chili

Big News

Finally! Some good news to share! First, I got a promotion at work. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn new things. Second, Michael got a job! It’s a contract to hire job and it’s the perfect job for him. We hope it goes well and after the contract is up, it goes permanent. It’s been a very, very long year and I’m glad that there is finally some positives coming our way.

There’s also been some other…exciting things happening here for me. I’ve been so excited lately and unable to SAY ANYTHING…it’s been killing me. I especially wanted to share my news with you guys!

In January I started sending out query letters to literary agents to try and get my book published. Honestly, writing the book was a lot easier than this portion of the journey. Lots and lots of rejection, disappointment, feeling hopeless and then…

I found an agent. Or did she find me? We found each other and she LOVED my book and we just clicked immediately. Our first phone conversation in June lasted nearly an hour and I liked her immediately. Of course having an agent doesn’t necessarily mean it is guaranteed to be published. The book industry is changing rapidly and publishers are much pickier. Giving a first-time author a chance is a gamble and I hope one of them risks it on me.

I do have a back-up plan in case things don’t go as planned. Like I said, the market is hard. This could be a very long process. I may not have any news for awhile. I will keep you guys posted the best I can and cross your fingers that a publisher wants to give me a chance.

This blog has evolved a lot over the years and I am so happy that I’ve been able to maintain it to inspire you guys. Even if I only inspire one person, my job is done! I hope that my blog AND my book can be an example that massive weight loss CAN happen in a healthy way and the weight CAN be kept off without depriving yourself of every joy in life. (Ahem, beer, pizza, ice cream.) I truly hope that my blog and book illustrate that my life in moderation is both effective and FUN!

The day that Michael got the news that he was hired, we went out to celebrate. We went to the Matador for some yuppie-Mexican food that just happens to be delicious, even if it’s not authentic.

CHEERS!!! I had one Ninkasi Total Domination IPA. It was great on a hot day.

They brought the usual chips and salsa and I tried not to go too overboard with them. It’s easy to mindlessly munch those things.

Michael ordered the burrito, smothered in sauce and their zesty sour cream/guacamole dressing. I’ve had it before and it’s absolutely wonderful but way too big for one person to eat alone.

His burrito had black beans and shredded beef in it. He gave me one bite and I remembered just how great that burrito was. But I loved my dinner. I got the smaller plate: firehouse chili.

I loved my chili. It was fantastic and really, really spicy. It had peppers and chunks of beef in it, topped with their sour cream mixture, shredded cheese, onions and the crispy tortilla strips. There were also chunks of tomatoes in it. I want to find a recipe similar to this and make it this winter. It’s probably my favorite chili I’ve had in a restaurant.

We went home stuffed to the gills, happy about our good news, and ready to relax in our food coma.

Fat Kitty was not impressed with our news. But what does he know?! I am so happy that things are getting on track. Cross your fingers that they keep going that way.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite spicy chili recipe?

Spicy, Smoky or Savory

First things first: check out my guest post called “I Run For Me” over at Live Love and Run. I’ve been on a roll lately!

love love love chili. It may seem weird to be making chili in the summertime but here in Oregon it’s been mild weather and the Sunday afternoon I decided to make this recipe was overcast and drizzly. I had almost all of the ingredients except for the chipotle powder. Do you know how hard that is to find?! Michael tried to find it and failed and I also failed. I found a “chipotle salsa” that I decided to substitute. It was the best I could do.

I started cooking, chopping and measuring and Michael joined me in the kitchen to help. It was nice to cook together. It’s been awhile since we’d done that. We both looked at the ingredients list and balked at the “2 Tablespoons of chili powder” and I quickly checked the reviews of the recipe online. That’s a lot…right? But everyone said it was good so we decided to go for it.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 2 cups

Calories per serving: 307

Fat per serving: 8 grams

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Note: Chipotle peppers are dried, smoked jalapeño peppers. Ground chipotle chile pepper can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets or online at penzeys.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Notes

From: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/sweet_potato_black_bean_chili.html

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=32358

I think I added a bit too much sweet potato. I used a large one instead of medium sized. I love using my Dutch Oven and sadly, not many recipes I make need it. It’s always a treat when I pull it out.

Once everything was in the Dutch oven simmering, I tasted it here and there to see how spicy it was and if I should add more chipotle salsa. I ended up adding a little bit more.

Despite having 2 Tablespoons of chili powder and very spicy chipotle sauce, it wasn’t that spicy. Is there any better smell than the aroma of onions and garlic cooking in a skillet?

I let it simmer for a little bit longer than the recipe suggested because there was a lot of liquid. I wanted it to cook down just a little bit. While I was waiting for it to simmer down, I watched a little bit of “Drop Dead Diva” (any other fans out there? I’m on season 2).

I wished that I had made some cornbread to go along with the chili because it would have been a perfect combination. The end result wasn’t as soupy as the above photo.

I put a little big of shredded Colby Jack cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream. We ate the chili with some tortilla chips (again, I would have preferred cornbread to chips).

The chili was pretty good. It wasn’t the best chili I’ve ever made and it wasn’t spicy at all (at least to me). I think it was more smoky than spicy. I most definitely have to go to a specialty store to get that powdered chipotle peppers because I’m sure it makes a big difference. I think it would also be good with some ground turkey meat.

QUESTION: Do you like your chili spicy, smoky or savory?