Lookie! This is what I made: Kelli’s Roadhouse Chili

This kind of chili is easy to make, and it can be simmered to perfection in your slow cooker! (As you can figure it out, my slow cooker-along with my George Foreman grill- is one of my prized kitchen possessions.) But-moving along……….

The recipe:

1 lb of ground meat ( I prefer to use ground chicken, but whatever ground meat that tickles your fancy)

1 6 oz can of tomato paste ( no need for brand names here- my advice is to use whatever is economical for you!)

2 teaspoons of garlic ( if you’re a garlic lover, add a bit more to your liking)

Sprinkling of black pepper

Salsa ( for my chili, I used the mild salsa from the good ol’ Dollar Tree)

1 8 oz can of dark red kidney beans ( again, no need for brand names!)

1 cup of water

Last but not least: ALDI’s original chili seasoning mix ( DO NOT SUBSTITUTE!!! Considering that this packet of seasoning is only 45 cents, run to your local ALDI and stock up!)

BEFORE YOU START: Plug up your slow cooker and set it on HIGH. You’ll need it!

In a non-stick skillet, brown the meat until well done ( about 8-10 minutes). During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the garlic, black pepper and about 1 cup of salsa. Stir well , reduce the heat, and let it simmer!

At this point, this is when your slow cooker will come into play. Remove your skillet from the stove and add your wonderfully seasoned meat in the slow cooker. ( Remember, salsa contains tomatoes, jalopenos, onions, and all of those great flavors that add depth to your dish).  Add can of undrained kidney beans, and the tomato paste as well. Because tomato paste is kind of thick, add 1 cup of water. Finally, pour all of the contents of the seasoning mix into the slow cooker as well. Mix well.  Let the chili marinate for about two hours, so it can thicken up. You can serve it up on the same day of preparation, or do like me- store it in the fridge over night and let those flavors mix and mingle. Serve the next day to your hungry family and watch the compliments flow in! Add cheese, sour cream or what condiment you like.

 

Budget Shopping: Dollar Tree

I have a confession to make: I’m madly in love with….sniff…the DOLLAR TREE! Yes, I said it- the store chain that sells virtually everything for (uh-huh) a DOLLAR!!! Especially things like wrapping paper, trash bags, dish towels, even name brand items such as Swiss Miss, Betty Crocker, Softsoap,  Campbell’s, and Nature’s Own  bread for a buck. And no- everything is fresh and NOT expired.  In times of economic hardship, rising costs of living and the like, this store is a life saver. Based  on some blog sites, others swear by it when planning for weddings ( didn’t go that route for my own wedding; however I’m not knocking it). Now, if they would only take coupons….hey, a girl can dream can she? Go to your local Dollar Tree store or log on to http://www.dollartree.com/home.jsp

Budget Shopping: Dollar Tree

I have a confession to make: I’m madly in love with….sniff…the DOLLAR TREE! Yes, I said it- the store chain that sells virtually everything for (uh-huh) a DOLLAR!!! Especially things like wrapping paper, trash bags, dish towels, even name brand items such as Swiss Miss, Betty Crocker, Softsoap,  Campbell’s, and Nature’s Own  bread for a buck. And no- everything is fresh and NOT expired.  In times of economic hardship, rising costs of living and the like, this store is a life saver. Based  on some blog sites, others swear by it when planning for weddings ( didn’t go that route for my own wedding; however I’m not knocking it). Now, if they would only take coupons….hey, a girl can dream can she? Go to your local Dollar Tree store or log on to http://www.dollartree.com/home.jsp

5 minutes of beauty: POND’S Evening Soothe Wet Cleansing Towelettes

NOTE: this is NOT a sponsored post. I actually use this product, and like it!

I’m a firm believer that 5 minutes of daily maintenance to yield great results. This has never been more true for me and millions of other “domestic wives” out there. There are days in which a simple task such as WASHING YOUR FACE is flippin’ tedious. Well no more of that! I discovered POND’S Evening Soothe Wet Cleansing Towelettes in a free goodie bag I scored form Target.com. I finally used them during the Thanksgiving holiday- after days of shopping, cooking, and good ol’ family time I was pooped! So I opened the pack for a quick fix after a long day. Immediately my senses were relaxed by the lovely lavender-vanilla scent. My skin was exfoliated to a smooth finish by the textured cloth. I was amazed that the wipe removed my mascara, tinted moisturized, and barely there lip gloss ( again it was a LONG day!). My skin glowed, and as I snuggled up to my hubby, he loved the scent. Two uses in one- clean skin and sexy scent. LOVE it.

Lookie! This is what I made: veggie soup with noodles

Image (at the left, my variation of a recipe found on the back of Hunt’s Pasta Sauce)

You know, with all this cold weather on the horizon, I’m in the mood for meals involving my slow cooker. For me, cold weather is equated with seeking warmth from the fireplace, being bundled up in nice bulky coats- and COMFORT FOOD. So when I discovered this yummy sounding recipe, I looked in my pantry to find the needed ingredients, I found out that I was lacking in one- bacon (which is fine by me, since I don’t eat the oinky-oink…moving on…). Yet, being the innovative cook that I have turned into, I substituted bacon for beef stock ( don”t hold it against me).

NOTE: my method of cooking goes like this: I take a recipe and tweek a bit….which means that measuring cups go out the window! With my recipes, you’ll hear a “splash” of this, “sprinkling” of that. So- as you prepare your meal, I encourage you to taste as you go along- trust me, you’ll know what to add!

so…here’s the goods:

2 huge cans of garlic and herb pasta (really, for this soup you can use use any tomato-based pasta sauce)

1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Plenty of diced carrots, onions, and celery with a FEW new potatoes ( to make things easier, use prechopped stew veggies found in the produce section of your local grocery store. Believe me, you’ll thank me later!)

Splash of beef broth

Sprinkling of italian seasoning

About 2 1/2 cups of  dry elbow macaroni 

Dash of black pepper

Some finely shredded parmesan cheese

Water ( I’ll tell you how much to use in the directions)

 

First things first: Plug in your slow cooker and put the setting on high. On the stove, boil 3 cups of water in a separate pot ( this will be for your noodles). Pour all contents of the pasta sauce into the cooker. Now, use the cans to pour water into the slow cooker as well (2 cans of water will be enough), to dilute the sauce to soup-like consistency. Stirring to blend, add some italian seasoning and some black pepper ( again, I encourage you to taste while cooking- you may find that your stock requires more seasoning that what I prefer). Pour in some beef broth to add some depth to your soup.  Add the veggies and beans. Remember, you are cooking this meal in a slow cooker, so don’t worry about your them cooking away-they won’t!

Remember that pot of water boiling on the stove? Well, now is a great time to add the macaroni so it can cook to a nice al-dente perfection. Yet, once it is done cooking,put your noodles aside- you won’t add those until the last 25 minutes of cooking (just don’t forget to drain the noodles first)!

Again, you’re cooking a meal in a SLOW COOKER! Even on a HIGH setting, your soup will be simmering for a good 4 to 6 hours. So go- do something productive! After a day of doing whatever your little heart desires, your veggie soup will be ready and waiting on you to add the noodles! Remember, you have already cooked your noodles; 25 minutes or less should be enough time for them to warm up and absorb the flavors in the soup

As far as the cheese go: Once you ladle your soup into an individual bowl, garnish with as much cheesy goodness as you like!

And there- an easy meal that requires little prep, but yields great rewards! Serve this dish with some nice, crusty, buttery garlic bread- MMMMMM!!!!