Chili Weather

Fall, football, or just when you need some carnivorous comfort food.


Nothing hits the spot on a cold day like a hot bowl of chili. There are as many varieties as chili fans, but the biggest question always seems to be "beans or no beans?" Personally, I am firmly in camp "No Beans" and prefer a big bowl of spicy meaty goodness. Prefer chili with beans? Add a can or two of kidney or black beans along with the beer. 

The other question, is what kind of meat? I'm a fan of a variety. Beef, pork, and lamb are all favorites. I like to switch up the combinations a bit, depending on the occasion. As a starting place, here is a basic recipe using ground beef. Change it up as you like!


·         1 tablespoon olive oil

·         2 medium onions, chopped

·         6 garlic cloves, minced

·         2 green chilies, diced (choose preferred          heat level)

·         1 teaspoon Kosher salt

·         2 cans (6 ounces) tomato paste

·         3 tablespoons chili powder

·         1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

·         3 pounds ground beef

·         3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes          in juice

·         1 can (12-oz) COOP Ale works DNR

My go-to options for garnish:

·         Shredded cheddar cheese

·         Sour Cream (or greek yogurt)

·         Avocado, sliced

·         Fresh diced tomato

·         Diced red onion fresh chilies, sliced

·         fresh chilies, sliced

·         Scallions, chopped

·         Cilantro, roughly Chopped




 In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

 Add tomato paste, chili powder, green chilies, and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until mixture has begun to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

 Add tomatoes with their juice, and beer. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook over medium heat until chili has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Garnish as desired.


For those who have asked about my lower-calorie modifications, here are some great ways to  reduce the calorie count, without having to skip the chili altogether.

  • Brown 93% lean meat separately, and drain, discarding fat.
  • Omit the beer.
  • Substitute fat-free Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
  • Go light on the cheese, or eliminate altogether.
  • While avocadoes do contain fat, it is good fat, so I usually just reduce, not eliminate the avocado in my serving.


Thanksgiving Breakfast


Thanksgiving means different things to different people. Some people know it as a day to head over to a relative's house, watch the parade or some football, and eat.

For others, there is a great deal more work involved. Cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and then tackling the tasks of prepping, cooking, serving and cleaning up after a large dinner, often for many people. 

The last thing the designated cook wants to worry about is preparing another meal, especially right about the time the turkey needs to come out of the brine and get prepped for the oven.

Instead, here are a couple of easy, make ahead breakfast options, one savory, and one sweet (that uses many of the same ingredients as one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts). Both can be finished up in the oven in less than an hour.


Bacon, Cheese, and Chile Strata

I won't lie, I am definitely more of a savory girl most of the time, especially when it comes to breakfast. This meaty, cheesy and spicy strata hits the spot, and makes a very easy and crowd pleasing breakfast for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The custard mixture, as well as the cheese and veggies can be prepped in advance and refrigerated overnight. The bacon, once cooked is fine at room temp overnight. 

In the morning, just combine all ingredients according to the directions, and pop in the oven. Breakfast is served!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted

4 large eggs

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

6 cups 1/2-inch cubes stale or toasted bread   

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I like cheddar or an Alpine style)                    

1 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped 

2-3 mild green chilies, chopped                                                                 ½ red onion, diced    



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with the softened butter.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.

Whisk in the cream and milk.

In a second bowl, combine the bread, cheese, bacon, chilies, and onion; and mix well.


Add the egg and cream mixture, then mix in the melted butter. Let sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the egg mixture.


Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, about 20 minutes.


Cranberry Pumpkin Breakfast Bread Pudding


For those who enjoy a sweeter start to the day, try this this cranberry pumpkin breakfast bread pudding. It's simple, can be prepped ahead, and uses several ingredients you'll already have on hand for preparing Thanksgiving dinner.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted

4 large eggs

3 ½ cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree                                                                         1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup quick-cook rolled oats

½  teaspoon ground nutmeg              

½  teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves                

1 teaspoon Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

  6 cups 1/2-inch cubes stale or toasted           bread                                        

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup cranberries, rinsed and sorted

2 cups water

½ cup granulated sugar



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with the softened butter.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.

Whisk in the cream, the milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, and spices.

Stir in the oats. Add the bread and stir well, then mix in the melted butter. Let sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the egg mixture, and the oats will soften.

Meanwhile, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil, and dissolve the granulated sugar. Add the cranberries. Reduce the heat, and simmer the cranberries until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid.

Stir the cranberries and salt into the bread mixture.

Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, about 20 minutes.


It isn't fall until...

