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From Maureen, Milwaukee, 01-22-2011
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Msg ID 0819596
Well, the big game is tomorrow! GO, PACKERS!! [Sorry, Chicago!]

It's bitterly cold here, but everyone was out shopping for their game snacks and beer. Tomorrow, the grocery stores will be utterly empty of people. If you walk along in the neighborhoods of Milwaukee during gametime, you can faintly hear the shouts and screams of people inside their houses every time the Packers score. The Pack is really a lifestyle here, and Cheeseheads rule.

I decided to make our game day chili a day ahead - just wanted something warm and filling when it will be -10 tonight. We had chili on some delicious ridged pasta that catches all the chili sauce and bits of meat [Yum!]. Topped with some green onion and cheese, with a little spoonful of sour cream melting into the chili? Gustatory Heaven!

On the side, there was peppery-sweet cornbread, a green salad, and then brownie bars for dessert. Nothing earthshaking, but really good nonetheless. And I hope the chili will mellow and be even better tomorrow.

[PRE] GAME-DAY CHILI MENU

Cooked ridged elbow macaroni
Toppers:
Finely sliced green onion
Finely diced jalapeno pepper
Low-fat sour cream
Low-fat shredded cheese blend [Cheddar and Monterey Jack]
Green salad mixed with dried cranberries and golden raisins
Lemon vinaigrette dressing
My Special Cornbread
Saltine crackers and Wheat bread
Butter, Honey
Brownie Bars

[PRE] GAME-DAY CHILI

1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin
Canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tsp chili powder [to taste]
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp oregano or Italian blend seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced spiced tomatoes "for chili"
1 (15-16 oz) can chili beans, medium heat
1 1/2 cups water

Brown meat in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, breaking meat up to desired size. When browned, drain, and empty meat into a stock pot with a cover.

In the same skillet, warm 1 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir 2 more minutes; add more oil if needed. Add herbs/spices, stir in and lower heat. Stir til spices are fragrant, 3-4 minutes, but do not let mixture burn. Empty into stockpot and mix into meat. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, and chili tomatoes to pot, stir well. Add salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water, stir well.

Cover and place on stove top over medium-high heat. Check and stir every few minutes until mixture is boiling. Decrease to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir every 20-30 minutes, adjusting heat and adding additional water as needed to prevent the mixture from sticking/scorching. Remove cover during the last 15 minutes of cooking if you want to thicken the mixture.

PASTA

Just before the chili is done:
Cook 2 cups [dry measure] Barilla or Pastene ridged elbow macaroni as package directs. I like a slightly softer pasta rather than "al dente" for this dish. Drain pasta, add 1-2 tsp canola oil, mix well, cover and keep warm.

MY SPECIAL CORNBREAD

I package Jiffy cornbread mix [8.5 oz]
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp finely diced jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp finely diced sweet red pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a Pyrex pie pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Stir together mix, milk, egg, and sugar. When almost mixed, add in peppers, and stir. Do not stir until smooth, mixture should be slightly lumpy. Empty into prepared pan, smooth mixture to edges.

Bake about 15 minutes or until top looks dry and edges are lightly browned. Let sit a few minutes, then cut into wedges. Serve with butter and honey.

BROWNIE BARS

1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 heaping tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips [or try bittersweet or milk chocolate chips]
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt butter in microwave on medium power. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Beat in egg.

Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, then stir into butter mixture. Add chips and nuts. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake 15 minutes, then begin checking the bars. When done, and checked with a toothpick, there should be some moist crumbs clinging to the pick. Do not over bake - they will become very hard. Cool 5 minutes, then cut into squares to serve.

We sometimes top the bars with a small scoop of frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Set everything out as a buffet. Give everyone a large pasta dish. Spoon some pasta into each bowl and top with a ladleful or two of chili. Add your favorite toppings. Beer, soda, and ginger shandy go well with chili. A small plate for salad and bread, and you're ready to enjoy!

On to victory!


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