Tommy’s Chili [Recipe]

This week, I am handing the keyboard over to my beloved roommate, fellow foodie, and amateur chef…my boyfriend. That’s right, this week’s post is brought to you by my better half, Tom, so you’ll be getting the “guy’s” point of view in the kitchen. Enjoy!

I have always been a chili enthusiast.  It is the perfect food for every day from the blustery weekday lunch at work to the “hungover til 6 pm” Sunday.  Few foods are more satisfying to me than a bowl of spicy chili with a big hunk of a baguette. 


Chili is a food that rewards creativity.  Of all of the things I love about making a big crock of stewing meat and veggies, the opportunity to improvise throughout the process is probably my favorite.  When I cook I may or may not follow the directions; I often prefer to follow the framework but sort of make it up as I go along (one of many reasons I choose not to bake).  It is easy to make chili and even easier to customize it to your liking.  I prefer to use a variety of peppers to create a more complex flavor (and to add some color), a small mountain of onions, and just about everything in our spice rack.  It is hard to go wrong when cooking chili and there are infinite ways to tailor the ingredients.  Options, options, and more options:


Peppers, peppers, more peppers – you can taste the color in this chili

  • Heat – mild, medium, or hot…you can’t go wrong.
  • Meat – ground beef/turkey/pork/chicken, diced up steak, etc. (I suppose vegetarian chili is an option but good luck getting me to eat that)
  • Vegetables – beans, peppers, and onions are staples but additions and subtractions are important to make the dish your own
  • Spices – the smallest piece with the biggest impact on the flavor…unlimited options
  • Texture – chop ‘em big, chop ‘em small…same taste, different eating experience

Chopped fine, there are MOUNTAINS of onions and peppers

Full disclosure – my recipe below is loosely based on one I saw on Foodspin, the food page of the sports website Deadspin, which I have tweaked to my own taste over time. (Sidenote: I highly suggest Foodspin to anybody with an actual sense of humor, a fondness for sarcasm, or non-serious articles about food and alcohol.)

Tommy's Chili
Serves 10
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  1. 3 lbs ground meat
  2. 3 jalapeno peppers
  3. 8 bell peppers
  4. 2 sweet onions (large)
  5. 2 red onions
  6. 3 yellow onions
  7. 5 garlic cloves
  8. Sriracha
  9. Hot sauce
  10. Chili powder
  11. Ground cumin
  12. Curry powder
  13. Crushed red pepper
  14. Cayenne pepper
  15. Paprika
  16. Salt
  17. Black pepper
  18. 1 can tomato paste (12 oz)
  19. 1 can stewed tomatoes
  20. 1 beer
  21. 2 cans black beans
  22. 2 cans red kidney beans
  23. 1 can cannellini beans
  24. Sour cream (for serving)
  25. Cheddar jack cheese, shredded (for serving)
  1. Brown the meat over medium heat in a large pot (I used our Le Creuset pot because it’s heavier).
  2. Once the meat is browned, add the diced peppers, garlic, and onions. Allow the vegetables to cook with the meat on medium heat for about 5 minutes before adding anything else. (Option: for a sweeter chili, allow the peppers, onions, and garlic to cook in the pot before adding the meat.)
  3. Add spices, sriracha, and hot sauce. The amount to add is completely up to the cook but I’d suggest starting with small amounts of each since you can always add more (as opposed to adding too much and then being totally screwed).
  4. Now add the tomato paste and stewed tomatoes (I prefer to add it to the side of the pot so that it heats up quickly and gets somewhat sticky…I think it tastes better this way).
  5. Pour in the beer and give a lengthy stir. I use darker beers but a lot of recipes I have seen call for lighter or “cheap” beer. Pretty much any beer will do for this, I just happen to like the darker beer for the recipe.
  6. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow this to simmer for 90 minutes without removing the lid or stirring.
  7. After 90 minutes, taste the chili for flavor. Add more spices, sriracha, etc. if needed.
  8. Stir in all beans (drained). Simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
  9. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and a piece of baguette.
  1. The quantities listed in the ingredients is meant to serve a party of 10 and required two large pots. For casual meals, cut the recipe in half.
Adapted from Foodspin
Adapted from Foodspin
Jai La Vie

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Mushroom Lasagna with Fontina [Recipe]

On Sundays, I like to cook comfort food that ends the week right. It’s also a good day to try out a more time-consuming recipe, because I’m not rushing around like a mad woman when I get home from work.Butternut Squash Lasagna with Mushrooms and Spinach

With lasagna on the mind, I jazzed it up with some of my favorite vegetables – butternut squash, spinach, and mushrooms. (Ok, I guess mushrooms are fungi.) By topping with creamy fontina cheese sauce, I think I created a lasagna worthy of the Sunday night meal, perfect for a rainy day stuck indoors listening to Tom watch football.

Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Mushroom Lasagna with Fontina
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  1. 1 lb. lasagna sheets
  2. 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  5. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  7. 8 oz. fresh spinach
  8. 4 Tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
  9. 1 Tbsp. flour
  10. 3/4 c. milk
  11. 8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
  12. 1/2 c grated. parmesan cheese, divided
  13. 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna sheets according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cook butternut squash in a large pot on medium heat with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper. After a few minutes, when squash starts to cook, add 1/2 cup water and let squash cook until soft. Once cooked, add to a food processor and puree.
  4. Cook garlic and mushrooms in 1 Tbsp olive oil until mushrooms start to cook through. Add spinach and toss until spinach begins to wilt.
  5. Prepare the sauce: In a small saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly add milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Allow sauce to thicken over low heat, stirring often (about 5 minutes) - be careful not to boil. Remove from heat and stir in fontina cheese and half of the parmesan. Whisk until smoothy and creamy.
  6. Layer the lasagna: On the bottom of a large baking dish, pour half the cheese sauce, and line bottom of the pan with one layer of lasagna sheets. Top with 1/3 of the butternut squash puree, 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets and repeat 2 more times, finishing with a final layer of lasagna sheets. Pour remaining cheese sauce over the top layer, and finish with remaining parmesan.
  7. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Jai La Vie

2015 Food Trends

I’m back! I allowed myself a brief hiatus to get through the stress of the holidays and becoming a homeowner, all at once! 2014 was a pretty darn good year – I got over my biggest fear and got LASIK, ran my first marathon, and we bought our first place. But now it’s time to kick of 2015 with some fresh goals. 

Looking ahead to the year that’s already upon us, I figured I’d share some food trends so we know what’s coming to our plates this year in case you want to make any foodie resolutions (I never completed my 2014 goal of trying Dominique Ansel’s cronut – I’m not willing to wait in line). I recently read a great article (also featured on the Today show) and wanted to call out some of my favorites. Here’s what Andrew Knowlton, of Bon Appetit, says are sure to hit the sweet spot in 2015.


They aren’t exactly rare here in NYC, but there is an art to the deliciousness of the gyro. (Should we start calling it “hero” now or does that make us all sound pretentious?) Well according to Knowlton, gyros will be going crazy in the U.S. since we’re finally figuring out how to make them high quality in places like Souvlain in San Francisco and Public Quality meat in Chicago. If you order it the Greek way, it comes with french fries inside. That bring me back to my Europe days!



Nitro Coffee 

Nitro is cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen to create a smoother, creamier drink which Bon Appetit compares to Guinness. And apparently they are high in caffeine so I see this trend sticking around for a while.


Photo: Danny Kim


In retaurant news, bacalao may be on the menu. It’s dried salt cod (bacalao) that is rehydrated for a subtle cod flavor and slightly chewy texture. It’s already on pizza in San Fran, sandwiches in NYC and in ravioli in Chicago, according to BA


Yup, if it’s legal, we will eat it. I think this may be more of a hypothesis, but I can definitely see this becoming a trend in the future, if not this year.

mae-rose-cocktailPhoto: Danny Kim

Crème de Pamplemousse

A grapefruit liqueur that BA compares to St. Germain Elderflower liqueur (but that was so 2014), this may be the special ingredient in the new cocktail special at your local lounge. If you want to try it, check out this recipe that they recommend: 

Mae Rose Cocktail
Combine 1  ½ oz. London dry gin (we like Tanqueray), 1 oz. dry vermouth (preferably Dolin), ½ oz. Campari, and ½ oz. grapefruit liqueur (such as Combier Crème de Pamplemousse Rose) in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Stir until shaker is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist. Makes 1


Photo: Danny Kim

Bing Bread

Chinese bing bread, a.k.a. shaobing, is a flaky flatbread often eaten at breakfast. This may be a chicken and egg scenario, but learning that this exists thanks to BA could very well make it the food of 2015. At Parachute in Chicago, it’s made with baked potato, stuffed with bacon and scallion, and served with sour cream butter. Yummmmm.
Get the recipe: Bing Bread




So long cronut, there’s a new guy in town. Kolache is based on fruit-filled pastries from Central Europe and they are little dough pockets filled with pretty much anything – sweet or savory. Meats, cheeses, or sweets. I’ll take it.