Chili, thru the years..

Back in the early 1980s, my late friend Carol shared her chili recipe with me. Until then, it had not made it into my repertoire of meals. Simply, it was ground beef, a can of beans, a packet of chili seasoning and some tomato sauce. Traditional and comforting. One summer, prior to her annual July 4th party, Carol was reheating some chili, among other things, in her oven. There was a foul odor that turned out to be a singed mouse that had been trapped behind the stove. Her oldest, Jim, and I were there to witness the debacle and she swore us to secrecy, not wanting her guests to find out. Well…. We never told anyone. But, every July 4th thereafter, a little rubber mouse would mysteriously appear on Carol’s buffet table.  Often, it was perched on the rim of her crockpot of chili. I cannot make it today without thinking of her.

My chili recipe has evolved over the years but it’s still a favorite. We love it as much on a cold, wintry night as by the campfire in summertime. It’s foolproof, too. In August, I use farm fresh tomatoes and peppers. But cold weather chili, made from canned Ingredients, is just as hearty. Truthfully, I’m not sure that I’ve ever made it exactly the same way twice. 

Today’s chili is full of vegetables and light on meat. Two different kinds of beans provide protein and fiber, making it a more healthful version of a classic recipe. If you like it spicy, add some chopped jalapeños or crushed cayenne pepper. Mix it up with garbanzo beans or cannellini. Use ground beef or no meat at all. Add multi colored peppers. You really cannot screw it up and it’s always a hit with everyone!



  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Finely chopped:

  •  A medium onion
  •  A red bell pepper
  •  A green bell pepper
  •  A small summer squash
  •  A small zucchini
  • 1-2 cups corn
  • Large can of black beans, rinsed & drained
  • Large can kidney beans, “ “ “
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken breast
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (low sodium)
  • Large can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed & minced 
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin (or to taste)

Serve with (optional):

  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese 
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced avocado 
  1. Sauté garlic, onions & peppers in oil until tender.
  2. Add squash, zucchini, corn & both beans. 
  3. Stir well & continue over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. In separate pan, brown the ground turkey/ chicken.
  5. Add half the petite diced tomatoes and chili seasoning packet, blending well.
  6. Combine the vegetable mixture and the meat mixture.
  7. Add the rest of the petite diced tomatoes.
  8. Add the cumin and the minced chipotle pepper in adobo.
  9. Mix well and simmer for 30 minutes on very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Before serving, stir in chopped cilantro.
  11. Serve topped with sour cream and/or cheese & avocado and a side of tortilla chips


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