Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beefy Black Bean Chili with Spicy Corn Muffins

Sad, rainy, grey day? Check!
Temperatures in the 60s on lower? Check!
Delicious hot bowl of chili with spicy corn muffins? CHECK!

There is nothing as simply satisfying as a comfort laden bowl of home-made chili. And I can't bear a rainy, sad day without a little comfort food. A Deb needs her comforting.

Now, as with any chili recipe, you can certainly feel free to make this one your own. Don't like beans? Leave 'em out. Vegetarian? Substitute kidney beans and a chopped red bell pepper for the beef, making a Dual Bean, meatless chili. Like it HOT? Crank up the spices! You can make this on the stove top (takes about 1 1/2 hour, including prep time) or toss everything in the crock pot that morning, at first sign of a thundery rumble!
Oh, and did I mention that 1 cup of this, topped with my delicious flavored cheesy crumble (below), is only 6 pts on WW? It comes in just under 300 calories, with 7 g. of fat and 6 grams of fiber, ya'll. This is comfort food that is good FOR you! So snuggle in for some Deb style goodness.

Debtastic Beefy Chili

You'll need:
Cook spray
1/4 lb. spicy chicken sausage (I used Buffalo style! But you can substitute sweet sausage in this if you don't like the heat)
2 C. chopped onion (this sounds like a lot, but it really adds tons of sweet flavor in the background!)
3 minced garlic cloves
1 lb. lean sirloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T. tomato paste
2 C. chicken broth (use the low-sodium kind, it's better for you)
1 C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 C. water (You can also use beer, instead of the water, gives it a hearty, yeasty taste)
1 C. brown rice, prepared (optional -- if you add rice to any chili, it thickens it, ultimately. Play with your proportions to figure out how liquidy you like your chili; you can always add more water)
2 T. chili powder -- more or less to taste
1 T. hot peppers (omit if you don't like your chili to set your tongue a little on fire)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed (saltless, again, is better for you! Also, if you're not fond of beans, you can certainly substitute a chopped red bell pepper or another vegetable that you like!)

For Topping:
Cheesy Crumble (see below)
Fat Free sour cream
Crumbled Spicy Corn muffins (also below)

Remove any casings from your sausage. Heat a large sauce pan over medium high and coat with spray. Add in sausage, garlic and onion. Let the onion get soft, about 5 minutes. Add in your beef, cook until just browned, about another 5 minutes. Stir in paste, and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add broth, tomatoes, water, rice, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer about an hour, until meat is tender and broth has reduced to preferred consistency. Stir in your beans (if using), cook until warmed through, maybe 5 more minutes. Top each serving with Cheesy Crumble, serve with corn muffins and plain, steamed green beans with just a little butter and salt.

This makes 4 servings, and you'll thank me next rainy day. It's particularly good with beer, if you have a favorite kind to pair with it. I like this with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, but it might not be worth the extra calories to you! Besides, you definitely don't need alcohol to enjoy the meal.

Flavored Cheesy Crumble

1 oz. Cabot's 75% fat free white cheddar, shredded
2 T. shredded parmesan
1 cube Laughing Cow cheese wedges, diced -- pick any flavor you like! I used Garlic Herb
1/2 t. cajun seasoning
1/4 t. garlic salt

Mix together until crumbly! Use to top anything from soups to salads to chili -- melt this on an English muffin in the morning for breakfast, even. Or make a big batch and top some otherwise plain muffins with this, just before baking.

Spicy Corn Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350, and spray a muffin tin. These are 3 pts. each on WW.

1 C. flour
1 C. corn meal
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 T. Mrs. Dash, any flavor (I like the Italian medley)
1 T. Old Bay or Cajun seasoning (for mild or spicy flavor!)
1/2 T. garlic powder
dash of black pepper

Combine these dry ingredients in a medium bowl and create a well in the center. Then move on (using a new bowl) with the wet ingredients:

1/3 C. corn oil
3 T. honey
1 large beaten egg
1 C. 2% milk (I've also used half-and-half, we won't discuss why or how... It was fine, though!)
1 T. hot peppers (omit this if you want plain corn muffins)

Combine all and pour into the well. Mix into a dough, then stir in:

1/2 C. corn kernels, either fresh or frozen and thawed
2 T. chopped chives
Also, if you have any fresh parsley, oregano or basil from your garden, chop up a tablespoon or two and add in for extra flavor.

Using an ice-cream scoop, evenly fill your 12 muffin spots. The ice-cream scoop make your muffins perfectly measured, for one thing (nice to know your proportions for those os us counting our calories!), and also for a neatly domed top, for those of us with more severe OCD.

Bake until tops are golden brown, about 20 -- 25 minutes.

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