Fall Check in and Christmas Bucket List

So…..I just realized I never did a final check in with my fall bucket list.  I know it’s December, but technically, it’s still Fall until the 21st of December right?!

So, how did I do?

While I didn’t get everything crossed off my list, I was still able to get quite a bit done.  We’re pretty busy these days with activities/appointments four days a week, so sometimes I feel like I’m just go, go, going without being able to take a breath.

Because of my super late check in with the Fall bucket list, I’m going to skip the pictures.  I’m pretty sure that I already shared most of it on the blog earlier anyways.  Instead, I’m going to share our Christmas bucket list!

A sweet and simple Christmas Bucket List.

It’s not the longest list (because like I said earlier, life is busy), but I am hoping it is doable. 🙂

November Recap and December Goals

So it may five days into December, but better late than never right?

Blog:
-Post at least 3 times a week: check and mate.  Some weeks I even hit 4 or 5!  Not sure if I can keep that up, but I’m pretty impressed I kept myself in gear.
-Post a few gift guides: got this done too!!

giftguidesCheck out the Uncommon Goods, photoraphy and baking gift guides.

-Grow Instagram to 1K: I totally got this done too!  I really don’t remember where I was 5 days ago, but I think it was somewhere around 1100.  It’s been up and down now (thanks to the follow/unfollow game), but I am currently at 1,099.
-Utilize Pinterest: I’m going to cross this off, although I may not have actually done a great job…  Maybe next month I should figure out how exactly to use pinterst best, and focus my goal….
-Fix social media buttons: The only one I didn’t get too.  I was totally going to one day, but then I finished what I was doing, and it was midnight…. so I opted for bed.

Etsy:
-Make ready to sell fleece ponchos: I made one, and it is in the shop.
img_6963Next up is  a zebra one!
-Organize spreadsheet: nope, nope, and nope again.  I even took everything with me when we went Up North, but it still didn’t happen.
-Although I didn’t have this on my list, I also made three Christmas dresses, so if you’re looking for something fun, check them out!

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Personal:
-Attend church more: I actually am doing better at this!  Now that Autumn’s nap has shifted later, and the Mass schedule as been switched up, it’s a lot easier. 🙂  I’m actually really excited because we are learning a new song, Lord I Lift Your Name on High.  But I totally already knew it from my days in Campus Crusade for Christ back in the day.  I totally wanted to bust out all the motions too…..
-Go on a date night: sigh… nope.  We were going to try to go while we were Up North, but it just didn’t happen.
-Not eat all. the. candy:  well….. I don’t know if ate all of the candy, but I ate a lot of it…..
-Send another recipe to Taste of Home:  just nope.
-Get at least 3/4ths of Autumn’s stocking done : maybe???  I’m going to cross this off because I did get a lot done (and so much left to do).

So what do I have in store for the rest of December?  To be honest, not a lot. I’m going to try to keep it simple, and enjoy the holiday season with my family. I’m hoping to get a Christmas bucket list down (I have it going in my mind, just not in a graphic yet).

Blog:
– Post three times a week
– participate in new link ups
– fix social media buttons
– figure out about repinning for Pinterest

Etsy:
-ORGANIZE MY SPREAD SHEET
– Make a Valentine’s Day dress (?)

Personal:
-Start Bikini Body Mom 6.0
-Stress less and enjoy the season

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

** I received this product free from BzzAgent.  All thoughts and recipes are my own.**

Looking for a new yummy recipe to add to your Christmas baking. You can make four types of cookies with this yummy dough!

**So, if you’ve been reading my blog a while, then this post may look familiar.   That’s  because I first posted it last year.  But that was before I switched over to WordPress (and therefore before I could add recipes with ease).  There really wasn’t an easy way of “fixing” it, so I decided to just re-do it.**

It’s no secret I love the holidays.  The decorations, the cookies, the yummy drinks.  One of my favorite drinks to treat myself to is a peppermint mocha from Starbucks.  So imagine my joy when BzzAgent sent me a coupon for a free holiday creamer by International Delight. It is so yummy.  I’ve been making some decaf coffee so I can enjoy it in the evenings.

