When December 21 arrived and with it the start of Harry’s school vacation, I gave up on the idea of sending out Christmas and Hanukkah gifts to my editors and clients. I’d spent so much time dithering about what to make, I’d missed my chance to actually make anything. Instead, I decided to pretend I’d held off on purpose and send New Year’s gifts. Pretty sneaky, sis.
Then, of course, I had to decide what to make. Those Sesame Almond Crackers were lovely, but they didn’t seem like enough. If I was going with the New Year’s idea, it all had to tie together. A quick troll of Etsy, and I had my answer: I’d make something spicy, and pair it with this funky little postcard.
Homemade chili seasoning mix was an easy choice. I already had a pretty killer formula, using a pair of ingredients that make it memorable: Aleppo pepper and cocoa powder. It’s warm and cozy and perfect for deepest, darkest winter. Even if you’re not looking for an (ahem) New Year’s gift, you’ll want to keep a supply on hand. Talk about a super-simple, just-got-home-what-should-we-eat weeknight dinner that’s also spectacularly tasty…
All I needed was a buttload of spices and some cute packaging, and my little flavor bombs were ready.
Of course, I didn’t count on those postcards being hand-made in Belgium. And taking three weeks to arrive. My “New Year’s” gifts just went out on Monday. If you’re a recipient, now you know my embarrassing little secret.
But really, I only procrastinated because I was going above and beyond on your assignments…
Hot Cha-Cha Chili Mix
Makes enough for 12 batches (single batch quantity in parentheses)
1 1/2 cups chili powder (2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup Aleppo or ancho chili powder (1 tablespoon)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup ground cumin (1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup oregano leaves (1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup dehydrated garlic (1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup onion powder (1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup salt (1 teaspoon)
- Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Brown 1 pound ground meat (beef, bison, turkey, etc), and drain any excess fat. Add 1/3 cup of the spice mixture and cook 2 to 3 minutes, then add 1 cup of water and the contents of a 28-ounce can of tomatoes (yes, including the juice)—crushed is easiest, but you can also use whole tomatoes and crush them with your hands before adding. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add a 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained, then simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes. Taste, and if it’s too spicy, add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Serve with brown rice, tortillas (or chips), avocado, cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced red onion… Y’know, the usual.