Easy Weeknight Chili Recipe

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After a few beautiful 70 degree days, I was just beginning to think that summer was right around the corner. But then the inevitable happened last week… snowflakes. It was with much resistance that I broke out my winter jacket and mittens for one final hurrah. All grumbling and complaints aside, the unseasonably cold weather did give me the perfect excuse to cook one of my favorite winter meals—homemade chili. So before the Sweet Precision kitchen plunges into refreshing summer recipes, I’ll pass along one final dish that is perfect for dinner on a chilly evening.

I love this chili recipe because it comes together so quickly. Any professional chef will tell you that true flavor complexity is achieved by simmering your chili for many hours. However, the reality is that we don’t always have that much time to spare on a weeknight! This recipe includes enough spices to leave you with a complex flavor without hours of simmering. I like to make this recipe on a Sunday and then use the leftovers for lunch during the week.

One quick note about the chicken stock in this recipe. You’re free to use whatever version of stock you prefer. Whether it be bouillon cubes, canned stock, or even homemade stock. For years my dad used to tease me about using store-bought chicken stock. He would shake his head as I would explain that I simply didn’t have enough time make homemade stock for all my recipes. Well let me say that after using homemade stock in several recipes, I can say that you definitely can tell the difference. AND… it’s 100% worth it to take the time to make a big batch and store some in your freezer for future use. I’ll be posting about making homemade stock in the future, but for now feel free to check out this great recipe at All Recipes.

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Easy Weeknight Chili Recipe

Servings: 6 • Size: 1.5 cups • Calories: 260 • Fat: 4.0 g • Carbs: 34.0 g • Fiber: 9.0 g • Protein: 25.0 g • Sugar: 11.0 g • Sodium: 367.0 g

Ingredients
16 ounces lean ground beef (96% lean)
1 bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
6 ounce can tomato paste
16 ounce can dark red kidney beans (reduced sodium)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions
In a large pot, brown beef on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add pepper, onion, and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, chicken broth, corn, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10-15 minutes.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
A killer bowl of chili is not complete without toppings! Don’t forget to finish off your chili with some of your favorite toppings. I love Greek yogurt, sliced scallions, and of course plenty of grated cheddar cheese.

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Peach Upside Down Cake

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As a baker, usually I make something for a specific purpose. Whether it’s a cake for someone’s birthday or brownies for a work potluck—most of my desserts have a predetermined destination before I set foot in the kitchen. Last Saturday was one of those rare occasions that I stepped into the kitchen and baked a cake on a whim. No special occasion necessary other than the fact that both Matt and I wanted a treat. It should be no surprise that this cake mysteriously disappeared from our kitchen over the course of the weekend.

You might remember my recipe last year for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. This cake is one of my absolute favorite desserts for many reasons. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about frosting or decorating this cake. All you have to do is invert the cake pan and voila, you have your finished product. I also love the versatility of the recipe. You can use virtually any combination of fruit that you’d like to incorporate. Last weekend I tweaked the recipe a little and swapped out the pineapple and cherries for peaches and raspberries. Upside down cakes are a classic American dessert and were very popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I say why not give this cake a bit of a revival in your kitchen?!

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Peach Upside Down Cake
Makes approximately 8 servings

Peach Topping Ingredients
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canned peaches cut into slices
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup full-fat buttermilk (room temperature)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 20 minutes before baking the cake.

Spray a 9” round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter and pour into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar onto the melted butter. Top with peach and place raspberries between the peach pieces. Set aside, while working on your cake batter.

Onto a parchment paper, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the egg yolks are incorporated, add the vanilla extract and mix in.

Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, 1/3 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Start with 1/3 of the dry, mix well, and then add 1/3 of the buttermilk, and repeat two more times with remaining ingredients. Once everything is incorporated, beat well with a rubber spatula to make sure your batter is fully mixed and fluffy.

Pour batter into prepared pan with topping, and smooth with the spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Check the cake after 20 minutes. When it is done, the top of the cake should be golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. A cake tester should come out clean. It should have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan to a cooling rack. Let rest 5 minutes. Run a small knife or metal spatula around the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto a cooling rack or cardboard cake round. Serve warm or and room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Full fat buttermilk makes the best baked goods, but it’s hard to find a container smaller than a quart. So what should you do after you’re done with that buttermilk recipe but there’s still some left in the carton? Freeze it! Try freezing 1 tablespoon portions in ice cube trays. Once frozen, the cubes can be stored in a freezer bag and since they’re already measured, you can just pull out the number of tablespoon-cubes called for in a recipe. Freezing will cause the buttermilk to separate so just be sure to whisk it up before using in your recipe.

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