Mike’s Chili

An similar version of this recipe won the Professional category at the 2020 Orlando Crimeline Chili Cookoff. Take your time, grab a beer, and make sure to taste as you go!! This recipe should yield about 1 ½ – 2 gallons of chili.  You will need at least an 8-quart pot to complete this recipe.  This recipe can also be cooked in an 8-quart crock pot set to low for 4 to 6 hours.


2 TB bacon fat (or butter)
2 ½ lbs ground chuck roast

2 medium onions diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
5 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup chili powder
3 TB cumin
1 ½ TB smoked paprika
1 TB cayenne pepper (optional)
3 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ TB Better than Beef Roasted Beef Bouillon

3 (4 oz cans) Hatch Green Chilis
2 (28 oz cans) petite diced tomatoes
2 (14 oz cans) crushed tomatoes

2 TB tomato paste
12 oz lager beer
32 oz chicken stock
1 tsp brown sugar

1 (15 oz can) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz can) light red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz can) black, pinto or chili beans

Salt and Pepper


❶ In an 8-quart pot, heat 2 TB bacon fat over medium high heat and cook the ground chuck, breaking it up into small pieces while cooking.   Remove to a large bowl and cover.

❷ Add 2 TB bacon fat to the pot and add the onions. Cook the onions for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Lightly salt and pepper the veggies.

❸ Add the spices and stir, toasting the spices for 2 minutes. It is important to keep the spices moving during this step. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes, chicken stock, Hatch green chilis, beer, tomato paste, and beef bouillon.

❹ Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Taste for salt. This is an important part of the process. The chili still has liquid to cook out, so it will thicken and intensify in flavor.

❺ Add your ground chuck to the chili, juice, and all.

❻ Simmer the chili for 1 hour, or to desired thickness.  Add the red and light kidney beans and pinto beans during the last 20 minutes of cooking

❼ Final salt and pepper. Serve topped with corn chips, extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced red onion, green onion, oyster crackers, tortilla strips or sour cream.

I typically skip the cayenne pepper because my wife has an intolerance to pepper. 

Traditionally you would use kidney beans in this chili. But you could also try another kind of bean such as black beans or pinto beans.

it’s very important to select the right cut of meat, which is a chuck roast that is well-marbled. It should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it.  You will need to trim the excess fat; do not go overboard, just remove any large pieces

Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean — it will never get tender.

Crazy Yummy Holiday Herb Oil

This will be the first in a series of articles that I will present that include my personal recipes for Thanksgiving that have been tested with my family for over 10 years. I begin the first with a recipe from ChefSteps, yes the joule sous vide people. The chief over there is named Grant Crilly and this chef has serious, mad skills. A last year he came up with this oil infusion procedure which blew my mind. It is the yummiest and most flavorful holiday condiment recipe I have.

This recipe bottles up all the flavors of Thanksgiving into a fragrant, delicious herb oil so you can use it to liven up any holiday meal. If you’re anything like the rest of America, you’re probably loading your cart at the grocery store with one-ounce packs of fresh herbs for holiday meals. Not only are those expensive, but they wither and blacken quickly in the refrigerator. It’s a much better idea to make this oil instead.  Make this herb oil and you will have a flavorful oil for drizzling on everything in the next month.


24oz (600 ml) Grapeseed oil

3oz (85g) Shallots, sliced very thin
1.8oz (50g) Garlic, elephant, sliced very thin

0.07oz (2g) Coriander seed
0.14oz (4g) Black pepper, whole

3oz (10g) Nonfat dry milk powder

0.25oz (7g) Sage, fresh (no stems)
0.71oz (20g) Rosemary, fresh (no stems)
0.35oz (10g) Thyme, fresh (stems on)
0.18oz (5g) Chives, fresh

0.14oz (4g) Bay leaf, fresh
0.35oz (10g) (1 Lemon) Lemon peel


Gather your oil, the herbs, Strip leaves from rosemary and sage stems. Leave the thyme on the stem though. Weigh out all the herbs and place together, but keep the bay leaf and the lemon peel seperate

Give the peppercorns and coriander seeds a good crack. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and shallots.

