Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chili for a Cold and Windy Winter Day

So here in Virginia, it is VERY cold and VERY windy right now.   We have a high wind warning and it is blowing and whistling and neighborhood stuff is blowing into the yard and against the outside walls.  Not an awesome day outside, but a PERFECT day for a big crock pot of chili and curling up on the couch to watch some football!

Here is how I make it - I eyeball my chili measurements and taste things often.   If it needs more of something, I add it.  :)   Since I don't eat beans, I add lots of veggies to "beef" up the chili.  Yum!  I can't wait till it finishes!

First, cut up bell peppers.  I had great big peppers, so I used 2 green, 1 red, 1 orange and 1 yellow cut into 1 inch strips and then into 1 inch chunks.   It's important to not cut them too small because they will cook down a lot and I like some size to my veggies.

Next, I cut up yellow squash and zucchini.  I had medium to small squash and zucchini, so I used two of each.  I scrub them, cut them into about 1/2 inch slices.   For the fatter slices, I quarter them - everything else is just cut in half.

For the meat, I used 1.5 lb of ground venison that my cousin killed a few weeks ago.  I love having healthy meat in the freezer!   Brown it on the stove top.  And then add the seasoning - 2 Tbsp of chili powder, 2 tsp of oregano, 2 tsp of cayenne pepper, about a tsp of fresh ground salt and pepper.   (Usually I add a tsp of cumin too, but I seem to be out!)  Add the seasoned meat to the crockpot.

Finally, tomatoes.   Usually I use the tomatoes I canned back in August, but this year I have used most of them up!  I used two large cans of whole peeled tomatoes - use your shears and cut the whole tomatoes in half.    And add one pint of fresh canned tomato juice (our tomatoes were red and yellow this year, so we have orange tomato juice!). I don't even stir this up for now, leaving it layered for the first bit of cooking.  Cover and let this cook on high for about 25 minutes, then stir and reduce to low for about an hour.   The veggies will soften and release some more liquid, and the volume of chili will reduce.  It is so yummy!  Taste it to see if you need more cayenne or chili powder.  Most likely I will add some more fresh ground pepper and salt at the end.

And to wrap up, just a few notes.   We don't eat onions or garlic, so I leave that stuff out.  A lot of recipes call for adding the onions in the bottom of the crock pot first, letting them soften in there, and including some garlic if you want.  It adds a whole new flavor level if that is something you enjoy!

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