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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



Hi.  I had an adventure last night.  Adventures on weeknights are the best, aren’t they?  It’s like a mini-weekend.  A really mini weekend that doesn’t involve sleeping in or breakfast in bed.  But still.

So, last night I went to Whole Foods with a dear friend.  So far this sounds like your average weeknight, right?  Picking up some kefir, a bag of pita chips, lots of random kinds of expensive water.  But this wasn’t a regular old shopping trip.  We went to Whole Foods to take a SUSHI making class.

Whole Foods SushiWhole Foods offers a variety of classes, and the great thing about this one in particular?  All proceeds (only $15!) went towards Whole Planet Foundation — a private, nonprofit organization that provides grants for microenterprise loan programs, training and other financial services to the self-employed poor.  So we could feel super savvy by making sushi, AND super charitable all at the same time.

On all of the tables were little packets for us to take home after class — complete with pictures!  Perfect for me, since I’m sort of a visual/hands-on learner.  I’m going to share the the recipe for sushi rice and one of the rolls we made last night.  The fun thing about making your own sushi (besides that it’s a lot easier than you’d think) is that you can completely customize ingredients for to match your tastes.

Sushi Rice
{Courtesy of Whole Foods}

1 cup sushi rice
1-1/4 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Dash sea salt
Dash sugar

1.  Soak rice in tap water for 20 minutes — this will remove the starchy residue that has come off of the rice during the packaging and shipping process.  Thoroughly rinse rice under running water until the water runs clear.  Pour off the water to leave just the rice.

2. Combine rice and filtered water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

3. Cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.  Taste a bit of rice to make sure it is done, then remove it from the heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.

4. Pour the rice into a large plastic, glass, or other non-metal bowl.  It’s important not to use metal because the vinegar will react to the metal and give the rice a metallic taste.  Add rice vinegar, salt and sugar.

5.  Stir and fold the rice repeatedly to help coat each grain of rice.  The rice will be sticky, but each individual piece of rice should get a coating of vinegar and will become shiny.    Do this until it cools down enough to handle comfortably.

To make a classic California Roll, you’ll need:

A bamboo sushi mat (pictured above)
Plastic Cling Wrap
A bowl of water


Avocado, thinly sliced
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Crab meat (imitation or lump)
1/2 sheet of toasted Nori (Seaweed paper)
Sushi rice
Toasted sesame seeds

1. Wrap bamboo mat with the plastic wrap so it’s fully and securely covered.

2. Place seaweed on your mat.  Dip your hands in the bowl of water to keep the rice from sticking to them (it will be VERY sticky).  Do this  as often as you need while you work with the rice.

3.  Put a small amount of rice (about a palm full) on the seaweed and spread gently and evenly across the paper.  Repeat until the seaweed sheet is covered completely with rice.  You don’t want this to be too thick, but you also want all parts of the seaweed to be covered.

4. Flip the seaweed paper over so that the rice is now facing the mat — you’ll start piling the ingredients on the green part closest to you as shown below.  Try to keep the ingredients on top of one another along one line.

4. Now roll your sushi as shown in the instructional picture above!  You don’t want your mat to get rolled INTO your sushi, so you’ll have to do a bit of adjusting as you go.  And make sure you give it a firm squeeze to get the sushi rice stuck together.  Something that I found helpful — sort of hold the ingredients in place as you start to roll it.

This may be easier to do in a class where you can get really hands on, but don’t be afraid to try it!    We also made a roll created by our instructor, which had strawberries, mango, green onion, jalapeno, Latin Lemonaise (so yummy!), avocado, and sashimi grade tuna.











I would completely recommend trying out a class at your local Whole Foods — and I know I’m sounding like an ad here, but they did not pay me for my opinion!  We had a ton of fun, got to make 4 sushi rolls (and could have made more, but we got tired of having sticky-rice hands) and sample two different types of sake.    Hope you enjoyed this little sushi post — and have some fun little adventures of your own this week!

xo Jaime

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Tacos Two Ways: Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos

Hi. And happy Taco Tuesday.

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos

I love tacos. In my house, our standby is ground turkey tacos — you know, the same as the usual beef tacos, but with turkey. I can only handle so many Taco Tuesdays before I want something a little different, though. These salsa verde tacos are really easy and customizable!  Kinda like most tacos….but anyway….

You could make these in a slow cooker, but I’ll be honest — I’m just not organized enough to plan that far in advance sometimes. So that’s when I made these babies.

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos


28 ounces chicken breasts (about 4 chicken breasts or 1-3/4 pounds — go ahead and do 2 pounds if that’s easier)
1 medium white onion, chopped and divided
2-1/2 cups (24 ounces) jarred salsa verde (I use Archer Farms)
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Oregano, to taste (I used about 3 teaspoons)
Onion powder, to taste (I used about 1-1/2 teaspoons)
Salt, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
Black pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
Cayenne pepper, to taste (I used about 1/8 teaspoon, but do 1/4 if you like it hotter!)
12 small flour tortilla shells

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos


1 medium vine-ripened tomato, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, removed from stem and chopped
1-2 avocados, chopped
8 ounces 4-Cheese Mexican shredded cheese (or your favorite)
Sour cream

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos
1. Place chicken breasts in a large skillet pan and fill with water to just cover the chicken. Add half of the chopped white onion and a few sprigs (stems included) of the cilantro. Place on stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Do NOT boil the chicken — it will become tough. Poach chicken for about 15 minutes, or until they are white all the way through when cut in half at the thickest part.

