Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich | Sift Magazine Editorial

Sift Magazine Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich FB

Every once in awhile as a creative, you get the opportunity to actually be creative.  I know, that sounds weird.  As a photographer and set stylist or food stylist and writer, we are often “nudged” in directions that we wouldn’t normally travel.  In other words, we take one for the team for the good of the project.  Good or bad, every creative makes sacrifices to satisfy the client or customer’s needs or wants.


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Jena and I recently were involved in an exciting new project for King Arthur Flour in which we were given the opportunity to be exactly that, creative.  King Arthur has just come out with a new magazine called SIFT.  You can buy it now in grocery stores, book stores, Costco stores and across the country.  It is incredibly well done from cover to cover.  Content, layout, pictures, articles and even the paper are all top notch.  We were given the job of creating a spread for their premiere issue.  The assignment was to create an article about a classic midwestern sandwich.  An article with recipes and photos would be needed.  We chose the famous Italian Beef Combo because let’s be honest, It’s a kick ass sandwich.  Tender Italian beef, piled high on a hearty roll with giardiniera, provalone cheese, and of course an Italian sausage to tie in our Wisconsin roots.  We needed city and sandwich photos, which was going to be tricky, because we had a small window of time to get everything done.


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Jena, being the photo rock star that she is, took to the road with her hubby and spent a night in Chicago in search of the quintisential Chicago shot that would highlight and help tell the story of the famed sandwich.  She took some great shots of the windy city.  For the food shots, we really wanted the sandwich to stand out.  What better way to do this than by showing the scenes of Chicago in classic black and white, and let the food be in color.  Show the food on dark backgrounds to match the feel of the cityscape shots.  Add the article and viola!  The end result was an spread that was difficult to create, but one that was a joy to work on.  We have decided to show some pictures of the food as well as shots of the magazine to get your appetite stimulated.  We highly recommend you pick up a copy of SIFT if you see it in a store near you.  You can find out more information about King Arthur Flour and their exciting new bookazine at King Arthur Flour’s website.  Well, time to get busy working on the recipes for this month.  The theme is pot pies.  Different sizes, shapes and flavors. It should be fun. Remember to cook with love and live to cook.


Jim & Jena




Amanda Rettke - Stunning. Everything. You two are the Dynamic Duo!

Greenshoots Photography - Excellent and inspiring work. Love the juxtaposition of the shots and I so want to try those sandwiches – fantastic mouth water colour and detail!

Dogmom - I am very excited to have found your site, and I just have to tell you that I will spend the rest of this day (week, month, year!) thinking and obsessing over that giardiniera! I am a big fan and follower of King Arthur products and will pick up SIFT when I see it, and I hope to find that recipe soon! Your work is breathtaking!

Kim Loughlin - Lovely job you two!

Kristen Hess - Beautiful work!

Michele Wallace - Wow! I had bought the Sift magazine at Costco because I LOVED all the photos! Especially how delectible your sandwich photos were. Great Shots!!

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe |

Pound cake, sounds fattening doesn’t it?  Well, guess what? it is indeed fattening.  When you consider the fact that the cake was named after the weight of the four main ingredients it is made with, it makes perfect sense.  Butter, sugar, flour and eggs are the four main ingredients.  What’s worse, is that the original recipe calls for using a “pound” of each ingredient.  Our Wildberry Poundcake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme recipe exceeds the caloric intake of many nations.  O.K., I’m exagerating.  A serving of our pound cake with the creme, ganache topping and berries on top, which are the only healthy ingredients in the recipe, exceed 1,500 hundred calories per serving.  Impressive right?  Maybe not, but oh well.  Cinnabon doesn’t seem to be having any problem selling their 813 calorie cinnamon rolls.  McDonalds sells more than a few sausage egg and cheese McGriddles meal at over 700 calories.  Add a white chocolate mocha to your order and you have over 1,020 calories.  For generations we ate whatever cake or dessert our parents or grandparents fed us because, well, it was dessert and never question sweets.  Then came the age of low fat, sugar, sodium, etc., etc., until now we live in a world where pseudo healthy food has dominated our lives, and common sense has gone on vacation.  We buy foods that contain dozens of ingredients that we can’t pronounce.  Ingredients like azodicarbonamide, which is used in bagels and buns, which can cause asthma, or propylene glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze that is found in dairy products and dressings.  Believe it or not, the FDA actually considers it “generally” safe.  Some fat calories from homemade cake made with four ingredients doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe |

When I was young, we had two choices: Go outside and play, or do chores. O.k., I never did “chores”, but threatening me with having to clean the basement or weed the garden was enough for me to think that “outdoors” was as close to nirvana as you could get. Fast forward thirty five years and you have a population that is so afraid of trans fat, that they would never even contemplate eating a piece of sinfully rich, buttery poundcake. Forget about the addition of a decadent mascarpone yogurt creme or white chocolate ganache to go with it. If it’s not gluten free, dairy free, nut free, fat free, vegan, and preservative free, it’s just not entering the house for many. Too bad, because sometimes sugar, flavor and fat rules!.

