Football, Chili, and Fun…

In my family, as it is in many others, the fall and winter Sundays are basically for two things.  Church, and football.  My parents’ house is most often the gathering place for the games.  My mother and father remodeled the living room and Dad got the TV of his dreams, so it works out pretty well for the rest of us!  It’s a beautiful screen and in HD, you can see the sweat on the players faces.  Very cool.  After Jay, AC and I go to church and listen to some fabulous music and get some inspiration to take into our week, we tend to do one of two things, or both if we are really ambitious.  We stop and have breakfast at a local restaurant in Rocky Hill called The NY Pickle Deli, or we take a drive to Cabela’s, a hunting and fishing store, for some animal sightings.  The NY Pickle Deli has some of the best breakfasts around, I have never tried their lunch because I can never get past the fabulous items like coconut crusted french toast or homemade corned beef hash. It warrants it’s own post so I will reserve my overzealous comments about their fabulous fare for then.  At Cabela’s we walk around, Jay checks out all his fishing stuff and AC and I go to look at the fish tanks and the wilderness exhibit.  It’s an all around nice way to spend a slow Sunday afternoon.

But when we start to get hungry again, we make our way over to the Kelly compound.  More often than not my sisters and nephews are there as well to enjoy the food and fun.  We all come in carrying whatever we have decided to contribute to the day, maybe leftovers from the week, some stuffed breads from the local Italian bakery, or some fresh baked pumpkin bread.  The food spread is ridiculous, as it usually is in our family, and we sit in the kitchen and chat and snack and wait for the games to begin.  We are NY Giants fans in my family, all except my mother who I think is a Dallas Cowboys fan just to make us all crazy.  Jay is also a NY fan but roots for the boys in green instead of the ones in blue.  We tolerate his love for the Jets only because they play in the same stadium so we should be a little forgiving.

My mother will always have something cooking on the stove for us.  Cold weather begs for stews and soups and, yes, chili.  Now, chili is usually my father’s contribution and it’s a treat when we get to have it.  It is quite possibly the easiest chili ever since it is made from a pre-measured spice pack, but it is one of my favorites and I use it all the time.  When we do have chili, my mother always makes sure that we have the correct items to go with it.  You need big bowls, Doritos’s corn chips (or regular tortilla chips), shredded cheese, and sour cream.  Some people also like cornbread with chili, but I’ve never been a huge fan, I’ll save the cornbread for fried chicken.

Let the games begin.  The 1:00 game is accompanied by chips and other pickings which then lead to a brief break before the 4:00 game when we all head to the kitchen to fill our bowls and make our chili in whatever way you love.  I like to crush up the chips in the bottom of my bowl, add the chili, and then top with cheese and sour cream.  I’m crazy for the textural difference between the crunchy chips and the soft ground meat that has been bubbling in the spicy sauce, with that cool sour cream running through, and those ribbons of salty shredded cheese…mmmmm…it is the perfect way to warm your body and take the chill out of the winter air.  We all settle in and eat and play with the kids and watch the games.  The boys yell for touchdowns and make forts with blankets and leggos.  By the 8:00 game we have moved onto dessert and enjoy some coffee and sweets to round out the night.  Since my sister has young kids, and Jay and I bring AC home to his Mom on Sunday nights, we don’t usually make it to the end of the 8:00 game.  At half time we start to head out, pack everyone in the car, take some leftovers and head off to start another week ahead.

Being together on these days is so special and it makes me so happy to be a part of a family that values time spent together.  All of us look forward to these lazy Sunday’s all week and have come to rely on them for a recharging of our bodies and souls with both food and love.  I’m happy to be able to share a little bit of that food and love with you.  This isn’t a fancy chili recipe with a laundry list of spices and directions, it’s quick and easy and leaves you with more time to sit and enjoy each other.  We love it and I hope you will to.  Go big blue!

Touchdown Chili

2 lbs ground meat (I use 97% lean, but you can use your favorite)

1 package Wick Fowler’s 2 Alarm Chili (or use your favorite chili package)

1 4oz can tomato sauce

1 8oz can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans

1 can red kidney beans

Make the chili according to the package directions.  After simmering for about 10 minutes, drain the liquid from the beans, add them to the pot and stir.  Let the chili simmer for at least another half hour, but you can let it sit on the stove until you are ready to eat.  Enjoy!

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