A Chili Recipe You Will Want To Try This Fall!

I was finally able to finish decorating for fall this past weekend. One of the things that I do when I start to nest is craft like crazy. I was very busy crafting some fall stuff two weekends ago with a friend. We spent the entire afternoon crafting! Don’t you love when you have friends who have the same hobbies? These are two of the four wreaths we made.

This was one of my must do’s before the baby comes. Why? Because Pinterest put it into my head that I could make one for cheaper than buying one and I really wanted one made with deco mesh so… I finally got that out of my system. Nesting is a crazy crazy thing I tell you. Wether it’s cleaning, cooking, crafting, organization,… whatever it is that get’s you going, that nesting bug will literally make you stay up all night doing it or thinking about it.

I think a house looks it’s best around fall and Christmas. There is something so heart warming about walking into a fully decorated house during the fall and winter. With the decorations comes a longing for cooler temperatures. While I am not suffering in 100 degree weather every day, I could still wish for at least 70 degree weather. Since we don’t live in Vermont (my dream one day), we will just have to pretend it’s cooler outside and bring in the fall foods regardless of the temps because that doesn’t change for us until December. One of of the first foods that I crave as soon as fall hits is chili.

Last year I posted a chili recipe that I loved to make. Well, I have a new favorite right now. This is my friend, Vickie’s chili recipe. She has given us a few recipes for this blog such as her minestrone soup and the best ever lasagna. If you have tried any of her recipes, you can attest to her great taste in food. What I love about this chili recipe is it’s creaminess. It’s thick and hearty without being too chunky. I also love that it is simple and does not call for 15 ingredients- just 6! This recipe makes a whole lotta chili. Sorry, I have been watching Swamp People. I think I have picked up some Orleans slang. Choot ’em! Yes, I am laughing at myself right now. That awkward moment when you realize you are making yourself laugh in a blog post & probably everyone reading it is wondering what’s funny about what you just typed. Back to what I was saying. I like to make this around the holidays when we have a house full of people right before Thanksgiving or Christmas. When I make it for us I just freeze the leftovers for later.

Let’s pull out the grocery list:

2 lbs of beef (or turkey)
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of bushes chili beans or kidney beans (I only use one)
2 packets of McCormick’s chili seasoning
40 oz of tomato juice

Brown your meat in large soup pot or dutch oven and add your chili packets according to the directions on your packet. Once you have done this step you can continue to make this on the stove top or throw it all in the slow cooker. Add all of the the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a slow simmer if on the stove top and let it go for at least an hour. If using your slow cooker, cook on low for 3-5 hours.

I serve this with a side of cornbread, sour cream, cheese and crackers on top! Enjoy!


Slow Cooker Friday: Java Roast

It’s Friday! You know how I love slow cooker Fridays! I thought I would quickly share my thoughts about Stephanie’s Java Roast. In case you are new, Jana Debney and I are cooking through Stephanie O’dea’s recipes. We will deliver 4 reviews every two weeks. You will see the reviews here and on Just Makin’ It. Say “Hi” to Jana and let her know you stopped by to see what she’s been Makin’.

Here is the link to the original recipe: Java Roast Crock Pot Recipe.

First, let’s talk about roast and cooking it in the slow cooker. I want to run through my thoughts about browning and thawing because I read through all the comments under Stephanie’s recipe post and there were some questions about this. I want to make sure to cover those on this post.

To brown or not to brown? This is totally up to you. Does it change the flavor of the meat if you don’t season it before you brown it? Not that I can tell. What’s the purpose? Well, in this case, for this recipe, none. Most of the time you brown meat to lock in your flavor. Say you threw some spice on there with some flour: you would brown that meat to lock it in. The only other reason you brown is for the presentation factor. Meat thathas been browned looks prettier. Personally, I think it’s a waste of time for roast that is going to be slow cooked… but that’s just me. If you brown before you place your roast in a crock pot, awesome! I am sure it looks better than mine. I skip it because I like the idea of throwing it all together without the work.

Frozen or thawed? Again, that’s up to you. I NEVER thaw my meat. I’m a lazyslowcooker. When I plan a slow cooked meal, that’s it… I am planning on not fussing over it. So I don’t thaw. Now, there have been days where I had no intentions of slow cooking chicken and I left it out to thaw only to realize I needed to run out for errands. In those cases, usually the chicken is thawed when I make that last-minute decision to throw it in the slow cooker.

If you are new to my blog you will quickly find out that unless I am baking, it’s impossible for me to stick to a recipe. I like trying out other peoples’ recipes while adding my flare to them. Which brings me to what I did with this recipe.

I knew that I was going to be blogging this recipe. I did try very very hard to stick by it for your sake. So,…let’s get to it.

Java Roast
Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

First, you need a roast… obviously. What kind? A Chuck roast. It just so happened I had one in my freezer. Perfect!

