Chili – Big Belly Deli – Sykesville, Maryland

Chili with Garlic Bread

I have written about Big Belly Deli in the past, and it’s a place I enjoy visiting. They had chili with garlic bread listed as their daily special, so I decided to go there for lunch. We are expecting some fall weather soon, so I thought this would be a good preview. The temperature today is just over 70, with some winds (10-15 mph). The winds were not making it hotter or colder, but were blowing around some pollen, which just adds an extra layer of fun. I prefer a same temperature wind when the weather is below freezing. When it’s anything above that, I prefer a colder wind. I had the unfortunate experiences in Southern California with Santa Ana winds. Nothing like going out in 100 degree weather with with winds gusting to make it feel like 110-115 degrees. A bit off topic there, but that’s just me. We are supposed to be in the upper 40s tonight and tomorrow should have a high of the mid 60s. That is perfect weather for me. I’ll still be able to wear shorts, and won’t have to worry about needing to use any AC.

Back to the food, though. I ordered a bowl of chili, which came with the garlic bread. They are both represented in my picture, even though I think the picture looks sort of like a bunny. The garlic bread had good flavor. I preferred the inside part – softer, buttery, garlicky goodness. The crust was good to dip into the chili. The chili was a perfect portion. There were chunks of ground beef, some onions, some green and red peppers. The seasonings were on point for a good chili. Not too spicy, not too much tomato flavor. And the chunks of veggies and meat gave it the good consistency. When you add the melty cheese into those bites, it made for an outstandingly hearty lunch. Would I order this again? Yes, I would. This chili would also do well on other things, but it is good enough to stand on its own. Happy flavors today help keep me positive and raring to go for the weekend!


An Unsuccessful and Successful Dinner

An unsuccessful AND successful dinner? Huh? What does that mean? Am I trying to be silly? The answer to the last question is always simply this: I am not trying to be silly. I just am. I had an idea for a sandwich for a few days, and I decided to try it last night. I had some leftover spinach dip, and wanted to do something with that; along with a chicken patty and some flour tortillas. Sounds simple enough, I guess.

When I was thinking about the tortilla shells, I wanted to have a slightly crispy tortilla. Not too soft, since it would be very mushy. Not too hard, since the crispness might cause it to break too easily. Looking more for something in between. So I took some soft taco shells and cut them so there would be a top and bottom layer that would fit the chicken patty. I used a drink cup lid as the stencil and then used a knife to cut around to get the circular-ish shape. Since there were still some tortilla leftover, I decided to cut them up into bite-sized pieces. I then baked these in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so. I wanted to cook them at a lower temperature since my oven might cook things too fast if I tried it at 350. When they were the right texture (mostly solid shell, with slight flexibility), I took them out.

Once the chicken patty was cooked, the sandwich was ready to assemble. I put a light layer of spinach dip on both pieces of tortilla, so there would be some on the top and on the bottom between the tortilla and chicken patty. The sandwich assembled the way in which I was hoping. Then, I took a bite. The flavor of the spinach dip and the chicken patty worked well together. The tortilla, though, was another story. The baking caused it to be a little tough, so it took extra effort to bite through the tortilla. The extra effort of biting through the tortilla caused the chicken patty to occasionally slide around, which meant that when the final clamping of the teeth was finished, it was just the tortilla and spinach dip, without chicken, for some of those bites. So it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when I first had the idea. But I am okay with that. I learned something new. So… there was success even with the lack of success. And the little bite-sized pieces were the perfect consistency to snack on with the little spinach dip that remained. So I could do the same thing with the tortilla pieces in the future to use with a dip. Not quite the same consistency as a fried or packaged chip. They still had a nice crunch, but since they were slightly thick, I still got some good flavor of the tortilla and a little bit of softness on the inside. So a perfect consistency for the spinach dip (for me).

Things don’t always work out the way we plan. Sometimes, they turn out better than expected. Sometimes, they turn out worse. But if we learn something from the bad experiences, that’s always a good thing. Stay positive!