Pumpkin Chili

I know what your thinking and I thought this sounded pretty gross too, but give this one a chance. The pumpkin just adds a nice rich texture to the chili, but no pumpkin flavor. Plus its really easy to make. Despite the long ingredient list, most of these things are typical pantry items.


2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, diced
1 can plain canned pumpkin (not the stuff already spiced for pie)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 7oz can roasted green chilies, diced (optional)
1 cup chicken or beef broth
2 TBSP chili powder
2 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

Brown the onion and ground beef. Add everything else. Bring to boil and then simmer for at least 30 minutes or however long you’d like.

Easiest Beef Stew Ever

This will never be confused for gourmet, but it was pretty darn good and great for a week-night dinner.

What you need:

  • 2-3 lb chuck roast (the more marbling the better)
  • can of cream of mushroom soup
  • can of french onion soup
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • baby carrots (or if you aren’t lazy you can peel and cut regular carrots)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • small red potatoes, halved

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350. Put the chuck roast in an oven safe pot with a lid, add in both cans of soup. Cover and put in oven for an hour. After an hour, remove lid and chuck in the carrots, potatoes and celery. Recover and cook for another hour. Remove from oven, take the roast out and cut it into chunks. Add the meat back into the pot and stir. Serve as is or over rice.

Roasted Cauliflower

What you need:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

What to do:

Preaheat oven to 400. Toss florets with olive oil and spice. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing half way through the baking time.

Chili Verde

My hubby says this is good enough to serve to Texans…I guess that means it’s close to the “real deal.” Definitely more labor intensive than what I usually cook, but it’s worth it. And it makes enough for two dinners so I think it’s worth it. This is an Everyday Paleo recipe…the original versionis available on her site.!

What you need:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder roast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 lbs tomatillos
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil (or your fat of  choice)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBSP lime juice (or the juice from a lime if you have a fresh one)
  • 1 jalapeno (leave out if your kids don’t like heat)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (not regular paprika, the smoked kind)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

What to do:

Heat coconut oil in large dutch oven or soup pot and brown the pork in batches. I always hate this step, but suck it up and do it. Remove the pork to a large bowl.

After you  brown the pork, add the onion to the pan and cook until soft. When the onions are almost done, add in the garlic for the last 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat down and add the cumin, paprika and black pepper and stir well…this will get a little pasty. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan well. Then add in the pork, plus any drippings that accumulated in the bowl. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer.

While the meat simmers, peel and wash the tomatillos. Dry them well and char them in a large skillet over medium heat. Alternatively, you can put them on a large baking sheet and char them under your oven broiler, just be sure you turn them often to char them all over. This is the labor intensive part b/c you do need to babysit them.

Place the charred tomatillos, jalapeno, cilantro (the entire bunch, stems & leaves) and lime juice in a food process.  Blend until smooth. Add to the simmering pork and continue to simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours until the pork is tender.

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

I don’t usually like chocolate cake, but this is chocolate cake with a twist…a delicious twist.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 Dutch cocoa
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

What to do:

Heat oven to 375. Grease & flour 13x9x2 cake pan

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, water and cocoa – stirring constantly until well blended and remove from heat. To chocolate mixture, add the flour mixture, eggs, buttermilk & vanilla and beat at medium speed with a  hand mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes)

Pour batter into cake pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (yes, preheat to 375 and then turn it down to 350 when you put the cake in).

When the cake comes out, I use a flat spatula to *gently* push the puffed up part of the cake down so it’s relatively flat. Allow the cake to cool COMPLETELY before you pour the frosting on top.


  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (16 oz box)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 TBSP cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 TBSP half and half (or cream)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt butter, milk & cocoa. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar & vanilla. Pour over cooled cake and top with chopped pecans.


Rice Pilaf

A basic pilaf recipe

What you need:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TBSP celery (1 stalk)
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped onion
  • 1.5 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • dash red pepper
  • pinch of ground white pepper (you can use black pepper, white pepper just looks nicer)

What to do:

Combine all ingredients an a baking dish. Cover and bake in preheated 350 oven for an hour or until all liquid is removed.

Mom’s Banana Bread

My mom’s recipe, so of course it’s amazing.

What you need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 crushed, *very* ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup flour – sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

What to do:

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a bowl, use hand mixer to beat the butter for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until creamy. Incorporate the eggs (don’t over mix). Now mix by hand to add in the flour and bananas, alternating in 1/3’s. Mix until smooth. Add buttermilk, mix well. Pour into a greased/floured loaf pan and bake at 325 for 60-70 minutes.

Yogurt-Spiced Chicken Thighs

If your kids are like mine (anti-flavor), this is not a recipe to make for them…let them eat a PB&J or something. But this IS worth making. It’s even guest-worthy!

What you need:

  • 1/2  tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (I prefer Franks Original Hot Sauce)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 heavy cream (or half and half in a pinch)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP soy sauce
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

What to do:

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a gallon sized  Ziploc bag and mix well. Add chicken and marinate in the fridge 8-24 hours. Give to husband to grill.

Southern Green Beans

What you need:

  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 medium  onion, finely diced or 3/4 cup frozen diced onions
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1 10 oz can chicken broth (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What to do:

In large pan, cook bacon over medium heat until it’s rendered most of it’s fat and begun to brown. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the green beans and the chicken stock (enough water to cover), bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook uncovered until beans are tender (about 15 minutes) and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Cincinnati Chili

There are two kinds of people in this world – Gold Star Chili people and Skyline Chili people. Actually, I guess there three  – Gold Star people, Skyline people and people who have know idea what Cincinnati chili is. This combination of flavors is hard to describe and it’s nothing like “regular chili” – it’s sweeter and the texture is smooth. Just give this one a try.

What you need:

  • 3 cups cold water
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 4 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar

Toppings: sever with spaghetti noodles, shredded cheddar cheese and dice onions.

What to do:

In large pot, place water and ground beef. Use your hand to vigorously stir, making sure to break up the meat and mix until it’s a smooth and uniform mixture (granted this part is a bit gross…I use a food-safe disposable glove). The mixture will be very thick, but don’t add any extra water.

Finely chop the onion and and add it plus all other ingredients to the meat/water mixture. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a hard simmer. Mix well every 15 minutes. Cook for 1 hour 40 minutes, remove cover and cook the last 20 minutes with no lid – you have 2 hours of total cooking time.

Serve over spaghetti noodles and top with shredded mild cheddar and dice onions. Trust me, this recipe is worth the effort!