Chili for a crowd – 21 quarts for under 10 bucks

21 quarts of chili for huge party
2 bags (32 oz. each) pinto beans -                                                         $3.50 (Aldi)
3 pounds ground meat (beef, pork, turkey…whatever you feel like) -    $3-6 (Catch it on sale)
Several cans tomato products (sauce, paste, diced, stewed, fresh) -    $3?
Spices, weee! – Do you really need a price check on this?
Total — $10-$15
This is another reason I don’t do these sorts of posts. I have no idea what was put in that particular pot of chili. Those were complete guesses and vary a lot based on how it’s made each time.
What I do know, though, is that whether you prefer mostly meat and no beans….soupy or thick….tomatoes or no tomatoes…chunked meat instead of ground…. spicy or mild…
No matter what, 21 quarts of chili is a lot of chili. O.o
Based on a cup serving, that’s 84 servings…
Which means a large roaster pan of chili like this (or soup, meal, whatever) will not only feed you tonight and tomorrow….but once frozen, you’ll have meals for months for those lazy nights where you don’t feel like cooking. Add it into your OAMC rotation and you’ll be set for a while.
And for potlucks, fundraisers, etc, it’s a great way to push out a lot of food for a small amount of money. Turn it into chili dogs for something more substantial or serve with corn chips, crackers, or bread. It can easily be turned into a chili casserole, too, to stretch it even farther and get more bang for your buck.
4 gallons of pinto beans cooked in a crockpot roasterAdding meat to huge slow cooker of tomatoes and beans 

How to cook chili con carne recipe for mass partyChili with cheese for chili dogs at barbecue party

Polish White Borscht Recipe – Potatoes, pork, gravy?

Polish white borscht - sour rye soup

This is not your typical bright red/pink Ukrainian borscht, but rather a “white” Polish alternative better known as zurek or sour rye bread.

Well. Sort of, anyway.

I don’t have an exact recipe for you either, because as I often do, I found several recipes that looked kind of good or matched most of the ingredients I had, and I combined them all into a single dish that worked for me.

The result? In my case it ended up being thicker than I expected but was full of flavor and insanely hearty. I was stuffed before I reached the bottom of my bowl. No complaints here, that’s for sure, but it did kind of remind me of a thick potato soup or bacon’/sausage and gravy.

For a  cheap Polish dish, I sort of expected it to be more “one pot” style, but the recipes I used had all sorts of steps and I piled my various “completed” sections into bowls while other steps were being processed:
Sausage stock, boiled eggs, bacon, onions, polish kielbasa sausage links sliced

This is what happens when I forget to turn off the flash first, too.

Sausage stock, boiled eggs still in the shell, bacon, onions, polish kielbasa sausage links sliced - flash turned on, so the broth is greasy

Mmmm, greasy stock. :P

Stock, which I might add, that I made fresh from cooking the sausage first, using the water/fat off that, and cooking in down with the normal carrots/celery/onions/spices that you would expect from a stock.

And because I’m not one to let any food go to waste, I used the bacon grease to fry up some croutons instead of serving in a bread bowl, too.

Pepper being added to a bowl full of potatoes, sausage, bacon, boiled eggs and croutons Fry croutons in a skillet with bacon grease

That was probably one of the best parts. I really enjoyed having the egg on top, too, oddly enough. It added a different texture to the gravy soup/potato/pork base.

And it was surprisingly good the next day, cold right out of the fridge, because the potatoes still held their shape nicely. A lot of the recipes called for them to be pureed completely, but I’m glad I left it sort of chunky instead.

White borscht - Ukrainian Polish recipe for rye sour soup zurek with eggs, potatoes, green onions, bacon, sausage 

Here’s more or less the recipe I ended up with, give or take:

The broth:

  • 1 bay leave
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Various herbs you like in your stock…salt, pepper would be sufficient even
  • 1 medium carrot, cut how ever you feel like
  • 1 stalk of celery , cut how ever you feel like
  • 1 link of kielbasa/Polish sausage
  • 1/2 package of bacon
  • 1/2 diced onion

    Sautee onion, garlic, and bacon in a skillet, while bringing water with sliced sausage to a boil in another pan. Cook the first until they’re all nice and brown, while the other cooks for about 20-30 minutes tops. You can also cook the eggs directly in this pot, too, so you don’t have to boil them separate. Just remember to remove them on time.

    Scoop out the sausage into a bowl. Scoop out bacon/onions into a bowl. Toss all the veggies and spices into your sausage water (add more water if necessary) and let cook for an hour or two…or until you remember it’s still on the burner.

    I tossed some of my onions and bacon in there, too, to help along the flavor. When it’s done, strain out all the chunks so you have a nice brothy goodness leftover to use for your soup.

  • The soup:

    • The makings from all of the above, including 4-6 soft-boiled eggs
    • 2-3 potatoes
    • Any number of things like rye bread, sour cream, horseradish, etc

    Dice and cook the potatoes. I did it separate for fear of them falling apart in the broth complete, but you could do it directly in the soup pot, too. I pulled out about a single potato’s worth and pureed/mashed it, to make the soup nice and thick. You could puree all of it, if you want. If you’re leaving it chunky, don’t stir it too much at this point or they’ll all start to denigrate. Add some flour if things are too thin for your liking.

    Add in the rest of your bacon, sausage, etc. Heat a few minutes until everything is nice and toasty.

    I saved some of my bacon to add to the top of mine because, well, I like having extra bacon where I can see it. :P Slice an egg or two per serving and add to the top as well.

