Thursday, December 13, 2012

Recipe--Down-Home Kid-Friendly Chili

It's time for me to find a new chili recipe, and this may be it.  Plus, you can make it on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.  I don't have kids to worry about, but I do have an aging and jumpy stomach, so it's worth a try.  Plus, sweeter chili (thanks to the brown sugar) is a nice change from the usual fireball.  Thanks to the good folks at the Sweet Tea and Cornbread blog for the inspiration!

DOWN-HOME KID-FRIENDLY CHILI

2 lbs ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
I can diced tomatoes with green chiles, like Rotel or Pace (use mild to control the heat)
1 can Hunt's Chili Fixins
1-15 oz can tomato sauce
2 cans chili beans, undrained
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T chili powder (add more for more heat)
1 t cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t seasoned salt
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
dash of cayenne (to your taste)
1/2 C brown sugar (the magic ingredient)
3 C water; use 2 C if using slow cooker

Brown ground chuck, onion and green pepper.  Drain excess grease.  If you are cooking in a slow cooker, add browned ground beef to slow cooker and proceed from there.

Add all of the other ingredients in the order listed.  Bring to a low boil, then turn to low and simmer for one hour.  Stir every now and then because it has a tendency to stick at first.  After cooking for 45 minutes or so, add a little more water if needed or depending on how thick you like your chili.

If preparing in the slow cooker, set to low and cook for 6-8 hours.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trying To Get the Christmas Feeling Again (with apologies to Mr. Manilow)

Today is December 11.  Christmas Day is exactly two weeks from today.  Usually, the house is decorated, holiday tunes are blaring, the oven is in overdrive, and I have the grown-up equivalent of a child's excitement level.

So what's wrong with me this year?

I just didn't have the heart to drag the big tree down from the half-story, so I brought down a three-footer and decorated it last night.  Not near as many lights or decorations, but when Santa comes to my house, he can put a checkmark by "has Christmas tree up".

The battery-operated candle lights are not yet in the windows.  Just the idea of checking batteries and crawling over beds and moving tables and furniture and curtains and shutters to put them on the sills makes me suddenly very tired.

The shopping is done, which is a good thing--unless my sisters come up with something else that I need to buy for someone.  I am in a serious money crunch right now and have been most of this year.  The paycheck doesn't go nearly as far as it used to, and I can't find the culprit, unless it's the new-to-me car I bought in the summer, which was a necessity.

Last year, I had love--wonderful, sweet love--in my life at the holidays.  They were the best holidays ever.  Now, I have uncertainty and loneliness and pain.  I haven't even popped a Christmas music CD in the player yet this season.  Just no heart to do so.

Maybe if it snowed, I would get a bit of spirit in me.  Maybe if I stopped feeling sorry for myself and went out of my way to make everyone else's Christmas merry and bright, I would snap out of it.  I really don't know what the magic solution is, but I hope I find it soon.  Holidays are for enjoying, not dreading.

12/8/12--Karla's Muffin Basket



Last class of the basket making season (the new season starts in January sometime), and I think it's my favorite of the bunch; Karla's Muffin Basket.  No, I don't know who Karla is, but I love her basket!

The December 8 class was the "luck of the draw" class, at which Bev brings a whole bunch of basket kits she has preassembled and you get to pick the one you want to make.  I chose this one because 1) I don't have a basket in purple and 2) I wanted to practice the technique of making the basket go up and flare and stay round--which, I am convinced, is all in the first three rows of weaving you do.

This one turned out beautifully, and I hope you like it as much as I do.  It was tasked to be a muffin basket, but right now mine is holding a potted poinsettia at my house because it is the perfect size for that, too.  I think after Christmas is over and the decorations are put away, it will be doing duty in the kitchen as a "corral" for my collection of pill bottles.  It is just the right size for that, too!

Come to think of it, I might have to go to my basketmaking supply source and order some materials to make this basket again.  It is of the perfect size and cuteness factor for a gift or two or three!