Award Winning Chili


Our church had a fund raising chili cook-off this past weekend.  The chili recipes ranged from white chicken, venison, vegetarian, and classic dirty cowboy chili.  The competition was stiff, yet somehow, my chili won.  I used the gas grill and a large disposable aluminum roasting pan to cook the chili – a genius method for large quantities.   Hard to believe a girl from Connecticut, who didn’t even taste chili until late in life, could win a cook-off, so there you go.

makes 20 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

1 12 ounce bag chopped frozen onions (you can use fresh, but these are so handy)

4 pounds ground chuck

1 pound sweet Italian sausage – removed from the casing


Spice Mix

1 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons chili powder

3 tablespoons cumin powder

3 tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika

3 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne red pepper (or to taste)


1 12-ounce can tomato paste

2 28-ounce cans petite dice tomatoes

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup red wine

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 15-ounce cans white bean, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup flat Italian parsley, stems removed and chopped

Sour cream and cilantro for serving

  • Heat the gas grill to medium high, and place an aluminum roasting pan on the grill.  (if you have a large enough pot, use the range)
  • Add the olive oil and the onions and stir until translucent
  • Add the ground chuck and the sausage and break the meat apart and brown
  • Add the spice mix and stir
  • Add the tomato paste, petite dice tomatoes, lemon juice, red wine, Dijon, and white beans and stir
  • Simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the chili is thick
  • Add the parsley and stir, simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes
  • Serve with sour cream and cilantro


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Orange and Ginger Glazed Drumsticks


Serves 6-8


These sticky sweet drumsticks are great hot or at room temperature


½ cup soy sauce

½ cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 large orange – juice and zest

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

12-15 chicken drumstick (about 3 pounds)


  • Combine all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a large bowl and mix to combine
  • Toss the chicken drumstick in the marinade until they are all coated
  • Cover and marinate at least 6 hours and up to 24
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Place the drumsticks skin side up on the lined cookie sheet and pour the marinade over the chicken
  • Bake for about an hour basting them at 30 minutes
  • When they are sticky and dark golden brown, remove from the oven and spoon the juices over the drumsticks and serve


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Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Peanut Sauce



Peanut Sauce

1 cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup hot water (may need more to thin to desired consistency)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 limes – zest and juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoons sesame oil


  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and thin with additional hot water if needed


Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Makes 8


These light rolls are a refreshing change from the usual fried variety – you can switch out the shrimp for thin slices chicken breast or steak.   Put everything out in bowls and allow your guest to create their own.


4 ounces dried vermicelli rice noodles cooked to package directions, rinsed and drizzled with a small amount of oil to prevent sticking

8 rice papers (8.5 in diameter)

8 large cooked shrimp deveined and cut lengthwise in half

An assortment of basil, cilantro and mint leaves, torn

8 butter lettuce leaves – usually grown hydroponically in a clamshell

2 tablespoons minced chives

1 cup English cucumber in thin julienne strips

1 cup peeled carrot in thin julienne strips

1 cup mango in thin julienne strips

1 cup red pepper in thin julienne strips


  • Fill a large shallow bowl with warm tap water
  • Dip the rice papers one at a time and let them soak for about 5 seconds, the will continue to soften and become pliable out of the water
  • Place a shrimp in the center of the rice paper, cut side up
  • Cover with a leaf of lettuce
  • Stack lengthwise a few strips each of cucumber, carrot, mango and red pepper
  • Add a few leaves of herbs and a bit of minced chive
  • Add a small handful of rice noodles
  • Fold the left and right side of the rice paper in
  • Fold the side nearest you over the filling and roll over the remaining side
  • Serve with the peanut sauce
  • If you are not serving right away, store in the refrigerator on a cookie sheet in a single layer with a damp paper towel covering them
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Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Tomato Salad


These jumbo lump crab cakes use a mixture of shrimp, cream and egg to hold them together – no fillers.  The only way to make them better is pair them with perfect summer tomatoes.  They also make great little sliders served on brioche rolls.

Serves 4

Makes about 10 3” cakes

1 pound jumbo lump crab, check for shells

¼ pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 egg

1/3 cup heavy cream

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons chives, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

½ stick of unsalted butter, or more for sautéing and deglazing the pan

½ cup dry white wine

1 head butter lettuce

2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced


¾ cup avocado oil

¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.  This will make more than you will need for this recipe, keep the remaining dressing in the refrigerator.

  • In a food processor add the shrimp, egg, cream, zest and chives and pulse until almost smooth.
  • Place the mixture in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the crab and gently fold the mixture together, being careful not to break up the lump crab.
  • Heat a large sauce pan to medium high heat and add a few tablespoons of butter.
  • Scoop about a quarter cup for each crab cake and place it in the sauté pan, gently even it out with a spoon to make a 3” cake
  • Sauté for about 3-4 minutes and flip, sauté the other side until just cooked through, transfer to a foil lined sheet pan in a warm oven.  Add more butter to the pan to sauté the remaining crab cakes
  • When all the crab is done, add the white wine and deglaze the pan scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, reduce the wine to about half and remove from the heat, add a couple of tablespoons of butter and swirl the pan until the butter is just melted
  • To serve toss the butter lettuce and the tomatoes in a few tablespoons of dressing and divide among four plates and top with the crab cakes and spoon the sauce over the crab


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Roasted Plum Cakes




These moist little cakes are so delicious, and the essence of summer.  Just add a shady back porch and a cold ice tea.

12 cakes

½ cup granulated sugar

Zest of one orange

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup brown sugar, divided

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 cup flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup buttermilk (if you do not have buttermilk, use 1 tablespoon plain yogurt and the remainder in regular milk)

6 plums, cut in half

(Powdered sugar for serving)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a non-stick muffin pan with butter.
  • In a bowl add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, granulated sugar, orange zest and butter.
  • Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy about 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between.
  • Add the flour and incorporate, then the buttermilk and beat until smooth.
  • Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups.
  • With the cut side up, push a plum half gently into the batter just until the batter comes up the sides of the plum.
  • Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top of the plums.
  • Place the muffin pan on a foil lined baking sheet. This will catch any overflow juices.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and the plums are soft.
  • Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  • When they are cool, dust with powdered sugar for serving.


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