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).

Fried Rice with Prawns and Ham

Sriracha swirls make everything better.

I have been searching for a really good fried rice recipe and I think I finally figured it out!  It’s no easy feat, I tell you, especially when you are trying to keep it relatively healthy.  Anything with “fried” in the name is bound to give you a bit of trouble when skinnifying it.

The secret isn’t just the ingredients or the sauce.  The secret to fantastic fried rice is the order in which your ingredients are cooked.  You need to saute the vegetables and protein together so that all the flavors infuse each other and become fragrant before you add any rice or sauce.

I discovered this while following (for the most part) the directions for the fried rice recipe in my “Stir Fry” cookbook.  It’s one of those random cookbooks I picked up from a Barnes and Noble somewhere and all the recipes in it are over-involved, you know, where there’s ONE ingredient in almost every dish that you don’t even know where to find because it’s sooo gourmet?  Yeah, I just cut that out and do my own thing, but I generally follow the directions.  My theory proved to be correct and this dish has quickly become a favorite in our home.  In fact, I have about 7 cups of white and wild rice chilling in the freezer right now so I can make a huge batch of it tonight!

So, take it from me and my girlfriend; this fried rice is fabulous.  Full of veggies and a delicious mix of meats, you’d might as well make a huge batch of it so you’ll have leftovers for lunch!

Soooo much better for you than the average Chinese restaurant!

Fried Rice with Prawns and Ham
Servings: 9 (around 1 to 1 1/2 cups each)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 7

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cooked white rice, 26 PP
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice, 17 PP
  • 6 tsp canola oil, 7 PP
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 2/3 cup frozen green peas, 2 PP
  • 1/4 cup diced scallions or white onion
  • 15 large prawns (slice in half length-wise and then cut each side into 3 more pieces), 3 PP
  • 2 oz lean deli-sliced ham, 1 PP
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha chili sauce
  • 4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1 PP
  • 4 tsp unpacked light brown sugar, 1 PP
  • 6 egg whites, 2 PP

Directions
1. Heat up 2 tsp canola oil in a wok. over medium-low heat. Pour egg whites in and stir them up until they are just cooked enough and slightly scrambled. Place in a bowl and set aside.

2. Reheat the wok and pour in 3 more tsp canola oil. Put in garlic, green onion, shrimp, ham, carrots and peas. Cook for about about 5-10 minutes until shrimp has been thoroughly cooked.

3. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, last of the canola oil and sriracha in a bowl.

4. Pour rice and sauce mixture into the wok and mix up with the vegetables. cook for a few minutes until well coated. Then throw in the egg. Cook for another minute or so.

5. Serve immediately and enjoy! Keep some sriracha and soy sauce out on the side so people can add it at their leisure.

You can always switch out which meats you use, so if you want chicken in there, just make sure you switch out the points since it’ll be more.  Maybe you have leftover pork that you need to use or even bacon or scallops!  Don’t like peas?  Put in some edamame.  Make those flavors work for you!

Chobani Giveaway Winner and a Delicious New Recipe!

WOW! I received 45 entries for the Chobani giveaway and the lucky winner was…

Congratulation, Melissa!  She had six entries, so she was bound and determined!  Melissa, please send me an email with your contact information so that I can get that case of Chobani to you!

In true Random.org fashion, it chose the number 13, which was actually pretty perfect since I became the Featured Blogger on the 13th day of the month!  Kewl.  Thank you to everyone else for participating and don’t be disheartened!  I’m having a Popchips giveaway soon!

Now, I was going to post a recipe for the tzatziki sauce that I made, but it still needs a little perfecting, so that will be done later this week.  But I’m not leaving you with NOTHING!

My girlfriend and I have made a few big purchases in the last month, so we’ve been budgeting like crazy, thanks to You Need a Budget.  It’s this awesome software that’s keeping us in line and on track.  Needless to say, buying meat isn’t a priority right now, lol.  We have so many vegetables from our awesome CSA that vegetarian dishes are working their way into our weekly menus.  I’ve actually enjoyed the challenge.  I’m definitely one of those people who could never be a full-time vegetarian.  I like my meat!  I like the texture and the protein and the flavor… so, I’ve had to be creative.

