Simple Chili (for low-budget food challenge)

Simple Chili

One of the meals I made to last most of the week for the low-budget food challenge was a simple chili. I was surprised I was able to pull this off without my usual poblano and jalapeno peppers, among other ingredients. This isn’t the best chili I’ve made, but it tasted good and it was quite filling.

I made this in the dutch oven, but it could easily be made in any large pot. It could also be made in a slow cooker after browning the beef.

Servings: 7

The 7 total servings is based on 1½ cups per serving – the recipe makes 10½ cups of chili.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground beef (I used 80% lean, and the package I bought was just short of a half pound at 0.44 pounds)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup dry black beans
  • ½ cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 packet McCormick Original Chili Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions

Soak beans per the instructions on the bag, either quick soak or overnight method. Do not get rid of the liquid!

Preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown, stirring occasionally and breaking up the pieces. (Note: Normally I would start with olive oil and cook some garlic and onions first, but being limited in resources due to the challenge, I did not have olive oil to use, and I didn’t want to waste any of the butter. I decided the fat from the beef would be just fine for cooking the onions.)

Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add beans (including the liquid from soaking), canned tomatoes, chili seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes. I let mine simmer for about an hour (stirring occasionally) because I was doing other things, but it would have been fine to eat after 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

I estimated the nutritional information using the recipe builder on the USDA SuperTracker. If you’re on a low sodium diet, you can reduce the amount of sodium by about 78% if you don’t add the 1tbsp of salt to the recipe.

Nutrient
Amount
% of Daily Target or Limit
Total Calories 165 8% limit
Protein 12 g 26% target
Carbohydrate 21 g 16% target
Dietary Fiber 7 g 30% target
Total Sugars 4 g No daily target or limit
Added Sugars 0 g 0% limit
Total Fat 4 g No daily target or limit
Saturated Fat 1 g 6% limit
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g No daily target or limit
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g No daily target or limit
Linoleic Acid 0 g 2% target
α-Linolenic Acid 0.1 g 10% target
Omega 3 – EPA 1 mg No daily target or limit
Omega 3 – DHA 0 mg No daily target or limit
Cholesterol 18 mg 6% limit
Minerals
Calcium 68 mg 7% target
Potassium 563 mg 12% target
Sodium 1269 mg 55% limit
Copper 224 µg 25% target
Iron 8 mg 42% target
Magnesium 55 mg 17% target
Phosphorus 159 mg 23% target
Selenium 6 µg 11% target
Zinc 2 mg 27% target
Vitamins
Vitamin A 29 µg RAE 4% target
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg 22% target
Vitamin B12 0.6 µg 23% target
Vitamin C 16 mg 21% target
Vitamin D 0 µg 0% target
Vitamin E 1 mg AT 5% target
Vitamin K 6 µg 7% target
Folate 106 µg DFE 27% target
Thiamin 0.8 mg 75% target
Riboflavin 0.1 mg 13% target
Niacin 2 mg 17% target
Choline 34 mg 8% target

Sausage & Apple Stuffing

Sausage & Apple Stuffing

I didn’t host Thanksgiving this year, which is one of my favorite things. This was the first year in a really long time I haven’t hosted, but I’m glad I was still able to make some contributions to dinner. (Thanks Annie & Dave for having me – I had a great time!)

I brought stuffing and honey yeast rolls with brown sugar honey butter. I used some of my vintage Pyrex dishes to make the stuffing, and Le Creuset stoneware  pie dishes* for the rolls. I made everything at home and transported it a half hour to dinner, which meant an interesting packing job with rubber bands to hold the Pyrex lids on and a selection of dish towels and oven mitts to make sure nothing broke during the car ride.  The stuffing came out great. I cooked it almost all the way at my house and finished it in the oven when I arrived.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links [marked with *], which means I receive compensation for purchases made using the links.)

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch of celery
  • 3 honeycrisp apples
  • 2 small-medium onions
  • 3 large mild Italian sausage patties
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 16-18 cups hard cubed bread (you want it to be almost crouton-like)
  • Butter (for greasing casserole dish)

I used dried herbs, so you will want to adjust proportions if you’re using fresh.

Instructions

Set aside bread cubes into one or two large mixing bowls.

