just a smidgen

Gatherings | Bringing People Together with Food

Gatherings Bringing People Together with Food 1

I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day..

my { birth } day

.. than with lots of birthday wishes..

beautiful flowers and a bottle of { white suede }

and other lovely gifts of friendship..

family + friends + puppy love

Chocolate Chip and Stout Chili 4

+ one new cookbook

that I get to review..

Gatherings | Bringing People Together with Food

by Julie Van Roosendal and Jan Scott

Does being excited about blogging on my birthday make me strange??

But it means I get to be here, writing to you.. saying thank you for the lovely birthday wishes!

I was reflecting the other day, thinking how miraculous it is to even be born!

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This was the perfect “blogger” gift, every now and then I get a cookbook to review in the mail.

“Gatherings | Bringing People Together with Food”

is the best book for a birthday that happens to fall on the day before Super Bowl.

{ seriously, I just like the commercials }

Chocolate Chip and Stout Chili

Julie Van Rosendaal is well-known and loved in this city. She’s the author of six best-selling cookbooks and one of Canada’s most popular food writers. She’s my absolute favorite food writer because hers was the first { award winning } food blog { Dinner with Julie } that inspired me to start my own blog.. and did I mention she’s from Calgary?! Julie is the nutrition columnist for the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One, food editor for Parents Canada.. and the list goes on! Plus she’s a friend of a friend of mine.. only one degree of separation:)

Jan Scott is the co-writer and creator of the Family Bites blog, the food editor for SavvyMom and has been published extensively in print and online. Jan was an event planner for a private catering company and lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Together they collaborated on a book that is filled with recipes and ideas for welcoming family, friends and loved ones into your home.. but for so much more than a formal dinner party. They have all sorts of suggestions for informal entertaining, which is growing fast in popularity in a world that is so busy.

They want you to relax, do some prep in advance and make the most out of meaningful time around the table. Imagine, you get to enjoy your own party, not something that happens very often! They’ve even thought up new, spontaneous occasions to enjoy together.. Coffee and Donuts, Pie Party, The Pantry Party, and Snow Day, along with gatherings like Casual Week End Get-Togethers, Showers and Birthdays. There’s even a Book Club Chapter! I can’t decide which one I’d like to try first, but I think “Coffee and Donuts” is at the top of my list. Just imagine New Orleans-Style Sugared Beignets, Maple-Glazed Sour Cream Doughnuts, Homemade Churros or Apple Fritters.

I’ll let you in on a secret, even with all of my blogging and with my extensive recipe collection, I am terrified of ever having a cocktail party! The idea of having a large group over and having a number of different recipes to prep and serve throughout the evening terrifies me. Thankfully, the beginning of each chapter is so helpful, Julie and Jan offer personal planning tips, décor and presentation ideas to make every gathering a success. I can’t wait to try the Parmesan Thymes Puffs, Prosciutto Prawns with Pesto or their 15 Ways to Make Crostini. Did I mention they have a special cocktail for the Appetizer evening? The French 75 would be a fantastic start to the night.

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Since we don’t do large family gatherings for Birthdays, I decided to try out their Chocolate Chip and Stout Chili Recipe, which is also perfect for Game Day tomorrow. I have a few chili recipes on the blog, but I will tell you that this one is the best, hands down!  Initially I forgot to put the chocolate in so my family tasted it with and without and loved it both ways. Personally, I think chocolate adds that bit of something extra, it reminds me of an authentic molé sauce. Top your chili bowl with cilantro, green onion slices, lime wedges squeezed over and sour cream. My son crushed tortilla chips over top as well. Don’t forget the hot sauce, my favorite is Cholula.

Chocolate Chip and Stout Chili
You can serve this as part of a casual Mexican-inspired buffet by adding baskets of crisp tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, pickled jalapenos, green onions and lime wedges. Or just as it is alongside a floury dinner roll or a hunk of cornbread. I didn't have time to bake this in the oven, so just made on the stove with a large dutch oven and simmered until ready.
Serves: 8-10
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
  • 2 lb (1 kg) lean ground beef
  • 2 lb (1 kg) sausages, casings removed
  • 3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chili powder
  • one 5 1/2 oz (156 mL) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) ketchup
  • three 14 oz (398 mL) cans red kidney beans, drained
  • three 14 oz (398 mL) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
  • one 16 oz (475 mL) can stout beer (such as Guinness)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • cilantro
  • pickled jalapenos
  • green onions
  • lime wedges
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F (15C). Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof pot (with lid) and add the ground beef and sausage. Brown the meat on medium heat, breaking it up as it cooks.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and chili powder; mix well to combine.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, ketchup, beans and crushed tomatoes; add the stout and bring the chili to a boil.
  4. Once it starts boiling, remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the chili, cover with the lid and transfer the pot to the oven, cooking for 3 hours. Check seasonings, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot.
  5. Party Pointer: This dish freezes beautifully and can be made a month or two in advance of serving. To reheat, allow the chili to defrost in the fridge, then transfer it to a pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat before serving.

Have a great Super Bowl Weekend! Are you watching the game? What recipes will you be making?

Gatherings | Bringing People Together with Food was a promotional gift, but the ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.. I love this book! Plus the Chocolate Chip Chili with Stout Recipe was reprinted with permission from Julie.

Love, Smidge Bluebird

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