Easy Chili Macaroni (Aunt Peggy’s recipe)

Shut Up, Sit Down!

Some nights I sound like the imitation Howard Stern does of his father yelling at him as a child, “Shut up, sit down!!”.  Getting my children to sit still, butt completely on the seat, feet down and using their utensils properly has been WAY more difficult than getting them to actually eat the food.  How they can get distracted or start arguing even for a few minutes with a plate full of hot food in front of them is beyond me.  I have the opposite problem, the minute that plate hits the table you would think I haven’t eaten in days and I barely come up for air.  At some point during the meal, the phrases “butt on the seat, please”, “napkin on your lap”, or my all-time favorite, “would you sit down!” have become automatic responses (press #1 for sit in your seat….).  At least at every meal after grace the kids will add “…and god bless the cook!”.  Still frustrated, Mike happens to go on a business golf trip where each team is paired with a professional golfer.   At breakfast, Mike looks over at the (famous) Pro who is sitting with his wife and small children looking quite perfect.  Upon listening more carefully, Mike overhears him say to his kids, “Would you sit down!!  Stop that!! Get your butt…”.  We’re all in the same boat afterall.

Chili Macaroni:  This recipe is so quick and easy and flexible too.  Add more or less spices, veggies and beans according to taste.  It tastes better the longer it sits but can also be ready in about 30 minutes.  You can make enough for 4 or 40, just ask my Aunt Peggy!

  • Drizzle a little olive oil in a large dutch oven pot and cook 1-1  1/2  pounds of ground beef or turkey.  Add sprinkle of garlic powder and chop up until cook through. Drain if needed and set meat aside.
  • Heat a little olive in the pot and cook 1 small chopped onion and about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of veggies (mushrooms, carrots, sweet peppers, corn) until softened.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 tsp of Pepper.
  • Add 1 large can of diced tomatoes.
  • Add 1 can of kidney beans (or black or 1/2 can of both).
  • Add 1 cup of water.
  • Add Spices:  2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of turmeric.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (optional).
  • Bring to boil then cook on low for 30-45 minutes.  Keep on low for 1-2 hours if desired.

Macaroni OR Farro (or any other Whole Grain):
Cook grain according to directions.  Drain and add a drop of olive oil to avoid sticking and leave in pot.

Scoop grain on bottom of bowl and put chili on top.  Sprinkle some cheddar cheese and sour cream to taste.

SALAD:

  • Mix up your ingredients and test different types of salad.  Romaine seems to be liked by most kids and is healthier than iceberg.
  • Tonight I used the yellow pepper from the chili, added some sunflower seeds and snuck some alfalfa sprouts on there and the kids didn’t mind (p.s. they have an incredibly broad range of nutrients in them)
  • If your sunflower seeds are not fresh, they get a very nutty smell and taste to them (kids might not like that)

What Can the Kids Help With?

  • Help use your VitaMix to chop all the veggies (no swim goggles or tears necessary)
  • Stir and cook the ground meat
  • Open cans (teach to use the can opener)
  • Add chili powder, salt/pepper – test for how spicy, ask if it needs more spice!
  • Cut (yellow) pepper – teach them to take out all the white flesh, it can be bitter (“what’s bitter?”)
  • Ask “what can we put in the salad tonight?” and help sprinkle ingredients
  • Activity Page “Chilly or Chili?” – http://printables.scholastic.com/printables/detail/?id=25984

Did You Know?

  • Chili did NOT come from Mexico!
  • Legend has it that the first recipe for chili was written by a beautiful nun from Spain in the 17th century.
  • Chili allowed Texas ranchers to serve meat close to spoiling thanks to all the delicious spices.
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