Slow Cooker Chili + Cheesy Grits

The weather here in Oklahoma is finally getting chilly! I’m so excited to be slow-cookin my way into cooler weather these days. As my patience for reading through recipes gets slimmer (’cause……twins!) I find myself throwing ingredients together in a mad dash between entertaining and feeding two babies. Sometimes my ‘lil on-the-spot meal creations fail. But every once in awhile……they WIN!

I’ve got a winner for ya.

I’ve noticed that most people don’t put a base of some sort underneath their chili when it’s served. Well, my sweet southern belle of a mama raised me differently. Mom would typically cook up some white rice and use that as a base for the chili and it was deeee-lish! But recently I got the inspiration to use cheesy grits as a heavenly little platform instead.

Y’all.

Oh my gosh.

It was pure heaven.

I made this on Sunday afternoon, stored it in the fridge (where it only continued to grow more and more delicious), then by Monday afternoon I was ready for a hearty lunch. I came home from taking the twins with me to Target and they were still asleep in their car seats. WIN! I whipped up some grits, added freshly grated cheese, topped the dish with chili, then more cheese for the garnish, and then…The Hallelujah Chorus broke into song. It was delicious, hearty, and good for my tired mama soul. Do you have a tired soul these days? I highly recommend trying this recipe. Your soul and stomach will thank you.

Here’s the lineup:

For the chili…

  • 1 pound (or so) – Ground Beef
  • 1 – Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 13 cup – beer (whatever you have, but a full bodied beer is best!)
  • 2 cups – Marinara Sauce
  • 1 can – Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can – Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 can – Pinto Beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons – Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon – Cumin
  • 2 tablespoons – Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons – Italian Seasoning Mix
  • 2 teaspoons – Salt
  • 1teaspoon – Cayenne Pepper

6o9c9738For the grits…

  • 1cup – Quick Grits
  • 1 cup – Water
  • 1 tablespoon – Butter
  • 1cup – Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (mostly for the grits, the rest for the garnish)
  • Salt – to taste

Step 1

Combine all of the dry seasonings (chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, italian seasoning mix, salt, and cayenne pepper) into a small dish, then set aside until Step 3.

Step 2

Cook the ground beef in a skillet so that it’s just browned. Drain the excess fat, then return the ground beef to the stove.

Step 3

Add dry seasonings to skillet, coating the browned ground beef. Be sure to turn the heat to low.

Step 4

Pour the seasoned ground beef into the slow cooker. Add the following: raw coarsely chopped yellow onions (I don’t recommend cooking the onions with the ground beef in step 2 because it gives a slight crunch to the chili – loved it!), drained pinto and kidney beans, diced tomatoes, beer, and marinara sauce. Stir well to combine all that gloriousness.

Step 5

Set it and forget it, y’all! Set it on high, and stir occasionally if you have time. 2 to 3 hours later your home will smell heavenly.

Step 6

Once the chili is ready you can get the instant grits going in a saucepan. First, boiling your 1 cup of water, then add the grits, salt (to your taste), and butter. Be sure to stir this well to avoid clumps. Then…the cheese! Stir the shredded cheese into your grits. Add enough cheese until it tastes just right for you.

Step 7

Layer the cheesy grits first, then the chili, then some more shredded cheese for garnish.

Enjoyyyy!

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All About Autumn

My favorite season is finally here. Y’all…I’m obsessed. I’m completely head over heels for this season! Just like many of you out there I wanna throw on some boots over skinny jeans, wear cozy autumn-colored tops, and jump for joy in honor of all-things pumpkin. This post isn’t a review…a recipe…or a recommendation. Basically, I just love autumn so much that I can’t contain myself. I have a blog, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I know I’m not alone, my fellow pumpkin-spice-loving friends. I see your pins on Pinterest and I definitely see you instagraming those “PSL” wins too.  You’re just as excited as I am, aren’tcha 😉

