Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili with Beer

Chili.  The word alone makes my mouth water.  We love it in all forms, with or without beans, with chunks of beef or ground beef, white chicken chili, meatless, stove cooked, slow cooker style, etc.  Really, the possibilities are endless.  This will undoubtedly be the first of many chili recipes I will post.  Although I indicated in the title that this chili is for the slow cooker, you can easily make it on the stove in a 5-6 quart pot, just let it simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours.  Beer is not something I use often in chili and I was really pleased with the results.  It turned out that the beer was not overpowering in this recipe and gave the chili a bit of a malty background flavor.  Since the recipe only calls for 1 cup there is a nice big swig (or two) left over for the chef.  The heat level of this chili is easily controlled with spices and if you don’t like much heat at all you can substitute with mild Ro-Tel or canned diced tomatoes.  I used Penzeys regular chili powder which made my batch flavorful but not too spicy.   If you want more heat, feel free to add anywhere from 1/4 – 1 teaspoon of cayenne or ground chipotle pepper or load up on the sliced, pickled jalapeños.  You are the boss of your chili so make it as spicy as you like it.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Beef & Macaroni Casserole

I always struggle with what to do with ground beef.  I usually buy it with the intention of making burgers or chili and then when I change my mind I have to scramble to come up with something else.  I must have looked at a dozen online sites trying to find inspiration.  After wading through countless listings for (of course) chili, tamale pie and spaghetti, I was just about ready to give up.  My last hope was going to Eat Your Books which I joined two years ago.  For those of you not familiar with this website, it is a place to catalog all of your cookbooks.  They index the books which then makes your library searchable.  I still had to sift through lots of entries but I eventually found this in a cookbook I have had for years but rarely use, Craig Claiborne’s The New New York Times Cookbook.  The casserole is basically a hearty macaroni and cheese.  It takes a bit of time to put together but the results are cheesy goodness at its best especially if you use extra sharp cheddar cheese.  This recipe can be made healthier by using whole grain pasta, skim milk, 2% cheddar cheese and low fat ground beef or a lean ground turkey. Continue reading