cooking Easy Recipes

Soup Sunday: Slow Cooker Two-Bean Chili

This is super easy and very filling. Eat it with any mixture of starch and fat – I’m eating it on top of macaroni and cheese, but it would also be great on buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, rice with some oil, or nachos and cheese.

I’m making extra servings because this stuff gets better after spending a night or two in the fridge.

Measure your dry spices and set them out in order:

  • Cumin Seed, 2 tsp
  • Crushed Red Pepper, 2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder, 2 tsp
  • Chili Powder, 2 TBSP
  • Paprika, 2 tsp

Open your cans

  • Tomato, 2x 14.5oz Can,
  • Black Beans, 15oz Can, drain and rinse
  • Red Kidney Beans, 15oz Can, drain and rinse

Put your tomatoes and beans in the slow cooker and set it to low heat.

Prep your produce and herbs

  • Onion (Red or White), 1 Large ~ 2 Cup, Finely Chopped
  • Garlic, 5 Cloves, minced or crushed

Get going with the flavor!

  • Toast cumin seeds and crushed red pepper in a skillet until seeds start to pop (30-60 seconds)
  • Add some Olive Oil
  • [maybe add carrots or celery]
  • Add Onion, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper. Mix well.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes until soft
  • Add chili powder and paprika and stir it up until fragrant.
  • Clear a spot in the center for the garlic. Add some more oil then the garlic. Cook it until fragrant ~30-60 seconds.
  • Stir in a little of your tomato-bean mixture and get everything thoroughly combined.
  • Transfer the deliciousness from the pan to the slow cooker, mixing it in bit-by-bit.
  • Let it slowly cook in the slow cooker. Taste it every once in a while.

At first, mine was very acidic and bland, but after a couple hours, it tasted smoky and spicy.


  • This was just as much volume as my small slow cooker could take, so I’ll probably end up cutting this recipe in half.
cooking Easy Recipes

Tequila-lime Chicken Tacos

These don’t look very pretty, but they are very flavorful and really easy to make!

Prep ahead: Marinate the Chicken

  1. Ground cumin, 2 tsp
  2. Kosher Salt, ½ tsp
  3. Paprika, ½ tsp
  4. Chili Powder, ¼ tsp
  5. Ground Black Pepper, ⅛ tsp
  6. Zest of Half a Lime
  7. Juice of Half a Lime
  8. Fresh Garlic, 2 Cloves, Minced
  9. Silver tequila, 2 TBSP
  10. Olive oil, 2 TBSP
  11. Chicken Breast, 1
  12. In a large bowl, stir together garlic, lime zest and juice, tequila, oil, cumin, salt, paprika, chili powder, and pepper.
  13. Pound chicken breast to ½ inch thick. Add it to the marinade, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


  1. Lay out your six doubled corn tortillas on a baking sheet and sprinkle with some grated cheese and black pepper. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil and heat until it smokes.
  3. Remove chicken breasts from marinade, discarding marinade. Add chicken to skillet, and cook 10 to 12 minutes on the first side.
  4. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook 10-12 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°.
  5. Remove from heat and rest 5-10 Min.
  6. Char the limes in the skillet and put your tortillas in the oven to melt the cheese.
  7. Slice the chicken or shred it with two forks. Divide it evenly among the taco shells. Top with something acidic (like hot sauce, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, or pickled onions).
cooking local business

Local Business: Flavor Temptations

With everything that’s going on right now, I’m doing what I can to support local businesses. Today, I made Chana Masala using a kit from Madison’s very own Flavor Temptations. They’re a great company that makes Indian food kits, complete with delicious Indian recipes and pre-measured spices. In addition to this one, I’ve made the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Curried Potatoes, and every one of them has been delicious! Check out their website to find which grocery stores carry their kits.


Pi Day Follow-up pizza

It’s 3.14 – Happy Pi Day everyone!

In the spirit of science, and because I’m stuck at home, I did another iteration of my pizza recipe. The crust turned out exactly how I love it – golden and crispy. It’s kind of like like Detroit-style pizza but with less cheese.

Now I’m pizza’d out for a while. What have you been cooking lately? Leave me a comment and give me some ideas on what I should try next.


