Category Archives: Dinners

Slow-Cooked Brisket Chili

We’ve been waiting for one last week of cold weather to make the chili of all chilis. And we kept waiting and waiting because it’s been an unseasonably warm 70 degrees in March. But we weren’t going to let the premature spring weather stop us from making one last great batch of chili.

This Kyle original recipe is going down as the all-time best chili we’ve ever made. What makes it so delicious? Brisket slow-cooked to perfection for 5 hours and just enough peppers to bring the heat without overpowering the dish. Did I mention the beer part? Oh, yeah, it gives you a great excuse to buy some good dark beer to impart some serious flavor and sip while you’re waiting for the magic to happen in the oven.

• 4 cloves garlic, sliced
• 1 dried Anaheim pepper, toasted in a pan and diced
• 1 dried Ancho pepper, toasted in a pan and diced
• 1 bunch cilantro stems, diced
• 2 limes, juiced (we recommend grilling them to draw out as much juice as possible)
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil

• 1 brisket
• ½ pound stew meat, ground
• ½ pound pork shoulder, ground
• 1 cup mesa
• 2 green peppers, diced to ¼ inch thickness
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 1 jalapeno, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
• 1 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
• 1 cup Porter-style beer (We used Upland Brewery‘s Bad Elmer’s Porter)
• 4 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
• 3 cans hominy, rinsed
• 1 can black beans, rinsed
• 1 can red beans
• 1 tablespoon oregano
• 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
• 1 tablespoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

What to note before tackling the recipe:

• This is a two-day process, as the brisket needs to marinate overnight for 12 hours.
• Roast the jalapeno and poblano peppers by rubbing them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and placing on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until soft and skin is blackened. Place the peppers in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds and chop evenly.

Prepare the marinade, pour into a large Ziploc bag and place the brisket inside, removing all air from the bag. Marinate overnight for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a big roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the brisket fat side up in the pan along with marinade. Add enough water to half-way cover the brisket. Cook for five hours or until meat can be easily pulled apart with a fork.

Here’s the brisket after a couple of hours in the oven. Needless to say the house smelled ah-mazing while this was slow cooking.

Using a Cuisinart food processor, grind the stew meat and pork shoulder separately. About 10 pulses should get the meat to the desired texture, but adjust accordingly for your liking.

Coat the stew meat and pork shoulder evenly in the mesa flour. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a very large Dutch oven (we recommend this Le Creuset
one) and place half of the meat in it to cook. Once it is browned, remove with slotted spoon and place on a plate. Repeat for the second batch of meat, adding more olive oil if need be before cooking the last half of the meat.

Once meat is removed from the Dutch oven, add another drizzle of olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions, adding salt and pepper. Once onions are translucent, add green peppers, jalapeno and poblano. Cook until green peppers are soft.

Turn heat up to medium high and add 1 cup of beer, using a wooden spoon deglaze the pan. Add the meat and 4 cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Rinse each tomato can and fill each 1/3 of the way with water and pour in the Dutch oven. Add oregano, ancho chili powder, cumin, paprika, kosher salt and cayenne pepper and stir. Put the Dutch oven in the oven with the brisket and cook for 3 hours.

Stirring the chili while the brisket continues to slow cook.

When brisket is finished cooking, remove from oven and let it rest for 30 minutes. Remove fat from brisket, then shred with a fork and cut down to bit-sized pieces. Pull the other pan out of the oven and add the brisket to it. Add 3 cans of hominy (rinsed), 1 can of black beans (rinsed), 1 can of red beans. Add 2 cup of water and cook on the stove on low heat until all ingredients are heated through, about 1 hour.

Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

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Monterey Jack, Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

Risotto. A labor of love, the cause of countless Top Chef eliminations and a delicious yet calorie-laden meal.

That is, until now.

Okay, while there’s no getting around the time commitment risotto takes or the inevitable fact that even Top Chef contestants like the smug Miss “I can cook risotto, I learned how to cook in Italy!” will screw up risotto, there is a way to create a light yet great-tasting risotto.

Kyle’s appreciation for a beautifully-cooked risotto formed in the kitchen of Oakley’s Bistro during a “Chef for a Day” stint where he worked side-by-side with the talented team, helping them prep for that evening’s dinner. There’s a fine line between al dente and undercooked, and Kyle learned that plus many other tips that have given us mouthful after mouthful of amazing risotto over the years.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light. It’s just 383 calories per serving and makes 4 servings. Since we like to cook on Sundays for the week, we doubled the recipe.

