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Hearty Chili Pizza

If the colorful leaves, sudden pile of down blankets on your bed, and pumpkin spice lattes haven’t tipped you off yet…it’s fall!  You know what happens in fall?  Football.  You know what else is happening in fall? This hearty beef chili pizza.   And let me tell you, they go together SO well.

Hearty Chili Pizza

The possibilities with this pizza are as endless as your imagination — if you love spicy, load up on the jalapenos.  If you want to mix it up, throw some banana peppers on top.  Sour cream, green onions, whatever you like on your chili applies.


For the chili:

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 small-medium yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder plus 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I like Penzey’s 4S)
15 slices refrigerated jalapenos, chopped (or to taste)
28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, strained and roughly chopped/smashed
16 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained
6 ounces tomato paste
Black pepper to taste

For the pizza:

13.8 ounce Classic Pillsbury pizza crust (or your favorite pre-made crust or homemade dough)
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Banana peppers

For topping (optional):

Fritos, crushed
Green onions, sliced
Sour Cream

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add beef, 1 teaspoon chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.  Strain off the grease.

Hearty Chili Pizza

2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

3. Mix in the jalapenos, tomatoes, tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, seasoning salt, and kidney beans.  Stir until combined and then cover, letting simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes (stir occasionally).  Remove the lid and let simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the juice.  Then, remove from heat and let sit while you prepare the crust.

Hearty Chili Pizza

4. Spray your pan with non-stick spray.  Spread out your pizza dough to your desired thickness.  Here you can follow your pizza dough directions — it may have you pre-bake the dough for 8 minutes and then add toppings, baking afterward for another 10 minutes.   If you’d like a softer pizza, you can skip the pre-baking — it’s up to you!  Either way you go, top your crust with chili, cheddar cheese, and banana peppers.  Place in the middle rack of your oven and bake according to package directions — I baked mine between 15 and 18 minutes.

Hearty Chili Pizza

5. Remove from oven, slice, and top with your favorites!  I loved the crunch from the Fritos, the bright flavor of green onion, and the cool creaminess of sour cream.

Hearty Chili PizzaNotes:

  • I had about 1 cup of leftover chili — which my husband will gladly devour.  You could also make a slightly bigger crust — mine was about 12 x 13.
  • You could also use turkey instead of beef for the chili.
  • You might be wondering why I used a can of whole tomatoes rather than diced.  I heard once that “they” reserve better tomatoes for the cans of whole tomatoes, so I like to buy these and chop/smash them myself — I usually just use a kitchen scissors and cut them up right over the pan.  If you’d rather use 28 ounces of diced tomatoes, go for it.
  • If you have a favorite (thick) chili recipe, go ahead and use that instead of the one above.
  • Or, if you just so happen to have leftover chili, use the rest up to make this pizza!
  • Other topping ideas: chopped yellow onion, some more shredded cheddar, jalapenos, soda crackers…noodles!
  • It would be fun to make some of these for a football party and have a chili pizza bar!

Hearty Chili Pizza

Happy fall! Happy football! Happy chili pizza!

xo Jaime

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Your Three-Minute Dinner

Hi all.  A (fairly) recent conversation with my Aunt Verla veered towards talking about food.  With family, that tends to happen — food is love, after all!  While we chatted, Verla needed to set down the phone for a moment to finish prepping her dinner — ramen noodles.  She then told me how much she enjoys jazzing them up with different toppings and additions, taking them from college staple to real-life meal.  The blog was facing a bit of a drought at the time, but her meal spurred me to make a request:  Please guest blog, and tell us all about your ramen noodle creations!  Verla graciously accepted.  So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce the fabulous, funny, and food-loving, Aunt Verla!

Like many people, I was introduced to ramen noodles as part of my college experience. It’s universally thought of as the go-to food for broke college students stretching their budgets, but in my case, the motivation wasn’t financial. I had a prepaid meal plan that allowed me to eat as much as I wanted.

