Anyway, one of my absolute favorite things to make in the crock pot is chili. And, honestly, like soups, chili is just a natural crock pot food. The Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook has a whole chapter dedicated to chili, so I've been going through and trying the different varieties. On April 5 of this year, I tried the "Easiest Black Bean and Brown Rice Chili." This chili is a vegetarian chili that was initially created when one of the authors was cooking with kids. The description says: "There are no onions to chop, nothing to saute, and it is indeed easy enough for kids to make." When I read that for the first time, my mind substituted "and a perfect recipe for the grad student to make on the way out the door in the morning" for the phrase about kids. I had also received a request for vegetarian chili recipes that I totally dropped the ball on before, but this is the first of two vegetarian chili recipes that I tried during the spring semester.
So this recipe could not get any easier. Everything just gets thrown in to the crock pot: black beans (canned), tomatoes (canned), brown rice (uncooked), and one chipotle chile (canned, but not one can, just one chile cut into small pieces). The recipe actually has a warning about the one chile instead of one can: you will get absurdly spicy chili if you add a whole can of these. The spices added to these few items are onion powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano. And really, as I said before, this recipe could not get any easier. After throwing everything together, you stir it all and then turn it on low for six to eight hours, which also makes it good for the grad student who has to be at school all day.
This is the chili after being stirred.
And this is what it looked like after cooking.
The cookbook recommends serving the chili with a spoonful of plain yogurt or to eat it as a burrito (wrapped in a tortilla). I tried it with the yogurt, but I wasn't such a fan of that. The chili itself is good, but I'd rather have it with traditional chili toppings like cheese and sour cream. Now, the recipe says that it serves four, but I'm pretty sure that I got at least six servings out of it (unfortunately, I didn't write down exactly how many servings I got and I can't remember back to April). So, without the yogurt, it would be around 205 calories per serving (and even if you did bigger servings, the four servings the recipe says it makes only comes out to 309 calories per serving). The yogurt, especially if you get the plain nonfat yogurt, only adds about 30 calories per serving. This recipe will not add to your waistline when you're stuck in the library and can't get across campus to the gym!
Now, this recipe was awesome for me cost-wise because I normally have some black beans and canned tomatoes hanging around the house and all of those spices are ones that I normally have too so the only things I bought were the chiles and the yogurt. So I spent less than 80 cents per serving! If you had to buy everything, including all the spices, I'd estimate that it would be about $3.45 per serving. However, since people normally have such spices on hand (right?), it's actually about $1.45 per serving. Seriously: this recipe will help stretch your stipend!