I also know that the season isn’t even officially here yet. Silly, Katherine. It’s not “official” until September 23rd (yes, I looked it up weeks ago). But where’s the fun in waiting a few more days?! NO WHERE. We’re close enough, so I’m starting the celebration early. So, here is a list of my favorite things this season:

strolling around Fall Vintage Markets…with a PSL in hand…wearing boots…and a scarf
Breathtaking fall foliage
The perfect chill in the air; a sweet relief from Oklahoma’s Summer heat
The crunch of fallen leaves under my feet
Beer festivals downtown
The distant smell of a campfire
BOOTS!
Picking out your favorite pumpkin…then deciding you need 54 more of them
Jack-o-lantern carving
Amber Ales
Red Wine
toasting Pumpkin seeds with Old Bay
reflecting on what I’m thankful for (3740103842934 things…in case you were wondering)
the roar of Excitement from a football stadium
baking Apple-spice-anything
simply saying the word “Autumn” 
Reuniting with family & friends during Thanksgiving
Slow roasting pork…turkey…veggies…Everything!
The anticipation of your football team’s success
Let’s GOOOOOOOOO Redskins!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Baking…and Baking…and Baking
Being crafty
Sitting in The Coffee House on Cherry Street, blogging about how much I love Autumn 🙂

I could go on forever but I have a Washington Redskins game to cheer for, things to bake, and more pumpkins to purchase. Heheee! I just love this season and how it practically smacks ya in the face with excitement for new holiday memories to be made, old recipes to be devoured, and cozy clothes to be worn. It’s like the happiest line up of all things beautiful, just waiting for you to live it. 🙂

What’s on your list?! Are you as obsessed with this glorious season as I am? Add to my list by commenting below and keep the fabulous fall love flowin’!

Happy Autumn 🙂

Homemade Apple Pie

With my favorite season (AUTUMN!) here, apples, autumn-ness, and all-things-cozy are totally worth celebrating. I couldn’t be happier. And lately, when I have time, all I wanna do is bake. So recently I was at the grocery store, saw a ton of apples, and I was like “…out of my way people…this girl’s ready to make an apple pie from scratch.” Both my eyes and shopping cart were directly targeting a display of beautiful Granny Smith apples. I love those moments. When it comes to what I want to make/bake/order I’m usually SUPER indecisive. But when I have those rare moments of knowing exactly what I want to make, watch out! My excitement and shopping cart are on a mission.

I’ve made pies with pre-made crust before, but I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch. So I did a little research. I saw a great tutorial video from The Culinary Institute of America (Woooo CIA! If you don’t already know, I very proudly work for the world’s premiere culinary college!) and also a great episode of Heartland Table (my new favorite show on the Food Network!) where Amy shows you how to make a classic pie crust from scratch. Then I found this recipe: Butter Almond Pie Crust. Here’s what you’ll need for this crust:

  • 2 cups Flour (and plenty of extra for rolling…like plenty. I went through way more for rolling than I expected)
  • 1/2 cup of finely ground Almonds
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (make sure to freeze them immediately)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons of ice water (the hyperlinked recipe calls for 6-8 Tbs, but I found that I only needed 4)
  • 1 whole egg (for the egg wash at the end)
  • 1/4 cup of white/brown sugar for dusting at the end

*Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

STEP 1: 

Use a food processor, preferably larger than mine (I had to run two cycles of the flour/almonds/butter combo since it all wouldn’t fit!) to grind the almonds first, then add in the flour. Meanwhile…the butter cubes that you’ve previously chopped up should be VERY cold…like, they should’ve been in your freezer for at least 10-15 min or so. Then add in the butter cubes as well and pulse that all together in the processor.

STEP 2: 

I got this fancy little kitchen tool from Target! Wohooo! It’s specifically for homemade pie crusts. Use this to carefully mix the dough by making rolling motions with the mixer. Roll straight through the dough from one side to the other. Slowly add in the water as you go…and oh my goodness would you look at that…what the heck are the odds that I’d have a Culinary Institute of America cup for this little demo!? 😉 Anyway, add one tablespoon of ice water at a time. You want the dough to really hold together, but not be too sticky, so 4 tablespoons was enough for me.

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STEP 3:

After a while, it came together pretty well with the mixer, but then I just got in there with my hands to mold the dough a the end. Once the dough looks like this bad boy, it’s time to place it in the freezer while you prep your apple slices. Freezing the dough will help to keep it nice and flakey once it’s cooked.