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comWild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe |      Have you ever had imitation cheese, cream, eggs or butter?  Did you like it?  Well, if you did, you have never experienced pound cake.  My great aunt Lucille lived to be in her 90’s, as have many of my ancestors, and it wasn’t because they ate vegan, gluten or sugar free desserts that tasted like wood scraps.  We as a culture seem to have forgotten that “good” food doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for you.  Maybe, just maybe good food can be made with good ingredients and simply taste good.  There is a word that comes to mind and that word is “moderation”.  Maybe if we got off our butts, stopped reading food blogs, except LRL of course, went for a walk, ate more vegetables, drank more water, and stopped eating crappy processed foods, we could enjoy a little pound cake once in awhile.  Obesity in the U.S. is growing at an enormous rate, and I guarantee it’s not because everyone is eating pound cake.

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comWild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comWild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comWild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme Recipe |

Jena and I love food.  Healthy food, fattening food, salty food, and yes, sweet food.  So what does all this have to do with Valentines Day or Fat Tuesday? Both celebrations have to do with excess.  Showing your loved one you care by giving them sweets like chocolate or eating decadent food before the beginning of lent.  By the way, don’t ever get those mixed up and tell your sweetheart “Happy Fat Tuesday Honey!”  You may get a pound cake upside your head.  Our high calorie fat fest known as pound cake is the perfect dessert for both, because you get not one, not two, but three individual cakes to enjoy.  You can feed each other warm pound cake on Valentines Day, then have another cake for Fat Tuesday.  You can make a baby one day, and put one in a cake three days later.  A mini plastic one for your kings cake, for those of you with the confused look on your faces.  It’s a Mardi Gras thing.  Google it.  So, don’t think about all those fat calories when your eating pound cake for Valentines Day.  think about how much fun it will be working it off in the bedroom.  Enjoy and remember to cook with love and live to cook.


Jim & Jena

Wild Berry Pound Cake with Mascarpone Yogurt Creme
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This insanely high calorie cake is insanely good. We added food coloring to it to make it beautiful, but it is just as tasty without it if you don't want to deal with adding food coloring to the batter or ganache.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 servings
  • ¾ lb. butter, softened
  • 2.5 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 10.75 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • purple and blue food coloring, to desired color
  • Mascarpone Yogurt Creme
  • 4 ozs mascarpone cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • purple food coloring, to desired color
  • White Chocolate Ganache
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, heated
  • purple food coloring, to desired color
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry 3/28 ounce tin cans and remove the labels. Line each with parchment paper cut to fit on the sides and bottom. Spray with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder. Beat together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour and beat until it resembles a thick paste.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl until very light and fluffy.
  5. Transfer cake batter evenly into three different bowls, then add food coloring to each batter to desired color.
  6. alternate spooning colored batter into each can until each can has the same amount of batter.
  7. Swirl batter in each can with a knife, making concentric circles as you pull the knife upward.
  8. Place cans on a baking pan and transfer to pre-heated oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer cans to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  9. Meanwhile, for filling, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Add food coloring to desired shade of purple and set aside.
  10. For ganache, add white chocolate to a small glass bowl and pour hot cream over chips. Stir quickly with a spoon until chips are completely melted. If chips are not completely melted, you can microwave them for 5 or 10 seconds, then stir again. Add food coloring to desired shade of purple. Set aside.
  11. Remove cakes from cans and remove parchment. Cut each cake crosswise into three sections.
  12. To assemble: Place bottom section of each cake on a flat surface. Spoon about ¼ cup of mascarpone creme onto each bottom section. Top with berries, then repeat with the next layer of cake, creme and berries. Add top layer of cake, then spoon warm ganache over the top. Place more berries on top and dust with powdered sugar. Serve.
You can save time by eliminating the food coloring and using a bundt pan instead of the cans.

ChiO - Your pictures are glorious!

