Wow. Just wow. I think I'm in denial sometimes about "made for me foods" - I really like Old El Paso products, for instance. I make some killer tacos with their stuff. But seriously. Today I got pretty scared.

It was my first day back with the kiddos - and it was FREEZING in my classroom. Not literally, but my hands wouldn't cooperate with me until about 11:30 and I got there at 8:30. Today was a pretty low-key day, which was an unintentional but wise choice on my part. The cold made me seriously lazy. I searched for "quick vegetarian recipes" - being at a bit of a loss as to what to make tonight - and decided on this recipe. It's comfort food, and it's warm. I almost looked for another recipe, because I try to avoid meat substitutes (for the most part). A little once in awhile can't be too bad, I told myself.

Anyway, another benefit to this is that it's pretty cheap to make. I only needed the beans (I also try to use dried beans most of the time, but that takes planning and I have a hard enough time long-term planning for my job), and the ranch seasoning mix. I found the mix - and was immediately terrified and put-off. The ingredients were as follows: maltodextrin (really, what is that stuff? It's in everything!), buttermilk (ok), salt (ok - and I am really craving the salt lately. Made me wonder if I was pregnant - and I'm not), monosodium glutamate (oh the dreaded MSG - seriously, why is this allowed?), dried garlic, dried onion, spices, citric acid (things I'm ok with), less than 1% of (then why is it there???): calcium stearate (a preservative, I suppose), artificial flavoring (which can be ANYTHING, including beetle poop, or so I've read), xanthan gum, carboxymethlcellulose (ok, that sounds like poison), and, finally, guar gum. I got this off their website, where I had to blow the image up to read these ingredients.

That was not going to cut it. Publix's free wi-fi enabled me to find a ranch dressing mix I could make from, you know, not chemicals. This, in turn, resulted in me spending more (totally worth it), because I was out of/didn't have some spices (dried chives, minced onion, dried parsley, dried dill). Here's the recipe for the dressing. All the finely ground spices - garlic and onion powders, black pepper - settle to the bottom so it would probably be best to combine in a food processor. I didn't.

I also made some Mexican seasoning awhile back - I used it in place of the packet of taco seasoning. I still use Old El Paso taco seasoning - it's so good - but it has yeast extract, which is kinda like MSG. Or maybe is MSG. I'm not 100% on that.

So ANYWAY, now that I've written way too much, here's how it went down. Rant over.

It gets dumped in a pot. I used Boca crumbles (which are only a B- on Fooducate - not too bad), and dumped about 1/2 can tomato sauce in because it looked too dry. I prefer my chili thick, but a with a bit of soupiness to it. I also used canned tomatoes with chilies instead of plain tomato. It tastes a lot like my partner's mom's specialty, Cincinnati Chili. I'm going to have mine with a bit of Greek yogurt stirred in, and maybe some Mexican cheese on top - over wheat linguine. 

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