Mom’s Quick Chili

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I’ve been very lucky that the weather here has been cooperating with my recipe posts.  Because chili isn’t really a summer food, is it? But I’ve had this recipe in the queue for a while now, and now that it’s gloomy, rainy, AND cold outside, it really is just perfect timing.  Plus, it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, so what better way to honor my own mother than by posting one my favorite recipes from her.

Brownsville, where my parents still live and where my brother and I grew up, at only 6 hours South of Austin, doesn’t ever really get a “winter” to speak of.  Once, in high school, it snowed. Just once. Luckily for a lot of people in Brownsville who had never seen snow before, it happened to fall on Christmas Eve and lasted throughout Christmas day.  It was actually quite magical to hear the entire neighborhood running around the streets at midnight. And it’s easy to understand why: it was the first time it snowed in over 100 years. 100!

But aside from the 100-year snow, it really doesn’t get that cold down there. You could get by without ever owning a heavy coat (although I heard this year there were a few more cold fronts), and even when I visited them in December, I was wearing jeans and a short sleeve shirt out on the water (Brownsville has the very lovely side benefit of being a 20 minute drive from South Padre, which used to be my point of reference when telling people where I was from). I wore boots that day, and I was hot.

But no matter the temperature, the one thing that always made me feel like it was wintertime was when mom would break out this chili. This is a no-fuss chili.  It has beans. It cooks in 30 minutes. It’s warm, comforting, and straightfoward–all qualities that remind me of my mom. She is all those things and more, and although I’ve changed the recipe to lighten it up a little bit, there’s no changing the memories of coming home to a house filled with the smells of a simmering pot of chili on the stove. And even though it’s totally May and not at all winter (global cooling, amirite?), there’s no day like today to fill your belly with the cozy warmth of chili.

Mom’s Quick Chili
Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey or other meat
2 cans Rotel original
2 cans pinto beans, undrained
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder or more, to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp each chili powder, cumin, and paprika
Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, saltines, sour cream, green onions

Directions:

1. In a large pot, cook the ground meat and diced onions over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes (if you are using turkey, you may want to add about a tsp of oil so that the turkey doesn’t stick. You don’t need to do this for beef). Make sure to mix it around frequently so that the meat doesn’t get stuck to the pan.

2. Once the meat is cooked, add all other ingredients and mix well. If you like a more watery chili, add about half a cup of water. Simmer on medium/medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir frequently so that nothing gets stuck to the pan.

3. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top!
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Mom's Quick Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground turkey or other meat
  • 2 cans Rotel original
  • 2 cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 3 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder or more, to taste
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp each chili powder, cumin, and paprika
  • Optional toppings: cheddar cheese, saltines, sour cream, green onions
Directions
  1. In a large pot, cook the ground meat and diced onions over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes (if you are using turkey, you may want to add about a tsp of oil so that the turkey doesn't stick. You don't need to do this for beef). Make sure to mix it around frequently so that the meat doesn't get stuck to the pan.
  2. Once the meat is cooked, add all other ingredients and mix well. If you like a more watery chili, add about half a cup of water. Simmer on medium/medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes. Stir frequently so that nothing gets stuck to the pan.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top!

Lighter Shepherd’s Pie

Finally, something not breakfast related!  This is a recipe I had on the back burner for a while.  Mr. Little Fish is very much a (lean) meat and potatoes kind of guy, so he tends not to be overly willing to try new things.

Now, sometimes, when I think Mr. LF isn’t going to like something (or particularly when I know he isn’t gonna like something), I like to play a little game where I try to hide the things in foods he does like, and then SPRING IT ON HIM after he gives a good review.  I’m sure it does not surprise you that I enjoy this game much more than he does.  My special guest star in this recipe?  Cauliflower.  Dude doesn’t like it.  But he does like mashed potatoes.  So, I went halfsies, wanting to get more veggies out of the dish while reducing the starch/carb content a little.  I think my plan would have been perfectly executed, if not for the fact that he actually got home before I did and so saw me unpack the groceries.  =/

In case you are wondering about my protein choice in the Pie, I have nothing against red meat.  I buy mine grass-fed where possible, because it’s lower in saturated fats and doesn’t have inflammatory grains.  We eat some form of beef about once a week.  In fact, I substituted the ground beef that is in traditional Pies with ground turkey precisely because we had just had large steaks a couple days before.  Again, it’s just a balancing issue for me–I try to vary the proteins I eat, as well as the veggies, so that I make sure I get all the nutrients from the different sources.  In any case, because I subbed in poultry, I changed the broth in the recipe to chicken so that the flavors matched.

