Homemade Chili

Autumn is one of our favorite times of year in the Hood House and one of my favorite autumn-like dishes to make is chili! It’s so easy, so delicious, and makes great leftover meals for the rest of the week.

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We had a group of friends over for football and chili last night which made me want to share a delicious and easy recipe with you all! I found this recipe in Rachael Ray’s magazine a few years ago and it has become my go-to chili recipe.

You will need:
– 1.5 pounds ground beef
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1.5 T garlic
– pinch chili powder
– 1/2 T cumin
– 1/2 T oregano
– salt & pepper to taste
– 1/2 t. cayenne (optional)
– 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
– 8 oz can tomato sauce
– 1 can red kidney beans

Side note: You can add veggies into this recipe if you like. Also, I use only one pot to make this chili which makes even easier cleanup. In my mind, there is no reason to use a skillet in addition to your stock pot. I am also not an expert, so…maybe there is a reason I am unaware of. 🙂

Start by browning your ground beef and add the onions into the mix. I also throw in my seasonings at this time to allow them to mingle with the meat flavor. Once the beef is cooked through, add in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Give everything a good stir and then add in the beans. Stir again. Let the chili simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Once it is heated through, it’s ready to serve!

We like to top our chili with sour cream [greek yogurt for me…a healthier alternative] and cheese and dip tortilla chips in it. It’s basically a bean dip at that point, but it is the best!

What other chili ideas are out there? Does your family have a secret ingredient? Share your ideas in the comments below! Have a wonderful week!

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Easy Breakfast Burritos

Hey everyone! I hope your weeks have been going well. I’ve been extra-exhausted lately so please excuse my absence. 😊 Work has been crazy town and when I get home I exercise, eat dinner, and binge watch Friends for 2 hours. I swear, that show is so distracting! But I love it. Too much. Chandler is my favorite person ever. I wish he were real. His sarcastic wit gets me every time. Sighhhhh…

Anyway, back to my exhaustion. The LAST thing I want to do at night when I am tired is cook dinner, but I’ve found a simple weeknight recipe that is both delicious and inexpensive.

Enter the breakfast burrito! Isn’t it yummy-looking? It was good, trust me.

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All you need for this quick little dish (makes 4 burritos) is the following:
4 eggs
2 T milk
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced green peppers
1 avocado, sliced
Cheese
4 large tortillas

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Whisk your eggs and milk together until well-mixed.

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Cook the eggs in a skillet on the stove over medium heat. You can mix your green peppers in your eggs to cook them. If you want to keep them crunchier, add them after the eggs have cooked through so they can heat up a bit. I warmed the ham in the microwave.

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When the eggs are cooked and your ham and peppers are warm, it’s time to pile it all into the tortilla! Soooo good….

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We topped ours with avocado, cheese, salsa, peppers, and Nate used hot sauce. You can be as simple or creative as you like and it will always taste good. And you’ll have a happy belly which is always a good thing… 😉

Thanks for tuning in for this easy & tasty recipe. Let me know if you give it a try and what toppings you decide on.

Which Friends character is your favorite?

Have a great night. Happy Thursday!

Homemade Tortillas

It’s tortilla day in the Hood House and I am very excited about it…

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When Nate & I were headed into that period of time where we needed to be a bit more frugal, I learned to make a few staple items from scratch. Tortillas are something we go through quickly, and buying them can be pretty pricey. So I searched for (and tried) a few different recipes and found one I like. It’s simple and tastes so much better than the store-bought variety. If you’ve never made your own tortillas, I strongly recommend trying it!

Here’s the recipe I’ve found that I like best:

3 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/3 c canola oil
1 cup hot water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add in the oil next and use your hand to mix. Combine until the mixture is crumbly. Next, add in the hot water. Knead the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl with a wet paper towel and let rest 30 minutes.

When the dough is done resting, divide it into 12 equal balls. I like to put them back in the bowl and cover them with the wet towel again.

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Then it’s time to flour your flat surface. You should also turn on your stovetop and heat your skillet over medium- high heat.

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Take a ball of dough and roll it out in as round of a shape as possible. Mine are often rectangular….

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Once rolled out, place in the skillet and cook for one minute.

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Flip the tortillas over and cook 30 seconds more.

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Repeat the rolling & cooking process 12 times. At the end, you’ll have a nice warm stack of tasty tortillas! You can store them in the freezer if you wish to make them last awhile. I usually store mine in an airtight plastic zip bag and keep them at room temp for a week. They’re always polished off by the weekend. Then it’s time to make another batch!

