Monday, March 17, 2014

Happiness & A Pot of Chili

I can hardly believe the first day of spring (or the vernal equinox, if you want to get technical about it) is only three days away. It certainly isn't spring weather here but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we won't have too much longer to wait!

The only good things about the cold is a) the snow is pretty and b) it's a perfect excuse to whip up a big pot of chili. For the record, my chili recipe was very hard to share. Mainly because I never really follow it. It's my base recipe, if you will, and turns out a little different each time I make it.

That being said, it's very versatile. The only thing I measure exactly is the canned tomatoes and beans. Everything else is based off feel, taste and what I have on hand. Feel free to substitute whatever you have or whatever you feel like. Just a warning, though, this makes a really big pot of chili. But it freezes well and makes for very yummy leftovers.

Chili recipe

2 lbs. ground beef
1 can (29 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cans (15 ounces) light red kidney beans
1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans
Plus desired toppings

Chop bell pepper and onion. Combine with ground beef in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until ground beef is browned and vegetables are softened.

I had red bell pepper so I added that, too.

Drain ground beef mixture. While you've got it in the colander, go ahead and drain and rinse the canned beans, too. Return ground beef and beans to stock pot.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings to taste. Simmer, for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. This recipe could simmer away all day as long as you keep an eye on it. It's also suitable for the slow cooker -- just cook the ground beef, veggies, and mix in the slow cooker with tomatoes and seasonings. Cook on low.

If you want a milder chili, use less cumin and omit the cayenne pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add more tomato sauce. Too thin, add a cornstarch slurry to thicken it.

You can definitely halve the recipe if you don't want such a large pot. If you're interested in freezing, you can freeze any remaining leftovers in a gallon-sized ziploc bag or a freezer-safe plastic/glass container. Or you could divvy it up into single servings for a quick meal. 

The chili and a quiet evening with family really hit the spot tonight. When I'm feeling gloom and doom about the weather, all I need is to take a step back and reflect on the simple pleasures in our day. We have much to be thankful for and are surrounded by beauty... even if it is cold. ;-)


  1. Hello Angie! thank you for the comment on my blog. I plan to start posting on the 5x5 garden whenever we can get started on it-your area looks like ours-still way to cold for gardening. Most of the snow is melted, but still lots of very cold temps here.
    Your chili recipe sounds great-chili is a regular item at our house, and my recipe makes a huge pot also. We serve ours over spaghetti noodles, and top with onions and grated cheese, the Skyline Chili way.
    Have a blessed day!
    PS your photos look great-am still working on my photography skills!

  2. My chili kind of evolves like that, too! For years, I used William's Chili Powder, which is a blend of ground red chili pepper, oregano, garlic and cumin, I think. When I finally used it all up I decided to make my own. Ordered the ground poblano pepper from Penzey's but I had all the other ingredients from the garden, and with any luck, I'll be growing poblanos this year in the garden.

    My mother always used canned "pork and beans" and a "brick" of meat and fat and seasoning that she'd buy at the grocery store. She'd add home-canned tomatoes and that was it.

    So I grew up with chili that wasn't really chili, and though I never bought that disgusting "brick", I used those pork and beans in my chili during the years that I was raising kids. Now it just seems like they make the chili too sweet for my tastes. So I will usually cook dry beans, either pinto or some small red beans, in the pressure cooker and use them instead. I don't like those big fat red chili beans, it's too much bean in the mouth at one time. I'm like you, seems like I make it a little different each time, depending on what I have. :Looks really good, and I have some ground beef thawed out, I might make chili today too. I usually make a big batch, Hubs likes to use leftover chili to make "Coneys".

    Do you find it interesting to see what people serve with their chili? I've never tried it with rice. Some people like it on spaghetti. Some people spoon it over a baked potato. Sometimes I make cornbread to go with, like you have, or corn muffins. My kids used to love to spoon it on top of corn chips, or eaten like a dip, adding chopped nacho peppers for extra heat and using tortilla chips as the scoopers. Mom always served hers with saltine crackers and we'd always add a spoonful of cider vinegar to stir into our chili. I bet there are lots of variations, depending on people's ethnic backgrounds.

    Snow and ice sure looks better when I can sit inside where it's warm and look out the window at it. LOL!

    1. It IS interesting how people serve their chili. Growing up, we always ate chili with club crackers. When we were visiting my mother-in-law, she served chili over rice and it's stuck ever since. The kids are more apt to eat it that way and I really like it better, myself. Sometimes I make cornbread waffles and serve it over that, too.

  3. Oh, that looks SO good....especially with your weather. Nothing better than chili on a cold day!

  4. Your spring looks about like ours here. Your chili looks delicious. I've never had it served over rice but think I would like that.
    Thanks for following me.