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Is it chili or chile?

…that depends.  Are you talking about a soupy mixture or a fruit of the capsicum group? Since neither spelling begins with a capital “C” then it isin’t about the country.

There have been strong debates as to where the best chile’s are grown and New Mexico takes pride in being the “chile” capital.  For this distinction, in 1983, the then governor of New Mexico declared the spelling end with the letter “e” and had a full legislative body to back him. The new spelling ending in “e” became a congressional act of New Mexico.

If you sit down at a table with a bowl of soup mixture, the word ends with the last letter being an ” i “.

Chili spelled with an "i"

…but if you go to the grocery to buy the fruit itself, the word ends with an ” e “.

Chile Pods

If you were to buy the pepper in powder form, look at the spelling.  If the word ends with the letter “i” there are more ingredients included than dried peppers.  If the powder is spelled with the last letter as an “e”, it is pure, dried, ground chile pepper.

chili and chile powder

Ingredients for chili above.

Two lbs. beef, pork or in this dish, venison, cubed
One large sweet onion
1/4 cup flour
Two cloves garlic, finely chopped
One small can tomato paste
One large can diced tomatoes
28oz. can beef broth
Four Tbls. New Mexico chile powder
One Tbls. ground cumin
One tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Two stalks celery including leaves, chopped
Two tsp salt
Three Tbls. apple cider vinegar
One bell pepper, seeded and chopped
One poblano chile, seeded and chopped

Cut up or chop all ingredients above. In a dutch oven, brown the meat. Remove from the oven and drain on a paper towel lined platter. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic and poblano chile. Add meat back into the dutch oven. Sprinkle the flour over this.

Now, add tomato ingredients along with beef broth. Add apple cider vinegar.
Allow to simmer for one hour.

Add all the dry ingredients (spices and herb) along with the celery and allow to simmer for 1/2 hour longer.

Home Chef’s note:  I find adding herbs and spices towards the end more flavorful.  They simmer long enough but not so long they lose flavor.

Calling for Emergency Leftovers

Colder weather is on the way here in the south.  Snow/Rain/Ice mix expected.

This off again on again cold and warm weather has reaked havoc on my sinuses. Fortunately, my troubles held off through Thanksgiving. The day after, it hit hard. I felt like someone kicked me in the head. I couldn’t even use the excuse “it was the wine”.   Feeling better today but not up to par. Being that we didn’t have serious Thanksgiving leftovers due to everyone getting second helpings, I decided to retrieve the emergency leftovers.

Yes…I call them emergency leftovers. These are the food items one makes extra of and freezes for times when you don’t have time to cook or feel bad or actually get too sick to cook for the family.

In my case??? I feel pretty good in fact but… I have this obsession with drippy noses.  I can’t prepare food when I have to blow my nose.  Despite that I wash my hands, it’s just a thing I have.  I. won’t. cook.   Hence the reason I’m a home chef not a professional.  A restaurant most go on because a pro chef has a huge debt to pay.  I, a home chef, can reach into the freezer and pull out an “emergency leftover.”

To start, I did in fact stick my carcass in a stock pot.  That is…my turkey carcass.

While I do have the broth and meaty pieces from the carcass, I’ve not added ingredients to it such as…celery, carrots, etc.  Later, when I don’t have a drippy nose, I’ll do that.  In the meantime, the stock with meat pieces is in the freezer.  I’ll thaw it later, add the ingredients and maybe have soup then or re-freeze for that emergency leftover day.

Today though…I’m thinking….Cream of Chicken Soup.

A lot of people are intimidated by pastry; pie pastry particularly.  One does not have to have “Pot Pie” to enjoy the comforts of cream of chicken soup. Don’t get me wrong, “Pot Pie” looks and tastes scrumptiously comforting.  In this particular case  (drippy nose syndrome) I just ladle over toast or biscuits. Or eat without bread. Add crackers if you like.  It doesn’t matter. The point is there is no need to handle raw dough.

My make ahead recipe is… Boil three to five boneless chicken breasts for about eight minutes. (I buy in bulk when Kroger’s has them on sale)  I then remove from the pot and cut into chunks.  At this time, I could let cool and freeze.   I generally open two cans of cream of celery soup and two cans of cream of chicken soup and pour  into a pan. Add one cup of water, the chicken chunks.  Bring soup to a boil then simmer a minute or two.  At this time proceed with other ingredients or let cool divide soup into containers allowing for two cups per person and freeze. This amount of chicken and soup makes for six to eight people.  Be sure to write the date on the container.

When ready to cook…add      1 ½ cups of frozen peas and carrots, teaspoon of celery seed, salt and pepper to taste.  One could add celery and carrots but when you don’t have it (or in my case drippy nose), the celery seed makes up for lack of celery and… frozen vegetables are a good substitute.