• 1 ¾ water (we substituted vegetable broth to add more flavor)
• 2 (14 ½ ounce cans vegetable broth)
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 cup uncooked Arborio or other short-grain rice
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional, but we used it)
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup thinly sliced green onions (approximately 1 bunch of green onions)
• ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalepeno peppers
• ¼ to ½ teaspoon hot sauce (we used ½ teaspoon of Louisiana Hot Sauce)
• 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, defrosted
• ¾ cup chopped roasted red peppers (we used 2 red peppers)

What to note before tackling the recipe:
• While you can purchase bottled roasted red peppers, you’ll get a much fresher flavor if you roast your own red peppers.
• Use a good wooden spoon for stirring the risotto. Ours is broad and flat (like this one, which lets you make a lot of contact with the bottom of the pan to ensure you’re not burning the bottom half of the risotto.
• Resist the urge to crank up the heat to finish the risotto faster. Low heat is the way to go, as you want to give the rice time to release its starch.

Roast the red peppers by rubbing them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and placing on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until soft and skin is blackened. Place the peppers in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds and chop evenly. (This is the same method we used in our Roasted Yellow Pepper Grits.)

While the peppers are roasting, pour the broth (and water if you choose to use it) in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Dice onions, grate the cheese (if you didn’t purchase it already shredded) and mince the garlic.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add rice, cumin coriander and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute and turn heat down to low. Stir in ½ cup broth, cook 2 minutes, or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed.

Stir in the onions, cheese, hot sauce, corn and roasted red peppers. Cook 3 minutes or until heated.

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Mahi Mahi with Tomatillo and Mango Salsa

Ah, first dates. The anticipation, the excitement. The blood, the undercooked fish. What, you never had an injury and nearly escaped food poisoning on a first date? If you’ve never had such a romantic story to relive to your children and friends, then you can live vicariously through our first date story.

Kyle said he wanted to cook dinner for us, and I excitedly accepted seeing as a) I had a crush on him and b) needed a break from my steady diet of George Foreman-grilled chicken and canned vegetables. (I realize that last statement will probably have me banished from the food blog inner-circle, but I’m just keeping it real here.)

Fast forward to that June evening. In his attempt to simultaneously keep a great conversation going and prepare the salsa, he made one slice too many. His poor finger fell victim to the blade, and our date continued with a big Band-Aid, a little less conversation and a little more attention to the knife skills.

Cooking the fish by the poolside grill on a hot summer night sounds sorta romantic, right? Well, not when you’re being serenaded by the 40-something resident who lives for playing his guitar horribly at the apartment complex pool. In a rush to get out of there and save our eardrums from further bleeding and awkward conversation from the guy in between songs, Kyle slightly undercooked the fish. After our first mouthful, back to the poolside grill we went, creepster guitarist and all.

By the time we enjoyed our last bite and sip of wine, I was sure of two things. This guy could cook, and this guy is someone I could see enjoying many more meals with over the years.

Recipe adapted from this Food Network recipe.

• 2 (6 ounce) mahi mahi, skin removed
• 1 lime, juiced
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• Tomatillo and Mango Salsa, recipe follows

Tomatillo and Mango Salsa:
• 1 semi-ripe mango, peeled and seeded
• 1 ripe mango, seeded and diced
• 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
• 2 limes, juiced
• 1 orange, juiced
• 5 medium-sized tomatillos peeled, washed and finely diced
• 1 medium-ripe tomato, finely diced
• 1 red onion, finely diced
• ½ cup chopped cilantro
• Salt and freshly ground pepper

What to note before tackling the recipe:

• Ask when the fish arrived before purchasing it. Only buy the mahi mahi if it came in that day or the previous day. Most places will have a schedule of their fresh fish deliveries to help you plan ahead, or accommodate special orders for you.
• The fish monger will remove the skin for you, which will save you time (and frustration and/or injury if your knives aren’t sharp enough).
• After the mahi mahi, the most important ingredient is the mango. Make sure at least one of the mangos is ripe, as this will be the one you dice and really taste in the dish.
• When you’re dealing with a hot pepper like a jalapeno, wear latex gloves when you work with them. You can pick up the gloves at your local hardware store. Trust us on this one. It only takes one casual rub of the eye after handling a hot pepper to find yourself running out of the kitchen screaming all the way to the bathroom because you feel like your eye is on fire.


Peel the semi-ripe mango, removing as much flesh as possible and removing the seed. Put the mango pieces in a blender with jalapeno, lime juice and orange juice. Blend until smooth, tasting to make sure the mango flavor shines. If the sweetness isn’t coming through, just add a touch of honey and blend again. When finished, place in a large bowl.

