Tag Archives: chili

Vegetarian Chili (or, yet another good bean recipe!)

16 Jul

I hesitate in summertime to do beans from dry because I don’t want to simmer anything for an hour in this heat! (I am sure a slow-cooker would be a solution, but I don’t have one and don’t have room for one). So, it’s cans for me, and if they have a pull-off top, even better. I want to minimize all movement in the Hazy, Hot, Humidity of a Long Island summer (Ditto for wine bottles…a screw top is high up on my ratings rubric right now; corks take too much work!)

In fact, I want to keep cooking to a minimum, so rather than season my ground beef or even have to defrost and simmer the pre-made stuff I have stocked in the freezer, my “chili” has gone vegetarian. I call it “chili” because I add chili powder, but I make no claims to authenticity. If you want to call it rice and beans with chili seasoning, by all means do. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” to quote a certain lovelorn 13-year-old from Verona.

Whatever you call it, it will be ready to eat in about 15 minutes, and I call that fast!

Vegetarian Chili (or rice and beans with chili powder!)

1 Tbs olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 Cup)

½ medium red bell pepper chopped fine (about 1/2 Cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping Tbs tomato paste

15.5 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp chile powder

2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp thyme

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

Heat olive oil at medium-high in a saucepan until loose and fragrant. Add onions, stir to coat and reduce heat to medium. Add red pepper and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are translucent and soft. Add tomato paste, stir in to coat and cook for a minute.  Stir in beans, oregano, chile powder, cilantro, thyme, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Add ½ Cup water (more, if you want it more liquid) and cook for 15-20 minutes. Salt to taste and serve with white rice or wrapped in tortillas with cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa and all that fun Mexican restaurant-type stuff.

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Mini-Fiesta Chili con Carne and Perfect Latin White Rice (Yes, all the kids ate it…eventually)

10 Oct

My friend Pam often opens her home for massive Mom-and-Kid-Family playdates on Saturday afternoons with our extended group of single mom friends. Think a dozen little maniacs — ages 7 and under — tearing around a big backyard on bikes and scooters and what have you, swinging, arguing, playing…while the moms share stories from the frontlines of parenting solo.

On these occasions I often invite myself and Leandro to stay for dinner after everyone’s gone.  These meals tend to be a collaborative effort (as the best sort of friendships tend to be). Our kids — she has two — love each other’s company and she’s got loads of toys so they leave us in relative peace to chew the fat, complain about them, worry about everything, laugh at ourselves…you know the routine.

This time I invited ourselves over again, but I had the meal already in hand. In my cooler tote went a pint of Basic Seasoned Ground Beef that I pulled from the freezer, a 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes, a 15 oz can of red kidney beans, chili powder, cheddar cheese (secret weapon) and a bag of rice.

I also brought a bottle of Wölffer Estate apple wine, because it’s locally produced, refreshing, tasty, good with food, and –at just 7 percent alcohol — Pam — the Lightweight Champion of the World — can have more than one glass and so can I, even though I have a drive home later. Kim and her two girls also stayed, so we popped the cork and got the party started!

Now, don’t think the kids just tucked right into it. No way. Leandro loves the stuff, but the other moms were skeptical whether their kids would go for something quite so bean-y, quite so meat-y, quite so seasoned, quite so different from what they usually have, ’cause that is how kids are.

They were right; the cute little molded mounds of rice went quickly, and they picked the cheddar cheese off the top of the chili, but they were decidedly unenthusiastic about the main part of the meal. So I told them they were hurting my feelings, offered to mix in rice and cheese to anyone who would just try the food to make me happy, and soon enough, they were eating it up. Score!

Please note: this is easy to assemble in no time at all (20 minutes or so from fridge to table), IF you have pre-made seasoned ground beef stored in pint containers in your freezer. I include the recipe here; it is a pillar of my kitchen strategy and I recommend you make it three pounds at a time!

I also include my recipe for perfect Latin white rice…Pam actually made excellent rice in her pressure cooker this time, but I include the recipe just the same. The parboiled quick stuff is just not acceptable, except in extremis, sorry.

Chili Con Carne (serves four adults)

1 pint Basic Seasoned Ground Beef (see below)

28 oz can tomato puree/whole peeled tomatoes/crushed tomatoes (Italian-style NOT recommended; basil has no place here)

15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 Tbs chili powder

hot sauce, if desired

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Monterey Jack would work too)

In a large pot, add beef, tomatoes, beans and chili powder, bring to a boil and then simmer. Begin preparing rice (see recipe below). When the rice is ready, the chili should be ready too. Just adjust for seasoning and serve rice topped with chili and cheese.

Basic Seasoned Ground Beef

You can build on this dish to make many different meals

BASIC SEASONED GROUND BEEF (this is half of what I usually do to freeze. To do 3 lbs. at a time, double everything – Note: do NOT skip the olives and capers, even if you hate them. I never eat olives — green or black –yuck! but I cook with them. In this dish they give a salty, sharp, savoriness that is crucial and the little bits pretty much disappear in the cooking. Pam and Kim and the kids all ate them without noticing!)

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 baseball sized onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced (go for more if you like – I do!)

