Friday, November 17, 2023

My Favorite Chili

It's been a long time since I have posted here on my blog. I was inspired by the Fall weather and thinking of foods that I normally only prepare in the Fall. It is my favorite time of year. Everywhere across this country we are experiencing cooler temperatures especially in the evening. It's time for a lovely bowl of Chili. I wanted to share My Favorite Chili recipe and I think a "keeper". There is something really special about a nourishing bowl of chili in the Fall. 

I have used this Chili recipe for many years now and have tweaked it over and over again. It is a simple recipe, but I have found that simple may sometimes be the best. I am not one who cares for overly spicy foods but that can be altered to one's liking. I do however like it more soup like as some prefer their chili thicker.

My Favorite Chili

2-3 Tablespoons of a good olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 1 1/2-pound ground round
1-2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2–28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1- 30 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Place olive oil in a 5-to-6-quart heavy Dutch oven, add onions and bell pepper and sauté until onions are opaque, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for only a minute making sure the garlic does not burn. Add the ground round and cook until browned; add the chili powder, cumin, sugar, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Then add the crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and bay leaf. Mix thoroughly, bring to a boil and turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for two hours stirring frequently. Cover with a lid but not completely covered tightly.

For toppings my favorites are grated cheddar cheese with a dollop of sour cream and sometimes chopped scallions, but the toppings list is endless, whatever you personally like.
My Notes: When I add the two cans of tomatoes, I always put some water in the can about half full in each can for two reasons. I want to get every drop of the crushed tomatoes and as I mentioned I like my chili like a soup. This too can be altered to one's liking with adding more water if needed. I only use 1 Tablespoon of chili powder but only because I am not a huge fan of overly spicy foods. I use fresh bay leaf from my garden and when doing so I add two. If using dried bay leaf, one is sufficient.

Assembling one's ingredients ahead of time is essential. 

And of course, prepping makes things go much quicker.

This is my pot of choice for preparing my chili, a 6 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven. Using tomatoes will sometimes burn on the bottom of the pot if it isn't a heavy one.
  The result, a delicious bowl of chili with just the right toppings. Served on a chilly evening makes it all the more comforting. Make sure you taste it before serving, it may need additional salt and pepper.

My Favorite Chili, as I've mentioned before is a simple recipe but yet very good. It is a recipe that has served me well. Not so many ingredients that muddy up the flavors that you want to taste. I want to taste the ground round and the delicious tomatoes, and I am not one to eat green bell pepper but, in my opinion, it is essential to this chili recipe.  One of the key ingredients in my recipe is cumin and I dearly love the addition of it. You can always add in more chili powder or add some hot sauce to make it spicy but to me this recipe is perfect. I am a strong believer that using really good ingredients makes all the difference in the world.
I hope you'll try my chili recipe; it is yummy. Pare it with a fresh salad and a glass of wine and it is a win, win.
Enjoy your day and I hope you enjoy this chili recipe.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Luncheon for Two

 I am sharing this post at Susan's Link Party, Tablescape Thursday. It's been a long time since I have joined this party but then again, I haven't been posting on a regular basis either. I thought there was no better way than to join in on a blogging party to get back into the swing of things.

I dearly love using my blue and white, it is such a summery pattern even on overcast and rainy days as this was. We are getting so much rain in our area of N FL lately. My blue and white pattern is Spode's Blue Italian. I was inspired to buy this pattern by a dear friend who has recently passed so they are now even more of a reminder of my friend.

The light fixture hanging over this wee little table was originally a gasolier. It came out of an old plantation home near us and was converted into electric. The keys underneath the fixture that turned the gas on and off still remain. I have several very old light fixtures in my home that were originally gasoliers.

A simple setting using my hotel silver, each one being different, cobalt blue iced tea glasses and to bring a little of an outdoorsy feel to the table, napkin rings of my iron birds. The white pear-shaped salad bowl was also a gift from my friend that inspired my collection of my blue and white. Yet another reminder of my dear friend.

