Vickie’s Almost Famous Chili

Fall is for football games, pumpkins and mums at the front door and a big pot of Chili simmering on the stove.   I was in a Chili Cook Off  years ago with several girlfriends and I discovered that there are about as many recipes for Chili as there are people who love it!  We called our team “The Red Hot Chili Peppers”.  Our recipe had about 25 ingredients and cooked all afternoon.  We won the Chili Cook Off but I’m sure none of us ever made that Chili recipe again because it had too many ingredients and cooked too long for all of our busy schedules.  That’s why I call my recipe “Almost Famous”.  I never won a Chili Cook Off with this recipe – but it scored big with everyone who has ever tasted it.

This recipe only has to simmer 15 minutes – so it can easily be cooked after a long day at work.  So, grab your Chili pot and get ready to round up some great chili for your gang!

 

Vickie's Almost Famous Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces chili beans ( I use medium, but feel free to use mild or hot)
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons instant dried onion flakes
  • 2 packages chili seasoning packets ( that are supposed to each season 1 pound of beef)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Condiments to sprinkle on top of each bowl of chili: chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef and drain well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to blend well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve piping hot with the condiments sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Brown the ground beef and drain well.

Add the remaining chili ingredients and stir to blend well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Ladle up a big bowl of this yummy chili and serve it topped with chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, a big dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 

 

Make Life Special is now a YouTube Partner

Make Life Special launched YouTube videos on July 31, 2012.  The how-to tutorial videos feature recipes from this website.  We were notified on October 7, 2012 that Make Life Special has been accepted as a new YouTube Partner.  YouTube offers Partner status based on relevant content , popularity of the videos and the level of commitment to adding and maintaining the videos.   You can view the videos on YouTube by going to our channel:  MakeLifeSpecial : Visit in Vickie’s Kitchen.  New videos are being added every week.

 

 

Welcome Fall

It’s that time of year again and what better way to say “Welcome !” than with mums and pumpkins decorating your front door entrance for fall!  Let’s welcome friends and family into our homes with some of these great and super easy  fall entertaining ideas:  

Try a baked potato bar.    Just follow my step by step directions for Perfect Baked Potatoes Click here.   Your company can custom make their spuds adding their favorite toppings.  Some of my suggestions are cheese sauce, taco meat, chili, shredded cheeses, bacon bits, jalapeno peppers, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper.

Have a salad buffet.  Guests can bring various fruit, pasta or veggie salads and you can provide the Iced tea.  Why not try Southern Peach Tea or Southern Sweet Tea.

Host a Chili Cook Off:  Ask your guests to bring their favorite chili.  You provide the crackers and condiments and drinks.  Everyone can sample all of the chili and vote for favorites!  Or, you can cook my super easy chili recipe, (Click here for the recipe) and your guests can bring various desserts.

Invite friends to join in the fun of a dessert buffet. Everyone can bring a dessert – an assortment of cookies, pies and cakes – and you can provide the coffee, hot cocoa or flavored teas.  I can guarantee lots of happy guests with this party!

Doughnuts and Cider Bash:  Serve hot spiced cider and doughnuts.  You can buy and assortment of doughnuts at the bakery or make my quick Cinnamon Doughnut Puffs.  Click here for that easy recipe:  Cinnamon Doughnut Puffs.

Wine and Cheese Party:  Make a quick cheese tray or an easy cheese ball and serve lots of crackers for tasting.  Try my easy Cheese Ball  – Click here for the recipe. Offer a red wine and a white wine.  Here’s a fun idea on serving the white wine:  Hollow out a pumpkin, line it with plastic wrap, and fill it with ice.  This will hold one or two bottles of white wine and is easy, easy easy!  Just prop the lid of the pumpkin up next to it.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Entertaining friends in your home doesn’t have to be difficult.  It’s really all about the special times you can create by bringing people together in your home.

Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!  

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties

Mushroom Bacon Toasties are a delicious appetizer made with mushrooms, bacon, a herb cream cheese mixture on cocktail rye toast and topped with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy these with a great bottle of wine at your next party!!!  The Velvet Palate has paired this appetizer with the 2004 Legon Reserva.  You can click here for their wine tasting notes and information on this wine.

These are definitely worth the effort!  They can be made ahead and flash frozen to use later – or bake now and enjoy!  

