Archive for Main Courses

Traditional Chili

I have been making this variation one of my aunt’s traditional chili recipes for years. It is always a big hit for family and friends and very easy to make. I have never made it with 9 lbs. of beef before, but I have also never made chili for a huge crowd before. I would make it again using this much meat even if I had less people because I could easily freeze half of it to get us through the winter! It’s an easy recipe to cut in half if you want to. You can also change up the amounts of your spices, add more beans, less onion….the opportunities are endless! If it wasn’t gone so quickly, I would have taken a better picture of it in a bowl all dressed up with cheese and sour cream! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 2 1/2 -3 hours

Ingredients:

9 lbs. ground beef

3 onions, diced

6 T. olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

4 cans green chiles

3 10 oz. cans beef consommé

4 cans Rotel Chili Fixin’s

4 4oz. cans tomato paste

1 T. oregano

2 T. cumin

6 T. chili powder

3 cans kidney beans (1 drained, 2 undrained)

Garnishes (optional):

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Fritos (although the kids will say this is not an optional ingredient)

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Large Pot

Preparing Traditional Chili:

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add meat and cook until done. Drain.  Return mixture to pot. Add chiles, consommé, Rotel Chili Fixin’s, tomato paste, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve hot. Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and Fritos, if desired. 

Chili

Important Tips:

The key to a good chili is to never rush it. The longer the flavors have to blend together, the better it will be! 

Variations:

You can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef in this recipe. You just might need to add a little spice! 

Got Leftovers?:

As with all chili, this will keep for months in the freezer as long as you double bag it! 

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili

When I was trying to figure out what type of vegetarian chili to make for New Year’s Day, none of the recipes I saw completely appealed to me. So what did I do? I combined several recipes and threw in a few extra ingredients for fun! The result was delicious…and spicy!! Consider yourself warned! What I love about this dish is that you can very easily make it your own depending on your specific tastes. Since it was New Year’s Day, I threw in some black-eyed peas and greens. When I make it again throughout the year, I likely won’t use the black-eyed peas and will add more of another type of bean. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30 min; Cook Time – 3 hours

Ingredients:

6 T. olive oil (better yet, garlic infused oil if you have it)

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

5 celery stalks, chopped

2 green peppers, seeded and chopped

2 red peppers, seeded and chopped

4 zucchini, cut into cubes

1 can chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped

2 T. chili powder

2 T. dried oregano 

4-28 oz. cans diced tomatoes with liquid

1 can black beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can chiles

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black-eyed peas, drained

2 bags baby kale

Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Large Pot

Preparing Vegetarian Chili:

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and next 5 ingredients. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chipotles AND the adobo sauce, oregano, and chili powder. Mix well. Add the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered for 60 minutes. Add all of the beans, corn, chiles and kale. 

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Serve hot. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired. 

Vegetarian Chili

Variations:

You can use whatever beans and greens you like. I used the black-eyed peas since it was New Year’s Day and every good Southern knows you need black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day for good luck! 

Got Leftovers?:

Double bag the leftovers in freezer safe resealable bags and it will last through the winter! 

White Bean Chicken Chili

Happy New Year!!! It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already upon us. We know that we were a bit off the grid in 2015, but one of our resolutions is to get back in the kitchen and bring you more fantastic recipes and cooking tips. It’s not that we haven’t been cooking, we have just too busy to blog about it!! Anyway, here is the first recipe of the New Year: White Bean Chicken Chili! I had a few people over on New Year’s Day and made three different types of chili…a) Traditional Chili b) White Bean Chicken Chili 3) Vegetarian Chili. They were all great, but the overall consensus was that this was the favorite because it was so different and not too spicy.  Don’t worry, the others will be posted in the days ahead!!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 3-4 hours

Ingredients:

6 lbs. chicken, poached and shredded

4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

2 onions, finely chopped

2-4 oz. cans green chiles

6-15 oz. cans small white beans, rinsed, drained, & divided

12 cups chicken broth, divided

4 T. olive oil

1 T. dried oregano

1 T. cumin

Garnishes, if desired:

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cilantro

Sour Cream

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Large pot

Crock pot

Immersion Blender

Preparing White Bean Chicken Chili:

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté jalapeños and onions in oil for 3-4 minutes or until they start to soften. Add shredded chicken, oregano, cumin and chiles. Mix well. Set aside. In a medium bowl, add three cans of beans and 4 cups of broth. Using an immersion blender, mix well.  Add to chicken mixture and stir. Transfer to crock pot. Add remaining beans and broth. Put on low for 3-4 hours. Serve hot with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro, if desired. 

White Bean Chicken Chili

Important Tips:

You can easily make the entire dish the day before and then just pour it into a crock pot  about 4 hours before you want to serve it. If you do this, put the crock pot on high instead of low since you are starting out with the ingredients being cold instead of at room temperature or warm.  

Meal Ideas:

I had made a bunch of traditional cornbread to serve with all of the chili. I had so much that I decided to turn some of it into jalapeño cheddar cornbread to go with the white bean chicken chili. It was a pretty great pairing if I do say so myself. 

Got Leftovers?:

Any leftovers can easily be frozen into individual sized portions with resealable freezer safe bags. 

Chicken Tenders with Grilled Romaine

For those of you who live in the Atlanta area, you know that school started for many students last week. My children were among those that headed back.  At the beginning of every school year, I have the energy and desire to cook new meals and be creative. However, it was a bit of an emotional start since I had one kid starting high school and another starting the end of her middle school years. I knew I didn’t have it in me to go all elaborate and fancy (and I’m not Melissa) but wanted something new, healthy and delicious.  As I was thumbing through old Food Network Magazines, I came across a recipe that looked exciting. Of course, I changed it a bit to suit my family’s tastes. The end result was this chicken tenders with grilled romaine dish that was a hit with everyone!!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10 min; Cook Time –  15 min. 

