Cone Chili Recipe

I make a few variations of this, but this version is by far the easiest! Yummy and fast – plenty to freeze for later too!
1 lb ground beef (or you can substitute chicken)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
combination of chili powder, garlic salt, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes
1 can (14.5oz) Diced Tomatoes
1 can (14.5oz) Diced Tomatoes with peppers and onions
1 can (15oz) Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained
1 can (15oz) Chili beans in sauce 
Dash of Hot Sauce (we like Texas Pete)
1. Brown ground beef over medium heat and drain off excess fat
2. Push beef to one side of pain and add chopped onions and garlic. Sweat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Once they’ve softened, stir into beef.
3. Create combination of spices as listed above in a ramekin, adjusting to your taste. Then add directly to ground beef and let cook for another 2 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
5. Add both cans of beans and hot sauce, cover and simmer on low as long as you can (you can also eat after about 10 more minutes).
6. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, onions, or sour cream.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

While waiting for our friends, Drew & Shannon, to come over for Pizza Night, I decided to make some cookies with the kids. We sampled these at a recent playdate at Mary Elizabeth’s house and she said she had found it Southern Living. There are only 5 ingredients – you gotta love that! Fast, easy, fun for the whole family and delicious!


  • 1  cup  firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1  cup  chunky peanut butter
  • 1  large egg
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  cup  milk chocolate morsels


1. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon. Stir in chocolate morsels.

2. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

3. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until puffed and golden. (Cookies will be soft in the center.) Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

Monday Dinner: Beef Daube Provencal

Ok, so in an effort to spend less time in the kitchen (both preparing and cleaning up), I went to Cooking Light for some slow cooker favorites and I found a winner! I’m not a big beef eater and I actually used my dutch oven instead of the crock pot, but this was great. I also omitted the red wine and bay leaf (only because I didn’t have it, but I used a combination of beef stock, worsterchire and balsamic vinegar instead). This had a little something for everyone and we served it over a pan seared then oven baked half of potato. Delicious!

Dinner Time: Chinese & Healthy Cookies

Honey Chicken and Lo Mein

Honey Chicken and Lo Mein

While the picture (actually of our leftovers!) doesn’t do it justice, I made Crispy Honey Chicken, Lo Mein and Fried Rice. We LOVE PF Chang’s and the kids love the honey chicken, so I thought I’d save money by doing it at home.

While it was a great idea and it was tasty, the time spent was not worth it. The process was quite labor intensive and multiple pots were used creating a heavy clean up process. However, the lesson is that you don’t always have to go out. Some of my favorite restaurant recipes I’ve recreated for a fraction of the cost simply by Googling the title of the dish, the place it came from and ‘recipe’. So often we sit somewhere thinking “I could make that” and it’s true! However in this case, I think will head to Pei Wei next time!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These yummy cookies were created from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook and they include, drum roll, chickpeas! They were very easy to make (though a bit messy when you add the chickpeas to the mixer) and you really can’t tast them once they’re in there. Just don’t let the kids watch you as you’re making them (or your husband for that matter!)

Friday Dinner: Pasta Pillows in Brown Butter

Earlier in the week I made a Roasted parsnip and cauliflower soup that I thought was delicious, but was not as well received by the kids. I wanted to repurpose that into a healthy pasta, so I bought some wonton wrappers this week in the produce section. I took a cup of the soup (it was thick) and mixed it with one cup of ricotta cheese, some freshly grated parmesan, two cloves of garlic, kosher salt, pepper and some fresh (chopped) thyme and rosemary from our herb garden we just planted this week. I put a teaspoon of the ricotta mixture in the center of a wrapper, folded it in half to make a triangle and then folded the tips together to make a hat.

I placed the “pasta pillows” (as my kids like to call ravioli) in boiling water for three minutes in batches. Meanwhile, I made a brown butter sauce by placing a stick of butter and two more cloves of garlic in the pan with the butter. After it browned, I put the cooked ravioli in the pan with the sauce. I served it with some sauteed asparagus and crescent rolls. Though it took me awhile to fill the ravioli, it was light and fresh and allowed me to get some veggies into the kids they might otherwise not have eaten!

