Cooking: Chili Mac

Here’s my problem with Pinterest inspired projects: They often don’t align with my end goal. One of the reasons I wanted to focus on cooking this year was to learn a few more go-to recipes for menu planning so we can cook ahead and/or take advantage of smart grocery shopping and sales. However, it seems that whenever I want to try a new recipe, I go to my Pinterest board or one of my few cookbooks I’ve kept and I end up asking my husband to go to the store for all kinds of ingredients we either wouldn’t usually cook with, or would enjoy cooking with but would never keep as part of our weekly menu! Not time or budget friendly at all!

Luckily, today’s recipe definitely fulfills both of those goals- it is budget friendly (based mostly on pasta and beans- the staples of a frugal diet!) and it is a one-pot recipe so that saves time not only on cooking but also on cleaning! It’s from a blog I absolutely love called budget bytes. She breaks down costs and she also has a fabulous vegetarian section where I either pull recipes or get inspired for our own recipes (and by I… I mean my husband… again with him being better at improvisation in the kitchen…) If you check out her site, I also highly recommend the french bread pizza with roasted vegetables!

img_3468This recipe is ready in about 40 minutes – and that’s cook/prep time that includes toddler distractions, so maybe even faster for you! To be honest, I was a little late starting dinner so I only took pictures at the end. It is yet another recipe with with tomatoes so while we had chili-mac, my son had regular mac and cheese… I really need to pick a no tomato recipe to test next time! Or my little guy needs to outgrow his allergy! Anyway, this meal is filling and gets the job done, but for spice fanatics like my family it was a little bland. I had read warnings of this in the comments of the budget bytes blog post so I planned ahead by adding a little crushed red pepper and a jalapeño, but at the end we still doused our bowls with Cholula or Tapatio to get it to the spice level we crave, and when we make this again I will probably add a bit of cumin to the mix. I also recommend topping with cilantro if you’re a fan of that herb. I also happened to top my bowl with the extra cheese I’d grated… which I don’t recommend, it was pretty cheesy already!

img_3469I will be honest… I prefer my chili made in the crock pot and cooking all day long so all the flavors come together and meld. Still, I have to admit that this was fast, easy, and great for nights you forgot to start thinking about dinner until almost 6 pm! (An event that definitely happened tonight as a side effect of dance parties with your little one and choosing small things that induce happiness instead of focusing on my to-do list, so I’ll take it.) If you make this, PLEASE heed the warning about stirring often once you add the macaroni… It started sticking to my pot even during the short time it took me to grate the cheddar cheese so I’m glad I didn’t try to step away from the kitchen while it simmered.

Any of you have stand by one-pot wonders? or favorite veggie chili recipes?

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