Hearty Chili Recipes You’ll Love

Chili Sauce

As the fall chill begins to set in, there's nothing better than a steaming, hearty bowl of chili on a windy Sunday afternoon. It's a healthy, filling snack or dinner that gives you a full serving of vegetables accompanied by hearty meat. Best of all, you can customize chili around your current diet or specific favorite tastes. Easy to make and delicious to eat, it's a perfect fall recipe for the family.

Easy Crock-Pot Chili

This is a classic, timeless standard chili recipe that's easy to make for beginners. It's Paleo-diet friendly and gluten free, consisting of only meat and veggies. Stir the ingredients into your slow cooker and enjoy a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fall dinner.

  • In a large skillet, cook 1.5 lbs of ground beef, one chopped onion, one chopped green bell pepper, and two minced garlic cloves. Cook on medium heat until the beef is no longer pink and has a brown, crumbly texture.
  • Add this mixture to the slow cooker along with two rinsed and drained 16 oz cans of red kidney beans, two cans of diced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a few tablespoons of chili powder.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or medium for 5-6 hours.
  • If you're not going totally Paleo or gluten-free, you can top the chili with shredded cheese and corn chips. If you're looking to stick with one of these specific diets, the chili is absolutely delicious on its own.

White Bean and Chicken Chili

If you're not a red meat eater, you can also make a delicious chili recipe with rotisserie chicken and white beans. This recipe is also Paleo-friendly and gluten free, as long as you don't add sour cream, cheese, or tortilla chips on top.

  • Drain and rinse two 16 oz cans of white beans, then mash the beans in a bowl with a potato masher.
  • In a Dutch oven, add one tablespoon of canola oil and turn the oven onto a medium-high heat.
  • Add four minced garlic cloves, one chopped onion, two chopped poblano peppers, and a chopped jalapeno pepper. Saute for five minutes, adding pinches of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add a tablespoon of cumin, a tablespoon of coriander, and a teaspoon of chili powder. Saute another minute.
  • Stir in four cups of chicken broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Stir in the white beans and continue simmering for 20 minutes.
  • Add shredded rotisserie chicken to the mixture (we recommend shredding the entire chicken) and a quarter cup of chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Continue simmering for five minutes until the chicken is softened.
  • You can serve the chili with sour cream, tortilla chips, or shredded cheese if you want, or just eat it as is.

Customizable Chili Recipes

The above recipes are two fairly standard and popular chili recipes, but all cooks know that you can add or substitute ingredients as necessary. You can always take out the cumin or add a little squirt of lime juice to make your chili unique and flavored to your taste buds. Experiment and enjoy!

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Buying a New Freezer

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There are lots of reasons to consider buying a new freezer or refrigerator. Newer models are more energy-efficient and offer better storage options. Often the money saved on energy costs will offset the price of the unit within a year or two. A larger unit will give you plenty of extra space, allowing you to store more pre-made meals and buy sale items in bulk.

If you are thinking about replacing the refrigerator that you have, or perhaps buying a stand-alone unit, there are a few things you should consider in advance.

Have you decided that what you really need is an extra freezer in the garage? If so, you will have to choose between an upright or chest style. A chest style is more energy-efficient and costs less, but it will not give you the easy access to food that an upright will. The second thing to consider is whether to choose manual defrost or self-defrost ("frost free"). It is recommended to leave space between food items in a self-defrost unit for more efficient air flow. A chest style unit will usually hold more, but they are time intensive and usually should be defrosted monthly.

Or maybe you have decided that you want an updated refrigerator with more frozen storage than you now have. The French door style is all the rage at the moment. These new models are quickly replacing the side-by-side. Many feel the side-by-side space is too narrow, which makes it difficult for storing larger items. The French door model has one wide freezer drawer at the bottom. The upper section consists of two doors that open outwards from the middle. Instead of having the width of the unit split in two, the French door opens up to one easy access, large storage space, yet this model takes up less space overall in your kitchen. And of course the more cost effective traditional models with the freezer on top are always an option.

Clearly there are many options to consider before you make the final purchase. If you go out shopping armed with all the right information, you are sure to make the choice that works well for your family. Once you have your new appliance, you can start thinking about all the ways it will save you time and money. Freezing meals that you have cooked in advance will make your day-to-day life so much simpler.


Buttnernut Squash Lasagna

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Butternut squash has a unique and robust flavor which plays well with other vegetables. It has a deep, starchy taste with a very mild hint of sweetness. Butternut is a great dish by itself, but it can be used creatively to add a deeper dimension of flavor to common dishes. This recipe for a vegetarian butternut pasta dish can be made with several variations depending on your preferences and the amount of time you wish to spend cooking this vegetarian dish.

First you should select your ingredients. Whenever possible, fresh, high quality, locally grown ingredients should be selected. A local farmers market can be a great place to find a wide selection of fresh vegetables. When selecting a butternut, you should find one that is very firm to the touch and which feels heavy for its size. This dish can be made with regular or whole wheat noodles in order to take a traditional pasta dish to an entirely new level, or you can use fresh vegetables to create an entirely new take on lasagna. Replacing traditional semolina noodles with fresh vegetables will create a dish which is lower in carbohydrates and gluten-free.

1 butternut squash
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 cup chopped baby Portobello mushrooms
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
5-7 fresh basil leaves (shredded)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
Dry lasagna noodles or fresh vegetables (1 pound eggplant and 1 pound zucchini)

Once you have your ingredients, begin by prepping your butternut. Place it firmly on the cutting board, and split it in half lengthwise with the chef's knife. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Rub olive oil on the squash halves and sprinkle them with salt. Place them in a 400° oven for 15 minutes.