But, you know what?  This creamer can be used for more than just to make yummy coffee.  It helps make some delicious cookies!  I played around and came up with a scrumptious dough that can be used four ways.  Yep, you read that right. Four ways!
First things first, you  need the basic dough recipe.
Peppermint Mocha Cookies
Print Recipe
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Peppermint Mocha Cookies
Print Recipe
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Ingredients
Peppermint Mocha Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together sugars and butter.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour and baking soda.
  4. Alternate adding peppermint mocha creamer and flour mixture to butter mixture.
  5. To use dough for rolled cookies chill for a few hours then roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. You can also use the dough now by dropping by spoonful onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Peppermint Mocha Frosting
  1. Cream butter
  2. Slowly add powder sugar and beat until creamy.
  3. Add cocoa powder and blend.
  4. Add up to 2 tablespoons of creamer.
Share this Recipe
 
From that dough, you can make four (yep, four) different types of cookies.
So what are the four types of cookies you can make?
fourcookies
If you chose to drop the dough (instead of rolling) you can frost them with the peppermint mocha recipe I included.
You could also roll them in sugar prior to baking, which gives you the rolled sugar cookies.  If you want to take it to the next level, when those cookies come out of the oven top with a Hershey kiss (or peppermint Hershey kiss).
Finally, you can roll the balls in powder sugar prior to baking, which would give you the crinkle look.
Really, you can’t go wrong. 🙂
Do you have a favorite cookie?
Partying With:

 

”My

 

Idea Box [91]

Welcome to week 91 of Idea box!  I really can’t belive we have been doin this for 91 weeks!  That being said, I wanted to give you a heads up that week 100 will be our last Idea Box.  Cyndee,  Mila, Carole and I decided it was time.  Thank you so much for linking up with us every week!

About Idea Box Link Party:
Idea Box is a new weekly link party for bloggers to share all of their creative posts—recipes, home decor, DIY projects, gardening tips, good advice… Whatever your creative heart desires. The link party is open from Thursday at 6am until Monday at 6am.

 

Make sure you check out the hostess’ blogs to see what they’ve been up to!

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Danielle @ ASprinkleofJoy**new blog links!**

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Google+  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

I Should be Mopping the Floor: Living Room Christmas Decor

living-room-christmas-decor-i-should-be-mopping-the-floor

Taylor Made Homestead: MYO Sweetened Condenesed Milk

Heart Handmade UK: 10 Fabulous Christmas Crochet Patterns

santa-costume-mug-cosy-10-fabulous-and-free-christmas-crochet-patterns

Make sure you follow your hosts! You may be one of their features.

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Danielle @ ASprinkleofJoy**new blog links!**

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Google+  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Congratulations to our featured guests! Go ahead and grab yourself a fancy featurebutton:

Features are also pinned to our Idea Box board on Pinterest:

Now, onto this week’s party!

Simple Party Rules:
1. Please follow your hosts.
2. Only link up personal content– there are no rules about the content, as long as it’s family friendly!
3. Please visit at least three other links and leave comments/make new friends. It isn’t a party if you link and run!!
4. Please link back to one of our blogs or grab our button below.
5. You can add up to three *new* links each week—please don’t link up posts you’ve shared with us before.

Remember that by linking up, you are giving the hosts permission to use your images/content on our blogs and/or social media. Proper credit and links will always be given. The link up starts every Thursday at 6am EST, and closes the following Tuesday.


Party button:
Idea Box Link Party





Add your links:


Idea Box is a weekly Link Party that opens Thursdays at 6am ET and ends Mondays at 6am ET. Idea Box is hosted by:

Gift Guide [Photography]

**This post contains affiliate links.  I will make a small commission for purchase made through the link.  Your purchases will not cost any more money, but helps support this blog.  Thank you!**

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I am a “hobby photographer”.  Although by no means a professional photographer I feel I have greatly improved my skills though practice.  I created a series of posts to help you improve you skills, that you can check out here.

