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.

 

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you guys know that such a wonderful thing even existed? They do indeed, and they’re as wonderful as you’d imagine. They are pretty much a food group here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it is where I was first introduced to them. After years of enjoying them, I thought it was high time I passed the recipe along to you guys!

It’s your basic biscuit dough with the usual suspects – flour, buttermilk, flour. But then you invite some pureed, roasted sweet potatoes to the party. It adds great flavor and color, and also some additional moisture. Which is always welcome in a biscuit!

They aren’t quite as fluffy as your standard buttermilk biscuit, just because the addition of the sweet potato adds some density too… but, what they lack for in fluffiness they more than make up for in deliciousness.

I like to serve them with a bowl of soup, or just plain with some jam or pumpkin butter. But, our favorite way to enjoy them is sandwiching a few pieces of ham. Very thinly sliced country ham is a treat, but more often than not it’s just plain deli ham. It makes for one delicious and easy meal – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Source: adapted from The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook and Food & Wine, Nov 2013

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Living on this joyous little island on the wonderful Eastern Shore you’re sure to eat your fair share of clam chowder. For me, there’s nothing more fun than strapping on a  pair of old canvas sneakers, finding a muddy sandbar at low tide, and digging your toes around in the mud until you run into you fill up your bucket with fresh quahogs. Or as well call them, “chowders”.

The big guys aren’t good for much besides soups and clam strips. So, I’ll usually make a batch of chowder when we come across some. About 2 dozen will be more than enough to make a large pot of chowder.

There are a couple ways you can go when it comes to clam chowder. The most well-known is your New England variety, which is cream based. That’s the husband’s favorite, and I plan on sharing that recipe with you soon. But today I’m sharing my recipe for Manhattan, which is tomato based, and my personal favorite…

Bacon, potatoes, celery, onions, tomatoes, and clams. Basic, but oh so delicious.  Now, I realize some of you may not be able to come across fresh clams as easily as I am. In that case, a couple cans of clams and a some bottled clam juice works just fine.

But, if you have a great seafood counter or shop in your neighborhood I’d highly encourage you to try to find some fresh. They’re cheap as far as it goes on the seafood spectrum, and the flavor is unparalleled.

A perfect dinner for these chilly fall evenings, that holds onto one last taste of summer. Make sure to make some homemade oyster crackers to go along with it, they’re the perfect topping and only take a few minutes to throw together. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Wild Rice Pilaf

We love rice as a side dish. Whether it be Spanish rice or cilantro-lime rice with our Mexican dishes, or plain white or brown rice with our Chinese dishes and stir-fries, it’s always been a favorite around here. I’d picked up a few bags of wild rice the last time I was at Trader Joe’s a few months ago. I use it all the time in soups, but wanted to try my hand at a homemade wild rice pilaf. For too long I’ve relied on old Uncle Ben when I wanted that as a side dish, and it was high time we remedied that situation.

So, I took the recipe for Garlic Rice Pilaf that we’ve loved so long in our kitchen and modified it a bit. A quick saute of a bit of garlic, onions, carrots, and celery – then the rice is added for a quick toasting before adding chicken stock. Then it’s all poured into a baking dish to finish cooking in the oven. A quick fluffing with fork when it comes out of the oven, and you have a great side dish that goes with just about anything.

On a side note, we’ve pretty much completed the move. We weren’t even without internet for a whole day! I’ve just been lazy about posting. It was Pony Penning, and a bunch of family and old friends were in town – so we’ve just been having fun with them and adjusting to being back on the island. I really love the new house, and had an easier time than I thought I would leaving the old one. Now just to get it on the market and sold! Going to get Andrew registered for 1st grade this week, the excitement just never ends around here. Where is this summer running off to, guys?

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats