Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

*Photo and Content Updated February 2012*

Inspiration: Craving for chili? Check. New cookbook (thanks Brandon!) with an interesting Cincinnati chili recipe? Check.

What we Loved: There aren’t many things better than a bowl of chili covered with cheese, are there? Cincinnati chili is a little different because it has some sweeter spices in it like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and the result is a dark, smoky, and complex dish that is really a nice change of pace from a regular tomato-based chili. There are plenty of rich and savory flavors, a touch of sweet thrown in, and the wonderful spicy kick that every chili needs. And with a pound of kidney beans, a pound of ground beef, and plenty of diced tomatoes, this is really a thick and hearty chili, too.

Tips: This is our version of Cincinnati chili – certainly not anything super authentic. Cincinnati chili is normally served over spaghetti and can include cheese, onions, and beans as toppings (though the beans are included within this version). We don’t generally eat pasta,  so we skipped the spaghetti and just ate it straight from the bowl topped with cheese and onions. I’d advise using heaps of cheese.

Cincinnati Chili
Source: Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook

1 lb red kidney beans (alternatively, you can use two cans)
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
Onions, finely chopped

1. Cover the beans with water, and soak overnight. Drain and rinse, then pour the beans into a pot. Cover again with water, and cook for 1-2 hours, until cooked through and softened. Drain, and set aside. If you are using cans, no prep is necessary.

2. Crumble the beef into the pot, and cook until browned and just about cooked through.

3. Add the onion to the pot, and cook until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

4. Add the chili powder, oregano, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cayenne, bay leaves, and salt. Stir to combine, and cook until the spices are fragrant.

5. Add the tomatoes and the beans. Simmer for as long as you’d like, at least half an hour.

6. Remove the bay leaves. Serve topped with cheddar and/or onions.

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Black Bean and Sausage Soup with Avocado and Cilantro

Inspiration: I love making homemade soups. Since we receive two chickens per month in our CSA share, we make a ton of stock, and we like to use it to make soups to take to work for lunches throughout the week. Do you know what I hate, though? Pureeing soups in a food processor. What a giant pain. I was so happy this year when Brandon surprised me on my birthday with an immersion blender and two new soup cookbooks! Hurray!

What we Loved: This is one of the best soups that I’ve ever made, and it’s my favorite soup that we’ve had since the pork hock and 15 bean soup back in November. The flavor of the soup is really outstanding, with a nice southwestern feel. With the rich black beans and tomatoes, the spicy sausage and cumin, and the fresh complements of avocado and cilantro, there really are a lot of great things going on. The base of the soup is so smooth and creamy (with some nice added texture from the sausage), and it’s nice and filling since it’s so packed full of protein. I really can’t say enough about how much we loved this recipe!

Helpful Hints: I ate some of the leftovers with bleu cheese crumbles on top instead of avocado and cilantro, and that was a great pairing as well!

Black Bean and Sausage Soup with Avocado and Cilantro
Source: Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook

1 lb pork sausage
1 onion
1 habanero, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1 lb black beans, soaked overnight
6 cups chicken stock
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1 avocado
Handful cilantro, chopped

1. Crumble the sausage into a soup pot, and saute until cooked through. Remove to a bowl.

2. In the same pot, add the onion, and cook until softened. Add the habanero and the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

3. Add the cumin, thyme, and bay leaves, and stir to coat the vegetables.

4. Stir in the black beans, chicken stock, tomatoes, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and partially cover. Simmer 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender.

5. Puree the soup with a food processor or an immersion blender.

6. Season to taste with Kosher salt. Add the sausage back into the pot, mix to combine, and bring everything to a simmer again for a few additional minutes.

7. Peel, pit, and dice the avocado. Mix with a handful of cilantro and a good sprinkle of Kosher salt.

8. Serve the soup topped with the avocado mixture.

Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup

Inspiration: I rave about the benefits of our meat CSA all of the time, but one of the great things about it is that every now and then, it opens us up to some new and interesting foods. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the store and picked out a pork hock, but when we were given one in our CSA share, we had to make good use of it. I stumbled upon an awesome bag containing a mixture of 15 beans from a local farm while I was grocery shopping recently, and it happened to have a ham and bean soup recipe on the back. Perfect for adapting for our pork hock!

