Food Friday: Recipe for “Haystacks”

Hello! It’s Food Friday and today I’m sharing our family’s favorite meal!  It has become a “Signature Meal” for us–you know, one that everyone associates with you!  We have served this meal for company, for large gatherings, for our daughter’s graduation Open House with 250 guests, and for just our family of 4.  It is very versatile, everyone enjoys it, it’s super simple to make, and it’s delicious! What more could you ask for?!

Serving Haystacks is an adventure in eating!
Encourage your family and guests to be adventuresome
in the toppings they take,
and have fun with it!

Serves: 8-10 (Easy to double, triple or quadruple)
2 lbs ground beef, browned
1 small onion, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 (15 oz) cans chili beans with chili gravy or red beans (we use dark red kidney beans)
3 (10 oz) cans mild enchilada sauce, or jars (15.5 oz) of salsa (we use Tostitos original salsa, and use half mild and half medium)
1/2 tsp chili powder (you can use more depending on how hot you like it)
1 tsp garlic salt
pepper to taste

Here’s the Fun Part! Toppings (or Condiments):

Serve In a Large Bowl or Basket:
Corn Chips or tortilla chips (We use stoneground tortilla chips)

Serve in a Crock Pot to keep warm (if possible):
Brown Rice

Serve In Large Bowls:
Shredded lettuce or greens
Shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes

Serve In a 6-space divided Tupperware server: or other small bowls:
Apples (Chopped)
Celery (Chopped)
Sliced Water Chestnuts or Jicama
Pineapple Tidbits, drained
Black Olives (Chopped)

Serve In medium bowls:
Peanuts (dry roasted are nice)
Chopped onions
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt
Extra Salsa (including hot if you like)
Ok, Now here’s how you do it! Make your chili first:
Combine all chili ingredients in a 6-quart slowcooker: browned beef with onion, more onions if you want, tomato sauce, kidney beans, salsa, chili powder, garlic salt and pepper.
Cover and cook for 2-3 hours on low or 1 hour on high.

Preparation and Serving:
Now chop up your toppings.  You can do some of them ahead and keep in the fridge until serving time. This simplifies last-minute prep.  If you want to try other toppings, go for it!  Many of these toppings were experiments, and now we love them.

For serving, we set the table, and then put all the food on the counter and let people come up with their plates and serve themselves–they ALWAYS come back for more (and we encourage them)!
We set it up like this:
First there’s a Large bowl or basket of chips, then a Crockpot (plugged-in if possible) keeping the rice warm, (you can also serve baked potatoes, but we don’t usually). Then next on the counter we have the Crock Pot of Chili (kept plugged-in if possible). Next comes Larger bowls of cheese and lettuce (most people like these). Then I use my Tupperware Large Divided serving thing with 6 spaces in it and other small and medium bowls for the remaining toppings, with a few medium bowls for the onions and sour cream. It’s up to you whether you put the salsa in bowls or leave it in bottles–we’ve done both.
We give instructions:
We instruct our guests that they can choose one or all of the first ingredients (rice, chips potatoes), and break the chips up on their plate, then add chili, and then toppings.  And we encourage people to have fun, and try some that they wouldn’t expect to taste good together!  People are so surprised by how good it tastes to mix it all up!  Some of the toppings are like Taco Toppings (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream) and some of them give you a kind of sweet and sour taste (pineapples, apples, salsa, plain yogurt), but they taste phenomenal all together!  My favorites are the crunchy (peanuts, jicama, celery) with pineapple, coconut (my husband’s favorite) and salsa and sour cream! but Experiment!  This is what makes it fun!  People are amazed at the combinations and then amazed that they love them!!
People have so much fun when they have tried something and found out it’s really good and they’re so surprised! Then they want to go back and be more adventuresome!
The reason they call them Haystacks is because of the shape on your plate after you’ve piled on the toppings:  it looks like a Haystack!

I hope you’ll love this recipe as much as we do! Enjoy!

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