Our Favorite Chili

We’ve had a couple weeks of unseasonably warm weather here in Chicago, but just today, flurries and terrible wind chills are back reminding us that it’s definitely still Winter. It’s days like today where I feel an especially strong obligation to provide you with comforting recipes like our favorite chili.

This recipe is special to me specifically because of how long it has been in the works! Matt and I have tried countless variations of this recipe, and this last batch was The. Best. Ever. All of our attempts have ranged from decent to way too spicy to totally delicious, and I’m ready to share the deets.

The secret lies in the 50/50 mixture of meat, and the balance of acidity and spices. You can definitely alter this recipe based on what kind of beans you prefer (replacing the pinto or kidney beans with black beans if that’s all you have on hand), or by swapping out the red bell pepper for another color, but let me tell you – I am writing this recipe exactly how I made it this last time. This is one recipe where I’ll encourage you to make as written 🙂

Note: Chiles de Arbol are small, dried spicy red peppers that you can find in the Hispanic aisle of most grocery stores. They add an amazing, smoky spice to the chili. If you can’t find them, increase the chili powder by another 1/2 T or to taste.

Try our favorite chili recipe and let me know how it works for you! I love packing the leftovers for weekday lunches, knowing that the protein will keep me full all afternoon long and through my workout. I hope you find this perfectly spicy chili to be as warm and comforting as we do!

chili 1

Our Favorite Chili

Makes 6-8 servings

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb grass-fed ground beef

1 T olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 jalapeno (I removed half of the seeds, but omit all seeds if you do not like spice), small diced

1 T chili powder

1/4 t cayenne

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t cumin

2 dried Chiles de Arbol

Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce

2 15 oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes

1/3 c tomato paste

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Avocado, fresh cilantro, cheese for serving

Method:

Heat large dutch oven over medium heat and add ground turkey and beef. Stir frequently, breaking the meat up as it cooks. Once all pink is gone, drain fat and discard. Add meat back to pan along with tablespoon of olive oil and add onion. Cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno, spices, and dried chiles, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.

Add parsley and all tomato ingredients and stir until combined. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, add beans and cook for 15 minutes before serving. Top with dairy-free cheese, avocado, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Tip** Let your chili simmer as long as possible to give the flavors time to develop. Chili always tastes better the next day because the ingredients have had plenty of time to mingle!

chili 2
I tried Trader Joe’s vegan cheese shreds for the first time and they melt really nicely! Great for topping a steamy bowl of chili.

Pork Posole (GF & Dairy-Free)

Lately, I’ve been receiving complaints from my roommate (husband) that we don’t eat enough Mexican food. This isn’t true, but I humored him because I’m nice, and thumbing through my new copy of  Ina Garten’s latest cookbook Cook Like a Pro gave me some ideas. I came across her Pork Posole recipe and it sounded soooo much better than making tacos again. 

I think I mentioned in my Pork Carnitas recipe that I was never using boneless pork tenderloin again, but I lied! This is the perfect cut of meat for this hearty, healthy take on the traditionally slow- cooked pork soup. Cutting the pork before cooking it sounds messy- and it is, but it really speeds up the cooking process and results in perfect bite-sized pieces.

pozole1

If you aren’t familiar with hominy, don’t leave it out! They are essentially little puffy, tender, delicious corn things. I don’t really understand, but I love them and they really make the posole what it is. You can find hominy in the Hispanic/International aisle of most grocery stores, and it usually comes in a big 25 oz can. If you can only find 15 oz cans, use two!

Ina adds corn chips to the soup before it simmers so they can break down and become part of the liquid, but I prefer just adding them at the end. Do whatever sounds good to you! Whichever way you make it, this posole is sure to earn a spot in your weeknight rotation. Top it with avocado slices, lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and cheese if you like and enjoy this flavorful bowl of comfort.

