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*

Ingredients

  • 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

Topping

  • 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

Directions
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.

OR JUST PUT ALL THE INGREDIENTS IN A CROCKPOT (minus the olive oil) AND COOK ON LOW FOR 4-8 HOURS.  heh.

**WAYS TO LIGHTEN THIS UP**
– 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).

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions
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!

Perfect Pita Pizzas

I put a status update on Facebook a few days ago about needing ideas for a quick, easy and tasty meal to make for dinner. My friend Johnell gave me this great idea and I figured I would share it with you! I didn’t have any pitas to use, so I didn’t actually make the meal, but I thought I could share it with you anyway since figuring out points is an easy task!

The perfect pita pizza is a relative concept.  It’s based solely on the person eating the pizza. Luckily, these little slices of goodness are quick and easy to prep AND cook!  I’ll be stocking up on pitas soon!  One day I might be in a hawaiian mood, so my perfect pita pizza would be turkey bacon, pineapple and onion.  My girlfriend might be in a greek mood, so her perfect pita pizza would probably be an olive oil and herb base topped with chicken, feta cheese and spinach.  The possibilities are endless!  (Seriously, how many times have I said this on my blog already?)

Points values are based on the ingredients used, but typically any type of small pita would be 2 points.  You’ll probably use one that’s closer to 6 inches in diameter, though, so that will be 4 points.  Most spaghetti sauces are about 3 points for a 1/2 cup and you’d probably use about 2 tbsp max on a pita pizza, so it would only be 1 point for the sauce.  Cheese is typically about 2 points for a 1/4 cup (as long as it’s reduced-fat).  I’d probably use that amount since I LOVE cheese.  So…. if you did just a cheese pita pizza with 2 tbsp of sauce and a 1/4 cup of cheese, it would be 7 points!  Add some veggies on there and it’s STILL only 7 points!  Here are some easy directions for those of you that want them and I’ll list some ingredient suggestions at the end (with point values!)

Photo Courtesty of: http://www.noobcook.com

Perfect Pita Pizzas
Servings: 1
PointsPlus Per Serving: 7 (including pita, 2 tbsp spaghetti sauce and 1/4 cup reduced-fat cheese)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put pitas on a nonstick pan. Put sauce down (or olive oil) and spread around. Put on some herbs if you like.

2. Top with preferred toppings. Put on cheese. Repeat if desired.

3. Put in oven (either on pan or directly onto rack) and bake for about 10 minutes.

4. Take out, slice, enjoy!

Ingredient Suggestions
Hawaiian (8 PP) – 1/4 cup pineapple, 1 slice ham/bacon, onion, 1/4 cup RF mozzarella cheese
Mexican (10 PP w/o enchilada sauce) – 1/4 cup ground turkey/beef/chorizo with taco seasoning, diced tomatoes, no sauce (or enchilada sauce), lettuce, diced onions, 1 tbsp sour cream, hot sauce, 1/4 cup mexican blend cheese
Italian (8 PP with red sauce) – 1 1/2 oz chicken sausage, sauteed onions and peppers, mozzarella cheese, PBO (parsley, basil, oregano), a bit of chopped garlic, either spaghetti sauce or a light rub of olive oil
Greek (9 PP) – 1 oz grilled chicken, feta cheese, diced onion, spinach, black olive, diced tomato
Veggie (7 PP)– black olives, sauteed onions and peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, mozzarella/cheddar cheese
Chili (10 PP) – 1 oz ground beef/turkey, chili powder, 1/4 cup chili beans or cannelini beans, diced onion, 2 tbsp sour cream, cheddar cheese
Breakfast (9 PP) – asparagus pieces, fresh sliced mushrooms, olive oil w/ salt, pepper and spices, colby/mozzarella cheese, cracked egg right on top of everything
Fire-Breather (9 PP) – pepperjack cheese, jalapeno slices (or habanero!), diced onion, chorizo/chicken, chili powder, tabasco/green chile sauce, sour cream, (either a low-fat ranch, enchilada sauce or red sauce on the bottom)

Well, I hope that you enjoy these different combinations. Remember, you can try any mix of ingredients that you like! Make a couple different kinds. Make sweeter ones if you want with sweetened ricotta cheese, fruit and a light whipped cream or yogurt on top. And if you make one and you shock yourself with it’s tasty goodness, comment on this entry and share the wealth! Good luck to you all in your future pita adventures!