Well! I am both startled and pleased — I've had a crockpot dish that every single person enthusiastically told me I should definitely make again! That's always a lovely feeling. :)

Strangely enough, this is about the simplest recipe I've tried in a while, and I don't recall where I got it from — it was part of a long list of really simple crockpot recipes that a woman on-line said were her favorites. I had to resist the urge to doctor it up a bit when I looked at everything in the crockpot, in fact, due to its looking like it couldn't possibly be enough. However, I made myself follow the recipe as closely as I could, and it came out fabulous: crockpot chili! Here it is, with the slight changes I had to make:

Incredibly Simple Crockpot Chili

1 large can tomato sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cans beans (kidney beans are fine, but use whatever you like)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 cup diced onion (or onion salt)

 

Combine all of this into a crock pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn it on low and walk away for eight hours. Add a quarter of a cup of water for every additional two hours you intend to cook it.

That's the startlingly simple entirety of the original recipe, which I had to modify slightly. For example, I had to use two regular cans of tomato sauce, since I didn't have a large can. While this may sound stupidly obvious, I dithered over draining the beans also. Note to those who're as cooking-experience-free as me? Drain 'em. ;) Also, I used my old standby of Lipton's powdered onion soup mix, without adding any salt or pepper, so I didn't upset the stomach of the dinner guest who can't eat onions. Finally, instead of chili powder (which I now have, and will use next time) I used an old favorite: a package of McCormick taco seasoning. Those package mixes are absolutely fabulous for a quick doctoring of ground beef!

The food smelled really fantastic as dinnertime approached, to the point that I was hopefully asked a few times if it was ready yet — which made me laugh! I made sure to have a big salad on hand for everyone first, and I whipped up two boxes of Jiffy Mix cornbread muffins to go with the chili.

We dished out six servings, and had about one or two servings left over afterwards. However, when I spooned it out the next day for lunch, I noticed almost all the meat was gone — I had hungry guests the night before, clearly. ;) So I opened a can of Kirkland's Signature Roast Beef from Costco, pulled a handful of chunks out, then mixed it in with the chili and nuked it all. The meat soaked up the spices beautifully, and the flavor was really good! I'm very pleased with this recipe.

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I was also delighted to stumble across something nifty on-line which has very nice associated memories: Zatarain's New Orleans style food mixes! Last summer, on The Great Summer Road Trip, I parked Darkstar, my wonderful sleeper van, in the city underneath the huge red logo with the black silhouette of the jazz musician. That ad helped me find Darkstar later, when I was trying to give directions to the pedicab driver who was patient and very kind as I tried to backtrack to the parking lot from the hotel. So I've discovered there's some Zatarain's products at my local grocery store — much to my surprise and delight — and I'll have to post the results here soon. Can't wait to try them all out; the food I had in New Orleans (which I was told was Cajun) was delicious!

Oh! Also, went to a relatively local restaurant called Crawdaddy and had the shrimp garlic butter boil. Dear heavens, was that tasty! Sloppy, messy, but with incredibly fresh, almost sweet shrimp — absolutely delicious. We're going to have to go back to try more of the menu items, though we'll have to be careful to pick "off" hours. Apparently the place is ordinarily also packed.

 

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