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House Party's 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off Recap

Thank you for all of the great submissions for our 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off. For our community entrants, we selected Brian C.'s Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili, Dian R.'s Harvest Pumpkin Chili and Tabitha S.'s Beef Chili (with chocolate!) to be entered into our cook-off among Stephanie's No-Bean Chili, Robin's White Chicken Chili and Mel C's Indian Spiced Vegetarian Chili. House Party employees tasted every single one (a tough task, but someone had to do it) and voted in three categories: Taste, originality and presentation.

The winners were:

Taste: Dian's Harvest Pumpkin Chili

Originality: Mel's Indian-Spiced Vegetarian Chili

Presentation: Steph's No-Bean Chili


Best Taste: Dian's Harvest Pumpkin Chili


Dian's (cooked by Danielle) was a huge hit with everyone really loving the spice as well as the flavor. Interestingly enough, I don't like pumpkin but the recipe sounded so interesting to me (and easy!) that I was compelled to try it. And I must confess to loving it! Many people commented they couldn't taste the pumpkin or didn't like pumpkin but went back for seconds of this. I did slightly modify the recipe, but not enough to change the taste. I used ground turkey for a leaner feel but didn't use a hatch chili or any chili. I didn't use paprika and replaced white pepper with black. And for extra kick I substituted Fire Roasted Tomatoes instead of regular diced tomatoes and topped off the chili with a few squirts of hot sauce. I did not top with sour cream or add rice as this dish stands on its own. I will DEFINITELY make this again. Thank you for sharing with me, Dian!

My Own Harvest Pumpkin Chili

1 Lb ground beef or ground turkey 1 sweet yellow onion (diced) 1/2 red pepper (diced) 1/2 yellow pepper (diced) 15oz can pumpkin puree 1 hatch chili, diced (or other mild green chili) 1 can black beans 1 can chili beans 1 can diced tomatoes (with juice) 8oz can tomato sauce 3 Tbsp. chili powder 1 Tbsp. brown sugar 2 1/2 tsp cumin 1 tsp salt 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1 tsp white pepper 2 tsp cayenne pepper (for spicy chili) 1 tsp smoked paprika Sour cream (optional topping)

Directions: Brown turkey in saucepan till cooked thoroughly. Put in slow cooker and sweat onions, peppers and chilies in same saucepan for about 5 minutes. Add to slow cooker. Put all other ingredients in slow cooker and mix thoroughly. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve hot with sour cream and cornbread, if desired.

NOTE: You can change out the veggies or beans in any combination to suit yourself


Most Original: Mel's Punjabi Vegan Chili


I wanted to do a twist on chili this year - most people seem to like Indian food and I had a bunch of Indian spices, so googled around and found this recipe for "Rajmah Punjabi Curried Red Kidney Beans" and made some tweaks, below:

  • I used 1 tsp of red chili powder instead of 1 tablespoon (note, this is not the same as American chili powder, it's more like cayenne pepper)
  • Where it says use 4-6 green Thai, serrano, or cayenne chilies, I used 6 serrano peppers
  • Note, I felt this recipe was a little too salty - next time, I would probably start with 1 Tbsp of salt and add more to taste after it's cooked. I added about a tablespoon of brown sugar to the finished chili to help balance the saltiness.
  • There was a tip at the end to add 1 cup of plain yogurt. Instead, I added about 1 cup of the Tofo-Coriander Raita (see below).

Tofu-Coriander Raita (like yogurt) - I pretty much followed this and added a scant amount of salt then served it on the site and also added some into the chili right before serving to help cut some of the saltiness.

For the brown rice, I cooked it in a rice cooker with water and added a spoonful of Vogue Cuisine Vegebase.


Best Presentation: Stephanie's No-Bean Chili


IMG_3759Stephanie's No-Bean Chili - complete with cornbread and all!

