Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happiness, is a warm bowl

I love to cook. Actually, I kind of hated to cook, for a really long time, after a sequence of baking disasters. But then I discovered that while cooking and baking are related, they're really very different in many, many ways. For baking, you have to measure everything out exactly and there's very little wiggle room until you understand the basics enough to alter things like liquid content properly, in the correct proportions (you can't just add more almond flavor, you have to take away a little bit of milk to keep it even, or you end up with a soupy cake. Ask me how I know.)

For cooking, you can be almost as free as you want within the basic outline of a recipe. One such recipe I've been fiddling with is my mom's chili. She makes an AWESOME chili but I like mine a lot spicier, and little less soupier, and since it's just me and my dad at home, we've been adding things to it a bit, and I have discovered a nearly-flawless, perfect chili recipe. And you can make it in about 10 minutes (use ingredients with the * for 10 minute version), mix up some Jiffy Cornbread mix, and have the whole thing ready in about an hour while you sit nearby, knitting and making sure that it doesn't burn (which is hard to do, but totally possible. Seriously, ask me how I know.)

Now, I'm sure many of you have great chili recipes to reference at home, but there is a HUGE population of 20-somethings who never learned how to cook, because maybe their parents don't eat dinners together or never cooked or they just never bothered to learn. So the recipe below is simple, doesn't take long, and is always delicious. It's also really great for leftovers.

Hannahbelle's Mom's Modified Chili
serves 4-6
1 medium sized vidalia onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, or a 15 oz. can* , diced
1 can tomato sauce
1 green chile, diced, or a can of green chiles, diced*
1 can chili beans (or, if you want, rehydrate some beans the night before)
1 lb. lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
pinch of salt and black pepper

Chop or dice your onions (slice if you like them larger and stringy). Put a large pot on the skillet and warm on medium heat. Add butter, and pound of thawed ground beef. Chop it up a bit with a spatula and brown, add onions, let them saute for about 5-7 minutes until there is nearly no pink in the meat. Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes and chile - add spices, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chile and beans to the pot. Stir, turn down to medium heat, and let it simmer for about an hour. We like to add cheese and sour cream to ours here at the house.

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