Saturday, November 22, 2014

Come On Into My Kitchen: Family Chili

Come on into my kitchen!

The counters may not always be 100% streak free, and there are always at least a few crumbs on the floor, but it's a warm, happy place that smells like a mixture of hazelnut coffee and whatever Bath & Body Works candle I just picked up on a 2 for $22 deal.

It's a place of no judgment, where I'll let you hop up onto my counter for a seat, like I do most nights when I get home from work.

If it's morning, I'll offer you a cup of coffee from the Kuerig, and maybe even some of that deadly lemon creme cake!

If it's night time (or past noon), I'll pour us a glass of wine and offer you some of the BEST cheddar cheese and crackers.

We'll sit down at our kitchen table, gossip a little (because we like to keep it real around here), and I'll hope you stay for "just one more glass."

So, come on in, and today, I'd show you how we do Chili in this little yellow kitchen!


There's nothing quite like starting a batch of Chili in the crock pot in the morning, having those smells swirl around the house like a warm blanket all day, and curling up on the couch in front of the TV with a bowl ready to watch some football.

Chili was never really one of my very favorite things.

The Chili obsession didn't really start until I met my husband.

If you know my husband, you know he loves him some Chili.  Every restaurant we go to, if they have Chili on the menu, you better believe he's getting a bowl.

I know for a fact that Justin's Chili obsession came from his mom's Chili (so good!), which is where I got my recipe started.

What you need to know is that every year, Justin's mom and one of his Grandmas get together and can a bunch of tomatoes in mason jars.

The canning extravaganza results in a surplus of mason jars full of tomatoes, which I can't wait to get my hands on to make us some Chili!

I have tweaked the original recipe over time, probably mostly to fit my taste, but it still makes my husband very happy.

Miller Family (new generation!) Chili 

1 pound of lean ground beef, browned & drained
1 pound of sausage (your choice!), browned & drained
(if I don't have the mason jars) 3 14.5 ounce cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (try Muir Glen)
1 15 ounce can of spicy chili beans, undrained
1 package of taco seasoning  (low sodium)
1 package of chili seasoning (low sodium)
1 6oz can of tomato paste (low sodium)
1 8oz can of tomato sauce (low sodium)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil

Red pepper flakes - only to taste! I start with 1/4 tsp.

Fixins': Fritos, shredded Mexican cheese, sour cream.

Combine all of the above ingredients, minus the fixins', in a large crock pot and stir until combined.

Set crock-pot to low and cook for 8 hours, or as long as possible to be heated through. The longer the cooking time, the better.

Low and slow wins this race!

As it's cooking or near the end, taste test for spice level and you can always kick it up by adding more red pepper flakes and/or Tabasco sauce.  It's easier to start less spicy and add more heat as you go.

When you're ready to eat (game time!!), serve up chili in bowls and top with Fritos, cheese, and sour cream to your heart's desire.

Don't forget the Fritos!! This Chili recipe is not complete without them! 

And, because everyone knows I'm a sucker for products, I have to share with you the most perfect Chili bowls on the planet!!

We registered for these bowls for our wedding, and Justin's mom got them for us, because she obviously knows how they were just made to be filled up with some Chili!

These bowls are the perfect size for Chili (and all soups for that matter) and they have a HANDLE.

I repeat, a HANDLE.

Perfect for couch dining, because that's where Chili should be eaten.


Well, I'll let you go, because you've got some grocery shopping to do, right?! :)

xoxo & enjoy!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

If You Ain't First, You're Last

I did something very out of the ordinary this week.

I grocery shopped on a Saturday.

Now it's Sunday, and I don't even know what to do with myself.  Yes, I lead a very exciting life.

So, I decided to blog.

Is anyone else out there as OCD as I am about the grocery shopping process?

Maybe it's a product of where I live.  Grocery shopping here is a competitive sporting event.

Trust me, if you ain't first, you're last.

First things first, you must make your list in order of the sections of the store.

Enter store and go to the produce department, where I pick up two bottles of freshly squeezed OJ.

(We are addicted.  This will hardly get us through the week.)

They used to have the date and time stamped on the OJ bottles.  This was perfection.  I'd just push through the old bottles for the ones that were just made.


Now they've screwed the whole thing up and only have the dates on the bottles, so all bets are kind of off.

Next, it's on to the deli counter.  Ohhhh, the deli counter.  That place is pure misery at my store.

But wait, before you get to the deli counter, you have to go through a booby-trap.  The baked goods section.

DO NOT stop to look at those gorgeous, fluffy, sugar-coated blueberry muffins.  Don't even go there.

Don't even think about that heavenly, glazed, lemon creme coffee cake.  Remember what happened the last time (entire cake eaten by yours truely in 5 days).

