Sunday, August 14, 2016

Chili Mac

Today's post comes to you from vacation land.  From an oceanfront condo with a fully equipped kitchen.

When my special someone and I started taking family vacations last year, we spent a bit of time researching vacation meals.  Time and again chili mac came up as a suggestion.  Don't get me wrong, I love nothing more than to come home on a cold winter's night and cuddle up with a bowl of chili, but couldn't picture it as the ideal beach treat in August.  This is the story of how I learned differently.

Meal planning got pushed to the back burner, because we had a more immediate challenge to overcome.  The drive to the beach is a long one, and the passengers in the car ranged in age from single digits to adulthood.  How on earth were we going to stay entertained?  The solution was found and we headed to the beach.  We arrived a bit past dinnertime and headed for the grocery store to pick up necessary supplies.  Tired and starving, we wracked our brains trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  Chili mac it was. We grabbed a few cans and a pound of meat and headed to the condo to cook.  20 minutes later we were sitting on our balcony in the ocean breeze with steaming bowls of deliciousness in front of us.  So cheap, so easy, no wonder it's such a beloved vacation meal. 

Yield: 8 servings
(Chili recipe adapted from Rachel Ray)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 96% lean)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
  • Additional hot sauce to taste
  • 2 cups stock
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz macaroni


Our vacation meal strategy is to bring non perishables from home.  We check into our room, bring everything in from the car, and then immediately hit up the grocery store for everything else.


Chop the onion and garlic (courtesy of our condo, the world's dullest knife).  Open the tomato and bean cans.  Set the tomatoes aside.  Drain and rinse the beans.
Sautee the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes
Add the beef and sprinkle with salt
Crumble the beef and cook until no longer pink
Meanwhile, start the macaroni
Add the garlic
Now it's time for chili powder.  The largest measuring spoon I could find was a teaspoon, so I added three heaping teaspoons.
Stir to combine
Add the tomatoes
And the broth
Stir together and let it simmer for about 10 minutes
Bring in the beans
Drain the macaroni and stir it in
Ladle into bowls.  Add the toppings of your choice, which for me is a healthy dose of hot sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.
If you have leftovers, there will be one more required step.  The macaroni will suck up all of the liquid from the broth.  Add a splash of water to replace the liquid, and then reheat.

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