To finish the salsa, peel and remove the flesh from the ripe mango and finely dice. Add to the large bowl with the tomatillos, tomato, red onion and cilantro.

Next, prepare the fish by placing it on a plate and drizzling with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. If it’s not too cold outside to grill the fish, place it on the hot grill and cook on each side for 4 minutes or until done. If you’re as lucky as us to have snow in March, then you should spare yourself the frostbite and pan-cook these suckers inside. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil in an oven-safe pan and cook the fish for about 3 minutes on one side. Flip the fish and put it in the oven at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.

Remove from the grill or oven, and serve with a generous portion of the tomatillo and mango salsa.

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Tuna Tartare with Quail Egg and Dijon Vinaigrette

We had a few quail eggs left over from our quail eggs with pancetta and brioche creation, so when we came across this recipe in our file, it was the perfect excuse to finally try this recipe we’ve held on to for five (yes, really) years. The verdict? We won’t wait another five years to make it again.

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal’s reprint of Charlie Trotter’s classic tuna tartare recipe. Makes four servings.

• 1 pound sashimi-grade tuna (Spanish Bluefin, Hawaiian ahi or Maine yellowfin)
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fine-diced cucumber
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger
• 1 tablespoon minced shallot
• ½ tablespoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• Zest of one small lemon
• Dijon mustard vinaigrette (recipe below)
• 4 to 8 quail egg yolks, lightly poached (these are optional, but we highly recommend)

For the Dijon mustard vinaigrette:

• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
• Salt and pepper

What to note before tackling the recipe:
• Purchase the sushi-grade tuna the day you plan to make the dish.
• Before you buy the sushi-grade tuna, ask the fish monger when the fish arrived. If it arrived more than one day ago, do not purchase it.
• Put the ingredients in the fridge as you finish prepping them.
• We highly recommend trying this with the quail eggs. After taste-testing one batch with and one batch without, the version with the quail eggs had a nice creaminess to it that completed the Dijon mustard vinaigrette.


Prepare the Dijon mustard vinaigrette first. Add the Dijon and white-wine vinegar to a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put in the fridge upon completion to chill while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Put a medium-sized glass bowl in the fridge to chill for the tuna. Put serving plate(s) in the fridge to chill too.

Separate the yolks in the quail eggs and set aside. Since quail eggs are too small to crack like a regular egg, we recommend carefully using a knife to crack the shell.

Put approximately 1 inch of water in a non-stick pan and bring to a very low simmer. You’ll poach the quail egg yolks in this water, but first you’ll want to get some additional prep work out of the way.

Mince the garlic and shallots. Grate the ginger, finely dice the cucumber, zest the lemon and squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Put these ingredients in the fridge to chill.

Slice the tuna into ¾-inch diced portions and place in the chilled glass dish. Drizzle the olive oil in the bowl, gently stirring the tuna to coat. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger and cucumber. Gently toss ingredients together. Do not add the lemon zest or juice until right before serving. Put the bowl in the fridge.

Add the lemon zest and juice to the tuna mixture, tossing gently.

Lightly cook the quail egg yolks by poaching them in the barely simmering water. While they are cooking, begin to assemble the dish by placing a biscuit cutter on the chilled plate and spoon the tuna into the ring mold. Gently press down with the back of the spoon to help the tuna keep its form.

Gently place the quail egg yolk on top. Lightly drizzle a small amount of the Dijon mustard vinaigrette on top of the dish, and remove the biscuit cutter before serving.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

After a not-so-healthy-eating weekend, we needed a detox in the form of a low carb dinner to enjoy throughout the week.  Kyle’s never met a jalapeno or can of fire roasted tomatoes he didn’t like, so this chicken tortilla soup has a great depth of flavor to it.

Recipe inspired by this Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe


1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons cilantro stems, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 (32 ounce) boxes of chicken stock
2 cup frozen whole corn kernels, defrosted
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded into small pieces
Chopped green onions
1 lime, sliced for squeezing

What to Note Before Tackling this Recipe:

  • If you’re all about multitasking like we are, here’s a tip to save you some time. Once you’ve put the chicken breasts in the pot to boil, you can start on the rest of soup as directed below so long as you regularly check on the chicken.


Put chicken breast halves in a pot and boil until cooked. When finished, remove the chicken and place on a cutting board, shredding into small pieces with two forks.

In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft.

Add celery, carrots, jalapenos and cilantro stems. Saute until tender.

Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, and enough stock to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, cilantro, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve the soup in individual serving bowls, and top with chopped green onion, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.


Filed under Dinners, Recipes, Soup