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Welcome to 2017!

By Karen Marquardt

We’ve had a beautiful start to the new year, with lots of sun. Everyone is back to work and back to school after the holidays. Cooler temperatures are here for the weekend, typical of Central Texas’s usual shorts-one-day-and-parka-the-next weather. In keeping with the usual New Year’s resolutions of healthier eating (and the cooler weather), I thought I would start the year with veggie-heavy chili. The cornbread may not be quite as resolution-friendly, but there has to be some give and take, right? I call it Cheatin’ Cornbread and it’s about convenience, but by all means use your favorite scratch cornbread to make this recipe.

Chili

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef or 12 oz package of veggie crumbles (I like the zesty ones for chili)
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 each green and red peppers chopped
1 7 oz can chopped green chilies
1 16 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2-2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 tsp salt
1 can each black beans, great northern and kidney beans, rinsed
1 16 oz bag frozen corn kernels (optional)

Add olive oil to the pan and sauté the first five ingredients in a large Dutch oven until onions are softened and translucent. Add seasoning and the canned tomatoes. Let simmer a minimum of 30 minutes (I usually go an hour to get the flavors to come together.) Add beans and corn, and simmer an additional 30 minutes. I usually taste it at this point and adjust the seasoning. No batch comes out exactly the same, but it all tastes good. Serve with corn bread, and top with onions, cheese or your favorites.

Cheatin’ Cornbread

2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
2-4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cook bacon in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Remove bacon from the pan, leaving a generous amount of bacon fat in the pan. Chop bacon. Pour corn muffin mix in a bowl, add bacon, cheese, garlic powder, eggs and milk. Mix until everything comes together, add remaining ingredients, pour into the hot skillet, and immediately bake at 425* until the top is lightly browned and a tester comes out clean. For a lighter/vegetarian option, omit the bacon, and heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet before adding the corn bread mixture. Using a cast iron skillet with heated oil will produce a crispy browned crust; but it isn’t needed for a great cornbread that matches the chili!

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