Pork Posole

Makes about 6 servings

Good olive oil

1 1/2 lb lean, boneless pork loin 1/2 inch cubed

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and small diced

2 orange or yellow bell peppers, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t chili powder

1/2 t dried oregano

4 C chicken stock

1 C salsa verde

25 oz can white hominy, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Sea salt & pepper

For serving:

Corn tortilla chips

Avocados

Lime wedges

Cilantro

pozole2

Method:

Heat 3 T olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork and saute for 10 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Move cooked pork and juices to a separate bowl. Heat another 2 T olive oil in dutch oven and saute onions for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add jalapeno and bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for another minute. Return pork and juices to pot.

Add chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a low boil. Stir in hominy, black beans, 2 t sea salt, 1 t pepper, and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with corn tortilla chips, sliced avocado, lime wedges, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I thought everyone would be over butternut squash by this point, but I was wrong! I took a poll on my Instagram page last week to decide between Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta and butternut squash soup, and it resulted in a tie. Since I couldn’t possibly let half of you down, here’s the recipe for one of my favorite fall soups, just in time for #soupsunday!

A couple reasons I love this recipe: it takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you don’t have to spend any time stirring a pot or dirtying extra dishes! It’s vegan, but is so wonderfully creamy and filling, you’d never know it. You can use whatever broth you have on hand, but I used vegetable broth to keep this soup vegan. It’s perfect paired with a kale salad or some avocado toast for dinner, and reheats nicely for weekday lunches.

I was extra excited to make this soup today because of my new found affinity for crispy sage leaves. It’s not fall without the inclusion of sage in every vegetable dish, am I right? Taking the extra few minutes to “fry” some of these fuzzy little herbs in ghee to top your soup will result in a delicious and beautiful garnish for your roasted butternut squash soup.

bssoup1

 

bssoup2
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

6 C butternut squash, diced

1 T olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 C leeks, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, roasted

2 1/2 C vegetable broth

1 C full-fat coconut milk

1/4 t crushed red pepper (optional)

Garnishes for soup- pomegranate seeds, crispy sage leaves, pepitas, etc.

bssoup3

Method:

For crispy sage leaves, heat small skillet on medium heat and add 1 T ghee. Add sage leaves and fry for about 60 seconds on each side. Remove carefully with a fork and set on paper towel to absorb excess ghee.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread onto rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss squash for even cooking. Add chopped leeks to baking sheet and return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until veggies are golden brown.

Tip** If you don’t have roasted garlic already prepared, here are the Cliff Notes from my last post – slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

In high speed blender, add roasted butternut squash, leeks, garlic, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Blend for 20 seconds on low, and another 30 seconds on medium.

Tip** If you’d like to serve this soup right away, make sure to heat broth and coconut milk before adding to blender so soup is nice and hot!

If soup appears too thick, add 1/4 C more broth. Season with salt, pepper, and optional crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta (Vegan & GF)

I’ve been craving mac and cheese for about 2 years now. Sad, I know. But I’ve decided that the effects cheese and milk have on my system aren’t worth the temporary satisfaction of a hot, steamy, comforting, cheesy, melty, delicious bowl of mac and cheese. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyways. However, I recently discovered the plethora of GF pasta options available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and ALDI, and  knew that I could find a way to fill the mac and cheese void in my life. Butternut squash is (obviously) the answer. I know there are still some of you out there who don’t want to be members of my butternut squash fan club *ahem, Matt* but let me tell you, this recipe is a game changer.

PASTA 1.jpg

Let’s talk about some of the seemingly unnecessary/obscure ingredients I use in my recipes, because I promise that once you stock up on them, you’ll use them all the time…

  1. Nutritional yeast- This is a staple for your dairy-free pantry that mimics the flavor of Parmesan cheese in any dish, and is full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  2. Smoked paprika- I never knew or cared about the difference between regular paprika and smoked paprika until our trip to Southern Spain last year. Smoked paprika is used in lots of traditional vegetable dishes like chickpea stew, and as soon as I got home I bought a jar. A little goes a long way to create a smoky heat that brings out the flavor of just about any vegetable. Buy some!
  3. Roasted garlic- I know this seems like an extra step, but the flavor of roasted garlic is mild with this wonderfully creamy texture that makes a big difference in your finished product. I roast a couple heads at a time and keep them refrigerated in a jar so I can squeeze a couple cloves into whatever I’m cooking. I have instructions below.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Makes about 4 servings