Pizza, a story in pictures

Simple Pizza Dough – Two Servings

  • Start by rubbing the pans with olive oil so you’ve got a place to put the dough when you’re done kneading it.
  • In a large bowl, measure out 1 cup of warm or room temperature water.
  • Add a large pinch of salt and mix until dissolved
  • Add in live yeast ~12oz
  • Slowly add in flour. The amount varies, but you’ll use 2-3 cups. Don’t measure it out in advance, just keep the container and a 1-cup scoop handy. Add in about a quarter cup at a time, making sure to get the liquid evenly distributed before adding more. You’re done when the dough is firm but sticky.
  • Divide the dough in half and knead to make the dough stiffen up. I don’t really know yet what the right amount of kneading is.
  • Roll each half of the dough into a ball, set it on your prepared pans, and cover. Let the dough rise for at least an hour.
  • When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 F.
  • Rub some olive oil on your hands.
  • Flatten out your ball of dough, starting at the center and working outward – pushing the bubbles into the outer crust.
  • Rub the outer crust with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder or maybe sesame seeds.
  • Top the middle of the pizza with whatever you want.
  • Bake for ~25min, rotating the pizzas somewhere in there.


Tagliolini with Basil Kale Pesto

My first solo attempt at pasta went very well. For years I never even considered making fresh pasta because I assumed it was too much work. Not so! It’s really easy and totally worth it!

bloggingaboutblogging cooking Italia 2020 Gennaio travel

Arrivederci, Italia!

The Moon and Venus were a lovely accent to our last night in Rome

Grazie mille!

I need to say thank you to lots of people:

  • Mom, for joining me and reminding me to relax on my vacation
  • Joni, Minnie, Jamie, and Nate, for helping me prepare
  • Simon and Marc, for their helpful insights
  • Fabio, for showing me around Firenze, expanding my Italian vocabulary, and for great advising about my blog
  • Valeria, for nerding out with me about Guglielmo Marconi
  • Sara, Michele, and everyone at Mama Florence for such a fun time and for teaching me so much
  • Breezy, Christina, Dale, and Melissa for commenting, so I knew someone was reading

What’s next?

Learning a new language

Now that my trip to Italy is complete and I’ve gotten a chance to use the Italian I learned, I want to try learning some Spanish.

More travel

My hiking buddy I are in the planning stages of a trip to Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii and maybe also South Korea.

Also on my list are Toronto (or somewhere else in Canada), Mexico (not sure where yet), and the UK. I’d also love to return to Italy to see Calabria (where my grandfather was from), Naples, and more of Tuscany.

More blogging

This trip was the beginning of my blog, but I’m going to make it a habit (and I’ve still got a couple more Italy posts to write). What would you like to see me blog about? Please leave me a comment and let me know.

cooking gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

My second lesson at Mama Florence

This place is so awesome! The instructors are great chefs and excellent teachers: they are engaging, fun, patient, and quite knowledgeable. In addition to teaching us how to make the food, they shared helpful information about technique and food science. (Anyone who knows me knows these are a few of my favorite things.) I was almost sad to leave at the end of the lesson.

It was also more fun this time because Mom was with me. After thousands of pizzas she’s made for me, I was finally able to return the favor.

Today we made pizza (with perfect crust!), tagliatelle with black kale and garlic pesto, eggless cavatelli with eggplant ragù, and (without any exaggeration) the BEST gelato I have ever tasted – orange and vanilla with berry sauce.

If you are ever in Florence, you absolutely must treat yourself to a class at Mama Florence!

Here are the finished products:

A couple of process photos:

Our class also included a tour of the Mercato Centrale, where our instructor taught us about the vegetables, fresh pasta, cheeses, and meats. She even gave us a cheese tasting (but I was too busy to take a photo of that).

cooking gastro-tourism Italia 2020 Gennaio

Cooking lesson at Mama Florence

Today I attended a cooking lesson at Mama Florence cooking school. It was amazing. We made pear and pecorino salad, spinach/ricotta ravioli, taglierini con limone, mashed pumpkin with thyme and caramelized goat cheese, and two kinds of biscotti for dessert. I also improved my knife skills and learned several re-usable cooking tricks. This place is absolutely great!

I didn’t take many photos, obviously because my hands were messy the whole time, but here are some: