Beef and Pinto Bean Chili

chili, beef, pinto bean, warm meals, soup, stew

January is one of my favorite months to make stews and chilis.  It’s the best way to heat up your body when you literally turn into a meat popsicle the minute you step outside.  Eat some chili to stop being chilly!  The word “chili” actually comes from “chile con carne”, which means “peppers with meat” in Spanish, which makes complete sense, so I’m going to stop myself from spewing out a bunch of ridiculous, stupid-American jokes about food vs. weather :)

In all actuality, I want to focus on warm soup/chili/stew recipes in January because you all are probably looking for some new ones to try while you’re trying to stay warm.  Here’s the first one!  I found it on the 2013 Cooking Light recipe box calendar that Jess got me for Christmas.  I love it!  I’m speaking about the calendar AND the chili.

Calendar = food porn.  Chili = delicioso.

I happened to have a bag of dry pinto beans laying around from an Aldi shopping trip from loooooong ago.  Seriously, I’ve had these beans for a YEAR.  They’re not my bean of choice, so naturally I didn’t think to use them. When I saw this recipe and realized I had every single ingredient in my kitchen (including the pinto beans!), I knew I had to make it!  So I did.  At 11pm on a Thursday night.  I soaked the beans for a day, then I stuck all the ingredients in the crockpot, put it on low and went to bed.  And at 3am, Jess woke me up because the delicious smells lured her out of sleep, lol.

I brought some in to work on Friday to share with my friend, Richard.  He is a spicy food fanatic like myself and he recently acquired this ridiculously spicy hot sauce.  The first time Richard tried it, his mouth was on fire, he felt like he was dying and laid on the floor curled up in a ball for about two hours.  He put a bit too much on his BBQ sandwich.  He also felt like a demi-god when he survived it.  So, of course, I wanted to try it!  What more perfect pairing is there than chili and hot sauce?  NONE!  (except maybe sea salted caramel and dark chocolate)  So we put about 1.5 tsp into a mere 1.5 cups of chili, stirred it up and ate it in the break room at work.  HOLY CRAP.  That sauce is HOT!  A sweet hot with a gentle, but voracious fire that makes the inside of your mouth sweat and then fires up your belly slowly from the top down.  But you know what?  It tasted great even when it was burning its way through my body and I now feel like a superhuman!  I WANT MORE.  I’m totally getting a bottle because it belongs in my kitchen.  And in this chili.

beef, pinto bean, bean, chili, soup, stew, dinner

Beef and Pinto Bean Chili (from Cooking Light)
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (10 with topping) *See tips on lightening it up even more at the bottom*


  • 1 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, 18 PP
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, 7 PP
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 12-oz bottle beer, 5 PP
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 cups fat-free beef broth (like Better Than Bouillon Beef Base), 1 PP
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained, 8 PP


  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
  • 1 avocado, chopped, 9 PP
  • 6 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 6 tbsp light sour cream, 5 PP
  • 6 lime wedges

1. Heat a dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 tsp salt. Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

2. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and jalapeno; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in paprika, cumin, and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Return beef to pan. Add broth, tomatoes and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1.5 hours or until mixture is thick and beef is very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp salt.

4. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls and divide toppings evenly.


– Use half as much meat and this goes down to 6 PP per cup.
– Need some extra filler in now that you’ve take out some of the meat? Add a cup of diced zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped celery and your chili will be hearty and healthy and remain at 6 PP per cup.
– If you use half the oil and only 2.5 cups of onion (not adding in the celery and zucchini), it goes down to 5 PP per cup.
– Top with fat-free sour cream or leave out either the light sour cream or the avocado and you’ll only be adding 1 PP per bowl rather than two. (if you’re using the topping).

Pork and Veggie Enchiladas and a New Bike!

Click here for this Shrimp Enchiladas Verde recipe by “Eat, Live, Run”!

I GOT A BIKE!!  Jess and I were finally able to drive up to the REI where it was shipped to and picked it up on Saturday.  Then we drove back the same day… which made it a 6 hour drive round-trip.  But it was totally worth it.  She’s a beauty!  Pictures will come later.  We went for our first bike ride together the next morning instead of going to church and it felt just as good as a spiritual refresher.  We did almost seven miles, which isn’t much on a recumbent bike in a gym, but certainly is with slight hills and lots of cracks in the pavement!  We’re both getting squishy seats soon because, well, you know why.  The feeling of a numb coochie is slightly unnerving. (TMI?)

After the biking, we went swimming!  The water was perfect.  The pool had just opened and no one else was in there, so Jess and I dove right in to cool, cool water.  With the crazy heat we had the last couple weeks, every time we got in the water it felt like we were getting into warm bath water.  Gross.  This was the first time it truly felt like a pool.  Awesome.

Click here for this Zucchini Beef Enchiladas recipe from “Recipe Girl”!

