Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stretching Chili Style

So if you are a little bit crazy like me you did a year end evaluation of your finances (yes, I am a big nerd and yes, I do know how to have a good time) and nearly passed out.  Let's face it the price of everything is going up - gas, toilet paper, bananas, and milk - I am strongly considering buying the cow (nobody is giving the milk for free these days!) but I am pretty sure that might be a little costly too.  So what do you do when you see your income versus spending is not getting along in a way that keeps the heartburn beast at bay?  You gotta find ways to stretch those precious dollars.  So in honor of short funds I give you "stretching it chili style"!
Here is a list of ingredients you will need for all of the meals.
2 Qt of Tomato juice
3/4 cup of dried onions
2 cans of medium chili beans
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can of tomato paste
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (turkey, etc)
1 1/2 cup of Orzo pasta
8" flour tortillas
2-4 cups of cheddar cheese
2-4 tsp of ground black pepper
4-6 tsp chili powder
2 tsp chipotle chili powder (if you cannot find this use a little more chili powder)
1 tsp of Cumin
1 tsp of granulated garlic
other extras you might want:
Diced onions
Crushed tortilla chips
Sour cream
Real bacon bits or crumbles
Here is just a tip - when trying to get something like tomato paste out of the can - use a very small rubber spatula and you will be able to get every bit - see!
Penny pincher's delight!
Okay so you brown the ground beef (or other) and when it is only about half pink add in the dried onions.  I don't know why but for chili I really prefer the dried but if it kills you to use dried you will probably want to use a finely diced medium onion.
Once the meat is fully browned and the onions rehydrate add the (don't drain anything) 2 cans of chili beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 qt worth (4 cups) of the tomato juice, and spices. 
Okay I have to be honest.  I do not measure spices really at all.  I do everything to taste and it also depends on the heat level appropriate for the diners you will be serving.  Thus I give you a range.  I "measure" like good ol' Rachael Ray, by using my hand or sight.
 About a good tsp!
Simmer for 25-30 minutes and taste for seasoning.  Enjoy as is or top with cheddar cheese (I suppose you could add crackers but then you are just ruining it). 
Ah the first finished dish - Kristin's Chili
Okay after you have enjoyed as much as you like of the chili take a slotted spoon and put about 2-3 cups in one container and the rest in another.
Next up we add 2-3 cups of the left over tomato juice and 1 1/2 cups of Orzo pasta to the larger portion of leftover chili.  Now I know most of you probably grew up like my hubs with chili containing macaroni and I am sure that is fine.  The thing is I had orzo on hand and thought it would not over power the chili and I was SO right!  We loved the texture.  But if you cannot bear to see another pasta be my guest and change it to another small cut pasta of your liking. 
You may have to adjust seasonings after the pasta is done cooking which will take about 15-20 minutes. (If you were smart and own a pot that can go from the stove to the fridge and back again you saved your self a washing and stored the large portion in the pot you made it and then just added these ingredients).  Top with a little cheese, maybe sour cream, and tortilla chips - dress it up anyway you like! - and if it stretches another meal - try it topped another way!
Orzo Chili
Next break out the tortillas and the strained chili.  Heat up that chili, warm your tortillas, top with cheese and whatever else your heart desires!
Delicious Chili Cheese Burritos
Now I know you are saying, "But Kristin I still have some stuff left over."  No problem.  Enjoy the leftovers or slap whatever is left in a tortilla with cheese and fold it in half.  Toast in a pan on each side-  chili cheese quesadilla!  Now take that left over tomato juice and make yourself a  Bloody Mary because you just stretched a one pot meals to the extreme!
If you have a great stretch it meal or an idea for another way stretch this chili please feel free to share!
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