Category Archives: chili

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.


For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Spice Rubbed Steak w/ Avocado-Grapefruit Salsa

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This meal lets you dress up an ordinary steak with a bit of spice and seasonal fruit.  I love the marbling in rib eye steaks but you can use whichever cut of meat you prefer.  The spice rub give the meat a little extra kick while the grapefruit and avocado put a new spin on a typical salsa.  Serve alongside a baked potato and you have a complete meal in less than half an hour.  Now that is the perfect way to end your work week.


2 rib eye steaks

For the steak rub:

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon coriander

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Evenly divide the spice rub amongst both sides of the two steaks.  Use your fingers to massage the spice into the meat.
  • Allow to sit for 10 minutes before grilling.
  • Lightly grease a grill with cooking spray.  Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  • Place the steaks in the center of the grill and cook for approximately 9 minutes (for medium-rare) to desired level of doneness flipping every two to three minutes.  The amount of grilling time will depend upon the thickness of the meat and your personal preferences.

For the salsa:

1 red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned with membranes removed, cut into bite sized pieces

1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks

1 chili pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

Juice of 1 lime

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  • Serve along side the grilled steak.

Serves 2

Meat & Bean Chili


Chili For A Chilly Day

Cool weather + the weekend + Sunday football games mean only one thing: its also chili season. No matter whether you like yours with beans or without, filled with meat or vegetarian friendly, in a red sauce or a white one, spicy or mild, this is definitely the season for chili. And in my house we certainly love chili of all kinds. White chicken chili, sweet potato and black bean chili and even a pumpkin and sausage chili mixed with macaroni are all good but sometimes a more traditional chili is in order. And when that is the case, this is my go-to recipe.

This chili is filled with meat, beans and vegetables and most importantly, packed with flavor. If you prefer you can make it in a slow cooker; simply place all of the ingredients in the crock, set the temperature to low and let it cook for eight hours. Or you can cook it as I do on top of the stove. Let it simmer on low all afternoon and by the time the game is on you’ll have a hot bowl of chili. Top the chili with cheese, sour cream and diced avocado and serve it with a side of corn chips or corn bread.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot thinly sliced
4-5 fresh bell peppers- I used a mix of red and green
4 small jalapeño peppers
1 lb ground beef (can substitute ground pork, veal, lamb or a combination of meats)
1/2 lb veal cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can corn kernels, drained
2 11.5 ounce cans beans- I prefer kidney beans
3 11.5 ounce cans whole Roma tomatoes- roughly chopped
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce- adjust based on preferences
3-4 tablespoons chili powder- I like Penzeys Spice Medium Hot Chili Powder– but adjust based on personalpreferences.

  • Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a Dutch oven or other heavy duty pot and place over medium high heat.
  • Add the onions, garlic, peppers, carrot, and jalapenos to the pot.
  • Add the salt and stirring frequently, cook for 8-10 minutes until soft.
  • Add the meats and cook until well browned being sure to break up any larger pieces as you go.
  • Add the corn, the drained and rinsed beans and tomatoes with their juice and mix to combine.
  • Stir in the Tabasco sauce and the chili powder.
  • Stir, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low.
    Continue to cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to meet your personal tastes.
  • I let the chili cook on low all afternoon and it tastes even better when reheated the next day.  The longer the chili cooks the more the flavors will develop.
  • Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado if desired.

Serves 6-8

Drippy Corn


Summer isn’t quite over and there is still time to grab what I consider to be the quintessential summer vegetable–fresh corn on the cob. The best corn on the cob is picked and eaten within a few hours and it is so sweet that neither butter nor salt is needed. And if you have your own garden or easy access to a farm, you just might be able to partake in this freshest of fresh endeavors. But those of us who aren’t so fortunate needn’t despair since tasty fresh corn on cob is still available in most markets this time of year. Corn on the cob is tasty when simply boiled or steamed and is delicious when grilled with olive oil and fresh herbs. But if you want to dress the corn up further why not go all out?

I’ve adapted this recipe from The Splendid Table and this takes an ear of corn to a whole new level. The corn is drenched in melted butter as it is grilled which infuses the corn with a sweet and slightly charred flavor. A thick coating of tangy creme fraise helps  the freshly grated parmesan cheese adhere to the ears which are then dusted with chili powder. This corn is so good that it is often the main attraction on the plate. I like to serve it with a simple grilled meat that allows the corn to really shine. And as an added bonus the corn toppings are so delicious that they can turn a ho-hum ear into something fabulous. How can you not try this?


