Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tomatillo Chili

Out of all the culinary items I've discovered throughout my Woman's Day cooking journey, those that stand out the most are capers and smoked paprika. In short, capers are a marvelous little flower ball thingy found near the olives in the pickle aisle and are most def in the pickle/olive/artichoke flavor range and smoked paprika is not at all like regular 'ol shake-this-ruddy-flavorless-color-on-my-deviled-eggs paprika. It's smokey--hence the name.

This is my fourth year cooking from Woman's Day recipes and I'm all biggety about knowing how to cook but still I come across items and I'm all like,"What is that and where do I get it?"

This time I was trying to make my New Year's Day Vegetarian Chili and the recipe called for tomatillos. In my mind, what that meant was either some sort of vegetable in a can or some sort of tamale in a can. I searched the aisles of the ethnic cuisine at Kroger to no avail. What I did find was this:

All I saw was the word "tomatillo" and that's all I needed. I was tired of looking.

Of course, in reality a tomatillo is a vegetable that I could've found in the produce section, it obviously resembles a tomato, and had I read the recipe I might have realized that. But isn't this way more fun?

I dumped the entire 12 oz jar of sauce in my chili. I also added cilantro and 2 squares of Lindt chili dark chocolate. It was delicious.

Chili is the ultimate January meal in my opinion. Every year, my church used to host a special speaker and celebrate the new year with a chili cook-off. I obviously won on at least one occasion and gained possession of the coveted Chili Pepper Wreath for the year. 

In 2012, I also hosted a chili cook-off for small businesses to raise money for the winner's charity of choice. Our local bison farm earned the most votes and all the contestants took home hot sauce. Our runner up enjoyed a "chili" cake made by a local cake artist.

(Our Chili Cake...or IS it??)

Chili is really a community experience. I imagine my friends and I, out on the farm for a hearty cowgirl night, sipping cold fresh milk with spicy bowls of chili--all from our own secret recipes. There would be sides of cilantro, brown sugar, sour cream, and cheddar cheese with a selection of oyster crackers or rosemary bread. We'd all have our own special bowls and sit around the campfire. Maybe someone would bring a guitar and at the end of the night we'd smell smokey just like a ranch hand.

These chili pots are hand crafted by David Norton out of Round Hill, Virginia. I want the blue one for myself and I'd love to attach a recipe to each of the other three and give them to friends with a promise to host a Cowboy Campfire.

I'd place a tomatillo in each one. 

U.S.Metricconversion chart
  • 3 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 cup(s) diced onion
  • 2 tablespoon(s) minced garlic
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup(s) thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup(s) chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 8 ounce(s) (1 1/2 cups) fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in big chunks
  • 1 medium (1 1/2 cups) zucchini,  halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 can(s) (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can(s) (28 ounces) tomatoes in purée, tomatoes coarsely chopped (see Note), undrained
  • 1/2 cup(s) chicken or vegetable broth, or water
  1. Heat oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, until onion starts to soften. Add red and green bell peppers and carrots and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until carrots
  2. Add chili powder, ground cumin, salt and ground red pepper and cook and stir 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatillos and zucchini and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatillos start to soften.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, or until sauce has thickened and vegetables are tender.
tips & techniques
Note: To chop canned tomatoes, snip them directly in the can with kitchen scissors.


Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." --I Corinthians 5:17

I made one New Year resolution, and that was to live in the present.

That IS to live in the present?

There are regrets--dwelling on them causes sorrow, anxiety, hopelessness. The future is uncertain so the potential for worry nears the surface in a race against doubt and fear.

This is what I have--I am making choices now. I'm choosing to reconsider my thoughts and produce action in this moment. This moment will be past. This moment will be forgotten more than likely. I have learned from the past and I've established goals. I am ready to just do.

I looked at my empty bowl of chili and found myself scooping up the remainder of the pot for seconds. I've eaten enough food in the past to know that eating seconds can lead to weight gain. If I wait, I may not be hungry after the first round settles.

In that moment I had more, I wanted more, and I could have more.

I put the remainder of the batch in a plastic container and I sat down to write this blog. I'm not going to spend the rest of my life making up for what I chose to do in the moment.

I'm thankful I had the money, time, and energy to make that chili. I enjoyed it, I gave thanks for it. I'm still hungry. And I can accept and I will accept it.

We fool ourselves planning for what we will do every day. I will just do.