I’ve already admitted to liking not-so-popular foods like meatloaf, mushrooms and dried plums …so I might as well admit to another – I LOVE baked beans!  Like, love love them!  Hubs thinks it is hilarious how much I like baked beans.

When I saw this chili recipe on Milk & Honey, that includes a can of baked beans, I knew it was going to be a winner – and it was!  Wow!  This is ridiculously good.  Spicy (I’m still feeling the heat on my lips as I type this) but oh so good.  I am absolutely stuffed right now but already can’t wait for leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Source: Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

1T. Vegetable oil
1 Large yellow onions, chopped
3T. Garlic, chopped fine
3T. Chili powder
2T. Paprika
1T. Cumin
2t. Dried oregano
1lb. Lean ground beef
1lb. Italian sausage links, removed from casings and crumbled (I used hot sausage links)
2t. Kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 28 oz. can Crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can BBQ baked beans
1T. Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped

Heat oil in an 8 quart heavy-bottom stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the ground beef, sausage, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook the meat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

If the meat is looking a little greasy, tilt the stockpot and spoon out some of the fat.  If you used lean meat, then you shouldn’t have to do this.

Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and stir until the spices are coating the meat.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt or chipotle chiles if necessary. Serve with your favorite chili toppers (and if you’re like us, serve over elbow noodles).

Husband Rating – 4.5 out of 5 – “Almost the perfect chili recipe.  This is amazing!”


Another snow day here in Connecticut.  Snow AND ice this time.  Yippie!  (please note the sarcasm).  I’m getting really sick of this white crap.

School was canceled again today so I decided to switch around the meal plan and make this tonight instead of later in the week.  It’s not the quickest side dish (I served it with sliced lemon garlic pork tenderloin) but it is worth the time.  It was delicious!  A nice, hearty, and tasty dish to chow down on while we recuperate from all of this shoveling!

This gem is from the most recent edition of Bon Appetit Magazine.

1lb. Kale, large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
3T. Olive oil, divided
1 Yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2C.)
8 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2lb. Spaghetti
2t. Lemon juice
Finely grated Parmesan cheese (soy cheese works well here)

Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.

Heat 2T. olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add kale and remaining 1T. olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes (mine took closer to 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/4C. cooking liquid. Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pot. Add lemon juice and 2T. reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry.

Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Husband Rating – 3 out of 5 – “Kale still kinda scares me, but this was pretty tasty!”

Chili Con Carne

I’ve never made chili with anything other than ground beef or ground turkey.  And, after seeing this yummy-looking recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine I decided it was time that I made a ‘real’ chili – you know, the kind with big beefy chunks.

This recipe is quite involved (definitely not something for a weeknight – unless you spread it out over two nights) and I’m not certain it is worth the effort.  The flavors were good and are even better the next day, but I think I’m just a fan of ground beef in chili.

4T. Vegetable oil, divided
4lbs. Well-trimmed boneless beef chuck (from about 5 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Medium onions, chopped
1 Head of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2C. Ground ancho chiles
2T. Ground cumin
1/2t. Ground allspice
1/4t. Ground cinnamon
1/4t. Ground cloves
1 12-oz. Bottle dark beer
1 28-oz. Can diced tomatoes in juice
2t. Dried oregano
2t. Coarse kosher salt
2T. Tomato paste
3T. Masa (corn tortilla mix)

Toppings of your choice – which can include:
Coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped green and/or red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Diced fresh tomatoes
Sour cream

Heat 1T. oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 of beef; sprinkle with salt. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to large bowl. Repeat 2 more times with 2T. oil and beef.

Reduce heat to medium. Add 1T. oil and onions. Sauté until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 2 minutes.

Add ground anchos, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beer; stir 1 minute, scraping up browned bits. Return beef and juices to pot. Add tomatoes with juice, 2C. water, oregano, and 2t. coarse salt. Bring chili to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer gently until beef is tender, 2 hours.

Cool 1 hour, then chill uncovered until cold. Cover; chill overnight.

Spoon fat from chili. Bring chili to simmer over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste. Sprinkle masa over; stir to blend. Simmer uncovered until thickened and beef is very tender, stirring often, and adding more water by 1/4C. increments if too thick, about 30 minutes.

Divide chili among bowls. Top with garnishes and serve.

Husband Rating – 3 out of 5 – “Very good, but I like our usual chili better.”

I just knew this recipe would be a winner the minute I read the title.  I mean, what’s not to love?  Lots of yummie green veggies with pasta and shrimp.  And best of all, it was very simple to convert to be a dairy-free recipe.

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven!

1lb. Asparagus spears
3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
1/2C. Soy Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1C. Pine nuts (did not use)
1/4C. Olive oil, plus 1T. for cooking the shrimp
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1lb. Pasta
1lb. Raw shrimp, deveined and peeled
1t. Garlic powder
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2-3T. Blackening spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the rough ends off of the asparagus spears and then cut the remaining spear into 3 pieces.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder and pepper.  Toss to coat and bake 10-12 minutes.