One last note:  while this recipe is not difficult, it does have a few steps to it.  I modified the original a bit so that you could use one pan for most of the things, but if you are new to cooking, I would recommend doing this on a Sunday afternoon rather than a weeknight.  Then you have lunches for the whole week!

Lighter Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Comfort of Cooking

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Ingredients:

For the mash topping:
1.5 lbs white potatoes
1 head cauliflower
1 tbsps softened cream cheese or sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped

For the filling:
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp paprika

Directions

1.  Cut the cauliflower in half, and trim away the cauliflower florets from the base in the middle, like so.
2.  Boil the potatoes and cauliflower in salted water in a large stainless steel pot until tender, for about 12 minutes or when a fork can easily pierce them.*
3.  While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the olive oil in a large dutch oven** over medium high heat.  Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and brown the meat until mostly cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
4.  Add the carrot and onion to the meat, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Lower the heat to low.
5.  When the veggies are done, drain them, and then pour them back into the pot.  Set aside while you get the gravy started.
6.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When melted, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the broth and Worcestershire sauce, and then let the gravy thicken for about a minute.  Pour the mixture over the meat filling in the dutch oven, add the peas, and mix together.
7.  Then, add the cream cheese, egg yolk, chicken broth, and chopped green onions to the potatoes and cauliflower.  Mash by hand, or use a hand mixer or immersion blender to blend until smooth.
8.  Preheat the broiler to high, and set the highest rack to about 6-8 inches away from the broiler.  While it is preheating, spoon the mash evenly over the meat.  Sprinkle the top with paprika.
9.  Put the  dutch oven in the oven and broil until the potatoes are evenly browned, about 5-7 minutes.

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*I wrote these directions with multi-tasking in mind.  If you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, I would finish the potatoes all the way through first (ie. skip to step 7), and then go back and start with the meat (after having prepped your mise en place, of course).

**I used a dutch oven so that I could go from stove-top to broiler with the meat.  The original recipe calls for filling a rectangular oven-safe dish with the meat and vegetables, but I didn’t want to dirty more dishes.  Feel free to follow the original recipe if you don’t have a dutch or french oven.

Lighter Shepherd's Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the mash topping:
  • 1.5 lbs white potatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsps softened cream cheese or sour cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • For the filling:
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ tsp paprika
Directions
  1. Cut the cauliflower in half, and trim away the cauliflower florets from the base in the middle.
  2. Boil the potatoes and cauliflower in salted water in a large stainless steel pot until tender, for about 12 minutes or when a fork can easily pierce them.*
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the olive oil in a large dutch oven** over medium high heat. Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and brown the meat until mostly cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the carrot and onion to the meat, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to low.
  5. When the veggies are done, drain them, and then pour them back into the pot. Set aside while you get the gravy started.
  6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and Worcestershire sauce, and then let the gravy thicken for about a minute. Pour the mixture over the meat filling in the dutch oven, add the peas, and mix together.
  7. Then, add the cream cheese, egg yolk, chicken broth, and chopped green onions to the potatoes and cauliflower. Mash by hand, or use a hand mixer or immersion blender to blend until smooth.
  8. Preheat the broiler to high, and set the highest rack to about 6-8 inches away from the broiler. While it is preheating, spoon the mash evenly over the meat. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
  9. Put the dutch oven in the oven and broil until the potatoes are evenly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Notes
*I wrote these directions with multi-tasking in mind. If you aren't comfortable in the kitchen, I would finish the potatoes all the way through first (ie. skip to step 7), and then go back and start with the meat (after having prepped your mise en place, of course).

**I used a dutch oven so that I could go from stove-top to broiler with the meat. The original recipe calls for filling a rectangular oven-safe dish with the meat and vegetables, but I didn't want to dirty more dishes. Feel free to follow the original recipe if you don't have a dutch or french oven.