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!

Cilantro Lime Rice

This is another great recipe from Culinary Hill. It is spot on for Chipotle’s white rice…this is my standard rice for any tex-mex-ish type dish. Amazing.

What you need

  •  2 cups of uncooked white rice
  • water to cook the rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp salt

What to do:

Cook the rice with the salt and bay leaf on the stove or your rice cooker – yes, add that bay leaf to the rice while it cooks. Once the rice is cooked, remove the bay leaf and mix in the lime juice, lemon juice and salt. That’s it.

For the citrus juice, fresh is probably better…but being a working mom with a husband and two kids and two dogs and a house and on and on, I have neither the time nor desire to maintain a stash of fresh citrus and procure the juice from them when I need a few tablespoons. It’s just one more thing to do and clean up in dinner prep during a busy week. The literal and proverbial juice just isn’t worth the squeeze, considering my 2 and 4 year old diners do not have that sensitive a palate and my husband wants whatever is easiest for me (read: results in dinner on the table with the least amount of grumbling from me). Maybe if I was cooking for James Beard or the President, I’d splurge on the fresh stuff but making it with lemon and lime juice concentrate turns out really good, so why bother. YMMV.

Garlic Cream Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 head roasted garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 TBSP fresh coarse chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

What to do:

In blender, process cream and roasted garlic until smooth. Then, in large saucepan, combine the garlic cream, pepper and  parsley. Bring to boil and simmer 15 minutes. Add salt & Parmesan cheese, stir until thickened. Serve over linguine.


I love carnitas. And I love Chipotle carnitas. This recipe is a pretty darn good replica of what they produce. Original recipe is from Culinary Hill- they have a LOT of Chipotle recipes and I intend to try them all. If you love Chipotle, go to their site and give them your email address so you can get their free Chipotle recipe book.

This my version adapted from their site since they don’t specify some quantities and if I don’t document what I did when I made it, I’ll never remember. This easily makes three dinners, 4-5 if we use it as taco filler instead of just meat on the plate. It freezes well too. I usually crisp it up in a pan when we have left overs….soooooo good. I use 5 lb pork shoulder because I prefer to make it once and then freeze leftovers and because I order my meat from Amazon Fresh and this is the only quantity in which they offer pork shoulder. If using a smaller portion of pork, just adjust everything down a bit. You really can’t mess this up.

What you need:

  • 5lb pork shoulder
  • 2-3 sprigs Thyme, preferably fresh
  • 3 tsp whole Juniper Berries (I had to order from Amazon – no local stores carry them. I know what you’re thinking, but get the juniper berries. Just do it.)
  • 3 bay leaves
    1 TBSP salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper (fresh ground not required, but I think it’s worth it for this recipe)
  • 3/4 cup water

What to do:
Mix the salt and pepper together and rub all over the pork. Add the water to your slow cooker, then put in the pork, bay leaves, juniper berries and thyme. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 6 until the pork shreds easily.

Dill Cucumbers

In my never ending quest to find side dishes my kids will actually eat and aren’t rice or potatoes, I’ve found this one to be a consistent hit. You can make it ahead of time and eat it over a few days.

What you need:

  • 3 large cucumbers – the 3 pack of english cucumbers at Costco are perfect
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/4 white pepper (black pepper is ok to use – white pepper just looks prettier because you don’t see the pepper flecks. It also makes it more kid-friendly in my house since my kids think anything with  pepper -or any visible seasoning- is “too spicy” and thus rendered inedible)
  • 1.5 tsp dried dill (or 1 TBSP fresh dill of you actually have access to fresh dill, which I never do)

What to do:

Peel and slice the cucumbers. A bit of personal preference here, my kids like them on the thicker side. When my mom makes this she slices them super thin. The thicker slices last longer in the fridge, so with the kid preference + durability, thicker slices win in my house.

Next, mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the cucumbers. If you’re like me, the first time you make this you will be tempted to double the liquid thinking there is no way it will be enough to marinate 3 cucumbers. Resist this temptation. It’s enough. The cucumbers will release some of their own juice so there will be ample marinade.

Mix it all together and refrigerate at least a couple hours before serving. Try to remember to give the container a shake every so often.

Bob’s Meatloaf

I know meatloaf does not have the best reputation as being a family favorite, but my kids really do gobble this version up. It’s a favorite of adults too! Another one of my mom’s recipes…from the name you can guess that it’s one my dad’s favorites too.

What you need:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 TBSP BBQ sauce (optional – this really makes the recipe sing, but I rarely have BBQ sauce. Whenever I can pick up a few extra BBQ dipping sauces at a fast food place I will bring them home to keep on hand for meatloaf. but the recipe turns out good even without BBQ sauce)
  • 1/4 lb Ritz crackers, crushed (that’s a whole sleeve)


  • 2 TBSP mustard
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 TBSP honey

What to do:

Mix the ground beef and eggs. Mix in everything else (except the sauce stuff) and mix well with hands. Fold into meatloaf pan or use a muffin pan and fill each “muffin” 2/3 full – in this hockey loving house we call them meatloaf pucks. This recipe should make 10-11.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and top the meatloaf or pucks

For a meatloaf pan, bake at 350 for 1.5 hours. If using a muffin pan, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Crispy Parmesan Green Beans

A nice little side dish that takes boring green beans up a few notches

What you need:

  • 1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

What to do

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, toss the green beans with the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Add in to green beans and toss to coat. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spread out the green beans into a single layer so they aren’t overlapping (or they won’t crisp up as well). Bake 15 minutes or until desired done-ness.

Spaghetti and meatballs

This is my mom’s recipe and it’s the best!! The sauce is actually doubled from my mom’s recipe. She always doubles it too, which is why there are some odd measurements like 4 tsps, which probably works out to some version of a tablespoon, but I hate math. If you are some kind of weirdo that doesn’t like sauce, I guess you can halve everything. However, making it as-is feeds my family of four and then the rest freezes easily into another dinner and a lunch.

What you need for the sauce:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 16 oz cans of diced tomatos
  • 2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste (reserve 1 TBSP for the meatballs)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 4 TBSP dried parsley
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms that you’ve sauteed in butter, or canned/jarred mushrooms

What to do:

In a saucepan, saute the onions in some olive oil until soft. Add everything else and mix well. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for several hours.

What you need for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork (or any ratio of ground beef/pork that you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP dried parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

How to make them:

Mix the eggs and tomato paste. Add the water, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper. Mix and then add the meat, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well with hands. Shape into meatballs. You can fry them until brown or you can line a baking sheet with parchment and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350, turning half way. Either way you cook them, add them to the sauce for the last hour of simmering.

You can make the sauce and/or meatballs the day before and just re-heat for dinner. The longer this has to simmer or set up, the better.


Corn Pudding

Admittedly this isn’t the most nutritionally dense side dish, but its something I know my kids will eat and not everything can be kale and quinoa, amirite?

What you need:

  • 1 16 oz can of creamed corn
  • 1 16 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 359
  • Butter a 8×11 glass baking dish (or use baking spray)
  • Mix the corn bread mix with the melted butter
  • Mix in eggs
  • Add the 2 cans of corn and mix well
  • Add in the sour cream and mix well
  • Pour into baking dish and smooth over.
  • Bake for 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes

Ready for the oven!


BBQ Pork

What you need:

  • 4lbs pork shoulder, sliced into big strips (takes less time to cook)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf

Brown the pork in a dutch oven and add the onion. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over pork and onions. Bake for 2-3 hours in a 325 degree oven until the pork shreds.