Chili

“Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule, or a cook.”

Chili is the official state dish of Texas. Although considered a cold-weather favorite, it is a year round staple for millions of Texans. Many folks make their chili from scratch and I respect them for that … I, on the other hand, am a lazy cook and I prefer to use a mix that is acknowledged as being one of the best in Texas. Agnor Chili Mix is simple to prepare and cook and is always a crowd pleaser.

I met Albert Agnor when I was a youngster and I remember enjoying his chili when I was in high school. While away at college I regularly used to receive bulk size packages of Agnor’s mix in boxes labeled Aggie Care Package … I can’t tell you how many starving college students fed on that chili we cooked in pop-corn warmers.

Pot Of Chili

Pot Of Chili


On the advice of Albert Agnor himself, I make my chili a little different from the package label instructions … I use beer instead of water. I’m kind of wimpy when it comes to spicy food so my chili might be a bit mild for some. If preferred, you can add hot sauce, sliced jalapenos, chopped onions, chiles, Cilantro, etc. Although thought to be blasphemous in Texas, some people (not my family) add beans to their chili.

I like to eat my chili in a bowl mixed with corn chips and grated cheddar cheese and maybe a dollop of sour cream. Crushed saltines are a good substitute for chips. Chili can be served atop most any food … hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, rice, hot tamales, enchiladas, and the list goes on and on ….

Ingredients and Instructions:

1. Brown 2 ½ lbs. of lean ground meat (use beef, venison, turkey, or any combination of them … I typically use ½ beef and ½ venison). Drain and pour into 4-qt Crock Pot.

2. Add One 1 lb. 12oz. can of crushed tomatoes

3. Add 18 oz. regular beer … that’s 1 ½ cans so you can drink the remaining half can

4. Stir in the contents of the 4 oz. Agnor Chili Mix package

5. Cook in Crock Pot on low setting for 6 to 8 hours

Some notes … All the alcohol in the beer cooks away so don’t worry about it. Although it won’t have the same body, you can substitute water for the beer. If you are in a hurry, you can cook this recipe in a large soup pot on the stove top at a steady simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours or on the high setting in the Crock Pot for 3 to 4 hours.

Agnor Chili Mix might be a little difficult to find in some areas. You can CLICK HERE to order it online. If you are in dire straights, there are several packaged mixes that are almost, but not quite, as good as Agnor’s … there’s Shelby’s, Fowler’s, and Williams.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

“Nothing brings people together like good food.”

I found this recipe in the Jan-Feb 2014 issue of Southern Lady magazine. I’m a pushover for rich looking casseroles and, sure enough, this recipe turned out to be a keeper. My only issue with this dish is that it is too rich … not only is it loaded with calories, it is really over the limit with sodium. I plan to start trying to prepare it using lower sodium ingredients and I’ll modify the recipe if I am successful.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole


Ingredients:
1 can Cream of Chicken soup (recommend: Campbell’s Healthy Request)
1 ½ cups Water
1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 (6-ounce) package Swiss cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 boxes butter & garlic flavored rice (recommend: Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice, Butter & Herb)(substitute Zatarain’s Garlic Butter Flavored Rice for spicier results)
1 ½ cups boiling water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes (I used 7 or 8 tenderloin strips)
1 (3.5 or 4.0 oz.) package prosciutto, chopped (if necessary, substitute thin-sliced, black forest, deli ham)
chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole



Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
2. In a large saucepan, combine soup and water over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Add cheeses, stirring until melted. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Pour rice into an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish. If flavoring packets are separate from the boxed rice, add them to the boiling water and carefully stir until dissolved. Pour boiling water over the rice; spread rice evenly over bottom of dish. Spoon half of soup mixture over rice. Layer chicken and prosciutto evenly over top of soup mixture; top with remaining soup mixture.
4. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.