It’s the first official post of 2015, yet somehow we’re halfway through January already. I’ve yet to ditch a resolution, but maybe that’s because I never made any in the first place. I’ve been thinking about what you said, though (thanks for taking my survey). I feel like I need to take 10,000 steps back before going forward. Remember ninth grade public speaking class (or was it Seinfeld)? They told you to imagine the audience naked before delivering a speech to help ease the nerves. Read more
It’s that time of year when people gather in droves. Sweaters, Bing Crosby, bubbly drinks, and twinkly lights fill center stage. In the background, the haggard hostess dances around the kitchen for hours, prepping a meal for many—the ones she loves most. Near meal time, it’s inevitable. She questions the depth of her love due to the stress, sweat, and need for another shower. Read more
Did you watch the show Dinosaurs back in the day? We did. Every last episode. I watched it again on Netflix just before having Hal. It kept me occupied during my many craft projects for her room. I’m pretty sure she’d recognize the theme song if I played it for her now. In one episode Robbie looks at his dad, Earl Sinclair, and explains he’s a herbivore. Earl was a carnivore. You can imagine how that went over. Earl took Robbie out back to catch dinner. Robbie befriended his “dinner” and made a salad. Read more
Start a freezer bag or container to keep leftover/overripe/extra veggies in your freezer. When the container gets full, fill a soup pot full of water, add the veggies, some fresh herbs and seasoning. Boil for about 1.5 hours, strain and you have homemade vegetable stock. Freeze or use within a week in your favorite soups and winter stews.
After-Thanksgiving-detox, this one’s for you. There’s not a bad thing about this soup. I didn’t even slip in half and half like I usually do. It’s vegan and vegetarian friendly to boot. Besides chopping up some veggies, this soup is simply effortless. Dump the ingredients in a dutch oven and step back. Fit in a quick workout. Pack a lunch for tomorrow. Pluck your eyebrows. Throw in a load of laundry. Or bake healthy chocolate chip cookies. Just let it be. It’s that kind of soup. Read more
Fall has definitely settled in to Chicago. There’s a chill in the air. At least enough of one to make soup. I love soup. Wait, I should take that back. I love hearty chunky soups. Pureed soups are OK. But hearty chunky soups—they make my fall and winter go round.
We have a couple soups up our sleeve, but taco soup is one of our faves. Typically, because we have everything on hand to make it. It’s time you know—I’m not much of a meal planner. A couple posts ago, I told you that I love routine, which I do. But I also love organized spontaneity. Oxymoron, I know. Here’s how it works—I love routine, but I hate meal planning. It’s a little too planned for me. Make sense? I didn’t think so. But somehow it works for us. So, everyday I come home from work to scavenge the fridge and cupboards (such an old school term, but we don’t have a pantry) in hopes that an idea for dinner will pop into my head. Read more
Maybe it’s because of all of the good memories surrounding it. My mom made chili a lot growing up. While she made the chili, I was in charge of adding the egg and milk to the Jiffy Cornbread mix. Without fail, every Halloween we’d have a bowl of it before going trick-or-treating. Those were good times.
When I make chili, it makes home feel a little closer. Two and a half years ago, I married my best friend and moved to Chicago. Here, winter lasts about 5 months out of the year, providing many opportunities to make chili. So, I set out to recreate my mom’s chili. After a couple attempts, “the chili” was concocted. A friend asked me for the recipe last year, only problem being that it was in my head. I guess that’s not the only problem—I rarely use measuring utensils. When I cook, I smell, dump, and taste. Kevin, my husband, alerted me to this the other day. I always open the spice jar and smell it before dumping in the guesstimated amount. I guess I cook with my nose just as much as I do my taste buds. This is no good for sharing recipes.
Today, though, I got out my measuring spoons.
Chili serves 8
1 large sweet onion (make sure it’s sweet!)
4 garlic cloves
6 roma tomatoes
28 oz. crushed tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
1 lb. lean ground beef
15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained
15 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained
15 oz. can black beans, drained
Hot Chili Sauce (we call this chinese ketchup)
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. unsweetened chocolate powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1. Dice onion and garlic. Don’t worry about chopping too finely. You’ll take care of that in a minute.
2. In a stock pot with olive oil and salt, sauté onion and garlic for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, dice tomatoes.
4. Add tomatoes into the stock pot, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
5. While the tomato mixture is sautéing, cook ground beef until browned.
6. Pour sautéed tomato mixture into a food processor, and pulse for 20 seconds. (This will help get rid of those pesky tomato skins that curl up and look unappetizing.)
7. Add mixture back into stock pot along with the browned meat, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and spices. Add hot chili sauce and salt to taste. Stir.
8. Simmer for an hour. (I recommend tasting 30 minutes in to make sure everything is on par. Go with your gut, or should I say your nose, and add extra spices if needed.)
9. Top with your favorite chili toppings. (We love to add brown rice or pita chips, hot sauce, cheese, and cilantro.) Serve.
For all the people out there like me, here is a visual recipe.
I hope this makes home feel a little closer for you too!