I thought it may be helpful to come up with a list of what I, as a non professional photographer, find most useful.  This list is great for parents looking to take better pictures of their kids, or people looking to get into photography.  Many of these items are ones I use everyday, so they won’t sit in a room collecting dust.

Looking for an idea for the photography lover in your life? Looking to get into photography? Check out my 10 must haves! **Contains affiliate links**

*Some of the items on this list are specific to the type of camera you have, so I’ll make sure to note that.*

So, what do I find most useful for my everyday photo taking?

1. DSLR Camera

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So, obviously, the first thing you need is a camera.  I suggest the Canon EOS Rebel T5.  I have an older version of the rebel (the T3i), and love it.  It is a great camera for those who are looking to move away from a point an shoot and start getting into photography.  To really get the most out of the Rebel (or any DSLR camera) you really, really, really need to get out of auto mode.  I know it seems scary, but if you just practice, practice, practice (and maybe check out my photo series) you really can take great photos!

2. 50mm Fixed Lens

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If you are going to by any lens, I think the 50mm fixed lens is the one to go with.  There is no zoom with this lens, so you have have to physically move to get closer or farther away from your subject.  Do you know the pictures you see with the blurry background?  More than likely it is done with a fixed lens.  This is the lens that is almost always on my camera.  It is the one I always use when taking pictures of my girls.

**Note: this lens is specific to Canon cameras.  Please be sure to check compatibility with your camera**

3. UV Lens Filter 

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So, in the past, with film cameras UV filters were used to stop UV light from hitting the film.  Now, many DSLR cameras have sensors to do this.  So why put them on your camera?  To protect your lenses!  DSLR camera lenses are very expensive.  The UV Lens Filter  screws onto your lens.  That way if something happens, you scratch a $6 filter, and not a $200 dollar lens.  Be sure to check the size of your lenses before purchasing the filter.  I have a filter for each of my lenses, some require a 52mm filter, others a 58mm filter.

4. Lens Pen

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Even with a filter on your camera, lenses can get dirty.  That is where the lens pen comes in.  To take great pictures, you need to make sure your lenses stay clean.  The Lens Pen helps to keep all important parts of the camera clean and dust free.  In fact, I think it’s time to clean my lenses…

5.  Camera Bag

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Now that you have a nice camera, you will probably want to take it places to use it.  Think, family gatherings, the park, really anywhere.  You aren’t going to want to bring the camera with out any protection, so it is wise to invest in a camera bag.  I’m partial to the messenger type bags like this one or this one.  I like that they don’t scream “I have an awesome camera” and are portable.  They allow for you to bring things like a phone, or another lens or two, so there is no need for a purse.  There is also a bit of extra padding to make sure your camera stays safe.

6.  Tripod 

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Tripods are so, so helpful!  I used my tripod all the time when taking my weekly belly pictures with both girls.  I also use it when I want to get in the picture.  They can also be useful when you need to slow down the shutter speed and holding it in your hand isn’t going to work.

7. Wireless Shutter Release 

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You know how I said I use the tripod so I could get in the pictures?  Well in order to actually take the picture you would either have to set the timer, or have someone else push the shutter button.  That’s where the wireless shutter release comes in handy.  With this you nifty little device you don’t have to worry about running into the picture.  Simply get everything set up, then get into place, and push the button.

*Be sure to get a wireless release that is compatible with your camera.*

8. Extra SD Card

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If you are anything like me you are going to take tons of pictures.  Really I could take 100-200 pictures in one sitting. I just snap a bunch of pictures at a time without looking at them on the display.  Then, later I will go back and delete ones that are bad.  Because I do this, an extra SD Card is very helpful.  That way if I am snapping pictures and run out of room, I don’t have to go back and delete ones I don’t need.  I just put the new card in and am on my way.

