Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Old Bay summer corn & zucchini chili

Summer vegetable garden abundance?  I've got you covered.

No patch of your own but have a friend whose garden is overflowing, thus supplying you with his/her summer vegetable garden excess?  I've definitely got you covered.

Or, if your growing situation is somewhere in between -- like ours -- I've got you covered, too.

Matt and I have lived in our current apartment for nearly three years.  It's hard to believe it was that long ago!  When we moved in, we couldn't believe how much extra room we had; over and over again, we'd say, "This is the perfect amount of space for us."

Gradually, our collection of stuff grew, and we began to develop preferences for our living space.  Some could be accommodated in an apartment, while others had to be tabled until we own our own place.  At the time, I couldn't even entertain the thought of being a home owner; just signing the paperwork to lease a car was traumatic enough.  (Yes, really.)

Fast forward to now, and yours truly has developed the tiniest itch to look at houses.  I'm/We're still nowhere near ready -- we've decided to wait until Matt has a permanent teaching job -- but that doesn't mean I can't daydream occasionally.  Matt, however, has been aboard the house train since first met; in fact, I'd say he's in the driver's seat and for one big reason.

When we talk about our future home, most of my talk revolves around the kitchen, though I have minor opinions about the rest of the house, too.  Matt, however, doesn't give a kitty about the interior; his wishlist is short and simple: "I want a yard and a garden." 

Right now, Matt's created a pretty impressive small rooftop garden.  We've got broccoli, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and oodles of fresh basil.  I'm so proud his skills! He is, too, but he wants a real garden... where he can plant zucchini and corn (?!) to his heart's content.  (Yes, he is aware of the improbability of growing corn, but that won't stop him from dreaming.) 

Until the dawn of that new era, filled with houses and gardens and other grown-up stuff, we're happy to accept gifts from our friends' gardens, like zucchini.  From just two fruits, I made two loaves of zucchini bread, chicken & zucchini meatballs, zucchini "noodles", and this made-it-up-as-I-went Old Bay summer corn and zucchini chili!

This chili starts out with classic ingredients and gets a fresh summer boost from corn and zucchini.  And then I added one more thing that pushed it over the line between great and freakin' fantastic -- Old Bay!  Ol' O.B. is one of my very most favorite-est seasonings Old Bay.  I'll put it on/in anything, but it really pops in this chili in contrast to the sweet corn.

A bowl of this with some fluffy buttered cornbread totally hits the spot on a lazy summer evening.  But just not any homemade cornbread.  Check back later this week for the recipe!  let's just say it's hot!

One year ago: Spinach & artichoke dip chicken
Two years ago: Blueberry muffin oatmeal
Three years ago: Chicken gyros
Four years ago: Corn cakes with goat cheese

Old Bay Summer Corn & Zucchini Chili
-makes 5-6 servings

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef (I used a 93/7 mix)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 (14-ounce can) diced tomatoes  (if you have fresh, feel free to use them)
1 Tablespoon ground chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, but fresh is fine)
1 (14 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Ground black pepper

Add oil to a large stock pot over medium heat.  Cook ground beef, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned.  Add onion and zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.  Cover pot with lid and allow vegetables to steam and soften for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and add tomatoes and juice (reserve can), stirring to combine.  Add chili, cumin, cayenne, and garlic; stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add 1 can of water, corn, beans, and Old Bay and stir, allowing ingredients to warm.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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