Daniel’s “Two Too Good” Chili Recipe

Happy Birthday Daniel

Happy Birthday Daniel

This day, 9 years ago…

It was a Tuesday just like today. Chilly out, too. Then, just like now, I shed some tears making dinner, and it wasn’t from chopping the onions.

Because I was on bed rest during my pregnancy, my making the chili I’d been dreaming of all day was not going to happen (by my hands anyway). Thankfully my obliging husband brought in a chair for me to sit in, with an ottoman on which to prop up my feet. The only way this dinner was going to be completed was with me resting, while he did as I directed. (He opened restaurants around the world for 15 years, so I was confident in his abilities!)

chiliEarlier that day he’d stopped by the store to get all the ingredients, so everything would be fresh. While I sat there feeling totally useless, tears welling up in my eyes (I blame the hormones for the emotions that overshadowed the fact that I was growing a human!), my husband chopped and mixed and stirred. The SMELL of that chili cooking started to make me smile, and on this particular night when I still had a touch over 5 weeks to go, it smelled especially heavenly. I let the joy of the meal prep, even by proxy, lift me from the funk of just “laying there.”

Usually we make the chili on one day and serve it the next, or at the very least cook it in the  morning so it can simmer all day long. On this night, though, everyone in the family was impatient so we pressed on.

Two Too Good Chili is my favorite chili ever. Yes, I’ve had some amazing chili from restaurants, at cook-offs, at friends’ houses, etc. But this is my favorite. It took a lot of testing to get it “just right.” I originally named it “Two Too” good because of the two meats, two peppers, two of a LOT of the ingredients. After that evening, though, it would be renamed (in our house, anyway) Daniel’s chili.

We had finished eating our favorite bowl of cold-night goodness and I moved to the living room to watch an Orlando Magic game on T.V I cheered as best I could from my recliner. Then, with the win in the bag and full and very happy belly, I retired to my room where I started to read. It was so quiet and peaceful. And then…

The next few hours saw a flurry of activity at our house. I thought I’d have time to wash my hospital clothes and my son’s homecoming attire, but the contractions that started 18 minutes apart quickly escalated to 2. The best laid plans….

Long story short: at 3:55 a.m. our precious son was born, spent chili bowls still in the sink as we didn’t have time to tend to that as well as getting my about-to-pop-self to the hospital.

I type this as I remember that late night/early morning. I smell Daniel’s Chili simmering on the stove. I ‘m scrolling through all the photos of that wonderful night, too. I can’t believe it’s been 9 years.

On this chilly week, I hope you’ll think of happy miracles in your life too, and enjoy his Too, Two Good Chili. Maybe you’ll cry as you make it, too…  and it won’t be the onions.

Two Too Good Chili, a.k.a. “Daniel’s Chili”


1 lb coarsely ground chuck
1 pound coarsely ground pork*
2 large white onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peppers: One red, one green, cut to onion and meat½-in dice
2 c beef stock
2 28-oz can plum tomatoes, coarsely crushed, with juices
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos**
¼ cup chili powder more or less, depending on your family’s heat tolerance
2 TBS brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can kidney beans beans, rinsed and drained

*Sometimes I braise beef ribs and use the meat for a second meat texture, if not a different meat itself.
**Remove the seeds if you want less heat


Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Oyster crackers


  1. In large pot, cook meats 8 to 10 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 more minutes.
  2. Add peppers, stock, tomatoes w/juices, paste, and spices to the meat mixture. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally, 30 minutes at least; all day if you  have time.
  3. Ten minutes before serving, add beans and cook to warm through. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream and cheese.
Why yes I was snapping pics WHILE giving birth (though this one was just after).

Why yes I was snapping pics WHILE giving birth (though this one was just after).

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen… Not Just Coffee, But Dining

latte art BarniesWhen I first heard “Coffee Kitchen,” my first thought was “oh, my mom would like this.” She and my step-dad are coffee NUTS. They must drink a pot a day. I, on the other hand, like coffee as a special occasion (or black and mixed with local honey for a cough, but that’s another topic). I wasn’t sure what would be “on tap” at the Eat, Meet, and Tweet-up, but as a food lover and “adventure eater” I looked forward to sampling all they had in store and expected mainly… coffee. Boy were my expectations limited!

Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen is a new concept. It’s not “just” a coffee shop, nor is it like most restaurants. The Winter Park location has alley-way seating (perfect for Florida’s lovely summer evenings) and is a great place to unwind while enjoying Farm-to-Table creations. Don’t expect coffee and a pastry or ready-made sandwich, either. Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen is a place to leisurely dine. Breakfast and Sunday brunch offerings include quiche that’s been described as “best ever” by a loyal customer, and specialty organic egg dishes like the Israeli Shakshuka, featuring one of my favorites: feta cheese.BarneysCoffeeKitchencollage

For lunch, enjoy one of their “shared plates.” I’m partial to the Avocado Mash (because, let’s be honest, avocados are just plain awesome). The Caprese Tartine is has wonderful heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella with a balsamic glaze. Also quite lovely is the Fig & Brie Tartine with Duck Prosciutto.

