Whisky Chocolate Bacon Chili #Choctoberfest

Note: I received complimentary products for this post. All opinions are my own.

One of my favorite parts of #Choctoberfest is getting a chance to show how versatile chocolate can be. Everyone always jumps to cakes and brownies, but there’s so much more than that – how about some chocolate for dinner?

WhiskyChocolateBaconChili1

This delicious chili uses a full bar of Forte chocolate but if you’re thinking “chocolate with meat? gross!”, you’ve got it all wrong. The chocolate isn’t going to be obvious when you dig in, but it add a great depth of flavor and an amazing smoothness to the chili.

WhiskyChocolateBaconChili2

Forte’s motto is “Celebrate Life through Chocolate”, which I’m totally on board with. This chili is simple enough that you can celebrate any day.

Forte is offering a special deal during Choctoberfest – use code CHOCTOBERFEST2018 for buy 3 get 1 free chocolate bars.

And be sure to check out all the other chocolaty goodness being offered up today here: An InLinkz Link-up

WhiskyChocolateBaconChili3

Whisky Chocolate Bacon Chili
(adapted from Wallflower Kitchen)
Serves 6

8 slices of bacon, chopped
2 lbs. ground beef
1 red onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/4 cup whiskey
2 oz. dark chocolate (I used Forte 64% dark)
Green onions, chopped

In a large pot, crisp the chopped bacon over medium high heat. When cooked, remove the bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon but leave the drippings. Add the ground beef and brown, breaking up the chunks as you go. When it’s about halfway cooked, add in the onion and peppers. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is soft.

Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, paprika and cumin. Bring to a boil. Stir in the whisky and half of the bacon. Reduce to low and simmer for an hour.

Stir in the dark chocolate until melted and evenly combined. Serve topped with chopped green onions and remaining bacon.

Fresh Corn Salsa (3)

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Basil Burgers with Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise

I am in total denial that it’s Labor Day weekend. Where did my summer go?!

The bucket lists we created at the beginning of the summer still have a lot that needs to be checked off, so we’re spending the long weekend concentrating on family time and checking off a few last items. Oh, and there will be plenty of grilling.

If you’re looking for something fun-but-easy to make this weekend, these burgers are a great candidate – especially if you have a whole bunch of basil to use up. The addition of the basil makes these fresh and perfect for the end of summer.

BasilBurgers

Basil Burgers with Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise
(adapted from Taste of Home)
Serves 6

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the dried kind – not packed in oil)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
Fresh mozzarella, for serving
Hamburger buns, for serving

Add the dried tomatoes to the water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain and add the tomatoes to a food processor, along with the mayonnaise. Process until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the Worcestershire, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Break up the ground beef over the spices, and mix until well combined. Divide into 6 equal balls, and form into patties.

Grill over medium-high heat for approximately five minutes per side.  Add mozzarella during the last minute and allow to melt.

Serve on buns with sundried tomato mayonnaise.

 

Fresh Corn Salsa (5)

Sheet Pan Steak and Potatoes #ImprovCookingChallenge

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I just bought my first sheet pan this year. As in, 2018. I’ve always just made do with cookie sheets but I was super excited about the idea of sheet pan pancakes so I bit the bullet early last month and ordered one with my holiday gift cards.

And now I’m kind of obsessed with it. It’s so perfect for cooking up a family-sized batch of whatever and, in the case of the dinner, having one pan to clean as opposed to 3 is great.

This month’s Improv Cooking Challenge is steak and potatoes – perfect for Valentine’s day. And since Valentine’s day is on a Wednesday this year, you’re probably looking for something easy. This is a great option. It’s ready in about 35 minutes and it’s delicious!

You can find more steak and potato dishes from the #ImprovCookingChallenge bloggers in the link up below!

improvchallenge
The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.
You can also read more about the event on our home page.  If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.
Sheet Pan Steak and Potatoes
Sheet Pan Steak and Potatoes
(adapted from Carrie’s Home Cooking)
Serves 6
2 lbs. London broil
2 lbs. baby red potatoes
2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. balsamic
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the London broil to a large resalable bag and pour the marinade over. Seal up the bag, turn a few times to coat, then set aside for 20 minutes to marinate at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line your sheet pan with foil.
Place the potatoes in a bowl and add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat again then spread on the baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and push the potatoes to the side. Add the marinated steak to the middle of the pan.
Add the broccoli to the bowl you used for the potatoes, adding the remaining olive oil and tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again.  Spread the broccoli out on the pan around the steak.
Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the steak reaches the desired doneness.  Let rest 10 minutes before slicing the steak.
Sheet Pan Steak & Potatoes

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup with Vegetables #SoupSwap

My favorite part of January is upon us: it’s #SoupSwap season! For the fourth year running, my friends and I are getting together for an afternoon of grilled cheese and soup sampling. The event always fills my freezer and recipe box for the season. You can check out recaps of some of our previous soup swaps here and here.

