Thursday, October 31, 2013

If You Can't Stand The Heat, Move the Laminator Out of The Workroom Where The 20 Crockpots Are

Happy Halloween. 

I'm a lame parent.  I haven't posted Miles's progress in a while, but he can roll both ways now.  He has little babble-conversations with us, laughs a lot, and smiles a LOT.  He sleeps through the night (although, lately, he's been opting out of that in favor of snuggles / nursing time), and he's pretty much the best baby that ever there was.  But not writing my doting page anywhere near his month-days makes me lame. 

Even lamer:  today is his first Halloween, and we are staying home.  He is wearing a white onesie.  But, with Andyface doing his Alternative Teacher Certification program in the evenings, I just couldn't bring myself to put in the effort to get him dressed up just to go to the church Trunk-or-Treat, and then leave after 15 minutes because I was bored and didn't have anyone to talk to.  So, sorry, Miles. 
Miles is going as a cute baby this year.

Anyway, also today there was a chili cook-off at work. 

Normally, I'm not a competitive person.  I'm way too much of a people-pleaser to do that. 

When it comes to food, however, I am secretly very, very, very competitive.  Or maybe not so secretly.  Food is something I do (I think) quite well.  For me, every potluck is a competition, and I get my feelings hurt if my food doesn't get eaten. 

Case in point:
Ward Chili Cook-off, 2011

Andyface and I came up with a brilliant recipe for a Jamaican Jerk chicken chili, with pineapple and jerk seasoning, and it was darn good. (Not a true "chili," but we were hanging out with a bunch of Yankees in '11, so that was irrelevant.)  However, there was also a pie contest.  So, we entered two of our favorite pies: chocolate haupia and chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake swirl. 

Unfortunately, we bit off a bit more than we could chew, and none of our entries actually made it to the table in time to be judged.  The two pies didn't have time to properly set, and so we just ended up being really bitter about the whole situation.  We knew, just knew, that if we had had our chili on the table in time, it would have won.  Alas. 

We were angry about it for a good two weeks, even then calming down only enough to face people in the ward without wanting to punch them in the face.  Still, when someone would reference the chili cook-off, we would fume (quietly, to ourselves). 

[Side note: Yankees don't know about chili.  The accoutrements were severely lacking.  Cornbread is a must.  Cheese is a must.  Hot dogs are not an acceptable substitute.] 

Yet, when I saw the sign-up for the cook-off this year, I had to enter.  Because it's FOOD, and I do food.  I'm new at this school, and I have to make it known that I'M GOOD AT FOOD. They have to be like, "Oh, blah blah blah, food?  You should ask RACHEL.  She'll know what to do about FOOD."  They have to be like, "Oh, Rachel brought the Crock Pot this week, so you know it's gonna be stellar."

So, I made a chili.  Normally, my chili is a hodgepodge of whatever we happen to have in the pantry, and it usually turns out pretty well.  I haven't used a recipe for my basic chili in years, so I felt pretty confident in my ability to make a pretty good one.

Thankfully, this year, my chili placed.

Here's (most of) the recipe.  There are still some secrets omitted.  A lady never tells.

RACHEL'S ROJO (Roasted Poblano-chipotle chili) 

1 large Poblano pepper (stem removed)
1 medium Anaheim pepper (stem removed)
3 Roma tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 large white onion, thickly sliced 
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper 

1.5 lbs. ground chuck 
1 (14.5 oz.) can of Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can black beans (drained and rinsed) 
1 (14.5 oz) can chili beans (undrained) 
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce 
1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 
1 chipotle chile (from can in adobo sauce), finely chopped 
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
3/4 cup chicken broth 

1.5 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder 
2 T. brown sugar 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
1/4 cup fine-ground cornmeal 
1/8 cup Secret Ingredient #1 
1 T. Secret Ingredient #2 

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Place both peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast until tender and starting to char, about 20-30 minutes ( I wasn't watching the time. Don't blame me if yours get too charred!).  Remove from oven and let cool.  Turn off your oven.  It's not safe to leave it on like that.

Brown ground chuck in a skillet.  Drain with a slotted spoon, and place in crock pot on "low." 

Add next eight ingredients (through chicken broth), and stir. 

Coarsely chop the roasted peppers, onion, tomato, and garlic.  Add to crock pot.  

Add spices (through cumin), and stir.   Let cook on Low for 3-4 hours. 

Add cornmeal (other acceptable thickeners: masa harina, crushed corn chips, corn tortillas, or even corn cereal).  You may need more or less, depending on how thick you like your chili. Add Secret Ingredient #1, stir, and cook for 2-3 more hours.  Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Just before serving, finish with Secret Ingredient #2. 

Serve with cheese, chips, sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, corn bread, crackers, etc. . . .

Hot dogs optional.