Meat Lovers Chili

When it’s cold outside, there is nothing better than coming inside to a hot bowl of soup, stew or chili. Whether cooking for the big game or a big family gathering, chili is always a hit. This meat lover’s chili is warm, inviting and delicious. You can make it in advance and keep it warm in a crock pot. You can make it the day before and let the flavors develop. You can make it with meat or without. There are so many options.

Meat Lovers Chili


2 pounds of ground meat (half ground sirloin, half ground pork loin)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon of chili powder

Pinch of cinnamon

½ cup of lentils

1 pound 13 ounce can of red kidney beans

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of chopped baby portabella mushrooms

1 cup of carrots, chopped

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

3 Tablespoons of brown sugar

3 Tablespoons of chili powder

¼ cup of ketchup

1 Tablespoon of soy sauce

1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar

splash of chipotle hot sauce (more if you want it spicier), optional


Sprinkle meat with salt, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon. Heat olive oil in pan and sear meat. Cook through, remove from pan and drain oil. Turn crock pot on high. Add cooked meat, beans and lentils into crock pot. In same pan that meat was cooked, add olive oil, mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, brown sugar and chili powder. Sauté about 5 to 7 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar and hot sauce, then pour into crock pot. Mix it all together and then close the lid. Cook on high for 4 hours.

This is one of those recipes that is even better the next day. I like to serve chili with guacamole, sour cream, cheddar and fresh cilantro. You can put each of the toppings out and let everyone build their own.

If you prefer vegetarian chili try my Pumpkin Quinoa chili. What is your favorite chili, stew or soup to warm up with? Check out some of my favorite soups.

One pot meals

My husband is always happy when I make a one pot meal. He is the one who does the dishes 🙂 A one pot meal can be anything from soup to chili to pot roast to pasta. Fewer dishes means less time in the kitchen and more time for the many other tasks you have to accomplish or maybe (gasp!) even give you 5 minutes to take some time for yourself.

One of the favorite one pot meals in my house is my Hot and Sour Soup.

It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is the recipe I chose to display when asked to be one of the featured blogs on’s Stock, Soup and Multi-Pots page. Check it out!

If you don’t like hot and sour soup, try my French Onion, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato Coconut Curry, Potato Leek or Carrot Ginger soup. One pot can also make amazing chicken stock or healing chicken noodle soup

Another flavorful meal you can create in a snap, is my One Pan Roasted Chicken.

Serve it with some zoodles and you have a tasty spring-like meal!

Chili is a one pot meal that can either be made in your slow cooker or in one pot on the stove. My Crowd Pleasing Quinoa Pumpkin Chili can easily be made, simmering on the stove in 2 to 3 hours.

Quinoa risotto is a decadent and healthy one pot meal for dinner one night on its own or you can serve it with some leftover chicken or steak.

One pot meals are versatile and easy. Try one of my recipes above! Let me know how it turns out. Let me know if there are other recipes you want to see.

Guacamole, Dip and more Superbowl Ideas, oh my!

As many of you know I am not the biggest football fan 😉  I enjoy cheering local teams though and since I live less than 20 minutes from Gillette Stadium (and shop at the Trader Joe’s in its shadow!), I am looking forward to next Sunday!  I always love a chance to cook, so here are some recipes and ideas for your Superbowl Sunday feast.

This is my favorite Guacamole recipe! Use it on its own to dip your favorite tortilla chips into or add it to a layer dip. You’ll see my idea for a layer dip below.



2 – 3 avocados (depends on size, 2 large or 3 small)

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

4 Tablespoons finely chopped tomatoes

2 Tablespoons of minced red onion

1 handful of cilantro, chopped finely


Add avocado, lime, salt, cumin and pepper to a medium sized bowl. Mash together with a fork. Add tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Mix together. Add more lime juice if needed on top to keep guacamole from browning.

If you want to make a layered dip, here is an idea:

Take a can of black beans and mash with a fork and place on the bottom of your serving dish.  Place a layer of the guacamole. Take 8 ounces of sour cream and mix with 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Add that as the next layer. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar, cilantro, chopped olives and chopped tomatoes. Let sit in fridge for 2- 24 hours. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or add it to a tortilla with some shredded chicken or pork.

