Slow Cooker Sunday: Chili

There are so many types of chili’s… Southwestern, White Bean, Three Bean, Vegetarian, Turkey, Chicken…. etc, etc, etc. Either way you make it the end result is pretty much the same… It’s delicious! For today’s Slow Cooker Sunday series I’m bringing you a classic chili, well, classic in my book. You know, ground beef, red kidney beans, some onions, cumin, garlic and so forth.

To begin, I sautéed 2 chopped onions and 1 chopped pepper in oil until they were softened.

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Once they were softened I added in chopped garlic, chili powder and cumin.

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And finally I added in ground beef along with salt. I broke the meat up with a wooden spoon and cooked it until it was no longer pink.

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Next, I added the meat into the slow cooker along with diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans. After stirring everything to combine it I covered it and cooked it on low for 8 hours.

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And after those 8 hours once the chili thickened and all the flavors blended together I stirred in some chopped green chilies.

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To serve it, I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese and a piece of cornbread that I made with a quick and easy mix from Jiffy.

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What’s best about this chili is the leftovers… It tasted even better the following day!

Easy Slow Cooker Chili

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, medium dice

1 red bell pepper, medium dice

6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup chili powder*

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 pounds lean ground beef**

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes***

1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce***

2 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Stirring to coat the vegetables and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and the measured salt, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, add the diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce and beans, stir well to combine. Cover and cook about 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high.

Stir in the chopped green chilies. Season with addition salt if needed and serve with your favorite toppings.

*Yes, it sounds like a lot but don’t worry the meat absorbs it and it will not be overpowering

** I used 80% lean  / 20% fat

*** For the diced tomatoes I used two 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes and for the tomato sauce I used two 8-ounce cans of no-salt added tomato sauce.

****Please note I use a 5 1/2 quart slow-cooker.

Recipe from Chowhound

A Quick & Easy Bolognese

As the temperatures begin to drop our need and desire for hearty and comforting dishes begins to rise. There’s nothing like coming in from the cold with a nice hot bowl of soup waiting for you. That’s my usual go-to after a morning of shoveling, but let’s not talk about snow so early in the season. We haven’t even had our first frost yet! And just as comforting as soup is pasta and today I have a recipe for you for a quick and easy Bolognese. I came across it in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine where they coined it Weeknight Bolognese. I’m calling it quick and easy because I was able to make twice in one day without breaking a sweat. Why did I make it twice in one day you may be wondering? Well, it’s not because it was so delicious I finished it one sitting – don’t get me wrong, it was delicious – but, it was because I made a MAJOR snafu! If you didn’t know I am more of baker than a cook. The cooking thing is still fairly new to me and I have a lot to learn, like you shouldn’t substitute cooking wine for a dry red wine in any recipe. That’s why I made this recipe twice. The first time I used cooking wine in lieu of dry red wine and it was atrocious and incredibly salty. At first I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong, but, a quick Google search let me know. I believe I may have made this mistake once before with another recipe but, it’s not coming to me right now. At least I know for future cooking endeavors!

So, on my second go around I had a delicious dinner to eat and with the temps a little cooler in the evening it was quite comforting.

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A Quick and Easy Bolognese

  • Servings: 4 to 5
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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef*

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/4 cups dry red wine**

1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Kosher salt and black pepper

3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

*I used a 93% / 7% split

** I used Merlot

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon until the meat has lost its pink color and has begun to brown. Add in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in 1 cup of the red wine, the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking finish the sauce by adding in the nutmeg, basil, cream and the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and continue simmering for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl and top with the sauce and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with extra Parmesan on top.

Recipe from Food Network

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Baking has always come naturally to me, cooking on the other hand is a whole other ballgame. I’m always apprehensive that I will under season or worse over season things, but lately I have become a bit more confident (or maybe I should say comfortable) with my cooking abilities. There is one thing that still frustrates me though… Figuring out what to cook, especially for dinner. As such was the case one day last week. I really was at a lost as to what to make, then while picking up some produce the light bulb in my head turned on and I thought stuffed peppers…. Hence Last Minute Stuffed Peppers. Customarily for a dish like this I would turn to a recipe, but I decided to wing it and create something on my own and a bit from memory from the last time I made them.

