I [heart] Chilli con carne

As soon as winter hits in the northern hemisphere, I start seeing all these recipes floating around the blogosphere for vegetarian chilli.  They all look amazing, but I’m sorry you guys, I live with three red blooded men, so this isn’t going to be one of them!

We re-discovered chilli con carne only a few months ago. I saw one of the aforementioned vegetarian recipes and suddenly had an insatiable craving.  I’d never even made it before, but I was on a mission. My mum used to make the best chilli when I was a child, but my brother and I couldn’t handle spicy food back in the day, so she almost never had it. Since re-discovering chilli I don’t know how I’ve lived without it all these years!

As I said, this isn’t a chilli for the vegetarians or vegans out there; it’s choc-a-bloc full of meat and dairy. You could substitute the meat for beans if you prefer, but I wont lie, I prefer the smokey, meaty flavours of this dish. We’ve been having it a lot over summer, but I can’t wait for winter to kick in so I can curl up on the couch on cold evenings, with a big bowl to warm my insides.

What you Need:
3 tablespoons of Olive oil
125g of rindless bacon, roughly chopped
750g of lean beef mince
2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
2 medium red capsicums, chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 long red chilli’s, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of chilli powder
2 tablespoons of paprika
800g can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tub of sour cream
1 packet of plain corn chips
1 avocado (optional)

What you do:
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until starting to crisp. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince, for 15 minutes or until browned.

2. Add onions, capsicum, carrot, garlic and chopped chilli. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add chilli powder and paprika  and any other herbs and spices you might like. (I usually put a pinch of basil, dried coriander and oregano as well) Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.

3. Add tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 30 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly. For extra flavour add in some half cherry tomatoes.

4. Add in the beans and increase heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes or until beans are heated through and sauce has thickened. Stir through the coriander, reserving a handful to garnish. Serve chilli with sour cream and corn chips. Top with a sprinkling of coriander and avocado if you so desire.

Trio of Dips

When I was 20 years old I contracted glandular fever and was bedridden for 3 months. For the first few weeks I basically couldn’t eat any solid food, and when I finally recovered enough to start on solids again, anything remotely unhealthy would make me feel 100 times worse. I found that fresh vegetables were pretty much the only thing I could stomach, so that’s pretty much all I ate. Celery, carrot and tatziki and hummus dips. You would think that it would have tainted dips for me, but it was really just the start of a beautiful friendship.Store bought dips are great (I for one, know all the ‘best’ brands), but nothing beats a homemade dip. Now that summer is here and my winter cravings for hot food 24 hours day have finally subsided, I find myself wanting some fresh (and moderately healthy) snack foods for lazy afternoons.The best thing about making dip yourself is how easy it is. Most dips only really require the ingredients to be whizzed a blender or food processor and your done! in I whipped up all three batches in under an hour and will keep in the fridge for around a week (if they last that long!)READ MORE

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Lets be honest, you know how to put together a pizza. I’m not going to pretend this is a super exciting recipe. What I will tell you, is this is probably my favourite use for the coriander pesto I made earlier in the week.I’ve had these mini pizza’s for lunch 4 out of 5 days this week. I topped them with some thin slices of tomato, strips of BBQ chicken and crumbled goats cheese. Using the pesto instead of sauce means that the pizza is light and moist and so delicious! I’m going to use pesto in place of tomato sauce all the time!

Coriander Pesto

You guys… I know Tuesday are supposed to be for DIY, but I’m too excited. Did you know that you can make pesto with anything? Don’t have basil? Or pine nuts? Don’t worry - you can still have some delicious pesto! All you really need is a bunch of herbs, some oil, a handful of nuts and some Parmesan.
Now this may not be news to you, but making pesto out of anything other than basil never occurred to me. I feel like I’ve been missing out all these years by overlooking such an obvious piece of knowledge! All the delicious pesto flavours I could have been sampling all this time! It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye…
What You Need:
2 - 3 cups of Coriander, roughly chopped
1/4 cup nuts pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice (I used roughly 2-3 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

What You Do:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and purée until blended to your preferred consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. (Can you say easiest recipe ever?)  The pesto should keep in the fridge for a week or two. To prevent the top from going brown, pour a thin layer of olive oil on the top before you put it in the refrigerator (and drain it off when using the pesto).
I’ve been pretty much eating pesto with every meal since I made this on Sunday, it’s so good! What’s your favourite herb? Try some herb/nut combinations to see what you like best!

Garlic Coriander Fries

Can we just stop for a minute and talk about coriander? I’m sure you’ll agree that it is pretty much the most delicious herb around! It is an incredibly versatile herb and in my opinion, makes any dish taste so much more exciting!However, this wasn’t always the case… For most of my life I was under the impression that I didn’t like coriander. My mother has a massive aversion to fresh coriander. Even if the tiniest bit is in a dish she can tell - and she definitely will NOT eat said dish. Because of this, we never had coriander in meals when I was growing up and I developed the opinion that if mum didn’t like it, it mustn’t taste very good. I therefore avoided eating it whenever I could.

As I became a grow-ed up, curiosity and experimentation in my cooking finally brought me to try the little herb again. And oh boy…. do I LOVE it! Now most of my recipes include piles of coriander and this is possibly one of my favourite recipes in this category.

These chips are a favourite of mine for a light weekend lunch. They don’t really require that much effort and they are so tasty! The combination of garlic, salt and coriander is to die for! I hope you like them!