I learned from my mother, when you use something from your pantry write it down on the grocery list, then and there. Always replinish and stay stocked for those times you don’t have time or have a (drippy nose)and don’t want to handle food with your hands.

Stay warm and embrace whatever wintry mix you get.

Cooler Temps Designates the Comforts of Warm Soup

It may not be bitter cold today in North Georgia but windy, gusty conditions with temps in the low 40’s makes this the prime time for a bowl of Tomato Basil Soup.

If you have been following my blog recently, you will have read my recent entries of my opportunity to stand on stage and photograph great Chefs of Atlanta along with celebrity Chef Aarón Sanchez of Food Network Series “Chopped” during the weekend festival of Taste of Atlanta.

L-R, Chefs Suzanne, Tina, Tom and Jeffrey(Chopped Contestants) with Sanchez

Several of the Chefs demonstrating throughout the weekend festival cooked tomato based dishes using canned tomatoes since technically locally grown fresh tomatoes were out of season. This was the end of October.  The first time I saw canned tomatoes used by a celebrity chef was while watching Food Network’s own Chef Anne Burrell.   While tomatoes are always in abundance 365 days a year, the fact is, they’ve been in storage or they come from very far away and not the same as fresh locally grown.

A good substitute is a can of San Marzano.  However, San Marzano is hard to find in local grocery stores.  If one wants to drive a distance to specialty markets, then they will find San Marzano.  In my opinion, having tried San Marzano, an even better substitute is Muir Glen brand tomatoes.  They can be found in any grocery store chain in the organic section of the store.

Muir Glen is a collaboration of organic tomato farmers located in Petaluma, California, Sonoma County.  While San Marzano plum tomatoes grow in Naples, Italy, perhaps organically, I find Muir Glen more flavorful.  In fact, I’ve all be stopped using fresh tomatoes in all my tomato based dishes because I can not achieve the scrumptious flavor in that of Muir Glen.   I know this sounds like an advertisement for Muir Glen but I can’t emphasize my love of their tomatoes.

I always use my grandmother’s Iron Pot for soups, chili and pot roasts. Maybe a stainless steel pot would work but I’ve never tried it.

This recipe is the easiest and fastest way to serve up a dinner in less than 20 minutes prep and cooking time.
Serve soup with toasted Gruyere Cheese sandwiches for an additional WOW! factor or any cheese will do.
The soup makes a great side dish to any dinner entrée.

Serves four to six people depending on being used as the entrée or as a side dish.


A good amount of Olive Oil drizzled on the bottom of the pot
One Large can (28oz) Tomatoes
One quart (32oz) Beef Broth
One medium yellow,sweet onion, sliced thinly
One clove Garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine (Alternative – Marsala)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chiffonade of Basil to top off the soup

Slice onions and mince garlic. In a hot pot, drizzle olive oil then sauté onions until lightly browned. Add minced garlic to cook less than 20 seconds. (Cooking garlic over this amount of time will ruin any dish) Add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 -15 minutes. Just before serving add wine for additional flavor. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cabbage and Meatball Soup

Today was a rainy day in North Georgia.  I wasn’t in the mood to walk in the rain from the house to the car, drive down the driveway to the gate, get out and open the gate, drive through and close the gate back, drive 16 miles to the grocery store only to return and do the same all over again.  So….I challenged myself to forage from the fridge and pantry and came up with Cabbage and Meatball Soup.  It was really quite delicious.

The following photos show the ingredients and preparation of the soup.

The Ingredients

I use Johnsonville Italian Sausage for my meatballs.  To the right of the sausage is a new item I just discovered.  These are concentrated containers of Stock to add to soups.  They are pretty expensive but I bought both beef and chicken for the purpose of having in the event I ran out of broth or stock.  I used one container for three cups of water. They blended in nicely.  The other secret to many of my dishes is Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes.  I discovered this from Smitten Kitchen when Deb Perelman was out of fresh tomatoes.  Because they are so flavorful,  and really make a difference in the outcome of my dishes, I’ve just about given up on using fresh tomatoes.

Set up a pot for the soup.  Add three cups of Water and one container of Knorr Chicken Concentrate Stock and set the stove on Medium High Heat.

Take chunks of the ground sausage and make into balls about a half inch in diameter.

Brown the meatballs in the skillet.  Place on a paper toweled rack to absorb excess fat.  Place in a pan and keep warm.

Drain the grease from the skillet but keep residue for sautéeing onion.

Slice a whole, sweet onion and sauté until translucent.  Add to the Pot of Water

Next take a half of a head of Green Cabbage and slice or Julienne and add to the soup.

After this, slice two whole carrots in rounds at an angle.  This prevents slices rolling all over your cutting board.  Place these in the Soup.

Allow the soup to cook for about 30 minutes.  Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.  Ladle the soup into bowls and add the meatballs.