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)

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.

Cheeseburger Burritos

I swear that every time I plan to grill out, it rains. Or at least it feels that way lately. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had so much rain!

It’s meant a few hiccups our meal plans. I was dreaming of burgers on the grill one night, but grilling in the pouring rain had zero appeal – so they became burger burritos instead. It wasn’t the juicy, grilled burger I was daydreaming about, but it was a good enough approximation for a rainy night – and Jake LOVED them.

BurgerWraps

Cheeseburger Burritos
(from Meals, Heels and Cocktails)
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 cups shredded lettuce
6 large tortillas

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef and drain the grease. Stir in the mustard, ketchup relish and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato and cheese.

Divide mixture between tortillas. Divide lettuce between tortillas. Roll up and serve.

Garlic Beef Enchiladas

One thing that’s been a bit of a surprise with the new kitchen is that the new freezer is smaller than our old one. I had grand plans to start stocking the freezer with meals for after baby boy is born once the kitchen was back together, but it’s become a project of using up what’s already in there first. One thing I inexplicably have a lot of? Ground beef.

When I polled my friends for their favorite recipes using ground beef, Katie suggested this one. Not only did it use up some of the freezer stock, it’s a freezer-friendly meal itself so I made a small tray to freeze as a post-baby meal. They were delicious, so I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy them again!

GarlicBeefEnchiladas

Garlic Beef Enchiladas
(from Taste of Home)
Serves 5

For the enchiladas:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped up
2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, divided
10 flour tortillas

For the sauce:
1/3 cup butter
4-5 cloves garlic, minces
1/2 cup flour
1 can beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion until the beef is browned and the onion is softened. Stir in flour and seasonings until well combined. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

While the beef simmers, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and make the sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually whisk in the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Heat through and then set aside.

To assemble: Pour 1 1/2 cups on the sauce into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. In each tortilla, place about 1/4 cup of the beef mixture and 1-2 Tbsp. of the cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish on top of the sauce, seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over the top.

Bake, covered, for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Remove cover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Baked Ziti

Do you know what today is? It’s 10k day for those of us participating in NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated)  is a project to write 50k words of a novel in 30 days. It’s a little crazy and a lot fun. This is my 7th year participating in NaNo and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my past attempts, it’s that you need to plan ahead.

As part of my NaNo prep this year, I stocked our freezer with dinners. I’ve never really done much freezer cooking, but spending less time in the kitchen and more time writing sounded like an excellent idea. This is one of the meals we’ve got in the freezer for this month. The recipe makes two pans – so we ate one when I made in and froze the other. This is a pretty basic, no-frills baked ziti, but it’s a really good one. We’re really looking forward to enjoying the second pan.

I’ve got a whole lot of freezer meals on the menu this month. I’m planning to share the hits and include freezing instructions on some already-blogged recipes. Keep your fingers crossed this goes as well as planned!

BakedZiti

Baked Ziti
(from Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Makes 2 8×8″ trays

1 lb. penne pasta
1 onion, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef, seasoned with pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and minced garlic
2 (26 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce
8 slices provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions.

In a large skillet, cook the onion and ground beef over medium heat until the meat is browned and onions are translucent. Drain off any excess fat. Add in the spaghetti sauce and simmer for fifteen minutes.

If cooking it now, preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Spray two 8×8-inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer in each pan: 1/4 of the ziti, 1/4 of the sauce, 4 slices of Provolone cheese, 1/2 of sour cream,  1/4 of ziti, 1/4 mozzarella cheese and 1/4 of sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until cheeses are melted. Or, cover and freeze.

To cook from frozen: bake at 350F degrees, covered, until heated through and bubbly.