9. Macro Lens Set

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I like to share recipes on my blog.  When I do I usually like to get some close up shots of the food.  These shots can be hard to get with a normal lens.  I was looking into getting a dedicated macro lens, but those are expensive.  That’s when I ran into this  macro lens set.  These screw onto your camera lens (like the UV filters, and don’t worry you can screw them onto the UV filters too) and allow you to get “close up shots”.  For a lot less money, you can get four different “strengths”. Like the UV filters, you need to make sure you get the right size for your lens.  I have 52mm set and a 58mm set.

10. Spare Battery 

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There is nothing worse, nothing, than going to take picture only to realize your battery is dead.  That is why I suggest getting a spare battery.  When you go to take some family pictures, and your battery is dead, just put the spare in (just remember to charge it).

**This battery is for a Canon camera.  Please be sure to find a battery compatible with your camera.**

Thanksgiving Recap

As is tradition we headed Up North for Thanksgiving.  We were going to leave on Wednesday morning, but the weather was supposed to be kinda bad at home and Up North, so we decided to leave Tuesday when Matt got home.

That meant, I wasn’t able to clean the house before we left, like I wanted to, and we forgot a few things, but luckily it all worked out in the end.  And it’s a good thing we did leave earlier, since Wednesday ended up being pretty snowy.

Wednesday

Annabelle had a blast playing in the snow!

annabone

annabelleme

mattandannab

Autumn, on the other hand, not a big fan.

autumnsnow

Thursday

On Thursday I dressed the girls in their Thanksgiving finest and tried to get a good picture.

girlsthanks

They were just not having it.

This was the best one.

nicegirls

I was able to get a few pictures of the girls and I together, which was nice, since mom is often the one behind the camera.

megirls

The rest of Thanksgiving was spent cheering the Lions on to a victory (I still can’t believe they are first in the NFC North), and eating all the food.

Friday

Friday was all about baking.  My MIL kept an eye on the girls so I could get started on all my holiday baking. Ever since I started coming Up North for Thanksgiving (back when Matt and I started dating) I baked a sh*t ton of cookies.  It was my in-laws tradition, and I joined in the fun.

cookie

The above is just a few of the cookies I made.  I had two or three other types already in tins.  And, I still have 3-4 types of cookies to make. 🙂

Saturday

After a day of baking, I pretty much relaxed.  Matt and I tried to teach Annabelle Go Fish, but she wasn’t really into it, so we played it ourselves. 🙂

Throughout the week, I also worked on Autumn’s stocking.  I got far, but have so. much. more. to. go.

In the evening we headed to church, then out to eat after.

Sunday

On Sunday we said goodbye to the North, and headed home.  It was a great time as always!

I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving, and getting back to reality isn’t too hard! 😉

The Gift of Water Safety

**I have working partnership with Goldfish Swim School.  While they provide me with complimentary lessons, all thoughts and comments are my own.** 

If your house is anything like mine, it is littered in toys.

So. Many. Toys.

I am running out of room.  We try to keep the toys in one room, but they always seem to find their way to all the room in the house.  I swear the toys multiply in the middle of the night.  Toys are also kept in the basement so I can rotate them, but they still are everywhere!

So, what’s a mom to do when the holidays roll around, and everyone want to know what they can get the kids?

