Fire Roasted Tomato Chili

Believe it or not, Friday night it snowed in the coastal plain of Georgia! My friends and I were so excited. We had dinner at one of our favorite haunts, Mellow Mushroom, but the whole time I felt a little distracted by the flurry coming down outside. After dinner, we had a massive snowball fight. Being from Indiana, this wasn't my first snowball fight, however I relished every moment of it. Afterwards, my friends and I were soaked with melting snow, but we went ahead back to my place for more snowball throwing and the building of a rather large snowman, whom we aptly named Febrero.

You aren't imagining things, he really did have tomatoes for eyes...

The next day, the snow was rapidly melting, but in the spirit of the cold weather I threw together a pot of chili in my crockpot (aka: slow cooker). I used one of my absolute favorite ingredients: fire roasted tomatoes. There are a couple of brands I know of, Hunt's and Muir Glen, so you'll have to look at your store and see what they have. The reason I love these tomatoes so much is because they add a complex flavor to whatever you are cooking with little effort and no addition of excess calories. I was kind of going in the direction of Cincinnati chili, which has a mystery blend of sweet spices such as the spices used in curry powder. To add some sweet spice, I used cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and coriander along with the usual chili powder to add sweet heat. This recipe is particularly lazy because I stirred the uncooked beef into the soup base, which sort of gives that authentic, cooked-down texture in Cincy chili. If you wanted to make this more of a Cincy dish, you could use a base of cooked spaghetti (use whole wheat for extra fiber!), lots of cheese and chopped fresh onion on top for extra kick.

Fire Roasted Tomato Chili

1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 13.5-oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
1 lb extra lean ground beef (only 3-5% fat)
salt and lots of black pepper
Garnishes: cooked spaghetti, chopped fresh onion, grated low-fat cheddar cheese

1. Add all ingredients up to the ground beef into the crockpot base. Crumble the meat into the soup and stir it so it leaves small pieces.
2. Cook the chili on high 6-8 hours or low 8-10 hours, or until the meat is cooked and tender. Serve with any desired garnishes.

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