1.5 lbs. ground beef

(Optional1/4-1/2 C. chopped red pepper fresh or roasted from a jar)

1/2 tsp adobo powder* (if desired – I generally don’t use it, but some people love the extra salt and the umami)

1 heaping Tbs capers, drained

10 manzanilla olives (pitted and stuffed with pimientos), chopped small

(optional 1/2 cup tomatoes from a can – diced, chopped, whatever or a spoonful of tomato paste you need to use up)

Heat oil on high in a large saucepan until thin and fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes until well coated and getting translucent. Lower heat to fairly low and cook for five minutes, add garlic and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high and crumble in ground beef, stirring and breaking up frequently until fully-browned. Spoon out fat or pour off (don’t make it too dry!) into sink (carefully!).

Return to heat, add red pepper, optional adobo, capers, olives and optional tomato. Mix completely. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until fat begins to separate from sauce. Serve or freeze.

 *instead of adobo powder, mix 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbs mixed chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley) or 1 tsp dried

Perfect White Rice (you can halve this recipe if you are not big into carbs)

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Cups long-grain white rice (Sello Rojo, Goya or other Latin brand preferred)

4 Cups water

½ tsp salt

Place olive oil in a medium pot (with a tight lid). Begin heating to high while adding the rice. Stir to coat, Add water and salt. Stir once, then bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and allow water to evaporate until it goes below the surface of the rice and there are a couple of holes in the surface. Turn rice over once with a big spoon. Cover and cook on low another ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Latin Seasoned Ground Beef: Transforms into sauce, stuffing, chili…and more

27 Oct
Basic Seasoned Ground Beef

You can build on this dish to make many different meals

Mondays don’t completely suck, but they are the busiest day of my work/mom week.

Out of the house with dressed toddler and breakfast and packed lunches in the car by 6:45 a.m., teaching and office ’till 2:15 then walk back to the daycare to pick up the little man; shopping or playground till 4 p.m. swim class (on the cheap at the county pool) then pick up vegetables at Sophia Garden C.S.A. (more on that in another post) to get home around 6 p.m. to make dinner — whew!

So, it is crucial that dinner be fast and and brainless and provide leftovers for the next day lunch.

WHEE-HEE!

This Monday was a triumph. Why? Because I had my Basic Seasoned Ground Beef at the ready. I make three pounds of it at a time, divide it in three and freeze it down in plastic bin things so when I am in a bind, I can do any number of things with it that get a relatively wholesome, tasty meal ready in a flash.

I had remembered to take a tublet out of the freezer in the morning, plus I had a bag of tortilla chips (organic blue corn are our favorites, low-salt works better, but oh well, not today) and cheddar cheese slices, so I was good to go.

Heated the oven to 350, spread the tortillas on a baking sheet, sprinkled some of the meat on top and sliced up the slices into thin shreds (why pay more for a chintzy bag of the pre-grated which is dry and tasteless?) and put it in for about 15 minutes, et voila! le diner.

Hot sauce for me (sriracha, my fave) and plain for the boy. Done! We usually have some sliced avocado on the side too, which counts as a vegetable in my world and should in yours too.

SAVE THE DAY!

Forgot to take the meat out? This is a problem many on-the-go moms I have spoken to say happens all the time. With Basic Seasoned Ground Beef, it doesn’t matter. You just switch gears. As Mark Bittman, The Minimalist from the New York Times and a personal hero, has suggested, whenever you get home, just put a pot of water on the boil, ’cause then you have it going for whatever comes up.

So I boil up some pasta (we love Bionaturae whole wheat organic – no kidding, better than white!) and dump the (still frozen) beef in another pot with a 28 oz. can of tomatoes (whole, peeled; diced; pureed – whatever I have) and an extra tablespoon of whatever dried herbs I am in the mood for (oregano for Spanish flavor; basil for Italian, for example; bay leaf never goes astray) and let that simmer up while the pasta boils. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano on top and luscious!

FREE LUNCH

In fact, while we ate our insta-nachos this particular triumphant Monday, I had the next-day pasta on the boil and the remainder of my tublet of seasoned beef with half a can of tomatoes…easy-peasy.

The best part, of course, was that I actually had everything under control. Really! With a little more time, I might have taken the same beef, same 28 oz. can of tomatoes AND a 15 oz can of red kidney beans, added a tablespoon (or more) of chili powder and a tablespoon of cumin powder, put it on rice and called it chili con carne.

With loads of time, I would have boiled and mashed yuca and made Puerto Rican shepherd’s pie in the oven. What I am trying to say is that with a tub of Basic Seasoned Ground Beef in my freezer, I can do anything!

BASIC SEASONED GROUND BEEF (this is half of what I usually do to freeze. To do 3 lbs. at a time, double everything)

2 Tbs extra virigin olive oil

1 baseball sized onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced (go for more if you like – I do!)

1.5 lbs. ground beef

(Optional1/4-1/2 C. chopped red pepper fresh or roasted from a jar)

1/2 tsp adobo powder* (if desired – I generally don’t use it, but some people love the extra salt and the umami)

1 heaping Tbs capers, drained

10 manzanilla olives (pitted and stuffed with pimientos)

(optional 1/2 cup tomatoes from a can – diced, chopped, whatever or a spoonful of tomato paste you need to use up)

Heat oil on high in a large saucepan until thin and fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes until well coated and getting translucent. Lower heat to fairly low and cook for five minutes, add garlic and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high and crumble in ground beef, stirring and breaking up frequently until fully-browned. Spoon out fat or pour off (don’t make it too dry!) into sink (carefully!).

Return to heat, add red pepper, optional adobo, capers, olives and optional tomato. Mix completely. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until fat begins to separate from sauce. Serve or freeze.

 *instead of adobo powder, mix 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbs mixed chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley) or 1 tsp dried

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