Beef · CrockPot · Recipes

Spring Fling: Short Rib Chili

Spring is here, spring is here! Well… sort of. In between glorious bits of sunshine, it’s still a little chilly which makes chili the perfect choice for dinner!

We picked up some beautiful boneless short ribs the other day, but I’m mixing it 50/50 with beef stew meat for a slightly more budget-friendly meal. This spicy hearty chili is a great option for weekend camping trips too (we usually make chili ahead of time and then reheat it in cast iron). And let me just say, these pictures may not be great, but the chili was amazing (seal of approval from The Boyfriend too).

For this recipe, you will need:
crockpot/slow cooker
non-stick pan

~ 1.25 lb boneless beef short ribs
1 lb beef stew meat
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (16oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (7oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1.5 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove elephant garlic (or 3-5 cloves garlic)
3 dried chili peppers
2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp avocado oil (olive or coconut is fine)

4 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt / to taste

Add one can of diced tomatoes and liquid to the crockpot. With the other can of diced tomatoes, drain the liquid first (do not rinse) and add to the pot. Drain and rinse beans until water runs clear, add beans to the crockpot. Remove stems and seeds from dried chili peppers and combine in blender cup with one full can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Blend pepper mixture for about one minute or until it resembles a uniform paste and add to the crockpot. Add 2 tsp extra dark cocoa powder, 2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp ancho chili powder to the crockpot mix.

Using a sharp knife, finely chop elephant garlic clove (also called elephant toes) or 3-5 cloves normal-sized garlic. Set aside in a bowl with the chopped onion. Add 2 tsp each of oregano, cumin, and ancho chili powder to the onions and garlic.

One clove of elephant garlic vs a whole head of "regular" garlic
One clove of elephant garlic vs. a whole head of “regular” garlic

Pre-heat oil in a non-stick pan on high-heat. While the pan is heating up, dice the ribs and stew meat into ~1/2 cubes – they do not at all have to be uniform in shape, just similar in size. You want the pieces to be small enough that they are “bite size” but big enough that they can still be shredded later on. Add meat to the pan, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3-5 minutes on one side only to sear the meat and lock in some flavor. Add all of the meat to the crockpot.

In the same pan, add the onion-garlic-spice mixture and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and the onions have softened slightly. Add this to the crockpot.

Add 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, stir to mix everything together, and set crockpot on low for 7-9 hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, try cooking on high for 3-5 hours checking periodically to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you find that the chili has let off a lot of liquid, you can crack the lid a little bit to let some of the liquid evaporate. I personally prefer a thicker chili (as opposed to more liquid) so we usually crack the lid for half the cooking time.


Serve immediately – as is, with chopped raw onion on top, with guacamole, or with grilled veggies.

Store in the fridge up to three days.

Recipes · Sauces · Skills/Techniques · Vegetarian · Whole30

Stomping Grounds: Five Minute Mustard (sort of)

Mmmmustard. So yummy. So much sugar… at least, in all the good store-bought varieties, and I’ve had enough! It’s probably the easiest condiment to make, and yet it’s constantly packed full of sugar and other crap no one needs to eat. Don’t recognize an ingredient? Neither will your body.

Right, sorry for that little rant. Back to the mustard. This is, in all seriousness, the easiest condiment to make at home and completely, 100% slow carb. It’ll take just a few minutes to pull together, then let it ripen on the counter for a few hours and you’ve got a spicy, pungent mustard way better than that $12 bottle on your shelf.

This recipe makes about 4 servings (two dinners for The Boyfriend and myself), we had the first half tonight mixed with a touch of mayonnaise for my Whatsername Fish Tacos.
Adjust proportions accordingly for a bigger group – this stuff is gonna fly away fast!

1 tbsp yellow mustard seed
1 tbsp black or brown mustard seed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder

Special Equipment: 
Mortar & pestle/molcajete (recommended) or equivalent, such as a spice grinder
Mason jar or other canning jar



Using your mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds to desired size. I prefer them quite coarse, but to each their own. Keep in mind: the finer your ground, the spicier and more potent your mustard will be.

Add ground mustard seeds to your jar of choice, and add in remaining ingredients. Mix well with a fork (forks have become my preferred mixing tool as the tines prevent too much product loss, unlike all the good stuff that would get stuck to a spoon).

Let the ripening process begin!
Let the ripening process begin!

Leave your mustard uncovered on the counter to ripen for at least one hour, up to eight hours (your mustard will stop ripening once refrigerated). I’ve read that you can actually cure it for several days at room temperature (covered of course), but have yet to try this – perhaps next time.