1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
1/2 medium-sized onion
1 red bell pepper
Recipe calls for 8 oz of sliced mushrooms- I used half a container.
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Worcestershire
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
4 oz Cream Cheese (room temperature)

Place the sliced vegetables in your slow cooker.

Now grab your roast and place it on top of your vegetables.

Again mine was frozen solid! Add your liquids and spices! Turn it to low and let it go!Note: Mine was frozen solid and I started it after lunch sometime around 1:00pm. I cranked her up to high and cooked it on high until 6pm. The meat was falling apart tender! Before you are ready to eat, add your room temperature cream cheese to your pot. I believe the recipe called for the cream cheese so that it would thicken the sauce. I have added cream cheese many times to crock pot recipes and here is what I can tell you. It’s going to clump unless you add it in somewhere in the middle and give it time to cook down. I added it in the end in the tiniest pieces, stirring, and let it cook for a few minutes and mine still had tiny clumps. 2-3 tbsp of corn starch would work just as well without the fuss. The taste. This is hard for me to review. We have been spoiled by our favorite slow cooker roast recipe and the man bit into it and said… “Where’s the kick? Where’s the flavor?” My tongue is pretty trained now and I could immediately pick out all the flavors in this recipe and enjoyed them. Is it good? YES! Please try it… However, it simply didn’t knock our favorite off the gold medal podium.

It was moist, tender and I thought it was pretty good. Not your everyday roast recipe.

Try it out this Friday! Enjoy!

Kale, Sausage & Lentil Skillet

I’ve finally tried Lentils. I went full throttle two weeks ago and  I started with Lentil soup. We liked it so I started looking for other recipes with Lentils and I came across this one over at Eating Well. We tried it this out and I thought it was really good. Of course I modified it because that is just who I am. The Things liked the sausage (and… that’s about it), the man liked everything but the Kale (I saw that one coming the minute I saw it had greens). It was easy, cheap and it is a one pot meal. That means it’s a keeper for our family 🙂 regardless if it grosses everyone else out to eat healthy 🙂

Click below for the original recipe:
Kale, sausage & Lentil Skillet
Adapted from Eating Well

1 medium onion diced or sliced thinly
2 tbsp minced garlic
A dash of red pepper flakes
About 3 tbsp Emeril’s Essence this is my new favorite seasoning! I put it on EVERYTHING!
4-5 cups of water
2 chicken Bullion cubes
1 cup Lentils
1 colander of washed Kale
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat your skillet to 350 degrees. Cut sausage into 1/2″ pieces. Brown on both sides.

Remove your Sausage, add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until translucent.

Add water and chicken Bullion cubes. Bring to a boil & scrape up any brown bits from your skillet with a rubber spoon.

Turn down your tempature on your skillet to 250 degrees and let your broth simmer for about 4 minutes. Add your Lentils, sausage and the rest of your spices and cook partially covered for about 40 minutes.

Right before your timer goes off prepare your Kale. I dumped about a half of a bag into a colander and rinsed it off.

Once your timer sounds, add your Kale and cook covered until your Lentils are cooked. Add more water as necessary. They will need 10-20 minutes of cooking time. Tada! Seriously healthy and I loved it!

Taco Ring

So I feel like I am probably the last person to finally try to start couponing. I have convinced myself I don’t have time or patience, but after seeing so many of my friends display how they walked out of a store with $250 worth of stuff for $15 I am going to have to try it. I have no idea what I am doing but I am trying to “Like” as many coupon savvy pages as I can to figure out what they are doing. At this point, if I am wasting the man’s hard-earned money because I am not finding the time to clip coupons I will just feel guilty. So if you are a coupon savvy person, PLEASE PLEASE share your secrets. I have never saved more than $30 and would love to be let in on this great venture of saving money for my family. Right now I am trying to grab one of those $5 Bounty Coupons. They are releasing 5000 every Friday in the month of June. That’s a free 4 pack!

Oh, yes, wasn’t I supposed to be giving you a recipe? My good dear friend Stacia Gill, taught me how to make this. I had never heard of it before but man is it easy and good.

What you’ll need:

1 can of crescent rolls

1 lb of hamburger

1 packet of taco seasoning


shredded cheddar

sour cream



First, brown your beef in your skillet. Once it’s brown, drain the grease and follow the directions on your taco seasoning packet. On a pizza stone (or a large pan) spray a little Pam and lay out your crescent rolls. You will want the wide side facing the middle. It should look like a sun with the middle empty. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Spread your ground beef all around. Top with cheese.

Taking the pointed end of your rolls, wrap over your beef.

Bake in the oven for 11-15 minutes at 375. Remove with the crescent rolls are brown.

I use a pizza cutter and just cut pieces like a slice of pizza. Top with your favorite toppings. Lettuce, cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and guacamole is what I load mine up with.