1/4 C raw cashews

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 package cubed butternut squash (about 3C)

3 cloves garlic

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

2 T nutritional yeast (optional)

1 t onion powder

1/2 t smoked paprika

1/4 t chili powder

1/4 – 1/3 C vegetable broth or water

1 package GF pasta

Optional roasted vegetables for serving (Brussels sprouts or kale)

Sriracha (optional)

Method:

Soak cashews in 1 C of boiling water for at least 30 minutes, until they soften and absorb a good amount of the water.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast in oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and set aside. (If you are making roasted vegetables to go with your pasta, make those now, too.)

Roasted garlic- Slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

Prepare GF pasta according to package instructions. Do NOT over cook!

In a blender, combine roasted butternut squash, drained cashews, about 3 cloves of roasted garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and seasonings and pulse until combined. Add broth or water a little at a time and continue to pulse until you reach desired consistency (I left mine pretty thick).

Combine cooked pasta with sauce and top with roasted vegetables of choice and sriracha, hot sauce of choice, or crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

 

 

Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I have a bunch of random vegetables laying around, so you know what what means- QUICHE! I haven’t made a quiche with a crust for a long time, and now that I’m avoiding gluten, I needed to conjure up a new recipe. I found a recipe from Paleo Running Momma that uses a combination of gluten free flours, but sounded simple enough. I tweaked it just a tad, and it came out wonderfully. This crust is quick and easy, and doesn’t require any rolling out!

I had some turkey sausage and fresh sage to use, so I thought I’d combine some autumn flavors for a hearty and filling paleo breakfast. Like my other quiche recipe, you can use any vegetables and meat you have on hand and as long as you stick to similar measurements, it will turn out great! For example, I used leftover cooked acorn squash as the carb-y vegetable in my quiche, but hash browns or leftover roasted potatoes would be great too!

I tried something new today by not adding any milk to the egg mixture and really liked the results. It came out a little richer, and had amazing flavor. The pinch of smoked paprika adds a nice amount of heat that perfectly compliments the flavors of the turkey sausage and fresh veggies. Matt is a tough judge when it comes to quiche, as he is not a fan of eggs, so his seal of approval this morning was a real success.

Quiche1

 

Quiche2

Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

Makes 6-8 servings

For the crust:

1 C almond flour

2 T coconut flour

2/3 C tapioca flour

1/3 C cold ghee or vegan butter

Pinch sea salt

1 egg

For the filling:

1 C cooked squash, cubed (or substitute with hash browns or cooked potatoes)

1/2 bell pepper (about 3/4 C) diced

1/2 yellow onion (about 3/4 C) diced

3/4 lb turkey sausage

1 t fresh sage, chopped

6 eggs

Salt & pepper

Pinch smoked paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

For the crust, combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and use pastry cutter or two butter knives to cut butter and egg into dry ingredients. When dough starts to form, use clean hands to knead. Turn dough into pie dish and lightly spray your hands with nonstick oil. Press crust onto bottom and sides of pie dish lightly, until evenly distributed. Pierce with a fork to prevent crust from rising, and bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, and lower oven temperature to 350°.

In medium skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain fat and discard. Add onion and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until onion starts to turn translucent. Add bell peppers and season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add squash or leftover potatoes to pie dish, sprinkle sage, and add mixture from skillet, distributing evenly over crust.

Quiche4

 

Quiche 3

In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and carefully pour into pie dish. Bake at 350°  for 40-45 minutes, until nice and brown on edges and eggs are completely set completely in middle of quiche. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes, and use knife to loosen crust from sides of pie dish for easier serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Tip** for a nice golden top, turn oven to broil for last 5 minutes of cooking. Watch quiche very carefully during this step so it doesn’t burn!

Winter Minestrone Soup (GF)

The other night, my mom took me to see Ina Garten live at the Chicago Theater, and let me just say that I didn’t think it was possible to love her more than I did, but I do. It’s possible. She’s the best. She spoke about her almost 50 years of married life with her husband Jeffrey, and about all the experiences throughout her life that led her to where she is now, creating recipes on her farm in the Hamptons every day. Like what is that and how do I get to that point in life?

