Crock Pot Cheesy Beefy Chili

Sometimes, you want the same old comfort food…but not quite the same. With that in mind, I present a twist on a recipe I posted previously: Cheesy Chicken Chili. This redo came out of dh’s desire for some BEEF UP IN THIS JOINT, which made for a rare “beef twice in one week” for me. I’m not anti-beef, but I just don’t eat a ton of it. I could give up red meat entirely and not mind, but chicken and fish…well, that’s a whole other story.

Anyhoo…dh wanted beef, and I wanted something that was in the “stick to your ribs” category, so I suggested that we take Ye Olde Cheesy Chicken Chili recipe and beefify it. The good news is that it worked brilliantly. It had a nice flavor, the beef was insanely easy to shred (far easier than the chicken breasts, as a matter of fact), and it’s one of those recipes that takes no time to set up and no time to deal with. This is ALWAYS a win in my book, since I’m a big believer in not getting so fancypants with the crock pot recipes that you essentially nullify the convenience of using it during the work-week.

Do you have to use the specific beans I list below? Nope. The issue is that the great northern beans from the chicken recipe won’t stand up to the beef, so you need beans with a little more oomph and flavor of their own. You may also be able to dial back the salsa a little, but I wouldn’t go less than about 16-20oz of salsa. Given the heft of this particular meal, it can go fine in a bowl of its own, or it can go on a plate (as seen below), with chips, a soft tortilla, rice or whatever you choose to use as an accompaniment. Also note that I didn’t add the corn that’s used in the original chicken recipe, either; it seemed like that would get completely lost with the beef, so I put the corn on the side (in this case, it’s Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Scene).


Cheesy Beefy Chili

It’s beeftastic!


Prep: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 8-10 hrs on LOW or 4-5hrs on HIGH, plus 20 mins on HIGH

Serves: 6-8



1-1/2 lbs top round steak (or other boneless beef that’s not just a complete layer of fat)

24 oz salsa

15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz shredded cheddar (or cheddar/jack) cheese


Make it Happen

1. Spray the inside of a 4qt crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add a small amount of salsa to the pot, to coat the bottom, then add the steak and the remainder of the salsa.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10hrs or on HIGH for 4-5hrs.

4. When the initial cooking time is up, remove the beef from the pot and place on a plate for shredding.

5. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the crock pot, then stir well to combine. Re-cover the crock while you shred the beef with two forks.

6. Add the shredded beef and the cheese to the crock pot, then stir well to combine.

7. Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 mins, then serve!

Crock Pot Dijon Chicken with Mushrooms

This recipe is a renovation of a recipe we’ve been working for several years, acquired from a recipe swap online with some fellow moms. The original recipe (which we modified for our needs) relied on cream of mushroom soup and canned mushrooms. Well, that works…but only for so long. The kids seem to prefer fresh mushrooms to canned (no argument from me) and the response to the chicken itself has only ever been tepid, where the little ones are concerned.

So, when dh suggested that we make the usual recipe, I balked and asked if anyone minded if I switched things up. Thankfully, I have a patient family that’s willing to endure my experimentation. After all, we humans are learning machines and I try to incorporate what I’ve learned works (and remove what doesn’t).

As luck would have it, this overhaul worked out splendidly! The flavor factor increased exponentially, and the acceptance rate from the kids went up by quite a bit. For example, dd usually picks at her “no thank you helping” of chicken, and this time out she asked for seconds: both the first night we had the dish AND the night when we served it as leftovers. This is a very good sign. Our ds did great with the mushrooms, so this is definitely a win in my book. It also doesn’t hurt that this recipe requires almost no prep time; I purchase mushrooms pre-washed and pre-sliced to save time, and that always works wonderfully.

I will note that the Healthy Request cream soup listed below is my standard answer for “cream of” soup recipes. While you can make it with a full fat/sodium/calories soup, I choose not to – and I haven’t found that the flavor lacks at all. Also, as with many of the other crock pot recipes I’ve posted, this one can cook longer. I had this one in the crock for about 11hrs, and it wasn’t overcooked or dry. So, consider the cook times below the minimums and know that you can go longer without things going awry.


