lose this.

Stir over medium heat until combined, about another minute.

Serve immediately and Enjoy!

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Hear that collective sigh of relief whispering through the ranks?  Yes, the kids are back in school.  It’s great to get back into a routine, but the routine brings the weeknight family dinner dilemma.  Are you a little challenged trying to make the family a warm, homemade meal while juggling kid’s schedules, the logistics of which could challenge General MacArthur?  Have you stood in the grocery store clutching a rotisserie chicken to your chest while the countdown to dinner looms but recipe inspiration wains?  If so, this is a great recipe for you.  Quick, easy and absolutely delicious.  Notwithstanding the benefit of that warm, wonderful feeling as you nestle into bed tonight….”The kids got their vegetable servings in today….the kids got their vegetable servings in today.”

Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas


2 Tbsp Olive OIl

1 Tbsp butter

1 8 oz package mushrooms

1 6 oz package pre washed baby spinach

2-3 cups cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken

2-3 TBSP cream cheese

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

2-3 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

4 flour tortillas (8 inch)

1 jar green salsa ( I use Rick Bayless’ Tomatill0)

sour cream to garnish


Pop the stems off the mushrooms and slice the caps. (I discard the stems)

pre washed baby spinach

shredded rotisserie chicken

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil.  Add the mushrooms and saute until golden.  Salt and pepper to taste.

The mushrooms will look like this when ready.

Add the baby spinach right on top of the mushrooms.

The baby spinach only takes a minute or two to cook down.

Take the cooked mushrooms and spinach off the heat and add garlic, cumin, shredded chicken and cream cheese.

Place 1/4 of chicken mixture in a tortilla.  Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.  (Reserve 1 cup of shredded cheese)

Pour 1/2 jar of green salsa in bottom of 8X8 casserole dish

Roll up the chicken filled tortilla and place seam side down on top of green salsa.  Repeat with remaining 3 tortillas.

Pour the other 1/2 of green salsa on top.  Sprinkle with the reserved cup of cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let casserole sit for five minutes before serving.

Ooooh those looks so yummy!

Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream!

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A little pat of garlic chive herb butter on top of grilled steak, chicken or fish adds a big burst of flavor.

First, cook the steak on the grill until it is done.  Take the steak off the grill and put a pat of herb butter on top of the steak.  While the hot steak rests off the grill, the herb butter melts into the meat and blends in with the natural meat juices creating something absolutely wonderful.  It’s an easy little trick that doesn’t take long but makes you look like a pro.  The specks of green chives and herbs in the butter look so fresh on the steak too.

                            Take a stick of butter and let it come to room temperature.  Add…..really any flavors you want.  Today I put in three cloves crushed garlic, 1 tsp sea salt, pinch of pepper, about 2-3 TBSP chopped fresh chives, 2 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley and 1 tsp fresh oregano in the butter.  Stir it all together.

Put a piece of saran wrap down on the counter.  Put the butter in the middle of the wrap.  Fold the saran wrap over the butter and use your hands to form the butter back into a butter stick.

Twirl the ends of the saran wrap to seal the butter and stick it in the freezer.  I usually keep a few different sticks of flavored butter in my freezer to have ready for when we grill.  Just take it out of the freezer, cut off as many pats as you need, re-wrap remaining butter stick and put it back in the freezer.  After I cut off the herb butter pats, I try to let the butter warm up a little bit while I cook the meat – that way it melts into the natural juices from the meat quicker.

See how quick and easy that is?  Enjoy!

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