6 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed

1 /2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups creme fraiche

About 3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup medium hot chili powder

1 lime, cut into six wedges

  • Place the corn on a medium-high grill. Using tongs to turn the ears, grill the corn for 8 to 10 minutes, brushing generously with butter with each turn.
  • Remove the corn to a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the creme friche on a shallow plate and the cheese on another plate.
  • When the corn is cool enough to touch, roll it in the creme fraise, draining off the excess.
  • Roll the creme fraise coated ears in the grated parmesan cheese then sprinkle evenly with the chili powder.
  • Serve immediately with the lime wedges.

Serves 6


Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Texans might disagree, but not all chili needs to be slow cooked. And for that matter, it doesn’t even need to include meat in order to be filling and satisfying. Yes, that’s right and this chili, from Williams Sonoma is proof of that beans and potatoes can be just as satisfying, if not more so, than meat.

I have always been partial to both sweet potatoes and black beans. The potatoes are sweet and earthy yet mellow and hold up well in stews and soups. I’ve also been known to eat a baked one as a meal unto itself which makes them the perfect base for this chili. And the black beans are mellow and add protein and body to the chili. Be sure to adjust the amount of chili powder and cayenne pepper as needed since some are hotter than others. Whatever you do, don’t omit the avocado, it both tempers the  heat and adds a refreshing balance to the entire dish.


1/4 cup olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups  vegetable stock
Avocado slices for garnish

  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  • Add the sweet potatoes and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the sweet potatoes are slightly soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, then add the black beans, tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Cover the pot and cook the chili, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and continue cooking until the beans are soft and the chili is thickened slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Top with the avocado and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Beer & Jack Chili Mac n’ Cheese

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I don’t know about where you are, but here in Belgium we are yo-yoing on the cusp between winter and spring. Warmer days have me craving lighter and healthier food but on the cool and cloudy ones by body wants comfort food. And what is more comforting that chili? Or macaroni and cheese? How about combing the two and throwing in a cup or two of beer? Yes, you read that right. Beer infused chili macaroni and cheese. What’s not to love?

I adapted this recipe from the always fun Bakeaholica Mama food blog. (If you haven’t checked her out, do so. Her entire website is filled with delicious and inspiring recipes). The original recipe simply called for beer but since you can taste the beer in every bite, be sure to use one you love. In the Brown household Sam Adams Boston Lager is the beer of choice so that is what I used. Some people insist that their chili must have meat in it but this recipe is so hearty that you won’t even miss it. Meat lovers, beer lovers, and vegetarians alike are sure to fall for this recipe. So cook some up for a crowd today and be comforted on these last days of winter.


For the chili:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1 jalapeno sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup beer (Sam Adams)
1 – 11 ounce can corn
1 – 15 oz can of black beans
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the onions, yellow pepper, jalapeno, and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomatoes, beer, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the flavors have melded and the chili has thickened, at least half an hour but longer if desired.

For the macaroni and cheese:
1 16 oz box of pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup beer (Sam Adams Lager)
1 cup light cream
10 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 oz mascarpone cheese
2 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Minced cilantro and diced avocado, if desired

  • While the chili is cooking, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, return to the pot, an set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan melt the butter until it is foamy.
  • Whisk in the flour to form a thick paste then slowly add the beer and cream. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps.
  • Bring to a low boil then remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the jack and cheddar cheeses and the mascarpone until completely incorporated.
  • Season with salt and pepper then pour over the reserved pasta. Stir well.
  • Pour the chili over the macaroni and cheese and mix until fully combined.
  • Serve topped with minced cilantro and diced avocado if desired.

Serves: 12

White Bean & Corn Chicken Chili

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I love this new twist on traditional chili.  As I’ve discovered chili is a controversial food. Everyone seems to think their version is the best.  From no beans to those with, meat or meatless, red or white, mild to fire extinguisher hot, how does one really determine which chili is the best?  Isn’t it all based on personal preference?  I’m all about variety being the spice of life.  I love a good spicy meat based chili (filled with lots of veggies too) but this white chili is also a contender.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs of all time, The Yankee Kitchen Ninja.  The Ninj makes the chili in a crockpot but I adapted it slightly and used a Dutch oven on my stove top with good results since my crockpot was already packed away in anticipation of our big move when I tackled this recipe.  So cook up a big pot of this hearty chili for your Superbowl party.  It will add a bit of variety to you day and our guests will love it.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 1/4 pounds diced boneless chicken breasts

1 15 ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 ounce can corn, drained

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 small can diced green chilis

2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt & pepper

Suggested toppings:

Chopped cilantro

Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Minced jalapeno

Diced black olives

  • Place the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the chicken to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned on all sides, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
  • Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Allow the chili to simmer for at least 2 hours or longer.  The longer the chili cooks the more the flavors will meld.
  • If the chili is too thin, mash up some of the beans.

Serve with tortilla chips and the toppings of your choice.

Serves 4

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