Food and football is a pretty big deal for my family (go, Notre Dame!). Life is shared and experienced around the dinner table and also during the wins and losses of our favorite teams. One reason why food is so enjoyed is because everyone in my family cooks.
My mom was the main cook when we were young, but my dad was always in charge of grilling, pie baking, and most of the summer canning (apple sauce, marinara, beets, etc.). When my oldest brother was a senior in high school, he would cook gourmet meals for us on the weekends. Because there were a lot of available cooks in the kitchen, I didn't actually get that much practice (except for baking, I always baked with my mother). I knew enough basics from observing and making simple dinners for myself, but I never had to prepare an entire meal for someone until I got married.
Despite my limited knowledge, my intentions were to cook most of our meals. Jordan told me recently that initially he was worried that I wouldn't be very good, but I proved him wrong! I spent that first summer of marriage watching cooking shows and saving magazine clippings of recipes: Real Simple Magazine and Rachel Ray were among my favorite resources. I was determined to figure this thing called adult life out and apparently it began with the perfect spaghetti sauce.
I've always admired women who know what to bring to a potluck or dinner party, ones who can whip up the perfect meal for a family with a new baby and isn't phased by unexpected company. My mother-in-law is the queen of this and always has the perfect amount of food for extra visitors. I like to try new recipes and really don't repeat exact meals very often. This makes for exciting meals, but I haven't always documented if it was a success or failure (my mom will write on the recipe when it was eaten). When I make a meal for someone other than Jordan, I tend to panic for a brief moment while choosing what to cook.
Chili is the one meal that I'm always confident to make. I found this recipe early on and still use it religiously; it's never failed me so why rock the boat?!
Basic Chili (adapted slightly)
1 pound ground beef 1 onion, diced 3 cloves garlic (or granulated) 3 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 1 cup water 2 (15 ounce) cans of beans (I use kidney and pinto) 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 tablespoons white sugar 1 tablespoon salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
The recipe that I use is mild because I can't really handle spicy food anymore, but it would be easy to add more peppers or hot sauce. Try it with rice, egg noodles or the always delicious corn bread. It turns out perfect, every time!
I'm on the hunt for a white chili recipe, any favorites?