Thursday’s Meal – Mexican Lasagna

I’m still trying to only visit the grocery store once a week, thereby forcing me to meal plan and save money. Most of you can testify I’m not the best at coming up with recipes on the fly, but tonight when I searched my kitchen, I came up with the idea of using some frozen ground beef and making tacos. But we’d already finished our tortillas earlier in the week and didn’t have any taco seasoning, so I made use of the remainder of homemade salsa, the end of a bag of tortilla chips, a can of kidney beans and some leftover Taco Bell sauce and VOILA! Mexican Lasagna! Actually, it was more like layered nachos but it was delicious!

I browned the ground beef, added about 2T of chopped onions and let that combine and cook down. To that mixture I added 2T of chili powder and a shake of cumin, with some salt and pepper. Then I poured in the salsa (about a 1/2 cup) and the four Mild Taco Bell sauce packets I found in the fridge. To that I added one can (15oz) of drained, Dark Red Kidney Beans and let it all combine.

I coated a 9×13 oven safe dish with about 1T of olive oil, then placed a layer of tortilla chips. On top of that I put a layer of the beef/bean mixture (about 1/2 of it) and then a layer of freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese (all I had on hand, but it was great!). Then repeat the chip, beef, cheese layers and put in a 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes just to melt the cheese. It was much tastier than those taco seasoning packets you buy and very filling.

Menu Time Sunday

I’d like to say I could share my entire meal plan for the week, but I haven’t gotten that organized yet. However, I did want to share my on the fly easy dinner from tonight. For lunch we actually ate at Moe’s after church because we had free money to use – we always stock up on gift cards at restaurants at Christmastime because they usually offer a free bonus (case in point – Moe’s offered a free $5 gift card when you spent $20).

Ok, back to dinner. I was going to make homemade pizza, but was missing a key ingredient, so I rummaged through the pantry and fridge and decided instead on Pizza Pasta (since I’d already promised the kids pizza) and Roasted Cauliflower. Typically I probably would have added a green salad and some garlic bread, but I hadn’t done my shopping today, so this was it!

Pizza Pasta & Roasted Cauliflower

Pizza Pasta & Roasted Cauliflower

Here are the basic recipes (since I made it up and didn’t measure!):
In a pan with a little olive oil, I browned 1 lb. ground turkey (but you could easily use ground beef), then added about 5 cloves of chopped garlic (I love garlic!) and about 2T of chopped onion. I seasoned it with a little sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, Steak Grill Seasoning, Garlic salt, Italian Seasoning and Basil. After about 5 minutes, I added @ 3/4 cup of beef stock to deglaze the pan before adding a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onions I had pureed in the Magic Bullet and then another can of tomato sauce (with a little bit of zucchini puree to beef up the veggie content!). I let it all simmer while I boiled my whole wheat penne pasta. Once the penne was done, I added it to the sauce pan (which is also oven safe) with about 1T each of feta cheese and freshly grated parmesan/reggiano. I mixed that all together, sprinkled a light layer of Shredded Italian six cheese blend and then topped with the pepperoni. Then I popped it in the oven at 35o for about 30 minutes. It’s healthier and tastes better than anything you just pull out of a bag or a jar!

I LOVE roasting vegetables. It enhances the flavor and protects the vitamin content. It’s really simple. Take about 1T of butter and 1T of olive oil in an oven safe pan and melt it while the oven’s preheating (typically around 400 degrees, but I just popped it in the 350 oven tonight with the pasta). Once melted, add some chopped garlic, your vegetables and a little salt and coat.
Then just put in the oven about a 1/2 hour, pulling it out about 1/2 way through to shake and turn the veggies over. You can tell they’re done once they start crisping on top. (If you don’t have a lot of time, you quickly steam them just to get the cooking process started, but if you do it more than a couple minutes, they’ll just get soggy).

What are your favorite last minute pantry meals? Let me know!