This recipe was inspired by Budget Bytes.  She made zucchini pizza boats and they looked so appealing that I took it and ran with it!  I wanted to do it with more of an Italian style, so that’s what I did.  What happened next… was pure deliciousness.  I didn’t miss the meat and my girlfriend said she didn’t even miss the noodles; if you know ANYTHING about my girlfriend, it’s that she loooooooves her noodles!  Noodles are a weekly occurrence in our home, so that statement is a true testament to how exquisite this dish was!  Plus, it’s made with stuff that you probably have in your kitchen right now.

OHMYGOODNESSGETINMAHBELLYNOWPLEASETHANKSNOMNOMNOM

Italian Stuffed Zucchini
Servings: 2 (or 4 if you are serving sides)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (or 4 if you have 4 portions)

Ingredients

  • 1 ginormous zucchini (a 3-5 lb one will do!)
  • 1 cup reduced fat spaghetti sauce, 3 PP
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese (fresh if you have it), 3 PP
  • 1 oz feta cheese (i used full fat cheeses), 2 PP
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (any kind will do), 5 PP
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet/yellow onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning (parsley, basil, oregano)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1 cm – 1/2 inch all the way round. Put insides in a bowl and set aside.

3. Lightly spray the bottom of a roasting pan with Pam and place 2 zucchini halves in, insides up.

4. Heat up tsp oil in a small non-stick pan and saute onion. Once sauteed, put into bowl and set aside.

5. Get out a chopping board and roughly chop up insides of zucchini and then place back in the bowl. Add spaghetti sauce, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, bread crumbs, cheese and a little salt and pepper if you’d like. Mix together.

6. Spoon mixture into zucchini halves until evenly distributed. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over top and place in oven.

7. Cook for 35-50 minutes depending on how firm you want your zucchini to be. Serve and enjoy!

Now, make sure not to cut off the ends of the zucchini. In my picture, I have one side cut off because I used part of it for a different recipe a few days before. The zucchini was that big.  You can use smaller zucchinis if you want.  Maybe two normal-large ones.  The wider the better, too!  You want your zucchini to be like a little boat so that none of the insides drip out. Seriously, this dish is AMAZING. You won’t want any little bits dripping out!

Hungry Girl’s Paella

If you all haven’t heard of Hungry Girl, you need to check her site out. She started off small, but now she’s got a great site, a handful of cookbooks out, and even her own cooking show! I signed up for her email list about a month ago and now I get awesome recipes sent right to my inbox. This paella one came through recently and I knew I had to share! As a seafood fanatic, how could I not?? I’m extremely pumped to try out this recipe!

Click here for this 7 PP Paella recipe from Shannon’s Kitchen Creations!

Hungry Girl’s Paella
Servings: 6
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8
Calories Per Serving: 319

Ingredients

  • – 8 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces, 8 PP
  • – 1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper, divided
  • – 2 cups sliced onions
  • – 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • – 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • – 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • – 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • – 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • – 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • – 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • – 1 cup uncooked brown rice, 18 PP
  • – 3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth

Directions
1. Spray a large pot (with a lid) with nonstick spray and bring to medium-high heat on the stove. Add chicken and season with 1/8 tsp. each salt and black pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.

2. Remove pot from heat, re-spray, and return to medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 6 minutes.

Click here for this Easy Paella recipe from Just One Cookbook!

3. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, turmeric, paprika, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper to the pot. Cook until mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add rice and mix well. Add broth, peas, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 35 – 40 minutes, until rice is fully cooked.

5. Add all of the seafood, the cooked chicken, and the parsley. Stirring often, cook for 5 minutes, or until seafood is fully cooked.

6. Add lemon juice and stir. Remove from heat and re-cover. Let stand for 10 minutes.

7. Remove bay leaves. Add remaining 1/8 tsp. each salt and black pepper. If you like, garnish with lemon wedges and season to taste with additional salt and black pepper. Enjoy!