Ramen - Three Different Ways

I had a friend in the dorm, Sheri, who had grown up as the daughter of missionaries in Bangkok. She longed for a taste of home, especially the extremely hot flavors she was used to. This was before we had Sriracha (“rooster sauce”), the widely popular hot sauce that was created in 1983 by a Thai immigrant who couldn’t find anything in the States to appropriately satisfy his craving for that burn. Sheri made ramen noodles with things like sunflower seeds added, loads and loads of Louisiana hot sauce, and something crunchy like crumbled Fritos on top. This awesome combo, great for late-night studying, created my lifelong love of ramenizing.

Almost 30 years after my college graduation, I don’t eat ramen very often. But I do keep it around, and occasionally it’s the right thing to hit the spot. I just have to ignore the fact that even in comparison with refined white pasta, it has almost no nutrients. Its primary ingredients appear to be carbs and chemicals. No mind. I still dress it up, and it still takes just three minutes once the noodles hit that boiling water.

Keep a few of your favorite frozen vegetables around, together with some seeds or nuts. I buy Oriental flavor ramen, which seems to mix well with other flavors, at least in comparison with beef or chicken ramen. I don’t care for their bullion taste. In most cases, I put all ingredients  (except noodles and topping) in the water and bring it to a boil before adding the noodles.  After adding the noodles, don’t forget to cover, turn the burner off, and set your timer for three minutes, lest the noodles get too soft.

Here are some of the combos I like to make these days. For most, I start with the seasoning packet, half a dozen dashes of Louisiana hot sauce (like Crystal), and a good long squirt of Sriracha. I like to use both sauces not for extra heat, but because I like a touch of the vinegary taste that Crystal has.

Base recipe:

2 cups water

1 package Oriental-flavored ramen, including flavor packet

A good long squirt of Sriracha hot chili sauce

6-7 dashes Louisiana-style hot sauce


Ramen with okra and pumpkin seeds

“The Current Favorite”

1-1.5 c. frozen sliced okra

2 T. shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Crumbled tortilla chips for topping

(This has been my favorite lately. Did you know that okra is very high in fiber? I love its flavor too.)

In a small sauce pan, combine 2 cups water and all ingredients except the noodles and topping (so base recipe ingredients plus okra).  Bring to a boil and let boil for 2-5 minutes depending on how soft you want the okra.  Add the noodles, cover, turn off the heat, and let simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove the lid, stir to break up the noodles, and add pepitas.  Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on top, and enjoy!

Ramen with Spinach, Sausage, and Sunflower Seeds

3S – Spinach, Sunflower, & Sausage

1 c. frozen cut leaf spinach

2 T. shelled sunflower seeds

Crumbled tortilla chips for topping

½ sausage (brat, kielbasa, or smoked sausage), cut into quarter moon slices

Start again with the base recipe.  Instead of okra, add spinach and diced sausage (I used smoked sausage- so delicious).  Follow the recipe from above, adding the noodles once the water reaches a boil, covering, turning off the heat, and letting the noodles simmer for 3 minutes.  (Something else you could add instead of the sausage — some shredded rotisserie chicken — though then you’ll have to call it 2S &1C…)

Italian Style Ramen

The Italian 

1 c. frozen cut leaf spinach

Pinch of dried oregano

6 grape tomatoes, cut in half

3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, torn up

2 T. pine nuts

Italian seasoned croutons for topping

For the last ramen rendition, we’re incorporating Italian flavors.  This time, start with the base recipe and then add the spinach and oregano.  Bring to a boil, and add the noodles, tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves.  Cover and turn off the heat, then let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove lid, stir, and add pine nuts.  Heap the ramen into a bowl, and top with croutons.

Those are a few to get you started. Next time you need a hot supper but don’t have more than a few minutes (or a few minutes’ worth of energy) to make it happen, give one of these a try—or see what’s in the fridge for your own creation. Happy experimenting!