Ok, you made it.  The deli counter.  Pick your number, and you might as well leave for at least 4 more aisles of shopping because your number ain't gettin' called for at least 20 minutes.

Walk over to the butcher counter, by way of the cheese department.

Oh no, here we go. They are sampling brie.

I wonder if anyone will notice if I just loop through a few times?

Sample one.  Sample two.  Sample three.

I now have a $10 wheel of brie in my cart.  Great.

Back to the butcher department - you guessed it...pick another number.

Now it's decision time.  Do I wait around patiently for my numbers to get called?

No, of course I don't.  This is not the time, nor the place, for patience.

Move on to the next task, praying they don't call either of my numbers while I am taking care of a very important step...the beer buying.

I hope you are wearing your North Face.  You may have been sweating through the baked goods aisle, but now you're in Club 32 (the beer fridge).

Text husband re: what IPA does he want today?  Pick up said IPA.  Avoid hypothermia.

Back to the meats.

Sh*t!!!!  They are calling number 86 at the Deli counter! I'm number 85! Run to the front, scream out 85, get the evil eye from about 10 soccer moms, flash a quick !whoops! smile, head down...order turkey.

Next - the butcher.  Ah, thank God!  They're on number 43.  I'm number 45.

Today is my lucky day.  Who calls out number 45?


Nacho is famous at our butcher counter.  He is THE BEST guy to select, weigh, and wrap up your meats.  No chicken juice on the packaging.  Perfectly gets me to one pound of that BBQ chicken on the first try.


Next, we need to get bread.  There is also a bit of science to this.  Everyone knows that they hide the freshest loafs of bread at the back of the shelf.

We're talking a four-day difference.

Grab the freshest loaf and get out before you consider the possibility of adding a bag of large, white-flour bagels to your bag.  This would inevitably require you to purchase cream cheese, which would take you back to the land-of-brie, and we know what happened the last time.

Moving on to the yogurts.

Husband is hooked on Chobani strawberry-banana Greek yogurt.  He requires one per day.  This might be the most popular flavor of Chobani yogurt at our store, and they put it all the way up on the top shelf.

There they are - five (Monday - Friday) of the coveted strawberry-banana yogurts.  On the top shelf - all the way at the back.

I look around, contemplating whether I can stand up on the bottom of the shelving and reach up to grab my prize fast enough to avoid making a fool of myself.

On second thought, I see a very tall-looking teen aged boy stocker, putting away some other reject yogurts.


Flash a pretty smile and ask him to help.  Get my yogurts.  Move on.

Now, after all of the most important things are taken care of, I will move through the other aisles picking up my coffee, canned goods, highly-expensive and salty wasabi-soy almonds, and we are on to the check out.

Time to analyze the lines for what will be the shortest wait.

It's not always the line with the least amount of people.  You must avoid the talkers.  You know, those people who will want to discuss every. single. new and exciting grocery item in their cart with the 15-year-old bagger.

Get into selected line.  Flip through an US Weekly.

My turn.

Now, it is very important that you instantly advise the checker-outer that you would like PAPER bags for everything, EXCEPT for the meat.

Don't even start putting all my stuff in your crappy plastic bags because God knows it will take me 85429 trips to get all of my precious goods in my house.

Also important, the order of the loading.

Heavy things (i.e., my giant OJ bottles) must go first.  Followed by cans.

At the very last second, I will put the bread on the conveyor.  I do not like squished bread.

And, we are almost there.

Jaw drops at the total.  Never ceases to amaze me.

That could have bought me those beautiful brown moto-boots I've been eying at Nordstrom.  But hey, a girl's gotta eat.

Bags are loaded, and we're off.

Stop on the way out to admire the piano player.  Think to self - where the hell am I that there is a man playing piano in my grocery store?!

Also, take one last free sample from the demo counter.  Scalloped potatoes for the win.

Back to my car, which just so happens to be parked right next to the cart put-back area.

See how I did that?

Load bags.  Drive home.  Call husband to help with bags.

Who needs a glass of wine? :)


So, as you can see, I am completely out of things to do today.

I will instead resort to prepping meals for the week, which, if your curious, are as follows:

Sunday: Crock Pot Beer Beef

Monday: BBQ Chicken

Tuesday: Mix & Match Mama's Beef Enchiladas (make. these. now.)

Wednesday: Left-overs

Thursday: Movie night? (i.e., popcorn & candy for dinner??)

Friday: Chili - I may or may not share my top secret recipe with you at some point :)

I know this week is heavy on the crock-pot usage.  But hey, we now have snow here and we all know there is nothing better than a crock-pot meal on a cold, snowy night after I've just schlepped myself to-and-from downtown for a long work day.

If you can relate to my grocery-shopping mania, or if make any of this stuff this week, let me know! :)