This past week was a busy one….I guess most of us could start a sentence that way. We live in a fast-paced world where cramming one more think into our already over-crowded schedules is expected. That’s why I am happy the weather has taken a turn toward the chilly. It seems like when that happens
people I start slowing my pace to a more sustainable one.
It’s crazy to say, but Jeff and I only had dinner together two evenings of the last seven. One was last evening when I made a quick “kitchen sink” pasta. It’s a concept we use to clean out the fridge and, in this case, use up the last of the produce from the garden. The other dinner together is one I’ll write more about below, but first let me give you a run down of the rest of the week:
- Monday: write for blog, work on the blog; do some HR consulting work; Me, Myself and Lies Bible study; ride with Jeff to BWI Airport to pick up his parents (we left at 10:30 pm and got home around 3:30 am Tuesday)
- Tuesday: sleep in a bit to recover from last night; read for Bible study; work on the blog – test and photograph recipes; prep for consulting meeting tomorrow; laundry; walk.
- Wednesday: consulting meeting; doctor appointment; grocery shop; make chili; dinner with Jeff; write for blog; small group meeting.
- Thursday: drive mom to doctor appointment in Hershey – wait, wait, wait with Mrs. M (a nice time to catch up!); lunch at Hershey Pantry; shopping; recipe test for baking contest; write for blog; read, read, read for Bible study and some fiction.
- Friday: make lunch to take to Jeff; have lunch with Jeff; afternoon meeting; laundry; photos for blog; tres bonne annee wine tasting – The Wines of Chile; “dinner” with Ben, Christa & Jeff
- Saturday: work at Kitchen Shoppe’s Italian Soups and Breads class; final recipe test and photos for baking contest; upload and organize photos from digital camera; read for Bible study; make dinner for me (Jeff was working the homecoming dance); fall into bed after midnight.
- Sunday: church (a much-needed time of praise and reconnection); work at Kitchen Shoppe’s fundraiser for the Bosler Library in Carlisle, PA; read some fiction; finally connect with Jeff; make dinner; eat together; mindless t.v.; early to bed!
I know there are many of you who add kids activities to this already crowded schedule so I am not complaining by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes I have to remind myself how much I actually have in my schedule so I understand why some things slide!!! Typically there’s exercise in the schedule too, but I’ve been having a problem with my left foot (No, not the movie) and I’ve been instructed to stay off it for a few days! Which to me only means I have to stop “organized” exercise, not the rest of the activities I do each day.
So, back to the chili. I had a two-pound piece of sirloin in the fridge and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it; but with the brisk weather I got inspired to fiddle with a new chili recipe. here’s what I came up with:
Chilly Weather Sirloin Chili
Jeff picked some beautiful Roma tomatoes and Hungarian peppers from the garden and I thought both would be excellent additions to this dish. I started by halving the tomatoes, placing them cut-side up on a baking sheet and drizzling with olive oil. I sprinkled them with kosher salt, ground black pepper, brown sugar and red pepper flakes and roasted them in a preheated 350 degree oven until they were caramelized (40 – 60 minutes depending on the size of the tomatoes). After they cooled enough so that I could handle them, I slid the skins off each tomato half.
While the tomatoes were roasting, I turned my attention to the sirloin. I cut it into 1 1/2 inch cubes and tossed them in a bowl with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 4 tsp. yellow corn meal (which will help to give a nice crust to the meat and later thicken the chili), 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. cocoa powder until all the meat cubes were well coated. I heated 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a dutch oven on the stove top and browned the meat in three batches – removing all the meat to a plate when browned.
In the same dutch oven, which now had gloriously browned bits from the meat on the bottom, I added 3 cups diced Spanish onion, 3 diced Hungarian peppers and 1 cup of water to deglaze the pan. I cooked the veggies, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the onions were translucent and the water evaporated. I added garlic to the pan and cooked, stirring, for one minute more.
I then added to the onion mixture, the tomato paste, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. paprika, 2 tsp. cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp. cumin. I cooked the tomato paste and spices with the veggies to caramelize for about 2 minutes. I then added the browned meat, 3 cups chicken broth, the roasted tomatoes (skins removed) and 1 can each drained and rinsed black beans and red beans. I brought it all to a boil, lowered the heat to medium low and simmered for 30 minutes. Of course, the longer you simmer, the better and the chili is even better if it sits over night in the fridge and is reheated – it gives all the flavors time to meld together.
I served the chili over rice and it was a warm, spicy and delicious treat for a chilly day!