Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cooking with Sara: The Magical Fruit

I woke up to a blustery day today, and the first thing that came to mind was "I need to make chili!!"

I love this chili recipe, and I've been waiting for the opportunity to whip up a batch. No matter what, chili always tastes better when it's gray and gloomy outside. I love that this recipe is actually very healthy; I don't understand why store-bought chili has to be so crammed full of fat? And, yes - it's oh so yummy, mmmmm.

In case you were starting to back away from my blog, don't worry - this recipe post will be much less detailed and complicated than my cookie how-to. One of the things I love about baking is how precise it is. But we leave the precision behind for this chili. Part of its appeal is the quick n' dirty approach to putting it together. Once you have the ingredients lined up on the counter, it shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to get it into the oven.

I snapped a few pictures of the process for fun. One day I may spring for a real camera so that these are pretty-pretty, and I look like some kind of professional. Til then, I'm kidding no one :)
You seriously just dump in the ingredients and stir. No need to get complicated!
All chili ingredients are now combined and ready to go into the oven.

The Bomb Chili*1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 lb ground beef (or ground turkey or venison)
2, 28oz cans diced tomatoes, in juice
4, 16oz cans beans, drained
1, 6oz can tomato paste
1/4 c. dijon mustard
2-4 Tbsp. red chili garlic paste
1/2 bottle of beer (Molson Canadian is yum)
2 tsp. Johnny's seasoning salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until translucent. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned. Drain off any excess fat.

While the meat is cooking, dump all remaining ingredients into a large roasting pan and stir to combine. Stir in cooked meat, and then put roasting pan into the oven. Bake for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serves approx 12.

Chili wouldn't be complete without a side of cornbread. This recipe is so freaking good, that everytime I make it, I swear I'm going to eat the entire pan. It really doesn't even need any butter on it. Just serve it up straight from the warm pan, and you'll be everyone's new best friend.
Notice that my buttermilk is in a ziploc? I buy the quart-sized container of buttermilk and then divide it up into ziplocs containing 1 cup each. And then I freeze the bags for future use. It's more economical and way more convenient that way.

Because I use coarse grain cornmeal, you can actually see the little grits in the batter. I think it results in a finished texture that's got a little more oomph and interest than your typical cakey batter.

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread
courtesy of
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. cornmeal, pref. coarse-grained
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8" square glass baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt. In a medium-sized bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the sugar, and then adds the eggs and beat until well combined. Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk and add mixture to the bowl, stirring to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until few lumps remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

* I can take only partial credit for this chili recipe. Before I moved to San Diego, my roommate got this recipe (and its inherited name) from some friends. Over the years, I've made a few changes and made the measurements a little more exact. Due to my lack of creativity, I've left its original name intact. It's a rather unfortunate name, considering what the recipe is for. Any ideas for a new one?


  1. This was the best chili dinner I've ever had!! Amazing!

  2. Yea! Two more Sara recipes. I am still waiting for the cookbook! I have shared your cookie recipe with like 10 people. Everyone who has eaten them (I think I have made them three times) says they are the best cookies they have ever had! All thanks to you!!