Today, I’m virtually soup-swapping with my blogging friends from #FestiveFoodies. We’re all sharing soup recipes we love to inspire you to make up a pot of cozy comfort food this winter!

This soup comes from Soup for Syria – my Mom gave me a copy for Christmas and I’m totally smitten with it. It’s full of gorgeous recipes and part of the proceeds benefit Syrian refugees – a win-win.

It’s a bit of a time consuming soup, but so worth it. My kids absolutely loved the mini meatballs and I loved how delicious and filling this was. It was outside of our normal flavor profile, but turned out to be a really worthwhile risk!

Whether you’re looking for something outside your norm, or just a great version of an old favorite, you’re sure to find something to fill up your bowl amongst these!

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup with Vegetables
(adapted slightly from Soup for Syria)
Serves 8

1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
8 cups beef stock
1 cup fine bulgur
3/4 lb. ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 onions, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. dried mint
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon
3 small zucchini, peeled and seeded, sliced into crescents

Add chickpeas and beef stock to a large pot and cook for an hour, until the chickpeas are tender. Set aside.

Wash and drain the bulgur, then add to it to a food processor along with the beef, salt, pepper and one of the onions. Process until a paste. Roll into marble-sized balls.

Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large pan and brown the meatballs. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pan, along with the onions and salt and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the mint, tomato paste, garlic, juice of the lemon, and pepper. Cook for two minutes.

Spoon the onion mixture into the broth with chickpeas. Add in the zucchini and meatballs and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the zucchini is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Middle Eastern Meatball Soup

Awesome At-Home Burgers

Note: Post contains affiliate links.

The beginning of the year always has me a bit reflective. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what the new year will bring, and what I want to take into it. One of the things I’m super pumped for this year is the travelling we have planned.

We already have a trip to Austin, Texas booked and ventures to Ocean City, Maryland and Lake George, New York are in the works too. We’re also debating a fall/winter trip and I’m hoping to make it up to Boston too. It should be a great year for travelling!

One of my little traveling traditions is to pick up a cookbook from everywhere we visit. I’ve amassed quite a little collection – and one of my goals for the year is to use them more. I picked up Spike Mehdelsohn’s The Good Stuff after a D.C. trip a few years ago. We had eaten as his restaurant We, The Pizza and loved it. The Good Stuff is pretty much a guidebook to turn your kitchen into a burger joint – never a bad thing!

There’s nothing terribly revolutionary here. No overly fancy ingredients – but the process makes such an awesome burger. Whip up an easy, special sauce, toast your buns, and wrap the burger in wax paper before serving and you’ll never be running for takeout burgers again!

BurgerPress4

Awesome At-Home Burgers
(from The Cook Stuff Cookbook)
Makes 6 Burgers

30 oz. ground sirloin
6 potato buns, cut in half
Canola oil
Salt and pepper
6 slices America cheese
6 leaves iceberg lettuce
6 tomato slices
6 red onion slices
12 pickle slices
Good Stuff Sauce
Wax paper

Make 6 burger patties from the ground sirloin and refrigerate. Prep your toppings and cut 6 sheets of wax paper. to wrap the burgers in.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high with just enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil starts to smoke, reduce heat to medium and add patties. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, cook for another minute. Add cheese slices to the top, cook for another minute and a half, then cover to melt the cheese.

Toast the buns.

Place each burger patty on a toasted bun and top with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and Good Stuff Sauce. Wrap each burger in wax paper and let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

Texas Style Chili #foodbloggers4tx

A note: The #foodbloggers4tx event was organized before Hurricane Irma started marching her destructive path through the Caribbean and Florida. While today’s post reflects on Harvey and helping those still picking up the pieces, my heart is with those in Irma’s wake, too – and I’ll have a post up with ways to help soon.

foodbloggers4tx

We, like most of the rest of the country, watched as Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas. It’s so hard to watch so many people lose everything in these situations – where nature just takes over and nothing you do will help.

