Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Savory Chili with Chocolate Brookies for Dessert

September in Michigan is usually much, much cooler than it has been this year.  Typically in the mid 60's, it's been in the mid 70's to high 80's for much of the month.  Today it's much cooler, 62 degrees and the weatherman says it's time to say goodbye to summer.  Cooler weather and football season means Chili and it's always a good time for cookies, right?  Today I have 2 recipes for you that are well loved and very much enjoyed around my house.  I grew up watching my mom make Chili and she was a little bit of this and a little bit of that until it tastes right kind of cook and that's how I learned to do it.  It's also how I learned that food, creating edibles that the people you love can enjoy, is an expression of love; it's a gift of love that cannot be bought.  Passing that knowledge on to me was a gift from my mothers heart and it's something I cherish.  I still tease her about trying to write down her recipes; how do you measure a bit or a spoonful? Anyway, I have learned that measuring is important to getting a consistent product and that I need to write things down as I go as I will inevitably forget something if I don't.

Chili is one of those meals that is easily prepared ahead of time and you can customize it to your families tastes.  The recipe lists ground sirloin, but I've made it many times with ground turkey and if your family is vegetarian, you could leave out the meat and use veggie stock.  You may want to add an extra can of beans for volume, however.  Poblano peppers can really vary in heat, but I have yet to use one that has been spicy.  They have an almost fruity flavor to them and they really add to the depth of flavor of any dish you use them in, which is why I added them to this recipe.  I mince them, just in case.

I buy my spices individually at a much loved spice shop in Northern Michigan called Spice Merchants.  The chili powder I use is called La Mesa Dark Chili powder and it's the best.  Robust and flavorful without being hot.  You can order everything from their website and their shipping is fast   I also recommend their Smoked Sweet Hungarian Paprika.  If you'd rather make it easier on yourself, they offer a Fiesta Chili Blend that is delicious as well.  I suggest starting with 2 tbsp of that and going from there.

Savory Chili


1 lb. ground sirloin                             1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 red bell pepper, diced                      2 tsp salt
1 green bell pepper, diced                  1 tsp chili powder
1 poblano pepper, minced                  1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced

Place all the above ingredients in a skillet and sauté over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it browns.

In the crock of a slow cooker, place the following ingredients and stir to combine.

1 28 oz. can NSA crushed tomatoes             2 tbsp. Smoked Sweet Paprika       
2 14 oz. cans NSA diced tomatoes                1 tsp. Coriander   
1 6 oz. can tomato paste                               ½ tsp. Dried Chipotle powder                   
3 15 oz. cans NSA kidney beans, drained    1 tsp. Dried Oregano
4 tbsp. minced garlic                                    1 tbsp. Ground Cumin
1 cup beef stock                                            2 tbsp. Chili powder
Salt to taste

Add meat mixture when there’s no longer any pink and it’s finished cooking, draining off any excess fat.  Stir to combine everything into a homogeneous mixture and taste for salt.  Cook on low for 9 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.  I like to serve this with cornbread or over corn chips – my mom called it Potbellies when she served it over Frito's. I top it with light sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Two simple ideas for any leftover Chili: Chilimac or Cherogies.  Chilimac: Cook one package of short cut pasta; drain.  Add left over Chili to the pasta and stir to combine.  Top with shredded Cheddar cheese and serve.  Cherogies: Boil one package of frozen mini Pierogies.  Drain and add left over Chili.  Heat through and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

I promised a recipe for Chocolate Brookies and this recipe doesn't disappoint.  This recipe originally came from King Arthur Flour, but I've modified it a bit.  These cookies are customizable as well as you can add what ever chips/candies/nuts you and your family likes.  I dubbed these Brookies because they are shaped and bake like a cookie, but have the flavor and texture of a brownie. You'll see espresso powder in the recipe; you won't taste it.  It is there to add to the depth and intensity of chocolate flavor.  If you want a mocha flavor, triple the espresso powder.  They are insanely delicious and seriously satisfy any chocolate craving. 

Chocolate Brookies:

 2 ¼ cups, minus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
Whisk the dry ingredients together.

12 tbsp. (1½ sticks) butter, at room temp
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 tbsp. espresso powder
1 egg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee chips
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat butter, sugar and corn syrup until fluffy.  Add vanilla, espresso powder and egg.  Beat until combined and lightened in color.  Gradually add dry mixture until combined. Add chips and nuts. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper and scoop dough using a tablespoon measure cookie scoop to ensure each cookie is the same size and bakes evenly.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Makes 3-4 dozen.  

I hope you and your family loves these recipes as much as me and mine do! Much love! 

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