Award Winning Chili – Sweet Potato Chili with Peanuts

It’s been too long since I posted a recipe. So here it is, a recipe.  An Award Winning recipe, I might add.  Last Saturday, this chili won the Hill Street Hoedown Chili Cookoff People’s Choice award.  And I didn’t even have to do all of the campaigning myself.  It actually stood on its own, and then I persuaded other people to try it.

I know, I know, arguably, this is not a chili in the true sense of the word.  No meat, no beans, but boy did it have a good chili flavor.  The original recipe was pretty weak sauce on the spicing, so I amped it up a bit with chipotles and cocoa powder.  Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your taste in chili.

Also, you should probably note that if you are taking this to a cookoff, you should give some sort of warning that there are peanuts in it.  Not something that allergic people are likely to suspect in a delicious chili.


Sweet Potato Chili with Peanuts
Adapted from AICR

2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 to 6 garlic cloves, minced, to taste
1 1/2 to 2 pounds orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in juice
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2 cans (4 ounces each) diced mild green chili peppers with liquid
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
4 to 6 Tbsp. of chili powder, or to taste
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin, or to taste 
1 Tbsp. sugar 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large, heavy pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and bell peppers, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until onions are golden. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Stir in the sweet potatoes, peanuts, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, canned chili peppers, chipotles, chili powder, cocoa powder, cumin and sugar.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just tender. Halfway through the cooking process, adjust the seasonings, adding more chili powder and cumin if you want. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 10 servings.

Valentine’s Day

Every year, I think about getting those silly Valentine’s Day cards at the store and sending them to my siblings and nieces and nephews and friends.  Basically, I never get that taken care of.  Sometimes, I’ll even manage to buy the cards (usually Harry Potter) and then promptly not get anything done with them.

I was thinking about it this year, since I have addresses this time, but typically, I didn’t get it taken care of.  Fortunately, I saw a post on Lifehacker the other day, which gave me the perfect solution: Video Valentines.

On Saturday night, before I watched Star Wars: A New Hope, I recorded a set of videos on my phone (Droid Incredible, you are incredible!) and sent them to my family.  And it was great!  I actually got Valentines sent this year.

So, I decided to record one for you, Loyal Blog Readers.  I even busted out a red shirt for the occasion and set up some fancy shmancy frame on my webcam. 😀  (I thought about going with a heart, but it was too not manly. So you get the postcard)

I hope you like it.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mindfulness – February’s Happiness Theme

Park Ellis

To kick off my Happiness Project, I picked the theme of Mindfulness.  It’s strikingly similar to Gretchin Rubin’s February theme of Self-Awareness.

Mindfulness has been coming up in my reading fairly regularly over the past few months.  It is a process of paying attention to one’s self and one’s emotions, and accepting them.  One of my favorite articles on the concept, posted at Zen Habits, had this to say about mindfulness:

Inner peace is revealed when the inner war ends. We stop looking outside ourselves for solutions to our problems and, instead, turn our attention inward to make peace with our own experience. This simple movement of attention is revolutionary. It heals, calms, and clarifies like nothing else.

Trent, over at The Simple Dollar, didn’t call it mindfulness, but his experience seems to be typical of the practice of mindfulness meditation:

Once or twice a day, I go into my bedroom, turn down the lights, lay on the bed, and look up at the ceiling. I start off by reflecting on a small handful of things that have really brought me significant joy in the past few days. After a few minutes of that, I focus entirely on emptying my mind for a while, and once that’s done, I just drift without anything in my mind. Sometimes thoughts drift in and out of my head – sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I doze off for a bit – other times, I don’t.

After about twenty minutes of concentrated mental relaxation, I almost always feel refreshed and much more able to tackle whatever is on the table in front of me, whether it’s a household task, some work to be done, some bills to be paid, or anything else. I get that stuff done faster and better than I ever would have done before the meditation.

Call it meditation or prayer or whatever you wish – it flat-out works.

I don’t know a lot about Mindfulness right now, so my first weekly goal is to do some more reading and research.

I’m going to start with the following two items and add a few more to it:

By this time next week, I’ll know a little more about Mindfulness.  By the end of the month, I intend to be practicing some Mindful Meditations.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Does anyone know of any other resources on Mindfulness that I use to learn more?