Spicy Skinny Chili

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It is getting cold and windy and shivery and frigid in DC, and to psychologically withstand such things, I had to make a big pot of something warm and comforting today. It’s also Sunday. Ahhh Sundays. It’s the one day where its perfectly acceptable to watch a marathon of Netflix and just relax in your PJs all day long. Sundays also = football. So, cold weather + Sunday + Football = CHILI. Yum. I love chili. Not only because of that familiar taste but because there are so many different variations and methods for cooking it. You can really get creative. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick so for this recipe I’m going with ground turkey. To make up for not using ground beef (which has more flavor in my opinion), I decided to kick up the heat.

Just like your standard beef chili, there are as many incarnations as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. I know that everyone has an opinion on chili, especially people from Texas, and some will even claim that your chili isn’t chili if you add or omit certain things. If you really want a laugh check out some of the comments on chili recipes on sites like Epicurious. “No TEXAN would ever call this chili!” and “This recipe is blasphemous!” Then again, if you are from Texas you’ve likely got a recipe you were making since you were old enough to stand at a stove and don’t need my chili recipe, so there.

2 lbs 7% fat ground turkey ($5)
1 yellow onion, chopped finely ($.75)
5 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
3 Tbsp tomato paste ($.50)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce ($.05)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1)
1 red bell pepper, chopped ($1.50)
2 jalapenos, chopped and de-seeded ($.75)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 packet Stevia or Splenda
3 Tbsp chili powder ($1)
2 tsp. oregano ($.20)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper ($.05)
Total: $13.05

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add bell pepper and jalapeños.
2. Add ground turkey and browned. Once cooked, poor off excess fat.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, spices, stevia and beans. Stir together and turn heat on low.
3. Mix tomato paste and water until combined and then pour in chili pot.
4. Let simmer on low for 60-90 minutes. Add more tomato paste/ water mixture if you want it less thick.
5. Serve with your favorite toppings– I like chopped green onions sour cream or cheese

*I cooked my chili in a dutch oven but you can easily do this in a crock pot and get the same result*

Dating and Food

katie cooking

I’ve seen it all. My friends always joke that I need to start a journal of all the interesting males I’ve encountered during my 11-year dating career. I wish that I started one years ago because I tend to press the delete button on anything that causes me grief. It’s a shame because I’m sure there are a lot of funny stories and writing material that I’ve put in a mental vault. It’s been a series of ups and downs, laughs and strange moments, and most importantly- lessons learned. You might be wondering why I’m talking about failed relationships on a food blog. It sounds funny, but I can very vividly associate food with certain phases in my dating history.

The Disappearing Man

DC is quite possibly the worst city on earth for dating. You see, it tends to be a transient city and when people are here they are usually focused on one thing—getting ahead. You have the stereotypical Hill staffer, The Georgetown frat boy, or the “I’m too busy” type TRIPLE A attorney. Oh and then sometimes you have a wildcard (don’t get me started on that one). I’ve given them all a chance. Success rate? Zero.

So the first recipe I’d like to share is called the Kiss of Death a’la Shrimp Scampi. This recipe alone has caused three DC men to vanish into thin air. The main ingredient is cyanide. Just kidding. In all honesty though, I am the toughest critic of my own recipes and I consider this one to be excellent. It’s the kind of dish that I make for company or when I want to impress someone.  So how could it be that it caused three gents to run away and never speak to me again? Who knows, maybe I had parsley in my teeth. I promise you this recipe is amazing. Just maybe think twice before making it for that special someone.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguini ($1.50)
  • 4 tbs butter ($.50)
  • 4 tbs olive oil ($.20)
  • 2 shallots, minced ($.50)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined ($7.00)
  • Juice of 1 lemon ($1.00)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C dry white wine ($2.00)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley ($.25)

Total: $13.20

Instructions

Bring water to boil and cook linguini. While pasta is cooking, melt 2 tbs of butter and 2 tbs olive oil. Cook shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper-seasoned shrimp and cook until pink. Remove from pan and set aside. Add wine, lemon juice and tbs butter and tbs olive oil. Bring to a boil then simmer 2 minutes. Add shrimp and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in cooked linguini then serve, with grated parmesan if desired.

Cheese Therapy

Rejection. We’ve all been there and it sucks. Everyone handles it differently and clings to different coping mechanisms- exercising, talking WAY too much about it, sleeping, drinking, and not eating. Well for me, it’s cooking an excess amount of food. For myself. I don’t necessarily cook anything in particular when I have the blues, but I can remember the time I made two trays of Mac and Cheese from scratch for little ‘ol me. I didn’t eat it in one sitting but over the course of seven days. And after those seven days guess what? I was over it! The guy that is. This is comfort food at its finest, ladies.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz box macaroni ($1.50)
  • 4 tbs butter ($.50)
  • 4 tbs flour ($.05)
  • 1 C milk ($1.00)
  • 1 C cream ($1.00)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded ($3.00)
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs, buttered ($1.00)

Total: $8.05

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook and drain macaroni ; set aside. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, whisk until well blended. Pour milk and cream in gradually, stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) for 8 minutes. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Instructions

Silent Salad

So one time I offered to make dinner for my 3-week boyfriend before we went out to see Jersey Boys in DC. Now, typically when you go to shows you dress up a little. At least that’s what I always thought. I actually really liked this boy so I broke out one of my go-to date dresses and I even made the extra effort to get my hair blown out. Now when this fellow knocks on my door I look in the peep hole and couldn’t believe my left eye. I really wish I had a picture, but let me just give you a mental image: slicked back hair, Wrangler jeans and white sneakers. Now here’s the worst part:  a black MOCK NECK, Long-sleeved, moisture wicking Underarmor turtleneck! Like the kind of shirt football players wear under their jerseys. WTF? Are we like going on a run?