2. When cooked through, remove the chicken from the pan and place in a large bowl. You can discard the liquid. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size strips.  I hear this method also works, but I’ve never tried it!

3. In another skillet pan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Once the oil has heated up for a minute or two, add garlic and saute for about 10 seconds. Add shredded chicken and push around to coat with the garlic and oil.

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos
4. Add salsa verde, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne and stir. Let simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help infuse the flavor and cook down some of the liquid. Taste to see if you’d like to adjust the amount of seasoning.

5. Remove from heat and squeeze 1/4 of a lime over the top.

6. Place some chicken in a warmed tortilla and add your choice of toppings: squeeze of lime juice, remaining chopped white onion, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos

I served these with some delicious sweet fried plantains, but you could also whip up some Mexican-Style Potato Salad for a refreshing side.

Salsa Verde Shredded Chicken Tacos

If you have leftover toppings (i.e. avocado, tomatoes, onion and cilantro), you can whip up some homemade guacamole by mashing the avocado, adding the above ingredients, and adding lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic. I also made some homemade tortilla chips (since of course I just ran out) by slicing tortillas with a pizza cutter into fourths, brushing with olive oil, and baking at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes (but watch to see when they start getting crispy but not too brown). When you pull them out, top with salt and dig in!

Hope you enjoy!



Vegetable Quinoa “Lasagna”

This dish requires a little bit of prep (but I promise nothing crazy or super time-consuming).  I will break down the prep steps for you below, and you’ll be well on your way to making a healthy, satisfying meal — I don’t think you’ll even miss the pasta!

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"

Vegetable Quinoa “Lasagna” Full Ingredient List

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups dry quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon, but use what you have/like)
1 – 45 ounce jar pasta sauce (I use Prego Traditional)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Red pepper flakes (a little goes a long way)
1 medium eggplant
2 small zucchini
16 ounces shredded cheese (I used Sargento’s 6-Cheese Italian, but plain mozarella will work, too!)

Prep – Quinoa

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed if needed (it will say on the package if it is pre-rinsed)

1. In a large pan, combine the liquid and quinoa and bring to a boil.
2. Once the quinoa reaches a full boil, cover and reduce heat to low, letting it simmer for 15-17 minutes. Once the quinoa has finished, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork; set aside.

Prep – Pasta Sauce

I like to jazz up jars of spaghetti sauce — it give you a great base to work with but lets you add more of your own flavors.  Another perk — if you don’t want to jazz yours up, you can just use it as is!  Here’s what I like to do with my jarred pasta sauce when I don’t make it from scratch.

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"

Jazzed Up Pasta Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon, but use what you have/like)
1 – 45 ounce jar pasta sauce (I use Prego HeartSmart Traditional)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Red pepper flakes (a little goes a long way)

1. In a medium-sized saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, and saute until onions are soft and almost translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. To your onions and garlic, add your wine and let simmer and cook down for about 5 minutes. This will cook off the alcohol so you’ll just be left with a rich depth of flavor without the bite. The onions will turn a beautiful purple color.  If you’d like, you can also add some mushrooms in at this point and saute until darkened and soft — I think 8 ounces of whatever kind you like would work perfectly.  Since I live with a picky eater, I left those out.

3. Add your jar of pasta sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes to taste. Turn down the heat to low, and let your sauce simmer while you work on the rest of the dish.

Prep – Vegetables

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"

1. Wash and pat dry your eggplant and zucchini.
2. Cut your eggplant crosswise (horizontally so you’re making big discs) into 1/4-inch-thick slices.  You can cut the slices in half to make them closer to the size and shape of the zucchini if you like — this may make it easier to cut through later on!
3. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of salt; let stand 15 minutes. This will remove some of the moisture that would otherwise make the dish watery. You will see little beads of condensation form on the tops of the eggplant. After 15 minutes is up, go ahead and press another paper towel into the tops to absorb that moisture and remove some of the salt.

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"
4. Cut off the ends of your zucchini, and peel a strip of skin off on two opposite sides Then, starting on one of those sides, slices your zucchini length-wise (so you’re making long strips) into 1/4 inch (or slightly thinner) slices.

Putting together your “lasagna”

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish, pour some spaghetti sauce just to cover.  Then, layer on half the quinoa, half the eggplant & zucchini,  half the remaining sauce, half of the cheese, the remaining veggies, quinoa, sauce and top again with the rest of the cheese.  It will be a little bit messy as you pour and spread the sauce over the quinoa, but don’t worry!  The cheese will cover it up, and when you scoop it out to eat it will get a little messy, anyway.

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"

Again, feel free to cut your pieces smaller and layer more pieces in! It’s all about experimenting, and smaller slices may help the eating process go more smoothly!

3. Cover with tin foil and place on center rack of your oven.  Bake for 45 minutes, remove the tinfoil, and then turn up the heat to broil (if your baking dish allows), and broil until the cheese gets melted, browned, and bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Watch the “lasagna” throughout this process to make sure you don’t burn your meal!

4.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before slicing in.

Veggie Quinoa "Lasagna"

Another option: Prepare your quinoa as directed above, plate and pour on some sauce as prepared above.  So basically, eat it like a pasta/spaghetti dish!  Top with some cheese and bon apetit!




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