While your butternut is cooking, boil your noodles in 1 gallon of salted water. Drain them and set them aside. If you have chosen to use fresh vegetables in place of noodles, slice your eggplant and zucchini into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set the zucchini aside and liberally salt the eggplant slices on both sides. Leave them on paper towels or cooling racks for about 30 minutes. The salt will draw excess water out of the eggplant. Squeeze them slightly and rinse off the excess salt, patting dry.

The next step is to prepare the filling. Sauté the chopped mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until they feel spongy. Allow them to cool and add them to the ricotta cheese. Scoop the squash from one of your butternut halves out of its skin and add it to the ricotta. Add the spinach and oregano, then stir the filling thoroughly.

Chop the other half of the butternut squash into small cubes and mix them into a bowl with the jar of pasta sauce. In a large baking dish, alternate layers of the pasta sauce, noodles or vegetables, and ricotta filling. Finish with a final layer of pasta sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. Cover and keep in the refrigerator overnight if you're making it a day ahead, and allow it to warm up for an hour. Place in a 350° oven for 45 minutes (or up to an hour if still cool from the refrigerator). After removing from the oven, allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.


Cook Ahead for Easter Dinner

Easter spiral cut ham

Easter dinner is a great time to gather with family and a good way to celebrate the holiday. However, it can also be a stressful time. There are so many dishes to prepare, it can get very hectic. It need not be so, though. This is a great time to make use of your freezer and take the opportunity to make ahead part of your holiday meal.

What portions of the Easter dinner can easily be prepared within the days before the holiday and left in the freezer or refrigerator until the day of the meal? You can actually make many of the dishes that you will want ahead of time.

Dinner rolls are a great way to start your meal. These can easily be made ahead, frozen and reheated when they are needed.

Ham is a classic main dish at Easter dinners. This meat can easily be prepared ahead of time. Cook it a few days in advance, freeze and just reheat it on Easter day. Or you can buy a pre-cooked ham that keeps in the fridge a few days and just needs to be warmed up on Easter.

Another classic holiday food is turkey. Remember to leave adequate time to thaw in the refrigerator any turkey that you have prepared in advance. One of the more efficient approaches is to utilize a turkey breast rather than working with a whole bird. That will allow quicker preparation time as well as shorter thawing time. This works especially well if you are also serving another meat or are having numerous side dishes.

When it comes to side dishes, mashed potatoes are one side dish that often appears on the Easter menu. Fortunately, they are also a dish that can easily be prepared in advance and reheated. Slowly reheating them in a crock pot or preparing oven roasted mashed potatoes are two good paths to getting great results when you reheat them.

What would a holiday meal be without dessert? Pies, especially fruits pies, are ideal candidates for freezing. You can either bake them and then freeze, or you can prepare them and freeze them unbaked. Remember to allow enough time for thawing and baking, especially if they will be competing for your oven space.

With a little bit of cooking in advance, you can enjoy your dinner on Easter with a minimum of stress.

Walnut “Always Gets Them Out of Bed” Bread #DiamondNuts

   Diamond of California Walnut Bread      

Nuts, baking, and making memories

What is it about a smell that is so evocative of childhood? It’s been said that an odor has the ability to conjure up memories more quickly than any other sensory input.

My great-grandmother – known to us as “Granny” (original, right?) – was perhaps the greatest baker in all creation, and the aromas in her kitchen testified to that. During the holidays, she spent hours baking. What she turned out was the stuff of legends.

Those were simpler days, when stay-at-home moms – or grandmothers, or great-grandmothers – could invest time and love in preparing goodies for their families. These days, time is at a premium for multitasking moms, but love is not in short supply. How can a busy, ambitious mom create memories for her family much as Granny did, and do it in the time she has available to her?

In the spirit of not reinventing the wheel, Mom can rely on time-honored and hallowed family recipes. I’d like to share an old family recipe, handed down for generations, which uses Diamond of California nuts. Diamond of California nuts, producer of premium quality nuts since 1912, is by far the most popular brand of nuts for year-round meal preparation, baking and natural snacking.

Here is your opportunity to make memories, just as Granny did. With the kitchen being the heart of any home, imagine what it would be like this holiday season when your baking prowess, using this time-tested recipe, pulls your family together for some sweet good times. Granted, this is an old recipe, but it hasn’t been around as long as Diamond of California nuts. There is something about tradition that holds families together, and here is your opportunity to be one link in that long line of gifted bakers. Keep tradition alive! And before you balk at being considered “gifted,” understand that this recipe is simple enough to make you come across as a kitchen genius, a domestic goddess. Not bad for a morning’s work!

The key, of course, is the quality of the ingredients, and Diamond of California nuts are essential. After all, if it was the only nut good enough for your mom’s mom’s recipes, it is the only one that should be in yours. After one hundred years – remember these have been acknowledged as the best-recognized premium quality nuts since 1912 – we have a product that has stood the test of time.

Families gather for holidays, and tradition dictates that everyone should expect the same familiar dishes they’ve experienced since they were kids. I would never tempt fate during such an important time of the year. So, we are not going to tinker with this recipe. We are going to keep it the same, using Diamond of California nuts, easily found in the baking aisle.

It’s called Walnut “Always Gets Them Out of Bed” Bread. The name says it all. One whiff of what’s happening in the oven and even the most sluggish kid will follow his or her nose. It’s a magnet effect. Enjoy!


Walnut “Always Gets Them Out of Bed” Bread



1 1/3 cups chopped Diamond of California walnuts, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed ripe banana


Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix well. Combine egg, milk, oil and vanilla; blend well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup mashed ripe banana. Spoon into greased pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup walnuts.

Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Diamond of California