Italian Style Ramen

Bonus note:

Excerpt from News of the Weird item from April 2010

Computer hardware engineer Toshio Yamamoto, 49, this year celebrates 15 years’ work tasting and cataloguing all the Japanese ramen he can get his hands on (including the full ingredients list, texture, flavor, price and “star” rating for each), for the massive 4,300-ramen database on his website, expanded recently with hundreds of video reviews. Yamamoto said he had always eaten ramen for breakfast seven days a week, but cut back recently to five. “I feared that, if I continued at (the seven-day) pace, I would get bored.”


Yum — these were so easy and delicious!  A couple notes from me:

  • Make sure you don’t overcook your okra!  It can become slimy. Unless you like it slimy — to each his (or her) own!
  • Verla says frozen cut leaf spinach for a reason — get that kind!  It’s a lot more difficult to cut off a chunk of frozen spinach that comes in those little rectangle blocks.  How do I know this?  I tried.  Then had to borrow my husband’s muscles.  If you don’t have frozen cut leaf spinach, or don’t feel like picking any up, you can microwave the spinach block and add a scoop, or throw in some fresh stuff.
  • These make really great make-ahead meals.  I put a portion in a Tupperware , threw it in the fridge, and warmed it up for lunch the next day.  The noodles absorb the juice (and flavor) so it’s like a noodle dish rather than soup.  Just bring some extra tortilla chips or croutons to add crunch once it’s heated through. 

Thank you, Aunt Verla!  Come again — any time! 

What are some of YOUR favorite ways to jazz up ramen, or other store-bought foods?

xo Jaime

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Hot Toddy Sorbet

I know we promised you another tempting version of tacos today…but sometimes you just need to eat Saltines for dinner and don’t have the time (or the will) to make tacos.  Don’t tell me you’ve never eaten a full sleeve of Saltines in one sitting…

So Rae vows to put the addicting crackers back on the shelf and eat tacos for dinner this week. Then she will share her recipe with you this weekend!  In the meantime, we have THIS delicious remedy.

Hot Toddy Sorbet

Even though I’M ready for winter to go away, it clearly wants to stay.  I guess it thinks we’re cool.  Yeah, that’s it.  We’re so cool, we’re freezing!  Along with the cold temps, the cold germs seem to be sticking around, too.  If you want to fend off a late winter bout with the flu, try whipping up a batch of Jeni Britton Bauer’s Hot Toddy Sorbet.  You can keep it all to yourself, or give it to a sick friend.  You know, as a little “get-well-so-you-don’t-pass-your-germs-to-me” gift!

Hot Toddy Sorbet
{Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, Jeni Britton Bauer}

2 cups fresh orange juice (from 5 to 6 oranges)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
One 3-ounce packet liquid pectin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or 1/8 to keep it a little sweeter)
2 to 4 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon (optional)

1. Combine the orange and lemon juices, sugar, honey, and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Hot Toddy Sorbet

2. Add the pectin, cayenne, and bourbon, if using (I used 3 tablespoons). Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold — about 45 minutes to an hour.

Hot Toddy Sorbet

3. Pour the sorbet into your ice cream canister and mix just until it is the consistency of very softly whipped cream — about 20 minutes on Stir speed (1, or 2). You can eat it now, if you wish; otherwise, proceed as directed.

4. Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can try following the directions from Busy in Brooklyn for making sorbets sans machine. I haven’t tried this method yet so I can’t say how well it works, but if you do try it please let us know!

Hot Toddy Sorbet

Wishing you good health and happy eating! And staying-wellness! Come back this weekend for some delicious, Saltine-free tacos!



Fat Boy Burgers

Fat Boy Burger

Wait! Hear me out. I know you are thinking, “Who would want to eat something called a “‘Fat Boy’ burger?!” But I swear, it has nothing to do with size or calorie count or after effects. It really is just a name. Let me explain…

I was introduced to the Fat Boy burger by my parents. But they weren’t responsible for the name either. It was originally named for a burger on the menu at Tohuy’s, a biker bar in Shakopee, MN (now closed). All the burgers on the menu were named after Harley-Davidson motorcycles and among them was, of course, the Fat Boy. The Fat Boy burger at Tohuy’s was  3/4 pound of beef, topped with fried onions, a huge slab of cheese and topped with a spicy, buttery miracle sauce. This monster burger was big enough and heavy enough that when my parents went they ordered one and divided it 35/65 and shared french fries.

