Spicy chili

spicy-chili

It’s officially comfort food season! Let the countdown to Thanksgiving begin, and the counting of calories end. It’s time to slip on that oversized sweater and pretend that bread doesn’t make you fat. I’m kicking off the season with a hearty bowl of spicy chili that’s sure to warm your soul.

This was actually my first time making chili. I don’t know how that happened being from Wisconsin, as chili is the glue that holds the Midwest together during the winter, but let’s just not talk about it.

This version is perfect for first timers. I got the recipe from my boyfriend’s mother, but tweaked it slightly by adding some cayenne pepper to spice things up. The ingredients are very basic and not a lot of prep work is involved. It’s a great set it and forget it dish. And the best part is it gets better as it sits, so you can feast on it all week!

The only thing I would be wary of is the brand of tomato products you choose. The only option for me at the time was Hunts, which I find to be a little more sugary than other brands. The chili ended up being a little too sweet for my liking, as the recipe calls for additional sugar—so maybe omit it if you’re working with a sugary tomato product.

Let’s talk fixin’s.

My mentality when it comes to toppings is more is morecheese, sour cream, diced onion, jalapeños, avocado, cilantro, or even some crushed up tortilla chips. However, the chili is delicious on its own, so feel free to keep it classic if that’s more your thing!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

All cans are 14.5-15 ounces,  unless otherwise specified. 

  • 3  cans dark red kidney beans (do not drain)
  • 3 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Toppings ideas (optional)

  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream (or greek yogurt)
  • jalapeño
  • red onion
  • avocado
  • cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Instructions

Finely dice the onions and sauté them over medium heat in a large pot with the ground beef, until onions are translucent and beef is cooked through. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Let simmer for 30 minutes and adjust any additional seasonings or sugar as needed. Prepare toppings as chili simmers.

*Make the day ahead for best flavor! 

 

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Turkey sausage and kale soup

kale soup_2

So, California weather finally decided to get with the times—it was 49 degrees when I woke up the other day. F o r t y-n i n e. For Californians, that’s like 10 degrees because we are pathetic creatures who wear knit hats when it’s 80 because, according to a calendar, it’s winter. Even though I may have complained a bit about goosebumps and the fact that I only got to use my new air conditioner for a week, I’m actually ecstatic about the temperature change. Cold weather = soup season = heart eyes emoji. Simple as that.

I came across this recipe one winter while I was living in Minneapolis and it’s been a go-to ever since. It’s super healthy, but still very satisfying and hearty with all the chunks of potatoes and sausage. I think that’s one of the constant struggles with eating healthy—trying to find something that fills you up (and tastes good), without breaking the calorie bank. And this soup does exactly that.

Another thing I love about soup in general, is how versatile the ingredients can be. I chose specific veggies for this one, but you can really interchange them with any you’d like (think: butternut squash, bell peppers, celery, beans, etc). As long as they’re  firm enough to hold up in the broth without breaking down (think: spinach) feel free to throw them in. And you can always use whatever sausage you like or have on hand. Chorizo or spicy Italian sausage would be awesome, I bet.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 14 oz turkey sausage, partially cooked
  • 6-8 cups kale, chopped (approx)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium red potatoes, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low or no sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Start by chopping up all your veg. The soup should have nice, big chunks, so don’t dice them too finely. I left the skin on the potatoes, but feel free to peel them first if you’d like.

Heat a small amount olive oil in a large soup pot over med-low heat. Cut the sausage into thin slices and add it to the pot (if you’re using uncooked sausage, cook it whole and slice it later). Once brown, take sausage out of the pot and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pot, along with the onions and carrots. Cook over medium heat until slightly soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the broth and water, along with the salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, sausage, and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale and bring back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Adjust seasonings.

Gazpacho

IMG_5505
At the restaurant where I work, we always have a soup de jour. If you don’t know what soup de jour is, watch Dumb and Dumber—my friend Flo will fill you in. A few weeks ago the cooks made gazpacho and I fell in love. Hot soup isn’t always appealing in the summer (especially in Southern California), so this was perfect. The cool crunch of the vegetables and cold tomato juice is super refreshing on a hot day. A bowl of this gazpacho could cure even Lana Del Rey’s summertime sadness—it’s amazing.

There’s a ton of ways to make gazpacho (I’ve even seen recipes using watermelon), but I got the cooks’ recipe and went with their version. It’s a really simple and fast process, so it’s a good go-to recipe when you want something quick. Basically, you just chop up all the vegetables, dump everything in a pot, pop it in the fridge, and bam—ya done.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups tomato juice (Campbell’s)
  • 3-4 cups water
  • juice of a lemon
  • 3 medium roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 large cucumber
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 2-3 small avocados (I love avocados)
  •  cilantro
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

Pour the tomato juice and water into a large pot and stir to combine. I like to use a 2:1 ratio of tomato juice to water to cut down the saltiness of the tomato juice. Next, chop up all your vegetables into bite-size pieces. I like my gazpacho to be nice and chunky, so I didn’t dice them too small. Add the lemon juice, ketchup, and freshly chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add hot sauce (if you’re going that route). Give it one last stir and pop in the fridge. Serve cold.

As always, feel free to eliminate, add, or cut down on any of the vegetables.

*This recipe serves a lot of people. If making for yourself or a small number of people, I suggest cutting the recipe in half.