Sunday, January 4

A Little Work...A Little Play!

As usual with the New Year, I'm in an organizing mood after the dreaded thought of de-Christmasing the house. Plus, we've been in our house for 8 months and are finding out how our routine works with where things are placed. I've already sorted through my closet, so this weekend we organized the garage. Everything finally has a place and there are different zones on our built in shelves for each specific task...grilling, yard/gardening, tools and sports equipment. While everything was drug out, we swept and used the blower in every nook and cranny to get it really clean. Let's see how long this lasts!

Once the garage was complete, we pulled down all the boxes for the Christmas decor from the attic. We collected all the decorations and organized them as well. We decided not to take down our tree since it's still perfectly fresh and we are still enjoying it so much. We'll officially finish de-decorating next weekend once we take down the tree...but for now we're those people!

Of course the weekend wasn't complete without a little play, especially with some of our new things we received for Christmas. Saturday, Ben's friend Chris, who was just accepted for a Beer Master program in Chicago and Munich, came over for a little celebration of helping Ben brew his next beer. My parents gave Ben a turkey fryer to use for brewing, so it was quite interesting to see the new process. I very much enjoyed my house not smelling of wort! If you're interested in his process, check out his blog: Jamm'n Brews. His next batch is a Double Scottish Ale!!

After a much need grocery shopping trip, I spent most of Saturday engrossed in Twilight...falling in love with Edward Cullen. And today we started off the rainy morning by making pancakes on our new griddle.

I also used my Williams-Sonoma Chopper and my Dutch Oven to make a big pot of chili. It's sitting on the stove cooking now, but it smells wonderful. Since Christmas Day, when we missed a chili dinner at Ben parents, he's been craving chili. We found a 5-star recipe from Cooking Light that includes a bottle of beer. We used Ben's home brewed Cinnamon Oatmeal Stout! I hope it tastes as delicious as it smells.

Smoke's Chili (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 pounds lean, ground beef
3 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add half of meat. Cook 10 minutes or until browned; remove from heat, and drain. Repeat procedure with 1/2 teaspoon oil and remaining meat; set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, red pepper, and garlic; saute 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add meat, sugar, and next 5 ingredients (sugar through beer); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Add beans, and simmer, uncovered, an additional 40 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve with sour cream and cheese.

Note: To freeze, cool chili, and place in an airtight freezer container or a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Freeze chili up to 3 months.

UPDATE!! The Chili was a success in our new DK Clay pasta blows from my parents! It had an interesting flavor that was very complex...lots of spice and a little sweet from the brown sugar. You couldn't really tell it was made with beer, but I guess knowing it's in there is good enough. It was very very filling and I'm going to freeze half of what we have left for dinner in a few weeks. I'm pretty sure this will become our standard chili recipe with a few modifications.

I'm off to spend the rest of the evening with Edward Cullen!

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