Weekend Eats 12-17-12

We are so close to Christmas/vacation time that this particular Monday morning doesn’t feel too bad at all! All weekend I found myself saying things like, “This is the last Friday night we’re in Charleston until after Christmas!” and, “This is the last Saturday we’re in Charleston until after Christmas!” and, “This is the last Sunday….” 

Okay, you get it. 
I’m excited. Can you blame me? I know you are too, right?! 
I kicked off the weekend by cooking a pot of my Tempeh and Bean Chili, with a few modifications. I subbed black beans for the red kidney beans, skipped the garlic, and used a can of diced tomatoes with chili peppers rather than using tomato sauce. 
 I love this stuff. It’s so filling and full of nutrients, not to mention just plain delicious. Win win win!
On Saturday, Greg and I spend most of the late morning and afternoon running errands. It wasn’t too long before we were ready to refuel and grabbed lunch from Chick Fil A. 
I got the Southwest Chargrilled Salad with Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing…surprise, surprise. 
Saturday night was spent at my company holiday party at an art museum downtown. We had a great time. I sipped on wine while eating a mini roll with turkey and cranberry sauce and a pork slider on a delicious little biscuit. There was also a do-it-yourself mashed potato bar. Think: Menchie’s (or any other self-serve frozen yogurt place), but for mashed potatoes. Toppings included gravy, shredded cheese, chives, sour cream, sauteed mushrooms, etc. So fun! 
I spent Sunday creating a few different holiday treats. I’ll be sharing those in more detail later this week, but here’s a preview…
Finally, Greg made venison patties for dinner with meat one of his clients gave him (just like last year). 
I feel so adventurous when I eat venison. Kind of like a cave woman too. Regardless, it’s pretty good. And even though I had already eaten more meat over the weekend than I normally like to, Greg made a point that it’s lean and just about as organic as you can get. 
Okay, fine. 😉
What was the tastiest part of your weekend?

Tempeh and Bean Chili

Sometimes I really can’t understand how I ever lived all year round in Ohio. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on my hometown. I was born and raised in Columbus and it always will be home. I love it for that reason alone, and love going back to visit. But man, it gets coldddddd.

When temperatures drop below 65 degrees here in Charleston, I am freezing. Not even kidding. Like, fuzzy socks and sweatshirt on (hood UP), freezing. I look forward to this time of year for countless reasons (pumpkin-flavored everything, sweaters, boots, football, cool morning runs, etc…), but it takes some time to adjust.

A hot bowl of chili does wonders for this sort of thing. After discovering tempeh as a great meat alternative, I was excited to experiment on my own. Combined with not much else besides beans and vegetables, this makes for a meal you can feel good about on the inside and out. That’s a good thing too, because I’ll be eating a lot of this until springtime rolls around. 

Tempeh and Bean Chili

Makes about 6 servings
8 ounces tempeh
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans
1 cup water
1 packet chili seasoning mix
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, crumble tempeh into the pan. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add onion and pepper to the pan. Cook until vegetables become tender, about 5 more minutes.
3. Pour tomato sauce, entire can of beans (liquid included), water, and seasonings into the pan. Bring to a sizzle, stirring occasionally, and cook about 5-8 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week. 

Heating Up with Spicy Chicken Chili

Today is a big day.
Involving a big pot of chili. 
With my reputation on the line.

This chili you see here is my ticket into our office’s Chili Cookoff tonight. I made a batch of this chicken chili last weekend, followed by a more traditional beef chili this past weekend. At first, I thought it would be safer to stick with a beef chili. But after comparing the two that I made, I knew the chicken had much more potential to win. It really was a.maze.ing. 

Greg and I were just about sweating with every bite. Not only because it’s spicy, but because temperature-wise, it was just so hot! As the days get cooler, chili has become my favorite way to warm up. If you are looking for a good chili recipe to help warm yourself up, this is it!
I still feel like I’m taking a risk entering the chicken chili into the competition, because I am expecting the other entries to be beef. My beef chili didn’t impress me though and to win I’ve got to take the risk. I could be wrong in this prediction, but if not, it just seems like it would be difficult to compare chicken to beef. 
Either way, I am praying for a win. 
Being an athlete almost all of my life, I can be very competitive. The only other cooking contest type-of-thing I have done was this past spring at one of Greg’s coworker’s house. My “deconstructed apple pies” won the prize for best amuse bouche! That was a proud moment for me, but I still don’t have much confidence. 

But if this chili is as good as Greg and I think it is, it’s going to be hard to beat!…Ok, so maybe I am a little confident 😉
Wish me luck!
Spicy Chicken Chili
(Adapted from Eat.Live.Run.)
Makes 6-8 servings
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 ounces chicken stock
1 can (14.5 ounces) cannellini beans
1 can (14.5 ounces) pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn
6 ounces canned chopped green chilis
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powders
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Italian blend seasoning (I used Thyme/Oregano blend)
3/4 cup half and half (I used fat free)
8 ounce sour cream (I used fat free), plus addition for topping
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chicken and onions. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken mix to a large pot over medium heat or a crock pot. Add chicken stock, beans, corn, chilis and seasonings to the pot and stir. Bring pot to a boil, then turn down heat. Allow chili to simmer for 30-35 minutes.
3. Turn off heat and add half and half and sour cream. Stir well until cream is completely incorporated. 
4. Serve hot and top with cheese and sour cream if desired.