Chili, Cornbread, & Strawberry Romanoff — oh my!

by Sue

When I get stressed, I start spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  Preparing meals and desserts is just what I like to do to take the edge off.  I mean, it’s all about loving the ingredients – chopping, dicing, mincing, pouring, stirring, tasting, and by the time you’re finished, you know that all your effort hasn’t been wasted.  That you’ve got a few things you can put on the table and have others enjoy.  I made this dinner and dessert menu a few nights before the LSAT because, well, that time was just so gosh darn stressful for me.  As promised to a Ms. Firecracker, I’d have a recipe to the jalapeno cheddar cornbread available, so here, in addition to that recipe, I’m sharing two others.. Anyway, these three things didn’t even take that long to make — only about 1.5 hours to prepare because I thought I’d let the chili simmer for a little over 45 minutes to an hour before serving.  In that time, you can make the side (jalapeno cheddar cornbread) and dessert (strawberry Romanoff).

So let’s start with the chili:


3 tbsp oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)

1 medium onion, roughly diced/ chopped (I used sweet yellow)

6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped or minced*

2 lbs ground chuck

2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes

1 can of kidney beans*

1 can of black beans (or Ranch Style beans)*

1/3 cup of roughly chopped scallions

2/3 cup pickled jalapenos

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp cayenne*

2 tbsp chili powder*

A few notes:

For garlic, I like to use a garlic press because it’s a miracle that I can even cook with garlic now.  I still don’t like the smell of raw garlic and I definitely wouldn’t just pop those babies in my mouth like my parents and others are wont to do.

The beans are optional.  Some people get rather sensitive when discussing the makings of a ‘real’ chili; they just don’t believe beans should be in there.  I personally don’t care.  I like me some frijol.   Also, I know nothing about Ranch Style beans.  I’ve seen them in the store with their unmistakable label of black background and large white letters, but I’ve just never had them.  And Whole Foods didn’t have it, so I just got regular black beans.

The cayenne and chili powder… well, use as little or as much as you’d like.  I just eyeballed. :D And I can guarantee you most Yanks won’t be able to handle the heat of the chili I made.  Hahaha.

Alright, on to the cooking…   

1. Coat the bottom of your pot with some EVOO.  I just eyeballed it, and I guesstimated it was around 3 tablespoons for me.

2. Toss in the garlic; stir for a few seconds and then toss in the onion.  Every once in a while stir the mixture until the onions become more tender.  This usually takes about 6-10 minutes.

3. Put the 2 lbs of ground chuck into the pot.  I broke it up with my cooking spoon and seasoned it with a little bit of salt (a pinch or if you need actual measuring, probably ½ tsp) and some freshly ground pepper. (I really like black pepper so I used about 1 tsp at least).  Brown the meat.

4. After browning, pour in the two cans of whole tomatoes.  Mine were the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes;  I remember eating a few samples of bruschetta made with them, and they were so delicious so when I saw them for sale at the store, I had to get them.  Poke them with your cooking spoon so that they become halved.  Or you can leave them whole.  Up to you.

5. Pour in the beans.  I drained some of the liquid (about ¾ from each can) before putting them in my pot. Stir until it’s all mixed together

6. Then you add the spices.  As I said, as much or as little as you like of the cayenne and chili powder.  Stir.

7. Lastly, put in the chopped green onion.  Stir again.  Let it come to a boil before covering the pot with a lid and letting it simmer. (45 minutes to an hour)

While that is getting all nice and yummy, we’ll make the cornbread.



I kind of cheated and used cornbread mix I bought at Costco.  It called for the following:

1 egg

2/3 cup milk (I used buttermilk instead)

1/3 melted butter

3 1/4 cup of the mix

In addition to those above ingredients, I added:

2/3 cup cheddar and monterrey jack cheese mix

2/3 cup roughly diced picked jalapenos

1/3 cup chopped green onion

1 can white kernel corn (you can used cream-style corn, if you wish)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (or however high or low your cornbread mix calls for.

2. Prepare the cornbread as directed on the package.  For me it meant combining all wet ingredients first before adding in the dry.  Mix both together until it’s all moist

3. Then fold in the rest of the ingredients. I did mine one ingredient at a time so I could make sure it was all incorporated

4. Pour the batter into a prepared (by this, I just sprayed butter cooking spray) pan.  I used my 12-mini muffin pan and 8x8x2 glass baking pan.

5. The package told me to bake at 11-13 minutes for the mini muffin pan and 22-24 minutes for the larger pan, but I’m pretty sure I went over both time limits.  I just checked on them relatively often after the designated times because I thought they weren’t as brown on the top as I liked them.

After the cornbread is in the oven, you have around a 15-20 minute window to fix the dessert: strawberry Romanoff.

If a friend had never ordered it at La Madeleine I would have never known how tasty it was.  And I wouldn’t have tried to remake it.



1 medium package of strawberries

1 cup of sour cream

1 tbsp of powdered sugar

2 tbsp of brown sugar

1 tbsp of brandy



A few notes: Strawberries are not in season right now so they’re obviously not as good as they are in season.  Mine were a little tart, but I think the brandy sauce was yummy enough to make me not notice it as much.

After one cup of the sour cream, there wasn’t a lot of it left anyway, so I just dumped the whole thing into my mixing bowl, leaving only a spoonful for my chili.

You can use all brown sugar or all powdered sugar, if you’d like. And because my parents and I are kind of lushes, I put in 2 tbsp of brandy instead of 1. :-X  Also in the picture you might notice that I used XO Remy Cognac.  Um, it was the only thing in our liquor cabinet, and I was too lazy to make an extra trip to Spec’s.  And besides, cognac is essentially brandy anyway, except it’s made in the Cognac region.  Amirite or amirite?  I don’t know; I think someone mentioned that to me one time.  Correct me if I’m wrong, connoisseurs; regardless, my sauce still tasted awesome.

So… directions!

1. Clean, de-stem, and using a paring knife, cut out the top part of the strawberry.  I did mine in a cone shape instead of an outright straight chop off the top because I wanted them to look like hearts when I cut them down the middle.

2. Put sour cream, sugar, and brandy into a mixing bowl.  Stir until all combined.

3. Get a pretty cup, or an ugly cup (really, it won’t matter once you and your guests eat it.  They’ll be too amazed by the awesomeness of the sauce and thus your awesomeness for making it.) and start putting strawberries in it.  Spoon in some sauce (1 or 2 spoonfuls) then layer more strawberries and then more sauce, parfait-style. Although you can just dump all strawberries in and then ladle the sauce.

By the time you’re finished with making the dessert (it makes about 2-3 servings, depending on how much you want to give your guests), your cornbread and chili should be done.   Taste the chili and if needed, season it with a little salt. Then, ladle, cut, and serve.  Happy cooking!