Dip, chips, wings, meatballs, ribs, chili, pulled pork, Rainbow pizza or grilled pizza…you name it! There are so many options for your football feast. Desserts? Make these Chex Crispy Bars, Ice cream sundaes, brownies or cupcakes and frost with chocolate frosting and then pipe white frosting to look like laces. Simply having chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of M & Ms or rolos or hershey kisses would be plenty!

What are you having Sunday night for the Superbowl?

Crowd Pleasing Chili

If you are having a crowd over for a big game or just hanging out with friends and family around the holidays and need a big satisfying meal, chili is always a great option. It is a blank canvas and does not require a lot of hands on work. It is also very easy to make gluten free, vegetarian or allergy friendly, which is great when you have a large crowd and don’t know what everyone’s food allergies or preferences are. I don’t think I have ever really made chili the same way twice, but I made this one recently to fuel up some friends before we enjoyed a long walk.

Quinoa Pumpkin Chili for a Crowd


1 to 2 pounds of your favorite beans or mixture of beans

½ of a large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-24 ounce can crushed tomatoes

About ½ a 15 ounce can of pumpkin

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar

¾ cup of chicken stock (or vegetable or beef stock)

1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup of quinoa

Optional, add 1 to 2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables and/or turkey, chicken or beef


Pour all the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 6-8 hours. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.

This is yet another way to disguise Thanksgiving leftovers. To stretch the meal even further, you can serve it over mac-n-cheese, as I did for lunch the day after I made it.


When you are entertaining for the holidays, having easy meals that can stretch to feed a crowd are very useful. This is a healthy meal and a hearty meal that will give you the fuel to warm you up after hiking, skiing or keep you going during overtime of your favorite team’s game.

What are your favorite crowd pleasing meals? Stay tuned for an extra post this week with some gluten free holiday entertaining ideas and a recipe!

Here are some past crowd pleasing or tailgating recipes and ideas for using leftovers (Always the same disclaimer that they are from before our family started eating gluten free so make adaptations as needed or ask me how I do it!

Fall Football and Tailgating

Lessons Learned from Thanksgiving and Cooking in the Aftermath

Pre and Post Thanksgiving Ideas with a Potluck Recipe thrown in

Happy Thanksgiving

Taco Tuesday – Step outside the Taco Shell (Gluten free!)

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Turkey time, a visit to a butcher shop and italian sausage mac-n-cheese (I think I’ll make this mac-n-cheese GF tonight!)

Thank you to Mamapedia for highlighting Mamma’s Cooking 3 Easy 10 Minute Meals on Mamapedia Voices on Friday!

Fall, Football, and Tailgating

Those who know me, know that I am not a big football fan but I have been known to host Super Bowl parties just to make the food 🙂 Fall is the season where many spend their weekends tailgating outdoors or in front of the TV cheering on their favorite teams. I was recently asked for ideas for recipes for “football food.” Here are some finger foods, slow cooker foods and grill recipes for your fun fall weekend with or without football!

Finger Foods and Dips
Cheeseburger Egg Rolls (top left of photo below)

These egg rolls were delicious! They are from Rachel Ray. Easy to make but a little time intensive to roll each one up. I served it with ketchup, mustard and bbq sauce for dipping rather than spending the time to make the sauce. The kids went nuts over these!

Corn Dog Muffins (top right of photo above)
These are from a blog called Iowa Girl Eats. I saw them on Pinterest and ran with her idea. I made them in regular muffin tins and made the Jiffy box of corn bread 🙂 and added about 1 cup of shredded zucchini and 1 cup of shredded cheddar and about 1/4 tsp of chili powder (add more if you want more chili flavor or a little cayenne if you want a kick), salt and pepper. Pour the batter into lined or greased muffin tins. I found for the regular sized muffins I cut the hot dogs into thirds and put one piece in each muffin and bake until ready. I found that these took a little longer than usual until the dough around the hot dog in the center was fully cooked.

Pigs in a Blanket with honey mustard dipping sauce. This is one of my favorites. The link is back to one of my previous blog posts about appetizers that has this recipe and the one for Spinach and Artichoke Dip and more!