Set a 3 quart saucepan on medium heat. Pour in the grapeseed oil. When the oil has reached 300 deg F, add the garlic and shallots and fry them until they are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Do not let them burn. You will not be able to remove that flavor.

Add in the cracked coriander, pepper and bay leaf. Let them cook for 30 seconds. Add the nonfat dry milk powder. Let cook for another 30 seconds.

Turn off the burner. Add in the herbs and stir to push herbs down below the hot oil. Once the mixture has calmed down from cooking and the herbs have settled, you can transfer the mixture to a cooling vessel and chill overnight.

The next day, remove the cooled-oil mixture from the fridge and set up a strainer over a bowl. Strain the herbs and allow them to drip an hour or so until all the oil has passed. Try not to push it through. Be patient and let gravity do its thing. Bottle up your holiday herb oil. Keep it in the refrigerator, ready for use.

Fried Chicken Livers

Southern Fried Chicken Livers! Love them or hate them? I happen to love them and have since I was a child. I wasn’t even tricked into eating them. I knew exactly what they were and have liked them ever since my first crunchy bite.  In case you’re thinking you don’t care for chicken livers, you may have had them in dishes and weren’t even aware of it. For instance, they are a main ingredient in preparing Cajun Dirty Rice. The chicken livers are what give the rice the “dirty” look.  Chicken livers are also part of making the beloved giblet gravy for holiday meals.

1 lb chicken livers, trimmed

2 cups buttermilk, full fat not low fat
1/4 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups AP Flour
¼ cup Cornmeal
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 TB cajun seasoning
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Remoulade Sauce:
1 cup mayo
2 TB grainy or Creole mustard
1 clove garlic minced
1 TB creamed horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon juice, or pickle juice
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper optional
1 TB fresh parsley chopped

❶ Preheat deep fryer to 350 degrees.  

❷ In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups of the buttermilk with the hot sauce and soy sauce. Add the chicken livers and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  

❸ Remove the livers from the buttermilk, then dredge them in the flour mixture.  Set aside to allow coating to adhere to the protein.  

❹ Drop half the coated livers into the oil and allow to cook for minutes.  

❺ Remove from oil and allow to cool for a bit.  

❻ Remoulade:  Combine the mayo, mustard, garlic, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and parsley in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed (I like to let the flavors sit for a while, but you can serve it immediately).

The Cajun seasoning that is used is Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.    The bread crumbs used were the Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs.    The livers can be marinated in the buttermilk for as little as 4 to 6 hours for a bit more toothy feel in texture.  Overnight will produce a smooth and creamy product.    This recipe can also be done with the dry, wet, dry method of dredging for a thicker batter.

Coconut Curry Shrimp Ramen Bowl

How about we make a noodle dish that’s kind of a curry, but also kind of a ramen, and happens to be ridiculously delicious? Like, one where you can clean out the fridge, but also kind of make it Instagramably beautiful, all while feeling like you’re eating takeout?

1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB Thai Kitchen red curry paste
2 cups chicken broth
15 oz can Thai Kitchen Organic coconut milk
6-8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3oz (1 sleeve) Hakubaku Organic Ramen Noodles
½ lime
1 TB chopped cilantro

1. Heat olive oil in stock pot. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Add red curry paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it becomes fragrant.

4. Add chicken stock and coconut milk. Simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add shrimp to the pot. After 3-4 minutes, add the ramen noodles to the pot as well (just the noodles – toss the flavor packets). Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until shrimp is opaque and ramen noodles are soft.

