Slow Cooker Tomatillo Chili with Pork and Hominy

Ryan’s workplace recently had a chili cook-off as an effort to build community within his department.  While participation was not mandatory, it was encouraged, and Ryan ambitiously took it upon himself to make his own chili.  Always careful not to overburden me with extra tasks, he wanted this to be his project.  He’s thoughtful like that.  After a quick browse through America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution, he landed on this tomatillo chili. He wanted something a bit different but also wanted to stick with familiar ingredients, and this seemed to fit the bill.

The plan was to work ahead over the weekend and freeze the chili so all he’d have to do later in the week is thaw and heat.  Although it seemed to be a carefully thought out plan, when it came time for the cook-off lunch, the chili remained partially frozen and cold in spite of being heated in the slow cooker all morning.   After all of that planning, cooking, and transporting, he ended up bringing it all home and we ate it ourselves.  Unfortunate and disappointing, yes, but I have to admit I enjoyed having the extra for us.  The whole family enjoyed this one so much that I wanted to share it with you all too.

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Lentil Quinoa Chili

How about a warm and nourishing bowl of soup to balance out all of those holiday sweets?  With all of the cookie-baking and festive gatherings, I’m already having to pace myself.  This chili is an updated version of a lentil chili that Ryan’s mom would often serve during our dating years, and there are many happy memories associated with this recipe.   Here I’ve added quinoa for heartiness and fresh roasted green chilis for an extra layer of flavor.  Nothing against canned chilis, those are great in a pinch, but taking an extra few minutes to roast them fresh adds depth and really sets this chili apart.  Having big a pot of soup simmering on the stove in the midst of this hurried and often stressful month is always calming and quieting for me.  Hope it is for you too.

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Weeknight Clam Chowder

For years when I was growing up, my dream had been to someday live in Maine.  There is something absolutely magical about Maine, and whenever I have traveled there my heart feels alive and happy.  I love the rugged beauty of the New England coast, the quiet rolling mountains, the distinct charm of the quaint villages and towns.  There’s wild blueberry picking, and lobster rolls and clam chowder abounding at every restaurant and roadside stand.  We had a family trip planned for this past summer and it was going to be our first time sharing this place with our children.  Plans were suddenly changed when we found out about my grandmother, and our trip to Maine turned into a trip to Hong Kong (which was also special, but just different).  As a consolation, we cuddled up and read Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine while dreaming of being on the shore, and I made a big pot of chowder.

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