Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beat the Winter Blues

During the cold winter months it is easy to hibernate, but the best way to beat the winter blues is to cozy up next to the fire with good friends and a delicious meal. Trade in your flannel pj's for a party dress and invite friends over for dinner.  The best advice for entertaining good friends is to keep it simple. Your guests would much rather you be present for the lively conversation than tied up in the kitchen.  Make what you can in advance so you can remain stress free when your company arrives. For cold winter months, chili is a great option. Who doesn't love a meal that will warm them up when the temperature is dropping outside? Add a twist to your traditional chili by incorporating southwest flavors and dark ale. This is a recipe that will surely have your guests asking for a second helping...

Fireside Chili
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 16oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Toasted Cumin Sour Cream (recipe below) 
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the ground beef and sauté until browned. Transfer the meat to a plate and drain excess grease. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft (About 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes (be careful not to let the garlic burn). Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add the beer and cook until the beer is completely reduced. Return the beef to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, honey, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir in the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes.  Taste the chili and add salt or pepper to fit your taste.  Remove from the heat. 
Toasted Cumin Sour Cream:
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Place the cumin in a small sauté pan over medium heat and toast until lightly golden brown. In a small bowl, combine the toasted cumin, sour cream, lime juice.  Stir the mixture until creamy and season with salt and pepper. 

Your chili will not only taste delicious, but it will look fabulous in a classic white bowl.  The focus will be on the pops of flavor in the chili, and not on the color or pattern of your dinnerware. This "chili" bowl from Crate and Barrel is perfect for serving your guests.

The last detail to take care of for your dinner party is the table.  Instead of using flowers for your centerpiece, put a couple of candles in a shallow dish filled with dried beans. Not only does this centerpiece save you time and money, but it looks super chic. In addition, the candles will provide the perfect ambiance for this cozy winter meal.

Images via Crate and Barrel and Martha Stewart

No comments:

Post a Comment