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Chicken and Red Pepper Chili

14 Dec

It finally feels like the holidays here in Minneapolis. We just had our first big snow this past weekend and lights on the trees are twinkling through a soft layer of white. A whopping 8 inches fell!! Being snowed in all day makes for a good excuse to cook something warm and comforting. We worked up quite an appetite shoveling twice that day so we decided to make a big batch of chicken chili that would warm you through and stick to your ribs. This chili is both hearty and healthy with a good does of veggies. I particularly enjoy the addition of red bell peppers to the mix as this adds a slight sweetness which balances nicely with the spicy kick of the red pepper flakes and cayenne.

I hope this chili warms you through and enjoy the winter wonderland!




Serves: 4

Timing: 1.5 hours or more

Prep time: 30 min

Cook time: 1 hour or more


  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can Heinz beans, not drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • a good couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy…)
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano

Note – all spices are to taste so feel free to add more or less depending on preference.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large dutch oven, on medium to high heat sauté onions in olive oil until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. Add ground chicken and cook through. While the chicken is cooking chop the red bell pepper. Combine both beans, diced tomatoes, red bell pepper in the dutch oven. Stir the tomato paste into the chicken broth and add to the pot along with all the spices. Stir to combine and place in oven to simmer for at least one hour.



Grilled Tilapia Fish Tacos with Lime & Cilantro Sour Cream

14 Jul

It’s been a bit balmy around here for the last few weeks and hot weather makes it easy to crave something light and refreshing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On this particularly warm night Mike and I decided to relax with a few pomegranate margaritas and grilled fish tacos. I chose tilapia because that is what looked freshest at the market but any firm white fish will do. I am always trying to eat more fish and this is a perfect way to accomplish that.


Shake up a margarita, get the grill going and enjoy the weather!


Grilled Tilapia Fish Taco

Serves: 2

Timing: 30 minutes


  • 1/2 pound tilapia
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 lime, juice & zest
  • 1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 to 4 tortillas


  • Lime & Cilantro Sour Cream (recipe below)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped cilantro
Lime & Cilantro Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 lime. juice and zest (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Whisk together the canola oil, lime juice and zest, coarsely chopped jalapeño and cilantro. Marinate fish in this for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the fish is marinating slice the avocado, chop the tomatoes and combine the sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and chopped cilantro leaves together. Let the sour cream sit and the flavors marry while the fish is grilling.

Place the fish in a grill basket or directly on the grill. Grill for about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds to a minute and remove from the heat. Let rest for at least 5 minutes and then flake the fish with a fork. Option to reduce/cook the extra marinade and drizzle on flaked fish before serving – I highly recommend this!

Place the tortillas on the grill for 20 seconds, flipping once. Divide the flaked fish among the tortillas and garnish with the preferred garnishes.

Pomegranate Margaritas

Serves: 2

Timing: 5 minutes


  • Ice
  • 3 oz. tequilla (blanco, 100% agave)
  • 2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 6 oz limeade
  • 1/2 oz Pama liquor


Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake and pour over ice. Garnish with lime wedge if desired.


Hawaiian Style Pork Ribs

18 Apr

This past weekend we had a little get together at our place with a few of our good friends. Having people over for dinner, lunch or brunch is one of our favorite things to do. I love planning the menu and this time around I had a unique rib recipe that I was dying to make! I got the recipe from the fantastic Sommelier Leslee at Amusée. The ribs were wonderful and I will definitely be making them again!! To round out the meal I served Spanish roasted potatoes with garlic aioli, asparagus with a lemon vinaigrette and lemon tart for dessert.

This recipe is perfect for a small group of people so invite your friends over and enjoy!

Hawaiian Style Pork Ribs

Serves 4-6

1 ¼ cup light brown sugar

1 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon chili flakes

4 cloves garlic, minced (fresh)

3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated

3 pounds baby back ribs

3 scallions, green parts, thinly sliced


Whisk together sugar, soy sauce, oil, chili flakes, garlic and ginger with a ¼ cup of water in a large bowl. Add ribs and coat well. Cover bowl with plastic and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place ribs curved side up on a lined sheet pan with a baking rack. Roast for 30 minutes on each side or until tender.

