Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sometimes love looks like CHILI & CORNBREAD CROUTONS

I am growing pretty certain that there are times where the craziness of the world reaches a peak. The past couple of weeks have been good, but have also had a heavy sprinkling of sadness. I was able to dedicate my time to a friend in need, and although exhausted, am grateful to be able to support the ones I love.  My husband has been amazingly understanding, and one night, as I headed home, he sent me a picture of a pot of chili that he had made as it simmered on the stove.  Instead of using ground beef, he used a sirloin steak, thinly sliced and it was the best chili I've ever tasted. I didn't think it was possible to love him any more than I already did, but I was wrong.  My heart skipped a beat as I walked into our home smelling richly of onion, garlic, beef, and spices.  I love him and know for certain that he loves me too - he made me chili.  Did I mention that he is a cornbread genius? I almost forgot - he is one of "those people" that can just throw the ingredients into an iron skillet and the cornbread is perfect every time.  I really wasn't fond of cornbread before - and then I met my match!
Needless to say I am not writing this on the first eating of the chili - we warmed up the leftovers tonight and made "CORNBREAD CROUTONS" from the leftover cornbread and I am finally fed and rested enough to share it with y'all.  Just remember this, I was so exhausted, that my husband's simple act of cooking dinner made me feel so incredibly loved. I hope that you get the chance to show someone how much you love them today - and I hope that it involves a beautiful pot of chili!

2 T Olive Oil
1 Red Onion - Chopped
1/2 Jalepeño - Finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
3/4 Pound Sirloin, thinly sliced into bite sized pieces
2 T Tomato Paste
4 t  Chili Powder
1 t  Ground Cumin
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (28 oz)
2 Cans Kidney Beans (15 oz)
1 oz Semisweet Chocolate, Chopped
1 T Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high.
Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally until tender.
Add the sirloin and cook until no longer pink.
Add the tomato paste, chili powder, and cumin - stir just until combined.
Add the tomatoes (and the juice), beans, chocolate, and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil - stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Add Vinegar and Salt/Pepper to taste.

This is a great way to use up leftover cornbread - and would be great as a "taco salad" topping as well!
It is best if your cornbread has been refrigerated which makes it a bit firmer.
Cut the cornbread into cubes and put in a large mixing bowl.
Using an olive oil "air sprayer" (we use a Misto) spray the cubes with olive oil and toss them to coat, spraying them several times for an even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, toss them around a bit and then return them to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes.  They should be a bit browned and crispy on the outside.

Ladle the chili into bowls, and top with the cornbread croutons, chopped onion/scallion, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream.  It is pretty enough for a dinner with company, but the best way to enjoy it is with someone you love on a cold winter's night.

Beautiful Chili - BEFORE and...

Pssst...if you are a fan of "Taco Salad", just top a nice bed of lettuce with the chili, toppings, and croutons.  The sirloin is a great lean protein source!

Hey...are you still reading? Cooking for just one or two people? This freezes really well.  Fill a "zippered" freezer bag and press out as much air as possible.  Lay flat in the freezer until frozen, and then it can be stored upright for more efficient space utilization.  (Don't forget to label with dates and contents...we have had "mystery" dinner a few times, and even though it tastes good, it is a bit of a surprise to have spaghetti sauce when you are expecting chili).

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