My mom is not one for spicy foods, and whenever we were away from home, chili was always this spicy, inedible stew-like concoction that none of us kids would eat. But my mom managed to make it so that it was simple, flavorful, and friendly toward kid palates.
My oldest daughter was a bit on the picky side when she ate, and I think for a while, we called this hot dog soup. Soup she would eat. The kidney beans looked like hot dogs. And on appearance alone, she wouldn’t touch it. But the familiar ingredients and flavors won over even Brighid.
So here is chili, the way my mom taught us.
2-3 Green Bell Peppers, Diced
1 Medium Onion, Diced (we use sweet onions when we can find them)
2 pounds ground beef
1 can tomato soup (plus the one can of water)
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 large can of kidney beans
chili powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Starting with a small bit of oil in a pan, saute peppers and onions.
You’ll want to keep them going until the onions start to become translucent and the peppers become tender.
Add your meat, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Because this is for the kids to enjoy, I usually only put about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of chili powder in when I cook it. If Jim wants it spicier, he can add Tabasco later on.
I find that by enlisting the help of the kids, they are usually more willing to try new flavors and tastes. You might even sneak a few vegetables into a dish if they’ve helped make it!
Cook meat and vegetables until the meat is brown, then drain everything.
In a large pot, place your tomato soup, can of water, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans. Heat on medium until the meat mixture is brown, and then add the meat to the pot.
Simmer on low to medium with a cover on the pot for one hour. Remove the cover, and simmer uncovered for another hour. Stir occasionally just to make sure nothing is burning or sticking on the bottom.
We always serve ours with fresh rolls from Del Buono’s Bakery in Haddon Heights, NJ – you can get them hot off out of the oven, grabbed with your very own soon to be blistered fingers!
And the finished product –
And for gastric bypass post – ops – this is an easy to eat food. I break the meat down as small as I can, so it rarely gets stuck, and I cook everything until it’s nice and tender, so even the veggies won’t give you a hard time. It’s packed with protein and fiber, and with the mild spices, very pouch friendly!
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My friend Amanda posted on her Facebook this morning that she still had to get her son a costume; buy candy; carve pumpkins; and decorate for Halloween. Realizing that I myself would probably still need to do those things if I hadn’t already done them while trying to avoid doing Math homework, I figured there were probably lots of moms like Amanda out there, clinging on to the last shreds of October, hoping to get the whole Halloween ball rolling before Thanksgiving comes crashing down. Here are my last minute, save mom’s sanity, tips for Halloween:
Seriously, do you think Martha Stewart’s house is done up all with scary skeletons, spooky spider webs, and disgusting dismembered corpses all over the front lawn? No, of course not. The woman is the epitome of elegant style. Her house has beautiful mums, uncarved pumpkins, and maybe a couple of cornstalks. And guess what? Don’t plant the mums, and in front of your house, it will only take about 5 minutes to transform the place into something fall and fabulous!
This is an easy one to get out of. Kids love carved pumpkins. Moms hate carved pumpkin messes; promises of toasted pumpkin seeds that never get made, and then you finally discover around Valentine’s Day that the funky kitchen smell you’ve been smelling was the rotting seeds that fell behind the stove; and the seven hour trip to the emergency room when Dad cuts his finger half way off trying to make gnarly eyes. Tell your kids you’re getting them a Halloween treat, and run to Dunkin’ Donuts for Munchkins. On the way home, pick up a pumpkin pie. Tell the kids you tried to surprise them with a wicked awesome carved pumpkin, but your knife got away from you, and this is what you ended up with. Their mouths will be too full of doughnut to cry much, and when you serve the pumpkin pie for dessert, they’ll be too full of Halloween candy to eat it, much less lament the life it could have had as a Jack-o-lantern.
It’s Halloween, and most neighbors will expect you are out trick or treating with your own kids. If you run out now to buy candy, only the icky stuff is left, and the neighborhood kids don’t want that crap anyway. So put out an empty bowl on your front porch, with a sign that says “Take One, Please” attached. Other moms will come by and say, “Awww, she is so thoughtful to leave treats out for the kids, even though she couldn’t be here!” But when the kids see the empty bowl, they’ll immediately start cursing the kid who got there early and dumped all the treats into his own bag and moved on, leaving nothing for the rest of the trick or treaters.
No harm; no foul. Kids don’t need all that candy anyway, it’s not good for their teeth; and if you want to embellish, when another mom mentions how sad they were to see some rotten neighborhood kid emptied the candy bowl, tell them how sorry you were, but how fabulous the treats were! All fresh, homemade, and delicious!
And if you have late arriving kids, just throw out all the non-chocolate items in your own kids’ Halloween candy collection. Blech.
Last Minute Costumes
Have you got a dad? Raid his closet. You can go dressed as a hobo, because you know he’s got those “doing yard work clothes” you can throw on. You can go dressed as an over zealous sports fan, because he’s probably got 12,495 sports tees, baseball hats, and sweats. Or, you can wear a shirt and tie, which Dad probably hasn’t worn since he got married, and go dressed as Dad – only how he never looks.
Happy Stress Free Halloween, Moms!
Wishing you all a safe and spooktacular Halloween!