What we Loved: Since we had never cooked with pork hocks before, B and I were both very skeptical at first, but it really turned out that the pork hock was the key ingredient to this soup. The main flavor of the soup came from the broth, which was wonderfully rich and smoky with a great pork/ham taste. And after 10+ hours in the crockpot, the meat completely fell off of the bone. It was so easy to cut off the fat/tough parts and shred the rest for the soup. With plenty of salt for added flavor and the great creamy texture of all of the different kinds of beans, there sure was a whole lot going on with just a few ingredients. Brandon and I would both list this as one of our favorite soups that we’ve ever made.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to add plenty of salt (taste testing as you go) when the soup is done cooking, as it really does enrich all of the other flavors in the pot a lot. And I’m sure that this soup would be good with any kind of beans you prefer – there’s no need for a 15 bean mix if you can’t find one. But I thought that it was really awesome to use such a varied mix with such an awesome nutritional profile! (If you’re interested or want to pick and choose some beans to use for this recipe, our bag of beans contained: yellow eye beans, cranberry beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, yellow peas, green peas, blackeye peas, red lentils, green lentils, baby limas, and Christmas limas).

Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup
Source: Adapted from Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s (Howard City, MI) recipe for “Mom’s Favorite Soup”

24 oz mixed beans (I used a bag of Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s Bean Appetite Souper Mix)
Oil or butter
2 cups onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock
1 smoked pork hock
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Soak the beans covered in water overnight, then drain and rinse.

2. Heat a bit of oil or a pat of butter in a pot (I use the stovetop-safe removeable insert of my crockpot) over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until softened and lightly browned. Mix in the garlic and the cumin, cooking for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the chicken stock and beans, and bring to a boil.

4. If using a stovetop-safe crock pot insert, remove the insert from the stove and place it back in the crock pot. Otherwise, transfer the mixture to your crock pot. Add the pork hock and cook on low for 10-12 hours.

5. Remove the pork hock. The meat should fall from the bones. Remove any fat/tough parts, and then shred the rest and return it to the pot.

6. Season the soup well with salt and pepper. Makes 12 cups.


Lima Beans with Prosciutto


*Photo and content updated December 2012*

Inspiration: Every year for Valentine’s Day, I like to make Brandon and myself a nice supper. This year, I had stuffed pork loin and cauliflower gratin on the menu, and I decided to complete the meal with a lima bean side dish, because they’re definitely a favorite food in our house.

What We Loved: To me, the best thing about lima beans is their texture. They’re just so uniquely and awesomely creamy. Brandon and I both really love them, and they tasted great in this simple preparation. The prosciutto added a nice, salty flavor and a wonderful crispy texture. And with just a few good pats of rich butter and some salt and black pepper for seasoning, these couldn’t be easier to prepare. Sometimes, simple recipes really are the best.

Tips: The only little piece of advice that I want to offer here is to be careful when seasoning with salt. Prosciutto is very salty on its own, so you may need less that you would typically add.

Lima Beans with Prosciutto
Source: 80 Breakfasts

1 cup frozen lima beans
3-4 slices prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Add the lima beans to a saucepan, and cook according to package instructions. I added water to the pan, steamed the lima beans for approximately 20 minutes, and then drained the water.

2. Meanwhile, melt a pat of butter in a small saute pan. Add the prosciutto slices, and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the lima beans to the pan with the prosciutto. Mix in another good pat of butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean Soup

Black Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Inspiration: I’ve seen a lot of recipes for various kinds of black bean soup floating around the internet lately. While trying to plan a week of lighter suppers to counteract my love of beer, wine, cheese, etc., etc., I decided that a black bean soup would be perfect. And it just so happened that I served this on the first day of fall, too, which was nice.

What we Loved: I chose this particular black bean soup recipe because it had so many ingredients in it that B and I both adore. Black beans, roasted red peppers, chiles in adobo sauce, a heaping cup of cilantro. I had high hopes for this recipe, and it really didn’t dissapoint. While B was eating, he said that it would have to be a repeat recipe in our household for sure. That’s always a good thing! The flavor combination is really just amazing, with a nice smoky flavor from the adobo sauce and the roasted peppers and a great freshness from the cilantro. The soup turned out really thick and creamy, too, and it was also very spicy, which we loved. I really enjoyed this soup topped with plenty of avocado and green onions.

Helpful Hints: Because of the chile in adobo, this soup is very spicy. If you don’t like much spice, I would consider adding just a bit of the adobo sauce to keep the nice, smoky flavor, or maybe just a small amount of the pepper. I added one chile and some sauce for a super spicy soup. The soup in the original recipe was topped with sour cream, which I omitted because I needed to use up some vegetables instead, but next time I would definitely serve this with sour cream! The nice chill of the sour cream would really pair wonderfully with that spicy heat.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean Soup

Source: A Good Appetite

I changed a few things around in this recipe, using canned beans and using cilantro instead of parsley. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, stems and seeds removed, and chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup fresh cilantro
Kosher salt
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to keep this vegetarian)

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat in a pot. Add the onion, and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to cook for an additional minute.

2. Stir in the red peppers, chipotle, oregano, cilantro, and a big pinch fo salt. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and one can of black beans, and stir to combine.