Why not give the gift of water safety? 

give-the-gift-of

Yes, water safety!  As you know my girls recently starting taking lessons at Goldfish Swim School  We’ve only had a few lessons (you can read about our first experience here) thus far, but they love it!  Did you know that Goldfish Swim School teaches water safety skills in every class form 4 months old to 12 years old??  Both Annabelle and Autumn are learning how to stay safe while taking their swim lessons.  This is one of the things that I love about Goldfish.  By giving the gift of swim lessons, you are also giving the gift of water safety.

giftsafety

And that, my friends, is a gift that will stay with your children as they grow, and help to give you peace of mind.  So, if you’re looking for an educational, non-toy gift idea this season, consider the Goldfish Swim School Holiday Package.

gss-bhb-holiday-basket

 

The Goldfish Holiday Swim Package Includes

* 2 Months of Goldfish Swim School Group Swim Lessons
* Registration Fee
* 4 Family Swim Passes
* Goldfish Swim School Lunch Bag & hot and cold pack
* 3-Piece Lunch Container

These packages start at $189 to purchase at Goldfish Swim School (that’s a $365 value!)

Goldfish Swim School has locations all around the country, but I’m offering something special to my local readers! Goldfish Swim School has graciously offered my readers a free holiday package! That’s right, you can win the above package! The package will be mailed to you. Lessons are redeemable at the Farmington Hills, Canton, Macomb, Rochester, Ann Arbor, Clarkston or Birmingham location.  Enter through Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Idea Box [#90]

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!   I hope your day is filled with turkey, football, family and fun!

About Idea Box Link Party:
Idea Box is a new weekly link party for bloggers to share all of their creative posts—recipes, home decor, DIY projects, gardening tips, good advice… Whatever your creative heart desires. The link party is open from Thursday at 6am until Monday at 6am.

 

Make sure you check out the hostess’ blogs to see what they’ve been up to!

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Danielle @ ASprinkleofJoy**new blog links!**

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Google+  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Now for the party features!

Stagetecture: Thanksgiving Desert

Layered pumpkin and cranberry dessert with cream
Layered pumpkin and cranberry dessert with cream

More than a Mom of Three: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles 

chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-truffles

The Crafty Blog Stalker: How to Make a Minky Rag Quilt 

minky-rag-quilt-tutorial

Cravings of a Lunatic: S’mores Christmas Crack Bars

smores-christmas-crack-8-with-text-683x1024

Make sure you follow your hosts! You may be one of their features.

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Danielle @ ASprinkleofJoy**new blog links!**

Google+  ||  Bloglovin’  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Google+  ||  Twitter  ||  Pinterest  ||  Instagram

Congratulations to our featured guests! Go ahead and grab yourself a fancy featurebutton:

Features are also pinned to our Idea Box board on Pinterest:

Now, onto this week’s party!

Simple Party Rules:
1. Please follow your hosts.
2. Only link up personal content– there are no rules about the content, as long as it’s family friendly!
3. Please visit at least three other links and leave comments/make new friends. It isn’t a party if you link and run!!
4. Please link back to one of our blogs or grab our button below.
5. You can add up to three *new* links each week—please don’t link up posts you’ve shared with us before.

Remember that by linking up, you are giving the hosts permission to use your images/content on our blogs and/or social media. Proper credit and links will always be given. The link up starts every Thursday at 6am EST, and closes the following Tuesday.


Party button:
Idea Box Link Party





Add your links:


Idea Box is a weekly Link Party that opens Thursdays at 6am ET and ends Mondays at 6am ET. Idea Box is hosted by:

Gift Guides [Baking]

**This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing a product through the link provided will not cost you any more money.  I will make a small commission if you choose to purchase.  Thank you for your support!

If you’ve read this blog enough then you know that I love to bake.  There is just something therapeutic about it. These are the ten tools (after cake pan, cookie sheets, and  measuring cups) I think every baker should have.

 

Looking for some fun tools to get the baker in your life? Check out this guide! *the guide contains affiliate links*

In no particular order:

1. Rolling Pin Rings

rolling-pin-rings

These rolling pin rings are the bomb diggity.  Don’t you always hate trying to guess how thick to roll your dough out?  Slip these bad boys on any rolling pin, and bam, you know when to stop rolling.  Really, these were a game changer for me.

2. Silcone Baking Mat

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I can’t believe I waited so long to invest in a silicone baking mat .  Gone are the days of using parchment paper.  These bad boys are great!  Cookie come right off the mat, and they are reusable.  Don’t worry, cleaning them is a breeze!

