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Food For Your Valentine: Chili Con Carne

Categories: Cooking, Food, Meal Planning



Happy Valentine’s Day.

My children have eaten sweethearts, chocolate, and cupcakes for breakfast. Apparently Valentine’s Day is the national holiday for putting yourself into a sugar coma.

I am not going to write about making cupcakes today. Instead I am going to share our family’s beloved chili recipe. Because let’s face it, nothing says I love you like a meal that requires beano. Flatulence: the gift that keeps on giving.

One of the things that I love about chili is that it isn’t a fussy recipe. You can add more of something, less of another, omit ingredients, or substitute your own. You really can’t mess it up. I promise. This version is very mild.

You will need:

1 16oz can red kidney beans
1 16 oz can white beans
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
frozen corn niblets, optional

2-3 T chili powder
1tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Serve with any or none of the following:
taco shells
sour cream
shredded cheese

The recipe serves approx 6 adults. I double it and we have leftovers.


I love green peppers. And I thought since they are out of season here, along with everything except snow, and I paid $3.89 a pound for them, that they deserved their own photo. Please admire them.

I half expected to find gold nuggets inside.


I almost hated to chop them up.


Dump them into your skillet.


Now peel and chop your onion. If you have one of these handy choppers even your toddler can help.


And help he will.


Until the onions have been pulverized into a liquidy unrecognizable mass. But that is fine. (See above where I said you can NOT ruin this recipe.)


Dump the onions into your skillet also. Add a dash of oil, I prefer extra virgin olive oil because I am channeling my inner virgin, but feel free to use whatever kind of oil you have.


Have you ever seen such gorgeous ground beef? Yes, this is from the organically raised, hand-fed, coddled, loved, and swaddled with silk cow. At least until the day it was slaughtered. It still cost less than those green peppers.


After the onions and peppers grow a tiny bit soft, throw the ground beef into the skillet with them (and your garlic! I have no photo of the garlic because I was mysteriously out of garlic and forced to use garlic powder.) Saute it all up until the meat is no longer pink.


Open your cans of crushed tomatoes. If you like whole tomatoes in your chili you can also add a can of whole tomatoes, drained.


Open your cans of beans and rinse them thoroughly. Trust me on the rinsing. One time I decided to just dump them in and I think I alone was responsible for the damage to the ozone layer that day.


Mix all the ingredients together in your stock pot or crock pot.  Add all the spices. And let it simmer away on low.

Crockpot on low can cook from 5 to 10 hours.  The longer it cooks the softer the bean become.  On the stove top I usually only cook it 4-5 hours and stir it frequently. I really prefer doing the chili in the crockpot as I don’t have to worry about things burning on the bottom of the pan.

If you are going to add corn, put it into the pot before serving. I usually turn off the crockpot or stove 20 minutes before dinner so that the food can cool slightly and stir the corn in then.


I also remake the leftovers of this meal into a multitude of different things. I’ll make a batch of rice and then toss this into cooked rice with a can of diced tomatoes, add some additional spices, and viola a “Spanish” rice to serve as a side dish. Or use it as is for filling an omelete with a bunch of shredded cheese.

This is a bonus Valentine’s day punch recipe that my daughter said I should write about. When we had our Super Bowl feast the kids all got to pick a food and my 7 yr old son picked this punch.


In our huge salad turned punch bowl I dumped two containers of raspberry sherbert.


Then I poured a 2L bottle of ginger ale on top of it. But I’ll tell you a little secret… you can use your ice cream scooper and put a small scoop of sherbet into a punch glass and then pour some ginger ale into the glass. That way you don’t have to drink yourself sick, unless you want to. Feel free to add some vodka to your glass or any other adults over the age of 21 and not driving.

Unless you don’t want to, then you can just add it to mine.



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17 comments so far...

  • Wow, those green peppers are amazing!

    (just wanted to mention that…somebody said I had to)

    Procrastamom  |  February 14th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  • Um, where’s the bacon?

    Cary  |  February 15th, 2008 at 12:24 am

  • Dang. And here I was thinking that although my freezer is full of chili, I have nothing for a nice Valentine’s dinner. Thanks, Chris, for showing me just how wrong I was!

