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Two easy dinners to get you through March Break

Whether you’re gearing up for March Break or already enjoying it, cooking for the family can get hectic.

To take some of the stress out of the kitchen, chef Paul Lillakas shares two simple (and delicious) batch recipes.


Shredded Beef Chili Con Carne

Hands on time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Makes: 12-16 servings

Tip: To make Chipotle paste: puree 1-2 cans of chipotles in adobo sauce in food processor or blender. Transfer to a large freezer bag, flatten and freeze. Break pieces off as needed. Paste will thaw quickly. Use to add a smoky spiciness to soups, stews, marinades and salsas.


  • 1.5 kg (3 lbs) Beef Chuck or Blade Roast, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 6 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
  • 2 tbsp chipotle paste (see tip)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cans whole San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed


Optional Toppings:

  • Cilantro leaves
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar
  • Diced avocado



  1. In large pot, heat oil over high heat. Brown beef thoroughly, turning as needed, about 7-8 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add 1 cup water, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Add onion, celery, peppers and green onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, chipotle paste, cumin, oregano, salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add cocoa powder, Dijon, vinegar, tomatoes and sweet potato stirring until combined. Submerge beef and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until beef shreds easily, about 4 hours.
  2. Remove beef from pot and let cool slightly. Skim excess fat. Add beans to pot, stirring to combine.



Sheet Pan Chili Cheesy Sweet Potatoes
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups Shredded Beef Chili (see recipe)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar


Optional Toppings

  • Sour Cream
  • Sliced Green Onion
  • Sliced Pickled or fresh jalapenos



  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On prepared baking sheet drizzle sweet potato rounds with oil and sprinkle with salt; toss to coat. Arrange in single layer. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Flip sweet potatoes and
  3. push toward middle of pan, overlapping slightly if needed. Top with chili and cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Top with additional toppings if desired.