Super Bowl

Healthy Super Bowl chili

Healthy Super Bowl chili, © 2014 Celia Her City
Cooking for the Super Bowl?  This traditional yet healthy chili is my idea of a perfect game-day meal.

Though it does contain meat, this recipe is referred to in my family as low-cal or vegetable chili, because it produces a chili lower in fat and more nutritional than the traditional kind.

Something I like about the recipe is that it specifies a range of quantities, so that it can be tweaked and customized to suit individual taste.  Typically, I use the maximum quantity of all the ingredients, including the meat and chili powder, but I reduce or omit the cooking oil.  For a milder chili, or one that is meat- or vegetable-heavy, just vary the proportions accordingly.  Garbanzos can be used with, or instead of, the kidney beans.

If grass-fed beef is used, browning it in a separate pan as specified in step 1 may be unnecessary. Instead, brown the meat in the same pot where the chili will be made.  Then add the vegetables and proceed with the recipe, omitting most or all of the oil.

1/2 to 1 pound extra lean ground beef (preferably extra-lean grass-fed ground beef, which has very little fat)
1 tablespoon or less olive or vegetable oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
6 – 8 mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 cups chopped, peeled, fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup chili powder, to taste
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained

Traditional garnishes (optional)
Grated cheddar cheese
Reduced fat sour cream
Oyster crackers or saltines

1. Brown the beef in a pan over medium-high heat, breaking it up into pieces as it browns.  Drain off any fat by removing the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon and allowing it to rest on clean paper toweling.

2. In a large heavy pot, using a small quantity of oil if necessary to prevent sticking, saute the garlic, onions, mushrooms, and celery over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the meat, then the tomatoes, stirring to combine.  Add the chili powder, vinegar, and some water if needed.

3. Heat to a bubble; cover and simmer for 45 minutes over reduced heat, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the strained beans and mix thoroughly; again heat to a simmer.

5. Serve chili hot, with cheddar cheese and sour cream as optional garnishes.  Some people like to top chili with oyster crackers or broken-up saltines.

This recipe yields 6-8 servings.  It’s easy to double, and it freezes well.  It can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, which will improve its flavor.  On game day, just re-heat and serve!

Super Bowl cookies from Bittersweet

A Super Bowl Cookie from Bittersweet (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her City.

As the Super Bowl approaches, thoughts are turning to game-day food.  For Chicago tables, may I suggest Bittersweet Bakery‘s Super Bowl Cookies?

Bittersweet’s hand-decorated sugar cookies are technically impressive as well as delicious.  When my husband and I were there over the weekend, the bakery was selling Super Bowl cookies in several shapes: besides the football, there were team jerseys decorated with each quarterback’s name.  We bought one of each and enjoyed them thoroughly.  The icing on the football cookie even incorporates the special colors of the two competing teams!

Located on Belmont near Seminary, Bittersweet is one of the city’s leading bakeries, making custom cakes and cookies to order, in addition to offering a wide variety of classic tarts, cakes, and other pastries to carry out or consume right on the spot in its popular café.  The shop’s seasonal and special-occasion cookies have quite a following, so if you hope to buy some, you may wish to call ahead to make sure they’re in stock.  Making the cookies takes several days.

Bittersweet’s customers have posted almost a hundred photographs of the bakery and its wares on its Yelp photo page.