While the ribs are roasting, add marinade to a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce. Use reduced marinade to baste ribs. You can also make extra marinade if needed.

Serve with extra sauce and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.


Rosemary Garlic & Lemon Chicken Burgers

24 Mar

Grilling season has started early here in MN. We have recently had some record busting temperatures around here, to be exact 17 Twin Cities records and 8 state records have been broken in March (MPR shout out)!! The gorgeous weather has made it impossible not to get out and fire up the grill! When I think grilling I automatically think burgers. Of course there are many other wonderful things to put on the grill but we tend to make a lot of burgers at our place. I have to admit I have never used ground chicken for a burger which is odd since we always make turkey burgers and you would think the next logical step would be a chicken burger right?

I had this burger last weekend on a little north woods getaway and honestly couldn’t wait to make it again as soon as possible. Not only is this burger a cinch to make but is also relatively healthy too! We didn’t have any arugula on hand so we just used some salad greens. You can also sub out the full fat mayonnaise if you would like a lighter version.

Happy Grilling!!

Ingredients (adapted from Food Network)


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press or very finely minced
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tbls of lemon juice


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sandwich rolls or burger buns
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup arugula, divided

Arugula Dressing

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic
  • Small squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Serves: 4

Time: 30 min (prep) & 7-10 min (cooking)

For the mayonnaise: Let the garlic sit in the lemon juice for about 3-5 minutes. This helps mellow the sometimes bitter taste that fresh garlic can have. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, garlic & lemon juice, lemon zest and rosemary; set aside.

For the burgers: Oil the grates of the grill before you turn it on. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill or place a grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, Panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, half of the olive oil (this will help keep the chicken from sticking to your hands) and 1/2 of the mayonnaise mixture. Gently combine the ingredients and form the chicken mixture into 4 patties. Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels and let rest for a few minutes.

While the burgers rest, toss the arugula in the olive oil and balsamic dressing. Brush the cut side of each roll with the olive oil and a small amount of the mayonnaise. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly golden.

To assemble the burgers: Spread a dollop of the remaining mayonnaise mixture on the tops and bottoms of the toasted buns. Place the chicken burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Top each with 1/4 cup of arugula and finish with the top half of the bun.


Quinoa Salad with Veggies and Grilled Chicken

5 Aug

So life tends to happen…and as it goes I have fallen behind on posts but have no worries things have finally slowed down and I am able to get back in the swing of things. The recipe below is one of my summer staples. It is easily modified to whatever veggies you have in your fridge and can be done on the stove top or the grill, which I prefer since here in MN our grilling months are numbered…

This recipe is so versatile which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Another reason is that it takes me back to a great family vacation memory – years ago we were in Laguna Beach visiting friends of my parents and Hilde (the hostess) made the most FANTASTIC grilled chicken. Now it could have been the fact that I was on vacation, or that I was a little delirious from all that lounging on the beach but I decided I had to have the recipe and have been loving it ever since.

Feel free to play around with this! I have made it many times with couscous or rice and a multitude of different veggies. It just so happened that I picked up some zucchini, squash and fresh sweet corn at the Farmers Market this past weekend.

Quinoa Salad with Veggies and Grilled Chicken


  • 2 Tbls Honey
  • 1 Tbls Coarse Mustard
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic
  • 2/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


  • 1 Zucchini
  • 6-8 Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 Yellow Summer Squash
  • 1-2 Ears Grilled Sweet Corn
  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • Salad Greens
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used my favorite store-bought dressing)
Time: About 45 minutes
Serves: 4
Combine marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Split into two, one for the chicken and one for the veggies. Marinate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Cut the zucchini, squash and mushrooms into chunks and marinate them for 30 minutes. While the chicken and veggies are marinating, soak the corn in cold water for at least 20-30 minutes.
Heat the grill to medium/high and put the corn on. The corn takes about 25-30 minutes on the grill. You can easily check its progress by pulling down one of the ear’s husks. After about 5-10 minutes put the chicken on and then create an aluminum foil “tray” for the veggies and put them on the grill as well. Add a bit of veggie marinade a couple of times to the aluminum foil tray while they are grilling.
As the chicken and veggies are grilling, prepare the quinoa. In lieu of water when I am making any sort of rice, couscous or quinoa I use chicken broth. I think that it adds a nice flavor but feel to free to use water or vegetable broth as well.
After you take the veggies and chicken off the grill and let the chicken rest for about 5-7 minutes, toss the salad greens with the balsamic vinaigrette, cut the corn off of the cob and mix the veggies in with the couscous. Plate the salad greens and top with couscous and one sliced chicken breast.

