Thursday, October 30, 2008

Three Bean Chili

Last week, I had to organize an October Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at my son's elementary school. It was nerve racking! I had high hopes until I walked into the teacher's lounge on Friday morning and saw that they teachers were having one of their poor Friday breakfasts, too! In September, I had "nicely" asked if they could reschedule those breakfasts or let me know when they are scheduled so I could reschedule my lunches but, apparently that never happened. Last month, I had a pizza party on the same Friday as their poor Friday breakfast and I wound up with 5 left-over pizzas! I hate to waste food not to mention the fact that all the money comes from the PTA. When I do a chili and casserole luncheon all the parents cook and bake and deliver their goodies to the school. That means if we have a bunch of wasted food, the parents have done all that work for nothing. Needless to say, I was upset and this time I wasn't very nice. I told them that I wouldn't be doing any further luncheons at all. I changed my mind by the end of the luncheon, though and pretty much had to "eat my words." Almost every bite of food that we put out was eaten. There were two partially eaten casseroles and a small batch of vegetarian chili left out of 8 casseroles and 4 crock pots of chili. There were quite a few desserts left but somebody cleaned those out by Tuesday morning when I went into school and checked the fridge. After all the talk about chili and casseroles I decided that I definitely needed to make some chili for myself. I couldn't believe that I had 4 crock pots of chili under my nose and I couldn't even taste a bite. I did eat some chili at the Halloween party we attended on Saturday night but I still wanted to make a batch of chili. One of the moms made a 3 bean chili for the teacher appreciation luncheon which really interested me. I found a recipe for 3 bean chili online and I made it. It was really delicious. These are the changes I made: I substituted pinto beans for Lima beans because I have a terrible aversion to Lima beans; I reduced the amount of meat in this recipe to about 3/4 pound of meat. and I used a combination of organic ground beef and ground turkey; I didn't use the oil to cook the meat and I left out the salt altogether. Try this chili on a cold fall day!

Three Bean Chili


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (16 oz. ) can red kidney beans
1 (16 oz. ) can cannellini beans or Lima beans or pinto beans
1 (16 oz. ) can Great Northern beans
1 (15 oz. ) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz. ) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt


Drain and rinse all beans. Brown ground beef or turkey with vegetable oil; drain. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and stir occasionally. Put on low heat, can be fixed ahead and left on all day.

The Creative Cook

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Baked Tomato Risotto

I don't know about you, but I love risotto. I fell in love with it some years ago. The only thing I really don't enjoy so much is standing over the stove trying to stir it for what seems like hours on end. Of course, it isn't really that long but to get the arborio rice to absorb the liquid does take some time. I have been looking for a recipe for risotto that isn't quite so labor intensive. Lucky for you all that I found one! This recipe is amazing. The rice turned out so delicious that I ate it every night for about a week. Please try this recipe because I am sure you won't be disappointed. I did have to make a few "adjustments" though. I had to cook this for more like 45 minutes rather than the 30 minutes that the recipe calls for. I wanted to be 100% sure that the rice was soft and chewy not hard and crunchy ~ yuck!

Baked Tomato Risotto

One 28 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce (I used Nature's Promise Parmesan Sauce)
One 14 ounce can of chicken broth (I suggest using low sodium broth or homemade)
2 cups of halved sliced zucchini (I used a can of zucchini)
2 tablespoons of minced fresh basil
One 8 ounce package of sliced mushrooms (I substituted 8 ounces of ground beef)
1 cup arborio rice
1 6 ounce package of shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 3 quart casserole (I used a 9 x 13 inch pan) with nonstick spray.

Combine the spaghetti sauce, broth, zucchini, mushrooms and rice in a prepared dish.

Bake, covered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir casserole.

Cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until the rice is tender. Remove from oven, sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake, uncovered for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings


The Creative Cook

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Dinkum Chili and Rice Salad

I finally made our third international dinner. I was sick with a cold that turned into bronchitis for over three weeks. I am sick of being sick! I am finally starting to feel better! Fortunately, the meat for this recipe was already in my fridge and I didn't want it to go to waste so I had to make the meal. I reduced the amount of meat and hot chile pepper in the chili substantially from the original recipe. I also reduced the amount of rice in the rice salad. You can go with the original amounts or reduce them as I did. It is totally up to you as far as how much food you need to make and how "hot" you like your chili.

Dinkum Chili (Beef)

1/2 lb bacon, packaged (I used Nature's Promise brand and reduced the amount to only 2 slices)

2 tbsp Oil, vegetable (I just cooked the meat in the bacon grease that was already in the pan)

2 Onions, medium, course chopped (I reduced by half)

1 Celery stalk, coarse chopped

1 Bell pepper

2 lbs top sirloin beef, 1" cubes (I reduced by more than half)

1 lb ground beef (reduced to half pound)

1 lb ground pork (I used ground turkey and reduced the amount to half pound)

4 tbsp red chile, hot, ground (I just used a sprinkle or two from my grinder)

3 tbsp red chile, mild ground (I used 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper)

2 garlic cloves, medium, finely chopped

1 tbsp oregano, dried, preferably Mexican (I used 1 tsp)

1 tbsp cumin, ground (I used 1 tsp)

2 12 oz cans beer, preferably Australian (I reduced to 1 can)

1 14-1/2 oz can whole tomatoes

3 tbsp brown sugar (I reduced to 1 tbsp)

1 Boomerang

Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat. Drain the strips on paper toweling and cut into 1/2" strips, dice and reserve.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and green pepper and cook until the onions are translucent.

Combine all the beef and pork with the ground chile, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Add this meat-and-spice mixture to the pot. Break up any lumps with a fork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is evenly browned.

Add the beer, tomatoes, and reserved bacon to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 1-1/2 hours. Wave a boomerang over the pot 14 times each hour from this point on. (This is definitely optional adding no noticeable flavor, just a touch of authenticity and fun.) Stir for 3 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and add more beer if desired. Simmer for 2-1/2 hours longer. (I used a crock pot after I browned the meat.)

Add the brown sugar and simmer for 15 minutes longer, vigorously waving the boomerang over the pot.

Makes 8 servings

Aussie Rice Salad
3 cups jasmine rice, cooked
1/2 cup peas
1 onion, chopped
1 small can corn
1 red pepper, diced
some bacon bits
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Allspice
1 tablespoon fresh coriander
Combine rice, vegetables and bacon bits. Mix soy sauce, mayonnaise, Allspice and coriander. Stir sauce into the rice mixture.