Friday, February 28, 2014

Black Bean Chili

Welcome to Friday...let the weekend begin.  But, not without first sharing about a special day this week and a great first-time soup.

Earlier this week when the kids were making their meal requests, Ryker asked for Chili and Alayna asked for Black Bean Soup.  I thought I'd combine them into one simple, delicious and filling meal to be served when we were having friends this week.

I know not all of you find as much joy or have the time for the joy of chopping, so this could definitely be simplified to a quick'n'easy meal as well.  Stick with me.

Since I always keep an array of vegetables on hand, this is the best and easiest way to get them eaten in our house. For example, I'm not sure that celery would be considered a staple of chili, but I figure once it is chopped up and simmered for an hour, most people don't know if it is an onion, zuchini or even give it much thought at all, so in it goes.

I started by throwing one chopped onion, and a tablespoon of minced garlic into two tablespoons of vegetable oil that were heating on the stove.  Then I put in 2# of lean hamburger to brown up.  Two pounds is a lot of beef, but since we were having guests over for dinner, I was going for a bigger batch size to ensure there was enough…(Spoiler alert: there was just enough!)

Once the meat was browned, I threw in the rest of the freshly chopped vegetables; celery, green peppers, zucchini and tomato.  Now, if you want to simplify this recipe, you could skip the fresh veggies and just go with canned or frozen, especially if time is of the essence.

Now, it's time for the seasonings...which I'm notoriously terrible about measuring.  I know I don't like too much cumin, nothing can ruin a dish like cumin can, but I do appreciate what it brings at low levels, so that was probably about a teaspoon, that I pre-eyeball (as opposed to measure) into my hand.

Kids don't like anything too hot, so just about a teaspoon of ground red pepper was added as well, to bring some flavor but not too much heat.  Finally, a tablespoon or two of chili powder.  Of course, you could always use a packet of chili seasoning, but I prefer to concoct my own. The salt and pepper is added to taste, fresh ground black pepper can be pretty potent, so I use that with caution.

From here on out, it is very easy...couple cans of diced tomatoes, couple cans of black beans...tonight, for the first time, I did not drain or rinse the beans (I know, I'm such a rebel).  Once the veggies are all mixed in, I pour in another household staple, tomato juice, to serve as my broth, if you will.

The last addition to this soup is some frozen corn, most soups of mine are rarely complete without those little golden nuggets of texture and sweetness.

This simmered for about an hour and was served with oyster crackers, sour cream and shredded cheese.  Even my favorite brown-eyed 5 year old devoured her bowl faster than the birthday boy (aka a grown man) could.

Speaking of birthday boy, it was my husband's big day yesterday.  I thought I'd give some diabetic baking a try, using Splenda rather sugar.  Apparently the family agreed that the diabetic-friendly chocolate cupcakes wouldn't have been so bad, if the diabetic-friendly cream cheese frosting had been omitted.  Eh, live and learn. However, anyone with low sugar, diabetic-friendly recipes, tips or tricks, feel free to share. I've got lots of room for improvement!

Thankfully Wendy saved the day with some full-force brownies for all to enjoy!  Her and Brian have always saved the day for me...usually when there was a foot of snow in the driveway or when there was a tasty holiday meal being served. Even though we are no longer neighbors, I'm still so thankful we are great friends!

Tonight is the hubby's special birthday meal, you'll have to stay tuned, I can't ruin the surprise now!