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Fall Super Green Chili

November 1, 2011
By Wendy Monro , The Journal

This has turned out to be a fantastic fall so far, mostly because I have been able to spend some of it with my stepdaughter, Ella. She flew in from England a couple of weeks ago and we have been thick as thieves ever since.

Daphne and Jack were both still in school and Claud was working. So, Ella and I were on our own most of the time. I really enjoyed having so much quality time with her. Ella is the most amazing, compassionate, intelligent, and funny girl. I feel incredibly blessed to have had so much time talking, laughing, and just being with her.

I talked her into playing tennis with me for a few of the days Daphne and Jack were in school. Neither of us were much good at it. I kept saying we should find some instruction on YouTube.

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All green chili poured over brown rice and topped with sour cream

However, we never got around to looking it up. Instead, we focused on getting the ball over the net and returning it whenever possible.

We looked absolutely ridiculous but that is what made it even more fun. Ella ended up with "tennis arm" and I came down with a serious case of "tennis neck". These might not be the actual medical terms for our pain. Still, these words appropriately described our particular type of suffering.

In spite of the pain, it was worth it. I think we were even getting quite good towards the end. Well, "good" might not be the right word.

Fact Box

Fall All Green Chili

Serves: 6

Time: 45 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups spring onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bell peppers, cut into one inch pieces

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 cups vegetable broth

1 16 ounce jar chili verde sauce

1 4 ounce can of mild green chili (not if you are making it for Ella)

3 cups edamame

6 cups fresh spinach

1 cup cilantro, chopped

two avocados, cut into inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste

sour cream for topping (optional)

While the brown rice cooks (according to directions on the package), saute the onions in a pot with the olive oil for five minutes. Add the garlic, green bell peppers, and celery and saute for another five minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth, chili verde, and mild green chilis. Add the edamame. Cook for about ten minutes. Add the edamame and fresh spinach. Cook until spinach is just wilted. Stir in the cilantro and avocado. Add the seasonings and mix well. Serve over the brown rice.

I had to think of a meal to make when Ella arrived. Ella is a vegetarian. Once fall rolls around, I always think of making chili. So, chili seemed like the obvious choice. I love to make a big pot of it and heat it up at different times throughout the week.

Usually, I make chili with tons of different ingredients: ground beef, steak, beans, and cheddar cheese. In fact, my dad prides himself on having a twenty-three ingredient chili recipe. I usually like copying his recipe because the more you put into the chili the more fun it is to make it. I couldn't make my dad's chili for Ella because it is meaty and super spicy.

This year, I decided to come up with a different form of chili. I wanted to create a recipe that was meatless and healthier, but still tasty. Most importantly, I really wanted it to be a version of chili that Ella would like. It had to be mild because Ella cannot handle spicy. Seriously, Ella thinks black pepper is too spicy.

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So, a mild green chili is what I needed to cook with. I looked through several different recipes and came up with a combination that I thought she would like.

I used mild green chilies, spinach, avocado, and soy beans (or edamame). Ella always loves edamame at the sushi restaurant so I thought it would be a perfect addition to this dish. I decided that everything I included would be green. I also used celery, cilantro, and green bell peppers. Once everything was mixed together, I poured it over brown rice.

When it was ready, I grabbed a spoon and took the first taste. I really was impressed with myself. I thought it tasted delicious. I loved the crunchy edamame and the warm avocado. I also thought the green bell peppers were perfect. It was mild and flavorful. I added a dollop of sour cream on top.

I used tofutti sour cream, which is dairy free. I took Ella her bowl and waited in anticipation for her verdict.

She took a few bites. Claud asked her if she liked it. She said, "It's really spicy." I think she quit after the third bite. It was a complete failure as far as Ella was concerned. Man!

Oh well. I can't win every time. Claud, Daphne and I liked it. I think I ate it for breakfast and lunch the rest of the week until it was gone. I thought it was fantastic. If I were to make it for Ella again, I guess I would have to take out the mild green chilies and black pepper. I think that is the only thing that could have possibly be considered "spicy".

I attempt to come up with different recipes when Ella is here to expose her to food she might not get in England. Sometimes I win (as I did with last summer's manicotti) and sometimes I lose (as I did with this green chili).

She did like some of the food I made, like the egg burrito. I also made her an egg in the hole. She said she would definitely cook egg in the holes when she gets back to England. Yay! I hope she returns to England with a new love for tennis and egg in the holes.



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