January 23, 2013

The Maine Ingredient: Blow whistle on Super Bowl calorie count

By ANNE MAHLE

One-third of Americans will sit down to watch the Super Bowl a week from Sunday, the grand finale of a season-long roller coaster of adrenaline-induced highs and shoulder-slumping lows. Even if you're not among those football fans, chances are good you'll be mingling with them.

For some, it's all about the game, but for others it's all about the food (and the beer). If the Patriots were headed to the Super Bowl, this would be the one time of year when it's not about the food for me. But since my team came up one victory short of making the big game, I'll focus on the next best thing -- the food.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest food consumption day of the year, behind Thanksgiving, according to the American Institute of Food Distribution. You can bet that the calorie count ranks up there too, opening a pothole -- if not a crater-sized hole -- on the journey to fulfilling those New Year's resolutions of better, healthier eating habits.

So amid the chicken wings, pizza, chips and guacamole, perhaps some options with less fat and fewer calories are in order, as well as some veggies to dunk in the dip rather than chips. Well, maybe not in place of, but in addition to. Let's not get crazy here.

TEXAS BEEF AND BLACK BEAN CHILI

This recipe is intended to serve a crowd, or to eat some and freeze some. It can easily be cut in half for a family of four to six to have once for dinner. If you don't have a gas stove or another easy way to roast the peppers, simply add them diced and raw, with the onions. You could do this meal in a slow cooker as well. Follow the directions up to and including adding the garlic and tomato paste and then transfer to a slow cooker.

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into ¾-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 cup diced onions

4 tablespoons garlic

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 roasted jalapeno pepper, diced

1 roasted red pepper, diced

4 cups beef stock

8 cups cooked black beans, 4 16-ounce cans

Heat a medium-sized stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan and carefully add the beef stew meat. Cook until the meat begins to brown, around 20 minutes. Add the salt, spices and onions (and peppers if they are not roasted) and cook until the onions are translucent. You may need to reduce the heat. Add the garlic, tomato paste and peppers and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Then add the beef stock and beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the stew meat is tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Serve with Easy Salsa. 

Servings: Eight to 10

TO ROAST PEPPERS: Over an open flame, such as a gas stove top, place peppers. As the skin becomes blistered and blackened, turn to expose other areas to the flame. When all areas are blistered, remove and place in a paper bag for 5 minutes. Remove blackened skin, and seed and dice for above recipe. Do not run under water to remove skin because that washes away flavor as well.

CHEESY CORN MUFFINS

2 cups yellow or white stone-ground corn meal

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated and lightly packed

11/3 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted, plus a little extra for greasing the muffin tins.

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