Slow Cooker foods

I can’t wait to have my house smell like chili while it cooks away all day! I’m planning to make some on Monday. Its a full meal if you add those corn dog muffins above. Make it vegetarian by making black bean chili and zucchini corn muffins. I like to make my chili in the crock pot these days, which becomes a great vessel for keeping it warm while serving or bringing to a potluck or tailgate party. Throw a can or two of your favorite beans into the crock pot with a can of diced tomatoes, dice a couple of carrots and or zucchini or use whatever leftover vegetables you have on hand (corn, squash, eggplant, parsnips – so many veggies can work), an onion, garlic clove, palmful of chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.Cook on low for 4-6 hours. If you want to add meat, cook it first before putting it in the slow cooker, unless you are using stew meet, then you could throw it in and cook it all day. I have found that ground beef or turkey is mushy if you cook it in the slow cooker with the other chili ingredients.

Short ribs

I can cross short ribs off of my Cooking Bucket List now! So if you are making a meal for friends over the weekend or for Monday night football, these are sooo good! I used the ingredients for my favorite meat marinade as the cooking the liquid, equal parts balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce with garlic and shallots.  

I made a quick dry rub for the short ribs with salt, pepper and thyme and then browned them in the pan. before putting them in the slow cooker for about 8 hours (I had about 2.5 – 3 lbs of meat).

Then I took them out when there were practically falling off the bone and poured the liquid into a sauce pan and reduced it by about half. Add a little flour, 1/2 tsp of brown sugar and a little pepper and whisk together. Add more flour if you want it thicker.  Use as gravy or dipping sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes or risotto or polenta.

Butternut Squash soup – My classic fall go to!

Coconut Curry Sweet Potato Soup – My new fall favorite!

Meatballs  – standard go to for any gathering!

Grilled Food
Pizza – Great for an appetizer or a meal!

Your favorite Steak, pork, ribs, BBQ Chicken or sausages always are a crowd pleaser. I recently made some chicken on the indoor grill. I made a dry rub with brown sugar, salt, pepper and African Smoke spice blend from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have that spice blend, go buy it immediately! or just use smoked paprika or chili powder. It was delicious! I served it with a beet barley risotto and some steamed carrots, not exactly tailgating food, so I’ll give my recipe for that later 🙂

Not too late for new years resolutions

To make resolutions or not? 2011 was a year of transition for me and my family. Instead of making specific resolutions this year, I am just pledging to make 2012 a year of moving forward. This pledge will include resolution type things like work out more, go to the dentist when I’m supposed to, cook healthier food, cut our grocery costs and more, but as those smaller things may change, the overall pledge will stay the same. I believe this time next year I will feel better about keeping my pledge and not worry about all the smaller individual resolutions I did or did not do.

Now on to food…My first step toward moving forward in 2012 is to use leftovers more efficiently and effectively.

I started my last week of the year cooking large meals, so that I could spend this weekend not cooking but rather spending more time with my family 🙂

Balsamic Mustard Chicken thighs with roasted butternut squash and risotto-like-rice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
olive oil
Trader Joe’s Everyday spice blend (or coriander and a pinch of red pepper flake)3-5 lbs skinless chicken thighs (I often buy them with the skin on because its cheaper and then take it off myself)
Leftover mustard balsamic dipping sauce from my pigs in a blanket Christmas eve (Thanks Lauren for the idea!) (Made with spicy brown mustard, balsamic vinegar and honey mixed together)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 of a medium onion diced
1/2 cup aborrio rice
3-4 cups chicken broth or veggie broth

Toss the squash with olive oil and spices and put on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees. Coat the chicken with the balsamic mustard sauce and place in a baking dish in the oven at 375. Cook both about 45 minutes. Ovens vary so check to make sure its cooking evenly and not burning at about 30 minutes. Check the chicken with a meat thermometer to 165-175.

To make the risotto-like-rice, add butter and onion to your rice cooker and stir until onions are translucent. Add rice and cook while stirring for a couple of minutes. Add 3 cups of broth and start the machine. Once it is done, add more broth and mix it in if you want it creamier.You can also add in some Parmesan at the end if you like.

I used the leftover chicken and risotto to make white chicken chili. To a crock pot added a can of cream of chicken soup, half of a jalapeno (seeded), cumin, coriander, 1 small onion diced, 1 can of white beans, leftover chicken cubed and about 1 cup of the risotto. Cook on low for 2- 3 hours. Delicious! My 9 year old nephew couldn’t get enough of it!

