Category Archives: Tasty Food

Cincinnati Inspired Chili

I can’t call this true Cincinnati chili for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just can’t bring myself to pile that much cheese on top of my chili (Exhibit A from our visit to Skyline Chili). And instead of cheddar – I like to use Colby Jack because it’s my fav. And finally, both Christopher and I like kidney beans so I go ahead and cook them in the chili instead of adding them on top. So as you can see, this isn’t truly Cincinnati Chili. But the flavors and spices are definitely inspired by it. I’ve been using this recipe from What’s Cooking America for several years and it has come out well every time I’ve made it.

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Cincinnati Inspired Chili 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (16 oz) package spaghetti noodles

Optional Toppings: Shredded Cheddar (or Colby Jack!) Cheese, Oyster Crackers,  and/or Chopped Onion.

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.

2. Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3. When the chili is about 20 minutes from being finished, begin to boil water for spaghetti. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).

4. Top spaghetti noodles with chili and cheese (as well as other additional toppings if desired).Cincinnati Chili (1).JPG

I love that Cincinnati chili is served over spaghetti noodles. We eat regular chili over pasta sometimes so that’s just feels like home to us. And I love how the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and allspice mingle together with the traditional chili spices to make such an awesome combination. Those sweet spices may not seem like they should belong in chili, but somehow Cincinnati chili just makes it work! 🙂

Have you had Cincinnati Chili?
Love Rach

French Onion Soup

Remember that one time I was surprised to find out that “onion soup” in France was what we call French Onion Soup in America? I still laugh when I think about how surprised I was to see that delicious bowl of French onion soup arrive at the table in Paris. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read about it here. But moving on…

I love a good French onion soup. And it’s one of Christopher’s favorite foods so I’m not sure why we haven’t tried making it at home before. I pinned a recipe for it several years ago and kept thinking I’d get around to it eventually. The time finally came at the end of March. I’ve been cleaning out my “to make” list on Pinterest and I decided to try my hand at French onion soup.

Usually I find recipes online and adapt them to our tastes, but I knew literally nothing about making French onion soup before making this recipe so I stuck really close to the instructions I found on TheKitchn website. Speaking of, I definitely recommend checking out the very detailed post there on the best pans, toast, cheese, and extras to use for French onion soup.

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French Onion Soup by TheKitchn

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds yellow onions
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
8 cups beef broth
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
6 to 8 baguette slices, toasted
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded

Directions:

1. Cut each onion top to bottom: Peel away the skin. Slice each half of the onion into thin, evenly-sized half moons. Cut the half moon slices in half.

2. Melt the butter with the oil in the pan set over medium-low heat. After the butter foams up and then settles down, add the onions and stir to coat with the butter. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on low heat.

3. Remove the lid. The onions should have wilted down somewhat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, a generous quantity of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar (to help the onions caramelize). Turn the heat up to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring every few minutes, until the onions are deeply browned (about 40 minutes – 1 hour). Turn down the heat if the onions scorch or stick to the pan; the browning doesn’t come through burning, but through slow, even caramelization.

4. As the onions approach a deep walnut color, heat the broth in a separate pot.

5. Add the flour: Add 3 tablespoons flour to the caramelized onions and cook and stir for about 1 minute. Add white wine to onions and stir around. Add the hot broth to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and partially cover the pan. Cook gently over low heat for at least 1 hour or until the broth is slightly reduced.

6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

7. Heat the oven to 350°F. Divide the soup between small but deep oven-safe bowls. Top each with a slice (or two) of toasted baguette and sprinkle grated cheese in a thick layer over the bread and up to the edge of the bowl. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted (about 15-20 minutes).

8. Turn the oven from bake to broil and broil the soup for 1 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove carefully from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving on heatproof dishes or trivets. Makes 6 – 8 one cup servings.

