I dearly love a hot bowl of chili on a cold night. While it's not been all that cold lately, it's been cool enough that I've just wanted something hot and spicy for a meal.
I've made this chili numerous ways. I'm posting this recipe not because it's anything special but instead to talk about making freezer-to-crock pot items and to also talk about substitutions.
For crock pot meals, I make recipes based on a 5 quart crock pot.
1 to 1.5 pounds ground beef, browned, drained, and rinsed*
1 to 2 14.5 oz. cans of kidney beans drained and rinsed**
1 to 2 packets of chili seasoning (enough to season 2 pounds ground beef)***
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1to 2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (we like hot, but adjust to your taste)****
1 4 oz can diced green chiles (optional; this makes it very hot)
Brown the ground beef until there is no pink, drain, and rinse thoroughly to remove fat. To freeze, place ground beef and remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly to combine. Spoon into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Squeeze all air out, seal, and place in freezer.
For crock pot chili, remove frozen chili from freezer. Run hot water over exterior of bag in order to loosen enough to remove the block from the bag. Place in crock pot and cover. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
If you wish to just cook this in a pot, then return ground beef to pot and add remaining ingredients. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Add water as needed to keep chili from burning or becoming too thick.
*This is up to you, but I recommend draining and rinsing the meat, even if it is extra lean. Because you may be putting this in a crock pot, more fat will cook out in the process, and if you do not drain and rinse it thoroughly, you might find your chili with a little too much grease floating on the top.
** Substitution alert: Substitute any canned cooked bean you like such as pinto, black, or even navy beans. Just make sure the beans are drained and rinsed. I say 1-2 cans because some beans are bulkier than others. Put one can in, eyeball the chili, and then decide if you want another can of beans. We like 2 but less is OK. Any bean will work, and you might find an interesting combination that you like even better than the original recipe. Different types of beans also make the dish more visually appealing.
***I use Williams Chili Seasoning, but it may be a regional thing that is not available to you. The Williams Original Chili seasoning is made to season 2 pounds of ground beef. Use whatever you like, just make sure it seasons 2 pounds of beef. My pet peeve is to find a great recipe but it contains some obscure ingredient that makes cooking not worth it.
****I use Ro-Tel tomatoes, but again this might be regional. You can use any brand that is canned with chopped green chiles. As a substitute, you can use one can of diced tomatoes in juice, 1 tsp. onion flakes, and about 1 tablespoon canned diced green chiles.