Filet Mignon Chili & Pepper Jack Crisps

My husband’s company, #Connectria, is so much different than anywhere he’s ever worked.  They do fun morale & team building activities and this week, following “come as your favorite Marvel character day,” they are having a chili cook off.  The fact that they are just outside St. Louis, Missouri, while we are in Irvine, California, is no impediment to my husband participating in all of their fun activities.  He submits photos and videos of himself participating from his one-man executive suite in his remote location.  After a $300 trip to the grocery store 😕, I will be sending his chili submission to St. Louis on dry-ice via Federal Express tomorrow.

This chili doesn’t burn your face off at first touch of your tongue to the spoon.  It’s more of a second spoon sneak up on spicy experience.  Kind of like a great glass of wine…it has a long finish!  I prefer it that way.  I serve it with lots of additional chopped peppers, onions, cilantro and hot sauce for anyone who absolutely needs to feel the burn.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Filet Mignon Chili with Pepper Jack Cheese Crisps

  • 2 Pounds Filet Mignon (Beef Tenderloin), cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Pounds 90% Lean Ground Sirloin
  • 3 Small Yellow Onions, chopped (About 4 cups)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 3 Jalapeño Peppers, stemmed/seeded & chopped
  • 1 Pasilla/Anaheim or Poblano Chili, stemmed/seeded & chopped
  • 1 Cube (8 TBLS) Butter
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 4 tsp + 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 – 6 oz Cans Tomato Paste
  • 2 – 14 oz Cans Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 Heaping TBLS Unsweetened Cocoa (divided)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chile Pepper Powder (divided)
  • 1 tsp Hot Mexican Style Chili Powder (divided)
  • 1 tsp Ancho Chile Pepper Powder (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (divided)
  • Juice of 1 Medium Lime
  • 1 – 10.5 Ounce Can Beef Consommé
  • 5 – 15.5 Ounce cans Reduced Sodium White Kidney (Cannellini) Beans, drained
  • 1 – 11.2 Ounce Bottle Guinness Draught Beer
  • 2 Cups Very Strong Brewed Coffee (I used Starbucks™ Verona Blend)

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, place the butter, 2 tsp olive oil, the garlic, onions, red and yellow bell pepper and jalapeño peppers.  Cook until all start to soften and the butter starts to brown, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add the 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin and salt & pepper.  Stir occasionally while simmering.

Coat a large skillet with 1 tsp olive oil and, over medium heat, brown the ground sirloin but don’t cook to well done.  You want the meat to be a little pink, not rubbery.  Mix in the tomato paste, 1 can at a time, until completely incorporated, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes until warmed through.  In a small bowl combine: 1 heaping TBLS unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder, 1/2 tsp Ancho chile pepper powder, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Stir combined spices into the beef and tomato paste mixture and stir over low heat until well combined.

Add the ground beef mixture to the vegetables, stirring well to combine.  Increase heat to medium-low and stir in the Guinness, coffee, and beef consommé.  Bring mixture to a boil and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the beans.

Combine your remaining spices in a small bowl: 1 heaping TBLS unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder, 1/2 tsp Ancho chile pepper powder, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Put 1 tsp olive oil and the juice of the lime into a large zip bag.  Add the 1/2″ chunks of filet mignon then sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat.  Zip the bag closed and shake the bag to coat the meat.  I massaged the meat from outside the bag to make sure all of the spices were stuck to the meat.

Heat your skillet with the remaining TBLS of olive oil and add your meat.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes until just seared then add the meat to the chili.  Add your chopped Anaheim/Pasilla/Poblano chili to the remaining cocoa/spice-oil mixture in the pan and stir fry for about 2 minutes until the peppers begin to soften.  Add the peppers to the chili and stir to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.

Increase the heat to medium and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 90 minutes or until chili is nice and thick.  Adjust seasonings as needed before serving.

To make the pepper jack crisps:  Shred your cheese and mound onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Bake at 400° F for 8 – 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown.  Tip:  Don’t pile too much cheese on your mounds or your crisps will be chewy instead of crispy.

Serve chili with: an ice cold Guinness, a pepper jack crisp, and topped with diced onions, peppers, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, and sour cream if desired.

Nutrition Information:  Makes 24 – 2 Cup Servings

  • 292 Calories
  • 10.65 g Fat
  • 16.41 g Carbohydrates
  • 24.86 g Protein

Total Recipe Information:

7012 Calories / 255.61 g Fat / 393.97 g Carbs / 596.76 g Protein

Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

oatmealcookiesI was feeling a little down today so I headed to the kitchen to change my attitude.