You guys… it was so simple. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I had some teary eyes from chopping onions and there was definitely a good bit of standing over the pot and stirring the onions as they caramalized, but otherwise – it’s simple. A little hands on time for a delicious meal! Christopher raved about this one. He went to work the next day and told people about it, ha! So trust me (and TheKitchn expert), this is delicious!

Have you made French Onion Soup before?

Is there something you’ve been meaning to get around to making, but just haven’t yet?
Love Rach

Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

Do you guys remember when everyone was making “ice cream” with frozen bananas? It was all over blogs and Pinterest a few years ago. I even shared a recipe that I had made from someone else’s blog back then. And it was delicious. I’m not sure why I stopped making it for snacks. But I know why I started again. 😉 Baby Girl loves sweets and since I limit my sugar-intake, I’ve been reminded of this old favorite way of eating a healthier sort of “ice cream.”

And instead of pulling out a bunch of ingredients, I decided to go with an even simpler recipe. Like 3 ingredients sort of simple. So I tossed a ripe frozen banana, 1/2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter into my Ninja blender. Want to know what came out? This deliciousness:

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Check out that creamy goodness. The texture is ON POINT. Hello afternoon snack. 🙂

As a note: when I freeze my bananas, I peel them and break them into 1″ chunks before putting them in a freezer bag to store. Maybe that’s an obvious tip, but I definitely didn’t start out by breaking up my bananas when I first started freezing bananas for my breakfast shakes and it took way longer for them to process in my Ninja. Happy Blending! 🙂

Love Rach

My favorite ways to eat Toast

You know what I’ve eaten a lot of during this pregnancy? Toast. Sometimes just plain and sometimes with a topping. But it has been a go-to snack for me over the past few months since I first got sick with Baby Girl. I have three favorite go-to toast toppings that I rotate through so today I’m going to share those with you guys!

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Cheese toast. I grew up eating this stuff and have always loved it. Though I’ve probably eaten it more over the past 6 months than I have in the past 12 years, haha! If you’ve never made cheese toast before – it’s super simple. Butter one side of a slice of bread and then lay a slice of cheese down on top (Colby Jack is my favorite). Then broil it in the oven for about a minute or until the cheese starts to bubble (watch it closely! It can burn easily).

Cinnamon Toast

Cinnamon Toast. Another childhood favorite. Lightly toast a piece of bread, butter it, then  sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Or in my case, cinnamon and Stevia. I love the aroma of cinnamon and butter together so this is another major winner!

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If there is an attractive way to photograph peanut butter toast, I don’t know what it is. 😉 But it sure is delicious. And simple. Creamy peanut butter spread on a piece of warm toast. This was a great way for me to get protein in early in pregnancy when I just couldn’t handle the smell of most of my go-to protein sources.

What is your favorite way to eat toast?
Love Rach

Marty’s Healthy Muffins

Usually when I talk about family recipes, I’m talking about ones from my side of the family simply because I learned most of what I know about cooking from my mom, my mom’s parents, and years of trial and error. But every now and then I’ll realize there is something missing in my repertoire thanks to my mother-in-law.

rach and marty

For example, she taught me to stop being afraid to cook fish. And she also introduced me to Jiffy cornbread. Which isn’t a family recipe or anything, but I always thought that I didn’t like cornbread until I tried Jiffy. Mmm!

toph and marty

And over the past few months she has been making the most delicious muffins every time we visit. Even when I was feeling especially sick, Baby Girl has loved these health-ified muffins so we’ve been making them at home as well.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (3)

Marty’s Healthy Muffins

Ingredients:

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp Stevia
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup blueberries OR 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl mash bananas and mix in Stevia. Add beaten egg, vanilla, and applesauce and mix together.

2. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared muffin tins (either use non-stick spray or muffin liners).

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Makes a dozen delicious muffins.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (1)Made with chocolate chips!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (2)Made with blueberries!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (4)Covered in butter and served with a glass of unsweetened almond milk – my fav!

