Slow Cooker Recipe: Sausage and Peppers!

This recipe is dead simple and so tasty! The best part is you can use any kind of Dinner sausage you want. We used Italian Sausages (made with pork), but you can use whatever you like (including veggie sausages if you are meatless).

You can use fresh or frozen peppers and onions (Yes, you can buy frozen peppers and onions at the store- They are often branded as “Fajita Mix”), it’s really up to you.

And you can load your yumminess onto a hoagie roll, top with cheese and chow down, or top a bed of pasta or Zoodles- It’s really up to you.

The best part is this recipe makes a lot, so there are always leftovers!

Sausage and Peppers Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Dinner Sausages (Italian or your choice)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1 20-ish ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In your slow cooker, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Turn up to high, remove the lid and cook for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Serve on a roll/bun, on pasta or zoodles.
  5. OPTIONAL- Top each serving with cheese.

Crockpot Chili Recipe (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

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Easy, Delicious, and Healthy!

I realized the other day when searching for my chili recipe on my blog so I could share it with someone on Facebook, that I have not posted my chili recipe, ever! Which is weird, because I make it at least once a month.

What I love about making chili in the crockpot is that you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, it really depends on what you have in your house, and what your budget is.

Because I get vegetables and fruit twice a month at our local co-op, frequently I will have fresh vegetables that I have diced or prepared and put into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer. It ensures that we have nutritious vegetables with no additives at our fingertips throughout the month.

Another great thing about this chili recipe is you can make it vegetarian, you can put meat in it, or you can make a vegan! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • One large onion diced
  • Two bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cups tomatoes. You can either use canned tomatoes, or if you have fresh tomatoes available you can quarter them.  No need to peel or seed them.
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 T. Avocado oil
  • 1 pound of meat (optional) I usually use ground pork, but other good choices include ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or bite-sized pieces of stew meat. If you want a meat substitute, I like these crumbles from Beyond Meat.
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1t cumin
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Optional, but delicious:

1 cup corn niblets. If you use canned corn, drain and rinse it prior to adding.

If you do not care for black or kidney beans, you can swap in Northern beans, or navy beans.

Directions

  1. Personally, I like to brown the meat on the stove prior to adding it to the slow cooker. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat avocado oil and brown meat until thoroughly cooked/browned.
  2. Add onions and peppers, cook until onions are clear and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If your pan has a lot of brown food remnants on the bottom, I recommend taking 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (you can use water) and pour it in the pan stirring and scraping all the yummy brown stuff off the bottom. This is where all the flavor lives.
  5. Pour all of the ingredients from the pot into your slow cooker.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

I love serving chili with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.

If you don’t have fresh onions and peppers, you can grab a bag of fajita mix out of the freezer (which is pre-chopped onions and bell peppers).

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes (which let’s face it a lot of us don’t) you can use canned tomatoes. You can use whole canned tomatoes you can use diced, you can use chopped, whatever kind of tomatoes you have in your cupboard.

Use whatever kind of canned beans you have on hand. One time I made chili and I used chickpeas! And it turned out delicious!

If you don’t have cumin and chili powder in your cupboard but you have chili seasoning, use that instead.

I find the chili is a great go-to meal for when you are at the end of the month, and you are low on funds but you have lots of canned goods and frozen veggies.

If you were strapped for time, you don’t have to brown your meat, you can just put it in the crockpot and pour all the other ingredients over top, cook it, and let it cook. Just make sure to break up the meat (if you’re using ground meat) with a spoon prior to serving.

Tips to Reign In An Out Of Control Family Budget: Let’s Start in the Kitchen!

707538835876fc5c438018d57701bc2f.jpgUntil the end of the year, I’ll be posting some articles with realistic tips and methods to save money and reign in spending. None of these are going to the same old “Clip coupons, grow your own garden, etc.” that’s all over the internet- and honestly, here in Southern California, the old, standby advice isn’t going to help you. Grow a garden to save money? Water is so expensive here!

Clipping coupons and shopping grocery store sales/circulars will save you a fraction of the amount that it used to. In years past, I was saving 60-80% with coupons and store sales. Now, I’m lucky to save 50%.  With all of the restrictions on coupons (example: limit one like coupon per day- LAME), stockpiling to save money isn’t always possible without a lot of work/trips to different stores (and that’s not saving time). We’re moving past that, and delving into other ways to save money and take advantage of opportunities that are out there.

