Warm Up With Chili

— Written By and last updated by Shelia Ange
en Español

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Roma tomatoes

Apples picture courtesy of USDA – ARS

When weather begins to cool and the nights require an extra blanket, I like to cozy up with a warm bowl of chili. Chili can be a great way to get almost all of the food groups in one recipe. Depending on the recipe, it can be spicy or mild. If you make your own spice blend, you can control the amount of sodium, as well as the spice level.

To make you own blend of chili spices, try this: Combine1/3 cup chili powder, 3 tablespoons of paprika, 3 tablespoons of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 tablespoon black pepper. To spice it up a bit, you can add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mix all the ingredients and store in an air-tight container. You can use this blend for tacos, too. Use 2 tablespoons of the blend for every ½ pound of ground beef or turkey.

Use the spice blend to make this delicious chili: brown ½ pound of ground beef or turkey and drain any fat. Soften 1 medium chopped onion in the pot you used to cook the meat. When the onions are translucent, add the meat back into the pot. Add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice. Next rinse and drain a 14 ounce can of light red kidney beans, a 14 ounce can of dark red kidney beans, and a 14 ounce can of corn and add them to the pot with the meat and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the spice blend. At this point, you can add a little salt if it is necessary for your taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When I cook this recipe, I like to add diced bell peppers with the onions. For a thicker chili, I use a full pound of lean ground beef. When I serve the chili, I add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream on top of each bowl. I like to have a small salad with leafy greens and blueberries or chopped apples and add a piece of crusty bread on the side.

Experiment by adding different vegetables. For a chili that eats like a soup, double the tomatoes. Try making a large batch in a slow cooker, just be sure to brown the ground meat before you add it. I like to cook a large batch on the weekend, and freeze individual portions for a quick meal any day of the week. Coming home to a warm bowl of chili on a cold night is a welcomed comfort.