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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Almost Homemade Chili

On this my first day off in an entire week (see older post, "Oh me, oh my" for more on that), I woke up excited about (1) a day off, (2) carrot cake, (3) high school football, and (4) fall weather.
Earlier this week the Hubs went to the grocery store for wings (Wings are one of his favorite "meals" parked in front of whatever sport just happens to be on television. I would complain, but at least he only spent $10 in the grocery store deli vs $20 at Wing Stop for less food. I've learned to choose my battles! LOL). Anyway, while he was cruising through the store he spotted a carrot cake on sale for $4.99. He was tempted to get the cake but his will-power (read: voice of wife angel on shoulder) kicked in and he left it there. Just the power of suggestion, however, remained with us both. Hmmm...carrot cake does sound good. I was at the grocery store getting the last couple of items needed to make a homemade carrot cake (like grate-able whole carrots vs the baby carrots I had in the frig) when I was called in to work. So, this being my off day, I whipped out the box grater and shredded carrots and sifted together flour & get the picture. I'll share the recipe I used a little later (in my next post after I actually taste the cake and make sure it turned out okay).
Today was also Friday as in Friday night high school football. I wanted something besides fast food for dinner before the game. A big pot of chili sounded just right. Before I started the carrot cake, I started a pot of chili so it could simmer while I baked the cake. I usually make chili by "feel"since it can be adapted to suit anyone's taste; however, I'll try to recall what all I used this go round.

Almost Homemade Chili
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 of medium bell pepper, diced
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15.5 oz each) chili beans**, undrained
1 T. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin*
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 t. black pepper (to taste)*

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with about 1/2 of the chopped onion (I do this because I dislike the smell of raw meat when it's cooking). Drain.
Spray a dutch oven (large pot) with cooking spray and add remaining chopped onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper. Cook over low heat until onion is translucent. Add ground beef and remaining ingredients to large pot. Mix well and bring to a boil stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 45 min to an hour. Top with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh chopped onion or sliced green onions if desired. Serve with corn chips, corn bread or crackers.
*I sometimes use about a tablespoon of whole cuminos and black peppercorn mix in place of the ground cumin & black pepper when I have them on hand. Not a substitution for the faint of heart (or tongue!)
If you prefer a thicker chili you could always drain one or both of the cans of tomatoes and use the juice for another recipe. **You may like "western-style" beans or plain pinto beans instead of the chili beans.
This is easy to turn vegetarian, too. Just add a drained can of whole kernel corn and rinse a can each of a variety of beans in place of the ground beef (black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, etc.). Diced zucchini added with the onion, garlic, celery would be tasty, too. Bon apetit! Until next time...

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