When cooked, set aside the pretty asparagus tips and keep warm.  The bottoms will be pureed for the pesto.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

If using, put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup of the pine nuts to a food processor. Purée and, with the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup of olive oil until a paste forms. If too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice, salt, and black pepper and continue pureeing until mixed.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1T. olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the shrimp, and immediately sprinkle with blackening powder.  Stir until it is mixed in, and then continue stirring occasionally until the shrimp are pink and just cooked.  Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

After draining the cooked pasta, toss immediately with the asparagus pesto.  Add in the shrimp and asparagus tips, and stir briefly until well mixed.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining pine nuts (if using) and some extra Parmesan.

Husband Rating – 4 out of 5 – “YUM!  This is delicious!”

Desserts and Wine

Today, I had the opportunity to attend a hobby class at school that focused on pairing desserts with wine.  We made a bunch of wonderful desserts and discussed the kinds of wines that would go well with each (many came from the DiGrazia Vineyard in Brookfield, CT) … then, of course, we did a tasting.

I’m so glad I took time out of my Saturday to attend, I learned so much!

I’m certainly no sommelier (some of these wines really tasted like feet) but, if I had to give one piece of advice it would be this – whenever pairing wine with dessert you always want the wine to be as sweet or sweeter than the dish you are serving.  Easy as that.

Below are pics as well as a short description of each dish and wine pairing.  I hope you enjoy!

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and raspberry coulis
paired with
Brachetto d’Acqui rose – a lovely sparkling wine from the Italian Piedmont near Asti

Capuccino creme brulee with candied hazelnuts and hazelnut wafers
paired with
Malmsey Madeira – full-bodied, wonderfully rich with a hint of chocolate that pairs well with coffee

Pear frangipane tartlet
paired with
Yankee Frost – A sweet Vidal Blanc, an ice wine (the grapes are left on the vine until after the first frost)

Bosc pear, gorgonzola dulce and hazelnut wafers
paired with
Blacksmith Port – a hybrid St. Croix grape with added grain alcohol

Panna cotta with apricot compote
paired with
Quady Essencia – an orange, apricot and almond flavored muscat grape from California

Almond biscotti and chocolate truffles
paired with
Harvest Spice – a blush wine with flavors of pumpkin and spices


Oh, and just in case you were wondering…the Yankee Frost, Brachetto d’Acqui and Quady Essencia were my favorites.

I have had a craving for turkey burgers lately, and when I saw these on Joelen’s blog this week, I knew I had to make them for dinner soon!

They were very good.  Honestly, I liked the chicken parm burgers I made back in July better.  But, hubs loved these burgers and will have the leftovers while I’m at school tomorrow night.

Adapted from What’s Cookin’, Chicago?

1lb. Ground turkey
1t. Dried basil
1/4t. Poultry seasoning
1t. Dried oregano
1t. Italian seasoning
1t. Granulated garlic
1t. Onion powder
2T. Soy Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
4 slices Soy mozzarella cheese, each slice cut into quarters
1/4C. Pasta sauce
6-8 Basil leaves, sliced thin
8 Dinner rolls, split & toasted

Toast buns under hot broiler and set aside to keep warm.

In a bowl combine the ground turkey, all the spices, cheese and salt & pepper. Form 8 large meatballs and flatten to create small patties. Cook in skillet with a little oil – about 5 minutes per side – until done.

Top all browned patties with a teaspoon of pasta sauce and a couple slices of cheese. Cover skillet to allow cheese to melt.

Spread a teaspoon of pasta sauce on the bottoms of the split dinner rolls. Transfer each patty onto the bottoms of the rolls and top the burgers with basil and the tops of the dinner rolls. Serve immediately.

Husband Rating – 4 out of 5 – “Very tasty!”

Onion Beef Roast

Well, slight change of plans here today, folks.  We’re currently being slammed with Winter Storm Benedict.  We’re slated to get approximately 2 feet of snow before all is said and done.

Here’s the view from my kitchen window (and it’s not even done yet!)

Work was canceled for both of us today and school was closed for me.  So, I decided to switch up our menu plan for the week and make this onion beef roast today while we’re snowed in.

This was the perfect meal for a snowy day and so tasty!  I’ll definitely be making this again.

Found on Crockpot Tuesdays (who found it on Tasty Kitchen).

I know, it’s not very photogenic, but it sure was tasty!

1.5-2.5 lb. Chuck roast
1 pkg. Dry Lipton onion soup mix
2T. Butter (or vegan margarine), melted
1/2C. Red wine

Place roast in bottom of the crockpot. Pour melted butter over the roast, then sprinkle on the onion soup mix. Pour red wine on top of everything. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Husband Rating – 4 out of 5 – “It’s kind of a no-fuss version of my favorite – Boeuf Bourguignon.  Yum!”

And, just because he’s so darn cute – here’s a pic of our little boy.

Mo knows the best spot in the house when it’s cold outside!