Click the link to view the YouTube How-to Tutorial for this recipe:   Mushroom Bacon Toasties 

 

Mushroom Bacon Toasties
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 20 cocktail size rye bread slices
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon Herb de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Heinz 57 sauce
  • 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Brush both sides of the cocktail size rye bread with the 4 tablespoons of meted butter. Bake ate 350 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Blend the cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the cooled toasties.
  3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms, bacon and onions and saute until mushrooms release liquid and the bacon is cooked. Add the steak sauce. Divide mixture among the toasties.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.
  6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

20 cocktail rye bread slices

4 tablespoons melted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons butter

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

3 slices bacon, diced

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Brush both sides of the miniature rye bread with melted butter.  Bake 5 to 6 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Blend the softened cream cheese, Herbs de Provence, garlic salt and chopped fresh parsley together and spread evenly on the toasties.

Spread evenly on the cooled rye toasties.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add mushrooms, bacon ( I use kitchen scissors to easily dice the bacon ), and onions and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and the bacon is cooked.  

Add the steak sauce.

Divide mixture among the toasties.

Sprinkle with the Shredded Parmesan cheese.

At this point you can flash freeze to bake later or bake now at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Remember, “Let’s make life special  by sharing great food with our family and friends. Enjoy!”

 

 

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Fall is in the air and it’s time to get a big pot of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder simmering on the stove!   

Chowder is typically a thick, rich soup that is made with cream.  This Quick Chicken Corn Chowder is chocked full of vegetables and meat to make a delicious and warming meal on a chilly Fall or Winter evening.  You can have this on the table in less than 30 minutes—-that’s less time than it takes to get a carry-out pizza!   

To view the complete video recipe, click here:   http://youtu.be/OKAjAlvFRPE

To print the recipe with all of the how-to photos, click here:  Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped or 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled)

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

2 cups chopped deli rotisserie  chicken

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 can cream style corn

1 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 /8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in milk and blend well.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve up a big steaming bowl of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder topped with crumbled pieces of my Microwaved Bacon ( See Success Secret under a separate post).

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 Happy Fall…Y’all!


Quick Chicken Corn Chowder
 
Recipe type: Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped OR 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled )
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk or a combination of milk and half and half
  • 2 cups chopped deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red peppers
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Vickie Meets Chef Alexander Stanislaw

I recently dined at The Plantation House Restaurant in Kapalua, Maui and I was honored to meet the Executive Chef, Alex Stanislaw.

 

Chef Alex greeted me with a huge smile and made me feel right at home as we posed for some quick pictures.

This innovative chef creates specialties that blend regional Pacific fusion style with Mediterranean flavors and the results are outstanding.  I enjoyed lunch at The Plantation House Restaurant and reviewed the restaurant under a separate Make Life Special Blog post.      

 

 

The Plantation House Restaurant Maui Review

As most of my blog followers know, I have been in Maui enjoying the sun, sand, shopping and spectacular food!  My last day on the island included a stop at The Plantation House Restaurant for a casually elegant island style lunch.  

The Plantation House Restaurant is located in Kapalua – just a short drive from Ka’anapali Beach.  The restaurant was highly recommended to me and I was not disappointed.  The restaurant has a traditional plantation house atmosphere with teak wood furniture and plantation style windows that open out to a spectacular island  view.

I was greeted by Elyse Byron, Director of Aloha, who gave me a very warm island welcome and seated me at a table with a breathtaking view.  Elyse has had an impressive career working with chefs including five and a half years as the Executive Assistant to  Chef Michael Chiarello   in Yountville California.

The view…..

The lunch menu depicts the beautiful surroundings…

 

I selected the Macadamia Nut Basil Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and paired it with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  The flavors and creamy goodness of this dish were outstanding.

While enjoying my entree, I was also welcomed to the restaurant by Norm Schuhardt, General Manager and Partner of the Plantation House Restaurant.  

The dessert offerings were too tempting to pass up so I selected the Lillikoi Creme Brulee – a rich passion fruit custard base dessert with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar on top.  

 

I was thrilled to meet the Executive Chef, Alexander Stanislaw ( more about Chef Alex in a separate post)

Vickie and Chef Alex Stanislaw

The lunch at The Plantation House Restaurant was absolutely wonderful.  When I return to Maui next year, I want to stop by the restaurant for dinner.  The dinner menu showcases Chef Alex’s specialties with bold Mediterranean flavors blended with the freshest local produce, herbs and seafood available.  The menu is filled with truly inspired cuisine.  The restaurant also has an extensive wine collection and the dinner menu offers wine pairing suggestions.  

