I’m as much of a Starbucks fiend as the next person.
Okay, more. Maybe a lot more. I’m slightly recovered from my three-a-day habit (I live in Seattle! There were three within close walking distance from my office and I needed the caffeine!), though I must admit the addiction has seen a bit of a resurgence since I’ve recently discovered that, indeed, it is difficult to get much sleep when you have a baby, even when the baby is nearly a year old. This discovery goes hand in hand with how I’ve really discovered the true beauty of the Starbucks drive-thru for new moms … so convenient when you’ve got a sleeping baby strapped in the back (oh now she sleeps).
It’s fall, you say? Wait. Wait just a second.
Grab an orange. Stick some cloves in it. Throw it in your Crock Pot along with a few cinnamon sticks and a bottle of apple cider. Turn it on. Wait four hours.
Okay. NOW it can be fall.
Not only is this recipe seriously that easy, it’s also quintessentially autumn. It looks like fall. It tastes like fall. It makes the entire house smell like fall.
Pumpkin chili has been around for at least a few years. In the beginning of my awareness that such a thing existed, I thought, as I suspect many do, “Pumpkin? In chili? That’s weird.”
Then I tried it. Not half bad, I thought. Still a little weird, but also sort of perfect too. Perfect weird. A harbinger of fall, pumpkin, along with pretty much the best spicy, hearty dish to serve on a cold, frosty October evening? Not such a crazy idea, maybe.
So I worked on it. I tweaked and poked and made countless versions of pumpkin chili, all the while really coming around to this stuff. It’s so, so perfectly delicious.
I’m in love with my Crock Pot. A little obsessed even. I talk about it often … which is what a girl with a crush tends to do, right? Seriously … Crock Pots are completely awesome though, am I right? Throw it in, walk away, come home to a completely cooked (and no doubt delicious) meal. If loving my Crock Pot is wrong … oh hell, I know it’s not wrong, so I’m not even going to finish that sentence.
This soup is one of the reasons our slow cooker has been out on the counter more often than not this past couple of months. Even though it’s been pretty warm weather-wise, I’ve still whipped up this soup a good half a dozen times every time even a wisp of clouds swoop in and the temperature dips below 70. Why? Partially because I was trying to perfect the recipe, but also because I couldn’t resist those vibrant yellow summer squash every time I stopped by my local farmstand, and I had to do something with them other than grill them. And also, it’s really, really good.
We’re headed to Sonoma for a mini vacation, so I thought I’d share this recipe for easy Cheesy Chili Mac from the archives of my other blog, The Hazel Bloom. I posted this one long before I decided to start a blog all about this kind of recipe and our mixed-diet lives – aka, our Kitchen Treaty. :)
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Some dinners lack a little, shall I say, class… but more than make up for it in tasty, dig-innable, comforting pure deliciousness.
I think we can all be pretty clear on which side we’ll find Crock Pot Easy Cheesy Chili Mac. Elegant it’s not. Yummy? Oooooh yes. It’s comfort food at its best, perfect for a blustery rainy night after a long, long day. If you’re feeding others, I can almost guarantee there will be happy mid-bite groans and proclamations of your amazing kitchen talent; and then lots of happy full-bellied cuddling on the couch after dinner. Actually, this will also happen when you’re by yourself. It’s practically involuntary.
I’m convinced the reason why my guy’s so happy to eat so many purely vegetarian meals is because I throw him a bone now and then. Kind of literally – sometimes, dinner is centered around a dish that’s alllll meat. I’m content with a couple of yummy side dishes, my guy feels spoiled, all is right with the world.
I always say the Crock Pot is ideal for the vegetarian who occasionally cooks meat, because generally you have to do very little with the meat. Sometimes a quick browning, then plop it in the slow cooker and a few hours later, it’s done, delicious, and the carnivores are content, and most of the process was nice and hands-off.
This incredibly easy recipe was inspired by this one for coffee-braised short ribs. Coffee and beef, you ask? You bet! The coffee adds a rich, deep flavor that goes perfectly with the tender, moist chuck roast. Chili powder and cayenne pepper add some nice heat; onion, garlic, oregano, and white wine add dimension and even the whole thing out. Note: I asked my guy to describe the flavor exactly and he responded, “It’s tasty? And I wanted more?”
I guess that’s a hearty enough endorsement.
This week, I’m all about coffee. What does coffee have to do with chili, you ask – and especially bulgur chili (and what the heck is bulgur, anyway)?
Well, I’ll tell ya. This warm, comforting chili is made all the more robust with some good solid glugs of nice, strong coffee. The addition of coffee, along with a little brown sugar and a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa, makes this chili indecently delicious.
Tostadas, a Mexican dish that consists of a crisp corn tortillas layered with refried beans and all kinds of other good things, lend themselves well to a variety of palates. Diners can assemble their own, adding what they want, leaving off what they don’t.
So, naturally, they’re perfect for the mixed veggie/carnie house. In this version, the meat-eater gets a healthy dose of spicy, tender shredded chicken slow-cooked in beer; the vegetarian still gets plenty to eat, including delicious, smoky homemade refried black beans. Win all around.
Every good baked beans recipe has both an element of heat and of sweet. This, my very favorite vegetarian baked beans recipe, has healthy doses of each. There’s no need for the salt pork or bacon found in many traditional baked beans recipes – these pack a huge punch of flavor just they way they are. (How Bridget-Jones-esque!)
The beans (I start with dried pinto beans) are first cooked simply – with onion, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Then the cooked beans are placed in the Crock Pot for some nice low-and-slow action, infusing every last bite with the rich sauce made with pure maple syrup and the spicy kick of everyone’s beloved Sriracha.