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Emergency Eats

Need a meal in a minute? Dinner in a dash? I've got the solution with 'Emergency Eats.'

Over the past few years I’ve gotten last-minute requests from friends, family, and acquaintances that go something like this: “What should I make for dinner tonight?”–“I have shrimp in the freezer, what can I do with it?" or even just a “Help!” And many of you know how much I LOVE to cook. Cook. Bake–not so much.  I do bake, but let’s just say it’s a work in progress. I’m trying to get better at it.

However, what I do bake regularly, is darn good.

You will notice, though, that many of my recipes require some advance planning, or a bit of prep time in the kitchen.  Well, except for my "2 second salad."  That takes well–more like two minutes to make. Ok, maybe 10. But you get the idea.

There’s one person, though, that has a natural knack in the kitchen. I went to high school with her, and her recipes have come through for me in situations where “Ooops, I forgot to defrost something! What do I do for dinner?” or “I’m too lazy to cook tonight, but my family wants to eat.”

I now introduce her to the world–Debbie Chupa–the “Emergency Eats” queen. Her chili recipe has circulated on Facebook for over a year now. And let me tell you–I’ve tried a lot of chilis over the years, but nothing tops hers. (If you think you’ve got a recipe for one that does, please, submit it to me, and I’ll tell you what I think–no holds barred. I dare you to go up against this girl’s crockpot creation.)

Her chili, is the bomb. If you invest your time in to making the largest ever crock pot full of goodness, and freeze your leftovers in Ziploc bags for future “Emergency Eats,” trust me, you will be eternally grateful for the ability to thaw out the most flavorful combination of beans (and meat, if you so desire), in an instant in your microwave–on days like we all have–where you come home, and it’s crazy, or you’re just lazy.

When I make Debbie’s Famous Chili, I freeze the leftover portions in 2-3 gallon-size Ziploc bags, once it cools. Granted, the bags are not stuffed full–but it all depends on how many people you plan on feeding in the future, you know? To me, it’s totally worth investing a Saturday morning to assemble the ingredients in a crock pot (or on the stove if you’ve got the time to hang around and stir the concoction), so you’ve got a freezer full of fantastic eats in the future.

Debbie has not had any formal culinary training, but I’ll vouch that her taste buds are right on track. Some people just have natural talent. She’s one of them. Yes, I’m a closet chef; but this girl’s got gourmet-in-a-minute going on. As a result, I’ll be featuring her recipes on my website from time to time, starring in her own column “Emergency Eats.” There’s more than one that I’ve been privileged to pull out of my arsenal on a moment’s notice–not just to feed on in a frenzy, but these dishes have delicious written all over them.

So without further ado, let me introduce to you the Mamma of Mouthwatering Dishes in a Dash–Debbie Chupa. And let’s start with her famous chili. Go ahead–try it, you’ll like it!

Debbie’s Famous Chili

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef
12 oz. beef broth (or 2 beef bouillon cubes w/ 12 oz. water)
3 tsp. chili powder
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2, 12 oz. cans red kidney beans (drained, rinsed)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. salt (add more to taste)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or substitute red pepper flakes)
1 green pepper, seeded & diced
1 long red pepper, seeded & diced (optional)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 12 oz. can pinto beans (drained, rinsed)
5 dashes hot sauce (tobasco sauce)
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Serrano chili pepper (minced) (optional)
½ onion, chopped
Leftover steak or venison, diced (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain fat.
  2. Add all ingredients to the crock pot.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours, or HIGH for 2 – 4 hours.
  4. Stir occasionally & mix well before serving.

Special Notes:

This chili has just the right “kick” to it if you omit the long red pepper and Serrano chili pepper.  The original recipe did not call for the onion, but I prefer to use it.  I also use the red pepper flakes instead of the cayenne pepper. The original recipe also called for 2 cans of pinto beans; I use one. 

This makes a FULL crock pot of chili.

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Diane May 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM
This looks like a great recipe, but I don't know how something that takes 6-8 hours (or even 2-4) can be classified as a emergency meal... TOO FUNNY!
Laura Madsen May 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM
LOL - :) The initial preparation definitely doesn't qualify as quick. But it's the kind of thing where if you take the time to make it one day, you'll be able to freeze enough for 2 - 3 more meals in the future. Pulling the Ziploc bag out of your freezer at the last minute for a meal emergency is what makes it so great, you know? I've done that and run the bag under hot water to loosen it a bit, then poured it into a microwave safe bowl. In a few minutes after nuking it, dinner is done! I usually add some favorite cheeses and sour cream for toppings, and have tortilla chips on the side for scooping.
Hepcat May 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM
We actually do this with a few different recipes in my house. Chili is one - same deal, crock pot, cook for hours, freeze the leftovers. We also find it works really well with my wife's incredible spaghetti sauce. Just nuke it while you whip up some noodles and dinner is ready in minutes! I'll be looking forward to more of Debbie's recipes...especially since I'll be cooking dinner a lot more often starting in September!
Laura Madsen May 15, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Cooking in advance in larger portions and freezing is key for making things easy! Freezing homemade spaghetti sauce is a great idea! Debbie does have some quick recipes that you can make with fresh ingredients, too. Those will also be published in the future over on my site: http://theladyinredblog.com Maybe one new recipe a month or so. I am categorizing her recipes under "Emergency Eats" on the recipe page, for people to find hers easily.
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