Roasted turkey with sweet potato mashed potatoes and stuffing

I cooked the turkey whole, stuffing it with lime and tangelo wedges, onions and garlic. I melted butter with some thyme, lime juice, lime zest, tangelo juice, tangelo zest and rubbed that all over the turkey. While that was cooking I peeled and diced 3 sweet potatoes and boiled them in water with thyme and garlic until soft. Once they were fork tender, I drained them and mashed them with a little butter, milk and cream cheese. I added some garlic powder, salt and pepper. For stuffing I used Stove top savory herb 🙂 and I used the cranberry sauce in the can.

I used the leftovers to make turkey stock, pesto pasta with turkey and butternut squash, turkey sandwiches and more.

My next step is to cut our grocery costs, starting with more couponing. I bought the Sunday paper the other day to get the 4 coupon inserts. I was shocked at the register when they said it was $3.50! Last time I bought a Sunday paper it was $1.50. Next time I am going to buy the local Lowell paper, I think it also has the inserts and is still only $1.50. I went to a lecture at the local library by Jamie Chase, the Lazy Couponer. It was great! Using her tips, I saved almost 30% on my next grocery trip. I only bought what I needed, no stockpiling or hours upon hours of clipping coupons.

(Belated) Happy New Year to all of you!

Leftovers and trying to cut down the food budget…

So after a couple of months of menu planning, I’ve realized that it hasn’t cut our grocery bills. Ugh. So, now I am trying to do more “repurpose” cooking with less expensive items. Here is what my menu looked like last week to give you an idea:

Mac-n-Cheese (Its good to make a big meal on Sunday that will work for lunches, and quick leftover meals for the first part of the week) I’m not sharing my recipe yet as I am entering the Tillamook Mac-n-Cheese contest. I’ll let you know when I win, or not 🙂

Turkey chili with Zucchini corn bread (I bought a large zucchini, as mine from my garden are not ready yet, at the farmers market and had defrosted some ground turkey over the weekend. First sautee about 1/2 onion in soup pot with some olive oil. When onions are translucent, add 1stp of garlic, 3 palms full of chili powder, dash of cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Add ground turkey and cook through. Then add 2 small cans diced tomatoes and 1/2 can of tomato paste. Drain a can of black beans and add to pot. Add a handful of shredded zucchini. Let cook for about 15 minutes. If too thick add a little chicken stock until you reach desired consistency, if too thin, smash some of the beans up and then let cook until thick enough. Taste and add more seasonings as you need.

A friend of mine showed me the Zucchini corn bread recipe. It is so easy. I used the Jiffy corn bread mix and prepare as directed, but cut the liquid a little. Add 2 cups shredded zucchini, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and some salt, pepper and chili powder. Bake about 30 min. Sorry this isn’t more precise, one day I’ll measure what I thrown in 🙂

Great for lunches for my husband and Karina. She loves the bread!
Pot Roast with polenta and roasted summer squash – Recipes are here:

With left over pot roast, I made a beef and brown rice soup. Pour left over gravy into a soup pot and add about 7 cups of beef broth (I use the boullion cubes as they are more cost effective) and bring to a boil. Either use 2 cups of left over rice or make some in the rice cooker while the broth is coming to a boil. I then added a handful of frozen carrots and chopped up the remaining pot roast. When the rice was done, added it in and let the soup cook for about 10 more minutes.


Roast chicken with barley risotto and roasted corn. Barley risotto recipe here:

With the leftover chicken and corn I made soup. Similar to the recipe for beef above. Add the left over gravy to a soup pot and about 7 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add about 1 1/4 cups orzo or other small pasta. Once the pasta is cooked (about 7 minutes) add leftover chicken (diced). I then added some more of the frozen carrots which I had diced and cut the corn off the cob that I had roasted. Add more seasonings as needed and you have soup!


Dinner out – sushi..mmm (Have to splurge every once in a while)

My husband brought leftovers for lunch each day and Karina and I both had leftovers for lunch at home and we ate leftovers for lunch all this weekend. Tonight I’m making mac-n-cheese again (trying to perfect my recipe) and then will plan next week’s meals. I’m going to see if I can cook without going to the grocery store this week. We already have milk and diapers for Karina, so I think it should be possible. I’ll let you know.

I am searching for a good recipe using blackberries…We have a couple of pounds that we collected on a walk yesterday morning. Love fresh blackberries! If anyone has one, let me know!