Simple Chili (for low-budget food challenge)

Simple Chili

One of the meals I made to last most of the week for the low-budget food challenge was a simple chili. I was surprised I was able to pull this off without my usual poblano and jalapeno peppers, among other ingredients. This isn’t the best chili I’ve made, but it tasted good and it was quite filling.

I made this in the dutch oven, but it could easily be made in any large pot. It could also be made in a slow cooker after browning the beef.

Servings: 7

The 7 total servings is based on 1½ cups per serving – the recipe makes 10½ cups of chili.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground beef (I used 80% lean, and the package I bought was just short of a half pound at 0.44 pounds)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup dry black beans
  • ½ cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 packet McCormick Original Chili Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions

Soak beans per the instructions on the bag, either quick soak or overnight method. Do not get rid of the liquid!

Preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown, stirring occasionally and breaking up the pieces. (Note: Normally I would start with olive oil and cook some garlic and onions first, but being limited in resources due to the challenge, I did not have olive oil to use, and I didn’t want to waste any of the butter. I decided the fat from the beef would be just fine for cooking the onions.)

Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add beans (including the liquid from soaking), canned tomatoes, chili seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 20 minutes. I let mine simmer for about an hour (stirring occasionally) because I was doing other things, but it would have been fine to eat after 20 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

I estimated the nutritional information using the recipe builder on the USDA SuperTracker. If you’re on a low sodium diet, you can reduce the amount of sodium by about 78% if you don’t add the 1tbsp of salt to the recipe.

Nutrient
Amount
% of Daily Target or Limit
Total Calories 165 8% limit
Protein 12 g 26% target
Carbohydrate 21 g 16% target
Dietary Fiber 7 g 30% target
Total Sugars 4 g No daily target or limit
Added Sugars 0 g 0% limit
Total Fat 4 g No daily target or limit
Saturated Fat 1 g 6% limit
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g No daily target or limit
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g No daily target or limit
Linoleic Acid 0 g 2% target
α-Linolenic Acid 0.1 g 10% target
Omega 3 – EPA 1 mg No daily target or limit
Omega 3 – DHA 0 mg No daily target or limit
Cholesterol 18 mg 6% limit
Minerals
Calcium 68 mg 7% target
Potassium 563 mg 12% target
Sodium 1269 mg 55% limit
Copper 224 µg 25% target
Iron 8 mg 42% target
Magnesium 55 mg 17% target
Phosphorus 159 mg 23% target
Selenium 6 µg 11% target
Zinc 2 mg 27% target
Vitamins
Vitamin A 29 µg RAE 4% target
Vitamin B6 0.3 mg 22% target
Vitamin B12 0.6 µg 23% target
Vitamin C 16 mg 21% target
Vitamin D 0 µg 0% target
Vitamin E 1 mg AT 5% target
Vitamin K 6 µg 7% target
Folate 106 µg DFE 27% target
Thiamin 0.8 mg 75% target
Riboflavin 0.1 mg 13% target
Niacin 2 mg 17% target
Choline 34 mg 8% target

Granola Bars

granola barsMy wife had a bag of granola that she was snacking on, but once she was about halfway through it was too crumbly to eat unless she made ate it with milk like a cereal. She asked me to make her some granola bars with it.

The recipe in this post is one I made a really long time ago that didn’t use pre-made granola, but I used a similar process for the bars from the pre-made granola. You’ll want to use less honey and brown sugar if you’re making them from pre-made granola – I think I used 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup butter, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for every 2 cups of granola. If this doesn’t seem like enough to keep them together, keep adding melted butter and honey a tablespoon at a time until the everything is coated. You also do not need to toast pre-made granola because it’s already been baked.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily change the ingredients. I really like pineapple, but if you don’t, you could use dried apricots or cherries instead. You can also swap out some of the fruit for a different type of nut, reduce the amount of oats and add some flax seed, or use two types of nuts instead of just walnuts.

The Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan is amazing for making granola bars. I’ve made them on a sheet pan with a silpat before, which is fine, but the bar pan is an easy way to make bars all the same size. The silicone also prevents sticking. If you use a regular pan to make these, trust me, you will need to definitely use a silicone baking mat or line your pan with parchment paper. If not, you will be chiseling them out of the pan.

Ingredients

4 cups oats
2 cup finely chopped walnuts
½ cup butter
1 ¼ cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp kosher salt (use ¼ tsp if you don’t use any fruit)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped into pieces similar in size to the cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix oats and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add honey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix dried fruit, oats, and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid mixture over the dry mix and stir until everything is evenly coated with the liquid.

Place the bar pan on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to fill each compartment of the bar pan. (Warning – if your bar pan is not silicone, don’t attempt to use if for this recipe! You will be chiseling granola out for days. Instead, use a baking pan completely lined with parchment paper – including the sides.)

Press each bar firmly with the back of the spoon until each compartment is packed. If you have empty compartments after using all of the granola mixture, fill them abut halfway with water. (Not sure why this is necessary, but the directions for the bar pan say to do this.)

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the bars become golden brown and the outside edges start to get crispy. Let cool for about an hour. The bars should come out of the pan pretty easily once they’re cooled. If they are too buttery, place them on a cookie rack to drain once they’re cool.

Turkey Cranberry Flatbread

turkey-cranberryThe timing of this post isn’t the best since Thanksgiving was a few months ago, but I’m trying to get all of the recipes I had on Facebook onto here. There are only so many sandwiches you can eat from Thanksgiving leftovers before getting tired of them.

My inspiration was this Tastefully Simple recipe for a turkey cranberry flatbread pizza, but I wanted to do something that would use only ingredients I had on hand, so I made some changes.

Ingredients 

  • 1 package Bountiful Beer Bread mix (buy here)
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce
  • ¾ to 1 cup chopped turkey
  • ½ cup cooked, chopped bacon
  • ¼ cup sliced (super thin) red onion
  • ¾ cup Italian 4-cheese blend
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese

If you don’t have the 4-cheese blend, you could use a shredded mozzarella instead.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°.

Go here and follow the recipe for making the crust. Cut it in half if you can’t fit the entire thing on one baking sheet. I only used half of the dough and froze the other half for another flatbread experience. The proportions of ingredients above assume use of all of the dough.

Place on a baking sheet (either greased or with a silicone baking mat). Prick with a fork all over to prevent crust from puffing while baking. Bake for about 10 minutes until it’s a light golden brown color.

Spread the cranberry sauce on the crust as the base (like sauce would normally be). Sprinkle cheeses on top. Add turkey, bacon, and onion. Bake 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

If you used a silicone baking mat, don’t use the pizza cutter. You might be ok, but I wouldn’t want to take any chances in ruining the mat.