Homemade Chili Seasoning

Homemade Chili Seasoning-Save Money, Live Joyfully

One of my family’s favorite meals is Chili. When I  want to throw a big batch into the crock pot, I use this recipe, but sometimes our chili is a last minute “I-have-everything-on-hand-and-it’s-already-5pm” meal, so we also have a Quick Chili recipe. Our Quick Chili recipe (coming on a later post) calls for Chili Seasoning, but I never cared much for the packets, so I make a big batch of my own to keep on hand. I store the seasoning in a glass jar, and use only a couple of tablespoons at a time, so it lasts a while! It’s not gluten free, but the flour helps thicken up the chili, which makes for a really nice texture and gives it a wonderful flavor!

Chili Seasoning
(adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Minced Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Store in an airtight container, preferably a glass jar.

To Use:
1 lb Ground Beef=1 TBS seasoning for mild, 1.5 TBS for a little kick, 2 TBS for spicy
2 lb Ground Beef=2 TBS seasoning for mild, 2.5 TBS for a little kick, 3 TBS for spicy

The BEST No-Mess Way to Cook Bacon

bacon

I always used to be that person who would buy pre-cooked bacon (so sad, I know), because I hated cooking bacon so very much. Now, I love the smell of bacon as much as the next girl, but that lingering three day old bacon smell just outstays it’s welcome. That, and the splattering, and the “where-on-earth-can-I-find-a-jar-to-put-all-this-grease-in-once-it-cools” dilemma made bacon cooking a chore instead of a privilege.

Until I learned a bacon cooking tip that was so profoundly easy that I have no idea why the skillet thing ever caught on.

Cook your bacon. In the oven. Over foil. Holy cow, YES you can!

053First, put your bacon on a foil lined baking sheet. Then throw it into a 400 degree oven for 10-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. I use the thick cut Applewood Smoked variety from Trader Joes, and it takes about 17 minutes…although I keep checking it, because the slices on the side of the sheet cook faster than the middle, so I rearrange the slices once or twice to keep them cooking evenly and make sure nothing burns.

Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove it to paper-towel lined plates to absorb the grease, and let the grease on the cookie sheet cool. Once cooled, wrap up the foil and throw in the trash. All done. No mess. No lingering smell. No ruined bacon-grease-splattered clothes. Just bacon, glorious bacon.

Book Review: “Good News for Weary Women”

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Being a mother is the hardest job in the world. Being a mother to a special needs child adds just a little more of everything. More stress, more exhaustion, more second-guessing, and more expectations. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately in dealing with all of Junior’s appointments, trying to keep up on his therapy routine at home, homeschooling, and keeping the house in order with food on the table. I’m tired and often weary, so I was very much looking forward to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s new book Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps, and bad advice. 
Every woman knows that there are certain societal pressures put on her from “them”. (Who exactly “they” are, we may never know.) Things like: “you must prepare all your family’s meals from scratch using only organic ingredients.” Or: “You must always be perfectly groomed with make-up done and wearing attractive clothing to keep your husband’s eye from wandering.” Or: “Your house must always look like something from a Pottery Barn catalog, spotless and smelling like fresh linen.” As a result, we feel like we must do it all, but quickly become disillusioned when we realize we can’t do it all. So, what are we, women who can barely keep their heads above water in dealing with the tasks of life, to do?
This book was a breath of fresh air. Elyse basically says that these expectations do little more than make us feel worthless. They do not encourage us, and take our eyes away from what really matters. What God wants from us. The one good work God wants us from us is to believe in Him. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “you’re only a good Christian girl if you make all your cleaning supplies from scratch and wake up at 5am to make fresh bread before your family awakens.” 
The most important thing we can do for our children is to model a strong relationship with the Lord for them, and to make them feel safe and loved. Elyse argues that impossible expectations put us on edge, and keep us from fulfilling those most important things. (How many times have I told my kids I couldn’t play because I had to clean, or yelled at them for making a mess on my clean floors? How can I model grace when I’m too busy focused on outward appearances?) 
This book really encouraged me, and it made me feel better about some of the judgmental comments I’ve received in my parenting journey. (The most painful being, “If you had more faith and prayed better, Junior would have been healed.”) It reminded me that the opinion that matters most is from God, and we remember what He said about Mary and Martha. Obviously, tasks need to be done, and the house does need to be cleaned, and food does need to be served, but sometimes the act of doing these tasks becomes more important than the outcome. (Such as, “I did all these things because I’m Supermom and I’m awesome.”, not “I did all these things so I could show my family how much I love them.)  The main point? Give yourself grace, and put more time into the relationships in your life than the to-do lists.
As a con, I think this book was a bit repetitive, and could have been a blog series instead of a book, but I did like the overall message, and have been telling my family and friends about it.
Bottom Line: 7.5*/10*   
Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. 

