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).

Balsamic Beef and Veggie Soup

beef stew, balsamic, soup, dinner

Yummy yummy in my tummy!

You can tell it’s the winter season when the majority of my recipes are soups, stews or chili. Here’s more proof that it’s cold outside! Although not today… it’s a freaky 65 degrees, which Maxwell and I enjoyed with a long walk outside. But that’s beside the point; I still made some damn soup.

This one was thrown together when I went home during a lunch hour to check on our sick little poochie. I peeled/cut everything, threw it in the crockpot and came home to fantastical smells permeating from our apartment. If you follow these simple steps, you too shall experience such fantastical smells permeating from YOUR home. Ridiculously awesome, right?

Balsamic Beef and Veggie Soup
Servings: 4 (2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (or 4 PP per 1 cup)


  • 9.5 oz lean and trimmed steak, 12 PP
  • 5 oz frozen green beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium red potatoes, diced, 12 PP
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 3 tsp Better Than Bouillon beef base, 1 PP
  • 5 tsbp balsamic vinegar, 2 PP
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. Chop up all those veggies and the meat and throw in into the crockpot. Then mix the tomato paste and bouillon base into the water and pour over the veggies. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and the rest of the spices. Cook on low for six hours and enjoy!

Yep, that’s the beauty of a crockpot.  No worries, just dinner!

Spicy Beef Lentil Chili

lentil chili beef

Photo Courtesy of the “Debbie Does Dinner” blog!

My friend, Carissa, found this recipe on AllRecipes, modified it to her tastes and then sent it to me when I begged her for it.  I modified it as well by using beef instead of turkey, adding in white beans and upping the spices a bit.  It’s got the perfect level of heat for me… which could mean it’s a bit spicy for other people, but I also use very pure chili powder, so it could just be that!

This is a perfect dish to eat on such a perfectly chilly day like today!  It’ll warm you from your head to your toes and leave you with a bunch to eat throughout the week.  Score?  I think so :)

Spicy Beef Lentil Chili
Servings: 15 (1 cup each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 4


  • 8 oz raw 85/15 lean ground beef, 12 PP
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, 11 PP
  • 3 cups dry green lentils, 24 PP
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken/vegetable broth, 3 PP (I used water and 3 tbsp Better than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin, 2 PP
  • 2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

1. But everything into a giant pot, turn on medium heat and cook for about 3-4 hours! Easy, right? You could even do this in a crockpot… but I’d recommend splitting the recipe in half because it is a LOT for a crockpot.  I even halved the written recipe after making it at home since the crockpot almost overflowed.  I had to put it into a pot and continue cooking it in there!

Top it off with a little Chobani 0% and you’ll be set!  If you don’t eat meat, you can leave it out and put tofu in there.  A little trick for those vegans out there… if you want your tofu to take on a similar texture to ground meat, try freezing your tofu and then thawing it.  Once you’ve drained it, it’ll have the texture you’re going for!

Eating Healthy on a Budget: Warm Curried Beef Salad

For this week’s Our Harvest Coop Newsletter, I’ve decided to share a delicious salad recipe.  I made this one up when I was searching for something different to do with a bottom round steak I had in the fridge.  I wanted the right combination of savory and sweet flavors without going crazy and I definitely found it.

These days, it seems like we’re waiting for a good deal to buy meat. When I was younger, my parents refused to buy meat until it was under $2.00 a lb. Times have changed and some days we’re just hoping it will get under $4.00 a lb! But the price you pay depends most on which cut of meat you get. For us, the most affordable cuts are tri-tip steaks and bottom round steaks. Tri-tip is succulent and easy to chew and usually just a tad more expensive than the round, but it’s definitely cheaper than flank steak! Bottom round is a bit tougher to chew, but going at it with a meat mallet always does the trick.

Warm Curried Beef Salad
Servings: 2
PointsPlus Per Serving: 6


  • 6 oz raw beef bottom/top round, lean and trimmed, 7 PP
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 3 handfuls leaf lettuce mix (you can throw some spinach in there too)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 tomato, diced (optional)
  • 2 oz reduced fat feta cheese, 4 PP
  • 2-3 tbsp low-fat garlic-based vinaigrette (like the House dressing from Aldi), 1 PP

1. Warm up a cast iron grill pan with just a spray of Pam over medium-low heat. Mix together your spices and rub it on both sides of the beef. Then, cook the beef. It should take around 3-6 minutes per side depending on it’s thickness.

2. While it’s cooking, wash your lettuce, slice up your carrot (diagonal cuts make this aesthetically appealing!) and put into a big bowl.

