Slow Cooker Beef & Bacon Chili

Slow Cooker Beef & Bacon Chili

Fact: chilis and slow cookers are a match made in heaven. Chili cooked on the stove is great but the slow cooker really does bring it to new heights. On the stove, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to burn and due to the thickness it’s hard to get it heated evenly without stirring fairly often. That’s where the slow cooker comes in. You get a nice even cook with no burning on the bottom, plus you get a much more tender meat that falls apart easily and the beans are always fully cooked. This chili has a lot of great stuff going for it, even before you begin the process of slow cooking. Ground beef meets crumbled bacon meets smoky chipotle spices. The secret ingredient in this one is apple cider vinegar, which adds just a hint of tanginess. This is THE “Game Day” chili, folks. Serve it with rice or Corn Muffins on the side or have it as is. Garnish with whatever fixin’s you like: grated cheddar, avocado slices, chopped green onion, sour cream and sliced nacho style jalapenos are all great choices.
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Southwest Green Chile and Sweet Corn Black Bean Burger

Southwest Black Bean Burger

It’s high summer and what could be more summery than black bean burgers? Don’t give the ‘bean’ part the side eye yet, carnivores. I promise this recipe is delicious and full of flavor. I’ve made similar black bean burgers in the past and this one also did not disappoint. While I’m a big fan of regular beef burgers, bean burgers are a great change of pace. You can do all kinds of things with these burgers; the possibilities are pretty much endless. Since fresh corn on the cob is in season I used that as part of the bean filling and it provided fresh bursts of sweetness in the burger. I used pepper jack for the cheese but you can use any that suits your fancy. This recipe makes about 8 large patties but they can be stored for 2 days in the refrigerator before cooking. I served mine with a batch of baked chipotle fries and it made a fantastic side!
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Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich 3

Messy, gooey, hot grilled cheeses are one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Who can say ‘no’ to one of these babies? This sandwich comes from the South so you know it’s going to be healthy. Each sandwich is loaded with Pimento cream cheese (also known as the “Caviar of the South”) and smoked Gouda. Obviously, the sandwich is very rich and filled with delicious flavors. The red pimentos are the same pickled peppers found in green olives. You can find these sold in separate jars by the olives and condiments section in your grocery store. The pimento cream cheese can be served as a condiment as well, with crackers, chips or celery. This recipe pairs perfectly with a simple tomato soup and salad.
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Homemade Potato Salad

Homemade Potato Salad

Potato salad is a classic American summer side dish that reminds me of hot summer days, afternoon picnics and grilling sessions. I used to purchase potato salad from a local deli but the ingredients on the label were a bit off-putting. I didn’t recognize most of them listed and I finally decided to just make it from scratch. This recipe is a perfect antidote to the store-bought problem. While it is more time consuming than just running to the store, this recipe is healthier and you know exactly what’s going in it. It’s a delicious alternative to the processed stuff!

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Black Bean Burger with Caramelized Onions and Chipotle Mayo

Black Bean Burger with Caramelized Onions and Avocado

Summer is almost over but I am resisting that fact by making a bunch of summery food. These black bean burgers are totally loaded with lots of add-ons: mashed avocado, chipotle mayo, tomato, melted cheddar, and crispy caramelized onions. The actual burger is mixed with sweet corn, rolled oats and spices. It’s super filling and loaded with protein. The burgers are a little bit delicate and they do best cooked over a hot saute pan. Everything came together really well and it turned out super tasty! You can always add whatever fixins you want. Some other options would be sprouts, feta cheese, sauteed mushrooms, pickles and lettuce.
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Egg Fried Rice

Egg Fried Rice

This recipe is based on the American Chinese food classic: egg fried rice. Now instead of ordering take-out I can whip up a batch of fried rice on the cheap and in no time at all. This recipe is probably a lot healthier compared to the fried rice at Chinese restaurants. You can give the rice a boost by adding more veggies like bean sprouts, green onion, or baby corn. I had some leftover Korean BBQ Chicken and served it with the rice which was very tasty!  You can also add a protein to the rice (like chicken, tofu or pork) to make it more of a main course too.

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Baked Chipotle Fries

Baked Chipotle Fries

I love baked potato fries and I actually prefer them over the deep fried kind. They’re easy to prepare and can be seasoned with a seemingly endless amount of spices. These fries are seasoned with smoky ground chipotle pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder.  I like to get the fries pretty brown and crispy so I turn up the heat at the end of cooking to get that effect. The end result is a soft interior with a golden crispiness on the exterior.  I use a handy tool that cuts the potatoes into a fry shape but making wedges by hand would work fine too.   As a healthier alternative you could easily substitute russet potatoes for sweet potatoes or yams with this recipe.

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BBQ Grilled Cheese Chicken Sandwich with Chipotle Fries

BBQ Grilled Cheese Chicken Sandwich

The messiest foods are the best foods, especially when we’re talking about sandwiches. If the sandwich can’t be contained inside two pieces of bread it’s gotta be good! This sandwich has a lot of good things going for it: shredded chicken smothered in spicy BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, and sharp cheddar cheese. Since barbeque sauce is a staple in my kitchen, I just make my own since it’s so easy. This sandwich packs a ton of flavor! The combination of the melted sharp cheddar with the flavors of the BBQ sauce and caramelized onions was so tasty. I served the sandwich alongside some smoky chipotle fries. I will definitely be making this again!

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BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Melted Gruyere

The days are getting longer and each day feels a little bit closer to summer time! And what says summer more than barbeque grilled chicken sandwiches? I chose a simple recipe for barbeque sauce made with molasses, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and chipotle peppers. Then as a side I made some baked potato fries served with malt vinegar. I chose a smoky Gruyere cheese to go with the sandwich which paired very will with the flavors of the barbeque sauce. This was a tasty dish that I will definitely make again this summer!

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Irish Soda Bread Cranberry Scones

Whenever I’ve picked up store bought scones I’ve always been disappointed. This year with Saint Patrick’s Day around the corner I came across a recipe for these Irish Soda Bread Scones. Determined to like scones, I gave this recipe a try. The recipe was originally made as a full loaf bread so I don’t know how traditional these are to scone recipes. The fluffy, dense texture on the inside and the rough exterior was very scone-like. If it tastes like a scone and looks like a scone, it’s a scone right? It was fair enough for me, especially since these were so delicious. I loved the bursts of sweet and tart from the cranberries, which paired well with the caraway. Next time I might go a little crazy and add orange or lemon zest to the dough and see how that turns out.

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