What better way to do that than bake some cookies?

Not content to make the usual “off the lid of the oatmeal container” recipe, I decided to tweak it a bit and came out with a cookie that smelled fantastic while it was baking, let me sneak in an ingredient my husband says he doesn’t like but I love (coconut), and went great with an ice cold bottle of Guinness while I settled in to watch USC Basketball play Providence #BeatTheFriars.

Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1+1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 (12 oz) package milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup packed shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer (or a medium bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for about a minute, then on medium for an additional minute until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs mixing on low between each addition. Mix on high for about a minute. The mixture should be pale yellow and very fluffy.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing on low until the flour disappears. Add the oats and mix on low again, just until blended.
  6. Add the coconut and chocolate chips mixing on low just until blended.
  7. Use a medium-sized cookie scoop (overflowing the scoop a bit) and place the dough on ungreased non-stick baking sheets about 2″ a part.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until the tops and edges start to turn a light golden brown.
  9. Remove the cookies sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool about 5 minutes on the pan before removing to a plate to finish cooling.
  10. When cookies are completely cool, store any you haven’t eaten in a tightly sealed container on the counter.

If it matters, the cookies even got my labs’ seal of approval.  After I spilled half a bag of coconut on the kitchen floor, which my labs were more than happy to help clean up, they were hounding around when they came out of the oven.  I gave them their own “cookies” but my black lab wasn’t satisfied with that and, even though she was SO BUSTED, I caught her standing up at the IMG_1743counter, as quietly as she could, eating as many cookies as she could (1 big one) before I got to her to get the plate out of her reach!

Before I get #HateMail, I know chocolate is bad for my babies, and she only got 1 cookie before I got her away from the plate, so don’t call the ASPCA on me.  It wasn’t dark chocolate so it was “less” bad, she’s a 90 pound dog so plenty big to handle digesting the minimal bit of theobromine in the maybe 5 chocolate chips in the cookie she managed to eat.  I love my dogs much more than I love cookies.  If you want to make them puppy safe just leave the chocolate chips out of a few.

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Chocolate Stout Layer Cake

There is just something amazing about chocolate cake that’s made with beer!

This recipe from the archives of Bon Appétit (October 2009) looks like something I can throw together for a day of Super Bowl munching without investing too much time hunting down out of the ordinary ingredients.

Bon Appétit says, instead of cold milk, to serve this cake with glasses of the same beer you used in the cake batter. They even suggest making the stout into a float by dropping a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream to the beer for a grown-up float.  Yum!

Unless we just want to skip the cake and drink stout floats, we’d probably better get to work making the cake. 😉

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

Bittersweet – Espresso Chocolate Frosting:

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder


For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment. Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 11/4 cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.

For frosting:

Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).

Using a serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat. Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up, on 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round, then place on rack set over baking sheet. Drop 1 1/4 cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.

DO AHEAD: Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.

Ingredient tip:

If you can find it (try Total Wine they have a great selection), use a chocolate stout (Brooklyn Brewery and Oregon’s Rogue Brewery for example) in the cake batter. The chocolaty flavors in the beer come from dark-roasting the malts. Some brewers even add a little chocolate to the beer as well. If you can’’t find chocolate stout, use another stout, such as Guinness. Sierra Nevada Porter and Samuel Adams Honey Porter would also work well in this recipe.

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Quick Corned Beef & Cabbage


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  This is the day every year where I pull out the Crock Pot, load it with corned beef, red potatoes, chunks of carrot, onion, garlic & spices and let it spend 10 hours cooking dinner for me.  But, because I made a huge trip to the grocery store and forgot some key ingredients, it looks like the slow cooker is being swapped for the new pressure cooker.  I hope I don’t screw dinner up…

cb9I’ve searched the internet for help with timing, liquid and how to keep from overcooking the vegetables and into the deep I’m diving again.  Because I have added tips for keeping warm after preparing early, serving suggestions and a bonus leftover recipe, please read the recipe through before beginning your preparations.

