Alright, I'm going to spare you my usual song and dance of, "I can't believe I haven't written in so long! Holy crap, how has it been since August?? Can you believe it?! I can't believe it." Truth is, I can believe it. The last few months, have been nothing but travel. Not complaining, but even the best hotel bed doesn't compare to home and cuddling up with these fellows.
To put it in perspective, I haven't been in our apartment or kitchen or living room or bedroom for more than 15 days over the last 3 months. Insanity, right? Right. Even though the whirlwind of travel which has marked the last year isn't slowing down, I've finally made the decision to learn to live in it instead of letting myself be carried away by it. What the hell does that even mean, you ask? It means that the worst thing when you're away a lot is to come home every weekend and feel like all you can do is catch up on having a personal life. Opening an empty fridge, sorting through endless laundry, it doesn't add up to quality time spent at home. Basically, first chance I had, I sat down, and made a plan for how I'm going to tackle the next few months of being away 2-3 days a week without losing my f-cking mind. (Yes, I'm swearing in this space now. But only when the occasion calls for it.)
First things first, I went to the grocery and made a real meal.
I didn't want something insanely time or labor intensive because well, it's me. Also, when you're working with a limited amount of time at home you want to spend as much of it as possible with your butt on the couch next to your dogs and husband and not at the stove. The other thing is that I wanted enough food to last us a few days so that we could really enjoy some time without having to worry about cooking again. The other other thing is that it's chilly, finally, and I've been craving chili.
Weirdly enough, it was hard for me to find a recipe to settle on for a nice slow cooker chili. So many options, so many of them from weird somewhat unreliable to me sources like Betty Crocker or Stouffer's. I don't love the idea of getting my recipe from a corporate behemoth and some of the fancier ones were just too fancy. I'm sure you probably have yours, or your grandma's, but I finally put together my own, and of course I want to share it. Also, I made the best damn cornbread of my life, all because I listened to my husband and added 7UP to it. Don't judge until you've tried how insanely fluffy it makes the bread coming out of the oven. Seriously, don't judge. I did and was wrong. This cornbread is so good I've had it for breakfast every morning since.
Chill, Chili + Cornbread
- 2 lbs ground beef/chicken whichever you prefer or have on hand.
- 1 large yellow onion, diced.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes, with juices. I used the basil kind because it's what I had and they worked great.
- 1 can tomato paste.
- 3 cans kidney beans or black beans, your choice. Drained + rinsed.
- 2 habanero peppers, diced.
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tbsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. pepper
- 1 bay leaf
For toppings: cheddar, scallions, sour cream, some people like cilantro - we are not those people but maybe you are?
- In a large skillet, sauté onions until they start to sweat and turn golden.
- Add beef or chicken (or both!) and cook until no longer pink. Drain!
- Take the onion/beef mixture and throw it into your slow cooker.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, habanero peppers.
- Mix all the spices in a large bowl and dump them in too. Don't forget that spices are a really individual thing - some like more some like less. Please season according to your taste buds, not mine. It's your life, your chili. (But do remove the bay leaf before you eat, please.)
- Mix well. Really, really, really well.
- Set your slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Ignore it until the smell of chili consumes your house. Start the cornbread an hour before you're ready to eat.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup veg. oil
- 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk
- 1 cup 7UP or Sprite or plain seltzer if you just cannot with the soda.
- 1/8 stick butter, softened.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Mix all dry ingredients + wet ingredients in separate bowls.
- Butter the hell out of a cast iron skillet. (If you don't have one, use a normal baking pan. Totally fine.)
- Combine ingredients, mix well, pour into skillet.
- Bake for 40 min or until toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.
- Dot the top of the cornbread with butter, watch it melt. Maybe drool a little? We did.
Now, throw a slice of the cornbread into a bowl. Top it with scoops and scoops of chili. Top that chili with cheddar, sour cream, scallions. Eat a serving, then eat another serving. Feel like you ate too much? Good. Repeat the next day.