If you want to get really creative, replace the water with a dry white wine or even beer for a deeper, more complex flavor (haven’t tried this yet either, but one of the benefits of making small batches is plenty of opportunity to experiment!)

Store unused mustard in the refrigerator.


Breakfast · Kid-Friendly · Recipes · Snacks · Whole30

The Perfect Boiled Egg

From a distance, boiling an egg seems like the simplest task of all things food. I’m here to tell you this is false. In my years of egg loving and eating, there have been many an overcooked yolk, exploded shells, and deformed whites. Properly boiling an egg is damn near a science, and I’ve finally figured it out.

Whether it’s soft-, medium-, or hard-boiled eggs you’re after, I’ve got the answer for you right here. No matter what I’m making, this is the process I follow and it’s served me well e

6 large eggs, preferably a week old (farm fresh if possible)
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 medium-sized pot

Sprinkle with coarse salt and dig in!

Place the eggs in the bottom of the pot, coat with 1/2 tsp baking soda, and cover with water at least 2″ over the eggs. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow water to continue boiling for the following times:

Soft-boiled eggs: 3 minutes
Medium-boiled: 5-6 minutes (pictured)
Hard-boiled: 8+ minutes

If you are boiling eggs for something like my Top Secret Deviled Eggs, I usually let them go for about 10 minutes.

Immediately remove pot from heat and place in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs for about two minutes. Alternatively, remove eggs from the pot using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of cold water and ice (prepare ahead of time).

Peel the eggs – the sooner the better. I do this by lightly tapping them on the edge of the sink or the counter, starting at the top and going down around the whole egg lengthwise. Repeat this process across the width of the egg (horizontal).

Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Pucker-Up Pickle Pucks

After 21+ years of not eating pickles, I have fallen in love again just in time for Valentine’s Day. These aren’t the greasy fried pickles you’re used to seeing on pub menus, but they’re a great snack or side dish for dinner, and if your person loves pickles as much as The Boyfriend does, they’re the perfect pick for your home-cooked Valentine’s Day meal!

2 large whole pickles
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 cups vegetable or coconut oil

1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
2-3 tsp Cocky Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper


Pour 2 cups vegetable or coconut oil in a small pot and heat on medium-high to 350*F – the pot doesn’t need to be full, just enough to cover the pickle rings. Note: if you do not have an oil thermometer, which I don’t, a great way to see if your oil is hot enough is by dipping the handle end of a wooden utensil in the oil. If bubbles begin to form around the wood and float up, your oil is hot enough and you’re ready to start frying.

Using a sharp knife, remove end pieces from pickles in a thin slice then cut pickles into rings about 1/2″ thick. In a medium-sized bowl combine the chickpea flour, salt, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and black pepper; mix well. Toss the pickle rings in the flour mixture and coat evenly on all sides.

Prepare a clean plate with a paper towel. Fry the pickle pucks in batches for 1-2 minutes and remove to the paper towel to drain. Finish with a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately, as is or with sauce of choice (I mixed mayonnaise with 1 tsp of chipotle powder).

Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Sauces

Chicken Satay-Kebabs & Peanut Sauce

Inspired by Moroccan flavors, a craving for peanut sauce, and beloved ingredients in my pantry, I had a ton of fun experimenting with the marinade for this satay/kebab mashup today. If you are using wooden skewers, you should soak them in water for about 30 minutes before cooking to prevent the meat from sticking. Unfortunately I was super excited about this recipe and prepared the marinade before realizing that I (a) am out of skewers, and (b) no longer have a grill pan, so my photos won’t be exactly what I envisioned but the taste was all there!

A sneak peek into my brainstorming session
A sneak peek into my brainstorming session (click to buy your own Smashbook from Amazon)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lemon, juiced (~2 tbsp)
1 tsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
2 tbsp olive oil + more for cooking

For Peanut Sauce: 
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (creamy)
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp tamari
1-2 tsp sriracha
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup hot water
salt to taste

1.5 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Skewer-less, we got creative with toothpicks for serving.
Skewer-less, we got creative with toothpicks for serving.

Cut the chicken into 1″ pieces. In a small bowl combine: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and all seasoning/spices (paprika, turmeric, cumin, salt, cayenne, pepper, coriander, celery salt, onion powder, ground ginger) and mix well. Combine chicken and spice mixture in a Ziploc bag, toss to coat, and marinate in refrigerator for at least one hour (overnight is fine too).

