the slow cooker bean & vegetable chili

Mmmmm….I used my slow cooker for the first time this weekend. On the menu โ€“ a bean and vegetable chili!

I’ve been trying to eat a lot more meatless dishes lately; it’s part of my campaign of self-improvement: learning to cook and eating better. My food choices are improving, but I still have a preference for beef over chicken or fish! I love all the bad things in life, it seems ๐Ÿ™‚

Beans are a filling alternative to meat that doesn’t have an odd name to tweak my food OCD (quinoa? QUINOA??), so I snapped up a bunch of dried beans the other day. I would have gone with canned, but from my experience, fresh foods way outrank canned foods โ€“ and cost less, as well! I’m not sure what all these varieties I’ve purchased are, but I’m going to research โ€“ and hey, I could always make a 3 bean salad.

I meant to have the chili finished by Saturday evening, but I didn’t realize that cooking beans was such a time-consuming process. When I woke Saturday morning, I goofed off until 1 or so, and then read how to cook beans (the chili recipe only said “cook beans according to package instructions”). Oops. And so then I soaked the beans for four hours, and simmered them for 90 minutes.

Preparing the vegetables to sautee, I watched many youtube videos on โ€œhow to mince garlicโ€ and โ€œhow to chop bell pepper.โ€ By the time it asked me for dice potatoes, I shook my head, did something more similar to mincing, and threw them in the pan.

Mincing rather than dicing wasn’t the only change I made to the recipe. Because I like my food spicy, I added a jalapeno pepper to the vegetables, and also threw in an 1/8th teaspoon of my favorite “ghost pepper” sauce – that is just slightly more than I will use in a normal dish, but considering this was going into a large crockpot, I assumed that it would spread out.

a sauce pan with tomatoes, potatoes, red bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, and garlic in it

the final prep step before I put everything in the slow cooker – I needed a bigger pan! I did a lot of stirring and turning over

I woke up this morning and immediately tasted my creation. Success! It was very well flavored โ€“ except โ€“ well. It wasn’t bland, for sure, but there was no hint of spiciness whatsoever in my chili. I grabbed the bottle of ghost pepper sauce, filled a teaspoon, threw it in, and stirred. I’m assuming the results are going to be much more spicy than before โ€“ maybe too spicy for some, but that is what sides like cole slaw and cornbread are for.

conclusion
I have a lot of chili! I’m definitely glad for my freezer bags – tonight, I’ll be dishing this out and stacking it in the freezer for those days when I simply don’t feel like cooking. I’m looking for more recipes like that, so if you have any “frozen dinner” recipes, please share!

I think next time, I’ll definitely add more chili powder and other assorted spices. It had a full taste, but I wanted bolder flavors. Any suggestions as to what I could add? Is one jalapeno enough, or should I add 2? I picked up a habenero bbq sauce (another local production) the other day that I think would add a delicious flavor to this – but I think I’d want it to be in a chili with meat.

Read on for the bean & begetable slow cooker recipe