I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Very Veggie Chili for a Chilly Night

The tree is up and decorated, the snow has fallen softly all day. It is very Christmas-y here, if way colder than we're accustomed to.

On the day we buy and set up our Christmas (yes, the kids insist upon, and love, a real tree), I like to have a hot easy dinner all ready and waiting after the tree is trimmed and sun sets on the snowy dunes.

This year I decided to do my Very Veggie Chili (usually I make my friend Mel's brisket). With busy schedules I haven't made a pot of chili in maybe a whole year?

This is a beanless chili. My mother felt it wasn't chili without beans, but with all the veggies and seasonings, it's chili to us.

Seasoning are what makes the dish chili, I think.

I use the packaged Two Alarm Chili seasonings, mostly for  the white corn flour ''masa'' it has. You do not need to use it though.

I'll put the recipe / ingredients at the end, but here's the basics: Preheat oven to 375*.

 In olive oil, in your heavy oven proof casserole, brown the ground beef : 2 to 3 pounds of ground beef or turkey [if you must], 6 strips of bacon, a whole chopped sweet onion, and minced garlic, about 6 cloves/ buds. Drain the fat.

While the meat is browning, chop up your summer squash and zucchini into 1/4" thick ''half moon" slices. Not too thin!

And cut up 3 or 4 sweet peppers.

I like to buy an assortement of all the colors. Cut into hunks about 1 1/2" square.

Turn off the stove. Add 1 small can of tomato sauce, one large can of tomato paste. Contadina makes the nicest richest tomato canned things, I think.

Plus 2 Cups of liquid, water---or beef/ chicken broth if you have it on hand.

Stir gently. Add 2T of sugar or Splenda.

Add all your seasonings. From the  3 Alarm package I use the masa; the onion/garlic; salt;  paprika; 1/2 of the oregano; scant 1/2 of the chili power. I discard the red hot pepper.

I also add: to taste, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, lemon pepper, garlic salt, cocoa chili powder, green chili powder, green Adobo seasoning. You do not need anything except some nice chili powder and a bit of garlic salt. Really. Just use what's in the fridge. Parsley, too. Fresh cilantro if your store has it?

Add the veggies, but not the corn.

Toss gently.

Add as much as 1 Cup more water...you want this thick but not so thick it scorches. Stir well, cover with aluminum foil, then the heavy cast iron pot lid.

Bake in oven for 3 1/2 hours. You can check it after 2 or so hours, turn the oven down to 350 if it seems to be cooking too fast.
At 3 hours add the frozen corn. If you add it at the beginning it kinda goes lost.

I forgot this week but it's very nice if on the side you oven-roast about 2 Cups of cubed butternut squash. (1 hour to roast?). Stir this in at the end.

I like to make my chili the night before. I refrigerate the whole casserole when it has cooled down somewhat. (put a potholder on your glass fridge shelf just in case.) Then before I reheat it, I skim off any fat that has solidified on the top of the mixture.

I reheat my chili in the microwave, in a large Glad container. Or you can carefully reheat it on the stove.

You can do this in your Crock Pot, but it won't caramelize as nicely, so cut way down on the liquids and cook on high as long as your cooker will allow.

Serve HOT with more chili powder, grated sharp cheddar, sour cream and Tostitos or other tortilla chips. Your tummy will be so warm and happy!



.........gone to the beach

Hunter! You better make this chili! Even if you know who thinks he doesn't like veggies! He will love-love-love.

Very Veggie Chili

2 1/2 Pounds of ground beef or turkey
6 strips of bacon
large onion
6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
large bag of frozen corn
2 zucchinis and 1 summer squash
1 small butternut squash
1    15 oz can of Tomato paste
1   5 or 6 oz can of tomato sauce
broth if you have it


to serve :Tortilla chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese.

*2 Alarm Chili Kit should be available in your supermarket or at Walmart, but it isn't crucial to the dish.