Chili con Carne

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has their own special recipe for, which they swear by as being the best. Mine is no different! Meaty, spicy, and filling – it’s one of the things my boys most look forward to in the colder months. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove on a lazy football Sunday!

I like to start with a mix of lean ground beef and a roll of hot pork sausage, plenty of beans, chunks of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Then, some beer. It adds so much great flavor to the chili, and I’m always looking for an excuse to cook with the stuff. But, you could certainly use beef broth for your cooking liquid as well.

A couple hours simmering on the stove and you’ve got a delicious and hearty meal that’s always a family favorite. Leftovers are good for days, and great to re-invent into so many applications (Frito pie or chili dogs, anyone?). And, it’s great for a group too. A low maintenance meal for the cook, and guests can have tons of fun topping their bowls of chili with different ingredients – scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheeses, jalapenos, guacamole, tomatoes or pico de gallo, poblano-corn salsa…the possibilities are endless!

Also, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the ingredients in the chili itself. I love to switch it up using a chuck roast instead of the ground beef and sausage. Or, using black and pinto beans in place of the kidneys. It’s so easy to make your own! So, if you’re still looking for that one perfect chili recipe, give this one a try! It’s our favorite, and it might just become yours too.

Chili con Carne

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb bulk roll hot sausage (like Jimmy Deen)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can light kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (your favorite is fine)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until browned well. Remove from pan into a bowl. Drain most of the rendered fat from the pan.

Throw onions into the pan and cook until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and spices, and cook for about 3 minutes – until the tomato paste darkens in color. Add in the beef and sausage, tomatoes, beans, and beer. If it looks like it needs a little more liquid, add a splash of water.

Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours. You could also cook up to this point, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings.

 

 

Goulash

I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that require minimal ingredients. They’re great for those nights on the fly for our family, when what I’ve planned on the menu for that evening hasn’t turned out…for one reason or another. Y’all know what I’m talking about! Dishes like these, where I have all the ingredients I need handy in the pantry, are a lifesaver.

Oddly, I’d never had goulash before. To me, it was very reminiscent of Beefaroni – which reminds me of school lunches and childhood. Ground beef and macaroni are simmered in a rich, lightly spiced tomato sauce until it’s a thick stew. It’s classic lowbrow comfort food, but it’s delicious.

I’d imagine it would be great with all kinds of things thrown in as well… veggies, different proteins, beans, cheese, you name it! Definitely a great base for one of those clean out the fridge nights…

I like the simplicity of the basic version, though. Not to mention that when it’s made with ground sirloin and whole wheat pasta, it’s not terribly bad for you either. Better than the “heart attack in a sack” you might end up with otherwise on those busy nights.

Source: adapted from Feral Kitchen

Jambalaya Pasta

Now that school is back in session, and fall sports and activities are underway, on weeknights it can be hard to find time time to prepare a proper dinner in the kitchen on those evenings when you have a million things going on.

This quick Cajun-inspired pasta dish is just the ticket to get a delicious meal on the table fast, that the whole family will love. Kielbasa is sliced and sauteed with some garlic, onion, and green peppers. Then seasoned with a bit of my homemade Cajun seasoning. A quick pan sauce is made with the addition of tomato sauce and cream, and then it’s all tossed together with cooked pasta to make for one delicious meal. Dinner is done in twenty, you can’t beat it!

I like to serve it with something green on the side to bump up the veggie factor – something like a nice green salad or a side of steamed broccoli are great ideas. Add this to the menu soon for a night when you need something quick, but filling! You won’t be disappointed.

Jambalaya Pasta

12 oz Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb Kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup heavy cream
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
3/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 (15) oz can tomato sauce
kosher salt
black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large pot, boil water for pasta. Salt water. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Add butter to large skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa and cook, stirring occasionally until nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and green pepper to the pan and saute until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chicken broth to skillet, making sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Let liquid reduce by half, about three minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add cream and heat to almost bubbling, then reduce heat to low. Return the kielbasa to the sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta to the pan, as well as the parsley, and freshly grated Parmesan. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Source: adapted from Plain Chicken

Mongolian Beef

Another take-out fake out favorite for you guys today! Mongolian beef is one of my favorite things on a Chinese menu, but I usually don’t order it because the beef is so tough and fatty. By making it at home you can choose the cut of beef that you want, ensuring a lean and tender bite.

In this case I used a sirloin that I cut down into thin strips. A quick stir fry with some garlic, ginger, and a quick sauce made up from things in the pantry. 10 minutes from start to finish! I served on a bed of white rice with some steamed broccoli on the side.

I really don’t think you could order out as quickly as you can have this on the table. And, it’s much better for your family, obviously. We love our fake-out take out nights around here!

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine, March 2010