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.

 

 

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

Garlic Balsamic Crusted Pork Tenderloin

As summer officially winds down to a close, I’m trying to get as much time in on the grill as we can. Not that you can’t find me outside grilling in the middle of a hurricane, or a snowstorm (especially now that I have an awesome covered back deck!) – but there’s just something about the smell of the grill with a cocktail in hand on a summer evening.

I know you guys have got to be tired of seeing pork tenderloin recipes here, but I just can’t get enough of them. They’re a wonderful canvas to add all kinds of different flavors to, they’re healthy, and they cook relatively quickly – all strong points when it comes to our summertime menu.

This one incorporates the sweet, rich flavor of balsamic vinegar and plenty of pungent garlic. Using a good balsamic is key – you want one that is slightly thicker and has some body (I really like Il Villaggio’s brand for the price – you can find it online here, but I usually pick it up when I visit a higher-end grocery store). The pork is marinaded for an hour or so, or more if you have time – then thrown on the grill to cook and soak up even more delicious flavor.

I served with a side of our favorite garlic rice pilaf and steamed broccoli for a dinner that everyone in the family enjoyed. Also, leftovers were absolutely delicious when sliced thin and put on a sandwich the next day. Perfect summertime eating!

Source: adapted from Kitchen Confidante

Caribbean Pork Tenderloin

I’m always looking for new ideas for pork tenderloins. They are quick and easy to cook, lean, and adapt very well to any flavor profiles you throw at them. I thought this fun twist using flavors inspired by the Caribbean Islands would be perfect for the summertime, and I was right!

A few months ago, during my last “stock-up” trip to Trader Joe’s, I picked up a couple of jars of their Mango-Ginger Chutney to keep in the pantry. I used a jar or that as a base for my glaze – then added fresh lime juice and zest, brown sugar, and a splash of rum to add some extra flavor and flair.

An extra punch of flavor also comes from the use of Jerk seasoning, which is used to season the pork before grilling. During the last few minutes on the grill, the tenderloins are brushed with the glaze then sliced and served with some alongside as well.

The flavors are fresh and wonderful, yet super simple and perfect for a weeknight meal. Another one for the recipe box, for sure!

Source: adapted from Grill Grrrl