October 9, 2010

Easy Black Bean Chili

My new secret to making yummy home-cooked meals is to open some cans, season appropriately, and throw in the crockpot for a couple hours. Seriously, I get raves on my beans & rice, and I feel guilty because it's just three cans and a cup of dried rice.

Anyhow, here's my black bean chili recipe:

1/2 to 1 lb. ground beef, browned (can sub ground turkey, TVP, etc.)
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 cans black beans
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp lime juice
dash or two of red (cayenne) pepper
optional:  1 can whole kernel corn

Combine all the ingredients in a pot or crockpot and turn on high until it is simmering; then reduce heat and simmer on low. In my opinion, it needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes, and an hour is best. If you put it in a slow cooker, it may take an hour or more to get hot enough to simmer, so keep that in mind. But if you are in a hurry, do it on the stove and you can be eating chili in under 45 minutes.

Top with grated cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips - whatever you like.

If you like stronger onion or garlic flavors in your food, use fresh instead of dried ingredients and put it in with the meat when you brown it. You can also adjust the red pepper if you like your food spicy. Use a whole pound of meat if you like your chili meaty, and two cans of beans instead of one if you like it beany (or are thrifty).

For you vegetarians - I once made this chili without the meat when we had company for dinner, and my husband never even noticed that it was veggie.

October 7, 2010

Cleaning out your clothes closet

Here's a tip I picked up along the way: At the beginning of a season when you do whatever you do with your clothes - you know, put up your summer clothes and get out your winter clothes (Or once a year. Or right now.), reverse the direction that the hangers face on the closet rod. This doesn't involve taking the clothes off the hangar, just flip the hanger 180 degrees so it is pointing out, not in.  When you wear a garment, put it back in the closet in the usual way. When you get to the end of the season, you will be able to tell at a glance which clothes you are not wearing. Get rid of those clothes. Of course, you will make some exceptions, such as that cocktail dress or the ugly sweater that your aunt knitted for you. But basically, if you are not wearing it, it shouldn't be in your closet.

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