Grilled Pizza with Goat Cheese & Figs

21 Jun

I have been told that I talk a lot about goat cheese…which would be a fair statement as goat cheese is arguably one of my favorite foods (if that counts as a specific food??). I pretty much use anything as a vehicle to enjoy it. This past Friday night the vehicle of choice was grilled pizza. Additions of carmelized onions, figs sautéed in balsamic and peppery arugula picked from my little herb pots on our balcony were fantastic! I paired it with a crisp yet smooth Sauvignon Blanc which rounded out the meal perfectly.

Grilled pizza a unique way to use the grill if you want an alternative to the usual meat and fish menu. You can customize the pizza to your liking and it grills up in less than 15 minutes. Just be sure you are at the ready when the pizza is flipped – you have to put your toppings on quickly otherwise the pizza dough will cook faster than it takes the cheese to melt. It is also important to note that all of your toppings should be fully cooked (especially meat) before you put them on your pizza.

Grilled Goat Cheese & Fig Pizza

  • 6 – 8 oz. of goat cheese (choose the softer kind so it spreads easier)
  • 1/4 Cup sweet onions
  • 6 dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp good aged balsamic
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 small pizza dough round (I got mine at an Italian restaurant that sells fresh pizza dough daily)
  • small handful of fresh arugula
Total Time: 30 min
Serves: 2
Heat 2 T. butter in a pan and saute onions on medium high until they become soft and start to caramelize/brown, about 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 T. butter in another pan and add sliced figs, brown sugar and balsamic. Saute until the figs are warmed through and sugar has started to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes on medium high heat. Keep an eye on the figs though to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Transfer both to a bowl and reserve. Feel free to pour any extra butter/sauce left from the onions and figs into the bowl as well.
Heat grill to high and let it warm up for about 5-7 minutes. Spread out your pizza round and drizzle olive oil on one side. When the grill is nice and hot lay the dough olive oil side down and turn the grill down to medium/high heat (if using propane). After about 5-7 minutes the dough should have grill marks and be a golden brown. Oil the top and flip the pizza. This is where you want to add your toppings. Spread the goat cheese and sprinkle the onions and figs on the pizza. If there is any extra butter that was in the bowl with the onions and figs make sure the drizzle that on too (yum!). Close the top and grill for another 5 or so minutes. When the bottom of the pizza is golden brown and has grill marks it is time to take it off the grill. Toss arugula on top, finish with a drizzle of the aged balsamic and enjoy!!

Orzo with Basil and Parmesan

5 Jun

I. Love. Fresh. Basil. I put it in everything I can and what better way to have this versatile herb shine through than a simple Orzo pasta dish. This dish is quite easy and takes about a half an hour from prep to table. A great weeknight meal for anyone short on time or who doesn’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen.

Orzo with Basil and Parmesan (Adapted from

  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 chopped Shallot
  • 1 minced Garlic Clove
  • 1 Cup uncooked Orzo
  • 4 Cups chicken broth (use Vegetable broth for Vegetarian dish)
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 Can diced tomatoes liquid discarded or 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Basil chopped chiffonade style – reserve some for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Total Prep Time: 30min
Serves: 4
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Saute shallots and garlic until fragrant. Stir in Orzo and saute until lightly browned. Add white wine and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and cook until Orzo is slightly past al dente and most or all of the liquid is absorbed. If it looks like the Orzo needs more broth feel free to add more 1/4 cup at a time.
When Orzo is cooked remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and Basil. Garnish with reserved Basil and serve immediately (with some good crusty bread if desired).