Breakin' it in

Crockpot Challenge Badge

Well, today is the first installment of The Crock pot Challenge! I made Chili!

I got up at 9 this morning (have I mentioned how awesome Zoe is with her late mornings?) and got going. Of course, I had to actually take the crock pot out of the box first. Therein I found a lovely wedding card... for someone else: apparently, the bride and groom got multiple crock pots! Either that, or they were as afraid to use it as I had been. Too bad they weren't notified of our little challenge group - it would have offered them recipes and support from like minded people. Too bad, so sad. Well, not really.

Any who... After Daniel washed the new pot for me, I got to work chopping onions and browning meat. Onion chopping took less than a minute (oh, food processor how I love thee). Meat browning took ten minutes. I threw both in the pot, added the other ingredients, set it and then had a nice chat with my Dad on the phone. I decided I wanted to add some beer even though the recipe I used doesn't call for it and I knew he'd know what to do. Just before I pressed call on my phone, I asked Daniel to get me a beer from the garage. Asking for a beer at ten in the morning on a Sunday made my day except Daniel knew it was for the chili and not me, so it wasn't as fun as I had hoped it would be. Dad says the Amstel Light I was planning on using doesn't have enough flavor to cook with so we got a darker beer. He also suggested that I add it when I add the beans, so I took his advice and did that. So far, I think crock pot cooking is the easiest thing ever.

The recipe:

2 lb lean (at least 80% - I used 85%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup) - I used a yellow onion and wish I'd used a red
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained - I used the kind that had green chile in it
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (15 to 16 oz) kidney or pinto beans, rinsed & drained (I opted to double this and used Ranch Style Beans instead - did not drain)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 cup of beer, (I used Newcastle) A few shakes of Tapatio Hot Sauce ***
Shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired (this makes chili for me)

Crockpot Challenge

1. Cook beef over medium heat 8-10 minutes, until brown: drain.
2. In 3 1/2 - 6 quart slow cooker, mix beef and remaining ingredients, except beans and cheese
3. Cover and cook on LOW heat setting 6-8 hours or on HIGH heat setting 3-4 hours.
4. Stir in beans. Increase heat setting to HIGH. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with cheese (I added a dollop of sour cream just for kicks).

*** I added more ingredients to this recipe to see what it's like to stray from following directions. It was kind of fun. I recommend it.

Slow Cooker Chili

Turned out pretty darn good! It had just a hint of sweetness that I wasn't crazy about, but I think that was due to to yellow onion. The husband liked it enough to have seconds though, and we are SO having leftovers tomorrow night. Inaugural use of the crock pot was a success!

Check out our flickr group for other participants and recipes and if you're up to the challenge and fun: join!


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