Beef Chili with Kidney Beans


Amazing chili that can be made in the crock pot. Cooks Illustrated suggests making the chili at least a day in advance, up to five days, as the flavor gets better with time. We made some adjustments as we don’t like a very meaty chili and I grew up eating chili with potatoes, so we added them.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, makes it spicy)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, makes it spicy)
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
  • 30 ounces of canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 28 ounces of canned diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 28 ounces of canned tomato puree
  • Table salt
  • Red potatoes, peeled and diced (about 8 small)
  1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and ½ teaspoon salt; bring to boil.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Cook the chili on the high setting for four hours.
  5. After 2 hours, add the diced potatoes, covering with sauce.
  6. Serve hot, though the flavor is best if left overnight.

Optional items for garnish: fresh lime wedges, sour cream, green onions.

Lentil & kale soup

  • 1 large onion , chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped ½" slices
  • 3 cups rinsed and chopped kale
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water


  1. Add olive oil to soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. 
  4. Add chicken broth, water, tomatoes, bay leaf; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
  5. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot.
  6. Add kale and simmer in soup for about 5 minutes until tender.

You can serve the soup with a spoon of yogurt to make it creamy. Stir the yogurt into your bowl of soup.

Spinach & mushroom lasagna


I love lasagna. I’ve been making lasagna for about 10 years and have my own recipe mixed together from favorite flavors and methods from other lasagna recipes.. This weekend I made the best lasagna to date with some methods from Cooks Illustrated (who can do no wrong, in my eyes!). I really dislike ricotta, hence the cottage cheese usage here.


  • Enough lasagna noodles to make 4 layers of lasagna in a brownie sized pan
  • 16 oz. low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 oz. spinach, stemmed and rinsed
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
  • Spaghetti sauce (Prego in a jar is my favorite for lasagna)
  • 8 oz. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • A few tablespoons of parmesan


For the spinach

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside. 
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1 tbsp. salt, add spinach and stir until wilted. 
  3. Drain and immediately add spinach to ice water to stop cooking.
  4. Drain and squeeze spinach in a towel to remove all excess moisture.
  5. Chop up spinach.

For the mushrooms

  1. Sautee mushrooms in some garlic and olive oil until browned and no more liquid is released. This is important to not have a soggy lasagna.

For the cheese

  1. Add cottage cheese and 2 eggs to food processor.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Mix cheese mixture, spinach and mushrooms in a bowl until combined.

For the lasagna noodles

  1. If you are using regular lasagna noodles, boil them according to package. If you are using no-boil lasagna noodles, soak them in hot tap water for 5 mins.
  2. Agitate noodles so they don’t stick together while boiling/soaking.
  3. Drain and use immediately. If you let them stand, they dry up and stick.

To assemble lasagna

  1. Spoon a few tbsp of spaghetti sauce on bottom of brownie pan. Shake to evenly coat bottom.
  2. Add first layer of noodles.
  3. Evenly cover noodles with some spaghetti sauce.
  4. Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle lightly with a handful of mozzarella.
  5. Repeat 2-4 2 more times.
  6. Spread rest of cheese mixture over noodles.
  7. Cover with remaining layer of noodles.
  8. Cover noodles with spaghetti sauce, making sure to cover all the edges so noodles don’t dry out.
  9. Sprinkle with mozzarella until evenly covered. Shake a few tbsp of parmesan over mozzarella.
  10. Cover tightly with tin foil that has been spray with cooking spray (so the cheese doesn’t stick to it).
  11. Bake 30 min in 350ºF oven. Remove tin foil and continue baking until cheese is bubbly, 15 min. Let stand 15 min. Serve.

Dutch cranberry apple pie

For pie shell:

  • 1 uncooked pie shell (frozen pre-made, frozen dough, make it yourself, whatever you want)

For crumble topping:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp margarine, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup untoasted pecans or walnuts

For fruit filling:

  • 3 large or 4 medium Gala and/or Jonah Gold apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (~2 lbs)
  • ½ cup frozen (not thawed) cranberries
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • 9 ½-inch glass deep-dish pie plate (6-cup capacity)

Make crumble topping: 

Coarsely chop a bit more than ½ cup of walnuts in food processor by pulsing 5 times with Chop function. Set nuts aside in small bowl. Add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to food processor – use Stir function. Add in butter with Mix function until large clumps form, then Stir in chopped nuts. Chill until ready to use.

Make fruit filling: 

Stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl.

Assemble pie: 

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third.

Transfer fruit filling to pie shell. Loosely cover with foil and bake until apples droop slightly, about 35 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Sprinkle crumble topping over filling and bake, uncovered, until crumble is browned, filling is bubbling, and apples are tender, 40-55 minutes more. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.

Thai red curry


The Thai red curry recipes from Rasa Malaysia and Steamy Kitchen are drastically different. After going through a whole jar of red curry paste, we have developed our favorite version from both recipes.

  1. In a medium saucepan, sautee 2.5 tbsp red curry paste in olive oil over medium heat until aromatic (~2 min).
  2. Add ½ can coconut milk and whisk into the curry paste, so the curry paste breaks up.
  3. Add ¼ can water (or clam juice).
  4. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Add ¼ tsp fish sauce and 2 tsp sugar.
  6. Add vegetables, meat or seafood once curry is simmering. Add the items that take longest to cook first, then add the quick cooking items, so as not to overcook them.
  7. Cook until vegetables, meat or seafood is done.
  8. Serve with rice.

Skillet penne alla vodka


My favorite dish, only quicker! Modifications made, original recipe from Cooks Illustrated.


  • 3- 14-½ oz cans whole peeled tomatoes -OR- diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ – ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup high quality vodka
  • 12 oz (about 3-¾ cups) penne
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • pepper, to taste
  • parmesan, for serving
  • (optional) sauteed sliced mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini – any veggie you’d like to add


1. Pulse tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain. (Skip this step if using diced tomatoes)

2. Heat oil and saute onion, tomato paste and ½ tsp salt; cook until softened. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook unti fragrant. Stir in tomatoes and gently simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 mins or until tomatoes no longer taste raw.

3. Stir in water and vodka, then add pasta. Cover, increase heat and cook, stirring often and maintaining a vigorous simmer until pasta is done.

4. Stir in cream and heat through; stir in basil and season. Stir in sauteed veggies (optional). Serve hot.



After having my first quiche in Paris about a week ago, I decided to make my own! I read about a dozen recipes before mashing it up and making my own version.. With a ready-to-bake pie shell, the quiche took about 15 minutes to put together, 30 in the oven, then my mouth!

I made two and one is going into the freezer.