Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cooking: Chili two in one

I just finished reading a book about an American who meets a Frenchman, moves to Paris to be with him, and ends up living there. The book details their adventures in buying an apartment and her efforts at embracing the cultural mindset of the French in work and everyday life. Oh, and there are recipes.If you are looking for an interesting, fluff book (non-fiction) I am happy to loan it/recommend it to you.  I dream of taking my family and going to live in a foreign country, so this fueled my desire to do so. AND it also brought to the forefront my Americanness. I am not ashamed to be an American, in fact, I am quite proud to be one. However, when I hear about 4,000 calorie meals and listen to my husband complain about our $1,400 a month insurance bill, I do sometimes wish I lived somewhere else, even for a short time. 

The main character in  Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (Elizabeth) freely admits to being more comfortable in Victorian England than her native New York City, so when she moves to London to get her master's degree, she does not feel out of place. After meeting her future husband at a conference in Paris, and eventually moving to Paris, she still feels very much at home shopping daily at the local market and eating as the French do, long and late. However, when her very American mother visits, she is annoyed by her American ways of wanting to have leftovers and seconds.  Bounty and the celebration of it is indeed a very American thing. We are a nation built on hard work and determination. We are also very much of the mindset that we deserve the bounty that should come with hard work. 

I have become very conscientious in the last year of the amount of food my family wastes. As someone who really hates leftovers, I have slowly trained myself to eat more of them. (Luckily my husband loves them and falls on that grenade a fair amount). I have started trying to extend my cooking into two meals, for example, turning leftover pork ragu into pork soup with tomatoes and white beans.  I like to think my American love for something to be "two in one".
This week I created my own recipe for a two in one. 
My family love Mex, Tex-Mex, Cali-Mex, really any form of Mexican inspired food. As I mentioned, this week is a hectic week of swim meets (2), volley ball tryouts, talent show auditions, swimming/diving practices, homework and school. That is my kids alone. 
We get home at 6 pm and I like to have dinner on the table before 7 if possible. So, my friend Crock Pot was put to work this week. I read enough recipes to realize that the frozen chicken thighs could be put in the crockpot at 9 am and at 6 pm would be ready rock. 
Boom! My theory was proven right. I put 2  pounds of chicken thighs, a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1 package of  taco seasoning, and 1 table spoon dried onions in the crock pot, salted it and peppered it, closed the lid, turned her up to high and went and worked out.  I checked it a few times and made sure the chicken was thawing, but I could have left well enough alone.  I also made a batch of Dinner A Love Story's Mexican slaw.

Most of my cookbooks

At 5, I turned it to low and went and picked up the girls from school. When I got home, I sauteed some onions, mushrooms and bell peppers with a little cumin, garlic, salt and pepper for myself. While that was sauteing, I sliced and avocado, warmed up the shells and shredded about half the chicken.  Viola! Chicken tacos with slaw. 
We sat down by 6:30! Everyone loved it.  I was so thrilled with myself!
The girls ate more of the chicken out of the crockpot, but I still had about 5 thighs left and all the juice. I just shoved it in the fridge and called it a night, sharing my plan with my husband for the next night's dinner. ( I may have gloated a bit).

My collection of recipes that work

Steve questioned my plan, wondering if that was gonna be enough.  I assured him I was a master, but decided to stop after drop off the next morning and buy a pound of some sort of beef. 

I won't bore you with the blow by blow of  how the chili came about, just suffice it to say my family was almost giddy and my husband told me several times just how much he really, really  loves me.

I think I hit a carni home run.

Here is the recipe for the two in one. I upped the chicken to 2 1/2 pounds for my future reference as my kids eat like teenage boys. If you are not as inclined to eat what amounted to 9 large tacos,  feel free to just do the 2. Also, I originally was going to get beef stew meat, but the store was out. So fiddle as you like.

Tanya's Two Night Two in One Tex-Mex Coup D'etat 
Tanya's Taco/ Chili Two in One
(After making tacos using 2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, one can diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, dried onions and salt/pepper, start the below recipe with remaining 1 lb chicken)
  • 1 lb. Chicken thighs
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 sm. can tomato paste
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans drained
  • 1 tbl. diced onion
  • 1 tbl. chili powder
  • 1 tbl. cumin
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
Fire up the leftover chicken in the crock pot on low. (It will look greasy. Ignore it.) In a skillet, brown beef  with a little salt and pepper. Drain and add to crock pot along with all ingredients EXCEPT beans.  Cook over low for 8ish hours. Add beans one  hour before serving. Serve with cheese, sour cream, left over slaw, etc. 
*If you will not be home for an hour, you could always add the beans in the beginning. I think they might be mushy, but maybe not.         

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