3. Three Tier Cooling Rack

three-tier
If you are going to be doing a lot of baking a 3-tier cooling rack is great.  I don’t have tons of space in my kitchen, so I love that these cooling racks don’t take up all of my counter space.

4. Rolling Pin

rollingpin
So, I know what you are thinking.  “Duh Danielle, of course we need a rolling pin.”  Let me tell you a little story.  Back when Matt and I were first married, I was making some Christmas cookies.  This particular recipe called for chilling the dough, then rolling it out.  Well, at home, my mom had always used a glass to roll out dough.  So that what I did.  And you know what happened?  The glass shattered, slicing my hand.  I called my parents, at about 8pm at night, saying “OK, now, don’t panic, but do you know where the nearest ER/urgent care is?”  One ER trip and a few hours later I was home with stitches.  You better bet I got like three rolling pins that year.  My favorite a wooden one.

5. Stand Mixer

kitchenaide_

Full disclosure,  I used to think the only way to make cookies was with a wooden spoon.  Then I tried using my Kitchen Aide stand mixer, and my life was changed.  I also use it when making all of my pizza dough.

6. Cookie Scoop

cookiescoop_

This is another gadget I never used until recently.  It makes scooping dough so much easier, plus all the cookies are uniform in size.  The cookie scoop is also helpful when making cake pops.  I would suggest getting  a few different sizes as well.

7. Food Processor

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The food processor is really, really helpful in the kitchen!  Besides making killer guacamole, it’s awesome for chopping nuts or crushing graham crackers.

8. Muffin Tin

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This 6 cup muffin pan really comes in handy.  Whenever I make a recipe I almost always end up with some extra batter.  This pan works great for those times.  I fill up as many spaces as I can with batter, then fill the rest with a little bit of water.

9. Kitchen Scale

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I never thought I would use a kitchen scale as much as  I do.  I like this scale, since you can put a dish on it, then set the weight to zero, so that you only measure what you want.

10.  Icing Bottles

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Now that I’ve gotten into decorating sugar cookies, icing bottles are must.  They make flooding the cookie so much easier!!

So there you have it!  These are some of the tools I find super helpful in the kitchen. 🙂

Crock Pot Chili

**This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to purchase an item via the link I have provided I will make a small commission.**

Now that the cold weather it here for good, the crock pot is making a regular appearance.

Do you have a crock pot?? If not, you really, really, need to get one. There is nothing better than throwing your ingredients in, and just walking away. Then, coming back to a fully cooked meal!

slowcookerchili

This chili is so easy to make, and it tastes great. The only prep work is cutting everything up, and browning the meat before putting it in the crock pot.

Matt loves chili, so I’m always trying to find a new recipe to try.  He told me this is some of the best chili he’s had.  When I told him I made up the recipe, he was like “you better write down what you did right now”.

chili

I totally didn’t take pictures, but the whole thing is pretty easy!

I will say this,  be careful with the jalapenos! Depending on how hot you like your chili you can either leave or take out the seeds.  I usually go with 1/2, which makes it hot enough for my husband, but still mild enough for me.  If my husband had it his way, he would want all the seeds, but ain’t no way I could handle that.

Looking for a #chili #recipe to warm you up in the cold? Check this out! Click To Tweet

So what are you waiting for?  Try this awesome chili out!

Crock Pot Chili
Print Recipe
Crock Pot Chili
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef in a skillet. After it is cooked through place in crock pot.
  2. Drain one can of kidney beans and one can of diced tomatoes and place in crock pot.
  3. For hotter chili leave the seeds in the jalapenos. For milder chili discard the jalapeno seeds. Be careful when dicing jalapenos! If you get the oil on your hands and then rub your eyes, it hurts.
  4. Put the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot and stir to combine.
  5. Cook on high for 3.5 hours.
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