The kids and the man eat this easy dinner right up. It’s so simple to throw together and fits into our budget nicely.

Next week I will give you my recipe for home-made guacamole. I make a big batch and freeze half so I have it on hand when we want it. The kids will eat this stuff by the spoonful which makes me happy because the avocado is so good for them!

Everyone have a great weekend! Next week a new book review will be posted, the Guacamole recipe, how to make southern-style sweet tea (for my SIL Michelle Norman Lorimer) and whatever else I can dig up. If you have a recipe you would like to share, please send it to taranorman@aol.com and I will be happy to make it, take pictures and feature it on my blog! Remember, if you know the secrets of couponing, I am all ears 🙂

Crunchy Taco Casserole

I had planed on making a normal non crunchy taco casserole. I have no idea what possessed me to throw Doritos into the mix, but at the last-minute I did. If you are going to make this, eat it as soon as it is ready. Otherwise the Doritos will get soggy and it’s just not as good. I can safely say the kids really liked it because they thought it was a treat to have Doritos somehow included in their meal. The man liked it and took leftovers to work for lunch the next day. I liked it as soon as it came out of the oven but wasn’t a fan of the warmed over version. Soggy chips and I are not good friends.

The contenders:

The only guy missing is the Doritos. Like I said, last-minute impulse.

Cook your beef adding a packet of taco seasoning at the end. Prepare according to the back of the packet. While your meat is cooking cook your noodles. These are the noodles I had on hand. Use what you have. Drain your noodles and add to the pan with the beef. Give it a good stir to combine everything. In a casserole dish add a layer of Doritos.

I use the Nacho brand because that is the only kind the kids will eat but feel free to explore a different kind.

Add your meat and noodles to the dish (over the Doritos). Sprinkle cheese on top.

I ran out of cheese, otherwise the dish would have been loaded up.  Be generous with the cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve.

Chili in the spring

Oh how I love a good chili simmering in the pot. The great thing about this recipe is that you can whip it up in 30 minutes or you can put it all in the slow cooker after you cook your beef and let it go all day. During the winter, I slow cook it. Something about the cold outside and the smell of chili going all day puts a pep in my step.

It’s spring, why am I giving you this recipe? Because I made my chili the other night to go in Kristy’s Chilli Cheese Tater Tot Recipe from Mommy Hates Cooking.

I didn’t bother with pictures because I didn’t think of blogging it until someone asked for it. Sorry 😦 I guess you will just have to trust me without the pictures this time. This is a picture of the chili cheese tater tot recipe with my chili on the bottom.

Adapted from Recipezaar.com

If you are making this for the tater tot recipe, use the portions as stated. Portions in parenthesis are for a big pot of Chili as your main course. If you don’t see anything in parenthesis use what I wrote for both the tater recipe and the Chili as main course. Also, the portion that I made for the tater tot casserole, I only used half the chili that I made. I froze the other half for another meal.

1 (3) lb of beef
1/3 (1) chopped onion
1 (2) celery ribs
1/2 (1) can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1/2 (1) can of tomato paste
1/2 (1) container of salsa (we use mild)
1/2 (1) can diced tomatoes
1 beef bullion cube
1 cup of water
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp basil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
(if making this as main course, you will want some sour cream and cheese for the top)

Cook your beef and you can either dump all the ingredients in the crock pot or bring it to a boil in a dutch oven for 30 minutes or less until it is as thick/thin as you would like to have it.

Meatloaf Muffins

If you are like me, you turn your nose up to meatloaf. The thought of a loaf of meat with ketchup on it grosses me out (and I do like hamburgers go figure). So when my MIL mentioned a Weight Watchers recipe with Meatloaf I thought, oh no… then she read the ingredients and I thought… hmm this could prove to be very good.

So she made it tonight and here is the thing (if you track your points) it’s ONLY 2 POINTS/ SERVING!!
Seriously, it’s good, EASY and FILLING.

Here it is:

Meatloaf Muffins
Recipe Courtesy Recipe Builder on Weight Watchers website

1lb ground beef (the leaner the better)
1 box Stove Top (we used the chicken flavor)
1 cup of water
2 egg whites

Mix together all of the ingredients. Using a 12 cup muffin pan (spray the non- stick spray in the pan) divide the ingredients in the pan. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

The only thing that I may have added was some onion powder which does not increase your points.

We served roasted potatoes with this. If you serve yourself a spoonful of these (about the size of a russet potato) it would be worth 2 points.

Roasted Potaotes
(My recipe)

Dice four Russet potatoes and place in a medium sized bowl. Add 1tsp of Canola oil and 1 tsp of garlic powder, a dash of salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes on a pan and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes.

Total points for this dinner was 3.  Great dinner and healthy!