Today we are going to start with my pet project: Saving in the kitchen! If you feel like you’re spending too much money on food and groceries, here are my recommendations for getting the grocery spending under control:

  1. Go through your refrigerator/freezer and pantry. Make a note of the food that you have on hand. I like using the kitchen inventories here. This will also give you an opportunity to clean out food from the kitchen that has expired or that you won’t eat. Unexpired food that you won’t eat, can be donated to a local charity.
  2. Now that you have a handle on what you have in your kitchen, take a look at the list and come up with some recipes or meals that can be created with what you have on hand. You’d be surprised by how many meals you have in your kitchen! Make a list of the meals that you can make with what you have. And plan on having one or two of those per week. This will help keep grocery spending down. Make a list of meals that you can make but require one or two ingredients (like fresh vegetables), and add those ingredients to your next few shopping lists. By relying on what you already have in your home, you will be keeping your out of pocket down.
  3. Before you head to the store, take a look at the sale flyer which is available online, and see what is on sale. Plan meals around food that is in season and on sale. Continue to use coupons, but don’t go out of your way to subscribe to multiple newspapers per week to get a hold of lots of the same coupons.  Don’t forget rebate apps! Use of these apps gets us $10-$20/month cashback, sometimes double that, depending on what bonus offers are available- Fetch Rewards and Ibotta often have Bonus offers.
  4. Track your spending over a few weeks to see how much you are spending, and what you are buying. If you still find that you’re spending a lot of money on food, I would try shopping at a different store. I find that even with club card sales, and rebate apps like Fetch Rewards, some grocery stores (like Vons) are just too expensive to do my weekly shopping. I love starting my shopping at $.99 only. I am able to get a lot of snacks, name-brand treats, and fresh fruits and veggies there, and I am still able to stay on budget. Another fun place where I save money is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on cheese, fruit juice, coffee, and frozen meat. They also have an interesting selection that changes weekly: snack food, protein bars/cookies, and cereal. If you are in the military, a military family, or a veteran, consider shopping at the commissary. Here is my article about saving money at the commissary. 
  5. Consider cooking more from scratch. It is healthier, and pantry stables are generally pretty cheap (the ingredients for a batch of chocolate chip cookies runs about $3.00 and yields 4-5 dozen cookies, while a package of chocolate chip cookies from the grocery store is about $4.00+ and is usually 3 dozen or so).  I buy fruits and veggies whole and break them down and pack them into serving size bags. You can learn more about that and Batch Cooking here.

If you are still having a hard time keeping your grocery budget in check, or if you are finding that the ends don’t meet, consider the San Diego Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program. No documentation is needed to receive food assistance from a
Neighborhood Distribution site where people can receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread, based on availability. Families are encouraged to bring reusable bags or
a cart with them to carry the food items.

There are programs out there to help those struggling to feed their families here in San Diego County. Here is my list of San Diego County Food Resources.

I work very hard to keep my family on a budget, I work very hard to make sure that we are saving money and taking advantage of as many deals and opportunities that present themself. I know that this is not something that everyone wants to do or something that everyone can do. There are so many programs and discounts out there available for various groups of individuals.

Tomorrow, we’re tackling saving money on the entertainment budget.

Shop Online with Affinityy and score $20!

I learned about Affinityy the other day and I had to try it.

Here’s the skinny:

$20 first purchase cash reward when you make your first purchase within 14 days of signup. Don’t worry, they will remind you to do so via email and on the website so you won’t miss out on your free $$.

Unlike the other cashback shopping site, Affinityy offers:

  • Earn $3 cash when you download the app
  • Up to $10 per referral of family/friends.
  • Earn $5, $10, and $20 cash bonuses the more you shop with Affinityy.
  • Receive your cash via check or PayPal

To try it out, I pulled out a JCP gift card I had been saving with $16 on it (I earned it doing an online survey- it was originally $50, but I did a little shopping a few weeks ago- Kids needed new pants!). Our crockpot died a few weeks ago (and taking along with it so really yummy pork chops- RIP chops), so I was hoping they would be on sale. Enter JCPenney in the Affinityy search bar, and click the resulting link.

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 9.28.05 AM.pngLucky for me, this one was on sale for $8.10! I also picked up a new bathroom rug for $5.95.

To save the shipping cost I chose in-store pick up. And I earned JCP Rewards by shopping online as well. Pretty good double dip.

Used a coupon code, and paid with my Gift card. A few hours later, I logged onto my Affinityy account and found that I had received $20 credit for my purchase and $3 for downloading the app!

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So far, it looks good! I’ll report back once I receive my money via paypal!

Talk Back: What is your favorite online shopping cashback portal?