When ready to prepare, heat olive oil in a grill pan on medium-high heat (if you do not have a grill pan, a regular skillet will do). Slide several pieces of chicken onto each skewer and place in the pan. Grill until cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side. As stated above, I realized late in the game that I didn’t actually have skewers at home so I just sautéed all the chicken at once, cooking time is the same.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the peanut sauce. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, sriracha, and lime juice. Mix well. Add hot water 1 tbsp at a time to thin out the sauce, mixing well before adding more, until you reach desired consistency. I only ended up using 3 tbsp of hot water, but to each his own – there is no wrong answer here.

Serve chicken satay-kebabs immediately with peanut sauce and additional sriracha if desired.

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Sauces · Skills/Techniques · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Double Dutch: Confit’d Onion Jam


So we’ve got a new little toy in the kitchen this week thanks to The Boyfriend’s sleuthing skills and I must say, I’m loving my Dutch oven. I’ve never really used a Dutch oven before, but my parent’s have a cast iron one that produced a lot of my favorite recipes growing up. We have a whole chicken in the fridge for dinner tonight, but I wanted to get a handle on my new addition before sticking five pounds of meat into it.

My little sister was visiting last week and we took her out to Clyde Common for dinner (a Portland fave). One of the dishes we ordered (pork-stuffed quail, amazing) came with a side of onion jam. It was divine, for lack of better words. Unfortunately, jam tends to imply “tons of sugar” so I took it upon myself to create a slow carb substitute and now I happily bring to you: confit’d onion jam. Don’t panic. Confit sounds like a fancy French term, but it just means that a food (most popularly duck breast) has been cooked in oil and tastes delicious.

This dish, part I of “Double Dutch” was created to be paired with aforementioned chicken dinner which you can find here but I use it all the time (especially with eggs for breakfast!)

5 large onions (I used 3 yellow and 2 white)
1.5 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp dry white wine
5 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)
2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp baking soda, heaping

1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp rosemary


Cut onions in half and slice into thin half-moons. Add 3 tbsp oil to dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, granulated garlic, salt, baking soda, and remaining 2 tbsp of oil (add oil last); mix well.

Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to soften and produce liquid, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in wine and bring to a slow boil (I did not find the need to increase the heat on my stove, medium heat seemed to work just fine). Add chickpea flour, pepper, and rosemary. Reduce heat to low and simmer onion mixture, uncovered, until reduced by at least half (40-50 minutes); stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.

Drain onion mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any remaining liquid. Remove mixture to air-tight/shatter-proof glass container(s) and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator. Eat with everything.

Suggested Pairings:
Double Dutch: French Chicken
Red Lentils are Dal-icious
Saturday Morning Shakshouka
The Easiest Chicken Ever
Lamburger Chipotle Chili
Lamb Chop’s Play Along: One Baaaaad Burger

Edit: This recipe was updated on 12 March 2014.

Baked · Information · Kid-Friendly · Poultry · Recipes

The Easiest Chicken Ever

I’m back! I’m here! Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hello from Oregon! I realize it’s now been over a MONTH since my last post, but moving 3000 miles is no joke! Our house is finally coming together as we prepare for our Chrismukkah New Year’s Eve Housewarming party. While my recipe posting has been scarce, some of you may have noticed that I finally updated my About Me section, and don’t worry I’ve still been cooking almost daily so there are plenty of goodies to come!

The first week after we moved in, we didn’t have real plates or utensils yet so I had to get creative in the kitchen, and so I came up with what has got to be the easiest chicken recipe ever. I’d recommend investing in a silicone brush if you don’t have one, but no other “special” items are needed, pretty sure I used a spoon that first day anyway (I’ve since made this dish several times).

2-4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp Cocky Cajun
Freshly cracked salt (to taste)
Freshly cracked pepper (to taste)

Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (this makes clean up super easy). Pat chicken breasts dry and remove and excess or large pieces of fat. Season the breasts with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning and place them on the baking sheet. Using your basting brush apply about 2 tsp of mayonnaise per breast, spreading thoroughly to create an even coating. Repeat this process again on the other side of each chicken breast.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 160*F. Serve immediately with veggies of choice.


Fish · Recipes · Skills/Techniques

Salt-Crusted Whole Red Snappa

This is the first time I ever made a salt crust and let me tell you, it was a huge pain in the ass… but it turned out great! Baked red snapper was one of the first dishes I made when I began to discover my love for cooking, and so I chose a slightly more complicated recipe this time. I hope you like it!

