Throughout December I get so excited about Christmas and New Year’s that I enter this sugar-induced gingersnap peppermint haze. Fudge at 10 am because a friend made some? Yes! Does eggnog pair well with cupcakes? Yes! Want to swim in a river of molten white chocolate and take a nap on a fluffy bed of cotton candy? YES! I feel like I’m on the Buddy the Elf diet, ” stick to the four major food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.”
Enter January, and I want healthy, predictable meals that leave me feeling nourished. But they have to be dead simple to get on the table because my body is going through sugar withdrawl. The whole time I’m cooking, boxes of Milk Duds leftover from the kids’ stockings are calling from the cupboard, like the ghost of Christmas past – “Maaaaarrrriiiiaaa!” If I can’t have something ready in 20 minutes I’m done for.
Slacker’s chili is the antidote to this temptation. It was inspired by one of my favorite health food take out meals, My Fit Foods Mario’s Marine Corp Mash. I tinkered with the recipe until I got it to the essentials. One friend, after finding out what was in it, said, “No self-respecting Texan would ever call that chili.” I may be a Texan now but I was born a Yankee, you guys. Hence Slacker’s Chili.
2 lbs of 93/7 lean ground beef
1 can of black beans
2 24 oz jars of salsa (medium or hot)
1 can of whole corn kernels
2 cups of red quinoa
shredded cheddar for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)
lime slices for garnish (optional)
cilantro for garnish (optional)
1. Brown the ground beef in a large pan on medium heat. Drain the fat.
2. Dump 1 full jar of salsa into the pan and about half of the second jar. Add the black beans and corn. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer. Add more salsa if the mixture starts to get to dry.
3. In a small sauce pan, add two cups of quinoa to four cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Keep an eye on the time. The quinoa is done when little white spirals escape the kernel. Don’t let it cook too long or it will get mushy. Total quinoa cooking time is about 15 minutes. Sometimes red quinoa is hard to find. I get mine at CostCo or in the bulk section of the grocery store.
4. Serve. Put a scoop of quinoa in a bowl and top with the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and top with a small scoup of sour cream and some cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge. Enjoy!
We can easily feed our family of four with this and have 3-4 servings of leftovers (keep in mind, two of those four are small children and let’s be honest – they don’t eat anything). This make a great lunch – the quinoa keeps you going. If you’re craving some sugar and need a small fix, cornbread muffins pair really well. I like the Jiffy corn muffin mix – add a half cup of sweetened coconut flakes or raw coconut flakes (if you want to cut back on sugar) to the batter and sprinkle some on top before baking. Make it while the quinoa and ground beef mixture are simmering. Don’t trick yourself into thinking the muffins are healthy. However – they are better than an entire box of Milk Duds. They also make an excellent bribe with the kids. Cornbread gets them to the table. You must eat six big bites of chili before you eat your muffin. <Let the negotiations begin! Anchor high, moms and dads. Anchor high.>
Now when I was working, my days were insane yet I hated bringing food. I felt like I needed the break to run out and get something to eat with co-workers, even if it was just a sandwich, to break up the day. (Bad expensive habit! and who has the time!) Eating at my desk made me feel like I was on a treadmill. Ho hum ho hum. Time to work. Time to eat. Time to work. BUT, if I had a lunch I was looking forward to, it made a difference. Having this in the fridge always made my lunch something to be pumped about. And on the days I was back to back with meetings, it meant I didn’t starve. Don’t forget to pack those garnishes! They add a lot of flavor.
What are your mealtime staples? How are you using January to get off the elfin sugar diet?