For dinner, served Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Barnie’s offers mouthwatering seasonal choices like Scallops with Spring Alliums paired with perfect wine selections (in this case, Au Bon Climat – Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc).

I’m a soup person, so it’s no surprise that the Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coriander is a stand-out in my book. Chef Camilo Velasco generously shared his recipe which is perfect for Spring! (Easter dinner, anyone?)

Carrot Soup with Ginger and Coriander
2 1/2 lbs of carrots, sliced
1/4 oz ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small onion, diced
1 QT vegetable broth
4 oz butter
Heavy cream
Sauté the carrots and onions in butter until onions are translucent. Add the vegetable stock. Incorporate ginger and coriander to taste and simmer until the carrots are tender. Blend in a blender and then strain. Add additional seasoning if desired.

To finish: add heavy cream while hot until desired consistency is reached.

Florida’s “original coffee company” offers over 40 hand-selected coffees, many of which are single origin, Fair Trade, Organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Check out their two Florida locations:

Park Avenue – Winter Park
118 South Park Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789
Tel: (407) 629-0042

City Arts Factory
29 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801

Tel: (407) 722-8363

Hello Fresh New Meal-Time Options!

I’m a foodie. I love cooking, and love trying new recipes. When I’m at a restaurant, I call it “adventure eating.” And now, I find I can “adventure eat” right at home. Easily!

shrimp chorizoHelloFresh is a subscription-based food delivery service that takes all the guess-work out of whipping up a new and interesting meal. It’s trying something new, without having to do all the work of research, shopping, measuring, and the like. Simply go to their website, pick out the type of box you want (Classic or Vegetarian) and a 3-meal ready-to-prepare kit will be delivered to your door full of excitement, and (best part) there’s NO need to figure out how to buy “a quarter bag of kale.” If your recipe calls for “a little,” then that’s what you get. (Is it just me, or do you loath buying a huge bag, box, portion of an ingredient when ya just need a handful, a quarter-cup, or EEK a dash?!) food box

I ordered the Classic box (although I’d LOVE to try the vegetarian box in the near as friend and fellow blogger Meg said it was yum). (Here’s her blog entry that details how, while it might not seem “frugal,” it can be.)

We decided to make the Shrimp & Chorizo Stew with Kale first. (My 6-year-old and I voted two to one against my non-shrimp-loving hubs. Sorry Babe.) My “tot chef” and I started by pulling out all the ingredients. He set to work on peeling the potato while I chopped the onions. Together we made short work of the creation which (to my husband’s delight) turned out delicious (and is a recipe we’ll be recreating again real soon)!

Next on our list that week was Chicken Polpetti, followed later in the week with Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice. While usually a Thai fan, and while it looked gorgeous, it wasn’t my favorite (and the photo in the recipe card does NOT do it justice). My husband gave it a high 8, but I found the rice a bit too sweet from the coconut milk. Good news: We all tried something new, cooked together, enjoyed our time, and discussed “where Thai food comes from” (and as a homeschool family, this is good stuff!).

A beautiful bite of Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice

A beautiful bite of Spicy Thai Beef with Coconut Rice

We enjoyed the process and the product. This is “right up our alley” because creating and eating food together is something we’ve done since our family was just the two of us, and has only increased since baby made three. We find it to be a creative outlet, AND it has helped us raise a kid who is not super picky. (He has his moments, but he’s generally open to trying new things.) While some families may find it impossible to believe a first-grader would enjoy dishes with kale and cilantro (among other more exotic ingredients), our son helped prepare the meals which makes it: A) a matter of pride to say it was good, LOL and B) transparent as far as “what’s in it.”

Adventure Eating is just a few clicks away from your table, if you’re willing to give HelloFresh a try. And, to make it a better deal, use code B5FFZT for $20 off your first order.*

Hello Fresh Code imageDisclosure: I received a free Classic 2-serving sized box for the purpose of this review. It won’t, however,  be the only box I get!  All opinions are my own. OK, that’s not exactly true. My 6-year-old had his say and has influenced me to say he had fun helping. And eating. (Except the spicy stuff. He vetoed that.) *When you get $20 off your next order, I get $20 off mine. Win/win!) Need more views & opinions before trying it out? Mosaic Reviews has lots to choose from. I say, give it a try if you like making great meals from tried-and-true recipes, but don’t have tons of time to create. Or shop.

Mexi-Quiche and Guava Coconut Rum Muffins

This recipe for Mexican quiche with tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro is easy and delicious.

Mexi-Quiche and Guava Coconut Rum Muffins                          Photos @SeaWorld Mommy

Tomorrow we’re off to SeaWorld, so it worked out great to fix an amazing brunch today that will reheat well (when we’re in a hurry to get out the door!).

A lot of my culinary decisions are based on what I have on hand. Today I had bunches of cilantro from my garden, some leftover chorizo, and a beautiful bag of guava puree from a fellow homeschool mom who was kind enough to share. (I sent her home with Anaheim chilis and cilantro!)

The decision? Make quiche and muffins! Easy, versatile, and both good on day two.

One of the things I love about quiche is how adaptable it is to “what’s on hand.” I always seem to have recipes for a Mexican fiesta on hand, so I started there.

Quiche Crust:


1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil, light

1/4 cup ice water (“Ice” the water while you’re getting the other ingredients out so it’s extra cold)


Lightly spray a 9″ or 9 1/2″ pie pan (glass works best) with a non-stick spray. Mix the flour and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil and water until thick. Pour the oil and water mixture into the flour and salt mixture. The dough should form easily. Kneed it with your hands until you have a stiff ball. Roll the dough out lightly until it’s the size of your pie pan, then place it in the pan.

Quiche Filling:


3 eggs

1/1/2 cups half-and-half

1 cup Colby cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1 red bell pepper (or 3 small)

1 small sweet onion

Bunch cilantro

Chorizo (I used 1 link from a package of Goya Chorizo)

Tomatoes, sour cream, and additional cilantro for garnish.


In a food processor, grind the “fillings”: Chorizo, cheeses, pepper, onion, cilantro. (I have a small processor, so I did each ingredient separately. You can also just toss them all in a big processor if you’ve got one.)

Whisk eggs and cream then pour over filling ingredients. Mix by hand, then pour into crust.

Bake at 425 for for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro sprigs.

finished quicheFor a 9″ quiche, remember to use 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half-and-half and what will add up to 2 cups of “fillings.” Your fillings should be at least 1 cup cheese (up to 1 1/2 cups). The other 1/2 to 1 cup will be meats,seafood, vegetables, herbs, whatever you like. As long as the proportions are roughly in this range, it should turn out just fine. Note: I don’t add any salt, as most cheeses are salty enough.

Guava Coconut Rum Muffins

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs

3 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 cup sour cream

1 cup guava puree*

2 tablespoons dark rum

Topping ingredients:

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

muffin before cookingPreheat oven to 375º. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray with flour (called “Baking” version) or butter and flour, or use muffin liners. (Decisions, decisions!)

Combine wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in another, then combine. Spoon batter  into prepared muffin tin.

Mix topping ingredients together, then sprinkle evenly among the muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

*My guava puree came from a friend who did all the “hard part” of extracting the puree from the guavas. If you don’t have fresh guava puree, it can be purchased online in tubs. It is not the same as “guava paste,” however. Guava paste is puree that has been “candied” with sugar.

Executive Chef Hector Colon Shares Recipe from SeaWorld

Executive Chef Hector Colon SeaWorld OrlandoJulia Child would have been 100 years old today. Her inspiration in the kitchen cannot be underestimated. As I think of how much fun it is to watch and learn from the original “iron (lady) chef,” I’m reminded of various dishes I’ve had recently that were spectacular—ones SHE might have enjoyed, too.

This dish was served at a special event at SeaWorld Orlando recently at Ports of Call. Duck Confit over Wild Mushroom Grits. The Executive Chef, Hector Colon, was kind enough to share!

Here are the recipes:

Duck Confit


4 lbs duck legs
1 tbsp kosher salt
.5 teaspoon ground black pepper
10 whole garlic cloves*
4 bay leaves*
4 sprigs fresh thyme*
1.5 teaspoons whole black peppercorn
.5 teaspoon table salt
4 cups olive oil

*for each leg portion


Lay 2 leg portions on a platter, skin side down. Sprinkle on the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ground pepper. Place the garlic, bay leaf and thyme on each of leg portion. Lay the remaining 2 leg portions flesh to flesh on top. Put reserved fat from the duck** in the bottom of container. Sprinkle with the remaining kosher salt cover and refrigerated for 12 hours.

**Note from SWM: If you haven’t prepared the duck, you can buy duck fat at your local butcher shop. BTW, it’s amazing rubbed on potatoes in the oven….

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

Remove duck from pan. In a hot sauté pan sear the duck until golden brown then place back in the pan with all the spices and cover with olive oil and bake for 12 to 14 hours.

Cool down and pull the meat from the leg and sauté as desired.

Wild Mushroom Grits, Serves 4


3 slices raw bacon
10 medium-sized shiitake mushroom, sliced
10 medium-sized bottom mushroom, sliced
.25 tsp chopped rosemary
4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp garlic, chopped
4 tbsp white wine
1 cup grits
2 cups milk whole
6 oz chicken stock
6 oz heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
Salt and white pepper to taste


In a medium sauce pan add bacon cook until crispy. Add butter and condiments, plus all the sliced mushrooms and cook until tender.

Add cream, milk and stock. Bring to a boil. Add grits and cook on low heat until tender, adjust flavor using salt and white pepper.


While Executive Chef Hector Colon may not have been channeling Ms Child, his Duck Confit over Wild Mushroom Grits is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever put in my mouth. It makes me drool to think of it, even now, just as I often do reading over Julia’s recipes. Did you #cookforjulia today?

Note: This recipe is reminiscent of her “goose confit,” though I am a simple home chef, so feel free to contradict.