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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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

I tend to go in phases with meals and lately I’ve been really into using my slow cooker. Even though it’s almost July and not exactly slow cooker season, I’ve been enjoying the convenience of letting it do most of the work! Luckily there hasn’t been a heat wave yet to suppress my use of it yet. This recipe is a lovely combination of slow cooked chicken, white beans, peppers and spicy tex-mex flavors. I love the way slow cookers treat all kinds of meat–it just falls apart so nicely! And this recipe is no exception, the chicken turned out perfectly cooked and fall apart tender. As usual, slow cookers can vary by model so feel free to adjust cook time depending on how hot your cooker runs. This recipe can be adjusted based on your timing needs as well: cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. I used chicken breasts for the meat but feel free to mix it up and add dark meat–thighs, wings, etc. It all gets shredded in the end anyways and that is about all the work that is required for this recipe. It doesn’t get much better than that!
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Beef Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup

Tex-mex food is awesome in pretty much every form, including soup! A lot of the U.S. has been dealing with some epic winter weather so to all of you fighting the deluge of snow (hey Chicago!), enchiladas are the perfect winter comfort food. This recipe is super easy to make with hardly any prep time involved. You can buy pre-made enchilada sauce at the grocery store but it’s fresher and easy to make at home. In my opinion it’s worth it to whip up a batch before you start cooking the soup. It can be made several days ahead of time as well if you’re short on cooking time. Possible toppings include: tortilla chips/strips, avocado slices, cilantro, lime slices, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream…I could go on. The end result was delicious with minimal effort. It can be easily converted to the slow cooker, just add everything into the pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours or 3-4 hours on high!
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Classic Beef Tacos with Chipotle Tomato Salsa

Classic Beef Tacos with Chipotle Tomato Salsa

Even though it isn’t summer anymore it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good taco! If you’re craving food truck style tacos this is the recipe you need to make it at home. Seasoned ground beef comes together with smoky chipotle salsa, sharp cheddar and slices of avocado. The beef is seasoned in a simple combination of garlic, jalapenos, paprika and cumin. Finish it off with fresh lime juice and cilantro and you have one flavorful taco (or 10)!
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Chipotle Tomato Salsa

Chipotle Tomato Salsa

This salsa is a great last minute recipe and can be a go-to for anything tex-mex. One week day I didn’t have much in the pantry and this salsa was born. If you have diced tomatoes and a can of Chipotle peppers in adobo you are already on your way! Add spices and chopped cilantro and you have a fresh salsa without a lot of chopping and prep work. The spicy and smoky flavor goes great with beef tacos, quesadillas and eggs.
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Homemade Mexican Rice

Homemade Spanish Rice

Mexican rice (also known as “Spanish” rice) is a savory rice dish flavored with tomatoes and spices. Mexican rice holds up well on its own and makes a great accompaniment to beef, chicken, fish, tacos, enchiladas…the list goes on! It goes well with tons of different dishes and is pretty easy to make. You start by toasting the rice in a saute pan. Toasting it first enhances the flavor and is considered an essential step. I would recommend using homemade chicken or vegetable stock to give it an extra boost of nutrients and flavor!
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Roasted Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Salsa and Oaxaca Cheese

Roasted Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Salsa and Oaxaca Cheese

Tacos are one of my favorite foods and I’m always looking for different combinations to try out! This recipe combines tender, shredded chicken with a smokey Chipotle salsa and melty Oaxaca cheese. I roasted the chicken in the oven with fragrant spices, garlic and honey. The nice thing about roasting the chicken is that it produces plenty of juice in the pan to incorporate back into the meat once it has been shredded. This results in the juiciest, most tender meat for the tacos. The Oaxaca cheese melted easily over the tacos and had a mild flavor that complimented the other ingredients. The salsa can be made up to two days beforehand to save time on preparation.

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Roasted Chipotle Tomato Salsa

Roasted Chipotle Salsa

The thing that makes this salsa unique is the charring of the vegetables before blending. This can be done over a skillet or with a pair of tongs over an open flame. I really liked how it amplified the smokey flavor of the chipotle peppers. I used several toasted Puya chiles which aren’t too spicy and have a fruity, chocolatey flavor.  This salsa is the perfect balance between smoky, spicy and sweet. It’s also really simple and goes with so many different tex-mex dishes. I could see it going well with eggs but I made it for tacos which turned out great!
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Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Once I had a batch of Pickled Corn Salsa ready I took a nice pork shoulder and slow cooked it for some tasty tacos! The pork is marinated in tomatoes, onions and spices and slow cooked for about 4 hours in a crock pot. The pork ended up being succulent and fall apart tender. I was really happy with how soft and flavorful it turned out. The acids from the pickled salsa complimented the richness of the shredded pork. For garnish, I added a touch of lime and queso fresco.

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