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What staple foods do you make at home?

4 Healthy Meals for $4

News flash, friends: healthy eating does not have to be expensive! I was getting a bit bored of my standard lunches for work and needed a change. This week I mixed up my routine a bit and bought about a pound of SALMON (yum!) to bake up and take to work. Salmon is an incredibly healthy source of fats and protein, so that makes it even better! I was able to get 4 healthy meals prepped on Monday night for about $4 per serving.

We are heading into the holidays where we indulge in food & relaxation so I’m doing my best to keep my healthy eating up to par. It’s especially challenging to stay fit & healthy when you’re surrounded by Christmas goodies at work. We get a big thing of honey roasted peanuts and Christie Cookies sent to our office every Christmas. Ahh, keep the temptation away!!

Anyway, I topped the slabs of fish with a mango/sea salt seasoning, a bit of garlic powder, black pepper, and two scoops of coconut oil (about a teaspoon on each one) as a substitute for butter.

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While the salmon was baking in the oven, I chopped veggies and lettuce to prep four small side salads. I usually have a bit more oomph to my salads, but I was shorthanded on veggies this week. 🙂 The salmon baked up gorgeously and I divided it into four portions that are easy to grab in the morning before work.

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At Thanksgiving last week, my uncle introduced me to this amazing yogurt ranch dressing. There are only 45 calories per two tablespoons! And it tastes so good. I love the taste of ranch dressing so I’m glad to have found a version I don’t need to feel guilty about!

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Salmon: $2.40/serving
Lettuce: $.90/serving
Carrots: $.40/serving
Dressing: $.25/serving
TOTAL: $3.95/SERVING

So there you have it! Four healthy meals for about $4 per serving. It’s better than eating out every day, and you’re getting some great nutrients into your diet.

What are some healthy, cost-effective recipes you enjoy for on-the-go lunches?

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are one of those foods we love and eat often in our house, but it’s rare to find inexpensive ones that are actually good for you. So I began to scour Pinterest for some easy homemade versions and I have found one Nate a I really like. The best part is that they are so easy to make and the recipe makes 10 bars! Side note: I did not come up with this recipe. I found it here.

Here is what you will need to make the bars:

1 cup packed dates
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup [real] peanut butter
1 cup roasted almonds
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

We begin with the cup of packed dates. Dates are dried fruit that will help the bars stick together. You can find them at your grocery store by the raisins and other dried fruits. Process the dates in a food processor (a blender will likely work, too) for about a minute until they look like this…

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Place them in a large bowl with the oats & almonds and set aside. Heat up the honey & peanut butter together and stir until it looks smooth. Try not to boil it!

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Pour the peanut butter & honey mix over the oats, almonds, & dates and mix together. You can do this by hand or with a spatula. Just don’t burn your hands on the hot PB & honey! Try to break up the dates as much as possible.

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Next, line an 8×8 pan with wax paper or plastic wrap and pour in the mixture. Press it down until it is evenly flattened.

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At this point I add in my chocolate chips. I pour them on top and then press them down into the mix. Really you can add all sorts of mix-ins… Dried fruit, coconut pieces, other types of nuts… The possibilities are endless! Place the pan in the fridge for 15-20 minutes so the bars can firm up a bit.

Remove the mix from the pan and cut into 10 medium bars. You can store them in the fridge in an airtight container or freeze them for longer life. Yum!

I hope your Thursday is going well! Thanks for reading!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie!

As we all know, it’s November (2.5 weeks until Thanksgiving, whaaaat?!). Time for all things pumpkin to come out of hiding for few months until we get sick of them again. 🙂

Today I couldn’t resist the urge for a pumpkin-based breakfast so I scoured Pinterest for a tasty protein-packed smoothie that would still give me the satisfaction of a pumpkin sweet treat.

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There are SOOOOO many recipes on there. It’s a tad ridiculous. But I finally found one that gave me a good starting point. I tweaked it enough to make it my own. So if you’d like to enjoy your own pumpkin deliciousness and have a healthy breakfast/post workout meal at the same time, here ya go!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
1 cup milk of choice (I used 2%)
1 frozen medium-size banana
small squeeze of honey (or sweetener of choice)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice

1.) Blend all ingredients together, pour, and enjoy. Makes one smoothie. Double or triple up to share with your family!

Enjoy!