Since I knew we’d both be biking in to work the next day, I wanted to make lunches ahead of time so I could leave the house before the heat index rose too much.  I also wanted to use up some of the veggies I’d had in the fridge for a couple weeks from our local CSA, The Wingfield Farm.  I didn’t have the typical mexican blend cheese in the fridge, so I improvised!  In fact, these enchiladas are full of so much delicious flavor that the tiny bit of feta cheese I put in was really more of an afterthought.  So, these enchiladas can definitely be dairy/lactose-free for those of us who fall into that category.  YAY!  And if you happen to be vegan or vegetarian, take out the pork, use another veggie like corn, potato or kale (just make sure to add a bit of the spices to the veggies that I list for seasoning the pork) and this can be a vegan dish as well!  I love it went that happens :)

This is also my recipe of the week for my cousin’s CSA newsletter.  It’ll be highlighting the tomatoes, garlic, onion and summer squash that everyone will be getting in their baskets.  Score!

Pork and Veggie Enchiladas
Servings: 4 (3 enchiladas per serving, plus fall-out filling!)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10 (or 7 PP for 2 enchiladas each)

Click here for this Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas recipe by “The Novice Chef”!


  • 8 oz pork tenderloin, trimmed, 10 PP
  • 12 extra thin La Mission corn tortillas, 12 PP
  • 3 cups diced zucchini/yellow squash
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed, 7 PP
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 3 jalapenos (or less if you don’t want it spicy), diced
  • 3 tsp olive oil, 4 PP
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • spices to season pork (I used ground coriander, ancho chile powder, garlic powder, sea salt and a little adobo powder)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese, 2 PP (optional)
  • 2 packages Frontera Verde Enchilada sauce, 6 PP (or 2 cups of another green enchilada sauce of your choice)

1. Get out a cast iron skillet and turn to medium heat. Season your pork on both sides and cook on each side for about 5-7 minutes or until done.

2. While it’s cooking, get out a medium sized mixing bowl. Rinse the black beans and pour in. Dice up your tomatoes, chop your cilantro and dice your jalapenos and put those in the bowl as well.

3. Now, dice up your zucchini and onion and set aside in a separate bowl. Heat up a medium-sized non-stick pan to medium low heat and pour in 1 tsp of the olive oil and garlic. Let the garlic get fragrant for about 15 seconds and then put in the zucchini and onion. Cook for about 3 minutes or until just tender, then put in the bowl with the other veggies and beans.

Click here for this Thai Chicken Enchiladas recipe by “How Sweet It Is”!

4. Take your cooked pork and let it sit on a chopping block for a few minutes to cool. Then, slice into thin strips (against the grain, preferably) and dice each of those strips. Combined the diced pork with the other filling.

5. Now you can turn your oven on to 375. Take the same non-stick pan you used for the zucchini and onion pour in the enchilada sauce and the last 2 tsp of olive oil and stir up (if you have non-fat greek yogurt, I sometimes stir in a spoonful of it as well to make the sauce creamier). Turn heat to low so that it just gets a bit warm.

6. Take out a 9×13 glass pan and spray with Pam. Organize your counters so you have 12 tortillas on your left, pan of sauce to the right of that, glass dish next to that and the bowl of filling on your right (and a small bowl with the feta if you’re using it next to that). This setup seems to work the best for me. Now, take one tortilla and dip into sauce so that both sides have been covered. Put in the glass dish, sprinkle in a little feta and spoon in a generous scoop of the filling. Roll tortilla, keeping the folded ends on the bottom and shove it into the corner of the pan. Repeat for the next 11 tortillas. You should end up with two rows of six enchiladas, a bunch of leftover filling and about 1 cup of leftover sauce. Scoop the leftover filling into the middle of the dish between the rows of the enchiladas and pour the leftover sauce all over the enchiladas.

7. Rinse your hands and then put into the oven for 35-40 minutes. Take out, top with a little greek yogurt or guacamole or salsa and enjoy!

Bacon Blueberry Goat Cheese Walnut Salad

Boy, that’s a mouthful.  A MOUTHFUL OF PURE AWESOME.

Bacon AND blueberries AND goat cheese AND walnuts? It just came to me.

The bacon had finished crisping up in the pan and I was standing over the sink rinsing salad greens when I looked over and saw an empty tomato container.  Crap.  The BLTs I had planned on making were now a thing of the past.  Salad it would be!  (because there’s just no sense in a sandwich with only lettuce and tomato.  boring.)  I looked in the fridge for other vegetables to throw in and my eyes passed by the pint of beautiful organic blueberries.  I wanted those blueberries.  They wanted to be in my salad.  I gave in.

Blueberries and bacon…. they are perfectly matched in every way.  Sweet to savory, blue to red, juicy to crispy.  But what else could I put in a salad that was saddled with beautiful organic blueberries and crispy center-cut bacon?  I looked in the pantry and reached for the walnuts.  Score!  I wasn’t done, though.  No special salad is complete without the perfect cheese!  And what better cheese than that of a GOAT?  None, I say… none.  My masterpiece was almost done, but I still needed a dressing to bring it all together.

I thought maybe a balsamic vinaigrette would work at first, but I didn’t have any and this salad was too pretty to just splash on some straight balsamic.  I’ve been toting around a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette that I bought from Aldi months ago.  It’s more of an oil and vinegar dressing with some other flavors thrown in, so I read the ingredients, gave it a taste and decided it was the right one.  The red wine vinegar base sealed the deal.

This salad is awesome.  In fact, I’m making a big one for a get-together this weekend.  Bacon and blueberries are a sure-fire winner.  When I open up my own little bistro, this salad will definitely be on the menu.  No joke.  But until I open up that bistro, here’s the recipe for you to enjoy!

Bacon Blueberry Goat Cheese Walnut Salad
Servings: 1
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10


  • 3 handfuls salad greens
  • 1/3 cup rinsed blueberries (or more since they’re zero PP!)
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, 3 PP
  • 1/2 oz crumbled goat cheese, 1 PP
  • 3 sliced center-cut bacon, cooked and chopped, 2 PP
  • 2 tbsp raspberry vinaigrette, 4 PP (this was just mine since it was oil-based, but if you have a lighter one, you can easily adjust the points)

1. Put salad on a plate or in a bowl, top with blueberries, bacon, walnuts and goat cheese. Pour vinaigrette over top. Enjoy!

This is seriously an amazing salad.  I spent about 20 minutes using my “internet curation” skills trying to find recipes that include these four main ingredients and I couldn’t find one!  I’m sure someone somewhere in the vast existence of time has combined these ingredients, but I’ll gladly stake my claim as the first one to officially publish it online!  If you’re curious as to some of the other recipes I found with blueberries and bacon as the main focus, check these ones out:

Blueberry Bacon Breakfast Cake from How Sweet It Is blog (this girl is freaking hilarious too, so you should subscribe to her blog!)
Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Bacon BBQ Sauce from Noble Pig blog
Cheddar Bacon Blueberry Scones from The Cooking Bridge blog

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta

You know, I’ve been sitting here trying to think of creative ways to start off this blog post, but they all sounded like poop. So, I’m just going to give you some random tidbits of my life and then give you the recipe!  Kapeesh?

TIDBIT #1: I have tracked all my food 100% for almost three weeks now and it’s paying off!
TIDBIT #2: I am currently obsessed with protein shakes thanks to my Mimsy. My favorite so far is Choco-Berry. ICE CREAM FOR BREAKFAST!
TIDBIT #3: I have so much going on in my life right now that I can barely stand it. I just keep taking deep breaths and tracking my food since those are the two things I can control.
TIDBIT #4: I caved and bought some “shape-ups” to help my plantar fasciitis. These ones aren’t quite as atrocious, but they are definitely working!  And I’m not worried about Jess leaving me because I look like a fool :)
TIDBIT #5: The main reason why I got back on track is because I have $200 bucks in gift cards to spend that I promised myself I wouldn’t use until I reached 50 lbs lost and now that it’s getting hot outside, I NEED NEW CLOTHES!

Okay, enough randomness. Time for tasty! It’s inspired by this recipe I saw on Eat Me, Delicious. I just happened to have most of the ingredients and I wanted to do something different with my asparagus, so this was perfect! I switched up the ingredients just a bit, but it’s pretty much the same thing. I hope you like it!

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta
Servings: 3 (around 1 1/2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 10


  • 7 oz uncooked pasta of your choice, 19 PP
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in a bag, not oil)
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 2 oz feta cheese, 4 PP
  • 2 tsp olive oil, 2 PP
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp reserved water from the tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp capers (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

1. First, you want to roast the asparagus, so turn the oven to 400 and wash and snap off the ends of your asparagus. Then, take out a cookie sheet, line it in tin foil and lay down the asparagus. Spray with some cooking spray and lightly salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of doneness (should be cooked, but still slightly firm). Once cooked, cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.

2. Now, put a pot of water on to boil the pasta in. I used a tomato-garlic fettucini noodle, but you can use whatever you’d like. Cook until al dente, strain and set aside.

3. While the asparagus is roasting, put the tomatoes in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook them until mostly re-hydrated (around 7-10 minutes). Slice into small strips and set aside.

4. Once your three main ingredients are ready (or while you’re waiting for them to be ready), crumble the feta cheese into a big serving bowl. Pour in the tomato water, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dried herbs, capers and black pepper. Mix it together and then put in the pasta, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss to coat it evenly, serve and enjoy!