With this small table for two you can't get a large flower arrangement on it. I found myself having to cut back my Penta's this week, so they made the perfect arrangement for this wee table. With all the rain we've had my Penta's have gotten huge.

Even though it was daytime and luncheon it was a dreary day outside, so I still like to light a candle if only to make it more festive. The little Cavalier blue and white S&P were gifted me by my daughter. Since I have this fondness for blue and white, I also have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

There are so many more inspirational table settings at Susan's Tablescape Thursday blogging party. Just click HERE to see others.

I love to see your comments so leave one if you are so inclined. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the remainder of the day.


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Onion Soup with Bread and Fontina Pasticciata

I prepared this soup a couple of months ago when we were still having some cooler weather. I dearly love a good French Onion Soup but this one is so much more than an Onion soup. It comes from a cookbook of one of my favorite chefs, Lidia Bastianich. This particular cookbook has become one of my favorites.

This soup was outstanding and my new favorite Onion Soup. I used baby portobello's which gave the soup a wonderful flavor. In the directions it says to add salt, my advice is to be very careful about it because the Fontina is salty too. I loved the use of Fontina; I usually use a Gruyere or Mozzarella. Fontina is perfection and another reason this soup was so different. I hope you'll try it; you won't regret it if you love French Onion Soup.

Onion Soup with Bread and Fontina Pasticciata













Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the butter and olive oil in a low, wide Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Increase the heat to medium. Cook and stir until the mushrooms and onions are dark golden, about 10 minutes more. Add the thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the white wine, and simmer until it’s almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, and simmer until the onions are very tender and the soup is thick, 12 to 15 minutes.

Toast the bread on the oven rack until just golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss the fontina and Grana Padano together in a medium bowl. Set the pieces of bread on top of the soup, starting at the edges, then filling in the middle. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture. Bake in the oven until the cheese is browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Spoon the bread and soup into wide soup bowls to serve. This soup can also be poured into individual ramekins, then topped with the bread and cheese and baked.
It is important to prep for any recipe, everything goes together so much easier.

Browning the onions is probably the most important part of this recipe. It imparts a wonderful sweetness to any onion soup recipe.

Adding the mushrooms and the fresh herbs add an extra level of flavor. I do have an herb garden and I tie my herbs together with twine and remove it before ready to serve.
Simmering in chicken stock makes for even more deliciousness. I do indeed like a French Onion Soup just as it is, but the addition of the mushrooms put it right over the top for me. I will prepare this recipe during the Fall and Winter months. It is a KEEPER!!!

Keep it in mind when those Fall cooler temperatures roll around. Hopefully soon, this is one recipe I will prepare repeatedly. It is absolutely delicious and a little different from most French Onion Soups. You won't be disappointed. And get this book if you are so inclined there are many recipes that I want to try. Lidia's books are awesome.

Pared with a side salad with your favorite dressing it makes for a perfect dinner IMO.

I hope you will try this recipe; I thought it was amazing. The fontina cheese made it so much different, and I think from now on I will only use fontina cheese.

I think over the next few weeks I will be trying more recipes from this book, and I would love to hear what you think of them. We're getting closer to the weekend. I hope each of you have an excellent weekend.

Carolyn/A Southerner's Notebook

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Wordless Wednesday


I named this post Wordless Wednesday, because often I am at a loss for words at times such as this and thought I would be with this post. I must say something about this wall hanging. It was gifted to me by a very dear friend many years ago. We had similar tastes and she had one exactly like it hanging in her kitchen. She found this one and gifted me with it so we both had one hanging in our kitchens. Over the years she gifted me with many gifts, and I cherish each and every one of them. She told me we were kindred spirits, and so we were. She passed away yesterday, July 5, 2022. She had struggled with cancer for several months and she is in a better place, but she will be missed. I have many reminders of this dear lady and this wall hanging I look at every day. I will always think of her when I look at it, a fond and special memory.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Salad of Mixed Baby Greens with Berries, Walnuts, Goat Cheese with a Framboise Vinaigrette

What better way to begin Spring than with a salad with fresh berries and a delicious vinaigrette? However, this is a salad that can be served any time of the year if you can get fresh berries. It pares well with just about anything when all you need is a salad for a side. We are blessed to be getting fresh strawberries from South Florida and have since early December. This was a salad that was particularly interesting to my husband since he loves all kinds of fresh berries. It was a welcome change from the usual Mixed Green Salad.

