Taco Chili

There is literally nothing more November than a pot of simmering chili and the sounds of crowds, whistles, and that NFL song that always plays resonating through the house. (If I was good at making this website I could cue that intro song to play right now and it would be super cool, but I’m not.) I’m also not that great at consistently writing in this blog, but I’m trying! Baby is sleeping, husband is yelling at the Chiefs (and the universal remote that keeps getting the best of him) and I just made this delicious and incredibly easy taco chili. And for any DadPod fans out there… this is the perfect recipe for a novice cook or a great meal to throw together when you have your turd friends over to watch football.

I am really obsessed with spice mixes right now, especially the ones that I can just throw on a pound of ground beef and voila we have a meal. If you live in KC… go get this locally made Silva’s taco spice. Yes, Hy-vee will deliver all your groceries including all the ingredients you need to make this chili. If you’re busy or you have a tiny human and you’re not getting your groceries delivered by Hy-vee, you’ve made a grave mistake. My other favorite taco spice blend can be found in Brookside at Savory Spice Shop. This store is just fantastic. It’s a great place to go for holiday gifts and to find tons of spices, blends, mixes and plenty of things you just don’t really need. You can also go to Costco and get Spice Island’s Taco seasoning in bulk. This is very economical if you want to make tons of chili this winter and want an easy way to take 1 pound of ground beef from the freezer to a meal in a maximum of 20 minutes.

Recipes that contain “1 can of so and so” do tend to make me nervous. Sometimes it feels cheap or like you’re cheating. But when it comes to this quick and easy taco chili, don’t worry about the 5 canned goods that go into making it. It’s delicious and comes together in no time. I would make sure to get two of everything if you’re on your way to the store to get the ingredients for this chili. Because you will definitely be making it again. And it is the perfect recipe when you don’t know what to make for dinner or you have unexpected guests. Or if you’ve planned something else for dinner this winter and it comes out like the turkey in the movie Christmas Vacation. Taco Chili to the rescue!!

Serve this chili with hard cider, of course. With spicy foods it is always great to have something a touch sweeter. You could definitely go for a riesling but wine and chili just sounds weird. Go to the store and get Angry Orchard easy apple. This cider is less sweet than their usual and it goes so well with the cool air of fall and a big bowl of chili.

Taco Chili

1 tbsp extra Virgin Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (or 6 mini sweet peppers of various colors)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp taco seasoning, divided
2 tsp chili powder (more or less depending on your preference)
1 lb ground beef
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 can chili beans
1 can great northern beans
1 can black beans
Mexican blend or colby jack cheese, Sour Cream, Corn or Tortilla chips for serving

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and bell peppers for about 7 minutes or until they are translucent. In the last minute of cooking, add the minced garlic and cook just for a minute or until it is fragrant.

Add in the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Once it is all broken up and simmering, add 1 tbsp taco seasoning. Cook ground beef for about 10 minutes or until it is fully browned. Mix in the rest of the taco seasoning and chili powder.

Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and all the beans. Add 1/2 cup water. Simmer for 15 minutes until the chili is slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as desired.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

September is an interesting time in Eastern North Carolina. My brain is programmed to think: pumpkin, cinnamon, stews, chili, football. But it is 90 degrees outside still. We tailgated last weekend for the East Carolina football game and it was scorching outside. It does not feel like fall to me. Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year in Kansas City. I am so excited to say that I will be waiting for the cool chill in the air next year in September in Kansas City because we are moving back next summer. I am looking forward to the move but I have to say that leaving Eastern NC does break may heart a little bit.

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While the halloween and pumpkin extravaganza has already popped up in all the stores, I am laying at the pool… it is my first day off in 12 and I am long overdue for a blog post. I knew I was going to be busy this rotation so I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. One of which was this delish casserole from The New Midwestern Table. I actually cheated when I made this before and used a rotisserie chicken (because they were super on sale!) and it was wonderful. If you have the time, cook the chicken and you will have insanely flavorful leftover chicken broth for your next recipe (see here for how to cook the chicken). This hotdish freezes beautifully. If you are going to portion this out and freeze, leave out the ritz crackers. Sprinkle them on before you plan to reheat the hotdish. The original recipe does not contain carrots but I had an abundance of carrots in my fridge, so I added them. I have also used onions instead of leeks in this dish in the past just because they were on hand.

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1/2 cup natural wild rice (2 cups cooked)
kosher salt
ground black pepper
bay leaf
6 tbsps salted butter (plus more for pan)
leeks, white and green parts diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 tbsps all-purpose flour
11/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups chicken, chopped
4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups ritz crackers, crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the wild rice under cold water thoroughly and drain. Place in small saucepan. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water. Add a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 20-25 minutes until the rice is fluffy. Remove the bay leaf.

While the rice is cooking, Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium. Add the leaks, carrots and celery, season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the flour to the vegetables and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent lumps. Add in the cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss this with the chicken, wild rice, and half the cheese.

Crush the ritz crackers in a ziploc bag with 1/2 tsp black pepper. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with softened butter. Pour the hotdish mixture into the pan and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove the hotdish, and sprinkle with the ritz crackers. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Adapted from The New Midwestern Table.

Farmhouse Chicken Dinner

This recipe is a throwback to 2007. I first learned to cook from a Kraft magazine and this is the first meal I ever made. I still make this dish because it’s all in one and tastes great. This is a go-to when you haven’t planned anything for dinner. Neufchatel cheese is just low fat cream cheese. I have used regular cream cheese (this is obviously more likely to be laying around in the fridge) with great results. The farmhouse chicken dinner is best served with a buttery chardonnay.

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Farmhouse Chicken Dinner
Serves 4 and takes approx 50 minutes.

1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp pepper
4 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup light Italian Dressing
2 cups baby carrots
1 onion
1 can fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups instant brown rice
4 ounces Neufchatel Cheese

Mix flour and pepper in shallow dish. Add chicken; turn to coat both sides of each piece. Gently shake off excess flour. Heat dressing in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, meat-sides down; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken. Add carrots, onions, and 1 cup broth; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until chicken is done (165 degrees F). Meanwhile, cook rice as directed.

Spoon rice onto platter. Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken and vegetables from skillet; place over rice. Cover to keep warm.

Add Neufchatel and remaining broth to liquid remaining in skillet; cook on medium-high heat 5 minutes or until Neufchatel is melted and sauce is well blended, stirring constantly. Simmer on medium-low heat 3 to 5 min. or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken and vegetables; top with parsley.