Are you up to your ears in Christmas parties, decorations, and activities? Are you desperate for an easy delicious meal with an incredible dessert? If you answered yes to these questions, then you are in the right place today. Let’s start with the main dish. My husband and I are huge fans of chili, but somehow I didn’t have a great basic chili recipe that could be made in the slow cooker. A few weeks ago, I searched Pinterest for a likely candidate and found this winner almost immediately. This was so easy to make, tasted incredible, and made plenty (8-10 servings). We enjoyed this with cornbread, with chips, and by itself. My husband appreciated how meaty and hearty it was; I loved that it tasted similar to my grandmother’s chili (plus spices). There is no doubt in my mind that this is our new go-to chili.
Slow Cooker Chili (from Cooking Classy)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. lean ground beef
1 finely chopped yellow onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes with chiles
3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1/2 c. water or beef broth
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cocoa (If you’ve never tried cocoa in a soup or stew, don’t freak out. You don’t taste it at all, but it does give a complexity of flavor that lingers in the background.)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 15 oz. can drained, rinsed dark red kidney beans
1 15 oz. can drained, rinsed light red kidney beans
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil’s hot, add the onions and cook 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer, then pour the onion mix into the slow cooker.
2. Return the skillet to the heat, add the beef and cook til it’s browned. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat, then pour the beef and reserved fat in the slow cooker.
3. Add the remaining ingredients except for the beans to the slow cooker. Stir everything together, season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook on low 5-6 hours.
4. Once the chili’s done, stir in the beans and let cook 10 minutes longer to heat through. (I put the beans in with everything else and just added a little more broth so nothing would burn on top. It tasted just great.)
Now, to follow that paragon of deliciousness, you need a really great dessert. How about some fudgy goodness sandwiched between two incredible oatmeal cookies? We’ve been enjoying this for years, but somehow I haven’t shared it yet. I think that every time I made it, I just assumed it was already on here. Once I realized it wasn’t, I wanted to make sure that I rectified the problem as soon as possible. Without further ado, here’s a fabulous dessert to add to your cookie table or just to enjoy while you’re prepping for the holidays.
Fudgy Oatmeal Bars (from Taste of Home)
For the cookie base:
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. oatmeal
For the fudgy goodness:
2 tbsp. butter
1 14 oz. can sweetened, condensed milk
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, butter (1 c.), vanilla, and eggs. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt (1/2 tsp.). Once they’re incorporated, stir in the oats. Set aside 1/3 of the oat mix. Press the remaining 2/3 of the oat mix into a greased jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1).
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter (2 tbsp.), milk, and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, til the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, vanilla, and salt (1/2 tsp.). Spread this over the cookie base in the pan. Drop the reserved oat mix by rounded teaspoonfuls over the fudge layer.
3. Bake til the cookie top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut in bars while warm.
Now, how can you resist that? I think you just found dinner for next week.