recipes

Easy Chili with Cinnamon and Cacao

Once the chill of late fall hits and glimpses of winter start to appear, we start to have soups, stews and chili on the regular. This chili recipe is my go-to because it’s quick, has simple, versatile ingredients, uses one pot, can be easily double-batched and is a fan-favorite of the most discerning customers — my kids.

A few weeks ago, I had eight for dinner on a Sunday night, and this chili was simple and filling and as low maintenance as it gets. It works just as well for a dinner party as it does on a Monday night. I am excited to share the recipe!

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cacao
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 28-oz can or box of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15-oz cans or boxes of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 15-oz cans or boxes of kidney beans, rinsed

 

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Directions

  • place olive oil and onions and garlic in a large pot and sauté over medium heat until slightly browned and tender.
  • add ground beef and cook over medium heat until browned.
  • drain off the excess fat.
  • pour in vegetable broth, chili powder, cinnamon and cacao and increase heat to bring to a simmer.
  • add crushed tomatoes, then both types of beans, and return to a simmer.
  • stir together well, and then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  • simmer for up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • if the chili becomes overly dry, add water as needed.
  • serve with sliced avocado or guacamole and/or shredded cheddar cheese and corn tortillas or corn bread + a simple green salad!

Feel free to substitute ground turkey for beef, and decrease beans to one box of each if you prefer. It is also okay to bump the amount of chili powder up or down (a little chili powder goes a long way, so depending on tolerance to spice, you might want to start with a small amount and increase over time).

Makes 8 hearty servings. Store leftovers in the refrigerator over night …. Your chili will taste even better the next day.

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Greeting Card Garland

You’re checking your list, and you’re checking it twice, to make sure you’ve sent all of your friends and family holiday cards, and now you get to relax and enjoy this time of year {well, not really} …. but it is the time of year when the pile of mail is made a little brighter by the many smiles of those who’ve sent you their holiday cards in return.

A couple of years ago, I started looking for a creative solution to display the holiday cards we received, and I came up with a low-tech solution that stuck. I punched small holes into each card and strung them up using baker’s twine, and with a couple small nails, I hung card garlands in my dining room. All you need to do the same is an open wall and the following supplies:

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I like to use a 1/8th inch hole puncher to keep the holes in the cards small and barely noticeable. You’ll also need a pencil, a hammer and small nails, a measuring tape and baker’s twine.

Using your measuring tape, you will want to measure from the floor to your first nail, and then duplicate that measurement for the second nail. We live in an old house, so the angles in the rooms are not plum, but as long as the measurements from the floor are exact, I have found that the garlands look straight and balanced.

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You’ll punch two holes in each card and string them up, one by one. If you don’t want to remove the nails and patch holes, you can string up other seasonal paper garlands at other times of the year.

Our garland wall has been evolving all year, but I am delighted it’s back to the holiday card garlands, because I love seeing those happy greetings all season long. These card garlands won’t come down until January 31st!

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