Recipe: Cabernet Franc Chili

Cab Franc ChiliThere’s something wonderful about having Chili on a cold winter’s day that just makes me feel warm inside.  The intoxicating smell of a simmering blend of onion, garlic, and green pepper gets me in the mood for a crackling fire, snow on the ground, and a big pot of chili.

Since I live in Virginia, “snow on the ground” typically isn’t going to happen very often, but once the temperature dips into the lower 40’s, I’m ready to start going through my winter repertoire and cooking up some wonderful hearty dinners.  This recipe is basic and allows for anyone to alter ingredients to suit their own particular tastes.  Here’s the general starting point:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 small (or 1 large) onion, chopped
  • Crushed garlic, to taste
  • 1 cup Cabernet Franc
  • ½ small can tomato paste
  • 1 Large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (with or without spices)
  • 1 can light kidney beans
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans (white beans)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt/pepper

Brown the ground turkey in olive oil, using a large stock pot.  Add green pepper, onions, and garlic, sauteeing until vegetables are softened.  Add wine and tomato paste and cook until liquid is absorbed.  Add canned tomatoes and beans (I don’t drain or rinse my beans).  If desired, mash one of the cans of beans prior to adding, to thicken the chili.  Cook to warm everything thoroughly.  Add spices to taste.  If chili is still too thin, add remaining half can of tomato paste.

This is my most basic recipe.  If you want to make it hot, feel free to add some cayenne pepper… if you want it to be sweeter, feel free to add some honey or sugar.  This is a flexible recipe, so feel free to make it your own by adding or subtracting items as you see fit.

That’s the beauty of cooking… enjoy the process and revel in your results.

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Recipe: Taco Pasta Bake

Are you looking for a quick and easy “go to” dinner for the holiday season that doesn’t involve turkey?  Are you stumped when it comes to making something for your family that everyone will eat without complaint?  If you’re like me and have a household of big eaters, I want to share one of my favorite dinners with you… a Taco Pasta Bake.

You may remember that I’ve mentioned my niece a few times – she writes a fitness and lifestyle blog called “Peanut Butter Fingers” or PBFingers?  She posted a recipe that my husband raved about… but he wanted me to make it “exactly like the recipe says”, which meant “no wine involved”… but what was the fun in that for me?  After mulling over the recipe for a few days, I came up with a version that could make everyone in my household happy… my guys (because they would get a dinner that tasted yummy) and me (because I could experiment and play with wine in my cooking).   I hope you find it as tasty as we do!

I started by browning a package of ground turkey.   If you can get away with it, this is where I would add diced onion and some diced green pepper if my family liked that Taco Pasta Bakesort of thing.  Once the turkey is nicely browned, I sprinkle the meat heavily with taco seasoning and a nice dry red wine (like James River Cellars’ Rad Red) and let everything cook until it’s nice and dark.  Next, I add some salsa and some more red wine so your food is a bit soupy.  At this point, I add in some dry pasta.  My hubby likes bowtie-shaped pasta, so I try and do things that he likes.  I’ve also made this recipe with jumbo elbow macaroni and it’s also tasty.

Now you need to cover the skillet and allow the liquid to be absorbed by the pasta… I know it’s hard not to peek and keep checking on the dinner, but try  and resist so the pasta has ample time to plump up and become al dente and just right.  If all the liquid gets absorbed and the pasta is still underdone, feel free to add more wine (or broth) and then allow time for the pasta to cook until it reaches the right taste for your family.

At this point, you have a few options.  If you’re ready to have dinner, feel free to serve this straight from the skillet.  If you’ve got some time, I would suggest putting your dinner into a casserole dish, spooning in (and on) some shredded cheese and then popping into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes when you’re almost ready for dinner.   It totally depends on what you want to do… hence; this is a great example of using The Force when making your dinner.

I hope you try this recipe sometime and let me know how it turned out for you.  It’s similar to the mazetti recipe that my mother-in-law makes, with a tasty taco twist.  It’s simple… it’s easy… and it’s a recipe that you can adjust to please everyone in your family.  What more could you want?

Seriously…. what more would you want from a recipe?  Enjoy!