Chipotle Chili

Mmmm…there’s just something about chili on a cold day.  It’s perfect.  The house smells fantastic and you feel good after eating it.  Especially if you eat it with cornbread.  Add in the smoky spiciness of Chipotles and everything is just happy and good.

To make this recipe kid-friendly, I add everything except the Chipotles before bringing the chili to a boil.  Then I remove a small amount to simmer in a separate pan while the Chipotle spices up the rest of the recipe.

Chipotle Chili

Chipotle Chili

Serves 6

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12-oz can or bottle of beer (can substitute beef broth)
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 3 Chipotle chilies in Adobo sauce (or 2 to 3 tbsp pureed chilies)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (for topping)
  • sour cream (for topping)

In a dutch oven or large pot, brown ground beef over medium heat.  Just as the beef is brown, add onion and green pepper.  Cook until onion and pepper are soft.  Add garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.  Add beer, tomatoes, kidney beans, Chipotle chilies, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and salt.  Stir until combined.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour or so.  The longer you can simmer, the better the flavor will be.  Top with sour cream or shredded cheddar to serve.

Brie Mac N Cheese

Is your world covered in snow, too?  Snow in the yard.  Snow on the van.  Snow on the streets.  Snow on the deck.  Snow dragged into the entryway.

It’s everywhere.

And I know you know what I’m talking about here.  The entire USA is covered in snow right now.  Well, maybe not Hawaii, but most of us aren’t lucky enough to live in that warm, snow-free paradise.  For the rest of us, the snow is never ending.  Just when you think there might be a respite, the weatherman predicts another storm.  Actually, I’ve stopped paying attention to the weatherman.  Which I was completely takenby surprise by the last storm and declared a snow day in our house.  I’m the mom.  I can do that.

And I hate the snow.

But the cold weather does create the perfect excuse for comfort food.  This more grown-up version of Mac-N-Cheese is awesome for anyone.  Even the kids liked it.  Yay for food the whole family enjoys!

Brie Mac N Cheese

Brie Mac N Cheese

  • 6 oz (dry) macaroni (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 oz brie, rind removed and diced
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter bottom and sides of a 2.5 quart baking dish.

Prepare macaroni al dente according to package directions.

In the meantime, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until hot and bubbly.  Whisk in flour and cook for about 2 minutes, keeping the mixture moving constantly and not letting the flour brown.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Slowly add milk in at least 3 additions, whisking constantly.  Cook until mixture bubbles and thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly add both cheeses, stirring until melted and smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine macaroni and cheese sauce.  Transfer to prepared baking dish.  Top with Panko.  Bake for 30 minutes, then let stand for about 10 before serving.

Sweet N Sour Cabbage

Over the past year, we’ve been cooking themed, “International” dinners and then teaching the Big One about the country where the meal originated.  We learned about England while eating Bangers and Mash, about Germany with sausages and sauerkraut, etc. For Christmas, Mr. Ish wanted to pay homage to his Danish heritage with a traditional Christmas dinner from Denmark.

Part of that traditional meal included Sweet N Sour Cabbage.  So he made it.  And we loved it.

So I made it again.  And again.  Super simple and yummy.  What more could we ask for?

Traditionally, this dish should be made with purple cabbage.  I mostly had green, so used it instead.  Use what you have.

SweetNSour Cabbage

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and caraway seeds.  Cook until fagrant, about 1 minute.  Add cabbage and saute until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.  Stir in brown sugar until cabbage is coated.  Add vinegar.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Peasant Bread (No Knead)

Last year, I was given the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It’s a wonderful book with lots of great advice and recipes.  However, keeping dough in the fridge for the week didn’t really work for me.  It’s a good process and a good way to have fresh bread.  It just wasn’t my way.

So, once I discovered my favorite recipe, I played with the amount to get the right size loaf for my needs.  For my family of 5, the small loaf below is just about perfect for a meal.  I make the larger loaf if we’re having dinner guests or if I want some bread for the kids’ breakfast the next day.

Once I modified the recipe, I’ve been able to work it into our schedule easily.   It’s a very hands off recipe, though it does take some time and planning.

Totally worth the time and planning, though.


Modified from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Small Loaf (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp rye flour

Large Loaf (Serves 8)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour

Combine water and yeast in a large bowl.  Add sea salt.  Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until everything is blended.  Cover and set aside to rise in a warm place for 2 to 3  hours.*  You can refrigerate the dough at this point for up to a week if needed.  Just make sure it’s covered well, but not air-tight.

Place dutch oven (or other oven safe pan with lid) in a cold oven then preheat to 450 for 30 minutes.  Dust a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper with whole wheat flour.  With wet hands, remove dough from bowl and form a flat-ish ball by tucking the sides under.  Place on the waxed paper and dust the entire ball with more flour.  Set aside while the oven and pan heat.

Once everything is preheated, remove the lid from your pan and carefully dump the dough into it.  Don’t worry if there are cracks or it doesn’t look perfect – this makes a prettier loaf when baked.  Cover and bake according to the times below.  Remove the lid and finish baking.  Cool bread on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Baking times:

  • Small loaf: 20 minutes covered, 15-20 minutes uncovered
  • Large loaf: 25 minutes covered, 20-25 minutes uncovered

*My house tends to be cold in the winter, so I put the dough in the oven with the light on while it rises.



Mulled Wine

I’ve always assumed mulled wine is something you only drink at Christmas.  And with everything else going on during the holiday, I’ve never actually tried to make it before.

Until this past Christmas.

Mulling wine is so easy and so yummy, I feel rather silly that I waited so long to do it.

It’s now our winter drink of choice.  On Sunday night, we start it after dinner.  Get the kids in bed.  Then sit down for a delicious, warm drink and an episode of Downton Abbey.  It’s a perfect end to the weekend.


  • 1 (750ml) bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, or other red wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Juice of one orange, (2 to 3 oz)
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 oz)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir a little bit until sugar and honey are dissolved.  Throw in half the orange and lemon peels.  Heat over low for at least an hour, up to 90 minutes.  Be very careful not to let the mixture boil.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and serve.  Alternatively, wrap the cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaves in cheesecloth while mulling.  Remove this seasoning packet with the lemon and orange peels, then serve.  Makes 3 servings.

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