Cold wintry weather makes us long for comfort foods and chili is one of the most popular. Many people settle for canned or deli chili because they think they don't have time to make it 'from scratch.' However, prepared chili just doesn't have the same level of satisfaction as the homemade variety.

Here is a quick and easy recipe that will satisfy your family's craving for warmth without taking up hours of your time. It can be prepared completely in a large skillet in about 45 minutes or use a crock pot to let it simmer until dinner time for even more flavor.


6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 pound of lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup salsa
1 16 ounce can of kidney or pinto beans in chili sauce (chili beans)
1 14 ounce can of diced chili ready tomatoes (or use plain diced tomatoes and increase salsa to 3/4 cup)
Peel and chop the onion. Crumble lean ground beef or turkey into a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and the meat is light brown.

Skillet Option:

Pour the cooked mixture into a large colander to drain all liquid. Return the meat and onion mixture to the skillet. Stir in the spices, salsa, chili beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Reheat on top of the stove in a skillet or sauce pan, stirring frequently, or use individual serving bowls and put in a microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

Crock Pot Option:

While the meat and onions are cooking, combine salsa, chili beans, tomatoes and spices in a crock pot. After draining the liquid from the meat and onions, add the mixture to the ingredients in the crock pot. Stir well. Cook on low for 2-3 hours, then reduce heat setting to warm until time to eat. Stir before serving.

Variations:

Instead of celery salt, add 1/2 cup of chopped celery to the meat and onion mixture while cooking.

Add 1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper to the meat and onion mixture while cooking.


Chili-Mac Variation:

Add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup rotini or penne pasta to cooked meat mixture before draining. Continue cooking over medium heat until pasta is tender. Drain and continue with either the skillet or the crock pot option.

Vegetarian Variation:

In a 10 inch skillet, saute the onion and spices with 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup of bell pepper, and 1/2 cup sliced carrots in four tablespoons of olive oil.

Add:

1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of rotini or penne pasta
Bring to a low boil and simmer until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally, Combine cooked ingredients in a large soup pot (or crock pot) with salsa, chili beans, and tomatoes.

Add:

1 16 oz can of black beans with liquid
1 can of whole kernel corn with liquid
Stir well and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (or cook in crock pot on low for 2-3 hours, then lower heat to warm until ready to eat).

Garnishes:

Shredded Mexican style or Cheddar Cheese
Finely chopped raw onions
Sliced Jalapeno Peppers or Banana Pepper Rings
Corn Chips
Oyster or Saltine Crackers
Sides:

Corn Muffins
Chips and salsa
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Roast Beef or Ham sandwiches
Hot Dogs, Brats, or Polish Sausages
A Garden Salad with your favorite dressing.
Get another perspective on how to make chili here.

Ray T. Lewis's daughters love to eat chili, and not that vegetarian stuff, either.