Crock Pot Dijon Chicken

Chickeny mushroomy goodness!


Prep Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 6-8 hrs on LOW, 3-4 hrs on HIGH

Serves: 4



2 cans Campbells Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup

4 Tb dijon mustard

8 oz water

16 oz washed & sliced mushrooms

1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 breasts, approximately 6oz each)

Non-stick cooking spray


Make it Happen

1. Coat the inside of a 4qt crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, stir to combine the soup, mustard and water.

3. Place the chicken in the crock pot, then pour half of the mixture from the bowl on top of the chicken.

4. Place the mushrooms in the crock post and pour the remaining half of the mixture from the bowl on top.

5. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hrs or on HIGH for 3-4 hrs.

6. Serve immediately, over rice, butter noodles or pasta.

Adventures in CSA (year 2 week 6): Savings a-go-go

Rather impressively, this week’s box was cheaper than the grocery store by more than 25%! It’s rather impressive, really. Maybe it’s something about being mid-summer, that you’re neither dealing with light and inexpensive greens nor are you dealing with heavy (but similarly inexpensive) winter squash. I remember the first grocery shopping trip I did before dd went off to camp and needed to have her lunches packed for her. The list of fruit and veg was quite long and, though I was happy filling my cart with so much lovely produce, our wallet did take a hit once I got up to the register. This week, in particular, certainly does show that it’s possible to eat local fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank ANY MORE than you would if you purchased the exact same items as the grocery store.

Actually, cancel that last statement – or let me amend it. When I do my pricing, I price against the mass-market fruits and vegetables, as it were; I don’t price against the more expensive “organic” varieties offered in store. So, technically, if you were to buy the organic versions at the grocery store, you’d be spending EVEN MORE than what you’d pay for the veggie box through the local farm. That’s just lovely.

Here’s how it all broke down…

Year 2 – Summer Week 6
Grocery Store Unit Price
(per lb)
Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Green Peppers (each) 2.00 $1.99 $3.98
Potatoes 2.74 $1.49 $4.09
Zucchini 2.48 $1.99 $4.93
Cucumbers (each) 2.00 $0.99 $1.98
Cherry Tomatoes (pint) 1.00 $3.99 $3.99
Wax Beans 1.02 $2.49 $2.53
Heirloom Tomatoes 1.24 $3.99 $4.96
Corn (ears) 6.00 $0.50 $3.00
Grocery Store Total Cost $29.45
Year 2 Summer Week 6 Savings (Deficit) $7.45

It’s clear, from looking at the numbers, that certain items – like the heirloom tomatoes – really helped me get a lot of extra value out of the box. (They’re also terribly yummy, too.) The sheer heft of the box also helped; though they claimed that I was getting 2 lbs of potatoes and zucchini, both came in well over that weight. Even had they come in right on the dot, the quality and expensive nature of some of the items included (specifically the cherry tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes) helped out quite a bit.

Of course, here’s where you then start to diverge from a simple value discussion. The cherry tomatoes we get from our farm aren’t like the cherry tomatoes you get at the grocery store. Take the best, most wonderful, sweetest cherry tomato you can get at a grocery store and then double the flavorfulness. You may then come close to approximating how incredible these cherries are. The sheer wonderfulness of them makes them disappear in a heartbeat; we had most with dinner Saturday night and the remainder got snapped up at lunchtime on Sunday. In fact, my prediction of caprese salad fell flat but was replaced instead by dh doctoring half a Digiorno cheese pizza with the fresh basil, halved cherry tomatoes and a few cloves of garlic. Holy cow did that take the pizza to a whole other level. It was fantastic.

So, looking at it from the point of view of savings, this box hit one right out of the park. From a taste perspective, it also went a long way towards validating that buying this week was the right choice.