A Chili Story (and a recipe)

We had our first snow of the year last week. Now, it doesn't take much snow to get Tennesseans all jumpy and to clear the grocery store of every item someone might possibly need for the duration, but this was a real snow. We actually made it to church that day, then heard reports of what it was doing up our way and turned around and went back home. We had to postpone our plans for hibachi and Tangled, and my school was out the next day, but canceled for the next before noon. And since I had everything on hand and had the time to prep it this morning, I decided to make a pot of chili for supper. But like any good recipe, there's a story that goes with it...

Each year I bring a pot of chili to Avery's daycare's chili supper fundraiser. Each year I lose. I really don't bring the chili to try to win, but because it's the easiest way for me to volunteer (much of the set up is done during my school day). I made chili for a cookout with Kyle's coworkers. It received raves. I made it the next weekend when another coworker and his wife came over for dinner. (I found out an hour before they were to arrive that the wife was allergic to beef--and I'd made chili!! Thank goodness for my 3 ingredient potato soup.) Kyle said it was the best chili he'd ever had, and he's brutally honest about my cooking, so if he says it's good, he means it. My parents came by to drop Avery off and I offered them a bowl. My dad was still talking about it at church the next day. The next week was the chili supper, and, as usual, I was afraid it wouldn't work. See, I have to drop it off at 7am when I take Avery, so I can't tweak it like I do at home, and I'm at someone else's mercy to turn the crock pot on. I learned after the second year to assemble it the night before but not cook it til I dropped it off. Yuck! So I'm making the chili when I realized I'd gotten the tomatoes with garlic instead of the plain ones. And I'd already put extra garlic in the meat when I cooked it.

That afternoon I'm on the phone with Kyle coordinating our plans for the afternoon when he starts reading an email that just came into his inbox from my mom (she works for the same company he does):

"Heather's chili one 1st place in the contest. I wasn't judging, but was up there when they were. It was a unanimous decision. I haven't told Heather yet, though. I figured she'd want to be surprised."

That's when Kyle said "Oops." Hehehe!

 So in my last year of eligibility (Avery will be in kindergarten next year. sigh.), I was finally victorious. My prize? My name next to the trophy with a big spoon of beans on it. The trophy (thankfully) stays at daycare to be reused each year. This recipe really is yummy, and the crock pot makes it great for busy evenings. It started out life as a Weight Watchers recipe, but I have made many changes to it over the years. It is packed full of veggies and has double the beans of the original recipe, so it's very hearty and healthy!

(Ignore the horrible picture taken with my iPod after a very long day of teaching. I just needed proof that I actually won!!)

Fire Roasted Vegetable Chili
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 medium carrots, chopped small*
1 lb ground beef (I use lean, but use whatever)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans Fire Roasted tomatoes*
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp brown sugar*
1/2 cup orange juice (I actually used V8 Splash Peach Mango, as I had it on hand)*
salt, to taste

Set crock pot to cook on low (mine is 6 hours). Combine onion, green pepper and carrots in crock pot, add a bit of salt. Meanwhile, cook ground beef and garlic in nonstick pan over medium heat until cooked through; salt to taste. Drain meat and return to pan. Add chili powder, cumin and coriander and stir to coat. Add meat to crock pot. Add beans, tomatoes, paste and brown sugar. Stir until everything is well combined. Add juice and stir once more. Allow to cook on low for 5-6 hours.

I put a star next to what I consider my secret ingredients. The fire roasted tomatoes really add that special something. It's really easy, even if the ingredient list looks a little long, and  I usually already have these things on hand. Something about this blend really highlights the different flavors, and each one hits you separately. Love it. I'll probably make it again over my 16 day Christmas break which starts in 2 hours and 36 minutes. Not that I'm counting.


Shyla said...

Congratulations :)
Sounds yummy. So is your secret ingredient sold in a jar in the tomato product section of the store?

Heather said...

Actually, in a can. I prefer the Hunts brand (often $1 a can at Kroger). They have them with peppers and onions (hot) and with garlic. I generally just use the plain. They are just mixed in with all the other canned tomatoes.

Jennifer said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! Isn't the fabric fantastic?! Will you post your window treatments? I want to see! That chili sounds fantastic! Love fire roasted veggies! Ready for chili weather. This summer is so HOT!
Scissors & Spatulas

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