Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week night/date night meals: Chili

I had the entire day off yesterday, and since it's been nearly a month since J and I have seen each other during normal business hours, I decided to cook up a batch of hearty chili for a fun weeknight/datenight - but added a surprising ingredient (chocolate!) to create a sexy vibe to an otherwise comforting fall meal.
In a large pot, sauté a chopped medium-sized onion and a clove of garlic in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the onions are nicely browned, add your spices. This is where the chili becomes particular and distinct - personally, I opt for healthy dashes of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cumin, a hearty amount of Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning, and a few pinches of a special spice blend gifted to me at a party that includes cayenne, coffee, coriander, fennel, ginger, juniper, paprika, and thyme (note to self: recreate this mix asap, as I am getting dangerously low). Let the spices really soak into the onion and garlic, smell-testing as you stir. Add 1 lb. of ground beef, and cook until brown. Stir in 6-8 oz. of tomato paste, 12-14 oz. of diced tomatoes (for an added kick, I chose a can of diced tomatoes with jalepeños added in), 2 cans of red kidney beans, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Let this mixture simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Add 2-3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and (get ready) 2 tsps. of chili-flavored dark chocolate (Lindt makes a delicious version) - this will give your chili a sultry flavor you never knew you were missing in your cooking. Cover the pot and simmer for at least 15 minutes or longer (the longer you simmer, the stronger the flavors will get). Boil 12 oz. of elbow macaroni. When the pasta is fully cooked, remove the chili from the heat and stir in the macaroni. Serve in a bowl, adding shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

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