a balanced plate with room for dessert


Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili

Is it cold where you live? Do you have mountains of snow outside your window? Are you short on time? Do you hate doing dishes? Do you love comfort food that warms you up? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, this chili is for you. Tossing everything into the slow cooker means you don’t have to spend hours standing over the stovetop, stirring and tending to your chili. Plus, who doesn’t love coming home after a long day to a house that smells amazing?

Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili |

Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 medium onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bell peppers, diced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced (optional)

for serving (optional):
cooked macaroni noodles
fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream
shredded cheese
thinly sliced green onions
jalapeno slices
hot sauce
diced onions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onions, and garlic and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes; stir with a spoon to break beef up into smaller pieces. Add chili powder and cumin and stir to coat. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker.
  2. Stir in bell peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Cover slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving  toppings of your choice.

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Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac |

Chili is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. We just got out of a mega deep-freeze up here in Wisconsin (“feels like -35°F” is something I would be OK with never seeing and feeling again) and this spicy turkey chili mac hit the spot. I made this on one of the nights that Mike and I were apart, so having to wash only one pot was a huge bonus. Doing dishes is the least exciting part of cooking.

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac |

Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac

1 1/4 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes*
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup dried whole wheat elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
optional toppings: shredded cheese, fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream, jalapenos

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook turkey, onion and garlic until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is tender.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, jalapenos, chili powder, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until macaroni is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Top with optional toppings before serving.

*I used a pint of quartered tomatoes I canned over the summer.


Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup (Kow Boon)

We were blessed with the opening of Basil Cafe a little over a year ago. This place is one of my favorite restaurants in the Fox Cities; I haven’t eaten a bad thing there yet. Mike and I went here for Valentine’s Day last year and went there again this year. I tried something new this time – Kow Boon, a noodle soup with a coconut broth and a perfect amount of spice. I got the large (duh) and had leftovers for dinner the next day and breakfast the day after that (don’t judge).

It was so good that I wanted more. But, I realized that 3 visits to the same restaurant in 2 weeks was a little embarrassing, so I decided to try to make it at home. After all, what would I do if this place closed down? Or if we moved? What if I never got to eat this again? 

I labored over this recipe, tweaking ingredients over and over and over to try to match the flavors of Basil Cafe’s dish. All I had to go by was their menu description – “traditional Lao vermicelli rice noodles in a slightly spicy chicken coconut curry soup topped with bamboo shoots, fresh bean sprouts, mint, and cilantro” and the faint memory of how it had tasted. Hours later, I ended up with a huge pot of this delicious soup. Perfect. I will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner set for days. Now, I’m not claiming that this is as good as Basil Cafe’s soup, but it definitely hit the spot.

Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup (Kow Boon) |

Chicken Curry Rice Noodle Soup // Kow Boon

1/2 pound of rice vermicelli noodles
2 chicken leg quarters, skin removed and fat trimmed
1″ piece of ginger, chopped into 3 pieces
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups water

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
19 ounce can of bamboo shoots, sliced into strips
14 ounce can coconut milk

For garnish:
2 cups bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 bunch green onions, sliced

  1. Cook noodles in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, combine chicken, ginger, salt, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil and cook until chicken is cook through. Remove chicken and strain out solids, reserving the soup base. Return soup to the pot and keep warm over medium-low heat. 
  3. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones, shred, and set aside.
  4. In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onions and garlic and saute until onions are lightly browned. Stir in curry paste and fish sauce and mix until well blended. Add curry to soup base and stir in bamboo strips and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer before assembling bowls.
  5. To assemble: place a “nest” of noodles on the bottom of the bowl. Ladle in soup and bamboo shoots. Top with bean sprouts, chicken, lime wedge and cilantro. Serve immediately.

kow boon