A Feast of Cilantro: Mexican Chicken Meatballs and Sweet Potato Chili (with Beer!)

3 Oct

It’s official. The leaves are changing and Starbucks is featuring their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s Fall.

Random Story: Like any female, I love pumpkin. Why we do we love it? This I don’t know. But with the coming of the season, I too enjoy a pumpkin spice latte every once in a while. The difference, I get it with half the normal amount of syrup because it’s too sweet for me. Last year it was a chilly November day, and I was running errands, and thought “well, the time has come” and dove out of my way to a Starbucks I knew had a drive through (I ain’t getting outta m’car for NO ONE) and ordered a small pumpkin spice latte with half the syrup. When I grabbed it from the window I knew it was too hot, and just let it sit for the 10 minute drive home, all the while filling my car with the spicy crisp flavor. I got home and threw my bags on the floor, and braced myself for the first sip. It was like an attack of sugary synthetic flavors as this thick and not-at-all what I was expecting liquid poured down my throat. I looked on the side of the cup where it was the order typed out, and rather than “1/2 syrup” it says “2 x syrup”. Crap. I took off the lid and it was this crazy radioactive orange color. The Starbucks was 10 minutes away, and I knew I was out $4. I had no choice but to throw it away. End of story.

So I’ve been looking up some Fall-ish recipes to focus on lately, and I thought I’d utilize a favorite website of mine: { Big Girls Small Kitchen } Great great website (and cookbook) with great background stories and approachable recipes. I have a list of about 10 things I will be making my way through, but for this specific meal I focused on two:

Eat for Eight Bucks: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Mexican Chicken Meatballs

I should also interject that I am going to be cooking a little lighter…as in spending money less (no more fancy fish I’m afraid) until my Quarter-Life Retirement comes to an end. And when it does? Caviar and Foie Gras for all! Vegan? Well you’re not invited!

Yes, I realize besides the sweet potatoes, this isn’t a very Fall-ish meal, but the dishes have such similar flavors to them, so…there.

I had set aside an afternoon to execute this meal, and then after re-reading the recipe I realized…it’s only going to take about an hour! So extra bonus, it’s super fast to make! I’d say what took he longest was cutting up the Sweet Potatoes

I cut these up about 2 hours before I started cooking so it was a breeeeeeeeze.

So now that we have the sweet potatoes, let’s finish up the chili. When you think of chili you normally think “long cook time” and this took maybe 30 minutes. Sauté some veggies, toss in some beans and tomatoes, simmer with a dark beer. I was most excited to choose the beer at the store. How dark shall I go? Should I get a fancy 750mL or go for the full 6 pack? I finally decided on Bell’s Best Brown because BIG UPS KALAMAZOO and, it’s a great great beer. I even tweeted about it and Bell’s (the brewery) favored the tweet! Add the sweet potatoes, simmer some more, and boom, you got yourself a chili. The strangest thing this recipe called for was cilantro stems. Stems? So strange! I’ve never heard of using just the stems, but hey, that freed up the delicious leaves for garnish and later addition.

What I tweaked: I added 1/2 a jalapeño (because it was HUGE) and the juice of half of a lime. I would also add more salt next time.

I drank that beer. And then another.

Now what’s a sweet potato chili without some mexican meatballs?? Again, such a fast and easy recipe! Make the chicken meatballs (which have cilantro in them, they’re great. I almost would have put more cilantro in) and pop them into the oven for about 25 minutes so they get a nice brown to them (and they’re lighter than pan frying them…although…everything is better pan-fried…)

Do you ever use parchment paper? If you’re not a fan of doing dishes (like someone I know) it’s the best thing to arm yourself with in the kitchen!

Then you made the sauce. Sauté the veggies, add some crushed tomatoes, boom, you got yourself some sauce. Add the cooked meatballs and some additional cilantro


Pour these into a glass baking pan, top with cheese, and l bake until cheese is melted (so fast and sample!). Serve with a side of additional cilantro and limes

*Mexican Hat Dance Song*

Don’t worry, I’ll have some type of pumpkin cake/bread/muffin/something shortly. But here’s to the kick off to Fall and utilizing sweet potatoes! Oh, and cooking with beer Beer BEER!



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