I know...I know. Its been a long time since we've chatted. So much has happened in the past several months. This post would go on for days to tell you about it now but I'll share in future posts so stay tuned because for good or bad...I'm baaaaaaaack! :)
As my inaugural-sort of visit with you I wanted to share a recipe with you that has been popular around our house lately for a very special reason, which you'll understand in a minute. My sweet mother-in-law, Larry has been in failing health the past couple years. She was in a skilled nursing center the last 18 months or so and just passed away in January. It was such a huge loss for our family but a relief too that her suffering is over and we know she is exploring heaven on healthy legs that take her wherever she wants to go again. Larry was an exceptionally special person. She was always cheerful, unless she was tearful with someone over their troubles (never her own) and she made friends wherever she went. I lost count of how many times I caught her walking flowers from her garden up to the dentist's office or homemade cake over to my parent's house, both over a mile from her house. She loved to walk! As a mother and grandmother, she was the tops. I remember one time we were getting ready to go on a fishing trip with my husband's family and we got to their house to head out. Her and my father-in-law were having a heated argument about putting her little red wagon on top of their little green Rabbit for walks with the grandkids while there. He said they absolutely were not roping it on top and taking it. Well, he did and they did. Family and grandkids came first with Larry. This is Larry at my son and daughter-in-law's July 4th garden wedding at our house.
Losing Larry taught me one thing about death. You know how when people pass away, other people tell you they hope your memories will be a comfort to you? I've said that myself and meant it. But now, I understand it on a new level. I have so many wonderful memories of her, a lifetime of them since she came into my life when I was just 16. They randomly come to mind and I can't help but smile because SHE made me smile. Every day. I love her and I miss her but I'm happy thinking about her. My memories of her make my heart glad and I'm so thankful I got her for my mother-in-law. (By the way, for those who are wondering. Her name was Lorraine and when she was very little she told her parents she didn't like that name and wanted to be called "Larry" and so she always was our Larry. I laugh when I picture her 4 children giving their mother's name. )
When Larry was housebound or still eating at the nursing center, my husband and I took turns taking her whatever sounded good to her and eating with her. Nine times out of ten, she wanted Wendy's chili. She could have had anything she wanted but no, she wanted fast food chili. Simple girl, simple pleasures. She loved the stuff. So when I came across a recipe for it a couple weeks ago on Pinterest, I was tickled and wanted to give it a try. We like chili around here but I wouldn't say we LOVE chili. Well, we had this chili and it was life-changing if chili can be life-changing. It has a sweetness and a depth of flavor to it that is delicious. It makes a huge (2 really) pot but we kept eating it so none of it actually made it into the freezer the first time. Considering how much it makes and there's just two of us now, its safe to say we loved this chili! It wasn't a week before my husband was asking when we were going to have it again. I just made it again and froze 2 meals plus we ate it for dinner and had lunch leftovers. One night, I had some brisket taco meat leftover and we threw that in. Delicious! I've made a couple minor amount adjustments but I'm so appreciative to April for sharing this recipe. She has a yummy looking blog - the French Dip Crescents are on my shopping list.
Chili (Wendy's Style)
4 lbs ground chuck, browned and drained
2 large onions, chopped small
4 green peppers, chopped small
4 celery stalks, chopped small
5 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 Tbsp jarred garlic)
2 cans Ranch Style beans, 15 oz, not drained
2 cans red kidney beans, 15 oz, not drained
2 cans Original Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, 10 oz
2 cans stewed tomatoes, 15 oz
4 cans plain tomato sauce, 15 sauce
2 packages McCormick mild Chili Seasoning mix (any brand really)
Lots of vegies! I tried it with even 5 green peppers and the vegie to meat ratio was getting off. Couldn't imagine using the 7 originally called for. Chop the vegies small or you end up with just a bite of vegie and not a combination of the chili flavors. I wish I would have chopped them a little smaller than in the picture here. I was experimenting with bigger pieces and I liked it better with smaller pieces like the first time I made it.
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. (I forgot to use my big lobster pot and ended up having to use a second dutch oven.) Simmer for 2-3 hours.
I served it with Tastfully Simple Beer Batter bread, something I always keep on hand. So easy to whip up and delicious!
I wish you all a big pot of this delicious chili and a wonderful Larry in your life!