The first time Marty made these for us at Christmas, I literally ate 8 of the 12 muffins she made over just a couple of days. Baby Girl had not been impressed with many of the foods I had been trying to feed her so this was a huge win for me (I had been losing weight at that point). Since then I’ve continued to love these and so has Christopher! They are moist and sweet without being laden with sugar and butter (well, except for the butter that I slather on the muffin just before eating, ha!). Served with a glass of almond milk, they have become my favorite snack when we visit my mother-in-law!

Love Rach

Italian Pasta Salad

I wasn’t a picky eater when growing up, but pasta salad was one of those few things that I really didn’t enjoy. Thankfully my parents seldom made it at home and the few times I found myself needing to eat it at someone else’s home I would give myself just a small serving to be polite and choke it down quietly. Somehow, over the years, I’ve discovered that when made with some of my favorite ingredients – I actually not only tolerate pasta salad, but love it. 10-year-old me would be disgusted. 😉

So when my friend Nicole (who blogs over at Just Live It) shared that she had made an this pasta salad recently I took one look at that photo and said “YUM!” I went out and bought the ingredients the next week and with a few minor adjustments – it was perfect to our liking! The original recipe can be found here on the Taste of Home website.

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Italian Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

16oz rotini
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4oz provolone cheese, cubed
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small sweet onion, minced
14oz pitted Kalamata olives (note: I used regular black olives the day I took this photo, but this recipe is much better with Kalamata because they add an extra zing of flavor!)

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp fresh basil, minced (or 3 tsp dried basil)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp onion powder

Directions:

1. Cook pasta until al dente then drain and rinse with cold water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, mix together ingredients for dressing.

3. When pasta is cooked and drained, place in large salad bowl. Add tomatoes, cheese, peppers, onions, and olives. Pour dressing on top and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.

Serves approximately 100 people. Just kidding. It only felt like it. It’s more like it serves 6 people for dinner or would be a great size salad to take to a party as a side dish.

Italian Pasta Salad2

Do you like pasta salad?
What’s a food that you didn’t like when growing up, but really enjoy now?
Love Rach

The Perfect Grilled Cheese

So the secret to the perfect grilled cheese is really quite simple. It’s patience. And butter. There should always be butter.

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You start with a skillet on low-to-medium heat (we have a scale of 10 with 5 being “medium” and 10 being “hottest” and I usually heat the skillet to a 3 or 4). This is where patience comes into play. Butter one side of a slice of white bread (yes, white bread. This is one of the few times I’ll buy white bread instead of a whole grain type) and lay it buttered-side down on the skillet. Lay a piece of Colby Jack cheese (yes, this is important – it’s the best type of cheese!) on top of the bread and then top with another slice of bread. Butter the top slice as well. Now we wait as the cheese slowly begins to melt. Usually 8-10 minutes for my stove.

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So how do you know when to flip it? Well, that’s quite simple. When the top side begins to look like this. See how the butter is beginning the melt on top of the bread? That’s a good indicator that the cheese is melting! Let’s check the sides…

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Yup! The cheese is definitely beginning to melt! Time to flip it over for sure!

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Look at that beautiful golden crust now that we’ve flipped our sandwich over! Low and slow really does win out! Let the bottom side crisp up a bit (about 1-2 minutes). You can check the bottom by gently reaching under the edge of the sandwich with a spatula to get a peak underneath to see if it’s done. It should be ready soon!

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Look at all that melty cheese and that beautiful golden, buttery crust! YUM! You can use most different types of cheese for this, but I’m telling you – try Colby Jack. It’s the best.

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And now it’s time to enjoy your grilled cheese! Trust me, it will absolutely be worth going the low & slow method of cooking in order to get this delight! And if you have a big enough skillet (or even a griddle), you can easily cook several at once. We had these for dinner last week and I could make 3 of them at a time in my large skillet. Mhmmm YUM!

Love Rach