Book Review: Get to Know King David

A couple months ago, I reviewed Get to Know Jesus, a biography about the life of Jesus from Zonderkidz Publishing. I enjoyed the book so much, and it was helpful resource for our homeschool library, so I decided to order another book in the series…this one about King David.

Get to Know King David, by Nancy I. Sanders, is a biography about King David, and is geared towards the 6-10 year old age group. The book tells the biblical account of David, from his childhood as a shepherd boy, to his rise in fame amongst the Israelites, to his running from Saul, and finally with David becoming King of Israel, with God promising an eternal throne through his lineage (Jesus.)

I was curious how the book would find photos to visually support the life and times of David, since it was Ancient History, but it showed photos of artwork depicting David, present day photos of the places mentioned in Scripture, ancient maps, and photos of artifacts dating about the time of David. Compared to the Jesus biography, I was happy to see that there were much fewer sources drawn from Wikimedia (of the unreliable Wikipedia family.)

I like how the book told the entire story of David’s life, since often as children we hear of David and Goliath and his becoming King, but unless we really delve into the Old Testament and read the snippets, it’s hard to put everything together into one cohesive story. I like how this book made it easy for kids (and adults) to understand. I highly recommend this series to add to your personal library.

Bottom Line: 8.5*/10*

*I received a free copy of Get to Know King David from BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: Captured By Love

We just got back from a wonderfully relaxing vacation, and I was looking for an easy read to bring along on the plane and to the pool. I settled on Captured By Love, Jody Hedlund’s new novel about a young woman trying to survive in British occupied Michilimackinac Island during the War of 1812.

Eighteen-year old Angelique MacKenzie is an orphan who is in the care of her cruel stepfather, Ebenezer. There is a shortage of food on the island, and Angelique has spent the winter trying to smuggle food to her friend, Miriam. Miriam has always been like a mother to Angelique, and now that she is frail and blind, she needs help in order to survive. Angelique is betrothed to Miriam’s son Jean, who is away fighting for the Americans. Miriam’s other son, Pierre, is a fur trader who left the island 5 years prior after an argument with his family.

Angelique and Pierre had been close as children, but Pierre always saw her as a younger sister. When he returns to the island, he is surprised to see that Angelique has grown into a beautiful young woman, and he realizes he has feelings for her. Angelique, however, is still betrothed to Jean, though only for stability, and not because she loves him deeply.

Pierre has abandoned his cavorting ways, and is now determined to live honestly and in God’s truth, but he struggles with knowing the “right” thing to do. Angelique is in a bind, because she loves Pierre, but doesn’t think it’s right to break Jean’s heart. All the while, the British presence on the island is driving the residents to starvation. Angelique and Pierre spend the book trying to figure out exactly what it means to “do the right thing”, and learn to forgive themselves for their respective pasts.

I did like the story, although I found it to be a little over-the-top in mushiness (I guess I’m not a hopeless romantic!), but it was an easy read that kept me occupied on the plane. However, I had a hard time getting into it because I didn’t find the characters to be very likable. They kept changing their minds and being very indecisive, which left me confused as a reader. This also prevented solid character development. Finally, the ending wasn’t as satisfying as it would have been had I been rooting for the characters to succeed throughout the entire book. 

Bottom Line 6*/10*

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.