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STEP 4:

Apple prep! Here’s what you’ll need for the filling

  • 1/2 cup – Flour
  • anywhere from a 1/2 cup to a full cup (your call!) – packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon – ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon – ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon – Salt
  • 8 cups – thinly sliced, peeled, Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 tablespoons – Butter

I used about 5 Granny Smith apples for this pie. You’ll need to first peel them, then chop them up into thin slices. This part takes a while. If you need a little background ambiance, put on a little sassy/classy/fun cooking music! I usually do that, but instead I had Sean’s voice both yelling and cheering at the TV while he watched a Redskins game. Always entertaining!

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STEP 5:

Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl, then add the apple slices and mix it all up. Even pre-cooked it just smells SO yummy!!!!

STEP 6:

Set the apples aside and take the dough out of the freezer. You’ll want to cut the dough in half since you’ll use half for the base, and the other half to cover the pie. I forgot to do this until after I began to roll it out. Silly Kath. Whatever! Once it’s in half, roll out one side of the dough using plenty of sprinkled flour as occasionally as you need for it not to stick to the surface. Roll it out so that it covers the pie pan – you can even just place it on the dough to measure. Then, caaaarefulllyyyyyy place it into the pan/dish. I used kitchen scissors to trim the excess dough off the edge and then I just used my thumb to give the edge of the crust a nice little design. Do NOT throw away the excess dough. You can use it for something fun – a little tasty teaser before the pie is cooked. I’ll explain in a sec.

STEP 7:

Isn’t this fun!?!?! Heheheeee. I think so. Okay so now you’ll want to add the apples…a.k.a. pie filling. Sneak in some cubes of butter underneath the filling.

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STEP 8:

Roll out the second dough that you’ve reserved for the top of the pie. Once it’s large enough to add to the top…duh…add it to the top. Just be very careful to not break the dough while doing so. One trick is to carefully fold the dough in half so it’s easier to handle en-route to the pie, then unfolding on top of the pie. Same deal as in Step 6 – use kitchen scissors or a knife to remove the excess dough, and then pinch in the edges with your thumb to keep that nice design for the edge.

STEP 9:

The pie needs some air when cooking, so either cut a whole in the center or score it in the center. It’s also helpful to add a few extra slices 4-5 places around the pie for extra “breathing” when it’s cooking…like this:

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STEP 10:

Whisk up the egg and paint it over the pie to give the top a nice glazed look when it’s cooked. Then, sprinkle either white or brown sugar over the top to finish it off. Then…into the oven it goes!!! This will cook at 350 degrees for roughly 45 minutes on your middle-rack in the oven. Cooking time could be less time…could be more…totally depends on your oven and how crisp vs juicy you want the apples to be. You just have to watch it.

STEP 11:

Okay so while that cooks, it’s time to have some fun with that extra dough that I demanded you keep! I love this part. Roll it all out and drizzle brown sugar and cinnamon over the dough. Then, begin cutting out little thin pieces of dough as if you’re making cookies (I just used the rim of a water glass). Place your slices on an un-greased cookie sheet and pop those bad boys on the upper rack of the oven, just above the pie. These little guys will cook really quickly – so keep an watchful eye on them and take them out just before they brown too much.

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6O9C0096These are SO good, and really flakey! It’s a perfect little teaser before you actually get a chance to taste how well your pie crust turns out. If you have kids, or a 31 year old husband, or even a personal appetite for flakey cinnamon-sugar crust – it’s a total hit 🙂

STEP 12:

Keep watching the pie as it cooks. It’ll begin to brown very quickly on the edges, so this is a good time to cover the edge with foil to keep it from burning while the rest of the pie still cooks.

6O9C0097STEP 13:

Lucky step 13…it’s time to take this out of the oven when it looks like this:

6O9C0146Amazingly delicious. Once it cools, top it off with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy to your heart’s content. I was so proud of my first apple pie and first homemade pie crust! Again, this was not my recipe. Just a fun little documentary of how it went. I know that it’s time consuming, but if there’s any season to devote a rainy Saturday or Sunday to making a homemade apple pie – this is the time! I hope it’s inspired you to make something delish! Let me know how yours turned out if you make one! I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions too.

Big hugs!