The version of the Fat Boy I offer here is much more modest by all accounts and might even be considered a relatively healthy equivalent that still tastes mouth-wateringly amazing. And for those of you vegetarians out there – you can substitute a black bean burger or other veggie alternative and still have an amazing meal.

Fat Boy Burger Veggies

The Fat Boy Burger

1 lb. ground bison, divided into 1/4 lb. patties
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 c. mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 pieces of cheese (cheddar, monterary-jack, or colbie)
4 whole wheat buns
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. Frank’s Hot Sauce

1. In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes.

2. Spray a skillet or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat (in the summer you can also use a grill!). Place bison patties in the pan and cook until done to your taste.

3. While the burgers are cooking, melt 2 tbsp. butter and whisk together with 3 tbsp. Frank’s Hot Sauce. (You can actually make as much sauce as you want – you’ll just want to keep to the 2:3 ratio).

3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Scoop some of the veggie mixture onto each of the burger patties and top with a slice of cheese. Allow cheese to melt. It should hold the veggies on top of the burger. Remove and place directly on to buns.

4. Drizzle with Frank’s Hot Sauce mixture. Serve with fries and salad.

Fat Boy Burger

XO – Rae

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Jalapeño Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

I struggled with posting this because, well. I’m sorry, meatloaf, but you’re not very cute. There isn’t a photography secret (at least that I know of) that can make meatloaf look five-star. I mean, even the name…a loaf…of meat? I never liked meatloaf as a kid, but have since come to appreciate both the ease of preparation and the flavor of this unattractive, under-appreciated entree!  This recipe is kind of a nod to some in-our-family-famous (and we’re talking immediate family here) meatballs that I make, but instead of beef and pork, I used turkey.  Oh and of course, I added cheese.  Because we live in Wisconsin.

Jalapeño Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

For meatloaf:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian or seasoned bread crumbs (divided)
1/2 cup 1 or 2% milk (divided)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces pepper jack cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

(Or, if you have it available in a market near you, I REALLY like using 6 ounces of jalapeño cheddar cheese)

Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

For sauce:
1 cup Saz’s Sassy Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite)
1 cup chili sauce

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Next, you’ll want to saute your onions. In a large saucepan, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add your onion and saute until they start to turn brown and soften, about 15 minutes. Keep the onions moving around throughout this time. Remove from pan and place on a cutting board. Chop the sauteed onions until they’re very small. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs. Let these sit and soak for at least 10 minutes. Add the pound of ground turkey, sauteed onions, remaining bread crumbs, remaining milk, egg, garlic powder, seasoned salt, onion powder, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cheeses. It’s best to mix this with your hands, so take off any rings and dig in! You don’t want to overmix because this will cause the meat to toughen, but make sure you get all of the ingredients incorporated. If you’d like, you can use regular cheddar. We just really liked the extra (and subtle) kick we got from the jalapeño cheddar/pepper jack.

Place meat in a very lightly greased loaf pan and shape to resemble a loaf. Put the meatloaf into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. While the meatloaf is cooking, combine the barbecue sauce and chili sauce in a bowl. I make 2 cups worth, but feel free to make any amount you like, with equal parts BBQ and chili sauce.  At the 30 minute mark,  pull the meatloaf out of the oven and pour half of your prepared sauce over the meatloaf to cover it (about 1 cup). Place the meatloaf back in the oven and cook for 35 more minutes or until the meatloaf reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Jalapeno Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

The cheese will be gooey, so I like to let it sit for about 7-10 minutes before slicing through.  I also like to reserve some extra sauce, so this is the perfect time to heat it up in the microwave.  We like this served with mashed potatoes, a salad, or even between two pieces of bread in a sandwich!


oxo Jaime