Slow Cooker Cuban Black Bean Chili
This might be the easiest slow cooker black bean chili you’ll ever find. Be sure to look over your beans before adding them to the pot to remove any grit or tiny pebbles. No one loses a tooth on our watch! A combination of beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and spices simmer away while you make the best part: the fried plantains. Sweet caramelized plantains are a delicious contrast to the earthy starchy beans. Look for plantains that are mostly black, a good indicator of their ripeness, but keep an eye on them in the skillet: ripe plantains are quite sweet and their natural sugars can burn quickly if you don’t watch carefully.
Slow Cooker Cincinnati Chili
It takes a real Cincinnati native to understand the wiles of the city’s namesake chili. Luckily, Cincinnati home-owner and Real Simple Food guru Grace Elkus sits right across from me. According to Grace, Cincinnati chili must be served over spaghetti, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (a LOT) and a smattering of chopped white onion (not red). A side of oyster crackers wouldn’t be out of place and while these are the rules, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Cincinnati chili on top of a hot dog, either. Now you know.
Pink Hot Chocolate
What's sweeter than regular old hot cocoa? A millennial pink version, that's what. Skip the food coloring and get a rosy hue from natural beet juice. The base is made with grated sweet white chocolate which melts quickly and evenly. Use your milk of choice, and in the spirit of love and Valentine’s Day tint it pink with a splash of beet juice. Look for it with the other bottled juices or use any leftover juice from a package of vacuum-packed beets. A dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of ground cinnamon round out the flavors nicely.
Salted Brown Butterscotch Cookies
Sometimes you need a warm chocolate chip cookie. But sometimes what you thought was a bag of semi-sweet morsels turns out to be a bag of butterscotch feves. At least, this is what happened to me one rainy Sunday afternoon. Instead of getting sad about it, I ran with the idea and came up with a chewy, salty, just-this-side-of-a-white-chocolate Sausalito cookie that I liked so much I wrote it down. I swapped out some of the all-purpose for whole wheat to keep things from getting too sweet and added a little flaky salt on top to get the tastebuds tingling. Use butterscotch or chocolate feves if you can find them for extra big pockets of melty goodness, but chips will work just fine.
Mac and Cheese With Herbed English Muffin Breadcrumbs
You likely have a go-to macaroni and cheese recipe, but we're here to convince you to stray from tradition. Cute and curly cavatappi noodles hug the creamy cheese sauce better than elbows, and the kids will think they're fun to eat. Speaking of cheese, we've discovered the ultimate trifecta: white cheddar and Gruyère in the pasta, and Pecorino in the breadcrumbs. Instead of opting for Panko, we made our own breadcrumbs with English muffins—the perfect way to use up the second half of the bag. The tang from the muffins mixed with fresh thyme and rosemary makes for a deliciously crunchy topping that will have you scraping the baking dish clean.
Make It Yourself: Ramen
Gone are the days when ramen meant instant noodles and a sodium-laden seasoning packet. Not only is homemade ramen easy and healthy, but it's ready in just a half hour. The base of our vegetarian version is a rich miso broth, flavored with ginger and garlic. Earthy mushrooms and a creamy soft-boiled egg make it a substantial main. If you can't find fresh ramen noodles, use dried—just ditch that salty flavor packet.
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese English Muffin Strata
This tasty strata is basically a big-batch, brunch-worthy version of a classic Bacon, Egg, and Cheese sandwich. First, you'll cook the bacon until crispy. Then, you'll fry the halved English muffins in the bacon fat, so that every bite of this strata is full of bacon flavor. Next, you'll layer the English muffins, bacon, and American cheese, and then pour the custard-like egg mixture overtop. As it bakes, the cheese melts, the egg cooks and puffs, and the result is a breakfast strata that you'll crave every Sunday. We suggest frying up some hash browns as it cooks.
The Real Fried Rice
Croutons are cool on salad, but rice fried in bubbling oil? That’s next level. This fried rice also taste great on veggie bowls, too. Even though this recipe shares the same name with fried rice that you might get from takeout, this is a recipe just with rice—no egg, veggies, etc. Don’t skip the step of drying the rice before frying it—you want to make sure there’s not a lot of moisture left so the oil doesn’t splatter.