Ingredients for 4 servings:

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 T. for drizzling

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, plus 1 tsp. for drizzling

1 1/2 T. fresh thyme, chopped

1 T. minced red onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher Salt and Pepper

2 artisan heads of romaine, cut in half (or one head of romaine cut in quarters)

12 boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1 1/2 c. seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 c. shredded or shaved parmesan

Preparing Chicken Tenders with Grilled Romaine:

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, onion, garlic, red pepper and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Drizzle the cut side of the romaine with 1-2 tsp. of the dressing. 

Add the chicken to the bowl and toss with remaining dressing. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers. 

Grill chicken until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Take off the grill and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the cut side of the romaine on the grill, turning once. Grill for about 2 minutes total. Transfer the romaine to plates and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Place 3 chicken tenders on each plate and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 

Chicken Tenders with Grilled Romaine

 

Meatball Sliders

Meatball Sliders

I was flipping through the January 2015 edition of Southern Living magazine recently and came across this recipe for Meatball Sliders. Can I just say, “AH-MAZING!” I made them on a Friday night when I knew the kids were having friends over since the recipes makes a lot of meatballs. I actually prepared the meatballs the night before and put them in the refrigerator. When I got home Friday afternoon after a busy day, I pulled out the meatballs to bring them to room temperature before putting them in the sauce. This could not have been more easy and everyone LOVED them! Note: I actually tried a meatball by itself and even though I am not a meatball expert, it was pretty awesome! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 10 hours

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 large fresh basil sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
24 slider buns or dinner rolls, split and lightly toasted
12 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices, halved
Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Crock Pot

Preparing Meatball Sliders:

1. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 7-qt. slow cooker; stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours. 

2. Meanwhile, place ground chuck and ground pork in a large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix gently just until blended. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs. (Do not pack.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover well, and chill until ready to use.

3. Let meatballs stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Carefully submerge meatballs in tomato mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or until meatballs are done, stirring after 30 minutes. (I actually cooked my meatballs about 90 minutes).

4. Preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Arrange bottom halves of 12 buns in a single layer on each of 2 baking sheets. Place 1 meatball on each bun;

Meatball Sliders

top with sauce and 1 halved provolone cheese slice. Repeat with remaining buns, meatballs, and cheese.

Meatball Sliders

5. Broil sliders, 1 baking sheet at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with top halves of buns.

Meatball Sliders

Meal Ideas:

Serve with a salad and call it a day!

Chicken Kabobs

Chicken Kabobs

I made these chicken kabobs for the first time a few weeks ago for a group of friends. Let me just tell you that there was not one piece left AND the first thing my son said the next morning was, “Is there anymore of that awesome chicken?” The recipe comes from a Middle Eastern Cook Book called Olives, Lemons, & Za’atar so there are some flavors and ingredients that you might not be used to. Don’t let that scare you away….give it a try!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 10min; Marinate Time 3-8 hours; Cook Time – 15 min. 

Ingredients:

1 c. fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons if they are juicy)

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

10 garlic cloves, minced

1 T. allspice

1 T. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. paprika

4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 in. chunks

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Grill

Preparing Chicken Kabobs:

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl, except the chicken. Place chicken cubes in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and place in the refrigerator for 3-8 hours. 

Preheat grill over medium heat. Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers. Grill the chicken for 10-15 minutes, or until done, turning often. 

Chicken Kabobs

Meal Ideas:

There are a few things you can do with chicken kabobs. It’s easy to serve them with Syrian Rice and a green vegetable for a complete meal. The kabobs are also delicious when you put them in a piece of pita bread and top with some tatziki sauce!

Got Leftovers?:

This chicken is fantastic on a salad!

Vodka Pasta with Shrimp

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Believe it or not, I made vodka pasta with shrimp for my family a few weeks ago. Melissa made me touch fresh shrimp recently and literally pull off its legs with my fingers so when I was buying shrimp for this recipe, clearly I was going the “already prepared frozen” route. The uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp looked too small. I wanted larger shrimp and the only option was cooked, peeled, tail on. Yeah me…I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except defrost it! Yes…one member of the family was irritated that she had to deal with tails herself, but when I told her she was lucky I don’t ever make her clean a whole chicken, she was good. My point in saying this is that you can easily use raw or frozen shrimp, precooked or uncooked for this particular recipe as it was delicious…or so I was told!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 min. 

Ingredients:

9 oz. fresh refrigerated fettuccine

1 T. olive oil

12 shrimp (you can buy frozen that is already cooked and defrost it, or buy uncooked, peeled and deveined)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, divided

1/3 c. vodka

1 1/2 c. mariana sauce

1/2 c. basil, chopped plus more for garnish, if desired

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preparing Vodka Pasta with Shrimp:

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and half of the garlic (if it’s already cooked and defrosted, you are just heating it up. If it’s raw, cook until done, about 4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for about one minute. REMOVE PAN FROM STOVE and add the vodka (pouring alcohol into a pan that is a directly over a flame could be a recipe for disaster. I did it once….needed baking soda to put the fire out and ruined the dish). Anyway, cook the vodka for about one minute. Add the marinara, basil, cream, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Bring to a simmer. Return pasta and shrimp to pan and heat all the way the through. Serve hot!

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Important Tips:

When cooking shrimp, remember that when the shrimp looks like a “C” it’s cooked. If it looks like an “O” it’s overcooked! 

Variations:

If you don’t like seafood, throw in some chicken instead of shrimp!