Chili Cook Off 2011

This was our second year to participate in the annual Chili Cook Off networking event sponsored by the AlixPartners consulting firm.  Last year was our first-ever cooking competition, and although we didn’t win or even place, we had a great time and learned a few things.  In addition to learning that we don’t enjoy losing, we discovered that we could use sirloin like we do in our home recipe and that it would be pre-cut for us and supplied with our other requested ingredients on the morning of the Cook Off.  Knowing we could use our preferred cut of meat, we made up our minds last year that we would cook an even better batch of chili this year — good enough to place, or maybe even win…

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Green Rice Pilaf

If you live somewhere that did NOT have record high temperatures all summer and, as a result, the herbs in your garden thrived instead of died, then this is a great use of your end-of-summer herb bounty.  The rest of us can get our herbs from the grocery store.  We saw Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and cookbook author, prepare this dish on the Today Show, and we were intrigued enough to try it ourselves at home.  According to Bittman, there are a lot of herbs that you can use by the handful — similar to green, leafy vegetables.  The handfuls of herbs in this rice dish include parsley, cilantro, chives and mint, accompanied by ingredients including basmati rice, grapeseed oil, onion, garlic, chicken stock (or broth) and lemon zest.  This combination resulted in a unique, fresh and flavorful take on rice pilaf that we enjoyed very much. Continue reading “Green Rice Pilaf”


Lasagne is one of Dan’s specialty dishes and one of the ultimate comfort foods.  With its multiple rich layers of three kinds of cheese, pasta and meaty sauce, lasagne is not the most healthy of our recipes, so we don’t make it for ourselves all that often.  But it’s our go-to meal to make for friends and family in need of a little comfort food or to celebrate special occasions.  While not particularly complicated, the recipe takes a fair amount of time and effort to prepare — which makes it even more meaningful and satisfying when you’re cooking this dish for loved ones or someone deserving of a special meal.  But, lest you think we are completely selfless with 100% pure motivation, this recipe also lends itself very well to incorporating enough extra ingredients to make a small batch for yourself when you’re preparing one for someone else.  Win, win!

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