3. Once the beef is done cooking, slice up diagonally into 1-1.5 inch long pieces and throw into salad bowl. Sprinkle feta cheese over top and pour in the vinaigrette. Mix up with salad tongs. You can serve immediately or put it into a tupperware container for lunch later!

I’ve been able to find the bottom round beef steaks for around $3.50-$3.86 per pound. Since we’re using only 6 oz here, that’s less than $1.75. We’ll round that to $1.50. Depending on where you get your salad from, you can pay anywhere from $2-4.00 for a half pound of leaf lettuce. Since we’re using 3 handfuls, let’s call that $2.00 for quality lettuce in this dish. Feta cheese? Maybe 75 cents for 2 oz and 15 cents for a carrot. 3 tbsp of low-fat vinaigrette? I’d say around a quarter (since I get mine from Aldi!)

$1.50 – Beef
$2.00 – Leaf Lettuce mix
$1.15 – Cheese, carrot and vinaigrette

$4.65 – TOTAL COST

I’d call that a deal. You would definitely find yourself paying close to $7 or $8 if you were purchasing this salad at a restaurant. Now you’ll be saving over $5 PER PORTION! That’s $10 you’ve saved for the whole meal. $10 you can put towards that vacation you’ve been wanting to go on, right?

Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Meatballs

Holy sh*t balls, people. I’ve created a lick-the-plate-clean-twice-give-me-thirds-om-nom-nom recipe. Best part? I can’t find a SINGLE recipe like it on the internets! It’s completely original and totally going on the menu of ANY cafe/bistro that I open up.  It’s so good that I had to swear at the beginning of this paragraph.

My girlfriend, who isn’t a fan of peppers and onions or goat cheese (for the most part), cleaned the bowl with her finger and whined when she discovered there was no more noodles left. Then she ate another meatball and made me promise to cook up more noodles. She’s the kind of person that leaves at LEAST two bites of food/drink on the plate/cup every time. She’s also the kind of person that doesn’t really care about the sauce as long as the noodle is great.  That’s how amazing these meatballs are.

It all started with a pound of ground beef that was staring at me in the fridge. It said, “Make me into something new and delicious, Angela, and do it tonight.” How could I say no to that? I asked my Facebook fans what I should do (did I mention that I started an official Reluctant WW Foodie facebook page!?!?!) and they gave me some great ideas. I have to give mad props to my girl, Chandra, who suggested stuffed red peppers with goat cheese, beef and couscous. Her comment got me thinking about how much I’d been enjoying my bag of mini sweet peppers… and how I still had goat cheese in the fridge… and I started concocting.

This dish is delicate, yet rich with flavor. Sweet, yet saucy. Complex, yet simple. It took me about 40 minutes from start to finish (including cutting up the peppers) and I had to focus really hard on not inhaling it in 90 seconds or less once it was done. MAKE THIS. You can thank me afterwards!

Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Meatballs
Servings: 24 (each individual meatball)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 1


  • 1 lb 93/7 ground beef, 15 PP
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 6 tbsp goat cheese, 3 PP
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil, 2 PP
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2/3 cup diced mini sweet peppers
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups of your spaghetti sauce of choice (not included in points, but it’s usually around 2 PP per 1/2 cup)

1. First, preheat the oven to 400. Then dice up your onion and peppers and set aside. Next, get a small pan heated up with the olive oil. While it warms up, put the rest of the ingredients (except the sauce) into a big mixing bowl.

2. Saute your onions and peppers for about 3-5 minutes and then put them into the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix it up with your hands because it’s fun that way.

3. Get out a 9×13 glass baking dish. Pour the spaghetti sauce in and spread around evenly. Take the meatball mixture and form 24 meatballs (around 1-2 inch diameter each) and set them in the sauce.

4. Put the dish of meatballs on the top rack of the oven for about 22 minutes. Take out and serve on top of your pasta of choice. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and enjoy the taste of heaven in your mouth.

5. Comment on this blog post on how delicious they were because you love me :)

Not only is this good over noodles, but I have no doubts that it would be fantastic over some spaghetti squash or broccoli slaw or even just plain LETTUCE (especially if you’re Jen from PriorFatGirl).  It would also be DELICIOUS nuzzled in the middle of a whole wheat hoagie.  Or just eat it without anything else…. maybe a salad on the side.  JUST EAT IT!  I’ve been on a culinary high since 7pm yesterday because of these damn meatballs.  It took me HOURS to get to sleep!!  They were so good!!  And I am so proud of myself for coming up with the recipe :D

Cuban Marinated Steak

If you haven’t noticed already, one of my absolute favorite things to do during the summers is GRILL!! Last summer I used a lot of regular charcoal and lighter fluid to start my grill, but then I did some reading and learned about all the chemicals that can be cooked onto the food by doing that. So, I adjusted.