Salad of Mixed Baby Greens with Berries, Walnuts, Goat Cheese with a Framboise Vinaigrette

Serves 4


2 1/2 tablespoons Raspberry Vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced from one shallot
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
honey to taste


1 6–7-ounce carton Mixed Baby Greens
2 cups stemmed and sliced strawberries, about 1 pint
1 cup blueberries, about 1/2 pint
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
4 ounces goat cheese

Combine raspberry vinegar, Dijon mustard, shallots, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until emulsified and add honey to taste.

In a large bowl, combine baby greens, strawberries, blueberries and pecans. Just before serving add dressing just until all the greens are coated. Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over top and serve.

I use a Framboise vinegar that I order online, Amazon. This vinegar is delicious, and I can't find it here in our area, but you can also use a Raspberry Vinegar. This vinegar is simply made from the raspberry liquor, Framboise and I find it to be more flavorful. It's also made in France.

If you are looking for a change of salad this is a delicious one to try. You won't be sorry. I also tried this salad out on my grand girls, and they absolutely LOVED it. They have always enjoyed fresh fruit, and this was another way to get them to eat some greens as well.
The vinaigrette keeps in the refrigerator for several days too.

As a footnote, I haven't posted on my blog in quite a long time for various reasons, but I plan to resume my blogging. My hope is that those who have followed me in the past will once again join me and others will as well. I have a lot of new recipes that I have been trying that I would like to share and a few new decorating ideas as well. So please join me once again and don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021

Does anyone have an abundance of yellow squash yet?


Here in the South those who have vegetable gardens are beginning to have a plethora of yellow squash because of our warming weather. Yellow Squash is first of all so easy to grow but it also has so many health benefits as well.  I thought it a good time to share a couple of recipes, one is a new recipe that I found to be delicious and the other has been a family favorite for many years. The first one I found in a magazine sometime ago. So long ago that I can't even give credit to the magazine but I thought it to be a "KEEPER" of a recipe.

Squash is a very healthy vegetable until you add in all the other ingredients that put them right over the top but you wouldn't make them every week and they are a crowd pleaser. Both of these recipes filled with cheese but with other healthy ingredients as well.

 One of my favorite ways to prepare them is just simply sautéing them with a pat of butter and a bit of sliced onion that I have browned in the butter. Then I add in the sliced squash, brown them a bit and place the top on my sauté pan. They cook in their own liquid and are delicious this way being careful not to over cook them. This of course, is a weeknight veggie but squash can be soooooo yummy with some of the other things added in. 

Summer Squash Casserole 

3 pounds yellow squash, thinly sliced

3 cups chopped red bell pepper

1 1/3 cups finely chopped leeks

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon salt

3 cups shredded extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese , divided

3 cups crushed buttery round crackers, divided

2 cups shredded fontina cheese

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

5 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. 

In a large stockpot, bring squash, bell pepper, leeks, garlic, salt, and water to cover to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer until squash is tender, about 6 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, stir together squash mixture, 2 cups Cheddar cheese, 2 cups crushed crackers, fontina, sour cream, egg, carrot, parsley, dill, seasoned salt, and pepper. Spoon into a prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Cheddar. In a small bowl, stir together melted butter and remaining 1 cup crushed crackers. Sprinkle onto Cheddar.

Bake until hot and bubbly and topping is browned, about 30 minutes.

Makes 10 to 12 servings


This was such a simple casserole to put together and it is delicious. I loved the use of leeks, carrots, red bell pepper and the combination of cheeses put it over the top.  I found myself warming it up for my lunch for the next couple of days.

