Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dinner Time Hustle {+ recipe}

I've long been grateful that I have a flexible schedule and accommodating boss. I go to work at 10 a.m. but can come in early or a little late. I can take a lunch and go to the gym. And, with a 7.5-hour work day after pay cuts five years ago, I've been able to leave before 6 p.m.

But that has all changed.

The building recently moved to a new publishing system and to say that it has wreaked havoc would be an understatement. Folks are putting in long and stressful hours as we face errors, an adjustment period and changed workflow. I've escaped unscathed - relatively - but I've lost some of my much beloved flexibility.

Namely: I'm not able to leave as early. It's not significant - 20 minutes to a half-hour later - but it's not been without challenges. Getting home later means that I can't start dinner until nearly 6:30. With bed time starting at 7 p.m. (for Miles, sometimes me), it's been a rush to get food on the table. What could make it more fun? Trying to start dinner with a hungry and tired toddler who wants to be held. No matter how much I love to hold him, I need two hands to cook.

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So, I've turned to my old friend: the slow cooker. Two-ingredient chicken (salsa + meat, teriyake + meat), roasted chicken and potato soup have all been on the menu recently. I got a little creative, though, this week and tried my hand on chili.

Now, let me talk about chili in our house for a minute. I grew up in Cincinnati and have a fondness for the Skyline-style sauce. Mark does not eat beans of any kind, thus preferring my homemade version of the Cincinnati-based franchise. The recipe takes hours on the stove, and I make it exclusively on Sundays when I have the time.

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Though that family dish will always be No. 1 in my heart and belly, I'm quite fond of what we dished out of the slow cooker this week. It was flavorful, spicy but not overly so and didn't include any offensive ingredients. We found the chorizo added a depth that some basic chilis lack. The bonus: It used ingredients I had on hand and is easily adapted to what produce and pantry items are on hand and your family's preferences (read: beans).

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Slow Cooker Tex Mex Chili

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound chorizo
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken or beef stock or water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked macaroni or spaghetti squash (see note)
Optional toppings: Cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos

In a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat, cook the ground beef and chorizo, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until about "medium" or "medium well." Leave a bit of pink but not so much so that the meat will clump together in the crock. Drain meat on paper towel. Add chopped vegetables, tomato sauce, stock or water and spices into crock. Stir in meat. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over macaroni or squash with toppings.

Note: To cut down on evening cook time, make the macaroni in the morning and stir into the chili during the last 15 minutes of cooking.


  1. Looks tasty Kim! I am def going to make this! Thanks for sharing! Congrats by the way, so excited for you!

  2. Sorry about your changed schedule but thanks for the wonderful recipes! I will be trying them out soon!

  3. Yum!!! We are big fans of skyline-like chili in this house since my mom is from Dayton :) My staten island husband had never had it that way but prefers it now and on macaroni...a double win!!! Can't wait to try this recipe because I'm always cooking it on the stove top. Bummer about work