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

threecheesemacaroniandcheese

Is there anything more comforting than a tray of homemade macaroni & cheese? I can’t believe that up to a few years ago, I was still cracking open one of those blue boxes for my mac & cheese fix. But once I learned how easy it was to make at home, I haven’t looked back.

A quick sauce is made up of butter, flour, and milk. Then once it’s thickened, I’ll add close to a metric ton of shredded cheese. I like to shred my own – the stuff that’s pre-shredded from the store has anti-clumping agents, which doesn’t lead to the same melty, gooey consistency that the blocked cheese will give you.

I used yellow sharp cheddar (for a nice bite), Gruyere (for a mellow sweetness), and Parmesan (for a salty kick). They all blend together so beautifully in the sauce to create a symphony of cheesiness. But, feel free to experiment with whatever you like! This sauce is just a blank canvas for whatever cheesy goodness you can dream up. Enjoy!

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Can you guys believe it’s already Memorial Day weekend? I am so thankful that summer is here! We spend a majority of our free time on the boat or at the beach in the summer months – a perk of be being sandwiched between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. We also love to cook and enjoy meals outside when it’s warm, a tradition that the boys have loved. They’re always so excited to hear we’re going to have a “picnic dinner” in the backyard.

One dish that I find myself making again and again over the summer is this classic potato salad. It’s old school, but it’s the perfect balance of textures and flavors. Starchy potatoes, hard boiled egg, celery, and crunchy onions tossed in a dressing made of mayo, Dijon, and celery seed. Then, for my signature twist I like to add a bit of Old Bay on the top. Honestly, that’s actually my mom’s signature twist – this is her potato salad. And, her mom’s potato salad. But, I’ve adopted it as my own. The seafood seasoning mixture kicks plain old paprika to the curb!

Great to enjoy for a cookout, a potluck, a beach lunch, or a random picnic…anywhere, really. I love to enjoy leftovers for lunch as well. Try this one for your Memorial Day get together this year, and you won’t be sorry!

Source: adapted from my mom’s family recipe