Preheat a large (or possibly two) saute pan over medium heat. I used my Le Creuset 5qt braiser* and it was the perfect size.

Prep onions, apples, and celery and set aside together:

  • Onions – small dice
  • Celery – leaves removed, medium dice
  • Apples – peeled and cored, small dice

Add sausage patties to the pan, breaking up the pieces as it cooks. Cook all the way through until the sausage starts to brown. Add onions, apples, and celery to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and the apples start to get soft.

Mix with bread cubes in mixing bowl(s) using a spatula or wooden spoon. Add sage, rosemary, thyme, white pepper, and salt, and mix well. Transfer into one or more greased casserole dishes. Add chicken stock. You want the bread to be a little wet, but not too wet.

Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until the top is crispy and the rest seems to be dry-ish (just push down on it and see if it still seems wet or not). Watch and make sure the top doesn’t start to burn. If it does, put the lid of the casserole dish on, or cover with aluminum foil. I cooked mine uncovered and it was fine.

Troubleshooting

If after about 20 minutes it still seems too mushy/wet, put another cup or two of the dried bread in a mixing bowl. Carefully dump or transfer the stuffing from the casserole dish to the bowl, mix, transfer back to the casserole dish, and resume cooking.

Prep Tip

IMG_7044Set everything out to prepare for all of your chopping. Have two bowls handy – one for the things you’re chopping, and the other for all of the scrap pieces (onion peels, apple cores, etc.) Then you can just toss all of the scraps once at the end.

Spiralized German Cucumber Salad

Spiralized German Cucumber Salad

I got a spiralizer this weekend, so I’m trying to make different things with it. Spiralized cucumbers were a success, so I’ll definitely be making more cucumber salads that way. Cucumber salad is one of my favorite sides/snacks. I’m actually eating this one right now while I write this post. It’s dilly and tangy – yum!

Ingredients

2 cucumbers
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 tsp dried dill weed
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Instructions 

Peel cucumbers (optional). Spiralize the cucumbers on a thin setting and pat them dry with a paper towel. You can also cut them into shorter pieces if you’d like. Place into a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir with a spatula to mix well.

Chicken Fried Rice Tacos

Chicken Fried Rice Tacos

I ate at a restaurant last time I was in Charleston that had hibachi tacos on the menu. They were so good, so I decided I needed to try to make something similar at home. I’ll definitely be making these again!

You could easily make this vegetarian by nixing the chicken and increasing the proportion of veggies. It would also probably be good with cooked pulled chicken – just add toward the end if you’re using cooked chicken.

Ingredients

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup rice
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini, julienned
⅓ cup bean sprouts
⅓ cup chopped water chestnuts
½ cup mixed frozen peas and carrots
Sesame oil
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha
1 egg
Soft tortillas (flour or corn)
Japanese shrimp sauce or yum yum sauce

Instructions 

Cook the rice (once done, set aside). While the rice is cooking, preheat a wok on the stovetop on medium heat. Meanwhile, prep the veggies (except the garlic) and water chestnuts. Set aside.

Slice chicken into thin, short strips. Coat with about 1 tbsp soy sauce.

Add a small amount of sesame oil to the wok (about 1 tsp). Grate the garlic into the wok using a lemon zester. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes until almost cooked through. The necessary cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. Add the veggies and cook for another several minutes (by this time, the chicken should be done).

Turn the heat up to high, add the rice, remaining soy sauce, and Sriracha. Mix to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring about once per minute.

Beat the egg with a fork to scramble. Clear a spot in the middle of the fried rice mixture for the egg, like this

IMG_6083

Stir the egg continuously while it’s cooking so it doesn’t burn (you’ll want it to break up into pieces). Once it’s pretty much cooked, mix it in with the rest of the rice. This is a good time to taste it and make sure it doesn’t need salt. The soy sauce is pretty salty, but I think I added a pinch of salt. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Heat tortillas. Spoon mixture onto tortillas and top with Japanese shrimp sauce or yum yum sauce.

Curried Tomato Soup

Curried tomato soupI’ve been a lot better about packing my lunch lately instead of going out. I get bored with sandwiches day after day, even if they’re different types. I’m also not a morning person, so if I’m going to pack a lunch I really need to prepare a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday. This soup was easy and quick to make, and I’ll have enough for lunch all week.

