Sweet and Spicy Chili with Cornbread Waffles to Fight the Last of the Winter Blahs

There are a lot of foods I thought I hated my whole life, but it turns out I just didn't like the way my mother prepared them. (Sorry)  I turned my nose up at steak for...EVER.  Well different strokes for different folks, I guess. My mother always cooked them well done. It turns out I love steak, but I want my plate to look like a horror movie when I cut into the meat. Bloody, bloody, bloody rare.

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Chili was another food I didn't care for until recent years. I didn't like it, so I wouldn't even attempt to make it. Many years ago when I moved away for college, someone made me chili that was damn good. I can't divulge the secret ingredient, but it was pretty diabolical and smart. Damn good still didn't make me a chili fan though. I would eat it only if someone made it and I didn't want to be rude.

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There is always one special component of the meal that made it all better though...cornbread. I'm a southern woman by birth and still in my heart, so cornbread is more than just a side to a meal. It might as well be the STAR of the plate, as far as I'm concerned.  It's breakfast. It's lunch. It's dessert with a little butter and maple syrup.  So when I was presented with cornbread waffles as a possible way to serve chili, I was intrigued and willing to pull out my neglected waffle maker.

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Cornbread is like potato salad...there are dozens and dozens of different recipes and mixes and ways to make it. I like them all.  I have heard sweet cornbread referred to as "Yankee Cornbread" as (supposedly) southern cornbread isn't sweetened. That doesn't stop me from liking sweet cornbread though. Sweet or not, I think the key to good cornbread is a big, black cast iron skillet. That makes cornbread waffles outside my comfort zone. But I'm willing to try new things, so out came the waffle maker.

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The chili I made was a Sweet and Spicy Chili, so I wanted a hearty and savory waffle under it.  This chili is great to my non-chili-loving palette. Black beans are a favorite of mine. Add in a can of Bush's sweet grilling beans, and I was finally in a good place with my new friend, chili.  I'd call this one a success and perfect for a snowy, late winter night. The chili is super fast and perfect for a weeknight.

My waffle maker was a Belgian waffle maker, so the waffles were big and held a generous scoop of chili.Try not to panic at the number of eggs in the recipe below and keep in mind this made 8 Belgian waffles.

Speaking of stepping out of comfort zones, I acquired a new sewing machine last week. I'll post about it later, but needless to say I was glad I was alone and without an audience watching as I fumbled my way through winding a bobbin for the first time.

Cornbread Waffles

from Yammie's Noshery

1/3 cup oil

6 eggs

1 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup cake flour*

1 1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat waffle iron to high. Mix together the oil, eggs, and milk.  In a separate bowl mix the sugar, flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add the egg mixture and mix until combined. Add a tablespoon or more of additional milk if the batter is too thick. Cook according to waffle iron directions.

*Who really keeps cake flour on hand? I don't. So I make my own when a recipe calls for it. For every cup of flour, take out 2 tablespoons of flour. Replace the 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift together into a bowl a few times. You want to make sure the flour and cornstarch and adequately mixed together. Voila! Cake flour, or close enough.

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Sweet & Spicy Chili

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

1/2 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground beef

Salt and pepper

1-29 oz can low-sodium tomato sauce

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-22 oz Bush's Grilling Beans, NOT drained (I love the Bourbon & Brown Sugar option)

Chili powder

Cayenne pepper

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Cumin

Brown sugar (Optional, depending on baked bean flavor)

  1. Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ground beef to pot. Season with salt and pepper and brown the meat, breaking up the ground beef until no longer pink. (Hint: a potato masher works great for breaking up ground beef when cooking) Drain well and return meat to the pot.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium low. Add tomato sauce, black beans, and baked beans. Season with chili powder and cayenne. Add in dashes of onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings. Let continue to simmer on low while preparing the cornbread waffles.

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