So, chili purists won't consider this chili, but my sons and I love it. I usually make it in the slow cooker, but you can cook it in a large pot on the stove (just adjust the cooking time). I use ground turkey, but you could sub in your meat or meat substitute of choice, or just increase the beans or add more veggies like chopped zucchini or mushrooms for a vegetarian or vegan version. This recipe is flexible and tasty, especially on a chilly day, no pun intended. :) My sons prefer it with cornbread or rice, but you could serve it with anything from corn chips to bread, or just enjoy a bowl on its own!
12 or more servings | Cook time: 4-7 hours in slow cooker
Note: This needs a 6-quart slow cooker. If yours is smaller, decrease ingredients amounts accordingly, or use a large pot and cook on stove for 2-4 hours on low.
Cook 1-2 pounds ground turkey (or make the swap of your choice) in a preheated pan over medium heat in about 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil with either one fresh onion, chopped, or about 1-2 Tablespoons minced dried onion (or equivalent amount of onion powder).
Add meat to slow cooker with:
2-28oz cans diced (or crushed) tomatoes
2-15oz cans kidney beans, drained
1-28oz can baked beans (or 1-15oz can navy beans plus 1 Tablespoon each brown sugar and ketchup)
2-4 cups frozen corn
1/8-1/4 cup chili powder (depends on your taste and the heat level of your brand of chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each dried oregano and black pepper dash cayenne pepper
Stir and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 7 hours.
The holiday season is here, and I've been watching Christmas movies. Here's a top five list of my all-time favorites (ones I've seen at least twice. You can also read about some Hallmark-style Christmas movies I watched last year here):
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
I love the Muppets. This musical take on the Dickens' classic is pure Muppet fun, with Gonzo narrating, Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine as Scrooge. My son and I end up singing along every year.
Photo via IMDb
White Christmas (1954)
A cheery post-WWII musical starring Bing Crosby, the delightful Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and dancer Vera Ellen, with a great supporting cast. Memorable songs and colorful costumes abound.
Photo via IMDb
The Bishop's Wife (1947)
Cary Grant. For me, more doesn't need to be said, but Monty Wooley, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, and Loretta Young all turn in enjoyable performances in this inspirational holiday movie.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Maureen O'Hara, a young Natalie Wood, and John Payne are fun to watch, and Edmund Gwenn stars in a performance that had young me convinced he was Santa Claus.
Photo via IMDb
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Delightfully snarky and witty, Monty Wooley and Bettie Davis star in this not-quite Christmas movie that my sister and I watch every year. It has snappy dialogue, a great cast, and a sweet insta-love romance.
I love children's fiction. I had more of an "excuse" to read it when my sons were younger, but now they're teens, so I own that I still read picture books through YA (and I read books for adults too). One of my favorite authors (and my sons' when they were younger) is award-winning writer and illustrator Grace Lin. Her books, from picture books to early readers (children loved the Ling and Ting early readers when I worked at the library) to middle grade novels, are wonderful and comforting reads.
Some of my sons' favorites were Lin's illustrations in the Rosanne Thong picture books Round Is a Mooncake, One Is a Drummer, and Red Is a Dragon, as well as Lin's The Ugly Vegetables. The colorful and vital pictures in Thong's books drew them into the rhyming text while also reinforcing basic concepts of numbers, colors, and shapes. Another of Lin's books they enjoyed, and still remember, is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a fairy-tale like chapter book full of heart and adventure.
I particularly like Lin's middle grade novels, The Pacy Lin trilogy, books about family, friendship, and fun. The covers are recently redesigned to photo covers, but I remember the old illustrated covers. I like both, and the words inside! Pacy's friend in the series is based on Lin's real-life friend, Alvina, and they now have a neat podcast that you can listen to, which I find comforting.
Links will take you to Amazon (except Lin's name, which will take you to her website), but all these books are available at my local library, and maybe yours. If not, request them for your library to purchase! Have you read any of Grace Lin's books?
I just finished the twentieth book in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and it, like the other books in the series, leaves me with a smile and warm feelings. Most of my favorite comfort reads don't ignore what can be disturbing and even downright awful about us human beings, but the main characters themselves are likeable and trying to be kind, decent people, and they succeed, which is inspiring and heartwarming. Mma. Precious Ramotswe, the protagonist of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, is one such character: she is kind, compassionate, and caring while still having some (small) flaws. The supporting characters, such Mr. J.L.B Matekoni, Mma Makutsi, and Charlie and Fanwell, as well as the redoubtable Mma Potokwane, all have their share of foibles and flaws, but ultimately are also trying to live with kindness and caring, along with enjoying many cups of tea. :) I love this group of people as if they were real, and each visit to their Gabrone, Botswana is a joy.
Not only do I like small comforts, but I also like being frugal, which brings me comfort, because I can get more out of my small budget, for one thing. Another is using what I have, like sour milk! I had some milk that had just gotten sour, and I wanted to bake, so I made these muffins (with a few tweaks) out of the 1950s Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book that I bought back in college. It's the same version of a cookbook my great-grandmother used for all her baking. These muffins are moist, satisfying, and use an ingredient that might otherwise get thrown away.
1/3 cup mixed shortening and butter (I used about 2 T soft butter and the rest shortening)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix together well.
In another bowl, sift together:
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Stir flour and oat mixture into the shortening mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour.
Add and stir in:
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Place mix into a muffin tin (12), either greased or with paper liners. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy warm, though they're also good the next day. Keep in an airtight container. Perfect for a cozy morning or breakfast on the go!