Mushroom Soup

Everyone has their favorite season. For me, it is fall. Most people also have their own definition of what signifies the changing of a season. It could be a change in temperature, a certain date or holiday, or kids starting or finishing a school year. For me, it is officially fall when the air gets cool and crisp enough for me to turn my mind from the bounty of summer produce to heartier dishes like braised meats, rich soups, and roasted root vegetables. Basically, when my food cravings begin to change. 

The first dish that finds its way to my table each year is always this mushroom and wild rice soup. It is rich in flavor, but not heavy, so it is the perfect choice for when I start to get impatient for the change in the season just a little early.

A few weeks back I happened to get such a craving. I also happened to have a little leftover Arkansas-style bacon (from Double R Farms, available at the OSU-OKC Farmer's Market) lying around, and thought it would make a great addition to the soup.  It was indeed. The same went for the leftover crème fraiche I happened to have in my refrigerator. A dollop right before serving wasn't necessary, but it didn't hurt either. 

You can use any varieties of mushrooms that you like, and my selection often changes depending on what is available at the time. The one staple I make sure to include is the dried porcini powder. It brings a ton of flavor to the broth. I buy it online here.  


Wild Rice and Wild Mushroom Soup:


• ½  cup wild rice

• 3 cups boiling water 

• ½ teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste

• ½ ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as porcini, chanterelles or shiitakes

• 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter 

• 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 

• 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

• 1 tablespoon dried porcini powder

• ½ cup dry white wine

• ½ pound fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced

½ pound mixed fresh mushrooms, larger ones sliced, smaller more delicate varieties left whole

• 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock 

• ½ cup heavy cream

• Freshly ground pepper, to taste 

• 1 Tablespoon. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, picked

• ½ cup streaky or Arkansas-style bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

• Crème Fraiche, for serving (optional)



Rinse the wild rice in several changes of water and drain. Place the rice in a saucepan and add 2 cups of the boiling water and the 1/2 tsp. salt. 

 Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, without stirring, until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. For this recipe, I do not add the rice to the soup pot. This soup actually gets even better the next day, and if the rice sits in the soup overnight, it gets soggy. 

 Meanwhile, place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add the remaining 1 cup of boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes until softened. Drain, reserving the liquid, and set the mushrooms aside. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Set aside.

Check the produce section of your favorite grocery store for dried mushrooms. They are available online as well.

Check the produce section of your favorite grocery store for dried mushrooms. They are available online as well.


In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, and porcini powder, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the wine and cook until reduced to about 2 tbs., 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the fresh and rehydrated mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms wilt, about 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to high, add the stock, the reserved mushroom liquid, and sliced mixed mushrooms. Bring to a boil.

I found this assortment of mixed mushrooms at Whole Foods OKC

I found this assortment of mixed mushrooms at Whole Foods OKC

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add the cream and the delicate mixed mushrooms, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Spoon the wild rice into warmed bowls and top with soup. Garnish with the parsley, thyme, bacon and crème fraiche (optional) and serve immediately.

To serve leftovers, simmer the rice in water for a couple of minutes while you reheat the soup. 



Dinner with Baby D

Recently, I visited my friends Dillon and Ashley Hargrave at their home in Tulsa, to experiment with some recipes using their line of locally-made  hot sauces called Baby D's Bee Sting, which I've written about before

I wanted each course of our meal to feature a different sauce. Here are some pics, and a couple of recipes using Sweet Stang, Yellow Jacket, Jallahellño, Original, and Okie Sunset. 


Baby D's Sweet Stang - l'Arpege Egg (Hot and Cold Soft-boiled Egg)

Sweet Stang Egg

This little gem from l'Arpege in Paris, has been a favorite appetizer of mine since I saw Alain Passard make it on Great Chefs of the World (recipe in external link) back when I was in college. In this version, I swapped out the maple syrup for Baby D's Sweet Stang. It gave it just a little kick, and may be my new go-to version. 

There are many styles of     egg-toppers. I don't personally care for the "scissor" variety, because they tend to leave a rough mess on the edges. I like this version from Rösle ($20).

Egg Topper.jpg


Baby D's Yellow Jacket - Salad with pistachio and goat's milk cheese


Though I love the entire Baby D's lineup, Yellow Jacket takes the top spot for me. This salad combines the flavorful kick from the habanero, with tangy goat's cheese, pistachios, preserved lemon, and fresh greens. In my original version, I used a fresh chèvre. When I used this recipe for a chef event in Stillwater, I opted for a beautiful slice of Bermuda Triangle from Cypress Grove Chèvre in Arcata, CA.




4 Cups Mixed Greens

1/2 Cup Shelled Pistachios

1/4 cup Preserved Lemon, diced

4 slices Bermuda Triangle, or 4oz crumbled fresh goat's milk cheese


4oz Olive Oil

1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 teaspoon Baby D's Yellow Jacket

Salt and freshly cracked Pepper, to taste



Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients, an adjust seasoning according to taste.

