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Monday, January 10, 2011

Chili three ways

Mexican month (which was back in November for us) would not have been complete without Chili. So we had our fair share of new and interesting varieties of Chili. Of course, as with all families, we have our own usual chili.

Of course, if you give any or all of these recipes a try, don't forget to make oven fries to have chili cheese fries with the leftovers.

Any Night of the Week Chili

What you need:
1 can tomato juice
1 can tomatoes
1 can chili beans
1 can kidney beans
1/2 bag fake burger crumbles
1 bag gumbo mix frozen veggies (I love some okra in my chili)
1/2 to 1 square baker's chocolate
an odd mix of seasonings to taste (of these we are known to add chili powder, cayenne, cumin, pepper, salt, garlic powder, fresh minced garlic)

1. Put in a caldron-sized pot and simmer for a few hours until desired consistency.

We love our chili. It is just enough of the things we love all mixed in one pot. And it's not too spicy. But of course, the world is better experienced if you aren't afraid to branch out and try new things. Also, I do love my lentils. So, low and behold:

Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili
(adapted from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

What you need:
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T chili powder
1 1/2 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/3 c. blackstrap molasses
1/2 t ground allspice
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper
2 c water
1 c. apple juice

1. Heat oil in large pot, med heat. Add onion-garlic, cover, and cook to soft, 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cook 30 seconds.

2. Add lentils-pepper. Stir in water and apple juice, cover. Cook on Med. heat until desired consistency.

This Chili, we agreed, was delicious, but not quite as "chili" tasting. i.e. heavy on the tomato sauce. It did, however, offer a sweet and tangy taste and hearty texture that worked very nicely with corn bread rather than cheese fries. It also reheated well and the chili/cornbread mix made a tasty week of mommy's school lunches.

I have to give props just to the molasses. I had somevin the the cupboard for quite a while after trying out a failed recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. We busted it out for this chili and have since used it in a variety of dishes, as a meat baster, in cookies. Molasses is the new heal-all of our kitchen. Try molasses recipes. They are worth it.

While we were at it, I busted out the Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates cookbook for their take on this mexican fiesta in a bowl:

Black Bean and Chocolate Chili
(adapted from Moosewood Celebrates)

what you need:
2 T veggie oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1 celery stalk, diced
1 T ground cumin
2 t fried oregano
1/2 t ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1 t cayenne
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 c chopped bell peppers
1 bag gumbo mix frozen veggies
2 15.5 oz cans black beans
1 can undrained crushed tomatoes
1 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 c)

1. In pot, warm oil on med heat. Add onion and garlic and saute about 10 minutes. Add celery and cover. Cook 5 minutes.

2. Reduce heat and stir in cumin-frozen veggies. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add black beans-soy sauce. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cooke 5-10 minutes more. Stir in chocolate. When melted, adjust seasonings and lemon juice to taste.

Quite tasty with added shredded cheese, though optional.

Overall, Mexican month was a success, largely to the many delicious chili recipes available to us. Happy slurping.

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