June Burns - Such cute little cakes! Wild berry sounds like a great pound cake flavor 🙂

Food Love | A Cookie Named Desire - […] Wild Berry Pound Cake with Marscapone Yogurt Creme –  Gorgeous, plus the colors are kind of trippy […]

Co - The beautful video displays the “true love” that each of you possess for the crafts you have individually and completely mastered. No Valentine pun intended…

Thalia @ butter and brioche - These pound cakes look SO beautiful!

Marisol Moraleda Garcia - Espectacular

Julie Hill - What a schizophrenic recipe! You have cups, ounces, 3/4 of a pound – make your mind up!!!

Khadeejah Gibran Raja - Mouth watering! What amazing photography too. Your blog is a treat 🙂

Kat Davis - New here. Had located some free “Herbal Tea? Bag tags, and followed your email address. I can see myself spending a lot of time here! Kat Davis

Stephanie Rafnson - This is simply stunning!!!

Kristen Hess - GORGEOUS

Homemade Soup | Curry Coconut Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comCurry can come in many forms and flavors.  It is used in dozens of countries worldwide and can be found in so many products, that it would take me a lifetime to list them all.  A lifetime?  Well, I guess it all depends on how long the life is, doesn’t it?  Let’s just say there is a lot of curry out there.  As a Wisconsinite with mostly european ancestry running through our veins, Jena and I aren’t always subjected to the nuances of world cuisine as much as some parts of the world.  Curry has actually been a bit of a mystery to me.  For the longest time, I thought of curry as simply a powder found in the spice isle.  Curry, is actually a combination of spices just as Italian seasoning, jerk seasoning and garam masala are all combinations of different spices.  The main ingredients in curry powder are coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and chili peppers, but can also contain a litany of other spices such as cardamom, clove and mustard seed to name a few.  Curry paste, which is also used in this soup uses onions, shrimp paste, lemon grass, chili peppers and other ingredients.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe |

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe |

As a child, my mom would make a curried chicken dish that to this day remains one of my favorite dishes that she cooked for us.  She would serve it with rice and various condiments that we would spoon over the curry.  Coconut, bananas, cashews and raisins were a few of the options.  It was really my first “exotic” food experience.  As kind of a homage to mom, and wanting to play with some new ingredients, we thought we would make a curry coconut soup to round off our month of soup articles.  What better way to end January, than by bringing a few tropical ingredients to the table, or should I say bowl?

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe |


Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe |

While looking for curry coconut soup recipes online for inspiration, I found one from a fellow food blogger named Brenda. Brenda was involved with the “Bake For Good” movement with Jena and I and a number of other very talented food bloggers/authors last year. Be sure to check out those articles here. It is a very worthy cause and fun for the whole family to do as well. Anyway, Brenda’s blog is called A Farm Girl Dabbles. Check it out sometime. Being a fellow midwestern girl, she has the same curious pallet for curry that we do, so I found it funny when I stumbled upon her recipe for Coconut Curry Chicken Soup. Since I rarely follow any recipe exactly (the Cioppino recipe being an exception), I did make some modifications. However, like all cooking, food is as adaptable as paint on a canvas. We added a few more ingredients, and changed the method a little, but the inspiration was her recipe. A recipe, which was inspired from a Noodles and Company soup, which I am very fond of as well.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe |

As I get older, I have found that intense flavors from spices really gets my tastebuds rockin. This curry coconut chicken soup fits perfectly with that desire to tantalize the taste buds. It uses not one or two, but three forms of curry. We used both green and red curry pastes, and hot curry powder. Add fresh ginger, garlic, bell pepper, chicken broth, shiitake mushrooms as well as cilantro, serene peppers, edamame, sunflower spouts, basil and mint and a squeeze of fresh lime juice to finish it off, and you have an explosion of flavors that will get those Wisconsin taste buds singing. We hope you enjoy our curry coconut chicken soup recipe. Jena and I think it was the best of the group. Until next time, remember to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena

Curry Coconut Chicken Soup
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The exotic flavors of curry, coconut, lime juice, mint, basil and hot peppers will explode in your mouth making you wish you were in tropical Thailand.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 12 servings
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. green curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp. red curry paste
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 ea. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 4 ozs. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 6 ea. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cans(14 ozs.) coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 ea. serrano peppers, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup frozen edamame
  • ½ cup sunflower or bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves
  • 4 ozs. fresh enoki mushrooms, optional
  • 1 ea. lime, cut into wedges
  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, salute onion, curry paste, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, and shiitake mushrooms in oil over medium heat until softened.
  2. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add chicken thighs. Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken with a pair of tongs, and set aside until cool enough to handle. Pull chicken into pieces, and set aside.
  3. Add coconut milk, curry powder, brown sugar and red pepper flakes to soup. Simmer until coconut milk has melted completely.
  4. Add chicken back to soup and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls, and serve.
  6. For garnish: Top with chopped green onions, cilantro, serrano pepper slices, edamame, sunflower sprouts, basil, mint, enoki mushrooms and a one wedge of lime squeezed over the top.
You can substitute noodles, shredded carrots, or ingredients of choice for the garnish.

Jennifer M - This looks wonderful! I’m a fellow Wisconsin girl who loves Noodles Thai Curry soup. I can’t wait to make this! Thanks!

Claudia - I just came upon your blog via TasteSpotting and I have to say it is beautiful. You both have done an excellent job at styling. I love the photography, you really make everything look mouthwatering, and the recipes read clear and straightforward. I like how there are no annoying popups and commercials competing for your attention from the food. You’re going in my favorites list!

Cheers from San Francisco, CA


Jacqueline Johnston Watson - Mmmmmmmmm going to try this, this weekend.

Jim Rude - Thank you for the complements ladies. I forgot to add salt and pepper to taste in the recipe, so feel free to season it to your liking.

Thalia @ butter and brioche - This coconut chicken soup looks so wonderful, flavoursome and delicious. I love how you have evocatively captured it especially!

Lynn | The Road to Honey - Now this is my kind of soup. It is chock full of all my favorite ingredients and I am sure there is a new flavor combination to explore with each spoonful. Pinning to make in the future.

Joanne - I feel like I could eat curry of some form every day for the rest of my life and be pretty content. Starting with a big bowl of this soup! Such rich flavor.

Allyson - This curry looks so fantastic, perfect for a cold rainy day like today. Your photography is gorgeous, love those little mushrooms 🙂

Katie - I just came across your site via Pinterest, and I absolutely love it! The recipes look amazing (trying this soup tomorrow night), and the photography is absolutely beautiful! So glad I found it!

Homemade Soup | Cioppino

Cioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comSometimes, soup needs to be experimenting with new flavors. Sometimes, I have no clue on making a certain dish because I’ve never made anything like it before, but would like to give it a go. Such is the case with our next soup this month, called cioppino. I’ve known what cioppino is for a number of years, but just never made it before. To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of seafood, especially shellfish. But, since Jena and I like to try things we haven’t tried before, why not? Cioppino, for those of you who don’t know what it is, is an Italian seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the late 1800’s by Italian immigrants coming from Genoa, Italy.  San Francisco is known for it’s abundance of incredibly fresh seafood such as Dungeness crab, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams. These delicacies from the ocean were perfect for Italian sailors, who liked to make this hearty seafood stew using leftover seafood while they were at sea. When restaurants in the Bay area started adding it to their menus, it became a local staple.

Cioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comCioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe |

Cioppino is simple to prepare and this stew gets most of it’s flavor from the sea. Fresh shellfish combined with tomatoes, garlic, wine and herbs. It’s simmered, then ladled into big bowls and served with bread to soak up the delectable liquid. Leave it to the Italians to create a simple stew loaded with flavor that utilizes fresh, local seafood.

Cioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe |

Being from the Midwest occasionally has it’s disadvantages. Getting fresh shellfish like crab, mussels, clams and shrimp can be difficult and expensive. More often than not, the only option is getting frozen. Luckily for me a friend of mine named Chad Measner, from South Padre Streetfood, owns a seafood truck that sells freshly prepared seafood dishes and frozen seafood by the pound. So I picked up some lobster, crab, mussels, shrimp and clams, and headed home to put it together.

Cioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe |

I often use internet based recipe sites such as Epicurious and Big Oven for inspiration. In the case of the cioppino, I did what I rarely ever do, which is make the recipe exactly as the directions call for. In this case, I was relying on others experience making this soup/stew to get me through it. The overwhelming favorite on Epicurious was the version I chose. It was originally a recipe published in Gourmet Magazine in March 2002. Almost everyone loved it. I’m not going to try to beat that kind of support.

Cioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comCioppino Seafood Stew Soup Recipe |

The ingredient list is not small. Heck, there are six different kinds of seafood alone. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, herbs, red wine, and broth, and it can take some time to get it all together. However, It seems worse than it actually is. The only items that need to be chopped, are the onions, garlic and peppers. The seafood came pre-cut, so once all the items were together, it only took about 40 minutes to prepare. The end result was a very fresh tasting seafood stew that was loaded with flavor. Unfortunately, Jena and I used a vessel for the soup that was severely tarnished, so when the soup, with all it’s acidic properties was added, it literally cleaned the entire inside of the dish, making the soup now inedible. I did get a nice taste prior to ladling it into the dish, but it would have been nice to actually enjoy a bowl of soup that we spent over $100 for, but oh well. Lesson learned. Such is the life of food bloggers. Next time maybe we stick to less expensive soups like the next one we are making next week. A curry cocoonut soup that is inexpensive and easy to make. Until next week, remember to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena


4.0 from 2 reviews
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This hearty seafood soup/stew is best when fresh seafood is available, however, even if you have to use frozen, the combination of lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and cod with tomatoes, wine and fresh basil will give you all the reason you need to sop up all the love in the bottom of the bowl.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 med. onions, diced
  • 1 ea. bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 1 ea. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1½ c. dry red wine
  • 1 can (28 ozs.) whole plum tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 cup bottled clam juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb. Dungeness crab claws, cracked
  • 1 lb. small maine lobster tails, cleaned, cut into pieces
  • 9 small littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 9 medium fresh mussels, beards removed
  • ½ lb. fresh or frozen cod, cut into cubes
  • ½ lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails intact
  • ¾ lb. sea scallops
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
  1. Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. While stew is simmering, add crab, lobster, clams and mussels. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until clams just open. Transfer clams to a bowl, and discard any unopened clams.
  5. Add cod, shrimp and scallops to stew, and simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  6. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.
  7. Serve immediately in large soup bowls.
Be sure to have crusty bread nearby to soak up the wonderful liquid in the bowl.


Patricia - Such a great recipe and mouthwatering pictures !

Aysegul - I am not big fan of shellfish either. However, with this photography I want to get a spoon and get into my computer screen, 😛
So so well done.

Thalia @ butter and brioche - Your images of these soup are just so evocative and mouthwatering delicious. I never have heard of cioppino before – and after seeing this post, it is something I must make!

linda Osborn - This was so beautifully presented..I ran right out and bought all the ingredients and made it this past weekend. It was surprisingly,not that expensive.The hot crusty bread made it exquisite! (And a wonderful winter meal for a blizzard) it wouldn’t let me rate it 5 stars, maybe cause it was 6.
Thanks Jena and Jim.

Jessie @ Straight to the Hips, Baby - This is a stunning recipe and even more beautiful set of photographs! I’ve always been too intimidated to cook shellfish at home, but goodness, I just want to grab that bowl and slurp away!

10 Crab Recipes - […] Cioppino  {Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free} […]

Homemade Soup | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili

Homemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili  |

Mole could not be a more simplistic word to describe a Mexican sauce that is anything but simplistic.  Mole is made with over 20 ingredients.  Roasted dried chilies are simmered in a broth with other flavorful ingredients such as vegetables, sesame seeds, spices and cocoa.  The mixture is puréed and traditionally served over cooked turkey.  It is an arduous task that can take an entire day to make.  The end result is worth it.  Layers of flavor that seem to linger in your mouth forever.  Anytime I visit a Mexican restaurant, I always look for the word mole, because it is usually the best dish on the menu.  Recently, I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee called Cempazuchi.  This artisan Mexican restaurant is known for their homemade mole sauces.  They make seven different mole’s.  Each one taking hours to prepare.  I literally will drive to Milwaukee just to eat their mole.  While eating this culinary explosion of flavor, the thought came to me (after my second margarita) that I never see mole sauce used in anyway other than as a sauce in Mexican cuisine.  Why not?  Italians use tomato sauce as a base for dozens of dishes.  Chinese food uses hoisin sauce in many different dishes.  Indian food often uses sauces like masala in multiple ways.  So, why not expand the exceptional sauce known simply as mole to other recipes?

Homemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili | www.littlerustedladle.comHomemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili |

Since January is soup month this year for Little Rusted Ladle, I guess we’d better get to the reason why I’m talking about mole sauce.  After downing a big bowl of chili at a restaurant the other day, the light bulb went off.  No, really, right above my head while I was eating.  Anyway, at the same time, I thought, “what if we combined the magic of mole sauce with the seasonal favorite known as chili?”  Think of it, all the flavors of mole sauce added to a chunky style chili with the addition of brown rice, slow roasted pulled pork, roasted corn, salsa and pumpkin then topped with avocado, cheese, jalapeños and tortilla strips.  Let’s do this!

