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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chili--Not chilly--- for Christmas Tree Day

Hi guys! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Today was Christmas Tree Day here at the beach. This is a time honored tradition that requires much planning and effort to get everyone home and available to go buy the tree, set it up, and trim it. Because this is one thing I absolutely refuse to do all by myself.

This year I decided, to much protest, to have a smaller elevated tree, so that Mo couldn't pee on it or tear it down and eat it.

We used the old ''baby ornaments'', the handmade wooden and fabric ornies from when the kids were toddlers [and destructive, just like Mo].
You know how some families oooh and aaah over traditions, and cherish the funny old handmade ornaments?
Not my kids---they've been telling me for years to discard the melted plastic tree made in nursery school, the hand embroidered Baby's First Christmas, the peewee hockey disk.

If they had their way we'd only use Christopher Radko and other similar glass ornaments. But this year everyone was glad I'd saved the tiny quilt scrap animals I bought the first year I lived in NYC, the fabric seagull and flamingo, the little wooden elves, the tiny boy on the sled from a snow day in Brooklyn. We bought him at the corner store on our way home from Prospect Park. No one but me is sentimental though. Mostly I get eye rolls or at best a polite smile.

So anyway here's the tree! LOL. It's beautiful because all Christmas trees are beautiful. But I had pictured a slim old fashioned German table tree. Not a round ball. But festive! And cute?


To keep up everyone's strength I made a plate of Martha Stewart's mini croissants, filled with ham and brie or goat cheese and cranberries.

Of course I didn't spend hours rolling out home made croissant dough!

To be honest I d call them a FAIL. Doughy. Boring.

I had to put out regular cheese and crackers for the hungry decorators. Next year I'll make a big bowl of chicken salad like I usually do.

For dinner the vote was for chili [other choices were brisket or pulled pork with hard rolls and coleslaw...]. I made the chili last night. Pretty traditional recipe but my kids do not eat beans or corn.

Brown 2 pounds ground beef [chicken/ turkey] with cubed bacon, onion and garlic. Drain.

Add one 18 oz  Contadina tomato paste and one 14 oz. fire roasted tomatoes. Or equivalents. Plus about 3 cans of water or broth. Top it up after adding all the veggies, to almost desired finidhed consistency. It won't cook down all that much.

Add seasonings: a Chili ''kit''. I prefer 3 Alarm but none in stores, so I am trying this new one. I only used the ''mild'' and it's quite spicy-hot. Taste at this point. It's better to make the chili too mild and add spices later!

Add more seasonings, including 2 or 3 Tablespoons of sugar or Splenda to cut the acidity. I use everything you see here, plus parsley, garlic powder, lemon pepper, and a pinch of ground cumin.


Add  :

3 sweet peppers, cut in 1 1/2" pieces,
2 summer squash, sliced, 1/4".
Don't cut the veggies too small, or they'll disappear.



1 Cup of presteamed lentils from Trader Joe's.
I'll also make corn to add for those who eat corn. A bag of Steam Fresh is fine.

Separately roast a pan of cubed butternut squash for one hour. [I used 11 oz. precut.] I stir this in at the last minute when I reheat. Again, it disappears otherwise. But is worth the effort, adds to taste and vitamins etc.

Now's the time to add more broth or water, not too much!
Bake the chili in a covered, lidded/ plus aluminum foil dutch oven for 3 hours at 350*. Cool, refrigerate.
Before reheating, skim off any fat or oil from the top.

Serve with extra hot chili powder, sour cream, diced avocados, shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar and/ or ''Mexican mix'' cheese. Tortilla chips and pepitos. We like the flax seed chips; I buy the pumpkin seeds/ pepitos at TJ's and roast w/ olive oil, nonstick pan.

Serve with a rich but not fancy red wine or apple cider. Or maybe beer if anyone is a beer drinker. Corona with lime wedges?

Yummy! This makes a LOT of chili. Freeze the leftover for the upcoming nights when you're too tired or too busy to cook.

After dinner, bundle up and take a lovely long Chrostmas walk. Admire the stars! Peek in the neighbors' yards, admire their trees and wreaths and Christmas lights.



gone to the beach.....


"Santa is coming!? To visit ME?"


  1. I think your shorter rounder tree is very cute! Is that Mo in his pajamas? lolrof!

  2. I'm on my way for dinner. Keep the chili simmering...

  3. I like your sort-of-round tree. Look at it this way - if it was slim it wouldn't hold very many of your ornaments! And great idea to have it up higher to keep it out of Mo's reach. Now if you can just keep him from unwrapping any presents that get left underneath, LOL! (One of our cats did that - she liked the tape and would pull it off. We thought it was the kids!)

    We had chili for supper last night, too, but ours was really plain...

  4. Oh my gosh, the tree is too cute. Such memories your charming ornaments must hold. Our tree is about the same size, maybe a little taller. I too think all Christmas Tree's are beautiful. I sometimes buy the one that needs the most love. We get our tree from Lowe's usually, and I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make sure all of the trees are upright and displayed so that they aren't overlooked :)

    It's our first Christmas with the rescue kitties being out and about. They are VERY interested in the tree. Mel, I've had cats that can't resist the ribbon on presents, but never a cat obsessed with the tape! We can't even use ribbon anymore.

    Naples had it's annual Christmas Boat Parade on Saturday night. Couldn't make it in time for the parade itself, but enjoyed a lovely walk later. They really go all out on the decorations and it was fun to look in on all of the parties people were having.

    I had high hopes for the croissants, they sounded like they were going to be good. The chili looks like a definite winner though, and so many fun toppings.

    Love Mo in his little p.j.'s!

    Oh, are they sunrise or sunset photos at the end? Just beautiful.


  5. Hi Kel! Your festivities sund fun! We don t have a boat parade here but one night a few days ago I saw a big shop, far out at sea with multidues of colored lights strung on its side to form a Chrostmas tree shape! Maybe an ocean liner. The ships are about 10 miles away and it was dark...but it looked somagical.

    The little croissants needed better dough. sigh. Martha made her own croissant butter dough.

    Our cats, when I was a child, nevr bothered the tree, nor did the dogs. Obviously y dad trained evryone better than I can. So far Mo hasn t even noticed the tree but he hasn t been left lone too long either.

    I m like you---I worry about the unloved Xmas trees, as you llrecall from the story at the top of the page here.

    Have a fun week!



    ps puttng some icicles, not drops, up on etsy tomorrow...for you & your cousin!? Maybe I ll get a post up here late tonight...

  6. Oh, the lights on the ship sound wonderful, almost like they were there just for you.

    I'm still hoping you'll find an elongated crystal drop for me someday. I bought a garland of 'prosperity hens' for my cousin this year. Got them at a cute little shop called Fern's Garden, but they also sell them on Amazon if you want to look at them. A Fair Trade item.

    Thanks for letting me know though!



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