My office is cold. Very, very cold. It’s 85 degrees in Orlando, but it’s 70 degrees in the office (and I happen to sit under the vent. Yay, me!) To counter the cold, I’ve taken to wearing gloves, a jacket, and a jacketblanket (c). I drive home with the air conditioner off and with great appreciation for the Florida sun.  To warm up, I thought a nice of bowl of chili might be in order.

I took a hint from my Granny’s Lasagna recipe and combined beef with Italian sausage. There’s a mix of kidney beans and black beans. I wanted a bit of a kick, so I added Tabasco :).

Chili (with a bit of a kick)


  • 1 1/2 tbsps chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 16 oz can kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco/hot sauce
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 4 oz Italian sausage
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
  • Corn, for topping


  1. Combine chili, cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and cumin in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook ground beef on stovetop and over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain and set aside.
  3. Cook Italian sausage on stovetop and over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain and set aside.
  4. Sautee green bell pepper, olive oil, minced garlic, sugar, and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a large dutch oven over medium heat until aromatic and soft (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add ground beef and Italian sausage to bell pepper/garlic mixture. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, hot sauce, and water. Add the chili/cayenne/etc mixture from step one and stir. Reduce to a low heat.
  6. Cook on the lowest heat setting for 20-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Top with cheddar cheese and corn. Serve hot!

Once Upon a Lasagna

If you’ve seen my other blog (or dug deep enough in this one) then you might have figured out that I’m a geek about many, many things. Well, one such thing is fairytales. I grew up on Disney, so it’s no shocker that I get pretty nostalgic when someone even mentions Beauty and the Beast or Pocahontas.

And then there was Once Upon a Time. The writing leaves a lot to be desired, but it has all my favorite characters and that’s just enough of a reason for me to continue to watch it. If you’re familiar with the show then you know that Granny of “Little Red Riding Hood” fame owns a diner (and that she’s, well, kind of awesome).

So in honor of the grandmother who’s a bit more spice than she is nice, I decided to make her famous lasagna–with a bit of a kick.

Granny’s Lasagna



  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 10 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp chopped yellow onions
  • 4.5 ounces lasagna pasta (about 8-10 pasta sheets), cooked


  • 23 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Garlic Oil

  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsps olive oil

Cheese Layer

  • 15-17 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Sargento’s 6 Cheese Italian), divided
  • 3-4 slices of pepperjack cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg or 1-2 tsps olive oil


  1. Combine ground beef, Italian sausage, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and yellow onions in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is no longer pink and is cooked throughout. Reduce to medium heat.
  2. Combine all ingredients listed under sauce in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with lid and cook over low heat for at least 3-5 minutes.
  3. Combine garlic and 2 tbsps of oil in a small skillet. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic is aromatic. Add to sauce mixture and stir. Let simmer for 1-2 minutes
  4. Boil lasagna pasta per package instructions (or per preferred level of tenderness). Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  5. Add sauce mixture to meat mixture. Stir and reduce to a simmer (at least 5 minutes).
  6. Combine ricotta, 1 cup of 6 Cheese Italian (or cheese of choice), and one egg or olive oil in a small bowl.
  7. If desired, lightly butter a 9×13 inch glass dish (otherwise, spray with nonstick spray or line with foil). Layer bottom of the dish with lasagna pasta.
  8. Top with layer of cheese mixture and then top with meat. Add another layer of pasta. Add another layer of cheese. Layer on meat.
  9. Top with remaining cup of 6 Cheese Italian. Shred (i.e. tear) pepperjack cheese on top of 6 Italian cheese.
  10. Bake on 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until thoroughly cooked throughout. Serve with garlic bread.

Note: For an extra kick, use spicy Italian sausage and up the red pepper flakes by another tablespoon.



Now then, who wants to eat seconds?

Granny wave

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I just can’t get enough of bell peppers lately–on pizza, in potatoes, wherever. Usually my go-to bell pepper dish is chicken or beef stir fry, but I wanted to try a little something different this week to bid my summer days adieu. These stuffed bell peppers really hit the spot. They’re warm, filling, and perfect with tortilla strips.

do love summer comfort food.

Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 5-6 bell peppers of various colors, cut in half
  • ½ uncooked cup white rice
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 16 ounces ground beef (roughly)
  • 3 tbsps salsa
  • 8 oz can pasta sauce
  • ¾ cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • Mexican cheese to taste
  • Taco seasoning


  1. Cook rice using rice maker or on stovetop, following package instructions (For stovetop rice, I usually bring  2 cups of water to a boil, add rice, stir, and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat then turn to lower heat and cook until soft, roughly 10 or so minutes).
  2. Cook ground beef in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, chopping finely, until meat is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. Drain.
  3. Pour meat into another non-stick skillet and combine with taco seasoning and roughly ¼ cup of water (if beef appears dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Reduce to a simmer and cook for roughly 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Cut bell peppers in half, de-seeding and removing the core. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and drain. Set aside.
  5. Sautee garlic in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes over medium-heat. Discard garlic but keep the oil.
  6. Add ground beef, rice, salsa, black beans, tomato sauce, and corn. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
  7. Line glass baking sheet with bell peppers. Scoop out meat/veggie/sauce mixture and stuff peppers.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees.
  9. Cover bell peppers with Mexican cheese and bake for 1-2 additional minutes or until cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with tortilla strips.