What to cook in the “R” months…

Well, they’re here.  The “R” months…. September, October, November and December.  Some think of cold, bad weather, short days and football.  I think of chili cook off’s, crock pots, clam chowder, french onion soup and beef stew!

Each year, right in our back yard is the Prescott Park Arts Festival Chili Cook-Off (Sunday, October 9th).  What better way to kick off the “R” months than with a Chili Cook-Off!

Here are four recipes for the next four months….

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chili


2 pounds ground beef (I used 80-20)Chili

1 large onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 large jalapeno peppers, minced (remove the seeds and veins for less heat…leave them for more heat)

1/4 cup chili powder

3 tablespoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

6 ounce jar of chopped sweet peppers and juice

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 – 28 ounce can tomato sauce

1 – 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic)

salt and pepper to taste


In a large frying pan, brown the ground beef until no longer pink and transfer to the slow cooker using a slotted spoon. Drain off all but two tablespoons of fat and add the onions to the pan. Cook the onions over med-high heat until they begin to soften. Add the peppers to the onions and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and jalapeno peppers, cooking for one minute longer. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker with the beef.

Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, sweet peppers and juice to the beef mixture and stir to combine. Add the brown sugar, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes stirring thoroughly to be sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook in the slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings, we love greek yogurt, sour cream, shredded cheddar, green onions, and pickled jalapenos…just to name a few.


Crab Chowder with Corn and CeleryMaineClassics

Down East delicious
Recipes from their new cookbook, Maine Classics.

By Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier

6 ears of corn

2 quarts heavy cream

1 stick unsalted butter

1½ cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery


1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped

fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped

fresh chervil

6 tablespoons chopped chives

3 tablespoons lemon juice

16 ounces crab meat, picked over

¼ cup chopped tomato, for garnish

Cut the kernels off the corncobs and set aside. Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Place the cobs into the cream and simmer until reduced by one-fourth, about 30 minutes. Remove the cobs and add the corn kernels. Cook for 4 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add to the corn and cream, and cook for 1 minute. Add the thyme, tarragon, chervil, and 2 tablespoons of the chives, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons salt.

Place half the crab meat in the chowder and divide the remaining crab among 6 bowls. Divide the chowder among the bowls, pouring it over the crab with a ladle. Garnish with the remaining chives and the chopped tomato and serve.


Julia Child’s French Onion Soup


  1. Place heavy bottom stock pot or dutch over over medium-low heat.
  2. Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2Tbs butter to pot.
  3. Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil.
  4. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent.
  5. To brown or caramelize the onions turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat.
  6. Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly.
  7. Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions.
  8. Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here).
  9. Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits.
  10. Add the rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup.
  11. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  12. To make the “croutes” (toasted bread), heat oven to 325 degrees F.
  13. Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet.
  14. Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total).
  15. Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
  16. Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it).
  17. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  18. At this point you can add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup.
  19. Add a few ounces of the swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir.
  20. Place the toasted bread in a single layer on top of the soup.
  21. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning.
  22. Drizzle with a little oil or melted butter.
  23. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
  24. Turn on broiler and brown cheese well.
  25. Let cool for a few minutes.
  26. Bon Apetit!


Hearty Beef Stew


  • 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
  • 4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, choppedBeefStew
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 lbs. red-skinned potatoes


Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and browned, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside. Pour the fat into a heatproof bowl. Return 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.

Add another 2 Tbs. of the fat to the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, the 1 Tbs. parsley and the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the unpeeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the pot, stir, re-cover and continue cooking until both the meat and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Serve at once, garnished with parsley and the reserved bacon. Serves 6.

Variation: Substitute 1 1/2 cups hearty red wine, such as Syrah or Zinfandel, for an equal amount of the beef stock. If you like, sauté 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered, in 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, and add them to the stew with the potatoes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009)

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