    Green onions weren’t called for in any of the recipes I saw, but it sounded good, so those went on, too. What can I say? It’s not authentic, but it was DELICIOUS. And as for the croutons, rye bread is obviously preferred for authenticity and a bread bowl would work awesome, but for mine specifically, I chopped up some day old bread, fried it directly in the bacon grease pan, and voila….yumminess.

    And as for the recipes I loosely (very loosely) referred to, here are some of them: (mostly for technique of cooking the various parts) (very, very simple recipe with only 5 ingredients) (sour dough recipe & stock spice suggestions)

    Asian Chicken Noodle Soup – For when you want something a little different than “homestyle”

    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken

    Last month I signed up for the Crazy Cooking Challenge and immediately kept an eye out for chicken noodle soup recipes. I knew I wanted something “different,” just for the sheer sake of this being your not-so-average cooking site, but really, there’s only so much you can twist and tweak a classic dish like chicken noodle soup. The requirements said it had to be soup…had to have noodles…and had to have chicken. No exceptions, so there would be no converting it into a hot pocket or casserole or anything “different.”

    Or so I thought anyway.

    That’s when I ran across Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures Asian version. It fits all the requirements, but isn’t exactly the standard soup you think of either. I probably wouldn’t have given it a try had it not seemed so perfect for this challenge either, so I’m glad it worked out this way. Turns out, it was delicious!

    I must say, I really had my doubts about it, mostly because the ingredients are so simple and it doesn’t sit on the stove, simmering for a long period of time, which is a key step for soups in my mind. But anyway, let’s get to the food, huh? 

    Knorr homestyle chicken stock concentrate gel packs

    Normally I would have homemade chicken stock in the freezer, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to use up the last of these little Knorr stock packs I received at BlogHer this year. They’re actually a lot better than I thought they would be and don’t carry the overly salted taste that most premade broths do.


    And would you look at that?? I thought it’d be liquidy or maybe a dry block like bouillon cubes, but instead, they’re gel packs of sorts. Almost like strange jello shots….of chicken stock. Weird, but easily dissolved and mixed.  

    canned coconut milkhow to open a can without a can opener - coconut milk

    I think I may’ve mentioned that my can opener broke? Well I haven’t replaced it yet. Shhh. :P

    For the slaw, I just finely sliced part of a cabbage and carrot that was already in the fridge and on their last legs. The cabbage in the final product wasn’t really even noticeable…it blended in entirely. It’s great for the bumping up the nutrition, but if you don’t have any on hand, it’s not going to make or break this recipe. The carrot added some nice color and texture, though.


    My “red sauce” of choice was chili garlic sauce that I’m savoring the bottom of the jar of. I love this stuff so much. I added some both directly to the soup and more to mine after serving to give it some extra kick.


    If you’ve never cooked with rice noodles before, they’re quite amazing. They’re really rough and crumbly out of the package…pieces will fly everywhere, even if you’re careful. Add them to water for a few minutes, though, and they become really soft and bouncy. Yes, bouncy, as in, if you drain off the water and toss them on the table, you’ll see them bounce. Go ahead, do it!

    But that’s not relevant to the recipe, so moving on….
    Put it all together and you get something like this:
    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken
    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chickenAsian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken

    Alright, so really, it doesn’t *look* like the most appetizing dish. It’s this sickly gray color that even with some photo editing, doesn’t really look much better.

    But it tastes good and that’s what really matters. Be happy I spared you the grosser series of prep pictures that were more like this picture. The shadows actually make it look better.
    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken

    Ew! But it smelled delicious and I was starving so at that point, I obviously carried on. Tossing on more color really helped, so I’m happy I had green onions.

    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken and coconut milk

    Overall impression? It was better than I expected. It was really easy and fast to make, which made it even better. A little lemon or lime juice could really go a long way in kicking it up a notch in the flavor department, too.

    Oh, and I had never used coconut milk before because well, I really dislike coconut, remember? When the can was opened and the smell hit me, I started having even more doubts, but it added a creaminess that straight broth couldn’t…and it didn’t actually *taste* like coconut, so once the smell died down, I was happy with the results, hehe. I added more liquid to my bowl than what’s showing in the pictures and oh my god, I was so stuffed by the end. I had no idea it would be so filling.

    For the original recipe, check out Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. She has a version that doesn’t use the coconut milk, too, which looks more like this:

    Asian chicken noodle soup with rice vermicelli noodles, carrots, cabbage, cole slaw, green onions, soy sauce, and chicken

    My version of the recipe ended up being for a smaller batch. Take note I didn’t just cut the original in half, and actually used almost the full amount of some of the ingredients anyway.

    Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

    1 sheet of rice vermicelli noodles
    3 cups chicken broth
    2/3 can coconut milk
    A large splash of soy sauce
    One inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
    1 cup cooked chicken
    1 cup finely sliced cabbage/carrot slaw mix
    1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, tweaked to taste
    Handful of diced green onions

      • Soak noodles in warm water until you’re ready for them. 3 minutes is usually plenty, but it won’t hurt to let them sit longer.
      • Heat chicken broth, coconut milk, soy sauce, and ginger to a boil. Let simmer for 5ish minutes. I let it cook a little longer to try to get more flavor out of the ginger…which still couldn’t really be tasted much in the final dish, so I would probably go even longer.
      • Add chicken and let cook until everything is heated through.
      • Drain noodles and cut into thirds using scissors or butcher knife. It’s a lot easier to eat this way. Add them to the soup, plus the cabbage mix. Let heat just for another minute or two, pull out the ginger pieces, and you’re ready to go.
      • Add green onions, hot sauce, and some salt or extra soy sauce to taste.
    Remember to check out others at the Crazy Cooking Challenge.