This review was my honest opinion of the Plantation House Restaurant, the staff, the service and  the food.     

 

       

Crab Cake Lunch on Kaanapali Beach

What could be better than a crab cake lunch on Kaanapali Beach?

Next week I will feature my Crab Cake recipe with the trick I use to keep the crab cakes from falling apart when I cook them.  Crab cakes are really very easy to make and you can either use fresh crab or canned crab.  My recipe uses canned crab since it’s not always easy to buy fresh crab.   

Here are the wonderful crab cakes I had for lunch on Kaanapali Beach.  I like how they served them on wilted fresh spinach and I’ll be using that same idea when I feature my Crab Cake recipe next week.  I also liked the grilled lemon half as an extra nice touch…

Here are some pictures of my beautiful walk along Kaanapali Beach….

 

I think a trip to Maui is really a trip of a lifetime!  The beauty is abundant.  Walks along the pristine beaches are invigorating and there is so much to enjoy in the nature around us.  Kaanapali Beach has a lot to offer in not only beauty but also things to do.  You can stay busy every minute if you want to.  The Westin has scenic helicopter tours, hiking trips, shopping tours plus much more.   I have decided not to do a lot of the tours and activities.  I just want to soak up some relaxation while I am here.  

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks with Brandy Sauce

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are super easy to make in less than 10 minutes.  The steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns and then sauteed quickly in butter and oil.  Then you combine white wine, lemon juice and a little brandy in the pan drippings for the sauce.  So easy and so good!   

 

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 to 4 rib eye steaks
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • little lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Crush the peppercorns and press well into steaks using a wooden spoon.
  2. Heat oil and butter in pan, add half the butter. When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how done you like them. Add remaining butter if needed.
  3. Remove to heated platter to keep warm.
  4. Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the drippings in the pan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the steaks. Serve at once.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2 to 4 rib eye steaks

3 to 4 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons brandy

little lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Crush the peppercorns and press well into the steaks using a wooden spoon.  You can crush the peppercorns as I am doing, or put them in a Zip lock bag and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet.

Heat oil in pan, add half the butter.  When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how well done you like them.  Add remaining butter if needed.

Remove to a heated dish to keep warm.  Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the pan and bring to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the steaks.  Enjoy!

 

 

Video: Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks





Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns, sauteed in butter and oil and then splashed with white wine, lemon juice and brandy

Wine Tasting Pulehu Grill While Dining in Maui

Dining in Maui can be an adventure!

There are so many choices when dining in Maui.  Maui has so much to offer for any vacation.   I love wine and participated in a Wine Class at Pulehu Italian Grill in Maui last night.  The class was billed as “Monday Mixology” but I was thrilled to learn that James Hansen, General Manager of Pulehu, was just featuring wine last night.    I enjoyed a food pairing – presented by Chef Wesley Holder- along with insightful facts about wine presented by Jim.

I learned some interesting facts about wine.  For instance…..

* How many grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?

  (Answer:  400 to 600 grapes) 

* What is the proper way to hold a wine glass?

(Answer:  Always by the stem)

* What percentage of the total California wine does Napa produce?  ( We all guessed over 80%)

 (Answer:  About 5 %)

* How much of the California wine is exported to other countries?  ( We all said not much because we are all doing our part to drink it!!)      

 (Answer:  90%)

Jim, who seems to escape my camera, introduced our happy tasting group to three wonderful wines.

The first ( which is now one of my favorites) was:

Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner”

This is a big, bold and satisfying Zinfandel blend from California  was a real crowd pleaser!

Next we enjoyed Tikal Amorio, a Malbec from Mendoza Argentina.  This wine, produced by Ernesto Catena is named Amorio, or “Love Affair” to convey the deep love the Argentine people have toward the Malbec grape.

 Lastly, Jim presented:

Montes Purple Angel

A Carmenere blend from Chile, South America.  This wine was full bodied with a combination of dark fruit flavors and some lively hints of spice.  I especially enjoyed this wine because I toured the Montes Winery in Chile about 7 years ago and fell in love with the wine and the people.

Chef Wes prepared a beautiful pairing for the tasting made from purple Okinawan sweet potatoes.

The evening was delightful , very informative, and reasonably priced.  It was a great way to meet new people who share my passion for wine and great food.

  This is  my honest review of the wine tasting offered at Pulehu Italian Restaurant in Maui. 

 

Make Life Special
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