I think chili with sweet corn bread on the side might be one of those “perfect Fall dinners.” When it’s starting to get cold out, this makes for a very satisfying meal. Growing up, I never liked chili. I think it was because of the giant beans that would be floating around. I’m guessing most kids don’t find this appealing, either. I found this recipe several years ago in one of my “Bob Evans Cookbooks” and it appealed to me, so I made it, and it was seriously the best chili I’ve ever had. Trust me, it’s really, really good! And my secret? I chop up the beans! I like it so much better this way and I know the only reason my daughter loves this chili, too, is because she can’t see the beans!
Usually, when I make my ‘old favorites’ these days, I have to switch out several ingredients in order for it to meet our ‘real food rules.’ This recipe was pretty close ‘as-is.’ However, the Bob Evans brand of sausage really isn’t the best choice to use. I will admit, though, that this particular brand change will be kind of hard for me. I’ve always been very brand-loyal to Bob Evans’ sausage. Always. And this is why…
See…I’ve actually met the real Bob Evans!! 🙂 This has been my claim to fame all my life. Ha! In fact, he is the only ‘celebrity’ I’ve ever actually met. Seriously! Yeah, I know… I live in Indiana. We don’t get many celebrities out this way. My step-dad’s family grew up in Southern Ohio (where the original Bob Evans’ sausage shop was located) and they have been family friends for many, many years. Every time we visited (and still visit) my grandma (who is now 98 years old!!), we always go to the ‘sausage shop’ at least once…if not multiple times. Growing up, I always thought it was so neat how they were friends, but I had never actually met Bob himself. So, on one of my visits down over 10 years ago, my grandma arranged for us to go over to his house to meet him! We visited for a bit and he even told me about his friendship with Colonel Sanders. (True story…Bob Evans and Colonel Sanders walk into a restaurant together….) 🙂 Anyway, he was very friendly and he even signed his name on several of his business cards for me. It was a fun visit and something I’ll always remember. The picture above was taken outside of his home. Bob passed away a few years ago, but I know his wife Jewell and my grandma still keep in touch. It’s a fun story to tell (though it’s not often that it comes up naturally in conversation)! So, anyway, now you can understand the background a bit when I say that I’m hesitant to find a new brand of sausage. However, for the sake of eating real food…I will. The Bob Evans original recipe sausage contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which we try to avoid due to its addictive nature and also because it can cause allergic reactions in some people. I now like to buy all my meat from a local farm (Seven Sons).
Update: I’ve now met some ‘real’ celebrities thanks to my sister-in-law. She works for a few celebrity magazines in NYC and we were given the opportunity to do interviews on the red carpet of the 2014 Indianapolis 500. My husband interviewed the likes of Martina McBride, Ice-T & Coco, Mark Cuban (I shook his hand!), and a few recent Olympians. LeAnn Rimes was also right there in front of me, but we didn’t get the chance to interview her as she came out at the very last second. It was such a fun day for us! Definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Anyway, enough about my “celebrity” encounters with Bob Evans and Co. 🙂 …and more about the yummy chili and sweet corn bread we had for dinner recently. Now that the weather has cooled down again, I feel like I can finally share this with you!
- 1 lb bulk sausage (local, free-range is best - I buy mine from Seven Sons Farm)
- ¾ cup diced onion
- 3 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- 1 can (15 oz) organic tomato sauce
- 1 can (15 oz) organic red kidney beans (including liquid), chopped up
- ¾ cup water
- Crumble sausage and onion in a large skillet.
- Cook over medium heat until no pink remains.
- Drain off excess grease, if necessary.
- Add spices and blend with sausage mixture.
- Chop up the kidney beans (if you don't want whole beans, like me) and add to sausage, along with the tomato sauce and water.
- Simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.
- Serve hot and garnish with shredded cheese, if desired.
And, of course, this meal was made extra special with my favorite corn bread recipe on the side!