    Stacey  |  February 15th, 2008 at 12:40 am

  • Since it’s Valentine’s Day and all, I thought I’d let you in on a family secret. We always add one Hershey’s kiss to chili. I have no idea why, but who am I to stop a tradition? So next year on Valentine’s Day, before everyone eats all of the chocolate, toss a piece into your chili. :)
    And, oh yes…look at those lovely green peppers.

    Mary  |  February 15th, 2008 at 1:42 am

  • I’ve actually been looking for an easy, simple chili recipe. . . and you’ve never failed me: Your crack dip was appropriately named.

    Also, have you ever used the San Marzano brand of canned tomatoes? They’re perfection.

    Chris says: No, I haven’t seen that brand. I’ll have to look for them. I usually buy Scalfani but the local-est grocery store doesn’t carry them.

    Rebecca  |  February 15th, 2008 at 1:54 am

  • Cinnamon???? Really????

    Annette  |  February 15th, 2008 at 3:09 am

  • San Marzano is actually a variety of tomato, not a brand. A lot of brands carry them. It is a wonderful tomato, much more flavorful and naturally has fewer seeds than other types of tomatoes.

    Chris says: See I learn something every day. Next time I am at the grocery store I will have to read some cans.

    Sarah G.  |  February 15th, 2008 at 5:07 am

  • The recipe looks great and I agree about the crack recipe, my three boys love it.

    “where’s the bacon?” hahaha!

    Maddy  |  February 15th, 2008 at 7:04 am

  • I’m sure bacon would work fine with this chili!

    Heck, a couple Hershey’s kisses would work fine too, it would give that hint of mole sauce flavor.

    On chili night, does the temp in your house go up a couple degrees from the, um, “natural” heating?

    Brigitte  |  February 15th, 2008 at 11:53 am

  • “channeling my inner virgin”

    goodness…I really ought to stop reading you at work! Laughed out loud at that one!

    deanna  |  February 15th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  • I am also skeptical but willing to try the cinnamon.

    Question on the beans, I’ve always found the texture of the kidney beans to be sort of mealy and unappealing. Are there beans that have different textures? Are you familiar enough with different lentils to suggest something without that mealy taste?

    Chris says: What about Great Northern White Beans? I think those are less mealy.

    wookie  |  February 15th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

  • Ah yes, but I *still* want the recipe for those cupcakes. You can’t post a photo and not share the recipe-goodness - tease!! They do look scrumptious….

    jen  |  February 15th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

  • “…I am channeling my inner virgin”. Just about spewed an entire mouthful of latte through my left nostril!

    Steff  |  February 15th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  • The hershey kiss, as Brigitte mentioned would make it have a hint of a spanish mole taste to it. And would be tasty with the cinnamon.

    For the punch- I make that for parties often (bib hit at baby and bridal showers). For bridal showers, I’ll usually toss in a bottle of champagne with the gingerale. Also I add 1-2 bags of frozen strawberries, they act like little fruity iced cubes, and make things quite tasty.
    I also make the punch with lime or rainbow sherbert at our yearly haloween party, which makes it a funkier brownish color… and I serve it in a plastic cauldron and call it “Witches Brew”.

    Katrina  |  February 15th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  • Great timing for my Teacher Appreciation Lunch on Monday - you’ve saved them from a frozen Costco lasagna! One lame question because I am not a cook at all: Can I do it on High in the crockpot to get it done faster?

    Chris says: Yes you can do that. Everything is already cooked so the long cooking just melds the flavors together. I wouldn’t do it any less than 4 hours though.

    Finn  |  February 15th, 2008 at 8:58 pm

  • Your recipe looks a lot like mine — but yours has three times as much chili powder! Wow! One fun addition at our house (since you enjoy the green peppers!) is a home grown chili pepper from the garden. They grow so well; I almost always end up with several frozen for the winter.

    Chris says: You know, my chili powder is really mild that I use. I have a hot chipotle one that I LOVE, but it is a bit too spicy for the kids. I really want to have a little garden this summer.

    Daisy  |  February 16th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

  • We tried the chili this weekend and LOVED it! It was perfect and we used it for left overs for the next two days. Thanks for a great recipe!

    Margaret  |  February 20th, 2008 at 1:33 am