Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Try it Tuesdays: Simple, Perfect Chili

Hello again!  I know that I've promised a DIY yard project and trust me, it's coming.  But it rained this weekend and I can't control the weather.  So there.

Anyway, I've decided that I am going to dedicate one night a week to trying out new recipes.  I have gotten into a rut of relying on the same tried and true dishes that I know my family (well mostly just me - I'm the picky one) will love eating.  So, I have decided that I probably have enough cookbooks to last me through a year of making a new dish once a week.  Yes, this means that I will need to put on my big girl pants and try something new. Isn't it sad that my 2 year old is less picky than I am?  "You need to try it."  -- Do as I say, not as I do, I guess.

This week, I dusted off my big girl pants and pulled them up high and decided to try out a new chili recipe straight out of The Pioneer Woman Cooks : Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman).  See her blog here :

And, yes, I will admit - I already know that I love chili.  So I guess my big girl pants aren't that high.

Here is cover of her book (I know she has more out now, but I believe this was her first):

In the book she says that this is her go-to chili recipe.  The weather has finally gotten "chili" enough (did you see what I did there?) to start whipping up this sort of thing.

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup masa (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and chiles (she says she uses the Rotel brand)
            FOR SERVING:
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped onion
  • Fritos
1.  Begin by measuring the spices: chopped garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, and chili powder.

2. Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic.  I used the chopped garlic you can buy in a jar.  Saves you a whole step - who has time to chop?  I also added about 1/4 cup frozen chopped onions.


3.  Cook the beef until brown.

4. Unless you want to tick off your cardiologist, drain off the excess fat.

5.  Pour in the tomato sauce.

6.  Followed by the spices and the salt.

7.  Stir together well, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.  This is (in my opinion) a very dry chili.  I added in Ranch Style Beans with Jalapenos and  red kidney beans (nothing special here - just store brand) and about 1 and 1/2 bean cans full of water during this step.

During this process, my can opener broke.  I learned how to open without a can opener here:

8.  After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl.  Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork.

9.  Dump the masa mixture into the chili.

10.  Stir together well.  Taste, adjust the seasonings, and add water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor.  Add the beans, jalapenos, and tomatoes if desired.  Simmer for 10 mins.  This chili is great for feeding a crowd - not too spicy, but flavorful.  My family likes it hot - so I doubled up on the spices during this step.  I also added a couple of squeezes of ketchup, it gives just the right amount of sweetness.

11.  Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped onion, and Fritos.  I already added onions in the browning process.

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of the finished product - I promise, I will do better next time!


I feel like the original recipe was a good start.  I think that it certainly would be great to feed to group of people because it's not too spicy! (Although, I would double the recipe if I was feeding a group - this only yields 6 servings.) My family, however, likes it spicy.  If eating chili causes your nose to run, it's probably perfect for us...

I felt like the original chili was too dry - probably perfect for Frito chili pie or chili dogs.  I feel like the added water was necessary.

Adding masa to chili was something I had never heard of.  Ree talked about how much great flavor and texture it gave the chili so this was something I was excited to try... I'll admit, I was pretty disappointed by the outcome.  I couldn't taste any difference in the chili after adding the masa mixture - except that maybe it made it a little bland?   It certainly wasn't worth the almost $6 price (for a 4lb bag).  I did notice that it gave the chili sort of a creamy texture, which is something that I appreciated.  Nevertheless, I would skip this step unless masa is something you have in your cabinet.

Overall, this chili (if following the original recipe) is ok.  I think that it's a great start if you don't already have your own tried and true recipe to judge off of.  The seasoning is definitely spot on - but I would double.  Next time, I will probably add spicy Rotel as well just to get some more moisture and flavor.

I'd give this recipe 3 of 5 stars.

Ree also talks about how to freeze this in her cookbook, and I'm all about freezing the left overs.  It seems like a pot of chili can last forever at our house.

What do you serve with chili at your house?  I know that this is kind of a controversy depending on what region you live in.  We're from the Mid-West so I feel like I've seen it all (corn bred, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, sour cream, etc.)  At our house, we stick to cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven.  I prefer Rhodes for a crowd (they seriously taste just like homemade).  But when it's just our family, I stick to the canned stuff - nothing special, just whatever is on sale.

Does anyone have any great recipes that they would like for me to review?  I promise, I won't be too critical!  Can anyone tell me what to do with this 4lb bag of masa I probably will never use? 

If you want me to try something, leave a comment below!

Until next time, 
Mrs. Bell

P.S. Opening a can using a spoon is for the birds - it took me about an hour to open two cans!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Meet the Bells

I've jumped on the bandwagon!  I've thought about creating a blog for a while, but now I can officially say that I've done it!

First off, let's start with introductions...

My name is Annie.  I'm a working mommy (to a doggy and a human), wife, crafter, gardener (well, at least I try to be), DIY-er, and foodaholic - seriously baked goods are my weakness and I've got the thighs to prove it!

Last September I married my husband, Bo, after dating for 8 years.  He is a cowboy, fireman, awesome father, and an even better husband.

Here is a picture of us on our wedding day

We have a son named Lane.  He's definitely ALL BOY!  He's an ornery, messy, rowdy little guy full of spunk... and we couldn't love him anymore!  Lane loves tractors, cars, planes, and well basically anything with an engine.

Lane on the boat this summer.

Lastly, we have the smallest member of our family, our corgi, Izzy.  She's got the shortest legs I've ever seen.

Here's Izzy when she was a puppy.  She's still just as adorable!

I feel like I should tell you what to expect to see on this blog - and honestly, I have no idea!  I'm sure that like the life of our family, it will always change.

So, what would YOU like to see on this blog?

My first "real" post will be coming soon so check back often!  I'm thinking a DIY yard project!

Thanks for stopping by.
-Mrs. Bell