Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chili Cook-off and Best Banana Bread

I have been baking up a storm!

I am sharing two foods today because I have so many to share!

At work, our building maintenance guy, Tom, came to me and said that they want to have a chili cook-off. Awesome, right? He wanted to know if we could have a prize for the winner. So, I talked to the boss and was allowed to purchase a giftcard for the winner.

We planned it for Monday, the 21st, so everyone could cook over the weekend.

I made mine on Saturday afternoon. After the parade and cupcake exchange. Told you I cooked a lot!

I started with the ground beef. I used 5 pounds since I wanted to take a crockpot full to work and have enough for supper Saturday night, and some leftovers.

I chopped and added 2 onions. I let them cook till translucent. If you add this into the sauce, they onions won't sweat all their flavors out.

This is a turkey frier. This is what I had to use for the chili. Yipes!

I ended up using 4 cans of mild chili beans, with the sauce, 2 cans of black beans and 1 can dark red kidney beans. Use what you like, but I really enjoy black beans. They are tender and sweet.

I also added 3 of those huge cans of crushed tomatoes. I wish I would have used the whole tomatoes or stewed tomatoes. It was a little sauce rather than tomato chunky. So, I added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 1 small can tomato sauce.

I used two packets of chili seasoning, available at any grocery store. To this, I added a couple teaspoons of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of cumin and salt to taste.

I let this simmer on low with the lid on for an hour.

I had cheddar cheese, oyster crackers and diced onions available for adding.

I really loved it!

So, Monday, I took my crockpot of chili. It had 2 days for the flavors to sit and was even better!

There's mine on the right.

Look at all the chili.

There was even one more table top with crockpots. We had 7 submissions in all.

We had one rule. You have to taste all of them to vote.

We only voted for our favorites, so no points unless you were the person's #1.

Yes, there was discussion on the point systems. Some thought we should number them in order of favorite, cause if one person was everyone's #2, they could actually win. But it was easier to do just the favorites and that's what we did.

The building maintenance guy took it very seriously. This was his tasting tray. Most grabbed a bowl and ladeled in a half a scoop and went on.

The one on the top left is a white chili submission! We had one more come after this picture was taken, so he had to add on before he could vote.

This was the winner! It tasted a lot like mine, but without the black beans. And honestly, I liked his a little better because of the large tomato chunks.

I got 3rd place!

When it comes to making chili, everyone seems to like something different. The 2nd place winner used the juice from Pepperoncini peppers in his. It was different, but good! Tasted like Italian sausage or Italian beef.

What a fun day!

The Recipe:
5 lbs lean hamburger
2 large onions
3 large (28oz) cans whole, stewed or crushed tomatoes
2 cans (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 small can (7 oz) tomato sauce
1 can diced chilis (optional)
4 cans (14.5 oz) mild or hot chili beans
2 cans black beans
1 can kidney beans
2-3 packets chili seasoning
1 tsp cumin (to taste)
1 tsp chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp salt (to taste)

Brown hamburger, add onions and cook till translucent. Add all reamaining ingredients, tasting while adding seasonings. Bring to boil and then drop temperature down to simmer and let simmer with a lid on for about an hour or longer. Flavor will increase as it simmers.

Sunday night, our oldest boy had his 20th birthday. It was actually last week, but we had so many events, we planned to celebrate on Sunday. He wanted Buffalo Wild Wings and we picked up a huge order for the family and ate at home.

Instead of a birthday cake, he asked for Banana bread. This is my favorite recipe. It's from my Betty Crocker cookbook.
Each batch makes 2 loaves and I doubled it. My kids LOVE some banana bread and they really like this dense bread. It's crumbly, moist and rich. It's not a cakey, light bread.

Make sure your banana's are nice and dark. In fact, when my banana's start going bad, I throw peel them and dump them into sandwich baggies and throw them into the freezer. I had quite a collection in there! I used it all.

The loaf on the right has chopped walnuts in it. Since not everyone likes nuts in their banana bread. I just dumped a 1/2 cup in the loaf pan and used a spatula to fold it in. Easy!

They take about an hour to bake, so I popped them in just as we were sitting down to eat. Perfect timing!

It was good. It's always good, but man! Fresh banana bread? Fuhgetaboutit!

The recipe:
Best Banana Bread
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (or margerine)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana's (3-4)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup nuts (optional)

This makes 2 loaf pans.

If you are using 8 inch loaf pans it will cook about 1 hour, if using 9 inch, 1 hour and 15 min.

Mix the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Once this is smooth, add your banana's and let them mix in well. Mix in buttermilk and vanilla until creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add this a little at a time, just until moistened. Don't overbeat.

Fold in nuts if wanted and pour into greased loaf pans.

You could use any kind of pan from a 9 inch round to muffin tins.


Jana said...

Chili is one of those things I love messin' around with. The last batch I made, I used fire roasted tomatoes and Rotel along with a can of no salt added diced tomatoes. Girl, that stuff was GOOD. Spicey enough to make my nose run but GOOD.

I also switch out the kind of meat I use. Sometimes lean ground beef, sometimes turkey burger, sometimes a mix of beef and sausage. It's all good but each one adds a different flavor. For the last batch I used turkey because I knew the spicey tomatoes would offer a ton of flavor.

I usually make one big pot and divide it up into about six portions to freeze. Lasts me about six weeks. :-D

I loves me some banana bread, too. I haven't made it in a while, though. I may hafta buy some bananas and let them go black just to make some. lol

JenMarie said...

Oh, fire roasted tomatoes sound AWEsome to add! Yum.