I halved this recipe for my husband and I and still had leftovers but trust me neither of us cared, we both loved it that much and my husband is not so happy eating leftovers. He surely didn't mind this one at all.

It's an excellent dish for a crowd and can be prepared ahead without the topping. It may take a little longer to bake if it comes right out of the refrigerator but if making it for a crowd they will love it. It definitely has WOW factor.

The combination of cheeses was excellent. This was just before placing in the oven.

It browns beautifully with a crunchy top. Makes an excellent side with any meat, in this case we had smoked chicken and pole beans.

Another favorite Squash Casserole that I make is called South of the Border Squash. Men have a tendency to really like this dish and it is always on my Christmas dinner table. My family would not be happy if it wasn't. I've shared this recipe many times and each time I have people have told me they loved it. 

South of the Border Squash Casserole
Serves 6

1 cup chopped onion
2 1/2-3 pounds yellow squash, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 egg
1 cup cottage cheese, small curd
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch pan or 2-quart casserole dish. In a skillet, saute’ onion and squash in butter until tender. Stir in chilies, flour, salt and pepper. Pour into casserole. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top. Stir together the egg, cottage cheese, and parsley. Spread this mixture over the Monterey Jack cheese.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

My Notes: The cottage cheese mixture is a little difficult to spread but be patient, it will spread over the entire pan. Depending on the oven it sometimes needs to be cooked a little longer. A nice light browning on the top.


The South of the Border Squash is and has always been a family favorite and the newer recipe I have shared I think will also become a family favorite. I hope you will try these two recipes and let me know how you like it.

As an added note, I always keep a thermometer in my oven. I have never used an oven that is adequately calibrated and I like to make sure that the preheated temperature is exactly what it should be. This is a MUST for me. Also, taste for seasoning before placing in the oven. I always like to season anything I cook to taste, my own taste, of course, before baking. 

Have a wonderful week, Carolyn

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Friday, October 16, 2020

It's Fall and Time For Soup

 I love a good soup anytime of the year but one of my favorites is a Mushroom Bisque. This recipe is definitely worthy of sharing and I prepared it recently.

You can use a mixture of mushrooms when they are in season but this time I used baby Portobello's so I suppose I should call it Portobello Mushroom Bisque. It is always a good idea to gather all of your ingredients ahead of time. I even measure out the flour and salt and pepper in advance. It makes the soup go together so much easier.
I am very particular about what chicken stock I use if I don't have any of my own in the freezer. The one pictured is the only one I will use, I find it to be the most flavorful. I usually get unsalted because I like to control the salt in any recipe also.
The fragrance wafting through the house is amazing.

Portobello Mushroom Bisque

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion (about 12 oz.) chopped
1 pound baby Portobello mushrooms, wiped or brushed clean, and chopped
3 tablespoons all purpose flour 
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar (do not leave this out)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, optional

In a 6 quart pot melt the butter, add the leeks and onion and sauté over medium heat until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, stir to combine, cover, and cook 10 minutes longer. Raise the heat to medium, stir in the flour, and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, bay leaf, stock, salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.

Cool the soup slightly, then discard the bay leaf and puree the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in the blender. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and add the cream. Cook over low heat until heated through, but do not let the soup boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into warm bowls, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Note: This will serve 8 as a first course. I also tie my herbs in a bundle and just drop them in.
I personally prefer using an immersion blender and find it invaluable.
Pared with a Mixed Green Salad and some crusty bread this makes for an excellent dinner. I have also served it as a first course for a dinner party and got rave reviews. This soup is a keeper.
Instead of parsley I topped mine with seasoned croutons and a drizzle of black truffle oil.
The black truffle oil takes it to the next level in my opinion. I am a huge fan of black truffle oil.
If you should have any leftover it is an excellent soup for a lunch also.

If you try this soup you won't be disappointed and it is so very easy. If serving it for a dinner party it can easily be prepared the day before withholding the cream. I think the next time I prepare it I will give it a splash of cognac, now that sounds really good to me.

Enjoy your weekend, Carolyn