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Slice of Life

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Ring in the new year with chili, breadsticks and cornbread.

Keep New Year’s food fun, simple

I’m not a huge fan of big blowout New Year’s Eve parties or even going out, which is guaranteed to cost you twice as much for a meal, a drink and entertainment.

I learned long ago that you can have just as much, if not more fun, at home, with friends (and lots of food).

We’ve always kept it casual and simple, played charades, had board game tournaments, hired a magician and of course, the ever embarrassing karaoke machine has made an appearance. The food I serve is simple to make and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. We have chips and dips, hero sandwiches, pots of chili and a bunch of breadsticks and cornbread.

I’m not a purist when it comes to my chili; I always add beans and since I have several friends who don’t do beef, I also do a chicken chili. I usually have two or three different kinds of breadsticks and cornbread and everyone brings a different kind of beer and flavor of ice cream for dessert.

So if you’re staying home for New Year’s, the following recipes are easy to make and an absolutely delicious way to ring in the new year. And remember, if you’re drinking, make sure you have a designated driver.

White Chicken Chili

2 pounds ground chicken

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 onions, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

3 cans (15 ounces each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken broth, divided

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Minced fresh cilantro (optional)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onion, jalapeno, oregano and cumin in oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until chicken is browned and vegetables are just starting to get soft. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute then place the mixture in to a crock pot. Add the beans and the broth to the crock pot and stir until everything is mixed up. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until heated throughout. Stir before serving. Serve with cheese and sour cream and cilantro if desired. Serves 6 to 8. Can be doubled or tripled.

– Submitted by Clare Bonaface of Northbrook, Ill.

Cheaters Chili

1 tablespoon oil

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 envelope (1 3/4 ounces) chili seasoning mix

1/2 cup water

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, undrained

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup hickory barbecue sauce

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Cook ground beef, garlic and onions until browned. Stir in chili seasoning mix, water, tomatoes, kidney beans, brown sugar and barbecue sauce. Bring the chili to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 30 minutes. Serves 8.

– Submitted by Max Burkholtz of Chicago

Buttery Breadsticks

1 package instant dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk

1 1/3 cups warm water

8 tablespoons oil, divided

4 cups flour

Extra oil for the pan and brushing

Breadstick seasoning:

2 tablespoons dry parmesan cheese

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon oregano

1/2 tablespoon basil

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, salt and dry milk. Add water and stir to mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until mixture starts to bubble. Add 4 tablespoons oil and mix to combine. On low, slowly add the flour and mix until dough forms. Continue mixing for 4 for 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and divide dough into two balls.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a 9-by-13-inch cake pan making sure it is spread evenly over the bottom. Roll the dough into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle. Then place the dough into the pan. Repeat with a second pan. Cover the pans with a towel and let the dough rise for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. After the dough has risen, brush the top with oil then cut the dough into 10 equal breadsticks (I use a pizza cutter). Sprinkle the top of the breadsticks with the breadstick seasoning. Bake the breadsticks for 10 to 15 minutes breadsticks until they are golden brown. Remove the breadsticks from the pan and break them apart and serve with marinara sauce. Makes 20.

Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal, yellow or white

1 cup flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

1 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 can (15 ounces) cream-style corn

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-inch baking pan. In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, cream-style corn and melted butter. Mix to combine. Combine the corn mixture with the corn meal mixture and mix just to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serves 6 to 8.

Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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