Last week was a long week. Not a standard TGIF kinda long but an if-this-week-doesn't-end-soon-I-will-die kinda long. Yes, I have a flair for the melodramatic. And yes, it is completely justified after the week I had.
First, I got sick. It started with a minor cold (because it always does) and I soon found myself deep in stuffynose-phlegmville. Of course, I popped cold medicine like nobody's business, continued to go to work, and planted big, wet, sloppy kisses on the baby. So it was only a matter of time before the baby got sick. And you know how all things baby are inevitably cute? Well here are two things which are not. Baby puke and baby blow-outs. 'Nuff said. The baby screamed bloody murder when we tried to clean his nose but had no problems licking the snot as it leaked out his nose and in his mouth. The kid's a true foodie, I tell ya.
So it's mid-week and we're barely holding it together. We have run out of clean dishes. I have taken to pouring dry cereal straight outta the box and into my mouth for dinner. Giant, wrinkled piles of clean laundry are getting mixed with equally giant piles of dirty laundry. I'm hobbling around because I've somehow managed to pull some weird muscle in my back. Oh wait, that happened when I was trying to wrestle the dirty laundry. And for a fleeting moment, I remember my single life. And then, something pops that blissful, scrapbooking, trash tv watching bubble. The hubster croaks that he thinks he's getting sick.
Don't get me wrong, I love the hubster. But when he announced that he was getting sick, a small part of me was one step away from putting my hands on my hips and going, "Really?!? Now?!?" And another small (tiny, I promise!) contemplated saying, "Well suck it up, pal!" But then I figured it was probably less work to quarantine him. So, I sent him off to bed while I made pots of soup, picked up millions of used kleenex, ate cough drops like candy, and surreptitiously cleaned the snot out of the baby's nose.
Thankfully, the good folks from Green Works sent over some much-needed natural cleaning products for me to try. I can attest to the amazing'ness of their compostable cleaning wipes because I used them on everything from the baby's changing pad to the counters. In particularly desperate times, I used 'em as hand wipes. And yes, I contemplated using the wipes to give myself a quick sponge bath. The wipes are fresh and free of harsh chemicals and when you're knee-deep in sickness, it's nice to know you're not adding chemicals to the mix.
By the time the weekend rolled around, all members of sickville were somewhat on the mend. And I was ready for some comfort. And food. Enter, comfort food. Enter, chili and cornbread. Truth be told, this is not the meal for the sickies- it doesn't have that same bland, healing quality that say, chicken noodle soup does. But I didn't need bland and healing. I needed hearty, spicy, and comforting. Feel free to alter the chili to your preference-swap the meat or beans, or even make it meatless. And heck, if a rough week means you have no clean dishes, feel free to eat it straight outta the pot, topped with dry cereal (I'm partial to plain Cheerios) for a nice crunchy kick.
Disclaimer: I received samples of cleaning products from Green Works. The opinions, germs, and frustrations detailed above are sadly mine alone.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
3 cups vegetarian stock (or chicken stock, or beef stock, or well, even water)
Approx. 3 cups of beans including any combination of black, kidney, or pink beans (or 4 15 ounce cans of beans, rinsed, drained)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Note if you are crazy and have run out of cans of beans but have dried beans at the back of your pantry (ahem, me), it's best to cook the dried beans a day ahead of time to cut down on overall cooking time on the day you want to make (and eat!) your chili. I soak the beans overnight and cook them in my new pressure cooker, but you can certainly cook them in a regular pot (it just takes much longer). Or you can just plan ahead (ahem, not me) and buy extra cans of beans.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until onion and carrots are tender. Remove from heat and blend vegetables to a smooth paste. You can skip the blending step if you like your chili chunkier. Add tomatoes, 3 cups of stock or water, beans, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. If chili is too thick, thin out with a bit more stock. If too runny, turn up the heat to boil away the excess liquid. Once the chili is your preferred consistency, ladle into bowls and serve. Or eat straight from the pot (ahem, me again!).
Chili recipe adapted from Epicurious.
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 8-inch square baking pan. Mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Mix buttermilk, eggs and butter in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until firm to touch, about 30 minutes.
Cornbread recipe adapted from Epicurious.