Ingredients

1 small-medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes (could also use crushed)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

Instructions

Melt butter over medium heat in dutch oven (a regular pot is fine if you don’t have a dutch oven). Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Add flour and stir to combine. Continue to cook until it gets a little golden color to it.

Add chicken stock, salt, and curry powder. Use an immersion blender to puree the onions and garlic (optional). Add crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in heavy cream.

Ma’s Ham & Bean Soup

I posted my mother in law’s ham recipe the other day, and I recommended saving the unused sauce, the leftover ham, and pan juices for later. This is why! You can make this on the stovetop in a large pot of dutch oven, or in an extra large crock pot.

I’ll admit we’ve sometimes had the craving for this soup and made a ham just for this purpose. If you do that, you’ll want to set aside meat from at least half of the ham for eating since this recipe is meant to be made from leftovers.

Ingredients

Leftover ham (on and off the bone), pan juices, and any unused sauce (from Ma’s ham recipe)
1 bag great northern beans
1 x 28ox can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

Prepare beans using instructions on the bag for the “quick soak” method. Do not drain the water from the pot when finished. (This takes about an hour)

Place ham (bone with meat, and any additional meat off the bone) into an extra large pot or dutch oven. Add beans and the water from soaking. Add the diced tomatoes (do not drain), pan juices, ham sauce, onion, and garlic.

Cook on low, pretty much all day. Stir occasionally and add some water if it begins to get too thick.

Simple Salsa

Ingredients

6 tomatoes, seeded and cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ large red onion, cut into large chunks (separate each layer into its own piece)
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp cumin
Leaves from about ¼ to ½ of a bunch of cilantro

Instructions

Place everything into a large food processor and process on low. Once the pieces look relatively small, stop the food processor and stir. Process again to make sure any larger pieces get chopped.

Cucumber Salad

cucumber-saladThis is a super simple cucumber salad. It’s quick to make, and a good opportunity to practice knife skills.

Ingredients

6 cucumbers
2 pints grape tomatoes
Half of a medium red onion
2 packets Good Seasons Italian salad dressing & recipe mix
Red wine vinegar

Instructions

Cut cucumbers in half vertically and remove seeds. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon or melon baller and cut into slices (half moon shaped).

Thinly slice onion (almost like a julienne size).

Halve the grape tomatoes.

Combine the veggies. Add seasoning packets, stir. Add red wine vinegar to taste (start with a few shakes, and increase a few shakes at a time).

Red Wine Onion Soup

Red Wine Onion Soup
Whenever I eat a dish I love at a restaurant, I love the challenge of trying to make it home. There’s a local restaurant near us that has this amazing red wine onion soup. This soup is so good that my wife, who used to be a french onion soup hater, orders it every time we go to this place. So naturally I needed to try to replicate it. I got close to the real deal. I want to try it with a higher ratio of wine to beef stock, but I haven’t had a chance yet.

Ingredients
1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle red wine
3 cups beef stock
4 tsp worcestershire
3 tbsp Maggi liquid seasoning (This can be hard to find. Just use a little more Worcestershire if you can’t find it.)
¾ tsp thyme, or 4 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
Stale French bread
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Asiago cheese, thinly sliced

Makes 4-6+ servings, depending on the size of your soup crocks.

Instructions

Heat butter in dutch oven. Add garlic, onions, & thyme. Add some salt (cuple of pinches). Cover to cook, stir occasionally. Cook until onions are soft. When the onions are soft, uncover and cook until golden.

Deglaze with wine. After you’ve deglazed, just pour the rest in. Add beef stock, more salt, bay leaves, worcestershire, and Maggi.

Bring to boil. Reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste a few times and salt until it tates salty enough.

Preheat broiler.

Cut bread into cubes. Put 4 cubes into each bowl (or more, depending on size of soup crocks. I used Le Creuset mini cocottes. The bread in these filled about 1/2 of each.)

Ladle soup into bowls. Let the bread absorb broth for a few seconds and add more soup if needed.

Top with alternating layers of gruyere and asiago. (2 layers of each)

Place the bowls onto a sheet pan. Broil until it’s melty and a little golden.