There’s only one problem, did we have a week to make it?  I exagerate a little by saying a week, but think about it.  It takes a day to make the mole sauce alone.  Add a day to make the pulled pork and chili, and now we’re looking at two days to make it.  No thank you.  But what if you could use a pre-made mole as a rub for the pork, then slow cook everything in a crockpot all day while you were working?  You walk in the house hungry and tired after a long day working and the smell of mole sauce, slow cooked meat and other aromatics hit your nose like a ton of bricks.  Perfect!

Homemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili  | www.littlerustedladle.comHomemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili  | www.littlerustedladle.comHomemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili | www.littlerustedladle.comRustic Bread and Homemade Soup Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.comHomemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili |

The preparation for this chili was actually quite easy considering the complexity of the flavors we were trying to achieve.  Simply rub a three pound pork shoulder butt roast with a half a cup of store bought mole paste.  You can get mole paste in most grocery stores in the Mexican food isle.  Place the rubbed pork in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, simply place the rubbed pork into a large slow cooker and add the chopped onion and garlic (you can chop these night before), chicken broth, diced tomatoes with chilies, enchilada sauce, canned salsa, cocoa powder, roasted frozen corn, brown rice and black beans.  Cover and cook on low for six hours or until meat is fall apart tender.  Remove the pork from the mixture and let cool, then shred and gently stir back into the mixture with the canned pumpkin.  Cook another 20 minutes and you’re good to go.  You can skim the fat off the top with a ladle after removing the pork and before adding the pumpkin, beans and pork back to the mixture.  Then simply ladle into big bowls and top with diced avocado, mexican crema, queso fresco cheese, jalapeño slices, chopped cilantro and tortilla strips.  Add a chunk of hearty bread for sopping up the extras in the bottom of the bowl and you are all set.  The combination of flavors, textures and smells will almost certainly cause you to make a return trip to the slow cooker.  A perfect one dish recipe that is great for after work or on a cold January day.  Until next time, remember to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena


Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The complex flavors of Mole sauce are combined with pulled pork, salsa, beans, corn, and pumpkin to create a very unique chili that your family will love.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
  • 3 lbs. pork but roast
  • ½ c. prepared mole paste
  • 1½ c. onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can(14.5 ozs.) fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can (10 ozs.) red chile enchilada sauce
  • 1 can (7 ozs.) salsa mexicana (found in Mexican food isle)
  • 1 can (7 ozs.) salsa ranchera (found in Mexican food isle)
  • 1 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
  • ½ cup roasted corn (can substitute plain frozen corn.
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 can (14.5 ozs.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ozs.) unsweetened pumpkin
  • Toppings
  • 2 ea. small jalapeño peppers, sliced
  • 1 ea. avocado, cubed
  • 2 c. queso cheese, shredded
  • 2 c. small tortilla chips
  • ⅓ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ c. Mexican crema or sour cream
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine pork roast and mole paste. Seal, then rub the paste over roast on the outside of the bag. Marinate overnight.
  2. The next day, remove pork roast from bag, and place in a large slow cooker. Add onions, garlic, chicken broth, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, salsas, cocoa powder, corn, brown rice and black beans. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Remove pork from slow cooker and let cool for 15 minutes. Pull with two forks.
  4. While pork is cooling, skim fat from surface.
  5. Stir in pumpkin, then gently add pork back to slow cooker.
  6. Heat for an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Ladle into shallow soup bowls. Finish with toppings of choice.
Feel free to substitute 14 ozs. of your favorite salsa for this recipe.

craig john - Jim you have to try the Combination Zapotec at Jalapeño Loco (right across the street from the Milwaukee Airport) if you like a good mole.

The dish is an ancho chile stuffed with pear, nuts, raisins, and pork, topped with melted Oaxacan cheese, and served on a plate next to a tender chicken breast all in a pool of Mole Oaxaqueño.

It’s a special item; so the next time it’s on the menu, I’ll shoot you an email. I never miss it. 🙂

Katie - This looks and sounds amazing! Next time I get to the store, I’m definitely picking up a pork roast and mole sauce.

Thalia @ butter and brioche - Words cannot express how badly I am craving this hearty chili right now – it looks incredible and beautifully captured too!

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