Wow, has it already been a week since Valentine's Day? My sweetie gave me the first four installments of The Twilight Saga on Blu-ray... and the flu. Fun times, eh?
Now that I'm mostly feeling myself again, I wanted to share how we spent that morning before I was relegated to my bed. You see, Johnsonville contacted me about a month ago asking if I'd be interested in preparing my favorite easy chili recipe for our local fire department so the men could have a nice, hot meal on Valentine's Day. Uh, yeah, of course I would love to!
Johnsonsville was kind enough to donate a slow cooker for transporting the chili, as well as coupons for Johnsonville sausage and a gift card to purchase additional ingredients. As it turns out, Valentine's Day was pretty chilly here (no pun intended, lol), so a steaming hot bowl of chili was perfect for lunch.
I know there's a lot of disagreement over the "right" way to make chili -- beans, no beans, meat, no meat, etc. -- but I say make it however you like it! Growing up, our chili always had both meat and beans, and that's how I still make my favorite chili recipe today.
This easy chili recipe starts with Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage. I removed the casings and browned the meat along with some chopped white onions and green peppers. You can also find ground Johnsonville sausage at some stores, which is a slightly easier option, but not all of my local stores carry this product.
From here, you can either continue to cook your chili on the stovetop, or you can transfer the browned meat mixture to your slow cooker and proceed. Simply add diced fire-roasted tomatoes, dark kidney beans, tomato juice, and all of the spices mentioned below, and simmer for your desired length of time -- the longer the better.
I made this batch slightly spicy, but not too hot since I know everyone has a different tolerance. My family actually prefers it a good deal spicier, so you can add additional red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper if you like a hot and spicy chili, as well.
We like to serve our chili over corn chips, topped with sour cream and sharp cheddar cheese. Or add a side of homemade cornbread for a delicious and filling winter meal. This recipe makes a BIG 4.5 quart pot, so there's plenty to go around, and chili is one of those things that's even better the next day!
Drew went along with me to drop off our chili, and while he was a little shy at first, he was ecstatic when some of the fire fighters asked him if he'd like to check out the big fire engine.
He climbed right up into the jump seat like he belonged there.
And then he proceeded to talk their ears off about dinosaurs, fire hoses, and all of the "cool tools" that the fire fighters get to use.
Gotta love this kid! A huge thanks to these guys for making my little boy's day.
And another huge thanks to Johnsonville for making all of this possible. I love it when companies help bloggers give back to the community, and this was great fun for all involved!
This post is brought to you by Johnsonville. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own -- always have been, always will be!