Now, I can get hot coals in half the time without using ANY chemicals! I use all natural wood lump charcoal, put a bottom layer into a charcoal chimney, put in two of my favorite 100% biomass firelighters and light them, fill up the rest of the chimney with the charcoal and then step away for about 10-15 minutes while it gets nice and hot.  All natural grilling perfection!  Seriously, no chemicals needed.

Since I’ve perfected the “all natural” grill set up, there’s been more grilling in our home than ever before.  This recipe was the second steak recipe we’ve tried this season and it was great!  I knew I wanted something a little different than my regular marinades and I wanted it to be something that didn’t necessarily have to marinate overnight (who remembers to marinate meat a whole day ahead of time unless you have your menu for the week written down and in a visible place!?!)  I came across this one on Kalyn’s Kitchen, it looked delicious and we loved it!  She used flank steak for her recipe, which looked amazing, but I only had three small shoulder steaks, so I beat them down with a meat tenderizer and it worked perfectly.  I had to make a few changes to the marinade based on what I had in my kitchen and it still tasted like heaven.  I highly recommend this recipe!  It’s delicious, different, and perfect for summer.

Grilled to perfection!

Cuban Marinated Steak (Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Servings: 3
PointsPlus Per Serving: 9 (unless you cut the steaks in half. then it’s 4.)


  • around 1 lb of lean steaks, 19 PP
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice, 1 PP
  • 1/8 cup olive oil, 7 PP
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional. i didn’t have any so i added more garlic powder.)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle chile powder (or use your favorite hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp lime zest (optional. i didn’t use any as i’m not a fan of zest.)

1. Combine marinade ingredients. Take steaks (I used a package of three smaller shoulder steaks, covered them in saran wrap and beat them to about 1/2 inch thick with a meat tenderizer). Put meat into a ziploc bag and pour marinade in. Massage into meat before putting into refrigerator. Let marinate for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

2. Take meat out of refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before grilling. Oil the grill with a paper towel dipped in olive or grapeseed oil (or don’t. it’s not necessary), then preheat gas or charcoal barbecue grill to medium-high (you can only keep your hand there for a few seconds.)

3. Grill meat to desired done-ness, approximately 4-5 minutes per side for rare to medium rare or 6 minutes for medium. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your steak, the best way to judge the done-ness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer, cooking to 140-145 for medium rare or 155-160 for medium (I just cut mine open to check the juices and that worked just fine.)

4. Remove meat from grill and let rest about 5 minutes. (You can cover with foil to keep it warm if needed.) Slice across the grain and serve hot, with slices of fresh lime to squeeze on the meat (if you have them).

PS – stayed tuned… I’m planning my first giveaway in the next week or two!

A St. Patty’s Day Feast!

In the words of my mother…. Erin Go Bragh-less!

The rest of the world may think that Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts are unbeatable, but for us Irish… St. Patty’s Day is a BEAST of a feast!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my turkey and mashed potatoes, but there’s something special about corned beef and cabbage.  My mom does an amazing job of putting together that feast, which is why my girlfriend and I are headed to Ohio for the weekend!

I’m so excited to share that part of my heritage with her; to experience her first St. Patty’s Day feast ever while sitting side by side.  I hope that you all will indulge a little and find a place with some nice corned beef and cabbage and enjoy it!  And if you can’t just yet, here’s a recipe I found on the Weight Watchers website so that you can enjoy it another time.

Photo Courtesy of: Weight Watchers Online

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Red Potatoes
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 9


  • 16 oz lean beef round, 15 PP
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seed, 1 PP
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 small uncooked red potatoes, 13 PP
  • 16 baby carrots
  • 1 head medium green cabbage

1. Coat beef all over with salt and pepper and place in a large stockpot; pour enough water into pot to cover beef. Add seasonings and bay leaves and stir to coat meat; set pot over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 40 minutes.

2. Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage and increase heat to medium-high; return to a boil. Partially cover pot and boil, until vegetables and beef are fork-tender, about 10 minutes more. Drain water from meat and vegetables, reserving 1 cup of liquid; discard bay leaves.

3. Thinly slice meat against the grain and serve with vegetables. Pour some reserved cooking liquid over each serving. Yields about 3 ounces of meat, 1 1/2 cups of vegetables and 1/4 cup of cooking liquid per serving.

Here are some other St. Patty’s Day-inspired dishes that you should check out!
– Corned Beef Brisket from Burp!
– Beer Bread from Closet Cooking
– Skinny Guinness Irish Pub Beef Stew from Skinny Kitchen
– Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker