5th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #2 – Jamaican Jerk Chili + Weekly Menu

Jamaican Jerk Chili 1

My best friend planned much of our baby shower and she did a great job. She doesn’t think she’s a good planner (I still to this day hear how she thinks she was a bad maid of honor – couldn’t be further from the truth!), but she always knocks everything she does out of the park. I mean check out the centerpieces she made. And really, that photo does them no justice – her photo was way better.

I was curious to see what “games”, if any, she’d have us play and when she told Mr. Prevention to come prepared to interact, I knew it’d be fun. She had made a mustache (representing Mr. P) and a set of bright red lips (representing me) for each of us, that were glued to popsicle sticks to easily hold in the air. She asked the shower attendees to guess a number (up to 27, I think it was…) of how many answers Mr. P and I would agree on. He and I were not allowed to see the others’ responses nor did anyone know what the questions would be about…other than the baby, parenting, etc.

Jamaican Jerk Chili 2

Some of the questions were really cute and the crowd’s reactions generally gave away how our answers differed.

One of the questions was who’s athletic ability we hope Shea gets – we both said ourselves. ;)

One question was on who would stay up waiting for Shea to get home from her first date – we both said ourselves. ;)

Another question had to do with who would be more of a disciplinarian to Shea – we both said Mr. P ;)

One of my favorite questions had to do with which parent would be more insistent on Shea attending the University of Illinois and we both emphatically agreed…me. I say emphatically because my red set of lips shot up quickly and the crowd laughed and nodded along with the motion.

Jamaican Jerk Chili 3

And it’s true. I LOVE my alma mater. Being back on campus for a football game this year has been the highlight of the month, for sure. Especially since, you know, we won!! And we’ve won 3 out of 4 games so far this year. Our one loss was to Washington last week which was disappointing, yes…but also somewhat expected.

The loss was easier to absorb given that I spent quite a bit of time preparing this chili. Stacey has entered my chili contest every year (right, Stacey?!) and won my chili contest, too. The girl is not only one of my most loyal, long-time readers, but also someone I call my friend…and like myself, a total foodie at heart. The girl knows her food and by this point, I think she knows exactly what I love. And this chili hit the mark, spot on.

Mr. Prevention’s nose was beyond confused as I was whipping up this chili, but he complimented it up and down. It doesn’t taste like traditional chili in any way, shape, or form, but it has all the necessary components of chili – tomato, bean, spice! It was spicy, earthy, meaty, sweet…the flavors ran DEEP. This non-traditional entry will be hard to beat. Thanks, Stacey!

Jamaican Jerk Chili 4

Jamaican Jerk Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 (about 1 cup chili over ¾ cup rice with 2 tablespoons mango salsa)
Recipe submitted (by Stacey) to the Rocket City Chili Cookoff and took 2nd place in the "Anything Goes" category and won People's Choice!
Mango Salsa
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
Caribbean Coconut Rice:
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans light coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • zest of 1 lime
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
Jamaican Jerk Chili:
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ⅓ cup jerk seasoning, divided
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, minced
  • 1½ tsp all-spice
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 (15 oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans no added salt red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  1. To make the salsa: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for several hours in the fridge, allowing the flavors to marry.
  2. To make the rice: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon stick, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in rice, and sauté 2 minutes, or until rice grains are opaque. Add coconut milk, water, sugar, salt, lime zest, and white pepper; bring to a simmer. Stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes (adjust cook time according to directions on rice packaging). Fluff rice with fork, cover, and let rest 5 minutes.
  3. To make the chili: Rub all but 2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning over surface of chicken on all sides. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once hot, add the chicken and cook 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and allow to cool to touch. Dice or shred using 2 forks and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pot. Once hot, add onion and bell peppers. Cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, scotch bonnet/habanero, all-spice, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder; stir continuously for 30-60 seconds. Add the molasses, liquid smoke, tomatoes, beans, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes over low heat.
  5. Add diced/shredded chicken and cook for 15 minutes longer.
  6. To serve, place rice on bottom of bowl. Cover with chili and top with a dollop of mango salsa.
Recipe submitted by Stacey M.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup chili over ¾ cup rice w/ mango salsa Calories: 491 Fat: 11.0 Carbohydrates: 68.3 Sugar: 15.4 Sodium: 844 Fiber: 8.0 Protein: 31.3 Cholesterol: 47.0

 Weekly Menu: September 21st – 25th

Donna is coming over for brunch today and I hope to continue catching up with my Kindle :)

19 days until my due date! :-D I’m getting incredibly, incredibly anxious to meet our daughter…no words!

Be well,


5th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #1 – Texas-Style Chili

Texas-Style Chili 1

It’s only appropriate to post the first of this year’s annual chili contest on the day Mr. Prevention and I (I look puffy and pregnant!) had the pleasuring of attending a football game at our beloved alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Not only did we attend, but we won (!!) — something the Illini tend to do verrrrry inconsistently.

And not only a win, but a beautiful day on campus….even if it did require a 2 mile round-trip waddle to and from the car — no small feat for a woman closing in on 30 days from go time.

Texas-Style Chili 2

When a song would come on between plays, Mr. Prevention and I would reminisce. Some of the songs were game day classics. Some were played on rotation at our favorite campus bar hangouts. And Get Low was a song that I vividly remember being way too popular my freshmen year of college…

Mr. Prevention then lovingly referenced for me that that was 11 years ago and I was suddenly very thankful that we weren’t sitting in the drunken student section of the stadium.

Texas-Style Chili 3

With the perfect weather and the win, there were plenty of tailgates to walk through on our way back to the car. There were smells of fireworks, beer, charcoal, and chili in the air. I mean, what’s more football Saturday perfect than that? I’m sure loyal tailgaters are just like me in that they can enjoy chili each and every weekend (beer, too…duh). There’s so many ways to make chili and this first entry was unique…and spicy!

Meat lovers and heat lovers, this one is for you! The 3/4 CUP of chili powder is not a typo and if you dare, go for the entire 2 teaspoons of cayenne…I double dog dare you ;) Kidding. It will be spicy, very spicy, but good. Very good. This thick, hearty chili was great and I enjoyed it most over a blank canvas baked potato. This year’s contest is off to a great start!

Texas-Style Chili 4

Texas-Style Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 (1 heaping cup per serving)
  • 2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 2 lbs stew beef cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ¾ cup chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dehydrated onions
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used 1½)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • ⅛ cup masa
  1. Brown ground beef and stew meat in a large skillet; drain any drippings. Transfer beef to a large pot and stir in all ingredients except the masa. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Combine masa and ¼ cup water and stir into chili. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.
Recipe submitted by Kristie B.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: heaping cup Calories: 467 Fat: 23.8 Carbohydrates: 14.5 Sugar: 4.9 Sodium: 860 Fiber: 6.9 Protein: 48.1 Cholesterol: 135

No weekly menu because my good friend and replacement for my maternity leave, Donna, will be with me all week at home and work, learning the ropes. It’s exciting stuff and making it sure seem real that I’m going to be off work for 12 weeks as a new mama coming up very quickly here!

Be well,


Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing

Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad 1

It’s weird to be thinking about upcoming events…and needing a babysitter. It’s bizarre to think that in a few weeks, I’m going to be a MOM. Pinch me!!

It’s beyond my comprehension as to why Mr. Prevention agreed to go to Babies R Us with me last weekend to return a few things and finish gathering must-have items off our registry. I know the rainy weather was the only reason he was agreeable, but he was quickly regretting his decision when the shopping trip turned into a Babies R Us excursion that absorbed the ENTIRE afternoon. Hey, at least we saved over $200 with my amazing couponing skills!

Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad 2

I knew I had lost him by the first aisle. Go figure, breast milk storage bags and slow flow vs. medium flow bottle nipples didn’t hold his attention…not even for a second. I figured the experience would improve when we got around to the strollers, but he just plopped down on the display shelving and price compared on Amazon and other online retailers, inquiring over and over again, “Well, why do you want this one instead of this one?”

Duuuuuuuuuuude. I listen to other women and have done exhausting amounts of research on…all things baby.

He should really learn to pick his battles.

Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad 3

When I whipped up this Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing on Tuesday night, I informed him that “it would probably be a good pizza night” for him. I know he’s not a quinoa lover and would give the side-eye to this meal. It’s his loss if he’d rather have a frozen pizza, and I wasn’t going to try to convince him otherwise.

When he helped himself to a serving, he said it was almost sweet enough to be dessert (thank you, summer produce!) and he piled away a huge helping of the dish…never resorting to pizza for dinner. I didn’t hear a peep about pizza – just that he enjoyed this recipe. It was also enjoyed by my diabetes cooking club and last week, in the cafeteria at work. Yeeep, it’s a winner!

Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad 4

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fruit, Chicken, and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Poppy Seed Dressing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 (about 1⅔ cups each)
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked), rinsed and drained + 1⅓ cups water
  • 1 quart strawberries, quartered
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and sliced
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ½ cup (2 oz) feta, crumbled
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  1. In a small saucepan, add quinoa and water and cook on high. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes; remove from heat and keep covered for 5+ minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool completely. Note: you can do this step 1-2 days in advance.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooled, toss it with the citrus poppy seed dressing in a large bowl. Add the fruit, cooked chicken, and walnuts; toss well. Serve chilled or at room temperature with about 1 tablespoon of feta crumbled over the top of each serving.
Recipe adapted from Krafted Koch
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1⅔ cups Calories: 474 Fat: 21.8 Carbohydrates: 44.4 Sugar: 23.1 Sodium: 284 Fiber: 6.0 Protein: 26.8 Cholesterol: 41

 We’re having maternity photos taken tonight – I’m excited! I have just a few photos of myself pregnant, and I’m glad I’ll have something more to remember my pregnancy by :)

Be well,


Caprese Macaroni and Cheese

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese 1

Last week, this was the only meal that was actually prepared from my weekly menu. I was transferring the meat I’d purchased to the freezer for a later date (i.e. this week and hence why I have no weekly menu — it’s the same as last week’s) and trying to appease the irritable and sick Mr. Prevention.

Which, by the way, thank you so much for humoring us both with the tomato soup question on Facebook. Only that man can make a can of sodium-packed soup taste like water. But, a mean grilled cheese rounded it out to be an acceptable meal.

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese 2

The next evening, I was all prepared to make tacos…when he informed me that “Chinese take-out sounds good”.

This is not what a pregnant woman who needs soapy water and/or lotion to remove her wedding and engagement rings should be up to. My fingers continue to look like turkey links/bratwursts and my shoes are all getting so tight. I need to be nixing the salt…or at least consuming meals with less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, at the very least. Not eating salty take-out Chinese food.

But, whiny sick husbands get what they want. Today, he should be back to 100% and we can be back to our regularly scheduled lives. And meals.

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese 3

But last Sunday, I made this Caprese Macaroni and Cheese. It looked…fantastic. And simple. I figured it had some serious potential, as well as some serious potential to be a bit lack-luster (don’t you hate when dishes LOOK amazing but fail to ‘wow’?). However, it did not disappoint.

Cheese, cheese, cheese, and caprese…what’s not to love? Especially with the generous portion coming in at 466 calories and a respectable 8.2 grams of fiber!

The original recipe called for pesto, but I lightened things up a bit with using big tomatoes, some additional (whole wheat) pasta, and fresh basil. The result was truly epic. We can’t wait to make this again and for the first time in a LONG time, we were fighting over leftovers.

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese 4

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
  • 10 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni (uncooked)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 3 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 20-30 basil leaves, chiffonade and divided
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Bring 3-4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add pasta, stir, and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together milk, vegetable broth, flour, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring sauce to a low boil over medium heat; simmer for 4-5 minutes or until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and pour over hot, drained pasta, along with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella; mix well.
  4. In the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish, spread tomato sauce on the bottom to coat completely. Add half of the macaroni mixture over the tomato sauce, top with half of the tomato slices, ⅓ of the basil, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with macaroni, ⅓ of the basil, remaining 1 cup of mozzarella, and tomato slices, in that order.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly and just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ⅓ basil before serving.
Recipe adapted from Diethood
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅕ recipe Calories: 466 Fat: 17.2 Carbohydrates: 56.2 Sugar: 8.0 Sodium: 721 Fiber: 8.2 Protein: 30.4 Cholesterol: 40

 Early meeting, busy day :(

Thanks for all the sweet comments on Baby Shea’s nursery!! :-D 52 days!

Be well,



Fajita Chicken Burgers

Fajita Chicken Burger 1

He went and did it. Mr. Prevention bought a jet ski last Sunday.

I just had a hunch when he left the house “to go look at” a used jet ski he found online. He’d been texting with the guy for several days, trying to set-up a time to meet up. I just knew when he walked out, he wasn’t coming home without an unnecessary new water toy. As soon as my phone rang an hour or so later, I knew exactly what he was going to say.

Granted, getting a jet ski was my idea from last summer…you know, when I wasn’t pregnant. Also, buying a jet ski with only 4 weeks left of summer, the timing is…less than optimal.

Fajita Chicken Burger 2

I also wasn’t surprised when he spent much of Monday afternoon and evening getting the jet ski registered and insured and all that jazz. Of course, he then had to test drive the jet ski and while he’d planned to be home at 7pm…it didn’t happen.

Dinner was ready, but Mr. Prevention was MIA, jet skiing around Lake Michigan doing his thing.

I’m 7 months pregnant, Mr. P. Remember, happy wife…happy life. And hungry wife who comes home from work to make dinner for just herself? Not happy.

Fajita Chicken Burger 3

Now, the jet ski is taking up *my* parking spot in the garage and he’s gone out each night to buy something new — a tube and rope for tubing and life vests…in every possible size. Is this his way of “nesting”? To get everything out of his system before baby Shea arrives in a few short weeks? Let’s hope. I’m trying to be patient and wait out the newness of the jet ski, understanding that sadly, summer is coming to an end sooner than any of us probably care to think about.

But, I am sick of eating dinner alone. Especially when I make KILLER meals.

These burgers were…phenomenal. I was in love. I’m typically very indifferent towards burgers, especially chicken burgers that can tend to dry out, but these were absolutely delicious! His loss, really ;)

Fajita Chicken Burger 4

5.0 from 3 reviews
Fajita Chicken Burgers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • ¼ tsp salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices part-skim colby jack or cheddar cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the burger ingredients until well-incorporated and use your hands to form into four patties, about 5 inches in diameter each.
  2. Preheat grill to 400 F. Grill burgers 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through, flipping halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the onions and cook 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the bell pepper slices and cook 15-20 minutes or until very tender and slightly caramelized.
  4. Mash the avocado with the salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  5. To assemble, spread avocado over the bottoms of each bun. Top with burger, cheese, and pepper mixture. Serve immediately.
Recipe slightly adapted from Buns in My Oven
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 burger Calories: 480 Fat: 22.0 Carbohydrates: 37.3 Sugar: 6.5 Sodium: 719 Fiber: 6.0 Protein: 37.0 Cholesterol: 126

So ready for the weekend!

Be well,