She acknowledged the existence of the “store bought is fine” meme, which I found very satisfying, and poked fun at herself for the number of times she says “how easy is that?” She spent a lot of time explaining her method for creating and testing recipes. I never realized how much thought and testing she puts into every single recipe, and it really struck a chord with me because she cares so much about how the finished product turns out for home cooks.

I love all her recipes, but this soup is on my list of favorites. I made a few small tweaks, and although she might not appreciate me dissecting her perfectly-crafted recipe to make it gluten and dairy-free, I hope you will! Because now we can alllll cozy up with a bowl of her amazing Winter Minestrone soup this season.

This recipe looks a little daunting at first because of the long list of ingredients, but you will probably already have most of them on hand like I did. One thing to note is that Ina stresses the use of chicken stock, not broth, in this recipe and it does make a noticeable difference. She of course makes her own stock, but let’s not get carried away… “Store bought is just fine.”

soup1

Ina’s Winter Minestrone Soup (made GF and dairy-free)

Makes 6-8 servings

Good olive oil

4 ounces bacon, ½-inch-diced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2½ cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

4 cloves minced garlic

1 t dried thyme

2- 14.5 oz cans roasted diced tomatoes

1 carton chicken stock (4 C)

1 bay leaf

Salt & pepper

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans (or Northern beans), drained and rinsed

2 C cooked GF pasta (I used Whole Foods brand chickpea shells)

8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

½ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (make sure it’s dairy-free)

1/4 C nutritional yeast

soup2

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add  bacon and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, the bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine, pesto, and nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

Tip** if you plan on having leftovers, leave all pasta on side and add to soup as you serve. If you leave it in the soup for multiple days, it’ll absorb too much liquid from the soup and turn to mush.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather begins to turn and the days get shorter, I find myself craving warm, hearty meals. Pot roast is one of my Grandma’s specialties, and making it at home always reminds me of Sunday dinners at her house. She makes a hearty gravy and butter-filled mashed potatoes to go along with it, so it took me a while to find a recipe that was almost as delicious and comforting as hers without the added dairy and gluten.

I finally found a winner by adapting Cooking Light’s pot roast recipe; reducing the number of servings and turning it into the perfect slow cooker recipe.  This pot roast is my go-to cure the Sunday Scaries, and leaves us with at least one or two more meal’s worth of leftovers for weeknights. When I am on the Whole 30 or am making a conscious effort to avoid alcohol, I simply omit the wine and replace it with more beef broth.

pot roast 1.jpeg
Instead of cooking the potatoes in the crock pot, I made dairy-free mashed potatoes to mimic Grandma’s dinner

Searing the roast before adding it to the crock pot may sound like an annoying, unnecessary step, but let me tell you- it makes a huge difference. It seals in the juice and flavor, keeping the roast tender and moist while it’s in the slow cooker. Please don’t skip this step- you will not get the same great results.

After making this a few times, I learned to add the carrots and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process so they aren’t  complete mush when the roast is ready. I like my veggies al-dente, so this fix works for me. If you’d like very soft carrots and potatoes, feel free to throw those in the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking process.

pot roast 2.jpg

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless chuck roast

1 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

3/4 C red wine

2 C organic beef broth

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 t dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 t dried rosemary, or 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into eighths

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into eighths

Method:

Heat dutch oven or large frying pan. Once pan is hot, add ghee or olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of chuck roast. Add meat to pan and sear every exposed side of meat for about 1-2 minutes, until brown.

Add seared chuck roast to slow cooker, making sure to include all juice and scrapings from pan. Add onion, wine, beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Tip** If you’ll be home while the roast is cooking, baste roast with liquid every hour or so. If you’re setting it and going to work, just make sure pot roast is mostly covered with liquid.

When there is about 1 1/2 hours of cooking left, add peeled carrots and potatoes and a little more salt and pepper to slow cooker. You’ll know beef is done when it’s tender enough to fall apart.

Cut roast into large chunks, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and a ladle of broth mixture. Enjoy!