When it’s my neighbors or friends that are struggling,  I tend to cook. Food is my love language, so a dinner or try of baked goods always makes be feel like I’m doing something good. But when the trouble is hundreds of miles away, I turn to groups that already on the ground feeding people – in this case, Houston Food Bank.

It’s hard to downplay how much good local organizations like the Houston Food Bank do. If you’re looking for a way to help out, donating to them is a great way.

TexasChili

Texas-Style Chili
(from House of Yum)
Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. onion power
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
Fritos, shredded cheddar, and chopped red onion, optional, for serving

Brown the ground beef in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up, until no longer pink. Drain the grease and add the tomato sauce, broth, and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Stir in all spices until well combined.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve the chili over Fritos, topped with cheese and onion, if desired.

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs

There’s nothing new about cocktail meatballs. I’m sure you’ve had them a million times. But I wanted to share this recipe today because it’s a great, easy option for your Super Bowl party.

This version uses the slow cooker – it’s a mix-it-up-and-forget-it dish that’s always a crowd pleaser.  Use a slow cooker liner for even easier clean up!

CocktailMeatballs

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
(from Cincy Shopper)
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer

12 oz. chili sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups grape jelly
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 lbs. frozen meatballs

Add all ingredients, except meatballs, to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Stir in meatballs. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Instant Pot Picadillo

The Instant Pot is still pretty new for me – I haven’t played with it as much as I want to – but I’ve been loving trying so many new things.

This was the first time I’ve used it to sauté, and it worked so well! I love that I can brown up the meat before pressure cooking (or slow cooking, for that matter), without having to dirty another pan. It’s ridiculously convenient.

This was a dish I knew I would love, but I was pleasantly surprised that the two-year-old also devoured it. This is definitely something I’ll be making again!

IPPicadillio

Instant Pot Picadillo
(from Skinnytaste}
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 large chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro
4 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. sliced green olives

Press the Instant Pot’s sauté button. When heated, brown the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Add onion, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper and cilantro. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in the olives, 2 Tbsp. of olive brine, cumin and bay leaf. Stir in tomato sauce and 3 tbsp. of water until well combined.

Cover and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Use the quick pressure release.

Chocolate-Chili Rubbed Brisket Sliders with Chocolate BBQ Sauce #Choctoberfest

The other product I received from Caveman Coffee Co to try out was their Sabertooth Roast Coffee. (You can check out what I made with their Cacao Butter in yesterday’s post.) Again, the product was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

ChocolateBrisketSliders

Today, I wanted to go savory. Because if you can swing having chocolate for dinner, you totally should. I started with a chocolate bbq sauce. It’s is spicy with a touch of sweetness and the chocolate gives it a nice smooth, thick texture.

ChocolateBBQSauce

Then, I made a chocolate-chili spice rub and used it to crust a brisket. After slow cooking the brisket, I shredded it and served it on sliders, topped with the bbq sauce. They were delicious.

Chocolate Chili Rubbed Brisket Sliders with Chocolate BBQ Sauce
(adapted from this and this, both from Saveur)
Makes 18 sliders

For the bbq sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup brewed Sabertooth Roast Coffee
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

For the chocolate-chili rub:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. dried mustard
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

To make the brisket:

Chocolate BBQ Sauce
Chocolate-Chili Rub
2-3 lb. beef brisket
18 slider rolls

In a slow cooker, add 1 cup of bbq sauce to coat the bottom of the crock. Rub the brisket generously with several tablespoons of chocolate-chili rub. Place the brisket in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove and shred. Serve on rolls, topped with additional bbq sauce.

 

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders

improvchallenge

This month’s Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients were garlic and rosemary – and I immediately thought, burgers! I couldn’t find a recipe that I really liked, so I decided to create my own – and these were a fabulous success.

There’s double garlic and rosemary here – fresh in the aioli that tops the burgers and dried spices in the burgers themselves. The result is flavorful without being over-powering. And, I made them slider-sized because that makes them perfectly toddler sized – a big win in our house right now!

You can check out what the other participating bloggers made with garlic and rosemary here:

 

GarlicRosemaryBurgers

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 8 sliders

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
8 slider rolls
Arugula, for serving

In a heavy pan over low heat, toss together the olive oil and the sliced sweet onion. Cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, then transfer the onions to a bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, herbs de Provence, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Divide into eight equal patties and cook in the pan from the onions until they reach the desired doneness.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic and rosemary. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Spread 2-3 tsp. of mayonnaise mixture on the bottom of each slider bun. Top with a burger patty, onions and arugula. Serve immediately.