3. Pour the soup into a food processor, and process until very smooth. I let my food processor run for several minutes to achieve the right consistency. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.

4. Return the soup to the pot. Add the remaining can of beans. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes and serve. Top with sour cream, yogurt, avocado, green onions, or any other desired toppings.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Cheddar

Inspiration: It’s great to have meals sometimes that can use up all of your leftover odds and ends in the refrigerator and pantry. Somehow this week, I managed to overbuy all kinds of produce, and I found myself with a drawer full of vegetables that needed to be used. Omelets and pastas are other great meals for these situations, but I had a lot of vegetables with TexMex flavors, so I decided on stuffed peppers.

What we Loved: I really loved the flavor of the stuffing in these peppers. I put together a mix of black beans, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and black olives, and the resulting filling tasted really great both cold and after having been cooked inside the peppers. I had some extra filling, so I snacked on it as I prepared supper, and B ate the rest alongside his meal. I served these with some avocado slices sprinkled with Kosher salt for a nice, vegetable-filled supper.

Helpful Hints: I would suggest making sure to cover your baking pan with foil before cooking the peppers. I didn’t, and the black beans that were on top before I added the cheese got far too crispy in the oven.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Cheddar
Source: Original Recipe to serve 2

2 bell peppers, any color
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, chopped
10 black olives, roughly chopped
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado

1. Slice the peppers in half vertically, and remove the seeds and insides. Set the peppers in a baking dish.

2. Heat a drizzle of exra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. Saute the onions for two to three minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional minute.

3. Place the onions in a bowl. Add the black beans, tomato, black olives, and cilantro. Mix well, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Fill each bell pepper to the top with the black bean filling.

5. Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

6. Remove the baking dish from the oven, and discard the foil. Sprinkle some of the cheddar cheese on each pepper, and return to the oven. Cook for an additional five minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

7. Serve with salted avocado slices for garnish.

Black Bean Burgers with Cumin Cheese and Avocado

Black Bean Burgers with Cumin Cheese and Avocado

*Photo and Content Updated May 2012*

Inspiration: Brandon and I have had a fabulous summer. We’ve been riding bikes, grilling out, and generally enjoying the great weather. We were lucky enough to travel to Europe, and we’ve got some great mini-vacations and time with family and friends lined up for the rest of the summer. When we’re home for a weekend, we love to explore the downtown restaurants, and with our new love of beer, we’ve been trying everything that the breweries in town have to offer.  That being said, sometimes we need a solid week or so of staying in, cooking summery homemade meals (like these great burgers) and keeping things low key.

What we Loved: I really fell in love with this recipe. The black bean burgers had a ton of spice and flavor with the inclusion of cumin, chili powder, garlic, anaheim peppers, and onions. The flavor from the peppers was particularly prominent, and Brandon really enjoyed the nice and mellow coconut flavor, which complemented the rest of the ingredients nicely. I also loved the great brown crust that formed on the burgers while cooking, which was a good contrast to the soft inside of the burgers. All of the different flavors paired so well with a cumin seed cheese that we bought at a local wine shop and with a generous helping of mashed avocado. I’ve been really into avocados lately, and I don’t think that you can ever go wrong when adding avocado to a burger. And the cumin seed cheese, if you can find something similar, is amazing! It has such a strong, fantastic cumin taste. All together, this sandwich was a great burst of flavor, and I’m glad to have a couple of extra burgers tucked away in the freezer for later.

Helpful Hints: A cheese like the cumin seed cheese that I used (which was called Leyden cumin cheese) might be difficult to find, but I would think that a couple of great alternatives would be pepperjack or a sharp cheddar. Really, the toppings for this burger are endless. With the leftovers, I’m thinking of using goat cheese and green chiles.

Black Bean Burgers with Cumin Cheese and Avocado
Source:  A Veggie Venture

Here’s the recipe as I made it, to serve two and with two extra burgers to freeze.

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup anaheim peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 slices cheese
1 avocado
Sprinkle of kosher salt

1. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the onions and peppers, and cook until they are just beginning to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor. Add the cilantro, and process for just a few pulses until the mixture is roughly chopped. Add the beans, and pulse just a few more times until the beans are broken down but still in small chunks. You do not want a smooth puree.

3. Transfer the bean mixture to a bowl, and add the coconut flour, egg, chili powder, cumin, and a sprinkle of salt. Mix well, and form the mixture into four burgers.

4. Heat another pat of butter in the saute pan over medium heat. Add the burgers, and cook for approximately 3 minutes to brown. Flip the burgers when they are brown. Add the cheese, cover the pan, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

5. While the burgers are cooking, mash the avocado in a bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt, and stir to combine.

6. Serve the burgers topped with the mashed avocado.