To assemble the salads, divide greens onto 4 plates. Garnish with pistachios and preserved lemon. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and top each with a slice of Bermuda Triangle, or crumbled goat's cheese.




Baby D's Jallahellño - Braised Short Rib Tacos

Short Rib Tacos

I love braised meat, and I love tacos. The combo seemed perfect for the clean and mild flavor of Baby D's Jallahellño.

Since I was running a bit short on time before it was time to head to Tulsa, I decided to cook the meat in my Instant Pot pressure cooker, rather than a traditional slow-braise on the stovetop or in the oven. In order to let the sauce stand out, I kept the seasoning on the meat simple. 




3.5# Beef Short Ribs

2 Tablespoons oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 Bay Leaf

1 teaspoon mixed Peppercorns

1/2 tomato, skin, seeds, and all

Beef stock (or water) to cover

Sea Salt  



Baby D's Jallahellño

Corn Tortillas (warmed)

Cheese of your choice, suck as Queso Fresco, Cotija, or a basic Farmer's Cheese*


Lime wedges

Shaved Carrots

Quick-pickled Red Onion (RECIPE BELOW)

Pepitas, lightly toasted



Season the meat with sea salt.

Use the sauté setting on the Instant Pot to soften the onion, carrot, and garlic in the oil before adding in the meat to brown. When you've got some nice color, add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and tomato. I covered the meat about half way with some beef stock I'd made a couple of days before. 

Set the pressure to high, for 30 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, prepare these quick pickled red onions.

You'll need:

1 red onion, thinly sliced, in a glass jar

1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 Teaspoon Allspice Berries

1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Gently heat the vinegar with the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and allspice. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat, and pour over the onions. Allow to sit at least one hour. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. 

When the meat has cooked, gently release the pressure. Remove the meat to a cutting board, and shred. 

Build your tacos on warmed corn, with the shredded meat, cheese, shaved carrot, pickled red onion, pepitas, cilantro, and a couple of droppers of Jallahellño. Serve with lime wedges.

*Farmer's Cheese is a soft, fresh cheese made by coagulating fresh milk. I happened to have some Lomah milk in the fridge, so I made my own. All it takes is milk (not Ultra-Pasteurized), lemon juice or vinegar, salt, and cheesecloth.




If you strain the cooking liquid and remove the excess fat, leftover taco ingredients make a great soup amuse.



Baby D's Original - Roasted Chicken Thighs

Baby D's Original Chicken Thighs

One of my favorite quick and easy weeknight meals is a roasted chicken thigh (or 3). Of course, I am talking about the bone-in and skin-on variety. They cook up relatively quickly, can be seasoned so many ways, and oh that crispy skin! 


6 Bone-in Chicken Thighs (with the skin on)

2 Tbsp. Olive or Grapeseed Oil

Sea Salt

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 Tbsp. Baby D's Original




For this dish, I actually prefer not to marinate the meat before roasting. There will be plenty of heat at the end. Just a bit of oil and some salt is all the thighs need before going into a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs.

While the thighs are in the oven, stir the Baby D's Original into the softened butter (adjust the amount of sauce according to taste). 

Remove from oven, and baste with the Baby D's Original Butter. Roast an additional 10 minutes, or until skin is crispy.


Baby D's Okie Sunset - Balsamic Strawberries

BeeSting DESSERT.jpg

Speaking of quick and easy, balsamic macerated strawberries are one of the simplest desserts to throw together in a hurry. The sweetness from the strawberries and balsamic (especially if you use a good one) is perfect with the medium-hot kick from the Okie Sunset, which is a cross between the Yellow Jacket and Original. Served on top of some vanilla gelato, I could eat this for breakfast. 


1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and either halved, quartered, or sliced. Keep in mind that the smaller the cut, the quicker the berries will become soft in the vinegar.

3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

1 teaspoon Baby D's Okie Sunset

2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

fleur de sel, for garnish

Vanilla Gelato for serving*

*(If you are in Tulsa, check out one of the Andolini's/Gelateria STG locations for a delicious pint to go).



Place the vinegar and Okie Sunset in a medium sized non-reactive bowl, and whisk to combine.  Add the berries and sprinkle with the sugar. Toss to coat. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes, more for larger cut berries. 

Serve over gelato, and drizzle a bit of the balsamic mixture over the top. Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel.


What's with the weird one-eyed strawberry looking at my dessert? It is Jester King Brewey's Omniscience & Proselytism and it was a great pairing. Cheers!

Okie Sunset.png