Other community entrants:

Tabitha S's Beef Chili


IMG_3761Liz made this one, and while it was a classic beef chili, this one has a twist with a quarter cup of dark chocolate included! Everyone commented on the unique flavor the chocolate added and it had a LOT of rave reviews! I even presented the chili with some dark chocolate chunks which I thought were for presentation only, but people ended up adding it to their bowl for an extra chocolate kick! Note Tabitha recommended cooking this stove top, but I opted for the slow cooker. I simply browned the beef then added all the ingredients to a crock pot for about 8 hours. I also added quite a bit of hot sauce, as I like my chili to pack a punch. I 'd say the chocolate chili was a big hit, but then again when is chocolate not a hit! Thanks, Tabitha!!

Beef Chili with a chocolate kick

1 lb of lean ground beef 1 onion 1 green pepper 1 can kidney beans 1 can diced tomatoes 2 tsp dehydrated onions 2 tsp chili powder 1/2 tbsp sugar 1/4 cup dark chocolate 1/4 cup of mild salsa 1can tomato sauce 1 tsp olive oil Dash of hot sauce

Directions: Finely dice onion and green pepper. Heat olive oil in pan and add the diced onion and peppers. Simmer 2 minutes on med while stirring constantly. Then add ground beef. When beef is browned drained any excess grease off. Then add your tomato sauce, salsa, beans, and chili seasoning. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Then add all your other ingredients, except for hot sauce. Simmer an additional 10 minutes. During the last two minutes add the hot sauce (you can do more than a dash, just taste first to see when it's spicy enough for you). Serve in bowl with grated sharp cheddar on top.


Brian C's Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili


Our own Brian made this one, a unique and incredibly flavorful variation of chili. Brian Curtis' recipe blends several non-mainstream ingredients including sweet potatoes, crumbled chorizo sausage and hominy among others into the mix. Folks in the office were very complimentary of the flavor and uniqueness of the recipe. While this variation of chili didn't pack an immense spice punch, it held its own among the others with a slow zing of chorizo balanced by the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. I'd never thought to use sweet potatoes in my chili, but will likely begin using it regularly since it adds a creaminess and sweetness that complements spice and heat very well. This recipe requires a large high-walled skillet for cooking as well. After doing the initial cooking, I decided to move it over to a slow cooker for convenience and found that the texture and flavors got even better after a few more hours simmering on low. The only thing I regret is that I didn't get a chance to make the Poblano-Avocado Crema accompaniment (my apologies, Brian!), but will be looking to complete this the next time around since I know that additional topping will really set this chili apart. A big 'thank you' goes out to Brian C's recipe - it was a blast to make and even more to eat!

Sweet Potato Chorizo Chili:

2 sweet potatoes 1 jalapeno 3 cloves garlic 3 tomatoes 1 canned chipotle in adobo 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 lb uncooked chorizo 1 onion, chopped 1/2 tablespoon cumin 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 2 cups chicken stock 1 (28 oz) can hominy, drained 2 tablespoons tomato paste Salt and pepper, to taste ~1 tablespoon cornstarch, to thicken (optional)

For the Poblano-Avocado Crema: 1 avocado, pit and skin removed 1 poblano pepper, roasted, chopped, and seeds removed 2 limes, juiced 1/2 teaspoon cumin Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve: Green onions and/or cilantro, chopped 6 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a foil lined baking sheet, place the sweet potatoes, jalapeno, garlic, and tomatoes, and the poblano (if making the Crema). Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool until you can easily handle the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized cubes. Mince the garlic and the jalapeno, making sure to remove all of the jalapeno seeds. In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted garlic (squeeze it out of the paper), roasted tomatoes, and chipotle chili. Set aside.

In a large, high-walled skillet, cook the chorizo. Remove from the skillet, let cool, and slice. Set aside. Add the onions to the skillet (add olive oil if there's not enough grease from the chorizo), and saute over medium heat until translucent. Stir in the spices and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted tomato mixture. Cook 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the chorizo you've set aside) and bring to a boil. Let boil until the liquid reduces slightly (about 3-5 minutes) and then turn the heat down to a low simmer. Add the chorizo, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

When the chili is almost finished, combine the ingredients for the Poblano-Avocado Crema in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you prefer your chili thicker, create a slurry with equal parts cold water and cornstarch and mix it into your chili. Serve the chili with goat cheese, a spoonful of the crema, and green onions and/or cilantro.


Honorable Mention: Robin's White Chicken Chili



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