Quick Corned Beef & Cabbage

  • 1 – 2 to 3 pound Corned Beef Brisket (vacuum sealed in brine with spice packet)
  • 10 to 15 Small Red Potatoes (unpeeled and whole)
  • 1 – Yellow Onion (cut into quarters)
  • 5 Large Carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 6-8  Whole Cloves Garlic (peeled)
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 1 & 1/2 – 11.2 oz bottles Guinness Draught (Dark Beer)
  • 1 Head Green Cabbage (cut into quarters)
  • 2 TBLS Cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  1. Set the pressure cooker to brown setting and place the garlic cloves, onions, 1 TBLS olive oil and corned beef (fat side down) into the cooking pan.  With lid open, once cooking temperature is reached, let the fat render for 10 minutes. If your fat layer is thick you can run another 10 minute brown cycle if you like.  I did, but only to brown all sides of the brisket.
  2. With about 2 minutes left in the brown cycle, add the carrots,
  3. When browning is done, add the spice pack, 1 bottle of the beer and broth to the pan.  Close and lock the top and set to cook on high for 50 minutes.  My brisket was just under 3 1/2 lbs so I upped my cooking time to 55 minutes and it was incredibly tender when I transferred it to the frying pan.
  4. If your brisket has a thick fat layer, when timer sounds set a heavy frying pan (I use a cast-iron pan) with 1 TBLS olive oil in it on the stove over medium high heat.  Quick-release the pressure then unlock and open the lid of the pressure cooker.
  5. Remove the corned beef and transfer to preheated frying pan with fat side down. Lower heat to low and allow the fat to slowly burn off. If just browning, make sure you turn your brisket to keep it from charring.
  6. Add the potatoes to the pressure cooker set to cook for 15 minutes.
  7. When timer sounds, release the pressure, open the pressure cooker just long enough to add the cabbage then immediately close and lock the lid.
  8. Bring the cooker back up to pressure and then immediately release the pressure so that you can open the cooker to remove the onions, carrots and cooked cabbage (leave the garlic). Put in a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  9. Turn the pressure cooker to the brown setting.
  10. Remove the corned beef from the frying pan to a cutting board, cover with foil for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle and then slice/shred as desired. Cover meat to keep it warm while preparing gravy. **See Tip below if you aren’t ready to slice and serve, or have prepared the brisket more than a couple of hours before you plan to serve it.
  11. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 of a bottle of Guinness.  Pour the broth, spices and garlic from the pressure cooker into the drippings from the frying pan.  Bring juices to a boil, scraping up any brown bits and smashing the garlic, then add the cornstarch mixture.
  12. Whisking constantly, cook 2-3 minutes until broth/drippings thicken into the consistency of gravy.
  13. Put gravy into a small saucepan with a lid to keep it warm or make reheating later easier.




Serve slices of the corned beef on top of the cooked cabbage with potatoes, carrots and onions piled alongside.  Cover with gravy if desired.

Another way my family likes it is shredded with two forks so they can pile it on rye bread with spicy mustard, Swiss cheese, onions and cabbage with the gravy soaked potatoes and carrots on the side.  A buttered piece of rye bread is great for sopping up the leftover gravy!

Because my son won’t be home for St. Patty’s this year (Boo Jason!) I will slice up half of the brisket and shred the other half while it’s hot to get the most use of the leftovers.

TIP:  If you are preparing this ahead of time and want to keep it warm for an hour or two before dinner (without drying it out):

  • Reserve about a cup of the juices from the pressure cooker
  • Set your Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) to “Keep Warm”
  • Layer in this order: Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Cooked WHOLE Brisket, Cooked Cabbage, then pour in the reserved juices.
  • Cover and keep warm as long as you need to.
  • Remove brisket from slow cooker to cutting board, cover for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle, then slice as directed above.
  • Bring the gravy back to a boil. add the juices from the slow cooker, and whisk until well combined.  If gravy is too thin add another TBSP of cornstarch to a small amount of cold water and whisk in until gravy is as thick as you’d like.

If there is any leftovers that don’t become sandwiches, the corned beef makes a flavorful hash.  Combine the shredded/chopped corned beef in a cast iron skillet with melted butter, some chopped bell pepper, any leftover onion and potatoes and cooked to crispy brown perfection.  Add a couple of fried eggs and some sourdough toast and it’s a great Sunday brunch!

Instead of taking roughly 12 hours from start to finish using the slow cooker, this year’s St. Patty’s Day feast was ready in about an hour and a half!  The pressure cooker shaved 10 1/2 hours off of the cook time and, instead of not being hungry once the cooking was done (because I didn’t have to be tortured by smelling it cook all day), I was able to enjoy this annual favorite with everyone else at dinner!

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