Today I am bringing you another guest post. I am excited about this post for various reasons. First being that Stephanie, over at Keeper of the Home, has a heart for healthy, good tasting cooking (which is why I asked her to do a guest post!). I always enjoy reading her blog which is often focused on nutrition and health issues. It has been fun getting to “know” her through the blogging world. Secondly, I am excited about this post because it takes a familiar food, and makes it in a nutritionally focused way without sacrificing flavor. Thirdly, this is a great meal because it is so frugal! Fourthly, she gives great instructions. All great reasons to try this recipe out! Thanks Stephanie!
My favorite dinner: Chili and cornbread
Although not all chili or cornbread recipes could be considered healthy (and some are downright un-healthy!), by starting with the right ingredients and making a few adjustments, this can actually become a perfectly nourishing and satisfying meal. It is a favorite in our family, and one that I often make when entertaining large groups of people, because it is easy to make in large quantities, extremely filling, and very frugal!
Chili and cornbread have wide appeal, and there are as many different recipes as there are cooks. It seems that everyone has a preference for how they like this hearty, meal-in-a-bowl. Personally, I like mine chunky, with a variety of beans and veggies, some ground beef, and just a bit on the milder side (though my recipe is easy to spice up more, if you like it that way). I have a family of cornbread fanatics, so I’ve had to learn to perfect my own version of a light and fluffy, whole grain (and soaked), mildly sweet cornbread.
This meal begins the night before, with a quick 5 minute prep. Ready?
For the cornbread, you’ll need:
1 cup whole grain flour (Wheat, spelt, and kamut are all great; other flours you may have to experiment with)
1 cup cornmeal (the best choice is organic, as corn is often a genetically modified crop and can be heavily sprayed)
Either 1 cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup yogurt and 1/3 cup water
With a spoon or spatula, mix the cup of liquid with the flour and cornmeal in a small mixing bowl, until it is all evenly moistened. Cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel, and let sit overnight.
Next, get out a medium sized pot with a lid. Add to the pot 2 cups of dried beans. Here’s the combination I prefer (though you can do any combination you like):
1 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup pinto beans
1/2 cup black beans
Add enough water so that it is several inches higher than the dried beans (if doesn’t matter if you add too much water, so err on the side of too much). Then, you can go to bed!
The next day (I often do mine in the morning, while cooking, serving and cleaning up breakfast), continue on with the chili by putting the pot of beans and water on the stove, on high (you may need to add more water if all the water was soaked up by the beans during the night). Bring the water to a boil, skim off any foam that rises to the top, and then turn it to low and allow the beans to simmer (covered) until tender, usually about one hour. Drain the water, and rinse the beans under cool water, and set aside until later.
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bell pepper (any color), diced small
1 lb. ground beef
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 5.5 oz. cans tomato paste
3 large carrots, shredded (you could also use mushrooms instead, for a nice variation)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
2 cups of dried beans, cooked (see steps above)
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
1/2 tsp. Spike (a healthy seasoning salt- substitute with other seasoning salt, or sea salt if you don’t have it)
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1.Add the onions and olive oil to a large stock pot, on medium heat, and saute until the onions start to soften. Add the green or red peppers, and continue to cook until onions are translucent.
2.Add the ground beef, and cook thoroughly.
3.Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and shredded carrots, as well as the beans. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, to thin if necessary. Bring the chili to a low boil, and then turn the temperature down to low, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
While the chili is simmering in Step 3, it’s the perfect time to finish the cornbread that was started last night. Here’s what you’ll need:
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup butter
1.Preheat the oven to 425 F, and grease either a 9 x 13 or an 8 x 8 inch pan.
2.In a small saucepan, melt the butter and honey.
3.To the flour/cornmeal/yogurt from last night, add the baking powder, salt and eggs and mix thoroughly, then pour in the butter/honey mixture and stir until just mixed.
4.Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 min. for a 9 x 13 pan, and about 30 min. for an 8 x 8 pan, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Serve with a bit of shredded cheese, or cultured sour cream dollopped on top. Enjoy!