No, it's not Christmas. Hello, it's only September! Sorry if I got your hopes up. But for realz, you should know it's not Christmas yet.
Fall is my favorite season. I love chilly weather and all that comes with it. Fall clothing, Fall foods, colorful leaves, all that stuff. One of the things that I'm most excited for is the annual soup making weekend at my parents' house. Every year, my dad gets out the stock pot and makes chili, chicken soup, and mushroom barley soup, and freezes a bunch for the fall/winter season. The house smells incredible for those few days, and I look forward to the first taste of each. But of the three, the one I look forward to the most is chili. I'd say it's proportional to the amount of effort that goes into the cooking. Chili is quite a production in our house. There are multiple cookbooks laid out on the kitchen counter, each contributing a bit to the chili. You see, cookbooks aren't so much a necessity in our house for turning out delicious recipes, as they are inspiration for creating our own dishes. The chili is no exception. (sidenote: if the recipe calls for 1/4tsp of cayenne, for the love of all that is good do not quadruple that amount! You'll burn your face off. For serious.)
Since I moved out of my parents' house, I've started experimenting with my own chili recipes (even though I always have a couple servings of dad's chili in my freezer. Except for right now. Because mailing chili to the UK may not go over so well, for so many reasons). Since I'm going home (!!!) in a few weeks, I've started trying to figure out ways to use up all of my pantry ingredients. One of the ingredients I have copious amounts of is lentils. I just keep forgetting I have them. So last night, I decided a great way to use them up would be to make chili, and use lentils instead of beans. Since it turned out pretty well, I figured I'd share the recipe with y'all. Because I'm just awesome like that. Oh and as an added bonus, I went through all the trouble of measuring out portions both in weight and in cups so that I could give you WW points. Don't you just love me?
Beef and Lentil Chili (Makes six 1 1/4C servings, 7pts each)
1 medium onion, chopped (I used 3 small onions, since that's what I've got)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
A small palm of cumin
A small palm of oregano
A large palm of chili powder. Just go crazy with the stuff.
A dash of cayenne. More, if you're feeling adventurous. I like to live on the edge.
1C lentils. I used brown. Make sure to rinse these bad boys before cooking.
2 cans (I believe these were 15oz) of chopped tomatoes.
1lb ground beef.
1T olive oil (no, I don't have a picture of that one. So sue me.)
Directions: First, get the lentils in a pot. They're going to take about 45min to cook fully, so you want to start them before anything else. Bring the water to a boil and skim off any of that foam on the top. It won't kill you if you eat it, but it's a lot nicer without the stuff! Bring water down to a simmer, cook until tender.
About 20 min into the lentil-cooking, pour olive oil into a large pot. Heat on medium, add garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add onion and sprinkle with salt to help the sweating process. Once the onions are translucent (about 5min), add beef and mix it all together. Dump in the spices. Once the meat is browned a bit (it took maybe 7-8min), add canned tomatoes. Don't let the meat fully cook before adding the tomatoes, because it'll get dry. No one likes dry meat. Unless you do. Then you're weird. Anyway. Let everything simmer for another 10-15min, and add the lentils in when they're cooked. Taste to make sure the spices are to your liking, season with salt and pepper, yadda yadda yadda.
That's it! So simple. Usually I make chili with black beans, but like I said before, I have a crapload of lentils that need to be used up. The process would be the same (except if you buy canned black beans, which you probably will, you don't need to cook them beforehand. Duh. Just make sure to drain them well).
**Note: I put a dollop of light Greek yogurt on top, which isn't accounted for in the points.
Stay tuned for more recipes! I really crave baking in the fall, so you'll probably get a few pie "recipes" (aka I'll do my best to give you a recipe but really I just throw a bunch of stuff in the pot and taste as I go so it comes out delicious anyway). Maybe some cupcakes, too. Since some people don't like pie. (I see that shocked look on your face. Believe me, I don't understand it, either).
Do you have any fall traditions? Do you love chili as much as I do? Do you have an awesome recipe you want to share? Huh? Huh? Do ya? Do ya? DO YA? <----if you can name that movie, I'll give you a prize. Or a hug. Probably the latter. Definitely the latter. Not that a hug isn't a prize. It totally is.