6. Add the juice from ½ of a lime to the pot and garnish with cilantro.

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Breakfast while on Vacation 2020

My wife and I are both on vacation this week. We schedule this every year to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Every year previous, we would book a hotel room at a resort on the beach somewhere in Florida. 2019 was a fine time at Amelia Island, The Omni Amelia Island Resort was are destination which proved to be everything that we had heard. Due to the time of year, there are no crowds and the Florida humidity is lower. We stayed at a wonderful section of the resort that is actually condos that snow birds rent out when they are living up north. Our room came complete with a fully stocked kitchen, a living room and a very nice bedroom. I would say, probably 1000 square feet. and we paid around $179 a night. Yes my friends, it pays to live and grow up 1 hour from several beach’s in Central Florida. It’s precisely the reason I have never left this area.

Fast forward to 2020, the scenario this year has changed quite significantly. I have always said that the best vacation I ever had is the year I wasn’t at work and this cycle is no different. I did, however, want to have a few special moments for my wife considering we have been on lockdown since mid March. A few days ago I began planning a special breakfast complete with all our favorites. I chose to have breakfast on Sunday morning because I am always at work on Sunday. I figured that an awesome breakfast, followed by a nap, and then an afternoon of NFL football would be just the ticket for my wife and I. Did I mention that my wife is more into football than I am. That’s right, I hit the wife lottery. In more ways than one. The breakfast menu was an easy to list to prepare. We had been to breakfast at several fine restaurants here locally and with most things, we are creatures of habit. So here is what I planned for……

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Mike’s Sloppy Joe’s

Homemade sloppy joes are incredibly easy to make and come together in one skillet in about 20 minutes or so.  Browned beef is mixed with onion and green pepper and simmered in a sweetened tomato sauce.  The secret is in finding the right seasoning for the sauce!

I grew up eating sloppy joes. My mother was a school teacher, so mid week dinners were quick and simple. And while I’m at it, sloppy joes in our house were actually browned ground beef smothered in Manwich sauce. Not very creative, but at the time it was a staple that I loved as a kid.

What is the difference between Manwich and Sloppy Joe? Technically Manwich is a pre-made sauce that’s used to make sloppy joes.  I am not sure exactly what’s in it, and have never tried it myself, so I can’t say that my recipe tastes similar or not.  Manwich is marketed as a easy way to make sloppy joes… but in reality, homemade sloppy joes are just as easy to make!

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Cheesy Roasted Green Beans

Roasted green beans are a delicious holiday side dish, roasted in olive oil, garlic and parmesan, then baked with cheese until melted and bubbling!

The perfect side dish to serve along with your turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy! The bonus? Roasted Green Beans are low carb, Keto approved and incredibly delicious!

Cheesy Roasted Green Beans

The easiest way to get green veggies into your diet is roasting them. Throw them on a baking sheet or tray and letting the oven work it’s thing! It doesn’t get any easier.

Not everyone’s a fan of these green stalks! Coming up with ways for everyone to enjoy them can be a nightmare. That’s where this roasted green beans recipe comes in! You’re only five main ingredients away from having the best green beans of your life.

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YOTE Chicken Wings

Years of Trail and Error. I love chicken wings, in particular I love buffalo wings. I have been working on my chicken wing recipe for about 25 years. I have culled inspiration from the likes of Alton Brown, Interstate BBQ in Memphis, Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ in Central Florida, and Food Network. My process, sauce, seasonings, preparation and blue cheese dipping sauce are brought together after many years of taking an inspiring recipe and working on it for the home kitchen with common ingredients.

The first undertaking was the sauce. Once I had the correct mix of ingredients, I made very little changes. The Process of the cook is what has changed many times over the years and I settled for a twice fry method that cannot be matched. I have been told from house guests that my wings are the absolute best they have had and I should open a restaurant with this recipe. That’s all fine and good, but I believe food and in particular taste can be a very subjective thing. Cooking buffalo wings is a fairly simple process but cooking buffalo wings that a vast majority of people that love them, can be a challenge.

Today I publish the soup to nuts procedure for the best chicken wings that you could possibly come up, bar none. What follows are the ingredient lists for the various sauces and seasonings….

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