chili {perfected}

Holy snow Batman! I thought I’d have to wait until the fall to share this one with y’all, but round three of ‘the vortex’ begged me to reconsider.

Since the beginning of our journey to eliminate processed foods, I’ve had a vice. My ultimate comfort food is my mom’s chili and my mom’s chili is what it is because of the chili seasoning she uses. The chili seasoning she uses comes in a little yellow packet and along with the usual suspects there were lots of extra man-made chemicals and processed corn product in there as well. I pretended they weren’t there.

Of course we couldn’t get it in Germany, but my mom would supply me with packets regularly in the mail and it was like a little taste of home every time. I had to get honest. Deep down I knew that little packet was exactly what we were trying to vanquish from our house and if there was ever a time to learn to make my own it was then.

So we ate chili, lots and lots of chili, and eventually, I nailed it. I know that chili can be a heated topic of debate. Some folks might object to my bean-filled pot, and that is fine—I object to your bean-free concoction. To each his own. If you are in the chili-with-beans camp though, and even if you aren’t {come over to the dark side y’all}, I promise this rezept won’t disappoint.

Every family seems to have their own chili recipe. I’m curious, what kind of chili did you grow up eating? 

{perfected} Three Bean Chili from Kiwi and Peach

Three Bean Chili

{makes about 6 servings}

for the seasoning:
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

for the chili:
1 lb grass-fed ground beef
1 medium white onion
1 clove of garlic
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 (big) can diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
2 cups of stock {Chicken, veggie, or beef will do. Beer works well too.}

{If you are a dried bean user, measure out about 1/4 cup of each type of bean. Go ahead and soak them overnight and cook them for about an hour before you add them to the chili.}

Mix up your seasoning in a small bowl. This recipe will make about 4 Tbsp of season and you will use all of it in the chili.

Start heating up your skillet on medium heat. While it’s getting hot, dice your onion and get the garlic ready to press. Once the skillet is hot, crumble your ground beef into it and give it a stir. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the seasoning over the meat and work it into the meat. Once a little of the fat has cooked out of the meat, add your onions and press the garlic into the mixture. Stir well and let it cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft, about 7-8 minutes.

Once the meat and onions are to your liking, transfer them to a 4 qt stock pot on medium heat. Add the beans, the whole can of tomatoes which you’ve crushed by hand—liquid and all, tomato paste, and the rest of the seasoning.

Stir everything in really well making sure that the tomato paste has dissolved and is completely incorporated. Add the stock and bring the whole shebang to a boil. At that point, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least an hour but up to 3 hours. The longer you can leave it, the longer the flavors will have to get to know each other. If you want to leave it for longer than 3 hours, just add a bit more liquid.

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Butternut and Beer: A Mac and Cheese Challenge

After a whirlwind of a weekend, the Kiwi, Dooley, and I are back from DC, no worse for the wear, and full to the brim from good food and lots of laughter. Did you enjoy your long weekend? What did you do with your day off?

In Germany, we had lots of these random days off in the middle of the week. {Thank you, Bavaria.} Most of the time we were able to schedule travel around those days, but sometimes we just stayed home, cooked ourselves a nice meal and relaxed which also happens to be one of our favorite ways to spend a lazy Sunday, but that’s beside the point. Days like that are perfect for tackling those longer recipes that won’t be weeknight staples, but are nice to have up your sleeve for a dinner party or when you want to impress folks. This recipe is kind of like that.

Wait, mac and cheese? Impressive? You bet your buns it’s impressive. Though I’ll allow that this isn’t your average macaroni. No Kraft boxes or neon yellow ‘cheese’ sauce to be found here. What we have instead are layers of complex flavors like sweet, earthy vegetables, strong, creamy cheeses, and malty, caramel-y beer that work together to create a very grown-up party in your mouth. It’s also chock full of winter vegetable nutritional powerhouses like spinach, squash, and onions so you can feel good about it too.

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a long recipe and it has a number of steps—but when you get right down to it, it’s really pretty easy. You can do it and when you do, you’ll feel like you’re the next Alton Brown! That’s my favorite part of trying new challenging recipes, that instant gratification for challenging yourself and succeeding. Plus you get to eat the results so that isn’t half bad either.

Beer and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Kiwi and Peach

Beer and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

serves 4

{My inspiration for this one came from Amanda over at The Marshalls Abroad. I loved her idea of using the butternut squash as a thickener for mac and cheese. While I stuck with her method for making the squash roux, the rest of the recipe is my own.}

The Roux
1/2 of a large butternut squash
drizzle of olive oil
dash of sea salt
3/4 cup milk

The Pasta
1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta {I recommend using shells or actual macaroni.}

The Mixers
1/2 of a large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
drizzle of olive oil
2 tsp sweet whole grain mustard
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp chili powder
dash of green pepper sauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup beer {I recommend a dark, malty beer like a brown ale or a stout.}
3 ounces spinach

The Cheese
1 cup of a strong cheddar, shredded
1 cup of goat cheese

The Crumble
4 ounces crackers {I use the Trader Joe’s multigrain ones that kind of look like Ritz.}
1 1/2 tbsp butter

First things first. Fire up the oven to 400°F/200°C and boil your kettle.

You only need half of a large squash so go ahead, cut it in half, and put the other half away. Scoop out the seeds then peel the half you are using and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. Spread the cubed squash out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Give it a stir until all the squash is coated, and pop it in the oven to roast for 30 minutes.

In a stock pot on medium heat, let’s get your pasta on to cook. I usually knock a couple minutes off the cooking time because the pasta will keep cooking while the mac and cheese is baking later. Don’t forget to salt your water! When the pasta is finished, pour the pasta into a strainer to drain the water and set it to the side. Return the pot to the heat.

While the pasta is cooking, I use that opportunity to dice my onion and peel my garlic. Once the pot is back on the stove, drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pot then toss in your onions and press your garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften.

About this time the squash will finish roasting. While the onions and garlic are cooking, take the squash out of the oven and transfer it to your food processor. Add the milk and then puree to make the roux.

Reduce the temperature on the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Add the squash roux to the onions and garlic in the stock pot then start adding the mixers. The mixers are there for flavor, so feel free to substitute if you don’t have a particular ingredient or if you’re feeling creative. Do be mindful though of the wet ingredient ratios—they’re kind of important. The last thing you want is a too dry or too soupy mac and cheese.

Once the mixers are in, let it simmer for a few minutes to give the flavors some time to settle in.

While it’s simmering away, grate your cheeses and make the crumble. For the crumble, I put my crackers in a ziploc bag and take the rolling pin to it. In a bowl, melt the butter then add the cracker crumbs to it. Using a fork press the crumbs into the butter until all of the butter is absorbed evenly.

Remove the pot from the heat. Remember the pasta? Go grab that and stir it in to the mix. While you’re at it, add the cheeses too. Keep stirring until the cheeses have melted and the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top it evenly with the crumble. Pop it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the crumble is browning and the mac and cheese is bubbling. Take it out and let it cool for about 5 minutes to let it set, then dig in!

Beer and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Kiwi and Peach

The Stinky Burger

A couple of months ago the Kiwi and I were in Zermatt. And while we were in Zermat, we were introduced to the worst smelling, most fantastic burger we had ever put in our mouths.

The, aptly named, stinky burger.

Sound appetizing?

I thought so.

But really, it combines some of the tastiest {and stinkiest} ingredients like garlic, onions, and stinky, gorgonzola cheese into one burger that will blow your mind.

Naturally, once we got home after the trip, I set out to recreate this puppy and now, it’s a staple. {It’s one of the Kiwi’s favorites!} It’s the perfect dinner after a long day of hiking around the Matterhorn or, you know, just playing in these gorgeous, crunchy fall leaves.

The Stinky Burger from Kiwi and Peach

The Stinky Burger

{serves two, inspired by a meal at Brown Cow Pub in Zermatt}

The Toppings
drop of olive oil
1/2 of a medium sized onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
about 1/2 cup of gorgonzola cheese {or whatever stinky cheese you have on hand}

The Burger
10 ounces {300 grams} grass-fed ground beef
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp worcestshire sauce
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper

The Buns
2 buns {I like it best with kaiser buns with sesame seeds or with a pretzel roll fresh from the bakery.}
smidge of butter for spreading

Start heating up a pan on medium heat. Slice the onion and mince the garlic {or put it through a garlic press}. Once the pan is hot, drop a bit of olive oil in the pan and add the onions and garlic. Give it a stir then cover and let cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are nice a soft. Once the onions are finished transfer them to a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the stove top and turn it up to medium high heat.

While the onions are cooking, roll up your sleeves because we’re going to get a little messy. Add all of your burger ingredients to a bowl and get your hands in there. Mix all of that goodness together well making sure it’s evenly mixed. Divide the meat in half, form two patties, and drop them in the pan. Give it about 4-5 on that side and then flip.

Take about half of the onions and top the burgers with it. Cover each burger with the gorgonzola, put the lid on the pan, and let it cook away for another 4-5 minutes.

While the cheese is busy melting, slice your buns and butter each side. Turn the broiler in your oven on pop the buns in the oven on the top rack for about 3-4 minutes or until their lightly toasted. They should be done about the same time as your burger and then we can get started with the assembly.

Here’s how I layer it. Bottom bun, rest of the onions, burger, top bun. Done!

Take a big wiff and enjoy!

Oh, you might want to make sure your significant other eats it too.

What about you? Do you have any home adaptations of a favorite vacation meal? I want to hear about them!