Some of you may have seen on Instagram, but in case not, Dylan and I are getting settled into our new house. We moved from Minneapolis to Bloomington, MN a little over a week ago. Moving is hard work, even though we really didn’t move that far. We are getting settled and trying to get back into a weekly routine. So, with that, here’s what’s on the menu this week.
Chili is definitely a fall and winter meal. It is so wonderful to sit over a steaming bowl on a brisk evening and let the cheese and sour cream melt into the beans and meat. There are so many chili recipes out there that are not very hearty, though. They end up too watery/soupy without enough spice and kick to keep my taste buds interested. This recipe has a lot of meat in it, so all the men out there should like it, but I think it maintains a good balance of meat to beans to spices. It is a great option for a hungry group watching the Sunday football game, for a super simple but hearty fall meal with friends, or for your family to have a ton of leftovers to get you through the week.
One note—if you plan to have this on a weeknight, I recommend putting it together the night before. It’s not a hard recipe to put together, but it can be a bit time consuming, and it needs to simmer for 2 hours.
Without further ado, here is the only Chili recipe you will ever need.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (We use Tabasco.)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
For serving—1 bag of Fritos corn chips, shredded Cheddar cheese, and sour cream
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and sausage, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off grease. Put the meat back into the pot.
Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, and beer.
Season mixture with Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and hot pepper sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano, cumin, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Add to stock pot.
Stir to blend, then cover and simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (The longer you let it simmer, the more the flavors blend together, and the better it will taste.)
To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with sour cream, cheese, and corn chips
I had been in a book rut for most of the summer. I tried a few different books and just could not find one that was interesting. As I was browsing through Instagram looking for recommendations, I came across “Longbourn” by Jo Baker a couple of times. I had heard of it, but I honestly didn’t know anything about it. So, I turned to my trusty library’s website and looked it up. I was intrigued, and it was available, so Finn and I packed up and went and got it that day.
“Longbourn” is set in the same place and time as Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” (a book I love, love, love). However, it is told from the perspective of the servants who run the house at Longbourn, which the Bennett family inhabits. It primarily follows the maid, Sarah, but the housekeeper, Mrs. Hill, is also prominent.
I think that Jo Baker, the author, does a great job of telling a unique story while completely transporting the reader back to Jane Austen’s beloved world of Longbourn. I greatly appreciated that she did not focus too much on the Bennett family or the interactions that took place in “Pride & Prejudice”. Jo is able to accurately portray the original Austen characters and perfectly intertwine details from the original story into the new story she creates for her characters. The overlap of the stories is perfection, and she exercises skillful restraint in leaving out details that the servants would not have been privy to and likely would not have cared about.
I also appreciated that Jo was able to offer some critique of the original Austen characters without coming off as complaining. She did not in any way tarnish the Bennetts by taking up the servants’ story, nor did she pit the servants against the Bennett family. She does include frustrations that the servants likely would have felt, such as Sarah’s frustration on wash day that Elizabeth had gotten so much mud on her petticoats. It’s a fair criticism and also speaks to Jo’s intimate knowledge of the Austen characters, which adds further depth to her book.
I greatly enjoyed seeing the story unfold and at points, was not sure what would happen next. I felt genuine care and concern for Sarah and Mrs. Hill. I was intrigued by the character, James. I felt the ending was fair and interesting. The story was engrossing from beginning to end, and to be honest, I was a little sad when I finished the book. I would have liked to have continued on with Sarah’s story for much longer if it had been possible.
On the whole, “Longbourn” was a quick read, and I would recommend it if someone is looking for a period piece with a little romance and endearing characters.
I should note that if you have not read “Pride & Prejudice”, I highly recommend it to you. Also, I think you could read “Longbourn” and follow along without having read “Pride & Prejudice” first. I think you would more deeply appreciate “Longbourn” if you have read “Pride & Prejudice”, but I don’t think it is a requirement. The two stories can stand alone in many ways.
Finally, if you liked “Pride & Prejudice” and are looking for something set in the same world, I think you would enjoy this book as well. Jo, the author, does a great job of telling a new story, while interweaving details from Jane Austen’s book. As the reader, you very much feel that you are at the Longbourn estate.
If you have read “Longbourn”, I would love to hear your thoughts. From what I could tell of the reviews online, people seem to really like it or really dislike it.
Hi all. It’s been a while. We’ve been busy over here, but I hope things will be settling down a bit. How have you been? I hope well. I’ll get right to it, here is what’s on the menu this week.
Monday—Italian Salad Sandwiches. These seem like the perfect flavorful yet easy to put together sandwiches for a weeknight meal.
Tuesday—Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas. A recipe for enchiladas keeps popping up in my Pinterest feed so now I am craving them. I will likely pick up a rotisserie chicken and use the meat from that to save a little time. Plus, Dylan likes to take the extra meat for lunch during the week.
I made a batch of S’mores Bars earlier this month as my birthday dessert. They were perfect! Sweet, crunchy, marshmallowy. I think they would be a great dessert for a Fourth of July party, and I may just whip up a batch for our own barbecue.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bag (around 6 cups) miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 box (around 8.5 cups) Golden Grahams cereal
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chunks*
*Note: At Target, I found a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chunks by Nestle Tollhouse. The pieces were a little bit bigger than chocolate chips. In a pinch, just use chocolate chips. The bars will look slightly different, but it won’t affect the taste.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan to help prevent sticking.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the 5 1/2 cups of marshmallows (it ends up being most of the bag) and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Gradually add the Golden Grahams cereal to the saucepan. Stir until well coated.
Fold in the remaining marshmallows. Then, fold in the chocolate chunks.
Using buttered spatula, press the mixture into the prepared pan. Cool in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.