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I began making the filling for the peppers by sautéing sliced mushrooms in olive oil. Once they cooled I chopped them up and placed them in a large bowl.

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In the same pan I used to sauté the mushrooms I then cooked a pound of ground beef which I seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and half a red onion chopped. I then added this to the bowl with the mushrooms.

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I then added in a cup and a half of cooked brown rice to the mushroom meat mixture. To cook the brown rice I opted to use the 30 Minute Cooking Method; you bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in at most 2 cups of brown rice, bring the water to a boil once again and allow the rice to cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

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And finally I added in about 1/3 cup of jarred spaghetti sauce and a 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the rice mixture. I mixed it together well and set it aside.

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Next I prepped the peppers. I sliced the tops off the peppers and cleaned out their insides while I brought a large pot of water to boil. I boiled each of the peppers for about 4-5 minutes. I wanted the peppers to be tender but still a bit rigid so they wouldn’t tear when I stuffed them. I placed them in an 8 x 8 baking dish that I coated with about half of the sauce I had left in the jar.

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I then filled each of the peppers with the rice-beef mixture and topped them with the rest of the sauce and sprinkled each of them with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese. And for the final touch I topped each of the peppers with their respective sliced tops.

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I placed the dish in a 350 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was melted and I was sure that the filling had enough time to heat through.

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Prior to enjoying one I sliced it in half and added some of the spaghetti sauce that was in the bottom of the dish. Oh yes, and I added some extra vegetables to this dish by serving it with fresh okra on the side.

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My Last Minute Stuffed Peppers were delish! Definitely something that I will be making again. And best of all, it gave me a small boost in my cooking confidence.

 

Last Minute Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 large bell peppers, any color

3 cups (8 oz. package) sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 80%)

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove them from the skillet and once they cool chop them up and place them in a large bowl.

3. In the same skillet, cook the ground beef along with onion and season with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Once the beef is cooked add it to the bowl with the mushrooms.

4. Add the brown rice to the bowl with the beef and mushrooms along with 1/3 cup of the spaghetti sauce and 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Mix the contents together and set aside.

5. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Meanwhile prep the peppers by slicing off their tops (set them aside) and cleaning out their seeds. Once the water is boiling add the peppers and leave them in the water for about 5 minutes; until the peppers are softened but not to the point where they are going to tear when stuffed.

6. Pour about 1/2 of the remaining spaghetti sauce into an 8 x 8 baking dish and then place the peppers in it. Fill each of the peppers with the rice – beef mixture, filling each of the peppers to the top. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the peppers and top each of the peppers with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover the peppers with their reserved tops and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Quesadilla Casserole

I was running out of ideas of what to make for dinner – I’m a much more creative baker than cook – so I turned to one of the McCormick Recipe Creations I had in my cabinet and opted for a Quesadilla Casserole. The ingredients were basic, it seemed super quick and most importantly it sounded delicious.

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To start I gathered all of my ingredients together.

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Up first I chopped the onion and cooked it with the ground beef until it was browned.

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After draining the beef and onion mixture I added in two cans of tomato sauce, a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a can of corn (undrained), and a can of chopped green chiles (undrained).

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After mixing that together I then added in all of the spices: chili powder, ground cumin, minced garlic and oregano leaves.

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I brought the mixture to a boil and then lowered the heat from medium-high to low and let it simmer for five minutes.

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Now it was time to assemble the casserole. I began by spreading 1/2 cup of the beef mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish which I sprayed with a non-stick baking spray.

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I then topped that with three 8-inch flour tortillas.

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To complete the first layer of the casserole I topped the tortillas with half of the remaining beef mixture and then one cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

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I made the second layer by repeating the tortilla, beef & cheese order.

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I baked the casserole in a 350 degrees pre-heated oven for 15 minutes and then let it rest for 5 minutes before digging in. It was a hit… This recipe is definitely a keeper and thankfully uses spices that I currently have in my cabinet so there’s no need for the recipe packet next time.

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Quesadilla Casserole

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. oregano leaves

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (8 3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, undrained

1 can (4 1/2 oz.) chopped green chiles, undrained

6 flour tortillas (8-inch)

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp. red pepper (optional)

1. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper to taste, if desired.

2. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13x9x2- inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.

3. Bake in preheated 350F oven 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.