I love spicy food, Mexican, Szechuan, Cajun……YUMMY! I actually didn’t acquire a taste for spicy food until I was in my late thirties when I tried Szechuan chicken for the first time and ordered it mild. After that first experience I was hooked and it didn’t take long until I started ordering it hot. My love affair with spicy food began and as time has progressed I love it even more.
As much as I love spicy food, the one thing that I never looked to spice up was my chili recipe. I made my mom’s sweet chili for over 35 years, it was one of my “Comfort Foods,” one of those dishes that I looked forward to making on cold winter nights. Some ground beef, red beans, tomatoes, a little ketchup….yes, I said ketchup, and a few other things thrown in, the house smelled great as it simmered and the chili tasted delicious!
Sweet chili was the chili Walt became accustomed to…..the one I always made and never deviated from. So, a few years ago, when I found this really great McCormick chili recipe on-line and ran out to get the ingredients to make it I guess I should have given Walt fair warning that it wasn’t my sweet chili. I guess I should have told him that it was a new recipe with a little bite to it before I, very excited I might add, met him at the door with spoon in hand and, as he walked through the door, said, “Here taste this, it is so delicious!!” and shoved the spoon in his mouth.
Walt’s eyes grew wide, he began coughing, and looked shocked. “What is that,” he asked as he took some water. Wondering if I should be disappointed at what I thought was his dramatic, over reaction (after all I tasted it and didn’t cough and cry), I said “it’s a new recipe, don’t you like it?” Ok, (what’s that saying “hind site is 20/20), maybe I should have given him a little heads up that I was experimenting, he was expecting the sweet taste of the chili I had made for years, it never occured to him that I would switch recipes let alone spoon feed it to him without giving him a little warning.
The story ends well, Walt and I both love this chili and now it’s the only one I make. The Cocoa Chile Blend does give it a little kick, a sweet/smokey flavor. The house smells wonderful and you can pick up the scent of cocoa as it simmers. This chili is great served alone, with sweet cornbread or with hot dogs….try putting it on the hot dog for a tasty chili dog!
I am sharing the exact recipe from the McCormick website but I do have a couple of changes that I make. I add the 2 tbsp. of the Cocoa Chile Blend as directed, but after I drain the fat from the beef I also add 1 tsp. of Cocoa Chile Blend to the ground beef (make sure to stir it well) before I add the liquids, beans and other spices. Also, I don’t add onions to the chili, we put the onions on top of the chili with the cheese and sour cream.
We love sweet cornbread muffins with this chili so today I am also including my recipe for Sweet Cornbread Muffins which you can also make into a bread by pouring the batter into a 8×8 pan. I had searched years for perfect sweet cornbread muffin/bread and this is it. These taste great warm or cold, on the second day, you can really pick up the sweetness!!
McCORMICK BEEF COCOA CHILI (From The McComick website)
1 pound Ground beef
1 cup Chopped onion*
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 can (15 oz.) Black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 ½ oz.) Diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 can (8 oz.) Tomato sauce
- Cook and stir ground beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat 5 minutes.
- Drain fat.
- Stir in spices and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion and corn chips, if desired.
SWEET CORN BREAD MUFFINS
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Spray or lightly grease muffin tins or an 8×8 inch cake pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.
- Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined.
- Pour batter into prepared muffin tins or pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes for muffins (20 to 25 minutes for pan) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
*Makes 10 cornbread muffins using a regular sized ice cream scoop.