So anyway, I made one of my favorites: Caribbean Cobb Salad but as we sat at the dinner table I didn’t know what to do. Instead of being a nice person and letting the wardrobe choice slide, I said something like “you have something to change into right?” And then I took it a step further and asked if he got dressed in the dark. Apparently this really offended him. Not one word was uttered during the rest of the meal and maybe three or four the rest of the night. Needless to say we did not continue our relationship. Sigh.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken Breasts ($3.50)
  • 1 Tbs Jerk Chicken Seasoning ($.10)
  • 1 Head Bibb Lettuce, chopped ($2.00)
  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce, chopped ($2.00)
  • 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts ($1.00)
  • 1 Mango – Cut in chunks ($1.00)
  • 1 Avocado – Diced ($2.00)
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes ($2.00)
  • 1 Can Hearts of Palm – Cut into 1″ pieces ($1.50)
  • 3/4 Cup Blue Cheese Crumbles ($1.50)
  • Citrus Vinaigrette or Balsamic ($.40)

Total: $17.00

Instructions

Grill chicken, combine all ingredients and serve.

Mexican Aficionados

This post would be incomplete without a throwback. My college boyfriend, who will undoubtedly read this, has an obsession with Mexican food. I will never forget our first date. He picked me up (didn’t come to door, just beeped the horn) and I opened the passenger car door in horror. The horn beep was one thing but his outfit crossed the line. Not to sound completely judgmental but I asked him what on EARTH he was wearing. The poor kid had on a teal horizontal striped polo (two sizes too small), brown and red plaid shorts and Nike sneakers. After two hours of primping, trying on every outfit I own and hoping to be whisked away by prince charming…let’s just say I was a bit let down. So anyway, he made a solid comeback by taking me to the BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT ON THE PLANET, Las Margaritas in Gainesville, FL. I really hope that place still exists.

Over the course of our 2.5-year …ok maybe 3-year relationship we visit Las Margs at least 50 times. Not joking. The place was putting a dent in our college student wallets, so we started cooking and making fajitas on the reg. He manned the beef, peppers and onions while I did all the rest. This of course included my all-time famous guacamole. As corny as it sounds, there’s not one time I pull out my molcajete and don’t think of him. Funny how you can associate avocados with a person huh? Back then I was dealing with the connoisseur of all things Mexican so I can assure this recipe has been tested and approved.

Ingredients

  • Two ripe avocados ($4.00)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped ($.50)
  • 1/4 C chopped white onion ($.25)
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro ($.10)
  • Juice of 1 lime ($.40)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($.03)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($.10)

Total: $5.38

Instructions

Seed both avocados and remove the edible part, cut into chunks before scooping it out. Add all other ingredients, mix in molcajete or use a bowl and mash with the back of a fork to desired consistency.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled Cheese

tomatobasilsoup

Do you ever want to eat food that makes you feel like a kid? You know– chicken nuggets, string cheese, fruit by the foot, PB&J? I guess I’ve been struggling with the fact that I’m getting older and lately I’ve found myself clinging to things that make me feel young. 25 is a weird age. It’s a transition point–  a time where you’re torn between being a responsible adult and acting like an adolescent. I’m not going to visit Chuck-E-Cheese or watch Nickelodeon anytime soon, but I can certainly eat like a child without too much judgement. Besides, I always think it’s pretty cool when restaurants serve things like  “Adult Mac ‘n Cheese” or “Truffle Tater Tots.” Who doesn’t want to order that?

The big problem with classic kid food is that it’s usually loaded with fat. So I thought to myself, what’s something that can cure my craving but won’t wreck my waistline? Soup! Tomato Soup with grilled cheese! Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to break out the Campbell’s and Kraft Singles. I incorporate roasted tomatoes, basil, thyme and a touch of cream (ok, half & half) in my soup. For the grilled cheese, I actually make a quesadilla. I use a low carb tortilla with sharp, lowfat cheddar chesse– I feel it’s less “doughy” than a grilled cheese with plain ‘ol white bread, and also a dip-friendly texture for soup. I would call this meal comfortably chic. It’s familiar and satisfying yet totally gourmet.

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 1.5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half ($2.50)
  • 1/8 cup plus 1 tbs olive oil ($.25)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tbs sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion ($.25)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced ($.15)
  • 1 tbs butter ($.10)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ($.03)
  • 1 (14-ounce) canned plum tomatoes (with juice) ($.75)
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed ($1.00)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme ($.10)
  • 1/2 quart chicken broth ($.75)
  • 1/4 C half & half ($.20)

Total: $5.83

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/8 cup olive oil, salt, pepper. Spread the tomatoes in a layer on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes.In an stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken broth.
Add the roasted tomatoes, including their liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes. If you like your soup a little less chunky, you should put about half of it in a food processor then add it back to the stockpot. Stir in half and half and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for more salt & pepper and serve hot with quesadilla or regular grilled cheese!