1 (2-3 lb) whole red snapper, cleaned
1/3 of a lemon (for juicing)
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb fresh fennel, chopped
1/2 cup high quality olive oil, divided
3 egg whites
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Directly from Tyler Florence’s recipe: “When cooking with a whole fish, you must first be sure that the fish is gutted, your local fish market will do this for you. The skin should be scaled and the gills and fins removed. Leave on the head and the tail. Rinse the fish inside and out then pat dry.”

Pre-heat your oven to 350*F and line a large dish with foil (makes for easy clean-up!)
Optional step: rub a piece of clarified ramp butter all over the foil to help prevent the fish from sticking.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the fennel, onion, red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup olive oil, and lemon juice. Stuff the fish with 3/4 of the fennel mixture and then spread the remaining amount across the foil/pan to help prevent the fish from sticking to it. Transfer the fish to your pan and rub the skin with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.

red snapper (1)

In a LARGE bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks – do not get discouraged, this takes forever. I would recommend using a hand-held mixer to speed up the process or this can take an entire episode of the Daily Show. Once the egg whites are able to hold stiff peaks, slowly fold in the salt to make a paste. Smear this salt paste over the entire fish, try to make sure that you cannot see any skin through the mixture. Roast the fish in the oven for about 40 minutes (I did 32 minutes for a 2.5 lb fish and it still wasn’t completely done, so I’d go a little longer next time).

The egg white/salt mixture will form a hard shell-like crust. Remove this crust prior to eating.

Note: Red Snapper has many small bones so please be careful when eating. This is the primary reason this recipe is not categorized as “kid-friendly”.

red snapper (2)

Poultry · Recipes · Skills/Techniques

The Duck

EDITED: 27 September 2013

This is the “famous” duck recipe, stolen from my mom’s best friend in California, that my parents bug me to make for them all the time. I’m serious – they’ve asked me to come over and make it for them, and then not invited me to the dinner. It’s okay, I’m over it (and my mom is probably reading this). Moving on.

Since originally posting this recipe, I have made a few simple changes… resulting in The Boyfriend devouring the majority of a 4-pound duck in one sitting. I felt it was my duty to share this altered recipe with you. This dish goes great with Butternut Squeek soup, Duck Duck Asparagus, and most other veggies.


1 medium-sized duck (3-4 lbs)
1 lemon, washed and quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped

2 tsp Szechuan seasoning
1 tbsp fresh Oregano, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh Sage, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh Rosemary
Kosher or Himalayan Pink Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Freshly cracked white pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425*F.

Cut a lemon in half, removing any seeds you can find as well as the ends. Carefully cut off some of the lemon rind (optional) and set aside. In a small bowl, combine half of the fresh herbs with the shallot and half of the minced garlic, add a small squirt of lemon juice.

Rinse duck and pat dry, making sure to remove giblets (there is usually a plastic bag inside the duck with the heart, liver, etc.) – feel free to toss the bag, I do not yet have a duck liver recipe. I usually cut off the really super fatty and ugly pieces, but I tend to go a little overboard and you really don’t need to, so… ignore this sentence. Just clean it up a little. Score* the breast and other fatty areas of the bird and place breast side down on a greased roasting rack (on top of a roasting pan). You will need the pan to collect the drippings from the duck, and the rack to make sure the duck gets crispy instead of just sitting in its own juices for two hours (which is also okay, just not for this recipe).

Season the bottom of the duck with salt, pepper, and Szechuan seasoning. Rub all over the back and legs, pushing in slightly so the spices get into the skin. Flip the duck over so the breast is facing up. Season the breast and remainder of duck with salt, pepper, and Szechuan seasoning, as well as half of the fresh herbs and garlic. Rub seasoning into the skin making sure to get some into the scored fat. Stuff the duck with the cut up lemon, shallot, and remaining herbs and garlic.

Roast the duck in the oven, covered with foil, for one hour. Reduce oven temp to 350*F, remove foil, and cook for an additional 45-60 minutes (bigger bird = longer cooking time). Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.


Improved & Boyfriend Approved
Improved & Boyfriend Approved

Reminder: The lemon is just to add flavor from the juices. While a little lemon doesn’t seem to have any effect on my weight tracking, feel free to toss it after cooking if you don’t want to eat it.

* My sister asked me to explain scoring in case some of my readers aren’t sure what it means, so to “score” meat means cutting deep enough into the skin to help render the fat, without cutting into the meat below. Using a small sharp knife, cut five or six diagonal lines across the skin and through the fat layer. Cut four or five diagonal lines in the opposite direction, creating a cross-hatch pattern Be careful not to cut through the meat below the skin, as this puts you at risk for drying out the meat.