Green is the New Red: New Texas Chili Verde

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a whole month since I posted our last menu!  As I'm sure it was for everyone, it was a crazy month full of gift procurement and distribution, family highs (and maybe a few lows), travel, relaxation, decorating, un-decorating, and toasting.

And, of course, eating.  Lots of eating.  And, well, yes, lots of drinking as well.  After Christmas, my whole family met up in San Antonio, Texas, home of the real Alamo, not to be mistaken for our prize-winning gingerbread Alamo.  In short breaks between meals, we were able to visit the Alamo, Sea World, the famous Riverwalk, as well as many other highlights of San Antonio.  But if I'm being honest, most of our time was spent enjoying Mexican food, BBQ, and even German food, as the Hill Country around San Antonio was settled by German and French immigrants and is still strongly influenced by the Old Country.  In short, it was great, and it gave me lots of new ideas & inspiration for DOTP.  I also came back with 5 extra pounds (I have no idea who slipped that into my suitcase), so I'm working on lightening up these great recipes (at least for a month or so until it's socially acceptable to break New Year's resolutions).

Tuesday, January 10th:
New Texas Chili Verde (that's Green Chili for all y'all who don't speak Spanglish)
Chili Fixins: limes, green onions, cilantro sour cream, Texas Pete's
Greens & Homemade Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
Cheesy Cornbread
Vegetarian Option:  Three Bean Chili Verde
Kids' Option:  Baby Baked Potatoes & Plain Chili (no spice, no beans, no weird things!) $6
GYTTW:  Baked Rigatoni with Spinach, Tomatoes & Chicken Sausage
Dessert:  Camino Bakery Chewy Gooey Chocolatey Brownies - no nuts ($6)

Green Chili is a dish that apparently originated in New Mexico, not Texas, where all chili is red and does not have beans.  In New Mexico, they grow many different types of chiles, each with it's own flavor and spiciness, and I guess someone just decided to dump them all into a pot with a bunch of meat and see how it turned out.  If you have the love of chiles that I have, you would already know that the results of such an experiment would be very positive.  I have created my own Chili Verde starting with some New Mexico sources, then adding some TexMex ingredients, like tomatillos and cumin, and going from there, so I've renamed it New Texas Chili Verde.  (I do like to pay a little tribute to those hearty New Mexicans who endure hot summers and cold winters with nothing more than a cactus to lean up against when they're tired, poor souls.)

Here's a picture of my masterpiece - lots of green!
But no matter the details of the chili's nationality, it tastes good.  It's very hearty, slightly spicy, and more of a meat dish than a soup or stew.  So you start with a delicious bowl of Chili Verde, and then you just make it better with stuff you like on top.  We added Cheesy Cornbread (seriously, you should have heard the jokes it was making), green onions, sour cream and, brilliantly, lettuce.  I know it sounds weird to add lettuce to chili, but I saw it in one of my favorite cookbooks - Jamie Oliver's America (get it if you don't have it and you love to cook), and it was awesome.  A squeeze of lime juice on top added a great freshness and flavor.  However you end up eating yours, you'll enjoy it.  But be careful:  there's going to be some negotiating over leftovers!

We're also throwing in some Homemade Jalapeno Ranch Dressing so you make a salad with your extra lettuce or just save it for another night.  Okay, yes, you can also use it as a dip for Chik Fil 'A waffle fries.  Not that I ever do that.

If you're not sure whether your kids will go for green chili, remind them of the lessons of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham, or, just order a Potato and Plain Chili kids' meal and let them (and you) be happy.  One of my kids actually is crazy for this chili, one was lukewarm, and one ate three cornbread muffins and refused to taste the chili.  So it goes.

Our GYTTW meal this week is a pasta dish that grown ups will love and, more importantly, has won raves with our kids.  It's rigatoni pasta mixed with healthy chicken sausage, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and then baked in a lighter version of a traditional alfredo sauce.  I personally love a one-dish pasta meal - your kitchen to table time is nothing and clean-up is a snap.  Plus, it tastes really good, so that's a bonus!

We are really excited about dessert this week - Chewy Gooey Chocolatey Brownies from Camino Bakery!  Ever since Camino Bakery opened in it's new spot on Fourth Street last spring, we've been enjoying their delicious treats, meeting there with friends for coffee or beer and wine, and just generally loving the hip vibe it brings to Downtown Winston-Salem.  And yes, brownies may not technically be on your New Year, New You diet, but think of your kids.  Your poor, deprived kids.  They need brownies, and we all know that anything less than a whole brownie has zero calories, so ...  Do what you need to do.

Hmm, I think that's it this week.  I'm pretty excited to see what y'all think about this dinner, so let us hear what you think!

see you on the porch,

Claire & Alex

Here's a little practical info:

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